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Sermons on Important Subjects
By J. M. Pendleton

Making Light of Sin

      Fools make a mock at sin. - Proverbs xiv:9.

      Nothing is more common than sin - the world is full of it - everything in the gospel presupposes its existence, and yet how little is known of it. There are many persons whose knowledge of other subjects is extensive, who have no adequate conceptions of the terpitude of moral evil. They regard it as something trivial, scarcely worthy of notice in the administration of the divine government. Almost every system of false doctrine has had its origin in improper views of sin. This is true of Socinianism, Pelagianism, Universalism, etc. It is a sad reflection that multitudes not only entertain defective conceptions of sin, but even make light of it. This the text teaches: Fools make a mock at sin. Our first inquiry is:

      I. Why Do Sinners Make Light of Sin?

      I answer:
      1. Familiarity with it in themselves and others. - It has been their constant companion from their earliest recollections, and those recollections have been modified by its influence. It has "grown with their growth and strengthened

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with their strength." We all know something about the effects which familiarity with objects produces. The soldier, when he first sees a fellow-soldier fall at his side, is filled with consternation, but becoming familiar with the operations of war, he can see battalions annihilated and remain comparatively unmoved. The boy when he first begins to curse and swear trembles at the sound of his own voice. He continues the atrocious practice until he takes the name of God in vain, without knowing it.

      The first depredations of the thief are committed with trepidation. Familiarized with stealing, he would, if the motive were sufficiently strong, open graves and rob the dead. Familiarity wears off first impressions. Pope expresses the idea very forcibly:

"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
That to be hated needs but to be seen;
But seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."

      How true it is, that familiarity with sin causes men to make light of it.

      2. Stupefaction of conscience. - Sin has its seat in the heart, but exerts a pernicious influence over the mind. The understanding is said to be darkened through the blindness or callousness of the heart, and as conscience is indirectly dependent in its action on the light which the understanding supplies, it is not strange that amid the darkness of the understanding, conscience

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becomes stupefied. The familiarity with sin, of which I have spoken, has much to do in inducing this stupefaction. While conscience is stupefied, it fails to perform its office, and suffers men to make light of sin. Alas, that the sentinel appointed to keep watch for God should ever fall asleep!

      3. Ignorance of the spirituality of the divine law. - This was the case with Saul of Tarsus. "I was," says he, "alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." Does he refer to some new commandment? No - the old commandment came with its spirituality and power to his heart, and he died to all hope of salvation by the law. The requisitions of the law reach the heart. The law is spiritual. It disallows every improper thought, every unholy feeling. It is a transcript of the moral perfections of God.

      Men are very much disposed to think God like themselves, and his laws like human laws. The laws of men have nothing to do with the most malignant purposes of the most wicked heart, unless those purposes are executed. God's law thunders its curses against the wickedness of the heart, though it is never developed in the actions of the life. Now, though sin is a transgression of the law, it is evident that, as long as men have inadequate views of the spirituality and obligation of the law, they will look upon sin as a trivial matter. They will make light of it.

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      4. They have not learned the lesson which the Cross of Christ teaches in reference to the evil of sin. - What a lesson is this! How great an evil sin must be, since God could not connive at it while his beloved Son stood in the place of sinners. All the untold suffering of Calvary were necessary to the forgiveness of sin. How unspeakable an evil must it be, to be unpardonable without such sufferings! How great its guilt, to be inexpiable without the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory! The cross teaches the siufulnnss of sin, and those who derive their views of sin from the cross, do not make light of sin. Multitudes, however, never contemplate sin in its connection with the cross, and they are not impressed with its evil nature. They, therefore, make light of it, etc.

      II. Making Light of Sin Indicates the Greatest Folly.

      Fools make a mock at sin. That it is the greatest folly to make light of sin, will appear from the following considerations:

      1. Sin is the prolific source of sorrow, suffering and death. - How endlessly diversified are the sorrows of fallen humanity! How often do sighs and tears, the natural exponents of the heart's sorrows, escape from human bosoms and human eyes! Could all these sighs be gathered together, they would create a tempest. Could all the tears shed by Adam and his posterity be collected into one vast reservoir, the American navy might float on its briny bosom.

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      How complicated and multiplied the sufferings, physical and mental, of our apostate race! Who could write a history of them? Such a history, if faithfully written, would be incredibly voluminous. And, then, with what terrible universality does death reign? As a mighty monarch, he sways a sceptre symbolic of the power before which the mighty and the feeble fall. The subjects of other monarchs may escape from their dominions - may expatriate themselves. But there is no escape, no expatriation from the empire of death. This tyrant reigns, and brings all born of women down into the gloomy mansions of the grave. He who makes light of sin, in effect, makes light of the results of sin. He therefore, virtually makes light of the sorrows and sufferings of our race, and of the world-wide ravages of death in every generation. Is not this folly? Is it not idiotic folly?

      2. Sin excites the wrath of God. - And it is the only thing in the universe that does. Have you ever heard of demonstrations of the divine anger in the absence of sin? Never, never. The wrath of God, excited by sin, hurled rebel angels from their seats of bliss; banished man from Paradise; and "ordained Tophet of old - the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it." He who makes light of sin, makes light of the wrath of God. "The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion." How terrible, then, must be the wrath of the Eternal Jehovah? But the poor

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sinner in making light of sin, makes light of the displeasure of Heaven. Is not this maniac folly.

      3. Sin is at war with the benevolent purposes of the Cross. - All the influences which go forth from the cross are antagonistic to sin. The cross was erected, and the tragedy of Calvary was acted to put away sin. The illustrious victim, who was offered iu sacrifice, is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. The blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanses from sin. Nothing else will do. Penances and pilgrimages will not do. The fruit of the body for the sin of the soul will not do. The cross alone comes into efficacious antagonism with sin. He, therefore, who makes light of sin, makes light of the cross, and all its sublime purposes of mercy. Is not this infinite folly?

      4. Making light of sin prevents repentance and application to God for mercy. - While sin is considered a trifle, there can be no repentance. There must be very serious thoughts of sin, before the heart is broken with sorrow, on account of it. Nor will any one who makes light of sin, apply to God for pardoning mercy. The sinner will feel in his heart that, if sin is a thing to be made light of, it is a matter of no great consequence whether it is pardoned or not. Without repentance and application to God for mercy, there is no salvation for any sinner. In view of this fact, how conspicuous appears the folly of making light of sin.

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      5. It causes a progression in wickedness. - This results as naturally as any effect results from its cause. To regard sin as a trifle, is the first step in the way of rebellion against God. The heart becomes harder and harder, and the poor sinner goes on, treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. If making light of sin leads to a progression in wickedness, is it not transcendant folly to make light of it?

      6. It ruins the immortal soul. - What shall I say of the soul? its noble powers; its susceptibilities of enjoyment and suffering; its immortality; the blood shed for its redemption, etc. O how valuable is the soul, and how much is implied in its loss! Other losses may be repaired, but the loss of the soul never. You may lose your health, and regain it. You may lose your friends, and God may raise you up other friends. You may lose your reputation, and reestablish it. You may lose your property, and acquire even more than you lost. But when the soul is lost, it is lost irrecoverably. What a loss! It will require eternal ages fully to comprehend its magnitude, and it will require the same eternal ages to comprehend the greatness of the folly which leads the sinner to ruin his soul by making light of sin, etc.

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      1. How great the depravity of man! But for his depravity there would be in our world no such thing as making light of sin.

      2. Who of those I now address make light of sin? Christians, I am afraid you are not altogether free from blame. Sinners, I know you are justly chargeable with making light of sin.

      3. Repent of your folly now, while your repentance may be unto salvation. If you do not, you must perish. Death eternal will be your portion.


[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via Inter-Library Loan through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. - Jim Duvall]

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