J.D. Greear: Many people think that if Jesus paid it all, we now have this divine Visa card with an unlimited balance. We can just flash it whenever we want to cover whatever sin we choose. And as the Apostle Paul anticipated, some people will even justify their actions by saying, “Hey, if God gets more glory by showing grace, doesn’t my sinning give him more space to be glorified?” Paul answers those claims with the strongest negation possible: “By no means!” (I like how some of the older translations handle this phrase: God forbid!) Why is Paul so opposed to this line of thinking? He writes, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2 CSB) But that raises an interesting question in its own right, doesn’t it? What does he mean when he says we’ve died to sin? What Paul doesn’t mean is that we have lost all interest in sin. Certain streams of Christian thought have, in fact, taught that
Marty Foord: It happens every year. In a class I teach on introductory theology, people get particularly shocked about one issue: not all sins are equal. For whatever reason, many Christians think that all sins are equal. Perhaps it’s because we’re marinated in a culture that incessantly preaches the equality of humans. Maybe some of us (rightly) don’t want to appear superior because we don’t struggle with certain odious sins of others. Whatever the reason, it’s common to think all sins are equal. But this is mistaken and will affect the church’s mission. In one sense, all sins are equal because any sin cuts us off from relationship with God (Rom. 3:23). James explains why: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10, NIV) James’ point is that individual sins cannot be isolated. The Bible’s commandments are an interconnected whole reflecting God’s character, and if
Becky Pippert: People around us today often scoff at the notion of sin. Our world has new names for what ails us: poor self-esteem, neurosis, addiction, anxiety, psychological wounding, and so forth. It isn’t that these issues aren’t a reality; it’s that such analysis doesn’t go deep enough to reveal the root cause. Yet for all the protest that sin is an old-fashioned, outdated concept, nearly everyone agrees that something has gone terribly wrong and must be made right. We see the wrong in world wars, racism, genocides, terrorism, human trafficking, exploitation of children—and in our own personal battles evidenced in broken relationships, anger, addictions, and on and on. What happened that caused our planet to go from paradise to our present brokenness? And how can this explanation be good news for our unbelieving neighbors? First Rebellion In Genesis 3, we discover that, though Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, they rejected God’s rule and chose to be
Sam Storms: Original sin sounds so archaic, so pessimistic, so grimly medieval. For heaven’s sake, this is the era of the computer and the space shuttle. And haven’t the most learned psychologists and sociologists assured us that people are by nature good, having been turned to their evil ways not by some inner instinct but through the influence of a deviant culture and sub-standard education? These questions indicate how important it is for us to understand the biblical notion of original sin. So here are ten things to keep in mind. (1) The terminology of “original sin” has been used in any one of three ways. Often people think immediately of the “original” original sin, i.e., the first sin of Adam. Others use this language to refer to “inherited” sin, the idea that all humans are born morally corrupt and spiritually alienated from God. Finally, by “original sin” some are referring to the causal relationship between Adam’s sin and our
Kevin DeYoung: Every sin is serious, even the ones that look respectable. But that doesn’t mean some sins don’t deserve more attention than others. In fact, when the Bible rattles off a series of sins, it tends to mention many of the same ones. And while we don’t want to do ethics by list making, it is instructive to note what sins are mentioned, how often, and in what place. Here are the eight vice lists in the New Testament: Mark 7:21-22 “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness . . .” Romans 1:28-32 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters
Erik Raymond: In counseling, parenting, and my own personal pursuit of godliness I have found that hating sin is an easily overlooked but never overstated priority. Sin brings consequences. Often these consequences are painful. It is a real temptation for us to hate the consequences and never get around to hating the sin. Don’t get me wrong, we should hate how sin hurts ourselves and others. But we can’t leave it there. Until sin is actually hated for its odious and repulsive character we will not make true progress in godliness. We may make progress in morality but not holiness; for this requires a godly hatred of sin. So here are three reasons why you should hate sin. In thinking upon these, may they provoke a holy hatred of all that opposes the reign of God in our lives. 1. BECAUSE IT OPPOSES GOD’S WORD The Word of God is good. It reflects God’s character, teaching us what holiness is
This is an adapted excerpt from John Piper’s book Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power (The Good Book Company, 2016), posted at The Gospel Coalition. The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more. We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created. My Definition of Sin Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all
Tim Challies: Sometimes I just need to be reminded about the seriousness of sin. And sometimes I just need to be reminded off the slipperiness of sin. Those reminders came this week through Charles Spurgeon and a sermon he preached on June 29, 1890. Many men are violent against one sin; but the true saint abhors all sin. You are a teetotaler; I am very glad to hear it: you will not allow the sin of drunkenness to have dominion over you. But are you selfish and ungenerous? Have you learned habits of strict economy in regard to religious donations, so that you always give a penny where you ought to give a pound? What have you done? You have only changed your idols. You have dethroned one usurper to set up another. If you were once profane and are now hypocritical, you have only changed iniquities. It is a very curious thing how one sin feeds on another: the death of profligacy
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s testimony to overcomining sexual sin. You can read the whole thing here. This is a wonderful model for dealing with any aspect of indwelling sin: What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go? Meeting John Owen In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read an old, seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation). At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am,” John Owen called “indwelling sin.” But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin, distractionof actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin. Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope.
Tim Challies: Sin. I can’t live with it, but time and time again I have proven that I’m just not able to live without it. I know that I have been freed from sin—freed from the power of sin—and yet I still sin. The Bible tells me not to let sin reign, it tells me that if I am truly a child of God I will not go on sinning (Romans 6:12, 1 John 3:9). And still I sin. Even in those times that I focus my efforts on one particular sin I find that I am unable to stop, unable to put it entirely to death. My mind can’t do it, my heart can’t do it, my will can’t do it, my hands can’t do it. It may not reign as sovereign, but it continues to exist as a trial and a steady temptation. In The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction Sinclair Ferguson writes about this tricky relationship of
Justin Taylor: Bonhoeffer on What a Christian Under the Cross Can Offer that a Secular Therapist Cannot Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: Whoever lives beneath the cross of Jesus, and has discerned in the cross of Jesus the utter ungodliness of all people and of their own hearts, will find there is no sin that can ever be unfamiliar. Whoever has once been appalled by the horror of their own sin, which nailed Jesus to the cross, will no longer be appalled by even the most serious sin of another Christian; rather they know the human heart from the cross of Jesus. Such persons know how totally lost is the human heart in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin—and know too that this same heart is accepted in grace and mercy. Only another Christian who is under the cross can hear my confession. It is not experience with life but experience of the cross that
CCEF faculty member Dr. David Powlison responds to the question “can I be saved if I am living in constant, secret sin?” For more information, visit our website at http://www.CCEF.org.
Kevin DeYoung: Jesus never apologized for getting on the inside with outsiders. It was his mission. What kind of doctor refuses to see patients? What kind of farmer refuses to get his hands dirty? What kind of church has no place for sinners? People reviled Jesus. They called him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Have you ever been called names like this? Have I? Do we fear contamination from the world more than we have confidence in Christ’s power to cleanse? Of course, I’m not encouraging people with drinking problems to go hang out in bars. I don’t expect new Christians to keep all their same friends who lead them into the same temptations. I’m not saying that if you really want to be relevant you have to watch sleazy movies so you can talk about them with the sinners in our lives. We need to use wisdom. And we also need guts.
Sam Storms posts: The Christian life, or sanctification, is partly a matter of putting “to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13), what some translations refer to as the “mortification” of sin. “This too,” notes J. I. Packer, “is hard. It is a matter of negating, wishing dead, and laboring to thwart, inclinations, cravings, and habits that have been in you . . . for a long time. Pain and grief, moans and groans, will certainly be involved, for your sin does not want to die, nor will it enjoy the killing process” (Rediscovering Holiness, 175). But how precisely is this done? Packer helps us here: “Outward acts of sin come from inner sinful urges, so we must learn to starve these urges of what stimulates them (porn magazines, for instance, if the urge is lust; visits to smorgasbords, if the urge is gluttony; gamblings and lotteries, if the urge is greed; and so on). And when the urge
Kevin DeYoung: It’s amazing how often people think they are giving the Christian message or have heard the gospel and yet there is nothing about sin and repentance. The message of the gospel is not simply an invitation to know God’s love or enter his family or to live forever. That is all true. But the call to saving faith must always include a call to repentance. Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses.” The Law of Moses cannot free you. You cannot go to sleep at night knowing for certain that you are righteous before God based on your observance of the Decalogue. The law cannot set you free of your condemnation, that is why the High Priest had to offer sacrifices year
John Piper: This is a lesson in self-knowledge for the sake of worship and righteousness. Something terrible and profound happened to all humans when Adam sinned. All except Jesus, that is, “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Something came into the world that had not been there before — something very powerful and very deadly in everyone of us. But it was not exactly a “thing.” Yet it was more than the bad things we do. Sin and sinning are not the same. We do sinful things because there is this something in us called “sin.” It is a dreadful and deadly deformity of every one of us. Consider these amazing statements from the Bible about who you are before and after conversion to Christ. The Reign of Sin “All are under sin” (Romans 3:9). “I am sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). “You were once slaves of sin” (Romans 6:17, 20). In other words, before the power of grace through Christ entered our lives, we were not just tempted
Mike Reeves: Picture the scene: George Whitefield has just been preaching. Everywhere, eyes are shining and people are talking of the wonderful grace of Christ. Thousands of hearts have been overthrown and melted; lives have been remade. Now, if the church gives up believing in a historical Adam, we will never see such scenes again. Too far? A bit strong? Not at all. For it is not just that the biblical genealogies depict Adam as a historical figure, not just that Paul can build core arguments on his belief that Adam was as real a man as Christ (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15). Adam has a significance in the Bible that far outstrips the simple number of mentions he gets. In fact, he has a significance so great that without him we no longer have a recognisably Christian gospel. Given space restraints, I will point out just two ways mythologizing Adam uproots the gospel. (1) It Makes God Bad Let’s
Ligon Duncan: Total depravity is a reality, both taught in Holy Scripture and experienced in life, with important implications not only for pagans but also for Christians. Very often we think of this Biblical doctrine in connection with those who are unregenerate, or with regard to Christians before their conversion, but we reflect less frequently on the depravity which still infects those who have been saved by grace and reborn of the Spirit. This is a serious omission, for misunderstanding or underestimating the continuing corruption in the believer leaves the Christian unprepared for the warfare of sanctification and leads to a variety of spiritual problems. There are many errors propagated in evangelical circles on this subject, the two main tendencies of which are: perfectionism and antinomianism. The former asserts that the Christian life is (or ought to be) characterized by complete victory over sin. Hence, Christian life as intended by God is “higher life” or the “victorious life.” Perfectionistic teachers
From a recent FB status update by John Fonville: “As destructive and defiling sexual sin is to the individual and church-and it is!- moralistic idolaters in the church are ultimately far more destructive and Christ-denying because they erect all manner of extra-biblical requirements for holiness that God’s law doesn’t forbid or require! And they substitute Christ and His righteousness for a Christ-denying, self-righteousness. Thus, they shift the ground of justification from Christ to self. Paul begins 1 Corinthians by addressing the Corinthians as “saints” (1:2). But he begins his letter to the Galatians by calling them cosmic traitors and pronouncing a curse of final judgment on any who proclaim or receive a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).”
From Jared Wilson: How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance: A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships. (p. 72) These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more. Here are