I Cannot Think Little of Sin

Woman-kneelingj1600-cropped.jpg(J.C. Ryle)

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

Would I know how exceedingly sinful and abominable sin is in the sight of God? Where shall I see sin most fully brought out?

Shall I turn to the history of the flood, and read how sin drowned the world?

Shall I go to the shore of the Dead Sea, and mark what sin brought on Sodom and Gomorrah?

No! I can find a clearer proof still! I look at the cross of Christ!

There I see that sin is so filthy and damnable, that nothing but the blood of God’s own Son can wash it away!

There I see that sin has so separated me from my holy Maker, that all the angels in Heaven could never have made peace between us. Nothing could reconcile us, short of the death of Christ.

If I listened to the wretched talk of proud people, I might sometimes imagine that sin was not so very sinful! But I cannot think little of sin, when I look at the cross of Christ!

“A bleeding Savior I have viewed–and now I hate my sin!” John Newton

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Cultivating and Attaining Humility

by  of Providence Chapel on May 22, 2018

Humility is a vital characteristic of the Christian life. If we would keep from falling away, and if we desire to have healthy churches, we must cultivate and attain this blessed virtue.

Refuge For the Soul Vexed By Sin

Oasis_in_Libya(Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889)

“In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” Colossians 2:3

The one true resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted–is Christ Himself!

Not the church, but Christ.

Not doctrine, but Christ.

Not religious forms and ceremonies, but Christ.

Christ the God-man . . .
giving His life for ours,
sealing the everlasting covenant, and
making peace for us through the blood of His cross!

Christ the divine storehouse of all light and truth, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!

Christ the infinite vessel–the enlightener, the teacher, the quickener, the comforter–so that out of His fullness we may receive grace upon grace.

This, this alone is the vexed soul’s refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in–until the great tempter is bound and every conflict ended in victory.

The Sin of Hypocrisy

Pastor+Fake(J.C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858)

Let us observe how abominable hypocrisy is in the eyes of Christ. We are told that in the presence of all the people, Jesus said unto His disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law! They like to walk around in flowing robes–and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses–and pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public.” Luke 20:46-47

This was a bold and remarkable warning. It was a public denunciation, we must remember, of men who were the recognized teachers of the Jewish people.

No sin seems to be regarded by Christ as more wicked, than hypocrisy. None certainly drew forth from His lips such frequent, strong and withering condemnation, during the whole course of His ministry.

He was ever full of mercy and compassion for the chief of sinners. “Fury was not in Him” when He saw Zacchaeus; the penitent thief; Matthew the tax-collector; Saul the persecutor; and the sinful woman in Simon’s house.

But when He saw Scribes and Pharisees wearing a mere cloak of religion, and pretending to great outward sanctity, while their hearts were full of wickedness–His righteous soul seems to have been full of indignation. Eight times in one chapter (Matthew 23) we find Him saying, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites!”

Whatever else we are in religion–let us be true. However feeble our faith, and hope, and love, and obedience may be–let us see to it that they are real, genuine, and sincere. Let us abhor the very idea of play-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity. At any rate, let us be genuine.

The hypocrite will have the lowest place in Hell! “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the damnation of Hell?” Matthew 23:33

Leave Us Alone!

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(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

Sinners do not like to retain God in their knowledge–because He is omniscient and omnipresent. In consequence of His possessing these attributes, He is a constant witness of their motives and conduct, and is perfectly acquainted with their hearts. This must render the thoughts of His holiness still more disagreeable to a sinner–for what can be more unpleasant to him, than the constant presence and inspection of a holy being . . .
whom he cannot deceive,
from whose keen, searching gaze he cannot for a moment hide,
to whom darkness and light are alike open, and
who views his conduct with the utmost displeasure and abhorrence?

Even the presence of our fellow creatures is disagreeable, when we wish to indulge any sinful propensity which they will disapprove. How exceedingly irksome, then, must the constant presence of a holy, heart-searching God be to a sinner! No wonder, then, that sinners banish a knowledge of Him from their minds, as the easiest method of freeing themselves from the restraint imposed by His presence.

“They say to God: Leave us alone! We do not desire to know Your ways! Job 21:14

The Best Sermon Is…

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(Charles Naylor)

“He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6

We must pattern our lives after our Lord, and follow in the way which He trod.

God’s will for His people, is that they set before the world a worthy example of Christian character.

A blameless character is the best sermon!

In all our relations with others, we should manifest a sweet temper, kindness, meekness, gentleness, forbearance, patience, reasonableness, cheerfulness, magnanimity and all the other things that go to make up Christian character.

In our lives we should be examples of holiness, consistency and moderation. We should be free from worldliness, ostentation, and the vanities that are ruining the world. We should not be not of the world . . .
in the tenor of our lives,
in the motives that move us,
in the purposes that actuate us.

God’s will for His people regarding . . .
the vanities of this world,
the desires that have their root in worldliness,
and the sinful customs of the world,
is that we do not imbibe them.

Jesus said of His own, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” He has chosen us out of the world. Un-worldliness is a characteristic of true Christianity, and is found in all genuine believers.

The multitude of worldly professors who call themselves by Christ’s name, but who, in their lives, and in the worldliness of their hearts, deny Him–are not Christians at all. They are Christians in name only. Their religion is only a veneer that covers a heart of sin. They are actuated by the spirit of the world, and they love the things of the world.

To be a true Christian, means to be severed in spirit . . .
from the vanities of the world,
from the pride, fashion, display and pretense of the world,
from the world’s love of pomp and power, and its hypocritical pretensions.

We must strive to be separated from the spirit, desires, aspirations, and hopes of this world–as really and as truly as Jesus was.

We must desire to live out in the life, those things that definitely mark one as having his hopes set on something higher, his aspirations set on something nobler, and his interests aimed at something greater and more lasting than . . .
the perishable things of the world,
the popular opinions of the world,
the sinful customs of the world,
the fashions and frivolities of the world, and
the pleasures and amusements of the world.

“Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

The sheep do not choose their own pasture!

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(Francis Bourdillon, “Bedside Readings” 1864)

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters.Psalm 23:2

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” That is, He supplies the needs of our souls. He . . .
gives us the food of the Word of God,
strengthens us with His grace, and
makes us to find our rest in Him.

“He leads me beside the still waters.” That is, He . . .
refreshes us when we are weary,
revives our hearts by His promises,
cheers us by His presence,
gives us His Holy Spirit, and
enables us to rejoice in His salvation.

Amidst all our trials and troubles–He comforts us and gives us fresh hope.

Some may say, “Why should I have trouble at all? Why does the good Shepherd send me anything besides comfort and pleasure? Why am I poor or sad or sick?”

The sheep do not choose their own pasture–the shepherd chooses for them. In the same way, the disciple does not choose his own lot in life–it is appointed for him. His Shepherd knows best what is good for him. The best is not always what is the most pleasant at the moment–but what is most profitable in the end.

Our Shepherd sometimes leads us through what seem to us dry and stony places–but they lead to the Heavenly pastures! And even along the way, He feeds us and comforts us with all a shepherd’s care. Never is our Shepherd nearer to us, than when we are in need or danger.

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” John 10:27-28

An Unerring Chart For Life

CGC_Eagle_(7074680433)(Arthur W. Pink, “The Attributes of God”)

God has placed His Word in our hands for an intensely practical purpose–namely, to direct our walk and to regulate our deportment. The primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures, is to make a practical use of them–ordering the details of our lives by its rules and regulations.

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The metaphor used here is taken from a man walking along a dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need of a lantern to show him where to walk safely and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction.

God, in His infinite condescension and transcendent grace, has given us His Word for this very purpose, so that we need not stumble along blindly, ignorant of what pleases or displeases Him–but that we might know His mind. That divine Word is not given to us simply for information, but . . .
to regulate our conduct,
to enlighten our minds,
and to mold our hearts.

The Word supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life. If we sincerely and diligently follow, it will deliver us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs–and direct us safely to the heavenly harbor. That Word has all the instructions we need for every problem, and every trouble we may be called upon to face. That Word has been given to us “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17. How thankful we should be, that God has favored us with such a Word!

This world is a dark place, and it is only as we take heed to the Word, to the light God has given us, that we shall be able to perceive and avoid “the broad road which leads to destruction,” and discern the narrow way which alone “leads unto eternal life.”

Our first duty, and our first aim, must be to take up the Scriptures to ascertain what is God’s revealed will for us–what are the paths He forbids us to walk, what are the ways pleasing in His sight.

The Scriptures are not given us, primarily, for our intellectual gratification, nor for emotional admiration, but for life’s regulation. Nor are the precepts and commands, the warnings andencouragements contained therein, simply for our information. They are to be reduced to practice–they require unqualified obedience. He who treasures the divine precepts in his heart, and diligently seeks to walk by their rule, will escape those evils which destroy his fellows.

Thus the great business of the Christian is to regulate his life by, and conform his conduct to–the precepts of the written Word, and the example left us by the Incarnate Word. As he does so, and in proportion as he does so, he is
emancipated from the darkness of his natural mind,
freed from the follies of his corrupt heart,
delivered from the mad course of this world,
and escapes the snares of the devil.

The Greatest Sinner That You Know!

Untitled(William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life“)

“This is a true saying, and worthy of all acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them all.” 1 Timothy 1:15

You may truly look upon yourself to be the greatest sinner that you know in the world. For though you may know many people to be guilty of some gross sins with which you cannot charge yourself–yet you may justly condemn yourself as the greatest sinner that you know, because you know more of the folly of your own heart, than you do of other people’s hearts. You can charge yourself with various sins, that only you know of yourself, and cannot be sure that others are guilty of them.

So that as you know more of the folly, the degradation, the pride, the deceitfulness and vileness of your own heart, than you do of any one’s else–so you have just reason to consider yourself as the greatest sinner that you know; because you know more of the greatness of your own sins, than you do of other people’s sins.

God Almighty knows greater sinners than you are; because He sees and knows the circumstances of all men’s sins. But your own heart, if it is faithful to you, can discover no guilt so great as your own.

Perhaps that person who appears so odious in your eyes, would have been much better than you are–had he been altogether in your circumstances, and received all the same favors and graces from God that you have. And therefore the greatest sinner that you know, must be yourself.

This is a very humbling thought.

A serious and frequent reflection upon this will mightily tend to . . .
humble us in our own eyes,
make us very sensible of the greatness of our own guilt,
and very tender in censuring and condemning other people.

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