Sin 4: The Weight of Sin, Continued

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 8, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I addressed the consequences of sin on a horizontal level known as natural law. But this doesn’t reflect the real nature of sin which is vertical to our relationship with God. Last week, I described the sins man commits against each other. There is a righteous desire for those wrongs to be made right, but there is a much deeper and stronger issue than that. King David’s most infamous sin, the one which was singled out as his key mark against him, was the adultery with Bathsheba and the cover-up murder of her husband, Uriah. The list of sins he committed that led up to this horrific deed and that which followed are too numerous to list here, but when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he realized the real sin was vertical. David had despised the commandment of the Lord. In his legendary song of repentance, David confessed that against God and only against God had he sinned. Yes, he knew that he had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, but as bad as they were, those paled in comparison to his sin against God.

This is the key aspect of sin that most take lightly. We do not understand our sin, and most of that is because we do not understand or know who God is. Many of us know of God’s character intellectually, but so few of us even have a remotely true understanding of God in our finite minds. We know of his attributes of purity, holiness, righteousness, justice, mercy, goodness, and so on. Sin is a violation of these attributes. We have to remember that God is infinite in all these attributes, and He is all these attributes all at once. That’s part of the doctrine of the simplicity of God. He is not part love, part righteous, part justice, part merciful, etc., nor can He put aside one attribute in favor of another. God’s commands are a reflection of God’s character So when we violate God’s commands, we are snubbing our noses at God. We are defying Him with utmost treason and sedition, and it is far more severe treason than anything else because of the one who we are sinning against.

I try to describe sin this way: Sin is not a careless mistake or a mere imperfection. Sin is the intentional doing what you know you are not supposed to do or the not doing of what you are supposed to do. These are the two categories of sin: sins of commission, in which we directly violate God’s explicit command, and sins of omission, in which we skip out on what we are supposed to do. David’s sin with Bathsheba was a sin of commission. It was an intentional, willful act of doing what he was not supposed to do. King Saul’s sin in not destroying the Amalekites completely was a sin of omission. He did not do what he was supposed to. But the difference between these two is the difference between the saved and the lost. Saul had no repentance and only sought to justify himself in his sin. David, however, recognized his sin was against God and longed to have that relationship with God restored.

God cannot tolerate sin. His character will not allow it. We need to grasp the fact that God will utterly destroy sin when it comes into His presence just by being near it just like how ice melts next to heat. But He is so great in patience and mercy that somehow, we are still alive. So many complain about how God does things as though they can judge or critique Him. My response is, “Why should God let you or me take our next breath?” We also need to grasp the fact that in and of our ourselves, we are sinful, wicked, treacherous, and deceitful people. There is nothing good in us. And I mean NOTHING. God should have utterly wiped us out thousands of years ago. God didn’t send the Flood because He was petty. He destroyed all mankind save for Noah and the animals because man had gone so far to be beyond savable. They were given 120 years to listen, and only 8 did. Their sin took them so far that they had completely lost any regard for God.

That was in Bible times. What about today? In the post-Biblical history, few single messages have ever carried the weight of sin more accurately than “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.” Jonathan Edwards did what he always did: wrote out his sermon and read it in his typical monotone. Yet the congregation felt the Holy Spirit come down on them with such strength that they grabbed the pews as though Hell was about to swallow them alive. John Wesley in England and John Wesley Redfield at Yale both have reports of their sermons causing people to lay on the ground utterly unconscious (both reported by Paris Reidhead in his sermon “Ten Sheckles and a Shirt”). There was such a revelation of the weight of sin that it drove people down to unconsciousness. This is what Isaiah experienced when he saw the Throne of God. He saw the glory of God and realized the weight of his own sin against God and it broke him.

Today, even though our best preachers are speaking the truth, we aren’t seeing the genuine revivals that accompanied both Wesley and Redfield. I’m not going to blame the sound preachers for this, and I’m not looking for a “show” either. But what were to happen if we would actually grasp the weight of our sin? I’m talking to myself just as much as anyone else. I speak about the weight of sin, but a problem I have with being raised in the church is a lack of appreciation of the weight of sin. I’ve never hit spiritually rock bottom, so as a result, I’ve never really tasted the full experience of sin. Does that mean I’m not saved? No. But it does mean I have to be careful about taking my own sin too lightly because if it could trip up someone like David, it can trip up someone like me too. I need to learn how to take sin just as seriously as David and Isaiah did.

There is another reality of dealing with the weight of sin that so few people have today: truly understanding what Hell is. So many of us are so self-focused that we are only concerned about getting ourselves out of Hell. For many, the ONLY reason they even want to be identified as Christian is so they can get out of Hell. How can I say this? Because they make no mention of their love for Christ as a real, genuine relationship. If we really understood Hell, and we really did love others, we’d be doing as Penn Jillette said: he’d be crawling over broken glass if that is what it took to get to a lost person. There would come a point where he’d tackle us to get us out from a moving train. I have to confess that I am a terrible evangelist; I have such a hard time initiating that discussion. Get me started and I am just fine, but it’s so hard for me to get going. Am I that ashamed of the Gospel and the message? Or is my fear of man that strong? Ray Comfort is a famous evangelist and yet even he struggles with this. Even the Apostle Paul battled with this.

I’ll wrap up this post with one last comment. If we understood the weight of sin and the consequences of our sin against God, it would drastically change how we see the lost. They are lost. They have only and ever only known sin. They have no comprehension outside of that. When I deal with mockers and scoffers, I often want to “strangle” them, but that’s not of Christ. The “Bad Charlie” wants to just blast them and pick them up off the ceiling after he goes Hulk on them. Instead, I need to learn to pity these people. They have no hope and no grasp of reality. Their minds are utterly broken and are truly “insane.” They are slaves of the devil. And what I have to keep telling myself is that apart from the grace of God, I would be in the same boat they are in. Why should I boast in my intellect, education, and studying? The only thing that’s of use is what God has given me anyway. I need to pity these people and weep for them.

George Whitefield called out these people as being “monsters of iniquity” who didn’t have the decency to see the enormity of their crime against God. Yet Whitefield wept for them both publicly and privately. In his audience was atheist David Hume. When asked why he was going to hear Whitefield preach, Hume said he didn’t believe Whitefield, but he knew Whitefield believed what he was preaching. One of the reasons so few atheists and skeptics don’t believe us is likely because we don’t fully believe what we preach ourselves. We know this stuff intellectually, but do we truly believe it? When we understand the weight of our sin, the rest will fall into place.

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