Sermon 3374. Sin's True Character
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1913.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Exceedingly sinful." Romans 7:13.
INTO the connection of these words our time, which is very short this evening, will not permit us to enter. It was somethinglike this-Paul was showing that the Law could not make a man holy and he observes that he had, himself, found that when theLaw came into his heart, it excited in him a desire to act contrary to its precepts. There were some actions which he wouldnot have thought of performing until he found that they were forbidden-and then immediately he felt a desire to do them atonce! To this a grave objection was raised. This were to make the Law aid and abet sin! Not so, replies the Apostle-it wasnot the Law that made him sin, for the Law is good-but it was the sinfulness of his heart that could thus turn that whichwas good into an occasion of evil. He further showed that this was the very design of the Law as given by Moses-to make clearhow sinful sin was. The purpose for which it was sent was not to make men holy, but to make men see how unholy they were!It was not the cure of the disease, much less the creator of it, but it was the revealerof the disease that lurked in theconstitution of man!
Now, what I want to call your attention to is that Paul here calls sin, "exceedingly sinful." Why didn't he say, "exceedinglyblack," or, "exceedingly horrible," or, "exceedingly deadly"? Why, because there is nothing in the world so bad as sin! Whenhe wanted to use the very worst word he could find to call sin by, he called it by its own name and reiterated it-"sin," "exceedinglysinful." For if you call sin, black, there is no moral excellency or deformity in black or white. Black is as good as whiteand white is as good as black. And so you have expressed nothing. If you call sin, "deadly, "yet death in itself has no evilin it compared with sin. For plants to die is not a dreadful thing, rather it may be a part of the organization of Naturethat successive generations of vegetables should spring up and, in due time, should form the root-soil for other generationsto follow. If you call it, "deadly," you have said but little. If you need a word, you must come home for it. Sin must benamed after itself! If you need to describe it, you must call it, "sinful." Sin is "exceedingly sinful"
The text may suggest a broad argument and a special application. Our endeavor shall be to show you, then, that sin is in itself,"exceedingly sinful" and yet there are some signs of which it may be said with peculiar emphasis that they are "exceedinglysinful."
I. SIN IS IN ITSELF "EXCEEDINGLY SINFUL."
It is rebellion against God and "exceedingly sinful" because it interferes with the just rights and prerogatives of God. Thatgreat invisible Spirit whom we cannot see, whom even our own thoughts cannot encompass, made the heavens and the earth andall things that are-and it was His right that what He made should serve His purpose and give Him Glory. The stars do this.They jar not in their everlasting orbits. The world of matter does this. He speaks and it is done. The sun, the moon, theconstellations of Heaven, yes, and the terrestrial forces, even the billows of the sea and the ravings of the wind-all theseobey His behests. It is right they should. Shall not the potter make of the clay what he wills? Shall not he who uses theaxe, fashion what he chooses for his own pleasure? You and I, favored in our creation-not inanimate clods, not worms havingonly sensations, without intellect-we who have been favored with thought, emotion, affection, with a high spiritual existence.Yes, with an immortal existence-we were especially bound to be obedient to Him that made us. Ask your conscience, do you notfeel that God has rights towards you? Ask yourselves, if you make or preserve anything, call it your own and it is your own-doyou not expect it to answer your end, or do your bidding? Why have you forgotten Him that made you? Why have you spent yourpowers and faculties for anything but His Glory?
Ah, it is "exceedingly sinful" when the crown rights of Him upon whose will we exist are ignored, or impudently contravened!Yet according to the part we take in sin, we trample on His edicts and set at nothing His jurisdiction.
How exceedingly sinful is this rebellion against such a God! Muse on His attributes and consider His majesty, for He is notmerely infinitely powerful, wise, all-sufficient and glorious, but He is supremely good! He is good to the fullest extentof goodness! He is a God whose Character is matchless! Not like Jupiter, to whom the heathens ascribed every vice, nor likeJuggernaut, the bloody god of Hindustan! He is a pure and holy God whom we worship! Jehovah, glorious in holiness, fearfulin praises. Now, it is conceivable that if God were some vast Being who had a natural right to our service, yet if His Character-(forgive,great God, the supposition!)-were severe without pity, rigorous without clemency, harsh without forbearance, there were somepretense why daring spirits should lead a rebellion against the oppressor. But our Father, God, the great Shepherd-King-whoshall frame an excuse when we, for a single moment, revolt against Him, or lift a finger against His will? It were Heavento serve Him! The angels will tell you this! It were bliss to do His will. The perfect spirits all proclaim this! Ah, sinis base, indeed, a rebellion against a monarch's gentlest sway, an insurrection against parent's most tender rights, a revoltagainst peerless benignity! Oh, shame on you, Sin! You are, indeed, "exceedingly sinful!"
What an aggravation of the sinfulness of sin is this-that it rebels against laws of which all are just! The table of the TenCommandments contains not one commandment but what is founded upon the essential principles of right. If a law were proclaimedin England which violated the principles of equity, to break that law might be the highest duty! But when the laws of ourcountry are just and right, it is not only an offense against the natural power of the State, but an offense against the understandingand the conscience of right when a man breaks such a statute! God's Laws have not only the Divine Authority, but they havealso this recommendation, that they are all harmonious and adapted to the relations of our being. Was it not the State ofMassachusetts that at first passed a resolution when they were about to make statutes, that they would be governed by theLaws of God until they found time to make better? Will they ever find opportunity to make better? Could any man strike outa clause and improve it? Could he add a sentence and mend it? No! The Law is holy, just and good! And, rightly understood,it naturally forbids evil and simply commends good-only good! Oh, Sin! You are sinful, indeed, that you should dare to revoltagainst that which in itself is right and just, virtuous and true!
Moreover, Brothers and Sisters-this may touch some of us to the quick-sin is "exceedingly sinful" because it is antagonisticto our own interest, a mutiny against our own welfare. Selfishness is a strong principle in us all. That which is good forus and personally advantageous should be regarded with tenacious attachment and were we wise, would be pursued with strongenthusiasm. Now, whenever God forbids a thing, we may rest assured it would be dangerous. God's commands are just like thosenotices, more suggestive of kindly warning than of stern prohibition, which we see upon the park waters in the days of frost,"Dangerous." God simply tells us that such-and-such a thing is fraught with peril, or it leads to destruction. What He permitsor commends will be, if not immediately, yet in the long run, in the highest degree promotive of our best interests. God doesbut, as it were, consult our well-being and prosperity when He gives us Laws. Doesn't it seem a vicious thing, indeed, thata man will recklessly dare to slight himself in order to sin against his Maker? God says to you, "Do not thrust your arm inthe fire." Nature says, "Do not do it." And yet when God says, "Do not commit fornication or adultery, do not lie, do notsteal"-when He says, "Draw near to Me in prayer, love Me," these commands are in themselves as naturally wise as the injunctionnot to thrust your hand into the fire, or the counsel to eat and drink wholesome food when hunger and thirst require! Yetwe spurn these commands. Like a child that is bidden not to drink of the poison cup, but will drink of it. Like a child thatis refused the sharp tool lest he cut himself. And he will cut himself-not believing in his father's wisdom, but credulousof his own judgment because the cup looks sweet, it must be harmless-because the edged tool glitters, it must be a properplaything! Know it, man, you do, when you sin, cut and tear yourself! Who but a madman would do that? If you neglect to dothe right, you neglect to feed yourself with that which nourishes, and to clothe yourself with that which is comely! Who butan idiot would lend himself to such folly? Yet sin has made us such idiots and such madmen and, therefore, it is "exceedinglysinful!"
Sin, if we rightly consider it, is an upsetting of the entire order of the universe. In your family you feel, as a father,that nothing can go smoothly unless there is a head whose discretion shall regulate all the members. If your child shouldsay, "Father, I am determined in this family that, whatever your will is, I will resist it, and whatever mywill is, I will
abide by it and always carry it out if I can," what a family that would be! How disorganized! What a household! Might we notsay, what a Hell upon earth? There sails tomorrow a ship from the Thames under command of a captain, wise and good, who understandsthe seas. But he has scarcely reached the Nore before a sailor tells him that he shall not obey, that he does not intend eitherto reef a sail, or to do anything aboard the vessel that he is bid to do. "Put the fellow in irons!" Everybody says it isright. Or a passenger coming up from the saloon informs the captain that he does not approve of his authority and, throughoutthe whole of the voyage he intends to thwart him all he can. If there is a boat within hail, put that fellow on shore anddo not be concerned if he lands in a muddy place! Get rid of him somehow! Everybody feels it must be. You might as well scuttlethe ship and cut holes in her sides, as tolerate for a moment that the rightful central authority should be unshipped, orthat every man should determine to do what is right in his own eyes! The happiness of everybody on board that vessel willdepend upon order being kept. If one man is to do this, and another to do that, you might almost as well be shut up in a cagewith lions, as be in such a vessel! Now, look at this world-it is but a floating ship on a larger scale-and who ought to beCaptain here but He who made it, for His mighty hand alone can grasp that awful tiller! Who can steer this gigantic vesselover the waves of Providence-who but He? And who am I, and, my Hearer, who are you that you should say, "I will ignore theLord High Admiral! I will forget the Captain! I will rebel against Him"? Why, if all do as you do, what is to become of thewhole vessel, what of the whole world? When disorder is introduced, confusion, sorrow, dismay and disaster will be sure tofollow!
If you want proof that sin is exceedingly sinful, see what it has done already in the world. Lift up your eyes and surveythat lovely garden where every beautiful creature, both of bird and beast, and every flower of unwithering loveliness, andeverything that can delight the senses are to be discovered in the sunlight. There are two perfect beings, a man and a woman,the parents of our race- then enters sin. The flowers are forthwith withered, a new wildness has seized upon the beasts, theground brings forth her thorns and thistles and the man is driven out in the sweat of his face to earn his daily bread! Whowithered Eden? You did, accursed Sin! You did it all! See there-but can you bear the sight?-clouds of smoke, rolling pillarsof dust, the sound of clarion, the yet more dreadful boom of cannon! Listen to the shrieks and cries! They flee-they are pursued-thebattle is over! Walk over the field. There lies a mangled mass of human bodies cut and torn, riddled with shot, skulls splinteredwith rifle balls, pools of blood! Oh, there is such a scene as only a fiend could gaze on with complacency! Who did all this?From where come wars and rumors but from your own lusts and from your sins? Oh, Sin, you are a carnage-maker! Sin, you cry,'"Havoc," and immediately let loose the dogs of war! There had been none of this had you not come. But the spectacle multipliesin our vision. All over the world you have but to wander and you see little hillocks more or less thickly scattered everywhere.And if you analyze the dust that blows along the street and interrogate every grain, it will probably tell you it was oncea part of the body of some man who in generations past died painfully and rotted back to mother earth! Oh, the world is scarredwith death! What is this earth today, but a great Aceldema-a field of blood, a vast cemetery? Death has worm-eaten the worldthrough and through. All its surface bears relics of the human race. Who slew all these? Who slew all these? Who, indeed,but Sin? Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death!
Should your venturous wings of imagination dare the flight to a land that is full of confusion and without any order, I scarcelydare ask you to follow me, nor if you couldfollow, would I venture to lead the way across the stream that parts the land ofmortals from the regions of the immortals! Across that valley of the shadow of death, you might look on the gloomy regionof wretched souls where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched-if you dared to peer into that dismal pit thathas no bottom, that place wherein spirits condemned of God are put away forever and forever from all light of hope and restoration!But you shudder even as I shrink back in very horror from that place where God's wrath burns like a furnace-and the proudthat do wickedness are as stubble-and the nations that forget God are forever consumed! Who lit that fire? Where is he thatkindled it? It is Sin! Sin did it all. No man is there except for sin. No man that ever breathed was ever cast away exceptas punishment most just, for sin most grave! Sin is, indeed, "exceedingly sinful." Not even now have I reached the climax,nor must I venture the description. The worst phase is neither death nor Hell. But on Calvary's tree the Lord, Himself, wholoved us and came to earth to bless us, proved the sinfulness of sin when Sin nailed Him to the tree and pierced His side.And sinners, rejecting Him with many a jibe and sneer, exclaimed, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." In the agoniesof Jesus, in the shame and spitting, in the woes and anguish
that He endured, we read the sinfulness of sin, written as in capital letters, that even the half-blind might see! Oh, Sin,murderer of Christ, you are "exceedingly sinful!" My time has failed me, or I had meant to have enlarged upon-
II. SOME PARTICULAR SINS THAT ARE EXCEEDINGLY SINFUL ABOVE ANY ORDINARY TRANSGRESSION.
I mean sins against the Gospel. I will just give the catalog, that everyone here who is honest with himself may search andsee whether he is guilty. To reject loving messengers sent from God, godly parents, earnest pastors, affectionate teachers-toreject the kind message that they bring and the yearning anxiety that they feel for us is "exceedingly sinful!" To resistthe loving Gospel which talks to us only of mercy, pardon, adoption and redemption from Hell and exaltation to Heaven-to rejectthat is "exceedingly sinful!" To resist the dying Savior whose only motive in coming to earth must have been love, whose woundsare mouths that preach His love, whose death is the solemn proof of love-to despise, to neglect, to ignore Him-this is "exceedinglysinful!" To sin against Him after having made a profession of loving Him. To come to His Table and then go and sin with theungodly. To be baptized in His name and yet to be unjust, dishonest, unrighteous-this is "exceedingly sinful!" To be numberedwith His Church and yet to be of the world. To profess to be His followers and yet to be His enemies-this is "exceedinglysinful!" To sin against light and knowledge. To sin knowing better. To sin against conscience. To push conscience to one side.To do violence to one's better self. To sin against the Holy Spirit, against His admonitions, warnings, promptings, invitations-thisis "exceedingly sinful!" To go on sinning after you have smarted. To continue to sin when sin costs you many pains and difficulties.To push onward to Hell, as if riding a steeple-chase, over post, and bar, and gate, and hedge, and ditch-this is "exceedinglysinful!"
Some of you here, tonight, are in this, exceedingly sinful. Oh, How I have pleaded with some of you! I have cried to you tocome to Jesus. I have warned some of you again and again. If I am called to make answer at the judgment bar, I must say, "Amen,"to the condemnation of many of you! I shall be obliged to confess that you knew better-that some of you drink when you knowhow wrong it is! That some of you can swear. That some of you are thieves. Some of you sin with a high hand and yet I scarcelyknow why you come to this Tabernacle again and again and again! You love to hear my voice and yet you cling to your sins-yoursins that will surely damn you! Let me be clear of your blood! I will not mince matters with you or talk with you as if youare all saints when I know you are not-and as if you are all going to Heaven, when, alas, many of you are still swiftly spreadingyour wings to fly downward to Hell! Oh, may God arrest you, or otherwise the brightness and the light in which you sin willmake your sin the darker and the plainer-and the warnings you hear will make your condemnation the more overwhelming whenit comes!
But why must it come? Why will you die? Why are you set on sin? Why do you love mischief? I see often in the gaslight of mystudy poor gnats come flying in if the window is but ajar-and how they dash against the flame-and down they fall, but havescarcely recovered strength before up they fly again unto their destruction! Are you such? Are you mere insects, without wit,without knowledge? Oh, you are not, or else were you excusable! Come to my Savior, poor Souls! He is still willing to receiveyou! A prayer will do it. Breathe the prayer! A broken heart He will not despise. A look at Him will do it. A faint glanceat Jesus pleading for you will do it! Holy Spirit, make them give that glance! Oh, by Your Irresistible Power, compel themto look and live! Oh, it shall be! God be thanked, it shall be! You shall look tonight and God shall have the Glory! And thoughyou are "exceedingly sinful," yet shall you, through the precious blood, be fully forgiven-and I hope exceedingly gratefulfor the great forgiveness which Jesus brings! The Lord bless you, for His name's sake. Amen.
[The original title of this sermon is "SIN'S TRUE QUALITY."]
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM 51; ROMANS 7:7-25.
There are many sweet notes in Christian music, but to my own heart there is none so soft, tender, sweet as the note of repentance.Full assurance rings out her clarion trumpet strain and we ought to be able to send it forth, but sometimes we are unable.Conquest over sin gives us Miriam's timbrel to dance to and it is well, but everyday use commends me to
the harp strings of penitence! We ought always to be able to play on those strings. They always fit our guilty fingers. Theyare always sweet to the ear of the Most High. Mr. Rowland Hill used to say that there was one friend of his whom he couldnot take to Heaven and whom he thought he would regret to leave-and that was sweet repentance. I suppose when God wipes everytear from our eyes we shall not be able to weep for sin, but until then-
"Lord, let me weep for nothing but sin,
And after none but Thee-
And then I would-oh that I might!)-
A constant weeper be,"
for these bitter sweets-these sweet bitters-are almost the choicest of our sorrow joys or joyful sorrows that we have thisside of Heaven! Thus David sings.
Verse 1. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness, according unto the multitude of Your tender merciesblot out my transgressions. And really, Brothers and Sisters, if we cannot feel that we have need to say, "Have mercy uponme," and if, indeed, this is not the habitual language of our soul, there must be something more wrong about us than evenopen sin! Not to be able to confess sin and not to be able to mourn it is one of the direst states of sin-in which even sincan be found-but to be able to say from the very soul, "Have mercy upon me-blot out my transgressions," indicates that thereis a soundness still in us by Divine Grace. Do you notice what a quick eye David has here for the softer attributes of God?Did ever any man put words together more pleasantly? "According to Your loving kindness"-"according to the multitude of Yourtender mercies." God never looks more beautiful than when He is seen through a tear! If, under a sense of sin, you see Himas the strangely forgiving God, oh, how pleasant a God He is, and how our hearts love Him!
2. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. It is not the punishment. The child of God has got awayfrom the legal fear that dreads the punishment. The sin-the sin-is that which he loathes and hates. "Lord, get rid of it.I seem to need double cleansing. Wash me! Wash me thoroughly! And when You have done that, cleanse me, for there are stainsthat washing will not get out. Try fire, Lord, if water will not do it, but somehow wash me thoroughly from my iniquity andcleanse me from my sin."
3. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. It is thrown out on the surface. Health comes back whenthe disease manifests itself by an outward eruption. It is when you do not acknowledge it-it is when it is not before you-whenyou cannot perceive it-will not confess your sin-it is then that it is at the heart-strings killing you, murdering you! Confessedsin has the teeth taken out of it, but sin that is not felt and known, and still is there, breeds the canker of self-conceitand pride-and is deadly to the heart.
4. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight: that You might be justified when You speak, andbe clear when You judge.For in sin, this is the essence of it-that it is sin against God. You cannot get the worldly man tofeel that. "I have done no hurt to my neighbor. I have not injured society." But how different it is with the child of God!It is against Godthat he has sinned. What if he has never left his chamber-if he has never done an action or said a word?Yet that proud heart of his that rebelled when he was full of pain-that murmuring spirit that would not accept the Lord'swill-that is enough to lay him in the dust-and he mourns it and confesses it. "Against You, You only, have I sinned."
5. Behold, I was shaped in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me. It is not merely that I sinned, but I am sin! Iam a lump of sin-a heap of iniquity-by nature so. It is not merely in me, but it isme-my very self! It is in my blood, mybones, my marrow. O God, can You cleanse me from this?
6. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom. And sin is a lie,and sin is folly. God desires truth and wisdom. Can He give us both of these? Yes, and He will-only let us acknowledge theuntruthfulness and confess the stupidity, and put ourselves into His hands for His Infinite Grace to deal with us and He willyet do it. "In the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom."
7. Purge me with hyssop, and Jshall be clean: wash me, and Ishall be whiter than snow. "With hyssop." Just as the priest tookthe bunch of herbs and put it into the basin full of blood, and stirred it round and round till he soaked the hyssop in thecrimson and then sprinkled it upon the penitent, oh Lord, apply the blood of Christ to my soul! Purge with me hyssop"-
"And I shall be clean."
I shall not be clean any other way. This is the only cleansing and purgation by the sacrificial Atonement. And You alone mustdo it. Lord, do it now!
8-9. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, andblot out all my iniquities.I do not want to hear it unless You make me to hear it. I would not be comforted unless You comfortme. Dread above everything, dear Friends, false comfort-false judgments of yourselves-high motions about your own attainments-grandideas of your own standing in yourselves.
10. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. For there must not merely be a creation, but adaily renewal, or else what You have once created will soon be blotted and marred as Your first natural creation was. Go onfrom day to day to make and keep my heart pure within.
11. Cast me not away from Your Presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Do not fling me away as a man pulls up a weedby the roots and throws it on a dunghill-
"Take not your Holy Spirit from me." Oh, how often will the child of God have to pray this prayer? The Holy Spirit is in himand he knows it, but he grieves the Spirit-and when his heart is very tender this is his daily fear-lest the Spirit of Godshould depart from him. "Take not your Holy Spirit from me."
12. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation; and uphold me with Your free spirit I did know it once. What joy it is-thejoy of Your salvation! Give it back to me, O Lord. I cannot live on the old mercy! The recollection does not satisfy. It onlymakes me hunger. "Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation."
13. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners shall be converted unto You. Nobody ever teaches the mercy of Godso well as he that tastes it. Sinner, do you know what a good God my Lord Jesus is? He has forgiven my innumerable sins and,therefore, I love to speak of Him, and to speak of Him to such as you are, such as I am. "He is able to save to the uttermostthem that come unto God by Him." Dear Friends, if you know the Savior, be sure you tell all you know! Or if you cannot tellit all, tell as much as you can, and as long as you have got breath! And it may not be long. You may not have many more opportunities,for sickness comes so suddenly and puts the strong man aside so soon. Do use for God what time you have and tell of His lovewhile you are yet in the land where men can hear it, and where you can speak of it. Let this be your prayer-"Then will I teachtransgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto You."
14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righ-teousness.Hesaid that he would be a preacher? No, he said that he would be a singer. God's people feel that they cannot do too much whenthey get a sense of pardoned sin. They will be both preacher and presenter! They will preach! They will sing! They will haveall the irons in the fire. They will not be afraid of turning their faculties to too many accounts.
15-17. O Lord open You my lips; and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You desire not sacrifice; else would I giveit: You delight not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Youwill not despise.What a sweet verse that is! Have you got a broken heart tonight, dear Friend, and do you feel almost ashamedto bring it, because it is in such a broken condition? It is in the best possible condition! I have read accounts of meetingsof God's saints met by the ten days together and talking all about great things that have been done for them and from thefirst to the last no indication of a broken heart or of a contrite spirit! I confess I could not understand it and did notwant to understand it. I would rather stand with the poor publican behind the door five minutes and say, "God be mercifulto me a sinner," than sit ten days with perfect brethren to magnify and glorify God about what I thought He had done for me,because I am persuaded that in the latter case I should be always in danger of magnifying myself, rather than God-whereasin the former case I should be near the truth, and near where I ought to be. Oh, keep to this-"The sacrifices of God are abroken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."
18, 19. Do good in Your good pleasure unto Zion: build You the walls of Jerusalem. Then shall You bepleased with the sacrificesof righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon Your altar. Notice this.David felt that he had done something to pull down the walls of Zion. His bad example would do mischief to the cause of Godand his prayer to be forgiven is not a selfish one, which deals only with his own particular
blessing, or his own desire for mercy. He wants the Church to prosper! He wants God's work to go on and so he cannot closethe prayer, even of a penitent and broken heart, without crying, "Build You the walls of Jerusalem." In proportion as we thinkless of ourselves we shall think more of the Church of God, and more of the work of God in the land. To despise yourself isthe way to honor God and His people. But when you honor yourself, you will first despise others, and it will go on by degreesto a dishonoring of God, Himself, from which may the Lord save us!
This is Paul's own account of his inward conflicts. He longed to conquer sin. He wanted to become a free man and live alwaysa godly and holy life, but he found that there was a battle within his nature.
Verse 7. What shall we say then?Is the Lawsin? God forbid! No, Ihadnot known sin, but by the Law: for Ihadnot known lust,except the Law had said, You shall not covet.There are some who hope to overcome their evil propensities by the Law of God.They think that if they can know and feel the authority of the Law of God, that will have an awe over their minds and theyshall become holy. Now the Law is, in itself, supremely holy. It cannot be improved. We could not add to it, or take fromit without injuring it. It is a perfect Law! But what is its effect upon the mind? When it comes into an unrenewed mind, insteadof checking sin, it causes sin! The Apostle says that he had not known lust, except the Law had said, "You shall not covet."There is a something about us which rebels against law the moment we come to it. There are some things we should never thinkof doing if we were not prohibited from them-and then there becomes a tendency at once in this vile nature of ours to breakthe Law of God.
8. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, workedin me allmanner of concupiscence. For without the Law sin was dead.Ifthere had never been any Law, there could not have been any sin, because sin is a breaking of Law! The Law is good. We arenot speaking about that. The Law is necessary, but still, such is our nature that the very existence of Law argues and createsthe existence of sin. And when the Law comes, then sin comes immediately. "Without the Law sin was dead."
9. For I was alive without the Law once.I thought that I was everything that was good. I imagined that I was doing everythingthat was right. I felt no rebellion in my heart. I was alive.
9. But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. I kicked at that commandment. My holiness was soon gone. The excellencewhich I thought I had in my character soon vanished for I found myself breaking the Law of God.
10-13. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death For sin, taking occasion by the commandment,deceived me, and by it slew me. Therefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that whichis good made death unto me? God forbid! But, sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good: thatsin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful There was sin in his nature, but he did not know it. But when the commandmentcame, then that evil nature said, "I won't keep that commandment," and it took occasion at once to show itself by breakingthat commandment. It was something like a medicine which many a wise physician has given to his patient. There is a deadlydisease in the internals of the man and he gives him a medicine that throws it out. You see it on the skin. You feel the painof it. It would have been his death anyhow. It can only be his death now, but now it is a part of the process of the cureto bring the disease where it can be seen. And so the Law comes into a man's heart and because of the rebellion of his nature,he kicks against the Law and sins. It does not make him sinful. It only shows that he wassinful, for a perfect Law would notmake a perfect man sin! It would lead and guide him in the way of holiness. But a perfect Law coming into contact with animperfect nature soon creates rebellion and sin. It is an illustration that is not good throughout, but still it is of someuse. You have seen quicklime-you throw water on it. The water is of a cooling nature. There is nothing in the water but thatwhich would quench fire, and yet when it is thrown upon the lime the consequence is a burning heat! So is it with the Lawcast upon man's nature. It seems to create sin. Not that the Law does it of itself, but, coming into contact with the viciousprinciples of our nature, sin becomes the product of it. It is the only product. You may preach up the Law of God till everybodybecomes worse than he was before. You may read the Ten Commandments till men learn what to do in order to provoke God! TheLaw does not create holiness. It never can.
14. For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal Fleshly.
14. Sold under sin.Even now that I have become a Christian and am renewed by Grace!
15. For that which I do, I allow not.I often do that which I do not justify, which I do not wish to do again, which I abhormyself for doing.
16. For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do. This is the Believer 's riddle. To say that this is not aBeliever's experience is to prove that the man who says it does not know much about how Believers feel. We hate sin and yet,alas, alas, we fall into it! We would live perfect lives if we could, we that are renewed. We make no justification for oursin-it is evil and abominable-yet do we find these two things warring and fighting within.
16. If, then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good. My inmost heart says the Law of God isgood, though I have not kept it as I wish I had-yet my very wish to keep it is the consent of my nature to the goodness ofthat Law-and proves that there is a vitality about me which will yet throw out the disease and make me right in the sightof God.
17. Now then it is no more I that do it The real "I," the true "I," the new-born "ego." Thank God for that-to have a willto do good, to have a strong, passionate desire to be holy! "To will is present with me."
17. But sin that dwells in me.I would be earnest in prayer, and my thoughts are distracted. I would love God with all my heart,but something else comes in and steals away a part of it. I would be holy as God is holy, but I find myself falling shortof my desires. So the Apostle means.
18-20, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to wiil is present with me: but how to performthat which is good I find not For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I dothat I would not, it is no more I that do it The true and real "I."
20. But sin that dwells in me.Oh, this accursed indwelling sin! Would God it were driven out. We do not say this to excuseourselves-God forbid-but to blame ourselves that we permit this sin to dwell within us! Yet must we rejoice in God that weare born-again, and that this new "I," the true "I," will not yield to sin, but fights against it!
21. I find then a Law. Or rule.
21-24. That, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man. But I seeanother Law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is inmy members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?Now, the more holy a man gets, themore he cries in this fashion. While he is low down in the scale, he puts up with sin and he is uneasy. But when he gets tosee Christ and get somewhat like He, the more nearly he approximates to the image of his Master, the more the presence ofthe least sinful thought is horrifying to him! He would, if he could, never look on sin again-never have the slightest inclinationto it, but he finds his heart getting abroad and wandering when he would tether it down, if he could, to the Cross and crucifyit there. And so the more happy he is in Christ the more desperately does he cry against the wretchedness of being touchedwith sin, even in the least degree. "Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
25. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. It will be done! I shall be delivered. I shall be perfect-
"Oh, blissful hour! Oh, sweet abode! I shall be near and like my God." Oh, to be without fault before the Throne of God-withouttendency to sin, without the possibility of it, immaculately clean, with a heart that sends forth pure waters like the Riverof Life that flows from beneath the Throne of God! This is our portion! We are looking for it, and we will never rest untilwe get it, blessed be His name. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
25. So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God. With the new nature.
25. But with the flesh, the law of sin. With the flesh-this old rubbishing stuff that must die and be buried, and the soonerthe better! With my old corrupt nature I serve the law of sin. But what a mercy it is that the next verse is that, notwithstandingthat, "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but afterthe Spirit."