Sermon 699. Sin Condemned And Executed By Christ Jesus
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 8, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinfulflesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh."
ONE of the sweetest and most attractive titles of our Lord Jesus Christ, is, "the Friend of sinners." He was in His mannersso gentle towards offenders, so graciously did He seek out the lost, and so tenderly did He invite the erring to pardon andreconciliation that it was slanderously said of Himthat He was the Friend of sin as well as of sinners. This was the old heathen slander of the days of Celsus. Philosophyand Phariseeism sneeringly asserted that Jesus treated iniquity so lightly, and made it so easy a matter to escape from itsconsequences that He was rather thehelper and abettor of sin than its destroyer. And they blasphemously declared that His Apostles had preached the doctrineof "let us do evil that good may come."
My Brothers and Sisters, you know that this charge was utterly and entirely false and those who uttered the libel knew itto be so, too, if they were at all conversant with our Lord's history. In His example evil meets with no encouragement, andin His teaching it finds no excuse. If they possessedthe slightest acquaintance with the objects of His life, they must have known that though the Friend of sinners, He wasemphatically beyond all other public teachers the Enemy of sin. His hatred towards sin was not a mere passion-it was a principle.It did not flash forth nowand then-it was a constant flame. He hated sin, if I may say so, implacably-never making a moment's truce with it. He pursuedit by day in His ministry and by night in His prayers. He lived to smite it and he died to destroy it!
And now in His risen Glory it is upon sin as well as upon Satan that He sets His heel. He was manifested that He might destroythe works of the devil and He has erected a battering engine which will not leave of Satan's strongholds so much as one stoneupon another. In the life of our Lord Histenderness for sinners was but the natural form in which His hatred for sin displayed itselfjust as a physician, from thevery fact that he is the antagonist of disease, displays a deep interest in those afflicted by it.
Our Lord's keeping company with sinners by no means proved that He was the friend of sin any more than the physician's attendanceat the hospital would at all lead to the suspicion that he was the friend of disease. The skillful physician is the friendof the diseased, but to the disease itselfwhat enemy shall be found more determined and inveterate? Because the whole have no need of a physician, Jesus seeks themnot. But since the sick need Him, He seeks them-not out of love to their sin, but out of love to them-that they may be deliveredfrom the cruelbondage under which their sin has held them.
You will have noticed, too that even when the Savior is most tender towards a certain class of sinners, it is that He maydisplay His wrath against sin itself-He will not execrate one sin and exonerate another-but all sin shall see in Him its deadlyfoe. It is true He said to the womantaken in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." By this He, by no means, excused her adultery-but Hedeclined to assume the functions of an earthly judge-and more especially He refused to pronounce sentence upon one case alonewhen so many were beforeHim who were not accused but were known to Him to be equally guilty.
His leniency to one could do no mischief when His justice to all was so conspicuous. Those who brought the woman desired Himsimply to show His hatred of her, and to manifest abhorrence of that one offense which had happened to be found out. But thatflash of His eyes when He said, "He that iswithout sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," was a far more terrible deliverance against sin than if He hadsaid, "Yes, take her away and bind her hand and foot, and let her die. But as for you, you hypocrites, you who are practicing,perhaps, the same sin in private,inasmuch as you have not been discovered by your fellow men, I suffer you to escape with impunity."
If He judged one He must judge all, and therefore He dismissed them all to the appointed time for judgment, manifesting, itseems to me, quite as much His hatred of sin as His tenderness towards the sinner. So everywhere connected with the gentlenessof the Savior, in which He does not "break thebruised reed nor quench the smoking flax," there is a most determinate wrath-a lion-like fierceness against sin, especiallyin its hypocritical forms-for He who bids the open and acknowledged sinner come to Him cries in the same breath, "Woe untoyou, scribes andPharisees, hypocrites," and calls them whitewashed sepulchers filled with dead men's bones.
There is not, then, the slightest foundation for the accusation that Jesus is in the least degree the Friend of sin, thoughHe is the Friend of sinners. On the contrary, we can easily prove the assertion which is made in the text that Jesus Christcame into the world to condemn sin, and hascondemned it and that sin never was condemned before as it was in the sacrifice of His Person, and that the Law of Mosesitself could not, through the weakness of the flesh, condemn sin as Jesus Christ has done. For He has not only passed sentenceupon it but has executed it,carrying the sentence into effect.
God had condemned sin before but never so efficiently as in the Person of His Son. God's very Nature condemns sin. The existenceof the thrice holy Jehovah is a constant protest against all unholiness. God condemned sin in that day when He drove Adamand Eve out of the garden. When He suffered thetrail of the serpent to ruin Paradise and condemned our first parents-all naked and ashamed-to till the ground from whichthey were taken, and in the sweat of their face to eat bread.
God condemned sin, constantly condemned it in the death which became common to the entire race. Every funeral is God's repetitionof His anathema against sin. When our friends are carried to the silent sepulcher, the Lord of All does, in fact, say to us,"See what a bitter thing sin is! It takesthe light from the eyes and the music from the ears. It silences the voice of song, and palsies the hands of skill. It quenchesthe fire of love upon the heart's altar and removes the light of understanding from the brain's judgment seat. It gives overthe creature, once so lovelyand beloved, to become a putrid mass-a horror and a loathing so that affection itself cries out-'Bury my dead out of mysight.' " Thus every gravestone and every green hillock in the cemetery may be regarded as the still small voice of God solemnlycondemning sin.
The Lord of Old judged and condemned sin in that great and terrible calamity which swept the whole race away with a mightydeluge when "sea monsters whelped and stabled in the palaces of kings." When over the mountains' loftiest brow the ragingbillows prevailed, and not even the shriek of a"strong swimmer in his agony" could be heard, for Death rode triumphant on the crested billow over a sea without a shore.Then it was that God declared sin to be so dreadful that it saddened Him that He had made men upon the face of the earth,and He drew up the floodgates of Hiswrath until He had swept the earth clean of the rebellious race, except the elect eight who floated in the ark.
In after years the Lord opened all the batteries of Heaven against sin in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Terriblewas that hail of fire and sleet of brimstone which descended upon the cities of the plain because the reeking foulness oftheir sin had come up into the nostrils of the MostHigh, and He could endure it no longer. But all these judgments which I have mentioned were comparatively inoperative uponthe conscience of man. Man sinned though he was expelled from the garden. He did not fall down on his knees and hate the sinwhich had withered Eden. Man grewup to mourn, but his mourning did not heal him of sinning-the medicine was very bitter-but it did not cure.
Notwithstanding that the tradition of Eden and the expulsion must have been fresh in the memories of mankind, and they musthave known that sin, and sin only, was the cause of every mother's pang and the cause of every man's toil, when in the sweatof his brow he ate his bread-yet manfollowed sin as though it were his chief good. Even the constant occurrence of death has not taught man the evil of theroot which produced so dire a fruit. Man sins although he stands upon the brink of the grave. It is not enough that the halteris about the traitor's neck-hecommits fresh treasons while standing beneath the gallows! He knows that his doom is recorded and that his life is onlya reprieve, and yet he insults the judge.
Man knows that it is only a matter of time when his body should return to the dust from where it came, and yet dying man issinful man. And though he knows that he shall soon appear before his Maker's bar, how slight the worry of this upon any man!In fact, where are a more thoughtless race of menthan those who have most acquaintance with the grave, and where shall you find men who laugh at death more than those whoare constantly engaged at the tomb? Moreover the great judgments of the deluge and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah madebut a slight impression uponmankind, for man began to build his Babel tower in defiance of God almost as soon as the flood was assuaged and men beganto multiply!
And as for Sodom and Gomorrah, there were doubtless men who looked on at that fearful blaze and saw the smoke blacken theheavens, who then returned to their lusts and were still as before given up to their idols. All the judgments were weak, becauseman's flesh is so stubbornly set on sin. It isnever to be forgotten that the Lord judged sin and condemned it upon Sinai. The Law of God of the Ten Commands, with thepenal sentence attached, was intended to be God's great conviction, trial, and judgment of sin. Truly, when we consider thatLaw so high, so broad, soall-encompassing, so reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart-and when we recollect how it was given with soundof trumpet, and blaze of lightning with a boundary set around the mount-with fearful curses upon the man who should violateits commands and withwondrous blessings to those who should keep its precepts-it must appear to be a singularly glorious and commanding judgmentof sin!
"The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them. He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousandsof saints: from His right hand went a fiery Law for them." "His lightning enlightened the world: the earth saw and trembled.The hills melted like wax at the Presence of theLord, at the Presence of the Lord of the whole earth." Sinai itself was altogether on a smoke, so that the man, the mediatorMoses, said, "I exceedingly fear and quake." That Law, given by angels in the hand of a mediator was steadfast and terrible,and was a most wondrous judgingand condemning of sin! Yet you know what little effect it had upon those who had first received it.
Before the forty days were over-before Moses could get down from the mount-they were dancing around the golden calf and shouting,"These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of Egypt." From that day till now what has God's Law been to thecarnal mind? A form printed upontables in their churches, but not written on the tablets of their hearts. A rule read in their hearing, but forgotten intheir lives-admired in theory, but neglected in practice. The scene at Sinai was a solemn judgment of sin, just as were theother judgments which I havementioned-but in effect it was inoperative, it was weak-not in itself, but through the flesh. Weak, because man is so strongin sin. Weak, because for unrenewed man to know God's will is for him to know how to fly in the teeth of it.
Human nature has learned how to rebel rather than how to obey by studying the Law-the Commandments which were ordained forlife have been made our death. The Law has been made by our rebellious wills a negative rather than a positive rule. Man haslearned by it how to live so as to insult hisgreat Benefactor and Friend. Thus it is clear that though the Lord oftentimes condemned sin, yet sin still reigned in man'sheart. Therefore He sent His own Son into the world to do what His judgments and His Law had not done, namely, to condemnsin in the flesh, that once and forall we might know in our inmost souls that sin is a hateful thing-and knowing, might feel it and avoid it.
This brings me to the text itself. The text may be understood in two ways-these two senses shall constitute the two heads.Sin was condemned by our Lord's suffering for sin-notice the margin-"By a sacrifice for sin" He condemned sin in the flesh.The first head then, is, sin wascondemned by Christ's sacrifice of Himself. And secondly, as some translators give to the word "condemned" the force ofdestroyed, we shall read it thus-sin was executed in the sufferings of the Savior. These two points, if God the Holy Spiritshall lead us into them, mayafford us a good morning's meditation. And then the practical conclusions from them will, I hope, be not restricted to thismorning, but accompany us all our days.
I. Our first point is this, that albeit all the former condemnations of sin which God gave to the world were weak throughthe flesh, yet THERE HAS NOW BEEN GIVEN A MOST EFFECTIVE AND POTENT CONDEMNATION OF SIN IN THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST.Of course, the potency must be judged by its effectupon those who received that sacrifice-and in such persons sin is most effectually condemned.
1. The Savior condemned sin by His sufferings, by allowing it to work itself out to its legitimate result. Sin is exceedingsinful but we could never have known how sinful sin was if it had not slain Christ. A certain preacher, who delighted in avery flowery style, once ventured in a very splendidpassage of his oration to depict the loveliness of virtue. "O virtue, you fair angel," and so on, "if you should come downto earth in all your radiance," etc., etc., "all men would love you."
This wonderful flight of wordiness receives its fall in the history of Calvary. We could never have known how detestable sinwas if this had not been put to the test. Virtue did come down among men, not in its severer aspect as a stoical moralist,but it descended in its gentlest form in the Personof the most loving and tender man that ever lived, even Jesus Christ. But sin so hates and loathes that which is good, thatinstead of receiving this Incarnate Virtue with honor, sin was never satisfied till after hunting the Man through life, itat last nailed Him to the gallows ofa malefactor, and put Him to a death too cruel even for the most loathsome and detestable of beings.
It is with sin according to the parable of our Lord. Sin had entered the vineyard of the Lord and robbed Him of the fruitthereof. He sent His servants to His vineyard, and they cried unto it, "Thus and thus said the Lord." But Sin, being angry,took the servants, one by one, knowing them to be theservants of God, and it smote one, and threw another into prison, and slew another till the servants of God came only tobe persecuted and to be slain. At last He said, "I will send My Son-they will surely reverence My Son."
It was surely impossible that if the Son of God should come armed with a commission from the Most High, Sin would ventureto smite Him! But behold the hardihood of Sin! It said, "This is the heir, let us kill Him that the inheritance may be ours."And it slew Him and cast Him out of the vineyard.Sin was then seen to be the cruel, horrible, detestable, traitorous thing which God had declared it to be. And now thatman knows it to be such, he cannot deny it, for the murdered body of the Savior shows the deadly mischief that lurks in Sin.
It is as though there were a certain poisoned river and a parent had often said to his children, "Drink it not, my children,it is sweet at first, but soon it will bring on you pains most fearful, and death will shortly follow. Do not drink it." Butthese children were very willful and would notbelieve it. And, albeit that sometimes a dog or an ox would drink of it and be sore pained and die, they did not believein all its injurious effects to them. But by-and-by One made like unto themselves drank of it, and when they saw Him die inanguish most terrible, then theyunderstood how deadly must be the effects of this poisoned stream. When the Savior Himself was made sin for us and thendied in griefs unutterable- then we saw what sin could do-and the exceeding sinfulness of sin was displayed.
To use another illustration-you have a tame leopard in your house and you are often warned that it is a dangerous creatureto trifle with. But its coat is so sleek and beautiful, and its frolicking is so gentle that you let it play with the childrenas though it were a well-domesticated cat.You cannot have it in your heart to put it away. You tolerate it, no, you indulge it. Alas, one black and terrible day ittastes of blood and rends in pieces your favorite child! Then you know its nature and need no further warning. It has condemneditself by displaying the fullferocity of its nature.
So with sin-we thought it such a fair thing we could not be persuaded that anything so pleasant, so fair spoken, could reallybe so deadly an enemy as God said it was. But when sin leaped upon our altogether lovely Jesus, and like a ravening wolf delighteditself in His slaughter, then itcondemned itself most effectually. Every Christian feels this- what he could not feel through contemplating the expulsionfrom Eden-what he might not feel through thinking of the curse of the Law, he does feel and must feel when he sees sin thusprostrating the Lord ofLife and Glory and making Him suffer even to the death!
Christian, you know now what sin would do to you! You now know how it would scourge and crucify you, make you cry, "My God,my God, why have you forsaken me?" and cast you into a bloody sweat, and destroy you utterly! You see now that sin has sucha weight in it that only eternal God can bear it!And you will, from now on, hate and dread it-you will no longer favor it. God has condemned it by allowing it to show itselfin its true colors! You hear the condemnation and you say amen to it, do you not? What the Law could not do, God has done.
2. But the text wears a fuller meaning when we recollect that Christ did not only condemn sin by allowing it to carry itselfout to the full, but He condemned it by actually bearing its penalty as our Substitute. This is the great doctrine of HolyScripture and it becomes us to speak very plainlyabout it. The punishment which was due to man for sin was suffered by our Lord. If not the exact punishment, yet that whichwas equivalent to it was suffered by the Savior on the tree, and this constituted the most weighty and effectual condemnationof sin.
Observe carefully, dear Friends, that the condemnation of sin in the sacrifice of Christ derives much of its weight from thedignity of His Person. Sin was laid, this time, not on an angel-not on some chosen cherub or seraph-sin was laid upon Onewho is none other than God over all,blessed forever! The mighty God Himself wrapped His Glory in a veil of our inferior clay and then sin was laid on Him. Now,if sin is such a terrible thing. If it deserve the condemnation that is pronounced upon it, we shall see what it will do withHim. Will sin bring Him down?Will sin make Him smart? Will sin make Him cry?
He is God's only begotten Son! Sin must be a bitter thing, indeed, if it is necessary for God to smite His own Son! Will notthe Great Ruler of the universe make an exception in this case? Sin may be very gross, but can He not, when it is laid uponOne so heavenly, so pure, so Divine, may not Hedeal gently with it? He may use His rod, but surely He will not unsheathe His sword!
Listen! "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man that is My Companion, says the Lord." There is no sparing here!Do you see the Savior ground between the upper and nether millstone of Divine vengeance? Hear His cries and mark His fallingtears! Perceive His heart surrounded with Divinewrath and filled with sorrow, till, like a boiling caldron, it flows over in groans and cries! Look at that spectacle ofwoe till you dare not look any longer, for the grief is too amazing for the eye to see or for the soul to think upon!
Now, Sin, you are condemned, indeed! Hunted out from place to place, at last you leap upon the palace of God-you touch thathuman Tabernacle wherein the Second Person of the Divine Trinity rested! And the Tabernacle must come down! Death must invadeeven the body of the Christ of God becausesin was laid upon Him! This is all the more amazing and more remarkable a condemnation of sin because it was not His ownsin-in Him was no sin-and yet the sins of His people, when laid upon the Savior, made Him exceedingly sorrowful even untodeath.
Sin was condemned, again, by the excellence of the motive which led the Savior to take sin upon Himself. He took the sinsof His enemies upon Himself-sins of those who could not reward Him for His pains-but who, on the contrary, had up to now despisedHim and esteemed Him not. When Hewas found with sin laid upon Him, He was not taken as a thief nor seized as a malefactor by our God. Justice knew that Christwas in the sinner's place for no motive but one of disinterested love. He had nothing to gain, but everything to lose. Thosefor whom He came, as we havealready said, but we need to remind you of it again-had no claims upon Him-they had no love for Him. And even after He hadgiven Himself to die for them they lived in hardness of heart, rejecting Him till His own superior Grace overcame them.
Now one would think that a man having sin upon him from such a motive, so heavenly, so Divine, might have been spared. ButJesus was not spared-of the cup He drank every drop! Of the lash He felt every blow! The penalty which Christ endured wasnot a mitigated penalty for sin, but the wholeweight of Jehovah's wrath fell on Him. He was treated as a thing accursed, for He was made a curse for us-made sin for usthat we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In what a manner was sin thus condemned!
I shall not, however, treat this as a matter of doctrine. I shall come to you, Christian, and ask you if it is not so in yourinmost heart. Is not sin condemned in your heart when you see the Lord of Glory die for your iniquities? Do you not hate thesin which brought Him down to such a depth? Andwhen you remember that He died-that though He was guiltless He died simply out of love for you-do you not vow a full revengeagainst your sin and feel that the thing which once might be pleasurable is now detestable? Do you not feel that that whichyou could toy with andthink nothing of is now loathsome to the very last degree?
Once again-did the Savior not condemn sin most emphatically in the terror of the pains which He endured? The severity of Godto sin was marked in the Savior's bitter griefs. No, I will not tell you over again that old story, that precious story ofthe passion in the garden-of thebetrayal by His friend, of the accusations of treason and of blasphemy, of the scourging, the crown of thorns, the spit,the mocking, the bearing of the Cross, the piercing of His hands and feet, the stripping, the scorn, the thirst, the fever,the death-I will only justremind you of His desertion by His God, of the soul-griefs that He endured!
Oh that I had power to depict them and that your minds could view them aright! We are never duly impressed, I am afraid, withthe griefs of the Son of God! We weep over some silly story. Or when we hear of the little griefs of our friends we mournwith them. But the griefs of our best Friend do notaffect us, and the sorrows of our best Beloved do not move us as they ought! Yet at times, at favored intervals, when youand I are permitted to sit and view the flowing of His precious blood-when we gaze into His wounds, when we hear his death-criesand mark His pangs andsorrows-then we have felt that sin was condemned! We never hate sin so much as when we get a realizing thought of the griefsof Immanuel.
Human philosophy cannot make you hate sin. The study of the Law of God cannot make you hate it. But if you have ever, withtearful glance, beheld the Son of God expiring and groaning out His life for you in consequence of your sins- then God hasdone in you, despite the weakness of yourflesh, what the Law could not do and what all other things beside could never accomplish. I must press this matter homewith you, Christians, that you may give your own verdict whether it is not so. Have you not felt that you have not half aword to say for sin now? That you couldnot defend it, no, that you could not bear it? It is now as if a man should come to you and say, "I have slain a man, hideme from justice." You might possibly consider whether you should conceal him-but if you discovered that he had assassinatedyour child and that his handswere blood-red with its innocent blood, you would say, "Hide you? How can I hide you? It is my own child whom you have slain."
When sin comes to me I know its mischievous effect and I dare not, for that reason, tolerate it. But when I hear that it slewmy dear Redeemer-slew Him who loved me eternally and without change-loved me without a motive for loving me, but only becauseHe would love me! When I hear thatsin slew Him, I cry, "Away with you! Sin, away with you! Away with you! It is not fit that you should live. Away with you!Down to the depths of Hell descend, and even there there is no darkness so dark as you are! No terror so terrible as you are!You Hell of hells, you blacknessof darkness! You accursed thing! You have slain my Lord."
This is what the text means when it tells us that the sacrifice of Jesus condemns sin.
II. JESUS EXECUTES AND DESTROYS SIN. When we have a great offender to deal with, it is something to get him condemned, butour customs in this country do not always necessitate that a person condemned to die should die, for there are some casesnow fresh in your memory where the sentence of deathhas been pronounced, and probably very justly too, and yet mercy (God forbid that I should say a word against it!) has comein and the sentence has not been carried out.
Now our Lord Jesus not only came into the world to pronounce the sentence of death upon sin, but He crucified it. He foughtwith it and overthrew it then and there. He was not merely judge, but executioner-"He condemned sin in the flesh." At thepresent moment sin is crucified in those soulswhere Christ reigns. We will show you in what way Christ has executed sin. In the first place our Lord has destroyed itas to its penal power. There is no power in sin to condemn the Believer now.
"What?" says one, "Does not sin condemn every man at whose door it lies?" Certainly it does-sin condemns every man with whomit is found. But in the case of the Believer sin is not imputed, not laid at his door, for David said, "Blessed is he whosetransgression is forgiven, whose sin iscovered; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." The sin ofthe Believer was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ, "for the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And from that dayforward the penalty of sin has beendischarged and removed by the Redeemer's having endured it Himself.
The black cloud of my sin has no rain in it-it has emptied out its rain upon Christ. No, the black cloud itself has ceasedto be! The Red Sea of my sin cannot drown me-it is dried up by Christ-I have a safe passage through it. My sin is, in itself,most deadly and destructive as Isee it to have been in the Person of my Lord Jesus, but it shall neither destroy nor condemn me for it has destroyed andcondemned Christ. And He has destroyed and condemned it. Good old Christmas Evans describes death as a dragon wearing a stingcalled sin, and being so determinedto destroy the Savior that it darted its sting right through His body into the Cross.
"And then," he says, "he could never draw it out again." That old dragon Death is a dragon still, but it has lost its sting,for it left its sting in the Cross of the dead Redeemer. Sin is gone and gone forever. "He has finished transgression, andmade an end of sin." The jaw teeth of sin arebroken! It may howl at me and worry me, but it cannot rend me or destroy me. As for original sin, Christ has put that away.As for actual sin, however great or however numerous actual sins may be, Christ has destroyed the penal power of sin in thecase of every Believer. "Who is hethat condemns? It is Christ that died." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Once you get into Christ,O Believer, you may see your sin laid on the scapegoat's head of old and carried right away into the wilderness of oblivionwhere it shall never have anaccusation to raise against you any more forever !
Sin, in the next place, was executed by Christ as to its depressing power upon the conscience. When an ungodly man is arousedto see sin, it weighs on his heart like a nightmare. "I cannot," he says, "I cannot be saved! My sin is so evil. No longermay I hope-it is in vain to pray, in vain totrust, in vain to do anything! My sin fills me with despair! It makes me drunk with wormwood and breaks my teeth with gravelstones." But sin has no such depressing power upon the
Christian as to drive him to despair. He sees sin, but he beholds an Atonement made. He perceives how black a thing sin is,but he sees the fountain filled with blood.
He weeps over his sin, but he does not despair about it. He understands that sin by itself would put him into a helpless plight,but he comprehends that the eternal love of God, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, has made his case not only hopefulbut one in which he is safe and sure ofeverlasting life because the penalty for sin has been discharged by the Redeemer on his behalf. Sin is dead to the Christianin those two senses. I look sin in the face and I say to it, "You foul, you loathsome, you detestable thing! You cannot dragme down to Hell-I know youcannot-and you cannot even make me fear! I am bold, I can sing, I can rejoice, sinner as I am! You cannot stop me of myglory, for I am in Christ, absolved in Christ and secure." In these two senses sin is put away forever by our Savior's death.
Moreover, sin is destroyed in the Christian as to its power over his heart. No soul that has come to trust in Jesus Christloves sin. You do sin, my Brothers and Sisters, but if you could have your own way you would not. If your new nature couldfollow out its bent and desire what would you be?Would you not desire to be perfect even as God is perfect? To cease from every sin and run in every Christian duty? I cansay honestly that if I might now have my choice, it should not be to possess wealth, or even health, nor fame, nor any ofthose things which dazzle humaneyes-but to be perfectly holy.
Even if I must be in consequence very poor, and very despised, or even die-to be perfectly holy were the climax of one's wishes.This shows that sin is destroyed in our heart. As Master Bunyan tells us, Diabolus could not enter the citadel any more afterthe Prince Immanuel had driven him outof the town of Mansoul. He did enter the city through Ear-Gate and Eye-Gate and his troops swarmed in every street, buthe could never recapture the castle. The heart is kept for God! The heart of the Christian is inviolate and chaste for thesoul's true Husband, the Lord Jesus. Sinis slain in the heart by Jesus. We cannot love sin since Christ has died.
The Lord Jesus Christ, by His death has also crucified sin in its active energy over our lives. Alas, not over the lives ofsome professors, but they are not the true Israel. There are some professors of religion who, when the Lord comes, will certainlymeet with a very fearful end! I mean such ofyou as profess to be the Lord's people and yet can secretly indulge in the sins of the flesh. Those of you who trade dishonestly,privately serve the devil, neglect prayer and act as sinners do, and yet all the while pretend to be among the living familyof the living God. It werebetter for you that you had never been born! It were better for you that a millstone were tied round your neck and thatyou were cast into the depth of the sea than to unite yourself with a Christian Church and make a profession of being in Christwhile you are the slave of yourdetestable lusts.
Oh, may God undeceive many of you who may be in such a plight! May He pull your masks from your faces, wash the paint fromyour cheeks and make you to be in your own sight what you are in His sight! If I must be lost I would rather be lost knowingmy condition than be lost a self-deceived man, andgo from the cup of the Lord to drink the cup of wrath forever and be chased away from the communion of saints down intothe pandemonium of Hell!
However, in the genuine Christian sin has lost its power in his life-he cannot do as others do. If he is ever tempted to it,like Joseph he says, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" The Believer is in the body and therefore hisflesh is weak, but his spirit lives. Hetherefore cannot let the body have dominion over him. Those lusts in which some indulge he abhors and he will not even mentionthem, as becomes saints. Those words which glide so glibly from other men's lips he hates, and will not utter them-they areforeign words to him. Theswine rolls in the mire with delight, but the sheep abhors it.
When before his conversion the man was a raven, how he gloated over his carrion! But now he is a dove he frequents the riversof pure water and loves clean feeding while his clipping wings often bear him above the clouds! Yes, and above the stars,too, into the serene atmosphere where the dove-likeSpirit dwells. He is a new creature in Christ Jesus and sin is destroyed in its energetic influence over his life.
The day is coming-blessed be God, the day is coming-when sin in its very being will be utterly destroyed in every Believer.Sin within us lies like a condemned criminal with his neck under the guillotine. Oh that the axe would drop! Oh that the knifewould take away the life of sinforever! Oh blessed hour! Oh sweet discharge to be rid of every temptation and propensity to sin! Sentence of death is recordedand the culprit is crucified-his hands are nailed fast -he cannot act as he would. His feet are nailed fast-he cannot runas he would andhe will die before long. Oh blessed day when he shall be wholly dead, and the soul shall be free from sin, holy even asGod is holy, to dwell with Him forever!
Now, Beloved, you clearly see that the Law could not in any of these senses destroy sin and that the judgments of God do notmake men give up the love of sin. They are hardened rather than softened by the terrors of God! Instead of sin losing itspower over the conscience by hearing of the Law ofGod, it is strangely true that the more he understands the hatred of his Maker against sin, man just sets himself more determinatelyagainst his Maker! But the wounds of Jesus can do what nothing else can do. When I am pardoned, I hate sin! When I see thelove of God in ChristJesus, sin becomes a condemned and destroyed thing!
I must now close with the lessons to be learned from this. It gave me great consolation, when studying this text, to noticethat Christ had condemned sin in the flesh, for the flesh is sin's stronghold. It is sin's box out of which it can scarcelybe driven. Our Lord has condemned it in the flesh.Then, blessed be God, our very flesh shall one day be rid of this condemned, executed thing and my very bones shall rejoice!Our very flesh shall one day see Jesus in the day of the resurrection and sing because sin has no more dominion over it! Christian,this is the lesson I longfor you to learn! Hate sin in every shape! Christ condemns it, do not you approve it! Christ executes it, do not you harborit! It slew the Savior, slay it! Hate sin!
Have good heart as to its destruction. Do not think that sin is mightier than you are when Christ is with you. Up at yoursins and slay them! Do not tamely yield to your besetting sin. Let this resolution this day be strong, that the victory shallbe yours in every part of the battle, and that nosin shall remain in dominion over you. This day record your thanksgiving to Him who fought the battle for you and won it!He has condemned sin on your behalf, and slain it, too! Ascribe unto Him glory and honor and this day let your song go upto the place where He dwells!
And to you, Sinner, this lesson-see how sin is punished. If it is punished in Christ, it will surely be avenged in you! IfJehovah spared not His own Son, He will never spare His enemy. Take heed, Sinner, of your sin! It will be your everlastingruin if you are not rid of it. See how you canbe delivered. Even you, flesh as you are, and the slave of flesh, Christ can save from your sin. Trust your soul with Him!Come as you are, all sinful and defiled, and cast yourself at the foot of His Cross by a simple act of trust! He will castout your sin, for He has condemned itin the flesh. Oh may He condemn it in your flesh, condemn it in you now, and save you from it by destroying it and savingyou! God grant it may be so with us, and His be the glory. Amen.