Thursday, July 29, 2010
The Pastor’s Perspective
First Published: October 8, 2002
Here's a great Pastor's Perspective, written by our own Dr. Derek Thomas:
Running away from trouble is not necessarily cowardice; sometimes, in a moment of weakness, it is the courageous thing to do. Retreat in battle in order to regroup is a wise thing to do.
Running away from sin is always the right thing to do:
'Flee sexual immorality' (1 Cor. 6:18);
'Flee youthful lusts...' (2 Tim. 2:22);
'But you, O man of God, flee these things...' (1 Tim. 6:11; the 'things' Paul had in mind were 'foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition' (v.9), one of which was 'the love of money').
'Kill sin before it kills you,' was John Owen’s warning, adding: 'he that dares to dally with the occasions of sin,' wrote John Owen perceptively, 'will dare to sin.'
John Bunyan wrote a lengthy poem (16 verses in all!) called, Caution to Stir up to Watch against Sin. One of which goes like this:
Sin, rather than ‘twill out of action be,
Will pray to stay, though but a while with thee;
One night, one hour, one moment, will it cry,
Embrace me in thy bosom, else I die:
Time to repent [saith it] I will allow,
And help, if to repent thou know’st not how.
But if you give it entrance at the door
It will come in, and may go out no more.
Bunyan’s point? That sin is habit forming. Once you let it in to your life it is difficult to put it out again. It doesn’t matter what it is: pornography, greed, selfishness, a love of money… give way to them once, and it will be easier to give way to them a second time, and third time, and a fourth time.
That’s why it is necessary to develop a Christian mind when it comes to sin. Paul talks about the two mind-sets in Romans 8. There is what he calls, ‘the mind of the flesh’ and there is what he calls, ‘the mind of the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:6). There is a conformity to this world and there is what the apostle calls a ‘renewing of your mind’ (Rom. 12:2).
The way we think about sin affects the way we deal with sin. Recently, in a lecture on the doctrine of total depravity, I had occasion to mention the book once entitled, The Plague of Plagues, by the Puritan Ralph Venning. The publishers (Banner of Truth) have seen fit to reissue it under a new title: The Sinfulness of Sin. “Obviously, it’s not meant to be best seller!” quipped one of the students! And, sadly, he had a point. Who would purchase a book with such a title? Only those intent and serious in ridding themselves of sin!
J. C. Ryle, whose writings are still amongst the most accessible more than a century after they were written, gave prominence to the doctrine of human sinfulness and corruption, for which the blood of Christ and the grace of God are the only remedy. In the very opening sentence of his book, Holiness, he wrote: ‘He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin.’
We need to have our minds changed, and changed about what sin is, and what sin does! It is interesting to note that the word most commonly used in the New Testament for 'repentance' is metanoeo, a word which literally means to change one's mind. We need to appreciate the Bible’s seven-fold description of sin as: rebellion against the ownership and rulership of God, transgression of the bounds that God has set, missing the mark God has told us to aim at, breaking the law which he has given, defiling ourselves and thereby making ourselves unfit (unclean) for his presence, embracing folly by shutting our ears to God’s wisdom, and incurring guilt before God’s judgment seat.
When sin is viewed this way, the best thing to do when we detect its presence is to run as fast as we can in the opposite direction!
Minister of Teaching
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 9:28 AM