Sussex Martyrs Commemoration Council

THE EXCEEDING SINFULNESS OF SIN

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. Romans 7:13.

In the words of the shorter catechism: “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”

Because it is a breach of God’s Law, it is then a crime against the Holy Law giver – God Himself. Thus, man’s sin in its rebellion shakes an angry and rebellious fist in the face of his Creator. As Job by the Holy Ghost depicts the ungodly saying: “What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit should we have if we pray unto Him?”

THE DISCOVERY OF THE REALITY OF SIN WITHIN US

When the Lord begins his work of conversion in the soul, by the Law of God we begin to discern sin, but because of our deep seated original corruption, such a realisation actually excites and inflames sin within us – as seen in little children, who the more they are forbidden something; the more they desire it. As in the child – so the heart of man inwardly rages against the law of God. The Law which is good, just and holy and given for the benefit of mankind. This is one of the ways by which we discover the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

The law which should have brought life brings in death. As spoke the apostle: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment which (was ordained to life), I found to be unto death.” Rom.7: 9-10.

When our eyes are first opened to perceive the depravity of our heart, what a storm is caused! Such a revelation by the Holy Ghost, has been compared to disturbing piles of dust in a previously closed room. The windows of our inner man are opened and the sunbeams of the light of God’s Spirit show clearly such ignored and unacknowledged sin within the soul. Then it is seen in all its awfulness. By the compared law of God we are given to see the depravity of our nature and how it infects us in every thought, word and deed. The more we endeavour to obey this law: so, the more we see our utter inability to keep it. This is either a sudden realisation, or after a period of fruitless effort.

John Wesley, George Whitfield with others formed a “Holy Club” while at Oxford University and only after sincere efforts to observe the Law of God with earnestness, did they discover such a ‘holy’ work was in vain. Thus, do men discover the exceeding sinfulness of sin working within them. As when sometimes decorating an old house, we strip paper after paper from the walls, until finally the bare walls beneath show themselves to be crumbling defaced and beyond repair.

THE LAW AND THE NATURAL MAN

The natural man, before the light of God shines into his soul, may, due to the working of conscience attempt to obey the moral law of God, or what he considers to be the precepts of Christ, in his endeavours to weigh off his sins by ‘good deeds’. However, by not submitting himself to the righteousness of God he simply increases his guilt. For this self-righteousness is an affront to God and has at its root pride and self-sufficiency. Like the rich young ruler, we may keep, as we believe, all the commandments from our youth up; yet there will be one thing we lack – the surrender of our hearts to God and the acceptance of that which is outside of ourselves – even the saving work of Christ Jesus in His life and death upon the cross. The Blood and Righteousness of God incarnate made over freely over to all who receive them is man’s only answer to the righteous demands of the Holy Law of God.

The very moment that we see in a resurrected Jesus all that we can possibly need for acceptance with God and acquiesce with all our hearts in this salvation work provided – which is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to “come unto Him”- then we are saved from the penalty of the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

THE EFFECTS OF SIN

That there is a consequence to sin none can deny, except the wilfully blind. The one consequence which should concern all, is that there is a judgement to come for all, when the even the righteous scarcely saved shall be judged, and the ungodly shall be turned into hell. For as the Scripture declares: ” For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in our body, according that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Cor. 5:10.

The miseries of this life due to sin are also plain to see: violence, all kinds of immorality, lying, murder, drunkenness, strife, covetousness and idolatry. Not a day passes in any corner of this earth, without some, or all, of these horrific acts being perpetrated by sinful man. Even the professing Christian is not free from all sin, only free from the habitual practise of it, and its dominion over him. As the Bible tells us concerning those still under the penalty of the law: “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Romans 3:19.

Sin has a tendency downwards.

In the past history of mankind, we have seen a progression in sin in all its forms. In early times men were given over to idolatry and paganism, in following ages there was a form of false religion which claimed righteousness yet denied the power of it. In this age in which we live, we now find infidelity prevailing. This infidelity now has no time for God, often denies Him completely and stresses that science has either made the Creator unnecessary or proves Hiss non-existence.

This is either stated outwardly or implied, quite often blasphemy is allowed in the media unchallenged, and what was now punishable by law escapes all condemnation. In short man is now tolerant of all sects and beliefs except the truths of Holy Scripture, which is the 18th century Latitudinarianism in its extreme form.

This exceeding sinfulness of sin is that it is progressive. Viz. Without the direct interference of God the sinful conditions in this world will grow worse and worse. While there have been times of ...