Santa Clara, CA
| Sin and its Effects ~ Rev. L. L. Gladney|
[b]Text:[/b] [i]"Choose you this day whom ye will serve."[/i] -- Joshua 24:15.
Compliance with this demand made upon Israel by their Divinely-appointed leader involved consequences of far greater import than they comprehended. This is as true of men today, for this is a demand ever living and ever recurring to each generation of mankind. As we look carefully into the inevitable results of whatever compliance may be made with the demand, we become certain that the mass of mankind fail almost utterly to get any adequate idea of the awfulness of the guilt and the fearfulness of the ruin which a life of sin brings to the spirit of man.
Is not the little thing we imagine it to be. All of what might be termed collateral evidence afforded by the Bible to enable us to determine the nature both of the guilt and ruin of sin, is such as to assure us that it is superlative and immeasurable. The stupendous scheme of redemption argues the greatness of the ruin from which God would save us. The vehement earnestness with which God has urged us to turn from sin, indicates its dreadfulness. The oft-repeated and solemn threats which the God of mercy and love pronounces upon the sinner, indicate that a sinful course is horrible and infinitely criminal in His eyes.
Is an appeal made to intelligent, responsible beings to make an intelligent, responsible choice of the one whom they will serve. And this choice, when made, not only determines what we will do, but more certainly and with far greater meaning, what we will be. Conduct signifies character. And the hell of hell will consist not so much in the fact that I once did wrong, nor in that God shows His love for righteousness by punishing me, but in that what I am -- a deformed, blighted, blasted, wrecked, damned spirit. The true measure of the real result of sin will be its final and eternal effect upon man.
That we may be assisted and guided of God in the study of this most important subject,
LET US PRAY:
O, God of light and truth, our Father: Give us today that illumination of mind and that disposition of heart which we need as we enter into the study of the solemn and awful fact of sin. It has wrecked and ruined us. Every faculty of our beings is dwarfed and crippled and perverted by it. In the greatness of Thy love and mercy, Thou hast promised us deliverance from sin, and hast invited us to seek it, assuring us that they that seek shall find. The greatness of our needs, resulting from our ignorance and blindness and sinfulness, drives us to Thee seeking earnestly Thy grace and favor. Oh, for Jesus' sake, hear our prayers and answer us according to Thy mercy. Deliver us from the blindness and deadness of heart which has come upon us because of sin. Enable us to better to see the truth about sin, and better to know the awfulness and vastness of the ruin of that soul that lives in sin. And may we come to hate and to loathe sin as thou dost hate and loathe it. Then deliver us from it by forgiving our transgression and cleansing us from all unrighteousness through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
And now let us look fairly and deliberately at this black blight in God's universe. We shall notice it in its relationship to man as affecting first his conduct and secondly his character -- himself.
Our text does not put before us the mere choice of good or evil, but of a person, a god; the true and living God of righteousness and holiness; or of the devil, the god of this world, the father of lies who is represented in the false gods of the heathen. And this is a fundamental distinction, for I am what I am by virtue of a power and spirit superior to myself. Man as a sinner cannot throw off his sin and maintain himself in righteousness by simply and directly choosing to do good. In fact the sinner is not called upon to choose to do good, but to choose a Savior who can first make him good in order that he may then do good. The sinner who is most awake to the reality and power of sin will ever exclaim in anguish of heart, "when I would do good evil is present with me, for the good that I would do that do I not, but the evil that I would not, that do I." And as he goes deeper into the mystery of the power of sin and vainly struggles for deliverance, he becomes conscious of his utter helplessness, crying out that "I do what I do, contrary to; or notwithstanding my own present choice and desire. I do what I will not to do. It is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me." There is a depth and power in sin that goes beyond the simple choice of good or evil. This power can only be broken by choosing to yield myself to the control and power of One greater than I am.
As related to man's conduct, sin is an act, a course of living which is contrary to what ought to be his life and conduct.
Viewed from this standpoint we are woefully ignorant of the deep guilt of the sinner. You have no right to sin. And when you sin you set a ruinous example for your fellow-man. You owe every man a holy example. You owe it by virtue of your relationship to God and man. As a citizen in the government of God, resting under infinite obligations to obedience, you have no right to set an example of disobedience.
1. When you sin you disregard the rights and claims of your own loved ones. If God has blessed you with a family, as the head of that family you owe them a debt as sacred and binding as God can make it. You owe it to them that both by precept and example you teach them the duty and necessity of godliness. And when you sin you renounce that obligation, and by your actions if not by your words, by the general course of your life if by no specific act, you deny the claims of God upon either you or your family. Your conduct is all the while saying, "It is proper to do as I do. You do not need to acknowledge God and live a life of submission to and of prayerful dependence upon Him."
2. Sin is rebellion against the God of righteousness and heaven. The ruin arising from sin is infinite in its tendency. It not only opposes righteousness but its final aim and tendency is to dethrone the God of righteousness. So that your course of conduct if unchecked would tear God from the eternal throne of right and enthrone the devil instead. Its fury is increased and its true nature is revealed as it goes forward unrestrained. And, but for Divine restraint, it would go forward in its demolition and ruin till the entire universe was a total wreck.
3. Sin is the violation of God's holy law. This law is not a set of arbitrary rules imposed by Him upon man, because He is almighty and has power to enforce whatever He in the caprice of His mind might require. The command to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, is not an arbitrary law which might have been otherwise. This law is based o~ the moral constitution of man as an individual related to God and as a member of society related to other beings like himself. As long as God is what He is and man is what he is it will be obligatory on him to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. It is as eternal as the nature and relationships of those whom it governs. And wherever there are beings such as man, rational, responsible -- because free-agents, this law holds good. Yea, in all worlds where are to be found accountable intelligence's this law holds good. As long as such exist it will be proper and necessary that they love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. This law is the expression of the eternal moral fitness of things and cannot be abrogated by any power or being. Being the expression of the normal and necessary relationship between God and all moral agents and between such moral agents and themselves, it lies at the very foundation of universal well-being. This law expresses and represents the combined interests and welfare of God and His creation. To violate that law is to jeopardize those interests and imperil that welfare.
Here is a lofty tower hundreds of feet high. Many people visit it for sight-seeing. The top is reached by a large elevator. This elevator is supported by a strong cable composed of ten strands or cords. Your husbands and wives and little babes and loved ones are going up for a view of the country. Up and up they go. You watch them as they ascend, a happy group. the love of your hearts. As they are lifted hundreds of feet from the earth, suddenly, from a window high above their heads, a man thrusts out his arm, in his hand a great knife. Over the protests, entreaties, cries and prayers of all, he cuts the cable supporting the elevator, and all are dashed to the ground hundreds of feet below and mashed beyond recognition. What would you think of such a deed? The culprit is called to account for his crime, whereupon he wails out his amazement that he should be punished for such a small offense as cutting a rope. "Why," he cries, "What have I done; I only cut a rope, you wouldn't punish a man for that little thing?" Now he begins to stress and plead the apparent insignificance of his deed. It is "a mere trifle." But he is given at once to know that the cutting of the rope was a small thing in itself, but that the cutting of a rope which secured the lives of fifty people was a very different affair. The lives of all in the carriage depend upon that rope and in cutting it he imperils the life of every one on board. He is informed that the cutting of that rope sacrificed the life of all, and of course he is punished without mercy.
Now, this is just the case with the sinner. He has violated that law which lies at the foundation of universal well-being. This great law is the strong cable that binds the universe to safety. God's creation is upheld by it. When you sin you cut this cable. By your ~n you would plunge the whole moral universe into boundless and irremediable ruin. Nothing but the mere physical lives of the persons on that elevator are endangered by cutting that cable, but in breaking God's law you imperil the immortal souls and eternal interests of every man, woman and child on earth, and of every created moral intelligence in the universe. You imperil God's own interests. By your sin you would create a state of moral pandemonium throughout the world. You have cut the cord which binds creation to God and safety, to truth and right. And it is not to your credit that the whole of creation is not wrecked forever. Your sin is calculated, were it allowed to go unopposed and unchecked, to produce universal and eternal ruin t o all creation. That it really does not produce such ruin is only because God in His Almightiness comes to the rescue and prevents it. You may rest assured that God will punish you for your reckless, daring disregard of the good of His creation. To violate a law representing such tremendous interests, is to call loudly for that retribution which is approved by every sentient intelligence in the universe. Sinner, you will soon see and know that God is not trifling with you over your sins; that He has not gone to the infinite expense of purchasing your redemption from sin by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son that you should declare it a little thing to sin. It was because it was such an unspeakably awful and grievous thing.
THE EFFECT OF SIN UPON CHARACTER
We have seen what sin means from the standpoint of conduct, as an act of man. We shall now see its effect upon the man himself. Is guilt all that comes upon a man who sins?
Our text calls upon us to choose our Master, to choose whom we will serve. To choose between Christ and the devil. In Christ we have the very highest embodiment of righteousness and purity and goodness in all the universe. In the devil we have the highest embodiment of wickedness and sin in the universe. And toward the likeness of one or the other of these two great personalities all men are growing. We are either becoming more and more like the blessed Christ or we are becoming more and more like the devil.
If you choose Christ you will be "changed from glory unto glory as by the Spirit of the Lord." If you adhere to sin and remain in the hands of the devil you will be developed more and more into the image of the sensual and the devilish.
The time will come when those who choose Christ will be like Him, for they "shall see Him as He is." The time will come when those who adhere to the devil will be just like him. You are to become like the master whom you serve. On the one hand the Spirit of Christ will operate in your soul to change you into the image of the heavenly, the image of Christ. On the other hand the spirit of the devil will operate to develop you into the image of the devil. The spirit of the devil always operates in the soul for the purpose of transforming it into a devil-like soul. The only reason why the devil does not take absolute possession of every sinner and at once make a devil of him, is because of the prevenient grace of God.
The only reason why sinners are tolerable to one another; the only reason why they can live together in the same world or community, or house, is because of the restraining or prevenient grace of God. Were God utterly to abandon the sinner to the Master of his choice there would be no living in the world. Through the grace of God, society has been permeated by the Spirit of righteousness, and this spirit operates to restrain the natural, inevitable tendency of sin and sinners.
But suppose for a moment the withdrawal of this grace. The whole world would, in a short time, be a veritable hell. This reign of the prevenient grace of God accounts for the apparent goodness seen in sinners. But this goodness has not been made theirs by a deliberate choice. It is merely that which has been impinged upon them. What they do of seeming good is either done in the eyes of society or to purchase a hope of heaven, and not done as unto the Lord alone. Put them under other social environments of lower morals, or assure them that there is no danger of hell, or that heaven is assured them apart from righteousness and they will soon take on a type of conduct in keeping with their new surroundings.
| 2008/7/20 11:19||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Sin and its Effects ~ Rev. L. L. Gladney|
This grace of God is given for two purposes. To make sinners tolerable to one another and to win them to a true life in Christ. But the time will come, at death if not before, when, after having refused the last entreaty and offer of the grace of God that shall ever be made to you, you will be abandoned to the master of your evil choice. Then every particle of that prevenient grace which has made you tolerable among men, will be taken from you, and, abandoned to the lusts, and sins, and evil spirits which have all the while dwelt iii the depths of your soul, you will be torn and harassed by infernal tempers and base passions, and dreadful demons will hiss and feast and rankle in your bosom. Great God, why should men and women give themselves over to such a fate! Then sinner you will be seen in your own proper character, a blasted spirit, a consort of devils. Bereft of all the good which God attended you with through life you will at once see yourself to be the devil that you are.
Few people are ever either as good or as bad in this life as they might be. But the great point to be considered in the moral placement of men is not whether they are all they ought to be in conduct, but, (if we could know it) by what spirit are they animated and dominated. Thus does God judge. Knowing that the Spirit which works in us will finish that good work begun, and so judging from the standpoint of grace, God says that "as Christ is so are we in this world." He gives us credit, as it were, for the whole when but the seed is there. Few Christians have been all that they ought to be until they come to die, when they made the very consecration to God that they might have made earlier in their Christian life. The real difference between Christians is the difference in their consecration to God. When this has been perfect grace has been full.
Here is a Christian man. He is not, in all things, what we might think he ought to be, but he has the Spirit of Christ and knows God, and it is the purpose and effort of his life to yield himself to God. In all his ways he acknowledges Him. Now when this person comes to die, the powers of evil which opposed and hindered him while living, will all be removed, because he has come to the end of his probationary career beyond which the devil cannot tempt or grieve those who are Christ's, and, washed in the precious blood of the Lamb, he enters into the joys of his Lord.
On the other hand the unregenerated man who has gone through life with worldly acceptableness will come to the hour of death, and then, if not before, the Spirit of God which has worked in him and with him so long, but which he has refused to yield to, will forever leave him, and the spirit of the devil which has always been allowed a place in his heart, and which has been the dominating spirit of his life, will be given full possession of him. And this, because the Spirit of God does not strive with those souls who have neglected salvation after they have come to and passed the limit of probation.
The good man will go on forever and ever becoming more and more like his Master -- Christ. The sinner, forsaken by that God whom he would never acknowledge and love and serve, shall forever and ever become more and more like his master -- the devil. Multitudes who, in this life, passed for nice, respectable people; nice, clever young men, and beautiful young women; and older men and women, who with all their social qualities and cleverness, yet did never seek and find that God, whom to know is eternal life, will become so hideous and despicable in soul and character that their dearest earthly friends, both good and evil, would turn from them in astonishment and dismay and horror. This is true because the spirit with which you die will be the spirit which will entirely possess and control you after death.
Occasionally we see marvelous examples of what Sin does for the sinner, and of what Grace does for the Christian. God seems to allow some awful fiend in human form to develop just for the purpose of calling the attention of people to what Sin will do for a soul when it is left, even partially unchecked.
Call to mind some of the almost inhuman 'wretches who have committed nameless crimes upon the bodies of helpless little children, and then mangled and tore and murdered them. We may burn such, and hang them and shoot them, but I declare, as I shall answer to God, that these are but manifestations of what unchecked sin will do for any soul. There was a time when such a fiend was an innocent babe upon his mother's breast. In childhood's innocence he played about his mother's knee. But in him as in all other children there was a seed of evil. He grew up, and under environments of proper sort to germinate and develop that seed, he soon rapidly develops into a perfect devil. The very same principle of sin which dwells in every unregenerate heart is all that dwells in the heart of that fiend. The only difference is that in the case of the fiend this principle has developed beyond what is but rarely seen in this life on earth.
As an example of what Grace may do for a soul, take the sainted John Fletcher. So saintly was he that his very opponent was constrained to declare that he seemed to be an angel in human form, so was every breath, either prayer or praise. Few of us, while upon earth, ever reach such heights of grace. Few ever descend, while on earth, to such depths of moral degradation as is seen in the first case. But we are all moving forward to a state of character where neither the one nor the other of these examples will be sufficient to measure our devil-likeness on the one hand or our Christ-likeness on the other. We are moving forward in the moral and spiritual realm to the likeness of the master whom we serve. The Spirit which constitutes what we are to be forever. The spirit of the devil and the power of sin can only be broken by Christ. If you refuse or neglect to yield wholly to Him, that spirit will in time or eternity transform you into a devil.
And now, in conclusion, I beg you, I entreat you, that this very hour you go before God and settle the question of what master, or what god, you are to serve. By what spirit you are to be dominated through time and eternity. Cavil not over the fact that you are not dominated by the spirit of the devil because you are not yet vile and groveling in your sins. A worldly spirit is of the devil. The spirit of the devil not only comes directly to the heart, but is chiefly manifest through the world and the flesh. In the name of your soul, in the name of the character which you are surely building every day and which you shall bear through all eternity, I entreat you to fly to Christ. He alone can drive out the evil. He alone can bestow the Holy Spirit which will transform you into the image of the Heavenly and Divine.
I know not what choice you may be induced this day to make. You may still sleep on the sleep of death. You may still remain unmoved as do the millions about you. You may be content to defy God and dare the devil to do his worst, while you, giddy and gay, laughing and dancing, follow him to a Christless grave. "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Amen.
| 2008/7/24 23:52||Profile|