Friday, October 03, 2008

Preaching and Sin

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

There is a common belief today that preaching on sin is no longer necessary. The thought is that sinners come to church loaded with guilt, and we need to help them realize God’s love rather than point out their wickedness.

I was once told by a church leader that, if I walked into the house of a Christian and found a pornographic magazine on his coffee table, I shouldn’t say anything. After all, it isn’t my place to “judge”. I should just let the Holy Spirit convict him.

But how does the Holy Spirit convict? He does so by the preached Word (Romans 10:14). Nowhere in Scripture do we find the man of God sitting silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to convict a sinner through some mystical experience. Instead, we have time and again sinners being convicted by the preached Word, either in a corporate setting, or even in person. We have Samuel rebuking Saul, Nathan rebuking David, John the Baptist rebuking Herod, Jesus rebuking Peter, and so forth. True godly love demands this. Consider the sermon Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost.

“…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23)

Peter didn’t tell his audience about God’s love, nor did he try to make His listeners comfortable. He wasn’t interested in helping them deal with feelings of guilt, but instead poured it on. As a result, “when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer was the same message that appears throughout the Scriptures: “Repent”. One cannot be a preacher of the Word and not preach in the area of personal sin. This is why the law was given, “…so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3:19).

A Christian is not someone who is sinless in this life. Rather, a Christian is someone who does battle with sin, and realizes that it is a battle unto death. For the wicked man, there is no battle. He runs after sin, seeking it with everything that is in him. He may lie to himself and others in order to keep his social standing. He may dress up his sin with garments of his own making (a moralist), or even with the garbs of religion (a hypocrite). However, he will refuse to see the vileness of his nature, and thus will see no need of redemption in Christ.

If one does not taste the bitterness of sin, he will never recognize the sweetness of Christ.
If one does not feel the burden of sin, he will never recognize the freedom in Christ.
If one is not aware of the penalty of sin, he will never find redemption in Christ.
If one does not grow to hate his sin, he will never be able to love Christ.

Christian, do not shy away from either giving or receiving rebuke. To reject godly chastisement is to kiss the Devil. However, when a mortal man grows to hate his own sin in a way such that his heart is washed by his own tears, he is never so close to the kingdom of God. The gospel only makes sense to those who are truly aware of their sin.

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