Waging the war in our hearts...

The Power & Law of Sin

by David Kyle 11/7/2014

 

Sin is a law and power we are incapable of ignoring or defeating.Just how powerful is sin? More specifically, how powerful is it as an enemy in the life of a Christian? In our efforts to fight the ever present influence of indwelling sin, we gain an advantage by knowing our enemy.

I began a series of posts to help you understand and see the truth about sin, and using God's assessment of it from Genesis 4:7, we have been looking at these seven characteristics found in that verse; sin is:

  1. Reality
  2. Evil
  3. Near
  4. Powerful
  5. Ready
  6. Deceitful
  7. Hostile

Today I want to expose the strength and power sin brings to the battlefield and how ineffective our own best efforts are against it.

- Sin is Powerful -

I remember as a boy growing up on a farm how my brother and I would slip off to a nearby river and go swimming to escape the heat and humidity of the summer (as well as our chores). During the spring and early summer that river would fill up with the heavy rains and at times overflow its banks and the current would become too strong and dangerous.

The power and strength of sin is like that river. Swim with it and your way is easy and fast (Matthew 7:13-14) But to turn and swim against it becomes a fight as the strength and power of the current calls and presses you to turn back.

God wanted Cain to see sin as a dangerous crouching beast ready to pounce on him with a power sufficient to devour and swallow him up. Note the power and influence the Apostle Paul attributes to the indwelling sin in his own life:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. ~Romans 7:21

Paul describes the presence of indwelling sin as a law. As we all know, laws have the power and authority to influence and rule over our lives. As I noted in an earlier post, John Owens' description of sin as a law is a pretty good one.

“It [sin] is a powerful and effectual indwelling principle, inclining and pressing unto actions agreeable and suitable unto its own nature.”

Sin, as a powerful and compelling law, is not something external to us that we might ignore like a speed limit or such. Sin is an internal law, inbred and always abiding in our soul, working compelling and subjecting us to its rule and dominion.

Sin is an enemy whose power and rule cannot be broken by those who are enslaved to it. The effectual working of sin in the life of a human being is death (both physical and spiritual), damnation, and eternal separation from God and all things lovely and good.

Seems kind of overwhelming, doesn't it?

Good, because it should... because it is!

The power of sin and the realization of our utter inability to overcome it should cause us to look somewhere else. Somewhere other than ourselves to defeat it in the fight for our eternal destiny. That somewhere else we should look is Jesus and the cross on which He died for people like me and like you.

My next post will look at the power of indwelling sin in the life of a believer. Comments are open and please share your thoughts.

 

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A Prayer: The Dark Guest

by David Kyle 11/4/2014

Sin is a dark guest and dark are his ways.

O LORD,

Bend my hands and cut them off,
for I have often struck thee with a wayward will,
when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.

I am not yet weaned from all created glory,
honour, wisdom, and esteem of others,
for I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.

Let me not only speak the word sin, but see the thing itself.

Give me to view a discovered sinfulness,
to know that though my sins are crucified
they are never wholly mortified.

Hatred, malice, ill-will,
vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after
man's approval and applause,
all are crucified, forgiven,
but they rise again in my sinful heart.

O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness!

O my life-long damage and daily shame!

O my indwelling and besetting sins!

O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!

Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.

Yet thou hast not left me here without grace;
The cross still stands and meets my needs
in the deepest straits of the soul.

I thank thee that my remembrance of it
is like David's sight of Goliath's sword
which preached forth thy deliverance.

The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls,
bring afresh into my mind the remembrance
of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,
of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.

There is no treasure so wonderful
as that continuous experience of thy grace toward me
which alone can subdue the risings of sin within:

Give me more of it.

From: The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet

 

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Psalm 51:3 Illustrated

by David Kyle 11/3/2014

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. ~Psalm 51:3

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Sin is at the Door!

by David Kyle 10/30/2014

Sin is at the door! WHAT DO YOU DO?!?!The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:6,7

Sin is not (merely) an action or a choice. Sin is a state of being, or a condition that defines what it means to be human. If that idea is a struggle for you or if you're not willing to accept we are all sinful by nature, think of it like this.

Why do people get angry or happy? Because human beings are emotional by nature. Anger and happiness are ways in which that emotional nature is expressed. Sin is as much a part of who we are and what it is to be human as emotions, thought, hunger, expression, and so on.

The idea of sin being a part of our makeup is what the reformers labeled total depravity.

The result of the fall is total depravity or corruption. By this is meant that every part of man is rendered corrupt. The Canons say that man "became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, obdurate in heart and will and impure in his affection." There was no part of his nature that was not affected by sin.
The word "total" must not be taken in the absolute sense as though man is completely depraved. Man is not as bad as he can be. Article 4, which we hope to consider more fully later in this series, speaks of "glimmerings of natural light which remain in man since the fall." God does restrain the working of sin in the life of man on earth.
And sinful man still has a sense of right and wrong. His corruption is total in the sense that there is no part of his being that is pure and holy; and the good he does is done for God and for His glory. ~Canons of Dordt, especially Canons III & IV, Article 4

This quote clearly points out the difference between total depravity and absolute depravity. The doctrine of total depravity teaches man is depraved in every part of his being, but there still remains, in every part, a trace of good as a bearer of God's image.

- Sin is Near -

The truth that sin is a part of our makeup and nature has been rejected by the majority over the centuries, but Scripture speaks very clearly about it.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ~Genesis 6:5

for there is no one who does not sin ~2 Chronicles 6:36b

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. ~Psalm 14:1-3

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. ~Ecclesiastes 7:20

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned ~Romans 5:12

These are only a few of the passages that speak to all of humanity's sin corrupted nature. Remember the picture of sin God painted for Cain?

And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:7

From God's perspective sin  was crouching at the door indicating the nearness of it to Cain. Sin has taken up residence at the very entrance of our dwelling place (bodies). If we are to wage war victoriously against sin we must not fool ourselves into thinking it is not as close to us as it really is. Paul said it like this in the book of Romans:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. ~Romans 7:18-20

And then this...

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. ~Romans 7:21-23

My next post will be aimed at exposing the power of sin as we continue to consider our most dangerous enemy

Please take some time and leave a comment or question, I would really appreciate your input.

 

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A Prayer: Yet I Sin

by David Kyle 10/23/2014

Weep & Pray

ETERNAL FATHER,

Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;

My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.

I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.

Unmask to me sin's deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.

My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee;
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.

Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard,
that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from thee is to lose all good.

I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts.

Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers,
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
impiously resent, grieve,
and provoke him to abandon me.

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.

Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly
the brightness and glories of the saving cross.

From: The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet

 

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Slaves of Sin

by David Kyle 10/22/2014

Slaves of SinThe Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:6,7

In it's most basic form sin is rebellion against God and the rejection of His authority and will. We “miss the mark” of God's righteousness. Our nature is such that we desire to rebel against God; we choose to reject His authority over us as Creator. Because of our corrupted nature, we will not and cannot choose otherwise.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? ~Romans 6:16

Many mistakenly believe we have a “free will” and are capable of freely choosing God and believing unto salvation on our own. The truth is we are not free to choose or will anything beyond the allowable limits of the sin nature we are chained to.

Like a dog chained to a stake in the backyard, we can only move as far as the chain will allow. A sin corrupted nature prevents us from choosing God and trusting Christ as sure as that chain keeps the dog in his own backyard. The dog is free to roam anywhere his chain will allow and we are free to exercise our will within the limits of our nature. Until such a time that God intervenes and breaks the chain (think regeneration here) we are unable and will never be truly free.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. ~Psalm 107:14

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ~Revelation 1:5b,6

- Sin is Evil -

Is it any wonder then that sin is evil? As we continue to learn about sin and consider its characteristics from Genesis 4:7, we move past the reality of it and now see the evil that is at its core. The evil of sin is not just in the forms and methods by which it is expressed in the lives and actions of humanity (us), but it is evil in nature.

Since sin is the rejection of God, it is the rejection of all He is and does. Sin is the rejection of life, truth, love, purity and holiness. Sin rejects all those things and more and then on top of that, it prevents humanity from choosing the God Who saves and keeps us in death, lies, hate, and the deep darkness of evil.

In Genesis 4:7 God told Cain “sin is crouching at the door.” Sin is lurking and hiding to gain an advantage over us and its desire is to corrupt, consume, and completely destroy. Sin approaches us from the shadows and uses ignorance and deception to gain mastery in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

That is evil.

Utterly corrupted by sin, the devil is the epitome of that same evil:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ~1 Peter 5:8

Next time we will look at how close sin actually is. It may frighten you to know what really does lurk around in your own heart.

 

 

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Sin is a Reality

by David Kyle 10/16/2014

Sin is a RealityIf you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. Sun Tzu (Art of War)

This quote from the 6th century BC, Chinese general isn't biblical by any means, but there is a lot of wisdom in it.

In our case the enemy is our own sin corrupted heart, so to know it requires an outside view; one that is honest and accurate. Since we can't rely upon our own judgment and insight (Jeremiah 17:9) we must go to the God Who created us, we should cry out as Job did...

How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. ~Job 13:23

God says a lot about sin in His Word and I found the most compelling is His own first mention of it found in Genesis chapter 4. 

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:6,7

The picture God paints of sin for Cain to see is of a very real enemy poised to strike, an enemy with a purpose and the ability to carry it out. God also points out the enemy is NOT all powerful by calling on Cain to rule over sin and dominate it rather than the other way around.

There are at least seven truths or characteristics about our enemy sin we can note from God's warning to Cain, sin is:

  1. Reality
  2. Evil
  3. Near
  4. Powerful
  5. Ready
  6. Deceitful
  7. Hostile

- Sin is a Reality -

God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at the door” and “Its desire is for you.” God used the word “is” to describe the state of being for sin. Sin is so real the Apostle Paul called it a “law.”

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. ~Romans 7:21

and again...

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. ~Romans 7:23

Sin is no hypothetical enemy or some abstract and generalized concept. Sin is real and sin is a law with bite. The puritan preacher John Owen described it this way:

 “It [sin] is a powerful and effectual indwelling principle, inclining and pressing unto actions agreeable and suitable unto its own nature.”

Sin is the state of being in which we find ourselves. Next time we will look at how sin is evil and nearer than you think.

 

 

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About David Kyle

David & Kim Kyle

I was saved by Jesus Christ on May 27th, 1994 at the age of 33.

I am husband to my loving wife Kim, father to 9 children and grandfather to 7.

I worship at Lakeside Fellowship in Polk City, Iowa where I serve as a deacon.

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