The Sinful Made Sinless
THE SINFUL MADE SINLESS
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORDS-DAY,MARCH 21ST, 1897,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON,
ON LORDS-DAY EVENING, JULY 12TH, 1886.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is thetransgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested totake away our sins; and in him is no sin. 1 John 3:4, 5.
NOTE, beloved, the special character of believers, their divinerelationship, their heavenly privilege; they are called the children of God.There is a foolish dream about the divine fatherhood toward all men; but itis a figment, a fiction, a delusion, a deception. The fatherhood of God istoward as many as he hath begotten again unto a lively hope through theresurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; these are his children. As for therest of mankind, they are heirs of wrath, even as others. It is the specialmanner of Gods love that we are bidden in this chapter to behold as awonder, because he has bestowed this manner of love upon us that weshould be called the sons of God; and that he has not bestowed this loveupon all men is evident, for it is added, therefore the world knoweth, usnot, because it knew him not.
So, you see, out of the special privilege of Gods children there grows aspecial position which they are called to occupy. They are not of the world,even as Christ is not of the world. They become a holy people, separatedunto God. I say not that all who profess the Christian name are so; that iswhat they ought to be, but it is to be feared that many of them have not yetreached this standard. But true believers, the twice-born, have beenregenerated by the Spirit of God. These are not of the world, and the worlddoes not understand them; they are aliens and foreigners, their manners andcustoms, their modes of thought and their motives are all contrary to thoseof the ordinary sons of men; and they have to force their way through thewould as pilgrims through a Vanity Fair where there is nothing for them topurchase, and nothing worthy of their attention. May God keep you, dearbrethren, a separated people! May you obey that voice, Come out fromamong them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the uncleanthing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall bemy sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Observe also, dear friends, as you read this chapter, what is the blessedhope of the children of God; they are looking for the appearing of the LordJesus Christ from heaven. As they look back by faith, they see their Lordupon the cross, and then they see him in the tomb, and then they beholdhim risen from the grave. The last glimpse they catch of him is as a cloudreceives him out of their sight. He has gone into the glory, but believershave not forgotten those angelic words to the disciples, This same Jesus,which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as yehave seen him go into heaven. So we expect him to come; and when hecomes, then is to be the time of our highest joy. Even though we are nowcalled the sons of God, it cloth not yet appear what we shall be. Ourglory, our full bliss, is as yet concealed; but we know that, when he shallappear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. So, brethren,our hope is that, when Christ shall come, we shall be perfected, that thenwe shall be rid of every sin, and shall become holy even as he is holy, pureeven as he is pure.
What is our occupation while we are waiting for our Lords return?Standing on the door-step of the better dispensation, what are we doing?The third verse of this chapter tells us that every man that hath this hopein him purifieth himself even as he is pure. Casting off every sin, mourningthat it should be within us, resolving that it shall not master us, determiningto go from strength to strength in holiness and true righteousness,endeavoring to perfect holiness in the fear of God, this is the presentoccupation of the sons of God who expect that, by-and-by, they shall bemade like unto their risen and ascended Lord.
Now, in order that we may carry on this blessed work of purifyingourselves, I want you to think with me upon three matters suggested byour text.
The first is, the Christians view of sin: Sin is the transgression ofthe law.
The second is, the Christians hope of rescue from sin. Wheredoes that lie? Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins.
And the third is, the Christians model, to which he hopes ere long to beconformed: In him is no sin; and as we shall be like him when we shallsee him as he is, so in us there shall be no sin. O glorious hope! O blestabode!
I shall be near and like my God; And flesh and sin no more control, Thesacred pleasures of my soul.
I. First, then, I want you to consider for a few minutes, for I cannot gofully into such a great subject, what is THE CHRISTIANS VIEW OF SIN.I know that there are some persons who understand by the word sinsome offense against their fellow-men, or the outward neglect of religion.They regard sin as if it were the same thing as crime, an offense againstthe prosperity of the nation or the welfare of their fellow-men. I aminclined to think that even some of my brethren in Christ do not reallyunderstand what sin is when they say that they live without it. I fancy thatthey mean by sin, something very different from what the Scripture meansby that word, otherwise they would hardly talk as they do.
Sin is any want of conformity to the perfect mind of God; or, according toour text, sin is the transgression of the law, and every transgression ofthe law is sin. Therefore, we say that, first, every sin breaks Gods law. Itdoes not matter what sin is committed, it breaks the law at some one point.There are ten great commandments of God; and it may be that you thinkyou have never broken No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, but if you have broken No.7, 8, 9, or 10, you have snapped the chain asunder as really as if you hadbroken all its links. It little matters to miners in a pit, if the chain be broken,at what particular link it came asunder. So, any offense against the law ofGod breaks the whole law, and spoils any hope of the sinner being savedby keeping it. Every sin is an offense against the law, as you will see if youlook at the law in another aspect. You remember that great command,Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor asthyself; now, if in anything we come short of that command, or if we doanything contrary to it, we have violated the law. This is what every kindof sin does; either by falling short of the command of God, or goingbeyond it, the law is broken. This being the case, is there one among uswho has not broken the law of God?
Then take the other side of this truth. Every breach of the law is a sin. Ifthou dost not do what God commands thee, fully, heartily, always, withoutfail, thou hast sinned; and if thou dost at any moment that which Godcommands thee not to do, thou hast therein sinned against him. And let itnever be forgotten that what I am now saying about actions applies also towords; our Lord told his disciples that for every idle word anyone utters hemust give an account in the day of judgment. And remember, too, that thisrule applies to thoughts and imaginations and desires, and to those secretmotives which hide away within the soul, and never actually come intodeeds. God shall bring these hidden things to judgment; and every thought,or word, or deed, that is not in perfect conformity with the law and will ofGod, is a sin. Who among us can stand before the Lord in his ownrighteousness if this be true? If God shall lay judgment to the line, andrighteousness to the plummet, who among us shall not be overwhelmedwhen the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shalloverflow the hiding-place?
Let me further say that sin is mainly sin became it is a transgression of thelaw. Many a person will say, I did no harm to anyone. That is not thepoint; if you break the law of God, you thereby sin. We must never judgesin merely by its consequences, or we may make great mistakes. Apointsman on the railway does not turn the switch aright, and one traindashes into another, and a hundred lives are lost. He may say to himself,What a crime I oommitted by my carelessness, and everybody denounceshim for it. But suppose he forgot to turn the switch, and by a sort ofmiracle the two trains escaped coming into collision. If by someextraordinary coincidence the two mighty masses of matter rushing onwardwere stopped in their progress, and no hurt came of it, the pointsmanwould be just as guilty in that case as in the other. It is not the amount ofdamage that results from it that makes the sin; it is the thing itself. If youare doing wrong, even though you should feed a nation by yourwrongdoing, I say that you would still be committing sin. If you get rich byan unholy trick, it is none the less trickery and deception, and there is acurse upon your wealth. Some sins men can see at once are sins becausethey bring upon the one who commits them disease of body, or they leavehim in rags, or cover him with shame; then men say, This course ofconduct is wrong, for see what comes of it. But that is a very imperfectway of looking at the matter; the wrong of a thing consists in this, that it isa breach of Gods law; yet how few ever think of this! To break theQueens law is bad, but to break Gods law is far worse. I would like tolook every unconverted man in the face, and say to him, I do not accuseyou of this or that particular sin, but I lay the axe nearer the root than that,and tell you that your great sin is that you do not serve God, you do notgive to your Maker the homage which is his due. Your heart never bowsitself in obedience to him, you are a born rebel, you are at enmity againstthe Most High, and you will not yield to him, your Lord and Sovereign.This is the very essence and virus of the worst possible sin. I know thatsome will not think much of this view of the matter; that is because they donot think much of God; and herein is a clear proof of mans enmity againstGod, in that he does not think it any great evil that he should trifle with thelaw of God, and live according to his own will and way.
Now let me show you that it is a great sin to break the law of God; for theman who habitually breaks the law of God is a traitor to his Sovereign, heimpugns Gods right to reign. He practically says, Who is Jehovah, that Ishould obey him? As far as he can, he dashes the scepter out of Godshand, takes the crown from his head, and makes himself to be his own kingand his own lord. Is this, think you, a little evil?
Again, the man who prefers sin to holiness practically contradicts GodsWord. He says, It is better not to do Gods will. God commands me to dothis or that, but I prefer to do the other, judging it to be to my advantageso to do. I say to thee, sinner, that thou makest out that God is a fool, andthat thou art a wise man; thou sayest, My course of worldliness, mycourse of sinful pleasure, is the better way, and God does not know what isbest for me. Dost thou think that thy Maker will permit thee thus, as itwere, to give a slap in the face to his infinite wisdom?
The breaking of Gods law is also a questioning of his goodness. The manseems to think that God has denied him something which it would be forhis gain to have. If he did not think so, he would not desire the forbiddenthing. It is the case with all of us as with mother Eve, we come to thinkthat there is some mysterious gain to be gotten by plucking the forbiddenfruit, and the dragon whispers, God doth know that in the day ye eatthereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowinggood and evil. And so, preferring our own folly to the wisdom andgoodness of the great and glorious God, we conclude that he does not wishour highest good, and that our highest good is to be found in goingcontrary to his will What is this but a direct insult in the face of infinitelove, and saying to God, Thou dost not love me, after all?And, once more, he who dares to break Gods law, seeing that he cannotdo it except in the immediate presence of God, for God is everywhere, hethat acts contrary to Gods law before Gods own face does, as it were,fling down the gauntlet to his God, and defy his power. By such action asthat, he either means to declare that God is not almighty, or that Jehovahwill not exercise his omnipotence to defend his honor, or that he himselfdoes not care what God does, so he will leave him to do his worst. Everysin has this venom within its bowels, it is a defiance of the mighty majestyof God; and, O my unpardoned hearer, this is how you have actedthousands of times, yet the Lord hath forborne to strike, and in mercy hathborne with you, even to this day!
So, in the first place, that is what the Christian thinks sin to be, it is abreach of the law of God, and that breach of the law is full of unnumberedills, and mischiefs, and sins against God.
II. Now, secondly, let us consider what is THE CHRISTIANS HOPE OFRESCUE FROM SIN. It is revealed in this portion of our text: We know thathe was manifested to take away our sins.
When I have been pondering upon the sin of men, and who among ushas not that painful matter continually thrust before us for ourconsideration? I have found no comfort except in this glorious fact, thatChrist Jesus was manifested to take away our sins. This is the source of theChristians hope, Gods appearance in human form. If it be so that thegreat God himself deigned to come to earth, and to take upon him the formof man; if it be so that the ever-blessed Second Person of the DivineTrinity was actually born of the Virgin, that he might become man likeourselves; if it be so that he came here to fight the evil, and that he hasput his foot down against the advance of the enemy, then I have hope formankind, I have hope for myself, I have hope that sin may be overcome;and as we know and are sure that God has come down among us, and hastaken upon himself our nature, since this is the very fundamental truth ofour holy faith, therefore we see how sin can be put away. If thou, greatGod, dost undertake to put it away, it can be done; but it can be done bynone else. If all the angels in heaven had promised to cleanse this Augeanstable, it would have remained as foul as ever; and if all the sons of menhad resolved to purify with fire this foul and loathsome world, it wouldhave remained still a very Gehenna. But if thou dost undertake it, O thoublessed Son of God, without whom was not anything made that wasmade, and by whom all things consist, upholding all things as thou dost, bythe word of thy power, if thou dost undertake the tremendous work,then it will be clone!
So, next, our hope lies in Christs death. Our sin needed to be removed intwo ways. First, as to the guilt of sin; we have already sinned, and byreason of our sin we have incurred the righteous anger of God, and his justdispleasure. God must punish sin. If a man stands in the track of anavalanche, he must be buried beneath it; and if a man stands in the way ofthe laws of God, those laws must crush him. There was but one way ofdeliverance from the guilt of sin, and that was for God himself, in humanform, to take the consequences of human sin upon himself. Would he everthink of doing such a thing? Could he ever condescend to do it? He hasdone it; in infinite compassion, he that possessed the royalties of heavenhas doffed his kingly mantle, and laid aside his crown, and he has comedown here to dwell among us in human clay; and being here, he hassuffered, he has bled, he has died, the Just for the unjust, that he mightbring us to God. Brothers and sisters, if he that died on Calvarys crosswas indeed the Son of God, if he died there to make an expiation for sin,then I can see how human guilt can be put away. Think of some of thecrimes of which it is scarcely lawful for us to speak; how could suchcrimson stains ever be washed out except with the blood of the Son ofGod? Think of your own sins, dear friend; even if they have not been soglaring as those of others, yet their turpitude is great. How could they everbe washed away except by the blood of the Son of God? But if thou, OChrist, hast bowed thy head, and given up the ghost, if thy dear bodyhas been laid in the silent tomb, bearing in it the marks of thy anguish; ifthou hast said, It is finished, who shall contradict thee? It is finished.The great sacrifice is accomplished, and thou hast, by thy one offering, forever put away the sin of thy people. We know that he was manifested totake away our sins. Do you know it, dear hearer? If you do not, I am verysorry for you, and I pray the Lord to teach you to believe it even now, thatyou may see your sin put away by Christs death.
But then, we need Christs life in us by the gift of the Spirit. Even if sin bepardoned, that is not enough for us; We want to have sin put right awayfrom us, from the heart of us, and from the life of us. Do you not, mybrethren and sisters, all agree that this is what you want? I think that, if wecould be forgiven, and yet not wholly sanctified, we could never be happywhile sin was still creeping and crawling over us. O thou venomous reptile,if thou dost coil thyself around my arm, or about my body anywhere, evenif thy deadly poison shall be taken from thee, yet thou dost sicken mealmost to death by thy loathsome touch! How is this foul thing, sin, to betaken away from us? Well, our Lord Jesus Christ was manifested in orderthat, after his death, when he had ascended up to heaven, the Holy Spiritmight descend, and come and dwell in us, to conquer every evil passion,and to work in us all manner of holy desires, and so abide in us as to speakout of our mouths, to act through our lives, and to make us to live afterGods manner of living, and not according to the way of the flesh, as oncewe did. Christ was manifested in order that, by his rising again from thedead, and going back into heaven, the Holy Spirit might come and dwellamong the believing sons and daughters of men, that he might fashion usinto newness of life. And now, this day, the Christ who trod the sell of thispoor earth, the Christ who on it died, the Christ who in it was buried, theChrist who from it ascended into glory, I say that he, by a mighty,secret, and invisible power, is this day working among the guilty childrenof men, creating them anew, making them new creatures in Christ Jesus. Ahoary-headed sinner once said, I wish I was like that little child, so that Icould begin life again. It is this that Jesus does for thee, my aged friend;he makes thee to become a babe in grace. Dost thou ask, Can a man beborn when he is old? It is even so, for Christ can make thee to be bornagain, and to begin to live quite a new life. For this purpose was hemanifested, that he might thus take away our sins; and, every day, in thosewho believe in him, Christ is crucifying the flesh, with its affections andlusts. Every day, he is making the old man to die. Every day, Christ isbeing formed in us, the hope of glory. Every day, his resurrection-life isgiving us the power to rise above the old dead world and its lusts. Everyday, our ascended Lord is causing us also to ascend, that we may sittogether in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Every day, he is working in usby his blessed Spirit, that he may make us to be perfectly free from everysin, and so to be like himself This, then, is our hope; is it not a blessed one?
We know that he was manifested to take away our sins.
Oh, I wish, my dear friends, you who have never seriously thought aboutthis matter, that you really would turn your whole attention to it! It is youronly hope. But, perhaps, you have got entangled in some vice; or if notthat, a cold lethargy of carelessness is upon you, or else you have grownvery worldly. There is no getting out of this condition except through onepower, and that power is in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is butone way to something better, and safer, and more divine; and that way isChrist. Why do you not seek him? Surely, you cannot think that it wouldmake you wretched if you became pure and holy. If you do imagine such athing, I bear my willing testimony that, albeit I have tried to serve myMaster with all my might, I have never found his service to be a servitude.There is no bondage connected with endeavoring to be like Christ. In fact,there is no joy that ever sparkles in the eye like the joy of a reconciled soul.
If sin be pardoned, if evil be conquered, then what is there for me tofear? Death has no sting for the believer in Jesus, and life with its burdenscannot overweight us: we are fit to live, and we are fit to die, if our sin betaken away. Grace has prepared us to suffer, or prepared us for enjoyment.Grace has made us ready for riches, or ready for poverty. Grace makes usready for the silent chamber of sickness, or for the grave of bereavement,or for the social joy of the little children that clamber about our knee. He isfit for anything who is made like his Lord. If sin be but put away throughthe manifestation of Christ, it brings nothing that can unfit us for this life orthe next, but everything that shall make us fit here and fit hereafter. If Iwere a secularist, I would wish to be a Christian. If there were nohereafter, yet were it better to have sin forgiven, even as a mortal man, soas to live at peace with the Eternal, and to feel a glow of gratitude to himimpelling to self-sacrifice, and moving to intense love toward my guiltyfellow-men. I am sure that it is so; Christianity is the noblest of all ethics,even for the present day, and much more for the eternal world whither weare hastening.
III. Now I conclude with just a few brief remarks upon the third point, THE Christians MODEL, TO WHICH HE IS TO BE CONFORMED.
You see what his hope is, that the manifestation of Christ will take awayhis sin; What is his model? First, it is, Christ ever perfect. My lips areunable fully to tell about my perfect Master, Christ Jesus, my Lord; but Imay say this, his enemies have looked at him from every side, and theyhave never yet Been able to find a joint in his harness through which toshoot their poisoned darts. Men who have flung aside the great truth of theinspiration of the Scriptures, and have been prepared even to make light ofheaven and hell, have nevertheless gazed with astonishment upon thecharacter of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is unrivalled among the sons of men,it is absolutely perfect. As one snow-white peak rises above its brotherAlps, a crowned monarch, more than peer of all the highest of them, sodoes the life of Christ rise above that of all philanthropists, and all teachers,and the loftiest purity that is merely of earth. There is none like him, thereis no defect in Christ, and there is no excess. He is the joy of Gods ownheart; he is the delight of all the saints above; he is your joy and mine,beloved, to us he is the Altogether-lovely.
Mark, next, that every saint as far as he is in Christ is perfect, too. Thatpart of me that is still my own, oh, how imperfect it is! That part of me thatdoes not yet abide in him, that old nature that struggles and sometimesbreaks loose, oh, how much I grieve over it! But in so far as Christcomes into contact with us, and we yield ourselves to him, we are affectedby his divine purity, so that we become pure even as he is pure. They saysometimes of a Christian man who does something that is not right, Hedid so-and-so; that is your religion! No, it is not; that is the point where,as yet, his religion has not thoroughly saturated him; that is his defect and iffailing. Pray God that he may be forgiven for the wrong-doing, and askthat the grace of God may sanctify him wholly, spirit, soul, and body.With this point I close; this is the resolve, the intent, the prayer, the hope,the assurance, of every believer, that, one day, he shall be perfectly inChrist, and then he will be perfect as Christ. O blessed, blessed hope!There is not a sin within us but must die. Out with thee, sin, out with thee!Thou must die. There is not a Canaanite in the land, though he be a prince,but must be hanged up before the face of the sun. You know how theseiniquities try to hide themselves away within our souls, as the five kings hidin the cave at Makkedah; and we have, like Joshua, to roll great stonesbefore the mouth of the cave, some self-denials that cost us a greateffort, o as to keep them from coming out. But that is not enough, wecannot be satisfied with having sins hidden away as in a cave; we want toslay them as Joshua slew the five kings. So, before the sun goes down, wecry, Come out with you! Come out with you! You must die, every one ofyou. There is not to be any wrong thought, or wrong desire, or wrongaction spared; we must put all to death if we would become as perfect andpure as Christ is. That is a hard lesson, say you. It is a blessed hope,say I. It is very difficult, you say. I confess that it is impossible to us, butit is not impossible to him who undertakes it for us. He was manifested totake away our sins; and since the manifestation included the incarnation,and the bloody sweat, and the death upon the cross, what is there that itcannot accomplish? Believe, clear friend, that every sin in you will yet beslain, and that you shall stand before God, without spot, or wrinkle, orany such thing. This would be my heaven, say yore Indeed, you cannothave a Better heaven than that. Washed completely from all defilement,delivered from every trace of past sin, and from every tendency to futuresin, perfectly in Christ Jesus, and perfect in Christ Jesus, oh, this isheaven indeed!
Believing this, let us struggle and fight to attain it, and let us never restsatisfied till we get it. Then, says one, we shall never rest satisfied thisside of heaven. Of course you will not; as long as you are here, you willhave to fight. As long as you are here, you will have to strive and struggle.If already you have gained the victory to a large degree, go on, and getmore and more of it. Some time ago, I heard a man ask, Can we Beperfect in this life? I smelt that he had been drinking, and I thought tomyself, Well now, you are something like a man who is covered with rags,and has not a penny in his pocket, who asks, Do you think it is possiblethat every working-man can be a millionaire? Had he not better ask firstwhether he could save five shillings? So, when a man says, Can I beperfect? I say, My dear fellow, you need not bother your head about thatmatter at present; you are such a long way from it yet that you had Betterfind out how you can even become moral first. There are some overt sinsthat you can get rid of, and ought to get rid of; but there is a long, longway Between a soul that has just begun to perceive the guilt of sin, and tobreak off outward evil habits and vices, and that same soul Beingabsolutely perfect like unto God himself. There is so great a distance thatthou must have God to carry thee across it, or thou wilt never traverse it;and thou must cast thyself as a sinner at the feet of Jesus, or thou mayestnever hope for it. Come, let all of us begin at the cross this very moment;let us begin By believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then he will purify useven as he is pure; and, at the last, when he shall appear, we shall be likehim, for we shall see him as he is.
God bless you all, for Jesus sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON.
1 JOHN 3.
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