Sin Problem

Scripture: Isaiah 58:1, Revelation 3:19, Romans 3:20
Some people can resist anything except temptation. This broadcast looks at the three cardinal weaknesses of human nature. We must awake to what sin is and the consequences of breaking God's commandments.
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I have met a few people in my life who claimed that temptation was no problem with them. They just never seemed to be bothered by it. But I'm absolutely convinced that this represents the minority view only. Multitudes are actually experiencing the opposite side of that coin. They struggle and struggle, and finally conclude that they can resist anything in the world except temptation.

Now since the problem of temptation usually leads into the problem of sin, we need to understand as much as we can about this multi-headed monster also.

Sin has always been a very unpopular subject even in the church. The old natural heart rebels against being rebuked for sin, but the Lord tells His ministers to "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Isaiah 58:1.

In His great love for man the Lord reaches out to bring conviction and repentance of sin. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:19. We must be stirred and awakened so that the sin problem can be solved in our lives.

The Lord not only condemns sin in the life, but also provides a remedy. The sin problem and its solution is clearly outlined in the Scriptures. The Bible reveals the origin of sin, it defines what sin is, it describes the steps that lead into sin, it points out the three basic kinds of temptation Satan uses, it outlines the way we may deal with temptation victoriously, it shows the two basic kinds of sin and how the Lord deals with each, and it indicates the final result of sin in the life.

Strange though it be, sin had its beginning in heaven. Lucifer, the covering cherub among the angelic host, rebelled against God's government of love. Pride filled his heart and he was cast out of glory following his open warfare and defeat. (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17; Revelation 12:7-9.)

What is sin? Satan has lullabied twentieth century Christians into an ever deeper spiritual slumber so that many have become insensible as to what constitutes sin. The Bible clearly defines it for us, however. '"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." I John 3:4. The breaking of any one of God's Ten Commandments constitutes sin. The Apostle Paul reveals the purpose of the law. "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7. And again, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20. Thus, we see that the law of God points out sin in the life.

The cancer of sin has infected the entire human race, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. However, the gospel of Jesus is the good news of salvation from sin. The sinner may come to the Lord in full assurance that the grace of God is sufficient to forgive him of all sin. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Verses 24,25.

The plan of redemption provides for more than the forgiveness of past sins. It also provides a way of escape from continued sin. We need to experience not only forgiveness of sin, but also victory over sin. We cannot be saved in our sins, we must be saved from our sins.

There are certain clearly defined steps which lead one into sin. "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:14,15. The steps as indicated are lust and enticement which lead to sin and death.

The beginning of sin in the life is in what James terms here lust. But what is lust? Lust is the natural desires of the unregenerate heart, mind, and body of man. We are born with these tendencies toward sin, with the accumulation of 6,000 years of human weakness. Actually sin is doing what comes naturally. One who has not experienced the new birth, reaches out after sin. He craves sin. He must and will have sin. The unregenerate life can be satisfied only with sin. The word lust describes this condition of human weakness.

The first step in overcoming sin is to have this old sinful heart of lust transformed. Jesus said, "Ye must be born again." John 3:3. This new birth is not merely a passive emotional experience of responding to an altar call, or of a mere word testimony that one has accepted Jesus as his Saviour. The new birth is a dynamic change in the entire life; it is a transformation by the miracle of divine grace, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a fully surrendered heart. Without this experience there can be no victory over sin, for the old heart of lust craves sin. Our prayer should be that of David, "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10. This new heart is not satisfied with sin; it reaches out after righteousness.

We return now to the text in James to discuss the next step that leads one into sin. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." James 1:14. Enticement or temptation is Satan's part in leading man into sin. The devil merely takes advantage of the unregenerate heart's desire for sin and holds before man such temptations as appeal to his lustful nature. The natural man reaches out after the temptation and the thought, word, or act of sin results.

Some are prone to blame the Lord for temptation, but the Scripture says, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." James 1:13.

God has a plan to enable man to overcome temptation. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James 1:12. Again we read: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13.

The Scripture promises us: "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." II Peter 2:9. Notice that the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations. The ungodly cannot overcome sin. Only those who have experienced the first step of receiving the new heart, a godly heart, can hope to be delivered from temptation. The godly heart rebels against sin; it abhors sin and desires righteousness. However, this new heart must be continually fed from the Word of God lest it become weakened by temptation and again corrupted by sin. It is well for one to observe that temptation does not cease at the new birth. Indeed, Satan may even intensify his enticements.

We read in James 4:7: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Victory comes through submission and resistance.

One must submit human weakness to God's divine power, which in turn enables one to resist the power of temptation. The will is the governing power of man. When the will is submitted to the will of God, then the divine presence sets up a resistance against the powers of the evil one, Satan fears divine power and flees from its manifestation in the converted human heart. However, he flees only to return again with further enticements.

The Apostle Paul said of Jesus: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15,16. Prayer then is part of the solution to the sin problem. In the hour of temptation we must come to the Lord in prayer and receive His sustaining grace to overcome. The divine plan which will deliver man from temptation is revealed in the victorious life of Jesus, and Jesus lived a life of prayer. He fought the battle against the enticements of Satan and remained without sin.

We turn to Christ's temptation in the wilderness to discover the secret of His victorious life. We note first that Jesus faced the adversary fortified with the Holy Spirit. "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." Luke 4:1. We too must first be certain we have received the new heart, which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Humanity will then be charged with divinity.

At the conclusion of Christ's forty days of fasting and prayer, Satan struck with all his fury. Three basic types of temptation were placed before the Master. We discover that these three temptations are the same basic appeals that Satan uses today in his bid for the human soul.

1. "And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." Luke 4:3. Taking advantage of Jesus' weakened physical condition, the devil first tempted Him with that which appeals to the appetite. It was on this same point that Adam and Eve fell. It was here that Christ, the second Adam, must overcome.

The sin of excess in appetite constitutes one of the signs of the last days. "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark." Matt. 24:37,38.

The physical nature must be under the control of sanctified reason. The Apostle Paul said: "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." I Corinthians 9:27. The sin of intemperance in eating and drinking, in sensual indulgence will cause the loss of multitudes in these last days as the moral corruption of Sodom and Gomorrah are again displayed.

2. "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Luke 4:5-7.

Here was a temptation appealing to the pride of life, the love of worldly things. Multitudes today are selling their spiritual birthright to satisfy the lust for the possession of things. Indeed, materialism is a much worshiped idol, even within the church, today. Like any sin, it will eat away the spiritual vitals of a Christian experience. Temporal prosperity is offered by the arch deceiver in exchange for allegiance to his kingdom. But Jesus asks the question, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26.

3. "And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee." Luke 4:9,10. Jesus well knew the power of the protecting angels of heaven, but He also knew that to deliberately cast Himself down would be sheer presumption and would jeopardize His life. Satan was here appealing to the love of display which leads to the sin of presumption. This is sin which is committed wilfully, presuming that a loving God will forgive anyway. Some presume that the Lord will never prevent one from entering the glory land because of little sins in the life. We forget that such "little sins" put man out of the glory land in the beginning.

We have discovered that the three basic classifications of temptation deal with appetite, materialistic pride, and the love of display leading to presumption. Every one of Satan's appeals are based on one or another of these three. We now turn to the question of how Jesus overcame these temptations, for here is revealed the secret of His and our victory over sin.

We note that following each temptation of Satan, Jesus referred to or quoted Scripture. "It is written," said the Saviour. Luke 4:4, 8, 12. Where was it written? Not only in God's Word, but it was also inscribed in Jesus' heart. David of old stated: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11. And again: "By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer." Psalm 17:4.

Here is the secret of inner strength that fortifies man with divine power. The mind that is strengthened with truth and the promises of Scripture is a mighty bulwark the devil, with all of his supernatural power, cannot penetrate. Close communion with God, through prayer and the study of the Word, gave to Jesus a living faith that brought victory over temptation. Yes, there is power in the Word. How important, indeed, that we, like Jesus, live a life of prayer and study, for here is "the way of escape" from sin, This is the divine plan to "deliver the godly out of temptation." The divine nature unites with the human to resist and overcome temptation. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises (in the Scriptures): that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:4.

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