Saturday, May 13, 2006

How considering Christ restrains sin

“...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us...Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4

There is enough provision in the person and work of Christ to escape and mortify every and any sin (Phil. 4:13; Rom. 13:4). Help has been laid upon this Mighty One so that He is able to give all needed grace to those that are in Him and that abide in Him (Jn. 15:3; Is. 40: 27-31; 2 Cor. 12:9). This is received and strengthened by acting faith upon the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:16-17). The consideration of Christ assists and enables us to act faith upon Him in order that we may find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). Faith acted upon Christ cannot change sin in its nature but it can take away its efficacy or power to work. We ought then to consider each of the aspects of the person and work of Christ the Mediator in order to seek strengthening in the restraint of sin in the affections and conscience.
  1. Consider Christ in eternity, when His delights were with the sons of men (Prov. 8:31). His delights were in His own people, not in their sins but rather in their justification, sanctification and glorification from sin. Sin is therefore averse to that which was Christ's eternal delight, the joy that was set before Him – that He might present to Himself a sinless, pure Bride with exceeding great joy. He loved you believer, with an everlasting loved and do you think that He loved you so in order that you might despise such love by continuing in sin?
  2. Consider Christ in His covenanting with the Father in eternity to lay down His life for the sheep, to be a Surety for His people. His soul would be an offering for sin. Did he covenant His blood with God against sin and will you covenant with sin against God and against such a provision? Did He consider you from all eternity and will you not consider Him aright? Did He esteem you in the loathsomeness of your sin and will you then esteem your loathsome sins more highly than Him?
  3. Consider His humbling of Himself by coming into a world of sin for you, and will you not forsake the world of sin for Him?
  4. Consider Him taking a sinless human nature into union with His own Divine Person in order that He might be like unto His brethren in all things apart from sin. Scripture even says that he came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), such was the humiliation though He was yet holy, undefiled and separate from sinners. If the soul of righteous Lot was vexed each day by the sin that he witnessed in Sodom, how much greater was the trial for the holy soul of Christ to witness sin on every hand. Shall we delight in that which must have vexed His soul so grievously? He that was rich became exceeding poor that we through His poverty might become rich and not so that we might yet long after the destitute poverty and disgrace of sin.
  5. Consider Him being circumcised as symbolic of putting away sin that He did not have, promising that He would perform all righteousness and as humbled by being made under the Law (Gal. 4:4; 5:3). This was His voluntary obedience – shall we match it with our wilful disobedience?
  6. Consider Him in the temptations that He experienced at the hands of Satan and will you not seek strength and help from Him in the day of temptation?
  7. Consider His betrayal at the hands of one of His friends, and will you, as it were, covenant with sin to betray Him?
  8. Consider His exceeding sorrow and anguish in Gethsemane because of the nature of the sacrifice that was required for sin. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow – will you despise such sorrow and go on in sin and not rather grieve over your past sins and the corruption of your heart?
  9. Consider His denial by Peter and how he was forsaken by all His disciples, are you going to deny and forsake your Master out of love to sin and this present evil world?
  10. Consider the cruel mocking and scourging that He faced at the hands of wicked men, being set at nought by the men of war. Will you yourself turn enemy to your Beloved and Friend by warring with sin against Him and despising His sufferings for sin as a thing of nought?
  11. Consider the people's choice of Barrabas in preference to Christ. Will you choose sin above Christ, which is a murderer of men's souls, of Christ Himself and a thief of God's glory?
  12. Consider His prayer for those that crucified Him. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Will you go on in sin with these words in the ears of your conscience, knowing what YOU do in sinning against Him? Surely it is true that if apostasy can be described as crucifying Christ afresh and putting Him to an open shame, sin lapsed into by the professing Christian wounds Him afresh in some way.
  13. Consider His sufferings in His body, painfully and shamefully bleeding to death. Read Psalm 22 in order to have a sense of the physical agonies that He experienced in every part of His body to the utmost (Ps. 22:14). Will you despise such sufferings in embracing the sin that caused your Saviour such agonies?
  14. Consider what it means when Scripture declares that He “condemned sin in the flesh” and “suffered in the flesh”. He came to condemn that which condemned us. Let Christ be the ruin of sin in you.
  15. Consider the railing and blasphemy He endured upon the cross and will you revile Him to the face by joining company with sin and so standing in the way of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful?
  16. Consider the depth of His soul sufferings. Forsaken of God that you should never be forsaken of God eternally. Passing through the overwhelming consuming fire of the wrath of God and drinking the sup of damnation to the uttermost. Will you love the sin that poured Hell intensively into the soul of the Saviour, all for your sake that this should not be your eternal portion?
  17. Consider His continuing under the power of death for a time. The sting of death is sin. Your sin meant death for Christ – will you not put it to death?
  18. Consider His resurrection and that it is the same exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead (Eph. 2:19-20). How then with such power at work in you through the Spirit of Him that raised Christ from the dead are you not able to mortify the deeds of the body and live unto righteousness?
  19. Consider His exaltation to the right hand of the Father. It was when He had by Himself purged our sins that He sat down. We are seated with Him there. “ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry”
  20. Consider His kingly rule, the purpose of which is to subdue all His and our enemies. What a rebellious enemy sin is – and will you join with an enemy of the King of Kings and your own self? Will you not rather plead the promise: “he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
  21. Consider His prophetic office which is to teach us the will of God for our salvation. “This is the will of God even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb. 12:25).
  22. Consider His high priestly intercession for us: “I have prayed for thee”. His wounds and blood intercede on behalf of His people. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Yet we are told of this in order that “ye sin not”.
  23. Consider the second coming of Christ. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry...But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:4-5, 8-10). “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3).
    O that you and I would be without offence until the day of Christ (Phil 1:10). “the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”