We want continue looking at the reasons why we keep falling into sin and do not grow spiritually. Perhaps this could solve the problem you are facing right now.
In our previous study we were considering the fact that, under grace there is no need for any of us to be mastered by sin. Grace is God’s power that enables us to overcome. In fact, Romans 6:14 is such a clear promise: ‘‘Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.’’ And if we do fall, if we are not growing spiritually by overcoming sins that we have been constantly defeated by in the past, as we considered in our last study, one of the primary reasons could be, and often is, the fact that we do not fear God.
You know, God has given all of us a private area in our life: it is our thought life. Nobody can enter in there; not even your wife or your husband. The thoughts that go on in your mind are a private area, and it is in that totally private area of your life that God tests you to see whether you fear Him or not. And that is how God is testing the entire human race.
Consider for a moment, supposing your thoughts sounded out loud like your words (I am sure God could have made man in such a way that our thoughts sounded out loud just like our words do), would you then be more careful with your thoughts? Then why are you not careful when your thoughts are silent and other people cannot here? Does it mean that you are not bothered if God hears it, but you are only concerned that men should not hear it? That is an indication that we fear men more than we fear God. I am convinced that, one of the most important things that you and I need to develop in our life is the fear of God.
David said in one of the Psalms, ‘Come, my children, I will teach you to fear God.’ We have to learn, through developing our senses, to fear the presence of God, who is always with us wherever we are; who hears every thought that passes through our mind as loudly as other people can hear our words. It is not just that we need to fear God as much as we fear other men – that itself would bring a terrific deliverance, but certainly we have to fear Him more. In fact, one of the sins mentioned in Romans 1:25 is that, people worship the creature more than the Creator; they worship a man’s opinion more than God’s opinion. We are all basically like that.
You know, from childhood, we grow up being afraid of people’s opinions; we want to impress people. We are not so concerned about impressing the Lord, and the result of that is that we keep falling into sin. If we are going to be careless in our thought life, in our inner attitudes and motives, which nobody can see but God, there is never going to be any purity in our life. We are just going to be defeated constantly. Here is the number one reason why many people never make progress in overcoming sin, because they have never sought to develop the fear of God in their life.
Now let me give you a second reason. The Bible says in Romans 1:17 that ‘‘The righteous man will live by faith.’’ All progress in the Christian life is by faith. For example, in the letter of Jude, verse 24, it says, ‘‘Jesus can keep you from falling;’’ if you don’t believe that, it is never going to take place in your life. If you don’t believe that God is intensely interested in your living in victory over sin, you are never going to experience it in your life. If you don’t believe that sin is a serious matter, you are not going to overcome sin in your life. We need to have faith in the Word of God. Let me give you one or two examples which should prove to you why sin is so serious.
In the beginning of the history of the human race, when God created Adam and Eve, He gave them only one commandment – not ten, just one commandment. He told them not to eat the fruit of a particular tree; that was all. They lived with one commandment. One would think that they could have enjoyed life so much because of that beautiful garden with everything available, and all they had to do was keep one commandment. That was not at all difficult, was it? But they disobeyed that one commandment, probably on that very first day. And what was the result?
Did God give them a second chance? No. He didn’t say, ‘Ok, let’s overlook your failure; you probably didn’t realize how serious it was. I will give you one more chance.’ There was no second chance. Now, if our children make a mistake, we would give them a second chance. God never gave Adam and Eve a second chance. He turned them out of the garden immediately. Is it because God is not compassionate? Do you think you are more compassionate than God as a Father when you give your child a second chance or a third chance? – Certainly not. There is no one in the universe more compassionate and more merciful than God. If you have a little compassion in your heart, you got that from God; it is a little drop in the ocean of God’s compassion. God loved Adam and Eve intensely. Why didn’t He give them a second chance then? – Because sin is so serious. It is not a light thing!
So right in the beginning of the Bible, you see the seriousness of sin in this one act of God in not giving Adam and Eve a second chance. You know, many children take some of commands or orders of their parents very lightly, saying, “Yeah, daddy and mommy won’t mind even if I do it.” Very often they are right. They disobey their parents and their parents don’t take it seriously and they let them go. It is possible that Adam and Eve felt in the same way: ‘well, God is a loving God after all, He won’t take it seriously if we just slip up a little bit.’ But they discovered that sin was serious. They discovered that one sin was enough to shut them out from God’s presence forever. Sometimes people say, concerning their sin, ‘well, that is only one sin.’ But how many sins did Adam commit before He was shut out of God’s presence – twenty, thirty, hundred? – No, not even two. Just one!
Why am I stressing this? I have found in my life that very, very few believers who believe that even one sin is serious. It says in Romans 6:1, ‘‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound’’. Again we see in in Romans 6:15 (taking the literal translation) that, ‘‘What shall we say then? Shall we sin even once that grace may abound.’’ Have you ever asked yourself that question, ‘shall we sin even once?’ I wish we could see how serious sin is, in Adam’s time and in our time. That is the first proof that God takes sin very seriously; that a compassionate, merciful God could not give Adam and Eve a second chance. One sin shut them out of His presence permanently. Even if they never committed another sin in their whole life, they would still go to Hell; one sin was enough.
Now I want to show you a second example. The previous one was from the Old Testament. Now I will show you an example from the New Testament, and it is not something you don’t know about. Why did Jesus die on Calvary’s cross? What was the reason? – Sin. Supposing only one man had committed only one sin in the history of the human race, tell me, do you think Jesus would have come down from heaven to die for that one man, for his one sin? I believe He would have.
You see, it is not just that He took the sins of the whole world – millions of sins. If only one man had committed only one sin, Jesus would still have to come and died to save that one man, from that one sin; from the consequences of that one sin. When Jesus died, just before He died, for three hours, we read, the sun was darkened. At 12 noon it became like midnight on the earth. Why did it become like midnight? Why did it become pitch-dark at 12 noon? – Because God turned His face away from His own son. In all eternity that had never happened. God the Father and the Son were in perfect fellowship for years. But for three hours the Father turned away His face from His son; broke fellowship with His son. What Jesus endured during those three hours was the agony of being forsaken by God, what we would call Hell on the cross.
What does that prove? That sin is extremely serious that Jesus Christ had to suffer so much. When we believe the Word of God we will take sin seriously. I am absolutely convinced, dear friends, that many of us have not overcome sin because we haven’t seen the seriousness of sin. If you have got a leprous patch in your hand, what would you do? Would you ignore it, or would you rush to the doctor? If you felt a pain in your stomach, which you thought might be cancer, what would you do? Would you delay in going and getting an x-ray or a scan done and get a doctor’s opinion? Why do we rush; why do we take leave from our work the very next day and go to the doctor? Because we know these things are serious. Supposing your blood test shows that you have got AIDS, what would you do, just ignore it?
How many of us believe that sin is more serious than all these things? Do you believe the Word of God? Here is the second reason why many people fall: they do not believe; they do not believe that sin is serious; they do not believe God’s Word that with grace you can overcome sin. Take God’s Word seriously from today onwards, every Word of God, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your life.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.