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      Holiness.

      Wednesday, May 23, 2007


      SIN

      "Sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4).

      He who wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume of messages about holiness by making some plain statements about sin.

      The plain truth is that a right understanding of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are "words and names" which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ is to send light into his heart and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with "light," and so also does the spiritual creation. God "shines into our hearts" by the work of the Holy Spirit and then spiritual life begins (2 Cor. 4:6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the contemporary church has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

      1. I will begin the subject by supplying some definition of sin. We are all, of course, familiar with the terms "sin" and "sinners." We talk frequently of "sin" being in the world and of men committing "sins." But what do we mean by these terms and phrases? Do we really know? I fear there is much mental confusion and haziness on this point. Let me try, as briefly as possible, to supply an answer.

      "Sin," speaking generally, is, as the Ninth Article of our church declares, "the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusts always against the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into the world, it deserves God’s wrath and damnation." Sin is that vast moral disease which affects the whole human race, of every rank and class and name and nation and people and tongue, a disease from which there never was but one born of woman that was free. Need I say that One was Christ Jesus the Lord?

      I say, furthermore, that "a sin," to speak more particularly, consists in doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God. "Sin," in short as the Scripture says, is "the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). The slightest outward or inward departure from absolute mathematical parallelism with God’s revealed will and character constitutes a sin, and at once makes us guilty in God’s sight.

      Of course, I need not tell anyone who reads his Bible with attention that a...



      - J. C. Ryle

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