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Sin's True Colours

By Simon Padbury

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, No. 39, July-September 2005.

FALLEN allen man does not see his sins as God sees them. Even those sins that he does acknowledge he refuses to estimate as God does. Yet the Righteous God has purer eyes than to behold evil and He can not look upon iniquity. He will by no means clear the guilty. All who remain in their sins shall die; and this ultimately means that they shall suffer an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord in Hell because they have sinned against God Himself (Hab.1:13; Exod.34:7; Rev.20:6; 21:8; 2Thess.1:9; Ezek.8:4).

In the Word of God man's sins are painted in the most vivid colours – scarlet and crimson (Isa.1:18). But the entrance of sin into the human race did more than cause an open, blood-red wound. It brought death (Gen.2:17). This Divinely administered judgment against sin spread throughout the souls of our first parents, first killing off their spirits and then later their physical bodies. And in his original sin, Adam broke the Covenant of Works both for himself and for us. That is why we are all born "dead in trespasses and in sins" (Eph.2:1; Rom.5:12).

Adam did not pass on to his offspring his original sinless nature, but a condition of spiritual deadness and rebellion against God. The human race thus became totally depraved. For Adam it was originally possible for him to live a life of perfect obedience to the revealed will of God; consequent to his original sin came the threatened curse of a manifold death on mankind, in which this ability not to sin was lost. And now it can truly be said of all, Christ alone excepted (for in Him was no sin), "They altogether filthy are, they all are backward gone; And there is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one" (Psalm 53:3, Scottish Metrical Version).

A Hopeless Case

Fallen man's spiritual case is worse than the physical case of a leper. Whereas leprosy penetrates all of a man's members and slowly kills him, sin struck at the root of the human family and killed the original sinner and all who were in covenant with him. And while a leper may have looked unto Jesus during His earthly ministry and called upon Him for bodily healing, fallen man does not will to call upon Him for the healing of his sin-slain soul; neither indeed can he will for such a healing, nor even seek after God (John 5:40; Rom.3:11).

Fallen man has no hope of recovery (or rather, of regeneration) while he remains without God in the world and dies in that state (Eph.2:1,12). He is a willing slave of sin, captivated by the "lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (John 8:34; 1John 2:16; cf. Mark 4:19), and he refuses to come unto Christ that he might have true life (John 5:40). He does not see his need of the Divine Physician (Mark 2:17).

No matter how much a man may seek to justify his sins, whether by claiming the expediency of mitigating circumstances (i.e., situation ethics) or the influence of hormones or alcohol or drugs (or lack of them), or even by attempting to blame God like those who claim "genetic predisposition" try to do, his sins are still sins against God, and God shall call him to account for every one of them (Rom.14:12). As the Lord Jesus Christ Himself affirms: no matter how white the sinner washes the outside of his tomb, inside he is full of dead bones and all uncleanness, and from within come those things which defile a man (Matt.23:27; Mark 7:21-23).

Behold sin in its true colours; do what so many around us fail to do: see your sins as God sees them. Then you will not be amazed that sin brings the deserved judgment of a manifold death. "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psa.14:2,3).

A New Heart

Sin has entered the world and wrought a great slaughter. Agreat temporal judgement has taken place. All mankind is fallen, and all are lost. The question is, can the dead, stony heart of a man be plucked out and a heart of flesh be pressed into its place? Can a fallen, totally depraved person be restored in soul, and made to walk in paths of righteousness? Or as Christ's disciples asked Him, "Who then can be saved?" With men this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God (Ezek.37:3; 36:26; Psa.23:3; Matt.19:26).

The Righteous God wills to make his power and mercy known in the salvation of sinners. That is why He sent his Son into the world. "And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him" (Isa.59:16; cf. Isa.49:6; 52:10; Matt.1:21; Acts 13:47; Rom.9:22-24). From amidst sin-slain, Hell-deserving mankind, God redeems and calls a people to Himself. These chosen and saved ones will arise from every tongue, tribe and nation – a vast multitude that no man can number (Rev.7:9).

It was only the Lord Jesus Christ Who was born without this spiritual death. His Father was God (Luke 1:26-35). Therefore Adam did not represent Christ as he did us; Christ stood as a "Second Adam." Christ stood as the Head of those whom He represented in another covenant – the Covenant of Grace. In that covenant Christ bestows salvation upon as many as will receive him by faith and He makes them to be children of God (John 1:12). These people believe because the have been given to do so in the providence of God (Acts 13:48). They are the elect whom God gives to His Son in the Covenant of Redemption (John 6:37; John 17:9,11,24; Col.1:12,13; Heb.2:13; Isa.53:10, 11).

The Blind Shall See

In this great salvation the Law has its work to do. The Great Physician sends forth the Holy Spirit, Who applies the Word of God to sinners among mankind. By it He opens their dead spiritual eyes and restores their sight. Thus they come to appreciate their awful predicament as beings that have been slain by sin, who are worthy of Hell. Whereas before they may have thought that they were full of life and hope, the Law came to them and slew their false hope and their trust in their own ability to save themselves. When the Law was brought into their minds and they became sensible of their sins, they found that the sin within them to rose up against God all the more (Rom.7:11).

These sinners begin to see their sin in its true colours, and they fear to see God looking upon them with those "purer eyes" of His – and what this must mean for them if He marks their iniquities (Hab.1:13; Psa.130:3). They are thus overcome, and they admit that they are actually fallen, slain, dead in their sins; and that they can do nothing at all to help themselves. Now in their estimation they see that they are as a corpse covered in "wounds, and bruises, and purtifying sores," and that their sins have become a foul stench in their own nostrils – and how much more must they be in God's nostrils? for this is no mere physical disease that we are talking about (Isa.1:6; Psa.38:4-8; Jon.1:2). "Woe is me, for I am undone!" they then cry out. "Who can save me from the body of this death? Where can I find salvation? What must I do to be saved?" (Isa.6:5; Rom.7:24; Luke 2:30; Acts 16:30).

The Lord Jesus Christ healed a leper by touching him (see Mark 1:40-42). Such miraculous bodily healings were signs of the Messiah, and they witness to the fact that the Son of Man had authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:17-26). This power He still retains! All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved from their sins (Acts 2:21). Christians are those who look to the Lord and say unfeignedly, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." And He does will to receive and to save all who call on Him in truth. He says to them, "I am willing: be thou made whole. I breathe new spiritual life into thy nostrils. Thou art born again. Get up and walk – in newness of life." And as He speaks so it is done, for He is God and the Word of God is all-powerful. He will do all His good pleasure and He makes them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Eph.1:5,9; Phil.2:13).

Consider how the virtue that flows out of Christ for the healing of His people is in His own blood that was poured out for them. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa.53:5). Consider that it required the Divine Physician to die – and rise again – for the very sins of those whom He cured. "His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1Pet.2:24). Because of this so great salvation accomplished and applied by this Great Saviour, there arises from among the sin-slain a people who are called, justified, sanctified, glorified (Rom.8:29,30).

"I am the resurrection, and the life," says the Lord Jesus Christ to one and all. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-27).