There is nothing more frustrating than coming to a Sunday and leaving spiritual food lying on the table. When Steve and I met early last week, in anticipation of the upcoming service, we had great plans. We set about constructing the following order:
The theme for this past week was “The depth of our relationship in Christ, through the call and regeneration of the Holy Spirit.”
What does it mean when we say a person is lost?
What is the effect of Sin and the Fall on people?
How has sin affected God’s image bearers?
What is the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration?
What does it mean when we use the term Sin?
What does the Holy Spirit do in making us alive?
What does it mean that we were dead?
Then this week would have been: “How does the Holy Spirit use the sacrament of communion to picture and press to us our communion in the body?”
What does communion mean to you?
Communion of the forgiveness of Sin?
Communion of the Holy Spirit?
Communion of the Lord’s Supper?
Now, doesn’t that sound orderly?
I hope the sermon spoke to you Sunday. Several commented that it did. I just couldn’t get to the beauty and wonder of an author describing the real strength of Sin.
Sin is the force which Paul says, through the inspired words of the Holy Spirit, we were all at one time under. By “under,” he means that we were controlled by our cravings and without hope against them. We all as objects of wrath were trained to feed our nature. We do it just as surely as a good animal is trained to fetch.
I take Knox’s dog out at night and throw an orange ball across the front yard in the dark. At first, it was just to see what he could do. Finding it is no problem him. He roots around, back and forth: he hasn’t missed it yet. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit applying grace to me, that is what my nature does. It roots around in the dark cloak of hiddeness and it finds sin out. It doesn’t merely stumble into sin. It hunts it down back and forth, whatever it takes.
Because we have washed our cultural vocabulary of the language of Sin, we are all the more susceptible to its presence. Because we have placated ourselves with a more palatable language we have forgotten to be aware of its ugliness.
Now, I’m writing to our folks so they’ll know I’m no ranting fool pretending that the outward sins of youth are the most deadly. No, by far the sins of hidden slavery are the more deceitful. The festering cultural idolatries that keep a person socially acceptable while not accomplishing the work of the kingdom are far more deadly. They just drag their pain out.
The work of the Holy Spirit applies the redemption, the forgiveness of sins, to me. The blood of Jesus is a deep cleanser that seeps into every crack and crevice. Every single place that Sin has touched me, God now has made whole.
The work of the Spirit is regeneration, making something that was dead now alive again. In that birth, I received a faith that was not mine. Receiving that faith, I believed. Having believed, I became a living receptacle for the promised Holy Spirit. The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit is there is freedom. The natural man cannot comprehend the things of God because they are spiritual, but the one who has been made alive has the Spirit of God in Him. That Spirit reminds us of the power and presence of our High King to overcome Sin and death. Even more, it not only reminds us, the Holy Spirit renews us in every place that sin had broken and separated us.
Looking at the full impact of Sin in the created order and in me, I begin to remember how much God did for me to make me fresh and new before Him
Walk by the Spirit today and do not gratify the desires of your sinful flesh for you have been bought with the immortal, imperishable saving blood of our Savior. That blood is effectual for you so that no power of Sin and death may keep you from the very presence of the throne of God.
Hear again, this summary of Sin’s treachery. Relish today that you have been washed and made entirely clean. Every place that Sin persists is a reminder to you that you have the Holy Spirit and you are made wholly new.
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. writes in Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin.
My goal, then, is to renew the knowledge of a persistent reality that used to evoke in us fear, hatred, and grief. Many of us have lost this knowledge, and we ought to regret the loss. For slippage in our consciousness of sin, like most fashionable follies, may be pleasant, but is is also devastating. Self-deception about our sin is a narcotic, a tranquilizing and disorienting suppression of our spiritual central nervous system. What’s devastating about it is that when we lack an ear for wrong notes in our lives, we cannot play right ones or even recognize them in the performances of others. Eventually we make ourselves religiously so unmusical that we miss both the exposition and the capitulation of the main themes God plays in human life. The music of creation and the still greater music of grace whistle right through our skulls, causing no catch of breath and leaving no residue. Moral beauty begins to bore us. The idea that the human race needs a Savior sounds quiet.
In the celebration of the living who were once dead, your brother, and fellow washed by the blood of Christ cleansed and made whole again,