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TEXT: Psalm 97:10
SUBJECT: Baxter on Hating Sin #1
Tonight, with God's blessing, we'll start a new Puritan study; it's called Richard Baxter on Hating Sin.
Sin is a terrible thing. God hates it; it made Jesus Christ very mad; it grieves the Holy Spirit. Good men have wept over sin and bad men have gnashed their teeth at its consequences.
Sin is the cause of every bad thing in the world, from the atomic bomb to crabgrass. If it weren't for sin, there would be no death, no sickness, and no sorrow. You'd get older without getting old. You'd have time for your kids. Work would be a joy. And you'd never fight with your husband or wife. What a wonderful world it would be.if it weren't for sin.
If it were not for sin, there would be no devil. God did not create the devil. He made an angel who became the devil by his sin. If it were not for sin, there would be no lake of fire to punish men who prefer living in sin to walking with God.
If sin is the cause of all misery it must be a hateful thing. You ought to hate it bitterly. And you do; everyone does. The problem is, most people only hate sin.in other people.
Should you hate sin in other people? Yes, you ought to. But not only in other people. You ought to hate your own sins too. They are as bad as anyone else's.
In fact, if you're a believer, your sins are worse than anyone else's. When we think of really hideous sins, we think of unsaved men and the appalling things they do. But Richard Baxter says our sins are worse than theirs. At least in some ways.
How can that be? Baxter gives twenty reasons why believers ought to hate their sins with a special hatred. We'll look at some of them tonight.
The believer's sin is doubly bad because.
HE IS A CHILD OF GOD.
Kids ought to respect every adult. But there are two grown-ups they need to respect more than others: Their parents. They have a special claim on the respect and obedience of the children.
God has the same claim on us. Though everyone ought to respect and obey Him, His children are more obligated than others to do so. Who are the children of God? Believers. When we believe in Christ, God adopts us into His family. We become the little brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
With that privilege goes a responsibility. When believers don't obey the Lord from the heart, we're guiltier than others. Baxter says,
"They sin against a nearer relation than others do- even against that God who is their Father. And that is more serious than if a stranger sinned against Him".
I hate to see any child misbehave. But their actions don't affect me nearly as much as the misbehavior of my own kids. Why? Because they're my children. God feels the same way. He doesn't want anyone to sin. But our sins hurt Him worse than others'.
The believer's sin is very bad because he's a child of God.
HE IS A MEMBER OF CHRIST.
Another reason our sins are worse than others' is that believers are members of Christ. The word members does not mean members of a club, but members of a body, in other words, parts of the body, like arms and legs.
Are believers organs in Christ's Body? Yes we are. The Bible says so in many places.
What are fists for? For one thing, they're for defending yourself against people who want to beat you up. But what if they were put to another use? What if you started pummelling your own face? That would be a very bad use of your fists!
That is precisely what we do when we sin. We beat up Jesus Christ with His own hands! That makes our sin so much worse than the unbeliever's. Baxter says,
"They are Christ's own members, and it is most unnatural for His members to rebel against Him or do Him wrong".
That's Number Two.
HE SINS AGAINST THE SPECIAL WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Note the word special. The Holy Spirit often works with and in unbelievers. Genesis 6:3 says,
"My Spirit will not always strive with men".
Stephen said the Jews had always "Resisted the Holy Spirit". Hebrews 6 says that some lost men have "Become partakers of the Holy Spirit". The Spirit came on King Saul at times; and Balaam; and even Caiaphas, the man most responsible for crucifying the Lord.
The Spirit works with unbelievers, but He has a much deeper and better work in Christians. For example, "The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us". Because He has been so good to us, we are more responsible to love and obey Him.
"To whom much is given, much will be required".
Here's the quote,
"They sin against more excellent operations of the Spirit than others do, and against a principle of life within them".
That's Number Three.
HE SINS AGAINST SPECIAL GRACE.
Once again, underline the word special. Everyone enjoys the grace of God-"The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord". But God's grace can be divided into two kinds: Common and Special. Both are gifts of His goodness and totally undeserved.
But His special grace does more for us than His common grace. It does more than cause the rain to fall on our gardens and the sun to shine warmly on our faces. The special grace of God saves us from our sin and misery.
Because God has done more for us than He has for others, our sins hurt Him more than the sins of others. I don't have to develop that any further, do I? It seems pretty obvious to me.
"They sin against distinguishing grace, which appeared in their conversion. God took them out of a world of sinners, whom He passed by, when He could have well saved others instead, and should they so basely repay Him?"
You and your neighbor are equally sinful and equally under the wrath of God. One day, on a lark, you go to church. You both listen to the same sermon and sing the same hymns. But something happens to you that doesn't happen to him. You come out of the church a saved man and he comes out as lost as ever. Now, tell you, whose sins are going to hurt God worse-yours or his? Yours will, of course. Because God has done so much more for you than He has for him.
Receiving God's special grace makes our sin worse than others'. That's Number Four.
HE HAS ALREADY BEEN FORGIVEN.
This is pretty much the same as the other. Not only has God chosen you for salvation, passing others by, but He has actually saved you.
"They sin against the pardon which they have already received. Did God so recently forgive them their sins so they could return to them?
No He didn't. What He said to the Woman taken in Adultery applies equally to us.
"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more".
Surely God did not forgive all our sins so we could repay Him by sinning more? The story of the ungrateful debtor makes that plain. Maybe the man got into debt through gambling or smuggling or some other sin. But nothing he did compared to the wickedness of repaying his creditor so shamefully. If more God has forgiven you, the worse your sins are.
HE BREAKS HIS PROMISE.
Conversion is a wonderful thing! When someone is first saved, he's so grateful that he makes every promise in the book! This is somewhat naïve-I know. But God hears all the promises. And he wants you to keep them. If you swear off your old ways, He wants you to quit them. If you promise to read His Word, pray every day, and speak up for Christ, He wants you to do it. Even after the first excitement wears off.
The more you promise to swear off sin, the worse it is when you go back to it. All believers have made vows to the Lord. When we sin, we break our word.and His heart.
"They sin against a more serious covenant, which at their conversion they entered into, than other men do".
HE KNOWS THE BITTERNESS OF SIN.
Most unbelievers have no idea how bitter sin is. They don't like its consequences, of course, but the sin itself is still sweet to them.
The believer knows better! He has wept for his sins and felt the weight of their guilt. He has condemned himself and cried out for mercy. He has sincerely thought of himself as "the chief of sinners".
If you know how bad sin is, then going back to it is worse than ever.
"They sin against all the heartbreaking sorrows which they have tasted at their conversion and since. They have known more of the evil of sin than others, In their sad experience of the sting".
If you've tasted the gall of sin, then going back for another drink is inexcusable.
HE KNOWS BETTER.
Everyone knows sin is wrong. But the believer knows more about it than others. That makes his sin worse than others. Baxter says,
"They sin against more knowledge than other men. They have known more of what sin is, and what Christ is, and what the will of God is, than others. Therefore, they deserve to be beaten with many stripes".
The topic of our study is Hating Sin. All sin-not just the sin of other people. And not just the sin of unbelievers. It's very easy for Christians to confuse God forgiving our sins with God approving of our sins (or, at least not taking them too seriously).
The Lord does forgive us!
But that does not mean He doesn't mind if we sin. He does. Acutely. If you want to hate sin, you've got to remember how much He hates it. And how much it took to wash it away.
"You who love the LORD, hate evil".
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