Sinfulness of Sin

When our teacher would ask for someone to choose a favorite song, Bruce would usually choose number 174 from the Singing Youth “Whosoever Meaneth Me.” This seemed to be the favorite song of this schoolmate of mine back in the Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Longmont, Colorado. Since that day, the words from the refrain have again and again coursed through my mind—”Whosoever, surely meaneth me.” These words have been etched deep into my mind and have often brought me the courage to press ahead in faith towards Jesus, in spite of my awareness of my great unworthiness.The inspiration for this song probably comes from Revelation 22:17. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” [All emphasis supplied] What a wonderful promise. It can bring total and complete restoration to the worst wreck of humanity, even though we must say with Paul, “I am the chief of sinners.” But whosoever will may find healing and victory in the grace of Jesus! Christ’s grace is sufficient—for even me!Recently while reading from John, chapter 8, I connected another verse with the word whosoever in this song. In John 8, Jesus was having a discussion with the Jews. As usual, He had given offense to them. But some were impressed with His words and believed on Him. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31, 32. On, how irritated they were at this statement! “These words offended the Pharisees. The nation’s long subjection to a foreign yoke, they disregarded, and angrily exclaimed, ‘We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, ye shall be made free?’ Jesus looked upon these men, the slaves of malice, whose thoughts were bent on revenge, and sadly answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.’” The Desire of Ages, 466

The word whosoever triggered my mind to the words from the old favorite song, “Whosoever, Surely Meaneth Me.” For a moment the solemn connection of this song and the words of Jesus did not dawn on me. But soon the absolute reality tripped my mind—”Whosoever, surely meaneth me.” “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:34-36

“Whosoever” does mean me. If I sin—in thought, word, or activity—I am the servant of sin. “God’s method of dealing with sin is not in harmony with the views cherished by a large class who occupy a prominent position among the professed followers of Christ. Many of these men cherish sin, and laud the benevolence and long-suffering of God, and dwell upon the loving character of Jesus—all mercy, all tenderness,—while they pass over the threatening of God’s wrath against sin and sinners, and our Saviour’s scathing denunciations of hypocrisy and self-deception.” Signs of the Times, January 6, 1881

Are you free of sin? Am I free? Or are we standing under the threats of God’s wrath against sin? As long as sin is in the life, we are in bondage. The Pharisees were bitterly angry that Christ would offer them freedom. They did not like the obvious inference that they were captive. The thought that since they were children of Abraham, they already were free and had a perfect right to all the blessings of God, including possessing the promised land. But Jesus denied their claim to be Abraham’s seed. He said, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a Man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father…ye are of your father the devil.” John 8:39-41, 44. Jesus’ words were straight as an arrow. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.” Hebrews 4:12

Was Jesus contradicting Himself a few moments later when he said, “Your father Abraham”? (See John 8: 56.) How could it be that in the same discussion Jesus said that their father was the devil and moments later their father was Abraham? The key to understanding is found in verse 34. “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” “The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The true children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God…A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no value. Without a spiritual conection with Him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not His children.” The Desire of Ages, 466, 467

Jesus was most concerned about us learning this same startling reality. In fact, it was the all absorbing thought in His mind as He hung upon the cross. “Christ was the prince of sufferers; but His suffering was from a sense of the malignity of sin, a knowledge that through familiarity with evil, man had become blinded to its enormity. Christ saw how deep is the hold of sin upon the human heart, how few would be willing to break from its power. He knew that without help from God, humanity must perish.” Ibid., 752, 753

The all important question that must be settled in every heart is this: Do my thoughts, words, and actions testify that my spiritual father is the devil or Abraham? “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. “Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul.” The Desire of Ages, 466

Friend, could it be that we do not have the view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin? Could it be that we have fallen into the same mind set as the Jews: ‘because in times past the Lord had shown them so great favor, they excused their sins”? Ibid. 106. Are we deceiving ourselves that God will excuse sin in us because of how markedly the Lord has blessed us in the past? This, we are told, will be the condition of many: “In the day of judgment many will be shut out of the city of God by sins which they supposed to be unworthy of notice.” Signs of the Times, December 17, 1896. That makes me cry out in anguish of spirit to the Lord. “Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of They love can flow through my soul. Christ’s Object Lessons, 159

You see, the Jews knew that sin was terrible in the Gentiles. Though the Pharisees accepted that there were certain lower classes of Jews who were sinners, such as Zachaeus and Mary Magdalene, they saw themselves as better than other men. They had studied the Old Testament Scriptures. “The Jewish leaders had studied the teachings of the prophets concerning the kingdom of the Messiah; but they had done this, not with a sincere desire to know the truth, but with the purpose of finding evidence to sustain their ambitions hopes. When Christ came in a manner contrary to their expectation, they would not receive Him; and in order to justify themselves, they tried to prove Him a deceiver.” The Desire of Ages, 212. And so with the assurance that their cause was right, “They sent messengers all over the country to warn the people against Jesus as an imposter.” Ibid., 213

Just imagine the Bible studies that these messengers gave in hundreds of homes all over Judea and the Bible based sermons that were delivered in vast numbers of synagogues throughout the land, all to prove that Jesus was an imposter. “Many who were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God were misled by the false reasoning of the priests and rabbis. These teachers had repeated with great effect the prophecies concerning the Messiah, that He would ‘reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously;’ that He would ‘have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.’ Isaiah 24:23; Psalm 72:8. Then they made contemptuous comparisons between the glory here pictured and the humble appearance of Jesus. The very words of prophecy were so perverted as to sanction error. Had the people in sincerity studied the Word for themselves, they would not have been misled.” Ibid., 458

“The Jews had misinterpreted God’s promise of eternal favor to Israel: ‘Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith the Lord: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.’ Jeremiah 31:35-37. The Jews regarded their natural descent from Abraham as giving them a claim to this promise. But they overlooked the conditions which God had specified. Before giving the promise, He had said, ‘I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33, 34” Ibid., 106

Friends, when will we ever learn that God’s promises are given only on condition of obedience? When will we learn that sin is exceedingly sinful and no many, no institution, no church can harbor sin and still claim God’s promises and God’s ownership? There is no half-way point. The choice lies between sin and righteousness, between eternal death and eternal life. “To a people in whose hearts His law is written, the favor of God is assured. They are one with Him. But the Jews had separated themselves from God. Ibid.

This is why the Lord’s messenger gave us the following counsel: “The exceeding sinfulness of sin is to be held before the people just as it is.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 296. Every sin, however small, if held on to and not overcome, will bar us from the city of God. Instead, we will be faced with eternal death. My mind tries to take it in, but the Lord has told us, “We must be terribly in earnest to impress upon every soul that there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. Every energy of the soul must be aroused to force their passage, and seize the kingdom by force. Satan is active, and we must be active too. Satan is untiring and persevering, and we must be the same. There is no time to make excuses and blame others for our backslidings; no time now to flatter the soul [that] if circumstances had only been more favorable, how much better, how much easier [it would be] for us to work the works of God. We must tell even those who profess to believe in Christ, that they must cease to offend God by sinful excuses.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 336

Have you recently considered the solemn fact that we have a heaven to win and a hell to shun? Each one of us will live forever in heaven or face hell, and after that eternal death—that is to never, never live again. Only as we grasp this realization, can we begin to understand the burden Jesus carried as He looked upon the Jews in their deceived condition. “He carried the awful weight of responsibility for the salvation of men. He knew that unless there was a decided change in the principles and purposes of the human race, all would be lost. This was the burden of His soul, and none could appreciate the weight that rested upon Him. Filled with an intense purpose, He carried out the design of His life that He Himself should be the light of men.” The Desire of Ages, 92

Unless we gain the reality of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, we most certainly will fit the description of the people Jesus addressed. “In view of the light they had received from God, they were even worse that the heathen, to whom they felt so much superior.” The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become representatives of Satan.” Ibid., 106, 36

We are warned that Seventh-day Adventists could also become the representatives of Satan. “The Lord would have His people divested of everything unscriptural in regard to the ministry. The men called to the ministry should not be made idols of; they should not be looked upon with superstitious reverence; and because of the power vested in them more exceedingly sinful, for in committing sin they make themselves the ministers of sin, the agents of Satan, through whom he can work with success to perpetuate sin.” 1888 Materials, 1644

I am fearful of our tendency to excuse our “little” sins because we know that we have the truth of the three angels’ messages for the world. We tend to take pride in the fact that we have stood against the great celebration apostasy and that we have firmly resisted the encroachments of worldliness into the church. But beyond these things, we must also overcome anger, impatience, fretfulness, disorder, worship of men, love of the world, and a myriad of sins listed under selfishness.

Friend, do not think that it makes any difference that you are a Seventh-day Adventist if you harbor sin in your heart. It will only be held against you in the day of judgment.

Where can we get this view of the malignant nature of sin that was the source of Jesus’ great concern for us? “The exceeding sinfulness of sin can be estimated only in the light of the cross.” The Faith I Live By, 60. Where is the only place we can rightly estimate sin? At the cross. The word only is an absolutely restrictive word. There we will learn how terrible sin is. “Upon Him who knew no sin, must be laid the iniquity of us all. So dreadful does sin appear to Him, so great is the weight of guilt which He must bear, that He is tempted to fear it will shut Him out forever from His Father’s love. Feeling how terrible is the wrath of God against transgression, He exclaims, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’” “Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive in His sight is sin.” The Desire of Ages, 685, 693

Jesus had always before clearly taught that He and the Father are one, that without the Father He could do nothing. He had plainly stated, “The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that He Himself doeth.” John 5:20

But as Jesus became the Substitute for man, this blessed unity between the Father and the Son was not realized by Christ. This quotation bears careful study. “And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.” The Desire of Ages, 753. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ knew the right value to place upon sin. “He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal.” Ibid., 753. Amid the awful darkness of Calvary, “apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him.” Ibid., 756. But He was willing to undergo all of this because of love for us. “All that He endured,—the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father’s face,—speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, it is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of paradise.” Ibid., 755

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4. And, friends, we must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings and death. We have a cross to take and follow in His footsteps. Paul said, “I die daily.” But we are also to share in His resurrection power and be raised to walk in newness of life. “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.” Ephesians 1:19, 20. Only in this resurrection power can we live forever. Whosoever will, to the Lord may come. Yes, and “whosoever” surely meaneth me. But, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Whosoever, surely meaneth me, surely meaneth me, oh, surely meaneth me. Whosoever, surely meaneth me, whosoever meaneth me.”

The End