Note: In our day, many detest personal sight of sin, and the encouragement of proper heart-work concerning it, more than they detest sin itself. They will argue that a Christian should “look to Christ” and not at their sin, as if the two are mutually exclusive. They call it navel-gazing to examine self, and to lament over our many failings (e.g., our sin, slothfulness, distraction).
As an example, in one conversation I was involved in a few years back, a professing Christian stated how she would hear sermons that made her feel bad about her sin, and she would always feel down. As a result, she switched to those pastors/preachers who ‘made her feel good.’ And how did they make her ‘feel good?’ They did so by rarely discussing the odiousness nature of sin, and by rarely (if ever) exhorting their hearers to strive to abstain from it (unto uprightness in character and conduct, all in light of their true Gospel profession).
Not only do they abstain from such calls unto godly living (in gross violation of the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus — amongst other epistles), many would outright speak out against such exhortations (as “works” they call it, as “legalism”), choosing instead to “only focus on Jesus.’ What they fail to realise, however, is that a proper, comprehensive focus upon the Lord Jesus will have a real and present affect upon our day to day lives. It will allow us to (a) see ourselves by nature; (b) see ourselves as being in Him by His sovereign grace and mercy alone; (c) see our great (and ever-present) need for Him in all things; and to (d) see, all the more, His immeasurable wonder and magnificence in light of everything concerning Him.
When we are rightly examining ourselves, being honest about our selves, it makes all aspects of His Person and work that much more precious, and that much more glorious, to us. The more we see our constant need, the more treasured He will be as the One who ever fulfilled, and still (experimentally, by the Holy Spirit) fulfils that need.
Moreover, a proper view of sin, and the self-examination associated with it (again, in light of true salvation), allows us to see more deeply the great import and value of passages like:
1 John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”
Job 33:27-28 “He looketh upon men, and [if any] say, I have sinned, and perverted [that which was] right, and it profited me not, 28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.”
Lamentations 3:40 “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
Psalm 51:1-4 “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest.”
1 Corinthians 11:27-32 “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy. 14 Happy [is] the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Daniel 9:3-5 “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments…”
Joel 2:12-13 “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
CONCLUSION: The goal is not to get stuck on sigh of sin unto hopelessness, despondency, or despair. Nor is the goal to be so loosely and flippantly blind to it, that one feels very few (if any) pangs over their many daily transgressions (whether inwardly or outwardly, open or hidden). No, the goal is to be watchful, prayerful, and very much honest about one’s daily walk and warfare — so that we can be ever willing to confess what needs to be confessed, giving thanks for that which we ought to be thankful, seeking mercy and strength where we are weak, and grace to persevere (with humility) wherever we have been made strong. If one truly ‘focuses on Christ’ in all things, and for all things, one will never feel the need to duck (or hide from) all that is found in Scripture.
Sadly, far too many do just that. They evade core aspects of biblical truth, refraining from delving into the whole counsel of God (under their false and/or misguided pretense of ‘looking only to Jesus’), and resultingly put forth a very skewed view of Christian liberty. Thankfully, the Bible warns us about such:
James 1:21-25 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
2 Peter 2:18-19 “For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”
Ephesians 4:17-32 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
To God be the glory,