Monday, July 18, 2011

Treason

One night several years ago, I sat down in the living room in our home in Evanston, IL and opened a book that my wife had bought me for my birthday. The book was A Patient and Obedient Faith: An Exposition of 1 Peter by the Scottish Puritan, Robert Leighton. As you can see HERE, it has one of the most unattractive cover designs ever seen on a book. However, what is contained inside is anything but unattractive. John Piper once said (I can't remember his exact words) that even if he came away with only one remembered sentence from a 500 page book, that alone made it worth reading the whole book. That is how I feel about this book. After reading all of it (and I do have a remembrance that there were many excellent thoughts in it) I only remember the following which is part of Leighton's exposition of 1 Peter 3:18:

"Shall any man offer to bear the name of Christian, that pleases himself in the way of sin? that can delight and sport himself with it, when he considers this, that Christ suffered for sin? Do not think it, you that still account sin sweet, which He found so bitter, and light, which was so heavy to Him, and made His soul heavy to the death. You are yet far off from Him; if you were in Him, and one with Him, there would be some harmony of your hearts with His, and some sympathy with these sufferings, as endured by your Lord, your Head, and for you. They that, with a right view, see Him as pierced by their sins, that sight pierces them, and makes them mourn; brings forth tears, beholding the gushing forth of His blood. This makes the real Christian an avowed enemy of sin: shall I ever be friends with that, says he, which killed my Lord? No, but I will ever kill it, and do it by applying His death. The true penitent is sworn to be the death of sin: he may be surprised by it, but there is no possibility of reconciliation betwixt them."


A word came to my mind as I read this ... Treason.


I was affected by all of the words in the passage, but particularly by the phrase, "Will I ever be friends with that... which killed my Lord?" I had never thought of it that way before. When Jesus bore my sin on the cross He took all of my sin. In a very real sense, it was my sin and the sins of all those for whom He died, that killed my Lord. So, my thoughts ran, whenever I engaged in sinful activity I was, in essence, joining forces with the very thing, sin, that had killed my Lord. It is treason, I thought. Treason is when, in the middle of a battle(!), we change our allegiance from one ally to another. Here I was changing my allegiance from my gracious and kind Lord and Master, who had done everything to rescue me from sin, and placing it on the very thing that was so deadly to Him, my most terrible enemy, sin. Isn't that outrageous to consider? Just think about that for a moment. Do you see the truth in it? When I sinned, I was allying myself to that which was the cause of wrath being poured out on Him, I was being a companion and friend to that which was so bitter to Him as He drained the cup of God's wrath down to the dregs. I looked back (and to the present) to times where I had engaged in sinful activity/thoughts well-knowing that it was sin, yet loving it and doing it anyway. I thought of how disdainfully I had treated God's own Son. How could I be so treasonous, so selfish, so ungrateful to the One who had given everything for me? who had died in my place? taking my sin and the punishment for that sin that I deserved on Himself? 

Do I stop there, though?

"No, but I will ever kill it, and do it by applying His death."

There it is. Kill sin at the Cross. You can find a corresponding view HERE. A prayer I often pray is that God would increase my hatred of sin and my love for the Savior. Trust me, this is a prayer that God will answer (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  

I view that evening in my living room in Evanston as a very important one in my life as a Christian. The Lord had used Scripture and the wise words of a pastor to gain a stronger foothold in my heart. The words of Leighton and these thoughts have had a profound effect on the way I view sin to this day, it's deadliness and deceitfulness, and my battle against it. More importantly, it also opened my eyes to the price that Christ paid at the Cross and it began to build in my heart a greater love and gratitude for my Savior and a corresponding hatred of my sin. 

What about you? What truth from Scripture are you using to battle sin? To increase your love for Christ? We will find it easier to commit treason against our King when we fail to see Him as more desirable than what our enemy, sin, has to offer. Jesus is life. Sin is death. That's a good place to start.

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