“Be always greatly humbled by your remaining sin, and never think that you lie low enough for it, but yet don’t be at all discouraged or disheartened by it. Although we are exceeding sinful, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, the preciousness of whose blood, the merit of whose righteousness, and the greatness of whose love and faithfulness infinitely overtop the highest mountains of our sins.”
Jonathan Edwards Advice to Young Converts
As Christians, we must always be mindful of our sin. After all, “the wages of sin is death”. And yet, popular Christianity has somehow seemed to diminish the reality of sin and its consequences. Not so much in society, for we love to sound the alarm on others and their unrighteousness, but more specifically within the body of Christ itself. We boldly denounce those who approve of sin and happily dwell in it, while we proclaim forgiveness and do the same.
While recently reading Jonathan Edwards’ Advice to Young Converts, the portion above particularly stood out to me. “Be always greatly humbled by your remaining sin.” To me, this concept is at the very heart of the problem in today’s church. We are greatly offended by our latter days of riotous living, but we are completely content with our current state of disobedience. We bask in the glorious rays of God’s grace and forgiveness, only to run back to the gloomy shadows of darkness that continue to grip our hearts.
I’ll admit, we will always be sinners as long as we remain in this cell of flesh and bones, however, I will more boldly proclaim that we cannot become accustomed to it. There has never been a point in our lives when we were not sinning, planning to sin, or just finishing. The Bible’s message does not portray God as one who is waiting for us to live up to his expectations, waiting for us to “clean up our rooms” so that he can grant approval. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The Bible portrays God as looking upon mankind as those who are completely, helplessly, continually, and wholeheartedly caught up in themselves. Denying God and pleasing self. That is how God views man. All of man. All of us. Even myself.
What am I trying to say? My point is this. Because God’s grace is able to forgive even the most wicked and vile transgressions of men, it doesn’t mean that He is pleased with those who do them. As those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit of God, we must be ever mindful of what we have been saved from, yes in the past, but also in the future. We cannot “continue in sin that grace may abound”, no! We must abound in grace and seek to sin no more!
But what happens? We do continue to sin. It’s a reality of the Christian life. However, what did Edwards say? He stated, “but yet don’t be at all discouraged or disheartened by it.” Why? This seems contradictory. We must root out sin in our life being ever mindful of the consequences of death and damnation, yet when sin reappears we are not to be discouraged or disheartened? As he continued, “Although we are exceeding sinful, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”. Our forgiveness and state of grace is not founded upon the accomplishments and failures of our flesh; but rather, it is founded upon the perfect righteousness of God’s Son and “his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When our sins and our rebellions have been piled higher than the peaks of the greatest mountains, though they are as stubborn and hard as the bedrock upon which they stand, though the darkness surrounds us like the endless deeps and despair consumes our inner most being, grace appears. Not a grace brought about by selfish desires from a desperate heart seeking that which it cannot find, but a Sovereign grace that blasts the hardened heart of stone, that brings up the soul from the deepest grave, and with a breath of life removes all condemnation and fear by placing us in the valley of peace that flows with streams of living water. A place where we can lie down comfortably in the perfect will of God.
Always be humbled by sin, but never be defeated by it.
Be mindful not to follow your past and careful to turn from sin, For if you do not and bring it along, you could wind up there again.
Willingly Serving Him