Samuel Bolton – Sin: The Greatest Evil

Sin truly is, and God’s people apprehend it to be, the greatest evil in the world…If you compare the evil of sin with other evils, you shall see how short all other kinds of evils are to this evil of sin.

1. Most of all, other evils are only outward. They are only such as are on the body, the estate, the name; but sin is an inward evil, an evil upon the soul, which is the greatest of evils.

2. All other evils are only of a temporal nature. They have an end. Poverty, sickness, disgrace — all these are great evils; but these and all others have an end. Death puts a conclusion to them all. But this evil of sin is of an eternal nature that shall never have an end. Eternity itself shall have no period to this.

3. All other evils do not make a man the subject of God’s wrath and hatred. A man may have all other evils and yet be in the love of God. You may be poor and yet precious in God’s esteem. You may be under all kinds of miseries and yet dear in God’s thoughts. But sin is an evil that makes the soul the subject of God’s wrath and hatred. The absence of all other goods, the presence of all created evils, will not make you hateful to God if sin is not there, so the presence of all other goods and the absence of all other evils will not render you lovely if sin is there.

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Geoffrey Kirkland – Diagnosing & Mortifying the Sin of Complaining

Philippians 2:14 — “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
James 5:9 — “Do not complain, brethren, against one another…”

THE CORRUPTION OF COMPLAINING

Everyone does it. It’s all around us. In fact, it’s so normalized and pervasive that we hardly even recognize when it actually occurs. The sin of complaining is one of those “respectable sins.” That is, it’s one that’s hardly spoken about, seldom preached against, and still less frequent, a sin with which Christians persistently wage violent war. Complaining is ugly. Complaining is one of the most commonest and frequent sins that’s almost as easy to find and common as the air we breathe.

Complaining isn’t, however, the real issue. Complaining is the outward manifestation of other heart-sins taking place in that moment. Let’s diagnose complaining. When we complain, we manifest three heart-sins that are all taking place together.

First, complaining manifests an attitude of “deservedness.” It’s like saying: “I’m not getting what I feel like I deserve!” Or, to state the opposite: “I am getting what I don’t think I deserve.” And in that moment of a complaint, we soar to the realms of deservedness, specifically, that we deserve something good or better than what we’re actually experiencing.

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R. C. Sproul – Loving God with Our Minds

The human mind is one of the most incredible aspects of creation. It is more powerful than the largest supercomputer and can solve great problems and make great discoveries. That makes the noetic effects of sin especially tragic.

The noetic effects of sin describe the impact of sin upon the nous—the mind—of fallen humanity. The faculty of thinking, with which we reason, has been seriously disturbed and corrupted by the fall. In our natural, unregenerate state, there is some-thing dramatically wrong with our minds. As a consequence of our suppressing the knowledge of God in our sin, we have been given over to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28).

It’s terrible to have a reprobate mind, a mind that now in its fallen condition doesn’t have a scintilla of desire to love God. But that is the kind of mind we chose for ourselves in Adam, so in our natural fallen condition, there is nothing more repugnant to our minds than the love of God. While we remain unregenerate, we have such an antipathy to loving God by nature that we choke at the very thought of Christ’s command to love God with our minds (Matt. 22:37).

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Marshall Segal – 10 Things You Should Know about Dating

1. Live on mission…and then find a spouse.

Instead of making marriage your mission, make it God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that. Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.

2. Keep the end in sight.

In all your dating, keep your last first date in mind. The only thing worth dating for is a marriage—a lifelong, life-on-life love like Jesus’s love for us. Nothing else is worth all the risks we take when we begin to share our heart with someone else. Nothing else can protect us from diving in too quickly or jumping ship when things get hard. Nothing else can stand out enough from the world around us to say something significant about Jesus. Marriage has to be the big and beautiful goal of our dating before we are ever ready to date well.

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Michael Boling – Avoid Lashon Hara (Evil Tongue)

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

There is a term used by Jewish rabbinic tradition called lashon hara. I submit most have not heard of this term in the Hebrew parlance; however, it is a concept firmly rooted in Scripture. Lashon hara means “evil tongue” and is derived from passages such as Leviticus 19:16 and Proverbs 10:18. With that said, perhaps the most notable verse that speaks to the issue of lashon hara is Psalm 34:13.

What exactly then is meant by “evil tongue?” There is no shortage in Scripture of passages that speak of the tongue or how to define godly and ungodly verbal interaction with not just our fellow man, but also regarding how we speak of God. Notably as it relates to the tongue and God, we can point to Exodus 20:7 which declares, “You shall not take the name of the God in vain.” In other words, evil tongue as it relates to God involves but is not limited to trying to make the name above all names common. For more insight into what it means to take the name of God in vain, check out my post on this subject.

As lashon hara relates to our fellow man, there are all types of examples. Evil tongue involves things such as gossip, lying, bearing false witness, slander, malice, anger, bitterness, perversion, and honestly the list can go on and on.

It is no wonder the Apostle James saliently noted,

“Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:4-12)

I humbly admit that lashon hara is something for which I continually struggle. It is far too easy to gossip, lie, and slander another person. At the moment in which lashon hara occurs, there is a certain sense of evil satisfaction, a belief that somehow you have stuck it to another person. They deserved it after all right? After all, nothing wrong with a little water cooler gossip about that co-worker and nothing wrong with setting someone straight on social media to include a few choice words to boot, right?

The answer to those questions is a resounding no. Lashon hara (evil tongue) should never be part of the daily walk of a child of God. For starters, He commands us to never treat Him that way and furthermore, we are to love God and love others. Love can be stern and corrective; however, love never involves lashon hara. Evil tongue is a hallmark of the wicked. Tearing down and destroying one another with our tongue is the complete opposite of how the body of Messiah is to operate.

Why then do we fall prey so often to lashon hara? I firmly believe it is like a gateway drug if you will. It seems alluring at the time and we make believe words do not matter when in reality they do. If what we say to one another did not matter, God would not repeatedly outline what godly speech looks like. Since He does all throughout Scripture, what we say and how we say it is of the utmost importance.

If you struggle with evil tongue, I encourage you to pray to God for forgiveness and to seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt by engaging in lashon hara. This will likely take a great deal of humility, but it is a necessary first step in resisting and purging yourself of this pernicious behavior.

I also encourage you to do a biblical study on the tongue. Note how Scripture outlines the manner in which we should treat one another with our speech. This will involve noting both good examples of proper speech as well as bad examples given in Scripture of speech. The good, the bad, and the ugly are provided in Scripture for a reason.

Finally, realize that more often than not, silence is golden. Lashon hara often stems from immaturity in this area of our life, a desire to fly off the handle to satisfy self. As the old saying goes, “If you do not having anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.” Or as my mother used to remind me, “Zip your lip.”

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Clint Archer – Saving Lies: Schindler and the Hebrew Midwives

He then “convinced” the Nazis (i.e. bribed them) to let him select Jews that would leave the concentration camp and work for him for no pay as slave labor. Unbeknown to the Nazi authorities Schindler had specifically told his factory foreman that he would be highly disappointed if a single working bombshell was ever produced in this factory. His intention was never to assist the Nazis in their sinister genocidal efforts, but rather to subvert their cause and save the Jews.

When I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, I found the tree which the Jews had planted as a memorial to Oskar Schindler in the “Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles.”

But were Schindler’s deeds righteous or not?

He illegally bribed government officials.
He purposefully lied to the authorities.
He willfully undermined his government.
So, did he do the right thing or not? Good question. Let’s see if we can learn any lessons from Exodus 1.

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Thomas Watson – A Heinous, Execrable Thing

I shall show what a heinous and execrable thing sin is. It is the complication of all evil; it is the spirits of mischief distilled. The Scripture calls it the “accursed thing” (Joshua 7:13); it is compared to the venom of serpents, the stench of sepulchers. The apostle useth this expression of sin, “Out of measure sinful” (Rom 7:13), or, as it is in the Greek, “Hyperbolically sinful.” The devil would paint over sin with the vermillion color of pleasure and profit that he may make it look fair; but I shall pull off the paint from sin that you may see the ugly face of it. We are apt to have slight thoughts of sin and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” (Gen 19:20). But that you may see how great an evil sin is, consider these four things:

1. The origin of sin from whence it comes: It fetcheth its pedigree from hell. Sin is of the devil: “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Satan was the first actor of sin and the first tempter to sin: sin is the devil’s firstborn.

2. Sin is evil in the nature of it. (1) It is a defiling thing. Sin is not only a defection, but a pollution. It is to the soul as rust is to gold, as a stain is to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt and black with filth. Sin in Scripture is compared to a “menstruous cloth” (Isaiah 30:22), to a plague-sore (1 Kings 8:38). Joshua’s filthy garments, in which he stood before the angel (Zec 3:3), were nothing but a type and hieroglyphic of sin. Sin hath blotted God’s image and stained the orient brightness of the soul. Sin makes God loathe a sinner (Zech 11:8); and when a sinner sees his sin, he loathes himself (Ezek 20:43). Sin drops poison on our holy things: it infects our prayers. The high priest was to make atonement for sin on the altar (Ex 29:36) to typify that our holiest services need Christ to make an atonement for them. Duties of religion in themselves are good, but sin corrupts them, as the purest water is polluted running through muddy ground. Under the law, if the leper had touched the altar, the altar had not cleansed him; but he had defiled the altar. The apostle calls sin, “Filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor 7:1). Sin stamps the devil’s image on a man…It turns a man into a devil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).

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William Plumer – Sin: An Infinite Evil

Tell me what you think of sin, and I will tell you what you think of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of the divine Law, of the blessed gospel, and of all necessary truth. He who looks upon sin merely as a fiction, as a misfortune, or as a trifle sees no necessity either for deep repentance or a great atonement. He who sees no sin in himself will feel no need of a Savior. He who is conscious of no evil at work in his heart will desire no change of nature. He who regards sin as a slight affair will think a few tears or an outward reformation ample satisfaction. The truth is, no man ever thought himself a greater sinner before God than he really was. Nor was any man ever more distressed at his sins than he had just cause to be. He who never felt it to be an evil and a bitter thing to depart from God (Jer 2:19) is to this hour an enemy of his Maker, a rebel against his rightful and righteous Sovereign.

When God speaks of the evil of sin, it is in such language as this: “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer 2:12-13). God is a God of truth and would never speak thus about anything that was not atrocious and enormous in its very nature. Yet it should be observed that He mentions only such sins as are chargeable to all men, even the most moral and decent.

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A. W. Pink – What is Sin?

What is sin? Ah, what man is capable of supplying an adequate answer: “Who can understand his errors?” (Ps 19:12). A volume might be written thereon and still much be left unsaid. Only the One against Whom it is committed can fully understand its nature or measure its enormity. And yet, from the light that God has furnished us, a partial answer at least can be gathered. For example, we read in 1 John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law”; and that such transgression is not confined to the outward act is clear from “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Pro 24:9). But what is meant by “sin is the transgression of the law”? It means that sin is a trampling upon God’s holy commandment. It is an act of defiance against the Lawgiver. [Because] the Law [is] “holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12), it follows that any breach of it is an evil and enormity1 that God alone is capable of estimating.

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Michael Boling – Necessity for Balanced Reading

Up until the past few months, I have been a voracious reader. In a typical year, I was averaging reading through right around 100 books, mostly to provide reviews for a variety of Christian book publishers. There were some leisurely reading involved from time to time; however, most of my reading during that time period would be classified as existing in the “nerdy” camp. Of late, the volume of reading in my life has slowed considerably. I am not sure if there is just not much new material that interests me or if my mind simply needs a break.

Perhaps another reason why I have slowed down with the flow of book reading to include clearing out quite a few books in my home library, is I am trying to spend more time reading and meditating on Scripture itself. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not stating there is no value in reading books or that commentaries or writings of that nature are not helpful in studying Scripture. What I am saying is I am tuning such things out for the time being, betting back to the basics of Bible study – Bible, bible dictionary, concordance, and highlighter.
There is something to be said about approaching Scripture in this manner. Call it turning down the noise or call it what you will, I am finding spending time with a passage with some with some simple study tools is producing excellent results.

I often find as I peruse the blogosphere (also something I am trying to do less of recently), a tendency for conversations and engagement with Scripture to be largely formed based on what an individual has written or said. On too many occasions, there is little, if any actual engagement with the biblical text beyond what the writer(s) being referenced has to say on that text. There is a time and a place for that type of approach, but there has to be care taken to not allow the musings of individuals to constantly form a bias for how Scripture is studied.

For instance, I cannot state that because (insert name of author) says something, that is how a text must automatically be understood. While their perspective may be correct, again great care must be taken to view Scripture from its own lens and not through the lens of our favorite author, not matter how correct their understanding of a text.

It is all a matter of book balance if you will with Scripture carrying the most weight. In my reading schedule of late, I have made a concerted effort to have a more appropriate balance, namely with the aforementioned Bible, Bible dictionary, concordance, and highlighter serving as the tools I am using. I might add a heavy dose of prayer is also part of the equation.

I still will make reference to the valuable thoughts I come across in books. Reading and reviewing new and classic works will also continue to be something I do although on a diminished level for the time being. It is a time when I feel the need to study to show myself approved in a way that forces me to focus on the biblical context without any outside influence.

In some areas, such an approach has forced me to think through in more depth some issues. Of late, some positions have been refined and even slightly altered. In other areas in which I may have not have thought through in as much detail, I have been forced to do some needed exploration.

All in all I am finding this exercise to be quite fruitful. This reading balance has been tremendous. I highly recommend it.

Oh….and I still plan on catching up on a few comic book series here and there as well.

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