On August 17, 1662, in England, there was passed what was called the Conformity Act. This act effectively forbade any preacher in any pulpit from being a non-conformist. In other words, every preacher had to conform to the state religion. And at that time, there were many non-conformist preachers. We call many of them “Puritans” today.
On the final day that non-conformist preachers could preach, they all preached farewell sermons in their churches. It was a terrible day. Preachers all over England stood up to say their goodbyes to their congregation. Some of them died as martyrs. Some of them were shipped off to other nations and never returned to see their congregations or their families again. Hundreds of families were split up.
One of these sermons was preached by a man named Calamy. He stood before his congregation, and on the last day he would ever be allowed to preach to them before his exile for preaching the Word of God, he said this: “There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest outward calamity.”
That was a profound statement. He was saying to them, “You think it is calamitous that I am being dispossessed of my pulpit. You think it is calamitous that I am being sent out of my country and away from my family. But as severe as this calamity is, there is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest calamity.”
In the last two posts, I have been talking about entangling sin and how to fight it. Last time I demonstrated from Scripture that the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God is the key tool in our battle against sin. Today, I’m going to share three more practical steps to take as you’re fighting.
I think this is the initial error that Christians make: They don’t think sin is really as bad as it is. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of your sin. Entangling sin is serious because all sin is serious. The Lord takes sin seriously, and He says that He chastens those whom He loves in order to drive sin out (Hebrews 12:6-11).
Sin steals joy. It destroys faithfulness. It robs you of peace. It makes you useless in service to Christ. It limits your answers to prayer. It brings discipline from the Lord. Sin is deadly serious.
When we are young, it is tempting to think we can get away with sin. We think we can compromise with our girlfriends, or be involved in drunkenness, or cheat on exams. We think that these are relatively small things. But it is things like these that put Christ on the cross. It is things like these that would condemn us to Hell if it were not for Christ.
Have you ever said in prayer, “God, I don’t want to sin — I purpose in my heart not to sin”? If you are not willing to say those words to the Lord, it shows that you are clinging to an entangling sin and are unwilling to let it go. So search your own heart. How willing are you to fight your own sin?
Even though we are not able to keep this intent perfectly, it is a good thing to say with the psalmist, “I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Thy righteous ordinances” (Psalm 119:106). It is good to express this willingness of your heart in prayer. And if you don’t have that kind of willing heart, then you are enjoying your sin and must seek repentance.
My reason for pointing out the seriousness of sin is not to browbeat anyone. Instead, my desire is to keep people from the grief of looking back at the end of their lives and thinking, “Why did I ever allow certain weaknesses to get cultivated when I was young?” If you don’t hate your sins now, you will learn to hate them later because once they become besetting sins they will debilitate you.
Now is the time to be honest before the Lord with what your entangling sins are and deal with them for the sake of being everything God wants you to be. Why would you want to be any less?
Do you think you are going to ultimately find pleasure in violating God’s law? Do you think somehow, in spite of what God says, that you have found a better way? On the contrary, it is through the path of obedience that God bestows joy and blessing on us. May God give us the strength to walk in the Spirit as we put to death everything that stands between us and the good things He stores up for those who are obedient.
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