On The Offers of Sin

By its sorry reward does this law [of sin] keep the world in obedience to its commands…by its punishments it induces men to the omitting of duties; a course tending to no less a pernicious event…
John Owen – Indwelling Sin in Believers – Pg. 244-245
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,

Here may view its nature rightly,

Here its guilt may estimate.

Mark the Sacrifice appointed!

See Who bears the awful load!

’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,

Son of Man, and Son of God.

Chorus 3
Hymn: Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

If we were to have the books opened to us that show the reasons why we withheld ourselves from speaking on account of righteousness we would be filled with sorrowful tears at the reasons we gave for holding our tongues. As Mr. Owen says so pointedly about the rewards that our indwelling sin offers to us, they are sorry: these rewards are regrettable, deplorable and tragic(1). There is a cowardice that fills our bones when our being is confronted with the situation of this standing and speaking when we are sitting and remaining silent. If our souls were rightly confronted with the nature of the manners that sin draws our minds off, then we would see that these rewards are more than just sorry, but even childish. Oftentimes sin plays on the most juvenile of pretenses that our minds are captivated with. Consider it, if you will, why a believer who claims to seek to exalt the Lord’s glory would remain under such incessant attacks upon his Lord’s very nature. Is not your cowardice born out of your desire to be simply liked; to have others continue their so-called friendly feelings toward you? How youthful of a desire is this and how many men and women does it command? It is loathsome to estimate the others, is it pitiful to peer into our own hearts.

This is your indwelling sin’s offer; “Of course you are right if you speak against what is occurring. But see, this is not all that is at stake. If you speak you will lose the friendliness altogether. You will estrange yourself from those whom you are trying to correct. And not only that, what self-righteousness you have to even say such a thing. As if losing the relation were severe enough, think of what your Lord would say to you on account of your self-righteousness. It is much more a wicked thing in his eyes, your self-righteousness, than your silence. It is much better for you just to sit silent. You will save yourself from the awkward difficulty that will arise and spare yourself from appearing to them and God as a self-righteous person. Not only this, you are being a friend, you are letting them be themselves and how much more will they revere you and what you can speak later on down the road concerning those things which trouble you. See, it is better to just smile and let it go for now, do not worry to confront, the time will come.”

What an enemy it is that dwells inside of our very soul. He knows the very insecurities to play off of, the very sorts of things that you are so afraid of being troubled with. Wake up you foolish child. Listen to what this noxious enemy is saying to you. Are you going to be charmed with its hypnotic strings? What will wake you out of this slumber? Ask yourself, “Do you not care about the health of your friends’ soul? Do you think that the innumerable times you have succumbed to such ignorant reasonings will someday be unraveled and one day you will suddenly speak with a mighty boldness? Are you so foolish to not recognize that the conditions are always unfavorable? A learned man knows that “favorable conditions never come”(2).” Look and see that all you are caring about here is none but yourself. Your concern is not your friends for if it truly were you would speak. Your concern is not the Lord for if it was you would raise your voice in defense of his holiness. Your concern is not even righteousness for if you were concerned for it then you would tell of it. But no, my dear friend, you are concerned with being accepted, being liked. You hold these relationships together by a thread of falsity. What if they were to know your burning passion against their dereliction? You cry out for honesty but you are far from honest.

Here we see the sorry offer of sin. The offer sounds pleasing and even forms itself in righteousness “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows” (Proverbs 7:14), but is simply a lie. Something more must confront us, something deeper, richer and truer. Something whose offer is not even to be compared with the fleeting riches your indwelling partner offers you. As the hymn notes, “You are thinking of your sin lightly and have not estimated how ruinous its offer truly is. Look then, steer your eyes, steer your mind in the direction of what your roving affections have wrought. Look at your savior fastened in place because of your ignorance. Do you think lightly? It is there that the offers collide. There is thrusted forth a deeply true and rich offer. Which will you pursue?

Here is the wager and cost. Sin’s wager is your immediate benefit, appeasing your affections for a moment (that is, until the next time you are placed in this situation); Sin’s cost – everything. Here is the wager of the Cross: you will gain the true righteousness, you will gain your true friends, and you will die to yourself. The cost of the cross – everything.

Which will it be?

1. Sorry, http://www.dictionary.com, accessed 2/21/2007 10:50 PM
2. C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory, pg. 60


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