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How God Treats Sin

J. T. Mawson

I knew of a little girl, not more than eight or nine years old, who had been very disobedient. Her mother, perhaps not wisely, said to her, “Mary, go upstairs to your bedroom, and tell God all about your naughtiness, and don’t come down again until He has forgiven you”. In a very short time the wee maid returned to the drawing-room as pert as could be.

“Well, Mary,” said her mother, “did you tell God what a naughty girl you had been?”

“Yes, Ma,” she replied, “I did, and He said, Oh, Miss B, don’t mention it.”

The little girl’s conception of what God thought about her sin is quaint enough to raise a smile, but she merely put a common notion into quaint expression, for the majority of people appear to think that because their sins are a very small matter in their eyes, they are also small in God’s eyes, and that when He comes to deal with them He will treat them as of no account at all. We venture to suggest that this estimate of sin largely accounts for the lack of depth in many who are really Christians, and for the indifference of the multitudes to the Gospel of God’s grace.

What a difference it makes when sin becomes ‘exceeding sinful’ in the eyes of a man; when he is brought to see himself as God sees him, and to realize how sin appears in God’s sight then he says, as Job said, “Behold, I am vile”. “Now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Then he is compelled to cry out to God, as David did, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin”. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

How can a man appreciate the atoning death of Christ unless he feels that he is a sinful man? And why should he trouble himself at all about the matter if sin is a light thing in the sight of God? Truly if men are to be rightly affected towards God, if they are to awake to righteousness and sin not, the first thing that is necessary is that they should exchange their thoughts as to the gravity of sin and take God’s thoughts instead. The cherubims with flaming sword at the gates of a tenantless Eden proclaim God’s thought of sin. A world destroyed by a flood of great waters shows forth His severity and inexorable justice in dealing with sin, and Sinai’s flaming summit with its pealing thunders in the presence of an awed and trembling people declare that sin is not a small thing in God’s sight.

Sin has wrecked God’s fair creation, it has ruined men, separating them from God by a gulf that could only be crossed and removed by infinite love; but it has done more than this, it has challenged the very majesty of God in His own universe. Sin is rebellion against God’s supremacy; it would climb to the eternal throne if it could and tear Him from thence; and this is what sin means whenever it shows itself in the life of a man; it is the determination of his heart to go his own way regardless of the will of God; it is lawlessness, the refusal to be subject to the throne of God.

But it is the cross of Christ that shows us what sin is as nothing else can. We Christian men and women must not lose sight of the cross or we shall lose our sense of the awfulness of sin. The Scripture says, “CHRIST ONCE SUFFERED FOR SINS”. Let us dwell often and long upon that statement and consider as far as we may what He suffered, that He might bring us to God. As we grow in our appreciation of those sufferings we shall grow in our abhorrence of sin, and so we shall increase in holiness and in gratitude to God who “commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

We are often asked the way to revival of spiritual life in the children of God, and of a deeper work of conviction in the souls of those who need the Gospel; we know no other way than this: let those who profess to know the Lord turn afresh to the cross of sacrifice and have their souls renewed in the presence of that cross, where their sins and God’s holy judgement met in the Person of their Suffering Substitute. May the Holy Spirit of God affect us deeply along this line.