Struggles of conscience
“How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin.” Job 13:23
Suggested Further Reading: John 8:21-47
“Tell me how I can feel the need of my Saviour.” The first advice I give you is this: Particularise your sins. Do not say “I am a sinner;” it means nothing; everybody says that. But say this, “Am I a liar? Am I a thief? Am I a drunkard? Have I had impure thoughts? Have I committed unclean acts? Have I in my soul often rebelled against God? Am I often angry without a cause? Have I a bad temper? Am I covetous? Do I love this world better than the world to come? Do I neglect prayer? Do I neglect the great salvation?” Put these questions and you will soon convict yourself much more readily as being a sinner. I have heard of a hypocritical old monk who used to whine out, while he whipped his back as softly as he could, “Lord, I am a great sinner, as big a sinner as Judas;” and when someone said, “Yes that you are—you are like Judas, a vile old hypocrite,” then he would say, “No I am not.” Then he would go on again, “I am a great sinner.” Some one would say, “You are a great sinner, you broke the first commandment;” and then he would say, “No I have not.” Then when he would go on and say, “I am a great sinner,” some one would say, “Yes, you have broken the second commandment,” and he would say, “No I have not;” and the same with the third and the fourth, and so on right through. So it came to pass he had kept the whole ten according to his own account, and yet he went on crying he was a great sinner. The man was a hypocrite, for if he had not broken the commandments, how could he be a sinner at all? You will find it better not to dwell on your sins as a whole, but to pen them, count them over, and look at them individually, one by one.
For meditation: Christ did not die for a theoretical concept of sin, but for actual sins committed by practising sinners (Matthew 1:21; 26:28; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians1:4; Hebrews 1:3; 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 1:5).
Sermon no. 336 23 September (1860)
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