Charles L. Heron
It would be difficult to find a person who would deny that he is guilty of sin. Any one who reads his Bible very studiously knows that all have sinned, and that if any says he has no sin, he does not speak the truth (Rom. 3:28; 1 John 1:8). But as willing as all are to confess that we do sin and are sinners, we are reluctant to confess what our sins are. It is possible that some honestly do not recognize how they are sinning—do not know what their sins are? Others are not willing to be frank. In either case, it is likely that we preachers are in part responsible. We condemn sin generally, making many broad, blanket statements relative to sin; but we fail to drive home our points in that we do not specify which sins. Why should we be so careful and reserved in pointing out what it is to serve the devil?
The things of Jehovah do not change. Since drunkenness was a sin during the apostolic days, it is still a sin. It occurs to this writer that failure to cry out against sin today, regardless of what that sin is or of who may be guilty of it, is to call down the anathema of God upon us as preachers. When Israel of old separated themselves from God by aping the nations around them, God said to Isaiah, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1). The cat-footed preacher may wink at sin and “pass by on the other side,” but in so doing he will become very unpopular with God. What are the specific sins we ought to condemn?
Forsaking The Assembly
There are many who are sinning in this very manner. “Is it really a sin to forsake the assembly of the church?” someone may ask. Let us see what the record says:
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh (Heb. 10:24-25).
Since we are here commanded to meet together, we fail to obey a divine command when we do not do so. Surely no sane person would debate about whether it is sinful to disobey a divine command! The writer of Hebrews was encouraging them to keep the assembly which the Christians were accustomed to keeping. Any opportunity afforded one to meet and worship God is a blessing to him. The willful absenting of oneself from the Lord’s Day meetings is definitely sinful. According to Acts 20:7-9, they were accustomed to having evening services.
Neglect Of Known Duty
Under this heading there can be a number of things. There are many persons who learn what God expects of them, relative to their primary obedience, but because of some preconceived religious notion, will not become obedient to Christ. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17) But does anyone suppose that the above passage has only to do with our primary obedience to God, as many seem to apply it? The passage is much more inclusive than that. Any good that I am able to see, and am able to do, becomes my duty. I am obligated to do that work.
I sin when I fail to do it. If I can preach the gospel of Christ, I sin against God when I fail to do so. If I can render some Christian service to a man, failure to do so renders me a sinner. Anywhere I can “let my light shine,” I must do so, or else sin against God.
Adultery And Fornication
The time has come when little, or nothing, is said about the sin of adultery. There are many persons who have put away one companion and have married another without the Bible reason which would justify such. Jesus said that those who acted thus were guilty of adultery. Men and women have invented hundreds of excuses for putting away companions. Too, the laws of our land will grant divorce, with the privilege of remarriage, to all who have the necessary funds, for the most trivial of causes. This has continued unchecked until the divorce racket is one of the greatest curses of our land. The laws of the land will not make a thing right by the laws of God. And thousands of marriage unions, approved by the laws of the land, are simply adultery in the sight of God. To be guilty of such is to be guilty of sin.
Perhaps no other sin has taken possession of so many people as has the sin of fornication. The careless manner of social living, the taking of every liberty, the tendency towards free love among both young and old, has brought fornication to the front as a most common sin. Perhaps at no other time in history has it been so common as at present. It would be impossible to state all the many things which have contributed to this evil, but here are a couple of them:
1. A general lowering of social standards. Too many parents today are more than willing to set aside the standards of former years, and to accept in their stead, standards introduced by persons of little or no real character. Something new appears on the horizon; and shocks many by its first appearance. Soon, however, it has become common practice; and is galvanized into acceptability. Although little may be said against it, it is still wrong!
2. Influence of the screen. It would not be proper to accuse every actor and actress in Hollywood of the sin of fornication; but it is a fact that too many (if not most) of these Hollywood stars, who have become the idols of our boys and girls, are notorious for their immorality. They wallow in sin. Of course one does not have to go to Hollywood to find this sin but it is Hollywood that glorifies it, glamorizes it, and teaches our boys and girls that it is right and proper. Parents have condoned all of this by not taking the time to learn just what it is their children are seeing in the movies. Hollywood movies have taught the children to fornicate, drink, curse, and smoke. They have glorified fornication, but according to Jesus, fornication, unforgiven, means eternal condemnation. Fornication is sin.
If one will read his Bible carefully, he will have no difficulty in deciding what sin is. If he believes his Bible, he will depart from sin and live for the Lord. When one begins to live for the Lord, it will not be necessary to beg him to cease his sinful habits; he will not have to be begged to live the Christian life. When a gospel preacher preaches against such sins, there is but one class who will resent his preaching—those who are guilty and have no desire to do anything about it.
Without the benefit of the blood of Christ; no man has the hope of eternal life. He died that man might live. But the fact that Jesus died for men is not enough. Man must avail himself of the benefits of the saving power of Christ. There are conditions of forgiveness clearly stated by the Lord and his apostles. If a man will meet these conditions, God will forgive his sins. If he lives faithfully as a Christian, once he has become such, he has Christ’s assurance that he will give to him the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).