Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Dominionism of Sin

This blog spends a considerable amount of time examining and exposing the swift rise in our age of the false doctrines and practices of Dominionism. Indeed, it is human nature to seek human solutions to overcome the fallen nature of man. And that, in brief, is precisely the temptation of the heresies of Dominionism. Dominionism promises that mankind can better himself, perfect his nature, change societies, cultures and governments; and even reverse the effects of the Fall, build the kingdom of God on earth, bring Jesus back as King, and restore Paradise.

It is easier to look outwards at the world and try to fix it than to look inwards at the heart. For it is the heart, and the dominion of sin over the heart, that truly must undergo transformation.

Today's post is an excerpt from an excellent sermon by J.C. Philpott. By all means, if you are thirsting for the Truth, take the time to read through this entire sermon.

The Straying Sheep and the Sin-bearing Shepherd
Preached at Gower Street Chapel, London,
on July 14, 1867, by J. C. Philpot

How needful it is for us to be kept within the fold and under the eye of the Shepherd who will make no such mistake . . . , even if the food is sometimes scanty, and we may seem to long for a change of pasture. It is in this way that men so often get entangled with error. It seems to offer to them some fresh pasture, some new food, a lively and agreeable change from that round of doctrine and experience of which they have got almost tired, and of which, were it manna itself, they would say, if you could read their hearts– "Our soul loaths this light bread." The restless desires of the human heart are as innumerable as they are insatiable. What silly baits will sometimes entangle our vain mind. . . .

3. But sometimes sheep go astray, drawn aside by the example of others. You know how prone sheep are to follow each other, and if the lead sheep does but direct the way, how first one and then another rushes almost madly after him. An old Puritan writer, if I remember right, relates an incident which he himself witnessed at Shrewsbury, where there is a bridge that crosses the river Severn, there tolerably wide. A flock of sheep was passing over the bridge, and one of them took it into his head, as we should say, to leap off the road upon the parapet, which I suppose in those days was of a lower character and of a cruder structure than in our modern bridges. The next sheep followed suit, and the third followed him. But they had got a very narrow spot to stand upon. Down, then, goes the first sheep into the water, the next follows, the third imitates his example, until the outcome was that the whole flock fell into the river.

And even in London, there is a familiar example of this following propensity in the device by which a poor sheep is sometimes enticed into the slaughter-house by a stuffed sheep being drawn in before him. How great is the influence of example; and but for God's grace how the river or the slaughterhouse might have been our end, and would be if we followed some examples set before us. How often God's people have been drawn aside by the bad example of this or that professor, or even sheltered themselves under the sins and infirmities of good men. If they see one going before them who is generally received as a saint or servant of God, they think they may safely follow; and yet he may only go before them to lead them into evil. . . .

III. But I now pass on to show what are the EFFECTS of the gracious Lord bearing our sins in his own body on the tree; and of our being healed by his stripes. . . .

A. The first is, "That we being dead to sins, live to righteousness." We need something to kill, so to speak, the power of sin in us. We need a supernatural strength to mortify, crucify, and put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. We need something communicated to our soul, which we have not in ourselves, and which we are well assured none but the Lord himself can bestow; which shall give us the victory over the daily evils which manifest themselves in our fallen nature.

The power put forth to break up and break down the power of sin in us, produces, first, what is called in our text a being dead to sins. The figure is obvious enough; for as life implies energy, movement, activity, vigor, strength; so death implies weakness, powerlessness, inability, in a word, everything which is opposite to the idea of life. Thus, while we are under the power and influence of the old man, and of our evil heart, we are alive to sin; for sin lives and moves and works in us. Our eyes are going out after objects of sin; our ears are eager to hear something connected with sin; the thoughts of our heart, the imaginations of our roving fancy, are all engaged in the hot pursuit of something evil and sinful. We snuff it up, as it were, every gale of sin. Like a bird of prey in the air, looking round for a prey and ready at once to pounce upon it; or like a hound in pursuit of game, tracking it eagerly by its scent; so our corrupt nature is ever on the lookout, ever hunting on the track for sin; for sin is the darling food of the human mind, without which it seems no life to live. To be in this awful state, and in it we all are, until called by grace, is for sin to live in a man's breast, and for him to be alive to it.

Do you not see, therefore, that what we need, and what God at times mercifully gives, is a divine power which comes into the soul and puts a death upon that strength and dominion of sin which lives in us, and in which we, but for the grace of God, would live? And thus we get through the cross of Christ not only a testimony in our bosom of what the Redeemer died to rescue us from in a view of the depths of the fall and the consequences of our transgression, but a deliverance from the dreadful dominion of sin. This is what the law never could do for us or in us, and can be effected by nothing else but grace. "Sin," says the apostle, "shall not have dominion over you." Why? Because you strive against it and succeed by dint of effort after effort in subduing and overcoming it? No, "for you are not under the law but under grace."

There is no other way– we may have tried thousands– there is no other way of getting an effectual death to sin but by coming under the power and influence of sovereign, super-abounding grace. Sin is so subtle, has so many lives, works in such unperceived and crafty ways, comes in at so many corners, is so mixed up with every thought and movement of our natural heart, is so strengthened by all we see and meet with both without and within that, unless we can find something as if lodged and placed in our breast which shall work against it in all its shapes and forms; meet it in all its subtle windings, and stand up against it with firm and dauntless opposition to all its movements, we shall be almost certain of being overcome by it.

We parley with our lusts until we get fairly, or I should rather say, foully entangled in them. We play with sin until sooner or later in the end it gets the better of us. One temptation, if we are entangled and overcome by it, makes a way for another until, but for the grace of God, we would walk altogether in the ways of sin and ungodliness; and concerning faith, make utter and open shipwreck. It is not, then, a common power that we need to help us in this terrible fight. We need something very strong, very powerful, very effectual to come into our breast to meet sin there in its stronghold, and counteract it in all its inward workings, secret wiles, crafty stratagems, and seductive allurements.

Now, this strength, this power, this victory over sin, can only be gained by a view of the cross, by some manifestations of a suffering Redeemer, by some application of his precious blood to the conscience, and some shedding abroad of his dying love in the heart. When, then, our eyes are a little opened to see, our hearts a little softened to feel, our consciences touched so as to be made tender, our affections wrought upon so as to be drawn up to heavenly things, and we get a view of the Lord of life and glory bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, this puts a death upon sin.

"What?" says the soul, with weeping eyes and broken heart– "Can I do this evil thing and sin against the Lord? Shall I trifle with the wounds of Jesus, trample upon the blood of Christ, do that which grieved the soul of the Redeemer, and walk in those ways of unrighteousness which brought, to put them away, such distress upon his body and soul?" Here is something to meet sin in its various turnings and windings, and to put a death upon it. This is a being crucified with Christ– a crucifying of the flesh with the affections and lusts. This is what Paul felt when he said– "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14.) And again– "I am crucified with Christ– nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me– and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20.)

Now, with this death, there comes a life, which is a life unto righteousness. We need these two things, dear friends, in lively operation– a spiritual death and a spiritual life. We need death put upon the flesh, upon sin, upon everything which is ungodly, that it may not reign or rule; and we need also the communication and maintenance of a divine life which shall act Godwards; exist and co-exist in the same breast, and be in activity at the same moment. Here is sin striving for the mastery; but here also is a view of the cross of Christ– here is a testimony of bleeding, dying love. This puts a death upon sin. But as death is put upon sin and the lust is mortified, crucified, resisted, or subdued, there springs up a life of faith and prayer, of hope and love, of repentance and godly sorrow for sin, of humility and spirituality, of a desire to live to God's praise and walk in his fear.

The cross gives both. From the cross comes death unto sin; from the cross comes life unto righteousness. From the cross springs the healing of every bleeding wound, and from the cross springs every motive to a godly life. Thus, in God's mysterious wisdom, there is a way whereby sin can be pardoned, the law magnified, justice exalted, the sinner saved, sin subdued, righteousness given, and the soul made to walk in the ways of peace and holiness.

O what depths of wisdom, mercy and grace are here! Look where you will, try every mode, if you are sincere about your soul's salvation, if the Lord the Spirit has planted the fear of God in your heart, you will find no other way but this. There is no other way that leads to holiness here and heaven hereafter; no other way whereby sin can be pardoned and the soul sanctified. It is this view of salvation from sin not only in its guilt but also in its power, this deliverance from the curse of the law and well-spring of all holy, acceptable obedience, which has in all ages so endeared the cross to the souls of God's family, and made all of them more or less to be of Paul's mind, when he declared that he was determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

The Truth:

"Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness– by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
1 Peter 2:24, 25