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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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What then is this evil which God calls sin? To know this we must go to the Bible; and the Bible points us to the fall, to the deluge, to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Sinai, to Calvary, that we may learn what it is, and what God thinks of it. Specially the two last, Sinai and Calvary; not Sinai without Calvary, nor Calvary without Sinai; the law must be read in the light of the Cross. There is another revelation or declaration of sin; but it is not yet come; the second death, an eternal hell. And yet when it does come it will not tell us more than the cross has done.

Men make light of sin; fools make a mock at sin. At the worst they treat it simply as a calamity, an unavoidable misfortune, a hereditary evil, for which they are not wholly responsible. God's estimate of sin is unspeakably dreadful. "It is the abominable thing which I hate; it is an evil that I cannot bear; it cast the angels out of heaven; it ruined the world; it brought the deluge; it drew down the fire and brimstone; it slew my Son; it will yet set the world on fire; it will kindle hell."

God does not look on sin as man looks. We wonder at all this, and say, Why then does God allow it to remain? Why did he let it enter? Why does he not sweep it off? We answer, God allowed it to enter, just that it might spread and unfold itself; and yet also that it might at length be utterly rooted out. He did not destroy it at once, because he wished to show its awful nature, its power to propagate, its manifold aspects, the utter impotency of mere creaturehood; and yet also to crush it forever. God at this moment is carrying on these two processes– letting sin spread and develop itself, getting rid of it.

One great object in redemption is, to destroy sin from man's heart and from man's earth. The Bible is a revelation of God's means for thus extirpating sin. The Son of man came to deliver us from it; and he does so by bringing us back to the fear of God. How am I to get rid of this evil? This is the great question.

1. Not by TIME. Time cures many things, but not this. Time wears the rock away, but it cures not sin. Sin only grows more inveterate when left to itself.

2. Not by EFFORT. Strength of human will is no more successful against sin than the helm of the little skiff in the day of the raging tempest. Human resolution will not do. The enemy is too subtle and too strong.

3. Not by HUMAN WISDOM. Science and philosophy can do nothing. Human skill, human devices and physical appliances– laws social, or sanitary, or political, can do nothing. Sin is too terrible a disease for MAN to heal.

4. Not by LAW. By the law is the knowledge of sin, not the cure of it. Law is powerless in such a case. It is but a torch held up at midnight to show the ruin, and havoc, and woe.

5. Not by TERROR. By terror evil may be pent up—compelled to hide itself, not driven out. No terror nor force can make a man holy.

If not by these, then by what is evil expelled from us? By the fear of Jehovah, our text replies. It is only this that goes to the root of the matter. This is the true medicine, the true corrective, the true deterrent, the true expulsive energy, acting both from without and from within: from without, because He whom we fear is without; from within, because this fear of Jehovah is implanted within us.

By the fear of God we do not mean the dread of God or the terror of the Lord. Dread may restrain evil, but cannot extirpate; it may make a man a plausible hypocrite, but not a saint. The true fear of the Lord, the moment that it begins to act upon the soul, leads men to depart from evil. This fear of God has its root in pardon. "There is forgiveness with you that you may be feared." Forgiveness, ascertained forgiveness, conscious forgiveness; this is the beginning of all true fear. The lack of pardon, a doubtful pardon, a pardon to be worked for all the days of our life, may produce dread, but not fear.

~ Horatius Bonar

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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,244
Likes: 31
This true fear of God, resting on an ascertained forgiveness, expels a world of evil from the human heart, and keeps it from re-entrance. It loosens the hold which sin has on us; it liberates us, that we may be free to be holy. The evil things which God hates: bondage, gloom, moroseness, doubt, hard thoughts; as well as love of the world and love of sin, are all detached from us, and we from them. Like sunshine falling on a frozen river, the fear of God dissolves our frozen faculties, and sets a flowing the waters of the soul.
It works itself out, unfolds itself in such things as:

1. OBEDIENCE. We obey because we fear. This is the true obedience, the result of filial, happy fear. We are constrained to obey; and yet we obey freely and joyfully.

2. FELLOWSHIP. Without the fear which springs from pardon there could be no fellowship. Dread keeps the soul from God; true fear brings it near. Dread shuts up the soul against communion with God; true fear leads it to unbosom itself without reserve, yet with reverence.

3. LOVE. Fear produces love, and love produces fear. They minister to each other. God's forgiving love kindles love in us; and yet it is reverential love, for he who has forgiven and loved us is so infinitely great and glorious.

4. ZEAL. Work for this God becomes our second nature. We cannot but work. The effect of this blessed fear upon us is to set all our faculties in motion, to make us zealous men. Slothfulness, and selfishness, and indifference, when touched by this fear, flee away like unclean spirits.

~ Horatius Bonar


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