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JUST FILTHY RAGS
Excerpt from sermon #305

 CONFESSION BEFORE FORGIVENESS

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:8-9.   

When the Spirit begins to awaken a sinner to the true character of sin, he attempts to purify himself by turning from some of his most sinful actions. The first response is that self-righteousness begins to compound itself. We try to become holy within ourselves. We are going to turn from certain sins, correct ourselves and stand right before God. This is still not confessing ourselves to be sinners under the light of the true character of sin.

As the Spirit continues to awaken the sinner to the true character of sin and the spirit of the law, then one as perfect as Job will say as we read in Job 9:30-31: “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”

Then we learn to see that our best righteousness is but filthy rags. We can do all in our power to cleanse our selves of sin, and the Lord would still spew us out of His mouth. Then we start to see our need for the perfection of Christ. We start to see and understand that we need Christ’s righteousness, that we need His blood for cleansing.

When a man is brought to understand the true character of sin, he begins to realize what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 3:19: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

You and I by nature are under the law. The law comes as a warrant officer to arrest us and bring us before the judge. Then we understand what it means to become guilty before God, and we are not defensive anymore. Our heart can tell us that we are wrong. Our heart can convict us, yet we will phrase our defense in some way that we will never confess that wrong. It even takes the grace of God to come to where a conviction of sin brings forth a confession of sin.

“All the world” (Romans 3:19) means there is no exception. We are all guilty before God. Until we have been brought to see that we are guilty before God, we will never see the beauty of the imputed righteousness of Christ, which only has merit.

1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” It is all of God. He is altogether lovely. Everything flows from Him, and everything flows back to Him because He is all in all. Now, we become nothing.

The only ones who can say, “We have no sin,” are those described in Proverbs 30:12-13: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.” They can say that they have no sin, but our text says they are deceived. The truth is not in them. They are righteous in themselves, but they are not cleansed from their filthiness.

God’s Word illustrates how those who say they have no sin appear in His sight in Proverbs 30:20: “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” We are spiritual adulterers when we say we have no sin.

When we may think that we sin not in thought, words or deeds, then how often we must confess as we read in James 3:7-9: “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” 

It does not matter who we are, we can be a wise man or a man of few words, but Scripture says that no man can tame the tongue. When we understand how much we sin with the tongue, then we will never be able say that we have no sin. That member of the body that has been defiled by the fall is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  Anytime we have said anything unkind about any man, do not forget that he might be fallen in sin, but he was still made after the similitude of God.

No human creature can plead innocence in this matter. We are all guilty of this, and we must all come before God and confess that we are guilty of these things.  Amen.

In vain men talk of living faith,
When all their works exhibit death;
When they indulge some sinful view,
In al they say and all they do.

The true believer fears the Lord;
Obeys His precepts, keeps His word;
Commits his work to God alone,
And seeks His will before his own.

 

Gadsby selection, 1838

 

 

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