Carelessness (Part 2)

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:13-15 ESV). So is a born again Christian susceptible to presumptuous sins that knowingly contradict God’s will? The simple answer is yes. You must not miss the apostle’s emphasis in our reading. No one can argue the belief and faith of Paul, yet he declares he was not only susceptible to willful sins, he was susceptible to bondage to them. We are no different. Christians are especially prone here, writes Charles Simeon, because these are “any sins whatever that are committed against light and knowledge, or on a presumption that God will not punish them in the eternal world.” Carelessness that leads us to presumptuous sin is a misuse of revelation and the gospel and they assume a religious commitment of some level. No less than John Calvin agrees. The believer, who at one moment groans under the burden of remaining sin and who is aware of the seriousness of sin, is still capable of falling into willful sin, a sin that contradicts what he knows to be true. Calvin senses in the psalmist’s prayer in our reading yesterday (cf. Psalm 19) that “unless God restrain us, our hearts will violently boil with a proud and insolent contempt of God.” God help us. We must also recognize that there is nothing safe about living in a sin you know to be wrong. Presumptuous sins are self-destructive and should be avoided at all costs. John Piper says that David sees a difference between, on the one hand, sins that we commit because they baffle us and sneak up on us (“hidden faults” of verse 12), and on the other hand, sins that we commit because we presume to know better than God or presume that sin is no big deal (“presumptuous sins” of verse 13). The point is not that there is a special category of extra-bad sins, like murder, rape, or treason. The point is that there is a special category of sinning; namely, sinning in arrogant defiance of a known law. It’s not so much what you do that puts sinning in this category as whether you do it with forethought and defiance and rebellion. This is what David calls presumptuous sins. They are fully intentional, with our eyes open, and with a heart that says, ‘I know God says this is wrong and harmful, but I just don’t care what God thinks; I’m going to do it anyway.’ It is being careless. It always leads to destructive behavior. Commit yourself to a constant vigilance against what you...

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