A godly man does not
indulge in any sin
(from Thomas Watson's "The Godly Man's Picture")
Though sin lives in him—yet he does not live in sin. A
godly man may step into sin through infirmity—but he does not keep
on that road. He prays, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me
along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:24).
Question: What is it to
Answer 1: To give the breast to it and feed it. As a
fond parent humors his child and lets him have what he wants, so to indulge
sin is to humor sin.
Answer 2: To indulge sin is to commit it with
delight. The ungodly "delight in wickedness" (2 Thess. 2:12).
In this sense, a godly man does not indulge sin. Though
sin is in him, he is troubled at it and would gladly get rid of it. There is
as much difference between sin in the wicked and sin in the godly—as between
poison being in a serpent and poison being in a man. Poison in a serpent is
in its natural place and is delightful—but poison in a man's body is harmful
and he uses antidotes to expel it. So sin in a wicked man is delightful,
being in its natural place—but sin in a child of God is burdensome and he
uses all means to expel it. The sin is trimmed off. The will is against it.
A godly man enters his protest against sin: "Oh, what a miserable person I
am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?" (Romans
7:24). A child of God, while he commits sin, hates the sin he commits
In particular there are four kinds of sin, which a godly
man will not allow himself:
1. SECRET sins. Some are more modest than to
commit open gross sin. That would be a stain on their reputation. But they
will sit brooding upon sin in a corner: "Saul secretly practiced mischief"
(1 Sam. 23:9). All will not sin on a balcony—but perhaps they will sin
behind the curtain. Rachel did not carry her father's images like a saddle
cloth to be exposed to public view—but she put them under her and sat on
them (Gen. 31:34). Many carry their sins secretly.
But a godly man dare not sin secretly:
(1) He knows that God sees in secret, "for he knows the
secrets of every heart." (Psalm 44:21). As God cannot be deceived by our
subtlety, so he cannot be excluded by our secrecy.
(2) A godly man knows that secret sins are in some sense
worse than others. They reveal more guile and atheism. The curtain-sinner
makes himself believe that God does not see: "Son of man, have you seen what
the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They
are saying—The Lord doesn't see us!" (Ezek. 8:12). Those who have bad eyes
think that the sun is dim. How it provokes God, that men's atheism should
give the lie to his omniscience! "He who formed the eye, shall he not see?"
(3) A godly man knows that secret sins shall not escape
God's justice. A judge on the bench can punish no offence but what is proved
by witnesses. He cannot punish the treason of the heart—but the sins of the
heart are as visible to God as if they were written upon the forehead. As
God will reward secret duties, so he will revenge secret sins.
2. GAINFUL sins. Gain is the golden bait, with
which Satan fishes for souls! "The sweet smell of money." This was the last
temptation he used with Christ: "All these things will I give you" (Matt.
4:9). But Christ saw the hook under the bait. Many who have escaped gross
sins, are still caught in a golden net. To gain the world, they will
use indirect routes.
A godly man dare not travel for riches along the devil's
highway. Those are sad gains, which make a man lose peace of conscience and
heaven at last. He who gets an estate by injustice stuffs his pillow with
thorns, and his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die. "What good
will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"
3. A beloved BESETTING sin. "Let us throw off
everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let
us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1. There is
usually one sin that is the favorite—the sin which the heart is most fond
of. A beloved sin lies in a man's bosom as the disciple whom Jesus loved,
leaned on his bosom (John 13:23). A godly man will not indulge a darling
sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity" (Psalm 18:23). "I will not
indulge the sin of my constitution, to which the bias of my heart more
naturally inclines." "Fight neither with small nor great—but only with the
king" (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. The oracle of
Apollo answered the people of Cyrrha that if they would live in peace among
themselves, they must make continual war with those strangers who were on
their borders. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war
against our favorite sin and never leave off until it is subdued.
Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?
Answer 1: The sin which a man does not love to have
reproved is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest
spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin—it shall cost him his
head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins
reproved—but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this
sin—their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!
Answer 2: The sin on which the thoughts run most, is
the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart
goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that
person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your
thoughts and greets you in the morning—that is your predominant sin.
Answer 3: The sin which has most power over us, and
most easily leads us captive, is the one beloved by the soul. There are some
sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can
more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot
deny it—but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many
sins—but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.
Christians, mark what sin you are most readily led captive by—that is the
harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so
bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with not only half the
kingdom (Esther 7:2) but the whole kingdom of heaven, he must part with it,
to gratify that lust!
Answer 4: The sin which men use arguments to defend,
is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it
to his death. So when there is any sin in the bosom, men will defend it. The
sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. If the sin is anger,
we plead for it: "I do well to be angry" (Jonah 4:9). If the sin is
covetousness and we vindicate it and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify
it—that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.
Answer 5: The sin which most troubles us, and flies
most in the face in an hour of sickness and distress, that is the Delilah
sin! When Joseph's brethren were distressed, their sin in selling their
brother came to remembrance: "We are truly guilty concerning our brother . .
. therefore is this distress come upon us" (Gen. 42:21). So, when a man is
on a sickbed and conscience says, "You have been guilty of such a sin; you
went on in it, and rolled it like honey under your tongue!" Conscience is
reading him a sad lecture. That was the beloved sin for sure.
Answer 6: The sin which a man finds most difficulty
in giving up, is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most
difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin
I have parted with—but must Benjamin go, must I part with this delightful
sin? That pierces my heart!" As with a castle that has several forts about
it, the first and second fort are taken—but when it comes to the castle,
the governor will rather fight and die than yield that. So a man may allow
some of his sins to be demolished—but when it comes to one sin, that is the
taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the
master sin for sure.
The besetting sin is a God-provoking sin. The wise men of
Troy counseled Priam to send Helena back to the Greeks, not permitting
himself to be abused any longer by the charms of her beauty, because keeping
her within the city would lay the foundation of a fatal war. So we should
put away our Delilah sin, lest it incense the God of heaven, and make him
commence a war against us.
The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As
Samson's strength lay in his hair, so the strength of sin, lies in this
beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death. A
godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down!
He sets this sin, like Uriah, in the forefront of the battle, so that it may
be slain. He will sacrifice this Isaac, he will pluck out this right eye, so
that he may see better to go to heaven.
4. Those sins which the world counts LESSER.
There is no such thing as little sin—yet some may be deemed less
comparatively. But a godly man will not indulge himself in these. Such as:
(1) Sins of omission. Some think it no great matter to
omit family, or private prayer. They can go for several months and God never
hears from them. A godly man will as soon live without food, as without
prayer. He knows that every creature of God is sanctified by prayer (1 Tim.
4:5). The bird may shame many Christians; it never takes a drop—but the eye
is lifted up towards heaven.
(2) A godly man dares not allow himself vain, frothy
discourse, much less that which looks like an oath. If God will judge for
idle words, will he not much more for idle oaths?
(3) A godly man dare not allow himself rash censuring.
Some think this a small matter. They will not swear—but they will
slander. This is very evil. This is wounding a man in that which is
dearest to him. He who is godly turns all his censures upon himself!
He judges himself for his own sins—but is very watchful and concerned, about
the good name of another.
Use: As you would be numbered among the
genealogies of the saints—do not indulge yourselves in any sin. Consider
the mischief which one sin lived in, will do:
1. One sin lived in, gives Satan as much advantage
against you as more sins. The fowler can hold a bird by one wing. Satan
held Judas fast by one sin.
2. One sin lived in, proves that the heart is not
sound. He who hides one rebel in his house is a traitor to the crown.
The person who indulges one sin is a traitorous hypocrite.
3. One sin lived in, will make way for more, as a
little thief can open the door to more. Sins are linked and chained
together. One sin will draw on more. David's adultery made way for murder.
One sin never goes alone! If there is only one nest egg—the devil can
brood on it.
4. One sin lived in, is as much a breach of God's law
as more sins. "Whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is
guilty of breaking it all" (Jas. 2:10). The king may make a law against
felony, treason and murder. If a man is guilty of only one of these, he is a
5. One sin lived in, prevents Christ from entering.
One stone in the pipe keeps out the water. One sin indulged in, obstructs
the soul and keeps the streams of Christ's blood from running into it.
6. One sin lived in, will spoil all your good duties.
A drop of poison will spoil a glass of wine. Abimelech, a bastard-son,
destroyed seventy of his brethren (Judges 9:5). One bastard-sin will destroy
seventy prayers. One dead fly will spoil the whole box of precious ointment.
7. One sin lived in will be a cankerworm to eat out
the peace of conscience. It takes away the manna from the ark,
and leaves only a rod. "Alas! What a scorpion lies within!" (Seneca).
One sin is a pirate—to rob a Christian of his comfort. One jarring
string puts all the music out of tune. One sin lived in—will spoil the music
8. One sin lived in, will damn as well as more sins.
One disease is enough to kill. If a fence is made ever so
strong, and only one gap is left open; the wild beast may enter and tread
down the corn. If only one sin is allowed in the soul, you leave open a gap
for the devil to enter! A soldier may have only one gap in his
armor--and the bullet may enter there. He may as well be shot there--as if
he had no armor on at all. So if you favor only one sin, you leave a part of
your soul unprotected--and the bullet of God's wrath may enter there—and
shoot you! One sin lived in, may shut you out of heaven! What difference is
there, between being shut out of heaven for one sin--or for many sins? One
millstone will sink a man into the sea--as well as a hundred!
9. One sin harbored in the soul will unfit us for
suffering. How soon an hour of trial may come. A man who has hurt his
shoulder cannot carry a heavy burden, and a man who has any guilt in his
conscience cannot carry the cross of Christ. Will he who cannot deny his
lust for Christ—deny his life for Christ? One unmortified sin
in the soul—will bring forth the bitter fruit of apostasy.
If, then, you would show yourselves godly, give a
certificate of divorce to every sin. Kill the Goliath sin! "Let not sin
reign" (Romans 6:12). In the original it is "Let not sin king it over
you." Grace and sin may be together—but grace and the love of sin cannot.
Therefore parley with sin no longer—but with the spear of mortification,
spill the heart-blood of every sin! "For if you live after the flesh, you
shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body,
you shall live." Romans 8:13. "So put to death the sinful, earthly things
lurking within you." Colossians 3:5.