Christ's presence — and sin's presence
(Arthur Pink, "Sin's Presence" 1948)
There are two sides to a Christian's life: a light side — and a dark one; an elevating side—and a depressing one. His experience is neither all joy — nor all grief; but a mingling of both. It was so with the apostle Paul: "As sorrowful — yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). When a person is regenerated, he is not immediately taken to heaven. Nor is sin then eradicated from his being, though its dominion over him is broken. It is indwelling corruption which casts its dark shadow over his joy!
The varied experiences of the believer, are occasioned by Christ's presence — and sin's presence. If, on the one hand, it is blessedly true that Christ is with him all his days, even unto the end; on the other hand, it is solemnly true that sin indwells him all his days, even unto the end of his earthly history! Said Paul, "evil is present with me"; and that, not only occasionally — but sin "dwells in me" (Romans 7:20-21). Thus, as God's people feed upon the Lamb, it is "with bitter herbs that they eat it" (Exodus 12:8).
The Christian's consciousness of indwelling sin,
his mourning over its defiling influence,
his sincere efforts to strive against its solicitations,
his penitent confessions to God of his failure to master this inveterate foe
—are among the unmistakable evidences that he is a regenerate person. For it is certain—that no one who is dead in trespasses and sins, realizes that there is a sea of iniquity within his heart, defiling his very thoughts and imagination; still less does he make conscience of the same and lament it!
It is cause for fervent praise — if your eyes have been opened to see "the sinfulness of sin," and your heart to feel its obnoxiousness. Since it was not always thus, a great change has taken place — you have been made the subject of a miracle of grace!
But the continuance of indwelling sin presents a sore and perplexing problem to the Christian. He is fully assured that nothing is too hard for the Lord.
Why then, is evil allowed to remain present with him?
Why is he not rid of this hideous thing — which he so much loathes and hates?
Why should this horrible depravity be allowed to disturb his peace and mar his joy?
Why does the God of all grace not rid him of this harassing tyrant?
God leaves sin in His people — to promote their humility. There is nothing which He abominates, so much as pride. In Proverbs 6, the Holy Spirit has listed seven things which the Lord hates, and they are headed with "A proud look!" God "gives grace unto the humble — but resists the proud" (James 4:6).
Pride springs from inordinate self-love — which is odious to God, for it robs Him of His glory. Since God will be glorious unto His saints, He subdues their pride — by leaving that in them which humbles their hearts.
Divine light exposes the filth within, causing them to cry with the leper, "Unclean, unclean!" They have such painful discoveries of indwelling sin as often makes them lament, "O wretched man that I am!" How thankful we should be if God makes us "abhor ourselves" — and thereby prize Christ all the more!
As God left some of the Canaanites in the land — to prove Israel, so He leaves sin in us — to humble us.
Our consciousness of sin's presence has, first, an emptying influence: it makes way for a pardoning and cleansing Christ, by convicting the soul of its deep need.
Second, it has a continual abasing influence, bringing us to realize more and more our utter insufficiency and complete dependence upon God.
Third, it has an evangelical influence, for it serves to make us more conscious of the perfect suitability of the great Physician for such lepers as we feel ourselves to be.
Fourth, it has a God-honoring influence, for it brings the renewed soul to marvel increasingly at His "longsuffering to us" (2 Peter 3:9).
Fifth, it should promote a spirit of forbearance to our fellows: we ought not to expect less failure in them — than we find in ourselves.