December 4: Van Horn on Westminster’s Doctrines

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : A Biblical View of Sin.

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : I John 3:4; Rom. 14:14; Gal. 3:10; Psalm 32:5; II Tim. 2:19; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; James 4:17; Eph. 4:18.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession : VI; Larger Catechism : Q. 21-29; Shorter Catechism : Q. 13-19.

There is a low view of sin affecting the evangelical world today. In too many cases the sins of the unregenerate world are approved and adopted. Often evangelicals are found using as their examples those who are not only in the world but are of the world. The vileness of sin is not proclaimed.

If there is a message needed today it is the message : Sin is not a joking matter! A Biblical view of sin is needed today to meet the onslaught of the devil and his cohorts. And a Biblical view of sin is a view that is not at all dim. Nor is it a view that allows a believer to treat it lightly.

We have been taught, many of us, from early childhood the definition of sin : “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” (Shorter Catechism, Q. 14). We have been taught that the Bible alone must determine what is sinful. And yet many times we find in evangelical circles a low view of sin. Often a humorous approach toward it is even used in the pulpit. Especially among leaders of the youth is this done. Whether it is done to attract attention, or to be “one of the crowd,” or to be popular and draw crowds, it is still wrong. It is not a Biblical view of sin; it is in opposition to Philippians 4:8-9.

A grave, solid, and weighty doctrine does not allow for levity in regard to the doctrine of sin. Rather, the Psalmist states, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” (Ps. 97:10). There should be a deep hatred of sin on the part of the believer, whether he is in the pulpit or the pew. A Biblical view of sin calls for Biblical war against sin in any form!

If there is one result to a low view of sin it is that of carnality. Certain sins become easy to tolerate in our lives. It becomes more important to present a Gospel of fun instead of a Gospel that has a Holy God and His glory at its center. It is time that we come back to a high view of the Church and a high view of the presentation of God’s Word. When that happens we will be much more prone to view sin as sin against a Holy God.

The Bible tells us that we are to put aside any sort of sin from us. The Bible tells us that sin is evil, yet it is a transgression against the law of the Holy God. And yet too many times we persist in dealing with sin lightly. How can we be certain that we will have a Biblical doctrine of sin in the days to come? Let us list some principles that will guide us in this holy calling.

1. Let us be certain we understand that a Sovereign God saved us and that we dare not think in any way there was anything in us to deserve salvation.

2. Let us be certain our relationship with Christ was begun in a Biblical way. Too many times “easy believism” is our trouble. Did we come to the Christ of the Scriptures with a recognition of His holy law, of our own polluted sinfulness, and of the terrible guilt of sin under which we were buried and which made us sorrowful?

3. Let us be certain we recognize the power of sin (Jer. 17:9) and that it can rule over us in devious ways. Too many times we mistake participation in the “proper” things of this life as good, when in reality they are the works of the flesh. Sin, with its devious power, thus wins another victory.

4. Let us be certain we stay very close to our Lord, even Jesus Christ. There is no better treatment for the disease of careless living than a long and deep drink from the well of Christ. The closer we stay to Him and His Word, the more we will separate ourselves from this “present world” (II Tim. 4:10). The carnal wisdom, acceptance, reasoning, prejudice, affections, etc., of the world are sin before a holy God.

5. Let us be certain we hide His Word in our hearts. David said, “Through Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Ps. 119: 104). This will cause us to forsake sin in every form in our lives.

6. Let us be certain we guard our thoughts (II Cor. 10:5), our words (Ps. 34:13), our actions (Titus 3:8), so that we might not sin against a Holy God.

Certainly, there are many more principles that could be cited. But if we would concentrate on these principles in our lives our view of sin would be Biblical. That is, we would look upon it as vile and offensive to a Holy God. It is no joking matter!

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