1. The guilt of sin. This is justification, ‘the very hinge and pillar of Christianity’, (Thomas Watson).
John Stott has said, ‘Nobody understands Christianity who does not understand…the word “justified”.’
Spurgeon tells the story of a man who was so constantly in debt and continually being arrested by the police, that once, when going by a fence, having caught his sleeve on one of the rails, he turned around and said, “I don’t owe you anything sir.” He thought it was a sheriff. And so it is with sinners. Wherever they go, they think they are going to be arrested.
Martin Luther once had a dream, in which Satan came and showed him a list of all his sins. Luther did not excuse himself. His reply was, “Write at the bottom of the list, ‘The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin’.” 1 Jn 1:7; cf Rom 8:1.
2. The power of sin. This is sanctification. The Christian, and only he, is freed from the dominion of sin, Rom 6:14. The process of sanctification entails a life-long and all-out war against the old sinful nature.
Packer: ‘Regeneration makes a man’s heart a battlefield, where “the flesh” (the old man) tirelessly disputes the supremacy of “the spirit” (the new man).’
Spurgeon adds, ‘Believe it, Christian, that your sin is a condemned thing. It may kick and struggle, but it is doomed to die.’
The ugly duckling realises that he was really a swan; so we need to realise what God in Christ has done to our sin; we have been released from its tyranny. ‘I’m not under sin’s dominion! I’m a new creature! I’m a child of God!’
3. The presence of sin. This is glorification. See Rom 8:29-30, where Paul links the great themes of redemption in a mighty unbreakable chain, the last piece of which – glorification is so certain that it is spoken of as if it has already taken place. Cf 1 Jn 3:2.
How we struggle with sin! How we long to be holy! How we long for the day when we enter heaven, and the battle is over! God speed the dawning of that blessed day.
‘Finish then thy new creation:/pure and spotless let us be;/Let us see thy great salvation,/Perfectly restored in thee./Changed from glory into glory,/Till in heaven we take our place,/Till we cast our crowns before thee,/Lost in wonder, love and praise.’ (C. Wesley)