Reflections – 2023.12

All Things for Good: The Sense of Our Own Sinfulness

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

That sin is in the godly – is sad; but that it is their burden – is good.
– Thomas Watson

In Thomas Watson’s book, All Things for Good, he discusses Romans 8:28 and how the best and the worst things work for good for the godly.  Each month for the last year or so in these Seedling articles, we have taken a closer look at one of these best or worst things and how the LORD uses it to bring about good.  In this final article on the best / worst things, we’ll consider how the LORD can even make our own sins work for our good as Christians.

How can that be?  The Scriptures declare that the wages of sin is death, not good.  It is our sin that makes us worthy of God’s wrath and judgment and even hell itself.  And yet the Gospel declares that Christ paid the debt we owe on the cross – that He took our death, He suffered the wrath of God for us, and gave us life instead as a gift of His grace.  As Christians, then, our sins no longer condemn us, but they do bring consequences.  And if you have been a Christian for a while, you know that sin still “clings so closely” and it is a difficult struggle to lay our sin aside.  How then, can Watson see our own sin working for our good?  Here is a summary of his thoughts:

1.     Our sense of our own sin makes us weary of this life.  When we are burdened by our sin, we look forward to the day when we will never sin again.  It is good to not cling too closely to this world, but to look forward to our heavenly home.

2.     Our sense of our own sin makes us prize Christ even more.   A sense of the depth of our own sin makes us grateful for the work of Christ.  Jesus paid it all and in Him there is no condemnation.  It is our sin that makes us realize how beautiful this truth is.

3.     Our sense of our own sin makes us do some soul searching.  As Watson says, “It is good to know our sins – that we may not flatter ourselves or take our condition to be better than it is.”

4.     Our sense of our own sin can make us humble – It is easy to be proud.  Being aware of our sin and truly seeing ourselves as sinners in need of God’s grace is the best cure for the proud heart.

5.     Our sense of our own sin can cause us to judge ourselves rightly.   Satan’s accusations fall flat when we admit that we are sinners and that Christ has paid the penalty.

6.     Our sense of our own sin causes us to battle against it.  Paul speaks of the war that is waged internally against sin, that the Spirit and the flesh are opposed.  When we are made aware of our sin, the Christian doesn’t want that sin to get too comfortable – he or she fights it.

7.     Our sense of our own sin causes us to guard our hearts more carefully.  As Christians, we know that sin is always crouching at the door of our hearts and we need to be on guard so that we don’t fall into sin.  This will make us more prayerful.

8.     Our sense of our own sin drives us to reform ourselves. The Christian is not content until sin is driven away.  One way the LORD works our sense of our own sin for good is to show us where reformation is required.

Of course, none of this means we should be indifferent towards our sin since we know God will work it for good.  The LORD has redeemed us from slavery to sin that we might live holy and righteous lives – that we might be free!  So may we hate our sin just as we love His grace, and may the LORD be glorified in it all.