Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:…
St. James tells us that, finally, all "sin" brings forth "death"! And I believe this to be true in many senses, that death has a Protean form.
1. It is quite certain that every allowed sin — of any kind — kills the power of the perception of truth. I might put it more strongly still. Sin weakens, and tends to destroy, every power we possess. Physical sin weakens physical strength. And both physical and mental sin weaken both mental and spiritual powers. And if the weakening process is allowed to go on, it will weaken till it kills! It will go on till it "brings forth death"! This is the result of two causes.
(1) In the first place, by natural cause and effect, whatever weakens the moral condition, weakens the whole man. It weakens the action of the brain and of the heart; and so affects the whole being.
(2) But still more, all the perception of spiritual truth depends upon the operation of the Holy Ghost; and each sin, grieving the Holy Ghost, causes Him to withdraw I-Its assisting power; and, in the same degree, in which He withdraws from us, we are left impotent, and incapable of understanding, or even seeing truth. One habitually allowed sin will deaden the grace both of the mind and the heart, till, by more and more withering processes, the grace of both will die! Why are so many young men and young women prone to infidelity? Why have they grown sceptical of old and familiar truths which were dear to their parents, and were once dear to themselves? Look at their lives, their worldliness, their frivolity, their private habits, their secret or their open sins! There is the reason. Infidelity is a deadening thing. And "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth that death."
2. Another consequence of any indulged sin is, that it necessarily involves some concealment, if not further positive sin. It cannot be compatible with a perfectly open character. No sin can go on without some hiding; and that hiding of one thing fosters a reservation, and an uncandidness, and untruthfulness in the whole life. And if once this openness goes, almost everything goes with it! Self-respect is essential to make life worth the living. But who can feel self-respect who is conscious of a hidden sin? The whole world may respect him; but self must bleach and tremble! And sin — any habit or affection which is unsanctioned by God and conscience — is destructive of all pure love. True love is too sacred a thing to stay in a breast with wrong deeds or wicked actions! The wrong love kills the good love. It "beings forth death"; and the good love dies. And what is love worth which is always carrying about with it a bad conscience? And who, that is tampering with any sin, whatever may be the service of his life, can escape a bad conscience? What — if all be happy and prosperous outside — and that conscience is gnawing within a man? You are praised by a great many people, and conscience tells you all the while you would not have that praise if they but knew everything! What is all the praise but a very mockery! You are trusted; but you do not deserve that trust! You go on your knees, and say your prayers, but you feel all the while, with that secret sin in the heart, no prayer will avail. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." So sin kills prayer. A life — a real life — is to be useful, and do good to others. But if a person is living in any sin, that sin will paralyse, if not the will, certainly the power, to live to any good purpose. The consciousness of sin will always come across his mind, when he is speaking, checking him, incapacitating him. "Who am I to speak?" I, who am living myself so sinfully! And men are keen judges of each other. They very soon discover what is unreal in all your fine talking! And can God bless any effort that such a man makes? He may speak as an angel; but God has not sent him. This sin will turn his most living words to death!
3. But still more, when that man thinks of his own death, will he not foresee and know how that sin which he is now allowing will come up to his memory! How it will be a thorn in his dying pillow! And what a double dying will that "death" be — when the present "sin brings forth," at the end, its deathly power, to double and increase, a thousand-fold, the pangs of dying! But yet further, and far above all, that "sin" is wounding his own Saviour; and the more you confess it, and the more you hate it, as a Christian, the more you see how it wounds Him. It brings "death" on the Son of God! And no less it is grieving that Holy Spirit who has drawn him so often, and strove with him so patiently and so tenderly! And how can his soul live if that Spirit goes? And it wrongs his Father in heaven. And how can he call himself God's child, or plead the children's right, or claim a Father's love, at the hand of a wronged and outraged God? It kills his sonship! So "sin" — any one indulged sin even now — will be always sapping life, and weakening faith, till faith can believe nothing, and, removing all consciousness, "brings forth" the "death" of hope and heaven! And that is not all.
4. "Sin" is not "finished" yet. All sin has in it a necessity to increase. Sin makes sin. One barrier broken down, the stream of evil rushes on with a greater force; and another barrier giving way, the current swells, till it scarcely knows a check. But what will "sin finished" be? What will it be when, stripped of its soft and beautiful colours, it stands out, without a mask, in its true and native form? What a monster will every, least, sin look beside Perfect Holiness.
(James Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: