For the past few weeks we have been discussing sin, and how it is committed. Let us quickly summarize what we have learned so far in our study of this important theme. We commit sin: (1) when we reject the evidence that God has given us; (2) when we do what God has told us not to do; (3) when we do what God has not authorized; (4) when we fail to do what God has told us to do; (5) when we condemn what God has authorized; (6) when we fail to respond to human needs; (7) when we think in an evil way; (8) when we speak in an evil way; (9) when we violate our conscience; and (10) when we induce others to sin. As we draw this study to its conclusion, we want to mention one other way that we commit sin.
(11) We commit sin when we fail to study and grow as we should. Paul wrote to a young preacher, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). We often quote this and talk about it, but let’s examine carefully what Paul said and its implications.
One cannot be approved of God if he refuses to study the Scriptures. One who “rightly divides” or “handles aright” (ASV) the word of truth, has no reason to be ashamed. Studying the word of God in order that we might know and obey it is the way to show oneself approved before God. If one stands approved before God, he will have no reason to ever be ashamed, no matter who disapproves! David said, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments” (Psalm 119:5-6). If anyone will learn and keep God’s commandments, there will never be cause for shame on his part.
Being approved implies that one has been put to the test and been proven, as metals are put to the test before being accepted as genuine. Of such, James wrote, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
Peter teaches us how to grow as we build the Christian life in II Peter 1:5-10. And the last word of encouragement from his pen exhorts us, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Pet. 3:18). Study, learn, obey; to fail to do this indeed is sin.
As we bring these thoughts to a conclusion, go back and read and study the many avenues in which we can commit sin. Let each of us be aware of these things which cause us to sin and avoid falling victim to the “wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). May God help each of us to be dedicated to doing the Lord’s will and refusing to be overcome by sin. Amen.
Paul M. Wilmoth