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Original pollution is a punishment for original guilt. … Scripture frequently speaks along those lines and regards consequent sins as punishment for previous sins (2 Sam. 12: 11-12; 1 Kings 11:11-31; 22:30fF.; Isa. 6:9-10; 7:17; 105-7; 14B; Jer. 50:6-8; Rom. 1:24-28; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; etc.). Also human sins are subject to God’s government; the laws and ordinances that apply to the life of sin have been laid down and are being maintained by him. And to that category of laws belongs also this one: "The curse of an evil deed is above all that it must continually give birth to evil." The nature of sin is such that it progressively renders sinners more foolish and hard, entangles them ever more firmly in its snares, and propels them ever more rapidly down a slippery slope toward the abyss. It is true that sin, viewed by itself, can never be a punishment for sin, for the two are essentially different and opposed to each other. Sin arises from the will, and people undergo punishment against their will. Sin is a violation of the law; punishment an act of upholding the law. God is the author of punishment, not of sin. Still, a subsequent sin may be called a punishment for a prior sin, since it distances the sinner even further away from God, makes him more wretched, and abandons him co all sorts of covetousness and passion, dread and remorse.

According to this law, in the case of Adam and all his descendants, a sinful state followed the sinful deed. The picture Pelagians have of this is that an act of the will, whatever it is, has absolutely no consequences. The will that did wrong the one moment can, a moment later, if it so pleases, again do good. In this view, the will never has a fixed nature, a determinate character, and never attains one; it is and remains neutral, indifferent, without any inner bias, always situated between opposites and focusing, with incalculable caprice, now in one and now in another direction. But such a view is contradicted from all directions. In the case Of Adam and Eve, When they violated God’s command, an enormous moral change occurred. Shame and dread before God took possession of them. Serenity, peace, and innocence were gone; they hid from God in the trees of the garden and blamed each other. Cain committed fratricide. And soon the Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great on the earth, and all the imaginations of the thoughts of their heart were evil from their youth. In Adam’s trespass an appalling degeneration of the human race had its inception. We are here confronting a horrible reality whose explanation escapes us. How can it be that one single sin had such dreadful consequences and brought about such a radical reversal in the nature of humans?

Generally speaking, we can begin by saying that frequently in life the relation between an act and its consequences seems to us to be totally disproportionate. One hour of thoughtlessness can produce a lifetime of tears. A small error, a single misstep can radically change the direction of the lives of numerous people. Seemingly insignificant incidents have an aftermath that lasts for generations. Our happiness or unhappiness often hangs by the thread of a single "chance" event. Adam’s one trespass brought about an overall change in the thoughts, attitudes, and inclinations of his whole nature. Experience teaches us, after all, that no matter what people do, the act to some degree boomerangs on them and leaves tracks on their character. At bottom nothing is indifferent, and nothing passes us by without a trace. Every act of the will, arising as it does from antecedent impulses and desires, has a retroactive impact on it and reinforces it. In that way every sin can become a habit, a tendentious pattern, a passion that controls a person like a tyrant. Humans are changeable, extraordinarily moldable, and pliable. They adapt themselves to all occasions; they accommodate themselves to every kind of environment; they get used to everything and orient themselves to all fashions. Those who commit sins become the servants of sin. A crime, a lie, a theft, a murder never vanishes with the moment in which it has been committed. In a similar way but on a much larger scale, the disobedience of Adam changed his entire nature.

Source: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, Chapter 2 (pp. 106-1078)

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Our sins (Isaiah)

(Isa 1:18)               Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

(Isa 38:17)            Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

(Isa 40:2)               Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

(Isa 43:25)            I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

(Isa 44:22)            I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

(Mic 7:19)             He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

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Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,

But am betroth’d unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Source: John Donne (1620s)

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The steps of an apostate’s departure from God

Source: Jeremiah Burroughs, An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea, Chap.XIII Ver.2

There is no stop in apostacy. Let men once apostatize from God, and there is no stop then; they cannot tell whither they may go, if once they begin to roll down. A man may think thus, I will but roll thus far, and there I will stop. No, if once you begin to roll, you will roll and roll down to the bottom; you know not whither you may roll, or where you may fall. If a man should leap into the water, and say, I will sink but thus far, to the middle and no farther, this were but folly; you will sink more and more: so it is with apostates; I verily believe those that did make slight at first, did not think that they should go so far. Oh, God forbid that they should do things so vile and so abominable! yea, but when once they are rolling, when once they are sinking, they roll and sink more and more, till they roll into the bottomless pit of hell; they sink more and more, till they sink into the very bottomless gulf, into such things as they would before have shrunk from with abhorrence. There is a curse upon the wicked in Psal. xxxv. 6, "Let their way be dark and slippery; and let the angel of the Lord persecute them." When men will go out of the ways of God into slippery paths of their own, it is just with God that an evil spirit should drive them on in those ways. As in your travelling in champaign countries, a highway goes to such a town, and another lies close by it, and you, it may be, choose the wrong one, and so go on and think it will bring you to the place where you are travelling; but it winds so that you go further and further fi-om the right road, perhaps many miles before you are aware of it: so it is in apostacy; it may be, at first, when men depart from the ways of God they think it not of much moment, but then these evil ways wind gradually, and, it may be, almost imperceptibly, widening the distance between them and God. "They sin more and more."

I will give you the steps of an apostate’s departure from God.

1. Some slight sin against knowledge, though never so little, for sin of mere infirmity I cannot call apostacv; but if it be ever so little a sin against knowledge, it breaks the bond of obedience: when you will venture to do that which you know is against God, this bond of obedience being broken, no marvel though you fall and "sin more and more."

2. Every act of sin tends to increase the habit. Corruption grows by acting; as with grace, every act of grace extends grace in the heart of a man; and the way to grow in grace is, to act grace much; so that when you are acting your grace, you do not only that which is your duty, but you are growing in grace: so when you are acting of corruption, you are not only doing that which is evil, but you are increasing the tendency to it: and therefore every sin that causes us to decline from God, makes us to go more and more from God.

3. Every sin against conscience weakens the work of conscience. The authority of conscience will quickly be weakened when it is once broken; break but off the yoke of conscience, and conscience will be weaker than it was before. The first time a man sins against conscience, his conscience, having a great deal of strength in it, mightily troubles him; but having had a flaw, (as it were.) it grows weaker. I remember a notable story which that reverend and famous divine. Dr. Preston, relates of one in Cambridge, who, after having committed a great sin, had this temptation. Do the act again, and your conscience will trouble you no more: this temptation prevailed with him, he did it again, and then he grew a very sot indeed, and went on in his wickedness. Every sin does somewhat to weaken conscience, and therefore one that falls off from God will "sin more and more."

4. A man loses his comfort in God according to the degree of his departure from him. For some kind of comforts hypocrites may have; as there may be common gifts of the Spirit to enable them to do service, so there may be common gifts of the Spirit to comfort them, they may taste of the powers of the world to come. Many have some flashes of joy; but when they are departed from God they cannot have so much comfort as they were wont to have, and when they have not that comfort they must have it some way, and are fain to go sharking up and down to get it some where else: I cannot have that comfort in God which I was wont to have; I was wont, when I was troubled, to go and read the word, I could find comfort there; let me go into good company, I could find comfort there; but in the presence of God I could find comfort; but now I cannot: and so the heart must have comfort some way or other, and therefore goes more and more from God.

5. When one has sinned against God, holy duties become very unsuitable to his soul. It is a more difficult thing to engage his heart in them than before, and so he comes to neglect duties, and by neglecting them his corruption grows. They were a powerful means to restrain corruption; for when a man is abroad and inclined to licence, yet when he thinks thus, Yea, but before I go to bed I must pray, and how shall I then beg grace from God, when now! willfully sin against him? this curbs a man: so long as he can keep any kind of suitableness between his heart and holy duties, though he should fail in some things, he would quickly recover; but when he begins to have holy duties so veiled as to leave them off, then he will "sin more and more," for the curb is removed.

6. The presence of God is terrible to an apostate. He cannot think of God without some terror; before he would often think and speak of God, but now he puts off the thoughts of God, the thoughts of him and his presence being terrible; it must needs be that he must wander up and down even more and more, be as a Cain wandering away from the presence of God.

7. The thoughts of whatsoever might turn an apostate’s heart to God, are grievous to him. If he thinks of turning to God, presently will be presented to him some difficulty that will make him even put off all those thoughts, and rather give himself liberty to his own ways.

8. One sin cannot be maintained without another. As now, you find when one man has done wrong to another, he knows not how to carry it out but by doing him more wrong, to crush him if he can. And so there are divers sins that have many sins depending upon them; if a man be engaged in a business that is sinful, that he may carry it on successfully he must commit a great many other sins, and so fall off more and more.

9. The pride of men’s hearts is such, that they will attempt to justify transgression. Men love to justify what they have done; when they have sinned, they will grow more resolute and violent, that all people might think that their hearts recoil not in the least. You think many times when you see men very strong and violent in an evil way, that surely they are fully satisfied in it; oh ! you are mightily mistaken in that, they may be very violent and very strong in their way, only that they may persuade other folk, though their own consciences tell them that they are not satisfied. Thus the pride of men’s hearts makes them "sin more and more."

10. When men have gone far in sin, they grow desperate. They little hope ever to recover themselves, and therefore "sin more and more."

11. God in his just judgment withdraws himself from apostates. God withdraws those gifts and common graces that they had, and saith, Let them go on; "he that is filthy, let him be filthy still."

12. God gives up apostates to their corruptions, and to the power of the devil. It is a dreadful thing when the church does it, although it be for the salvation of the soul, and for the destruction of the flesh, 1 Cor. v. 5; but when God delivers up one to his corruptions it is for the soul’s destruction: Do you rule him, saith God, because he would not be ruled. No marvel then though an apostate "sin more and more."

O, stand with all your might against the beginning of sin; tremble, and stop on the threshold. Had this people done so, at the first they trembled, oh, had they but kept that trembling heart continually, it would have preserved them from abundance of evil: and so, do not some of you remember that there has been a heart-trembling and hesitancy at the very thought of those things which, it may be, some of you now practise? oh, happy had it been for you had you kept such a frame ! You young beginners, you tremble at temptations, you tremble at the thoughts of sin, at the first rising of corruption in your hearts; oh keep this frame, and regard not that boldness of spirit which there is in some. Some venture to the edge of the precipice, but it is a dangerous situation; rather keep a trembling, sin-fearing heart, for if you lose that, and beguile but to tamper with some sin, if the devil thus beguile you, it is most likely that after the first offence you will sin more and more, and never pause till you are wholly involved in the snares of the devil.

And let us learn, my brethren, to be more and more in the ways of God, as apostates are more and more in the ways of sin. Oh that it were so with us ! Let us not content ourselves to do a little for God, but still more and more, as David, in Psal. Ixxi. I4, "I will yet praise thee more and more," I will add to thy praise, so the original signifies: Lord, some praise thou hast had in the world, oh that I could live to add any thing to it! "I will yet praise thee more and more."

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Thomas Brooks, The Strength Of Christ Illustrated In The Weakness Of His People.
Two Sermons Preached on a Sacramental occasion at Galashiels, July 31, and August 1, 1731.
2 Cor. xii. 9. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Source

Of sinful natural weakness; not that he brought them under such weakness, but he suffers them to lie under it. There are remains of the corruption of nature in them all, which makes them a company of poor groaning weaklings, Rom. vii. 24. Grace has got in indeed, but corruption is not yet quite got out. The Canaanites are left in the land, and they are not able to clear the land of them. And this corruption of nature hath a strong bias, in each of them, to some particular evil, according to their various tempers and circumstances, "the sin that easily besets them," Heb. xii. 1.

Why the Lord leaves sin in the regenerate? Why though they pant, long, and breathe after perfection, yet they cannot reach it; though they would buy their freedom from sin with ten thousand worlds if they had them, and the bondage of a body of sin cleaving to them makes them long for cold death, to set them free, yet they must wrestle on with it? See what may satisfy. It is that the power of Christ may be illustrated in your weakness; therefore it is that the "wheels of his chariot tarry."

This bids us,

1st, Stoop to the dispensation, and not quarrel; and after he has thus far discovered to us the design of it, to crucify all our hows and whys on the matter; and that both with respect to our spiritual and bodily weaknesses.

2dly, Resolutely to keep up the struggle, to get forward in the way the Lord calls us. What though we be weak? the works of the Christian life are not to be laid aside, but we are to stretch out the withered hand, that his strength may be perfected in our weakness.

Whoso thus struggle resolutely, and yet stoop humbly to the dispensation, shew their concern for his honour, insomuch that they are pleased his strength should be displayed in their weakness. Thus honouring him here, he will honour them in the other world.


 

Thomas Boston, The Christian Weak, Yet Strong.
2 Cor. xii. 10, For when I am weak, then am I strong.
source

You will get enough of strength in Christ, if you take this way to it, living and going out of yourselves, under a sense of utter weakness, to the Lord Christ, as the head of strengthening influences. If you ask, What is that? I answer. It is the soul’s discerning an utter inability in itself for any spiritually good action, but withal believing that God has treasured up sufficient strength in the Mediator, to be communicated to those that are his, and therefore embracing a full Christ for all, as held forth in the everlasting covenant; and then venturing on duties, watching against temptations, and taking up the cross, upon the faith and credit of the promises of the covenant, trusting that they shall be made out to him; which trust may be weaker or stronger, but according to the strength of it, so is the income of strength to the soul. In this way the weak go from strength to strength. Thus shall you be helped to go through the most difficult duties acceptably, though not perfectly, to stand against the strongest temptations, to mortify the most powerful lusts, and to bear the heaviest crosses. This has made Christians attain to an eminent pitch of holiness, joyfully to embrace a prison, banishment, a gibbet, a fire, and the most cruel torments enemies could invent. The more you are emptied of yourselves, placing confidence in the Lord, the more will you be strengthened with might in the inner man; and when you shall be perfectly unselfed, if we may so express ourselves, so that there shall be no more of it to marr the communication betwixt Christ and you, then you shall be perfectly holy, and set above the reach of all evil; but because we are not properly divested of self-confidence in this world, therefore we do not arrive here at perfect strength. But all the saints, however, will give their testimony, that "when they are weak, then they are strong." Amen.

 

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God calls us to obedience, but does not immediately remove our sinful natures at the time of salvation. Although he plants his unstoppable Spirit within us to begin the work of new creation, he tells us that we have this treasure in jars of clay. In other words, he calls us to try hard to obey him but tells us that we will be very weak and fail a lot. Why would our loving heavenly Father leave us weak and sinful? He desires to humble us and to show that the surpassing greatness belongs to Christ and not to us! The sovereign God is thus not surprised by our sin; he planned it this way. Though our sin grieves him, it does not anger or shock him. Instead, he uses the sin that he hates to point us to our great Savior, who took all his anger for our sin. Our Father has loving purposes for letting us wander into the far country many times each day, and he always welcomes us back with great rejoicing. In this way, he shows us the depravity of our hearts, so that we will cherish our Savior more and grow to live in humble dependence on him.

Source: http://www.challies.com/sponsored/freaked-out-by-ordinary-sin

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When we identify a particular sin, we go to God and say, “Lord, I need this changed.” The problem is, we have so many layers of sin. … And, of course, the roots of that sin are wrapped around many others. So God begins to work way down deep on the whole complicated mess – separating out, discarding, disentangling. …

source:

God At Work! « Grace Looking Back
http://gracelookingback.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/god-at-work/

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