GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 611 • February 4, 2021
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN’S REMEDY FOR SIN
A “Gospel Sermon”
Mark 2:16-17 (and parallels) provides a basis for calling Jesus the “Great Physician.” In replying to complaints from self-righteous persons about his association with sinners Jesus made an analogy: sin is a spiritual sickness; he is a spiritual physician – not remote and detached but directly involved with his patients. Those who recognize and realize they are sick seek his attention and receive it. Our prime concern should be that of Jesus – healing the sin-sick soul, removal of sin and its consequences from human lives.
THE SICKNESS THAT PLAGUES US: HUMAN SIN.
Sin is an ugly word but the less offensive words some prefer are seldom adequate (see 1 John 3:4, James 4:17, Romans 3:10 and 23). We must not glamorize human vices but rather emphasize the sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13). Consequences of sin are evident and must be clarified, not minimized or ignored.
Human sin originated with man, not with God – not even with Satan. Man was created and placed under law (commands to be obeyed, requirements and restrictions to be adhered to) so that man might choose to serve God as a free moral agent by choice not by coercion or compulsion (Genesis 2-3, compare Joshua 24:15). Because he is able to understand good and evil and choose either one for himself man is vulnerable to temptation. God does not tempt one to do evil but He will allow the enemy Satan and his followers and servants to do so (1 Peter 5:8). But temptation itself is not sin. Yielding to temptation is sin (James 1:13-15).
Moral evil is in the world because man’s choice brought it there, not because God or Satan put it there. It is the result of perversion, mis-direction and misapplication of the elements of man’s moral makeup. Moral evil continues in the world, not by inheritance of a “sin nature” nor even a corruption of human nature, but by man’s continued choices of sin over righteousness.
JESUS CHRIST: THE GREAT PHYSICIAN.
He has perfect knowledge of the patient, the affected and afflicted sinner. God made us and Jesus knows what is in man – what is in every man, every human person – because he was one of us (John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14-17, John 2:25). He was tempted just as we ordinary humans are, but he did not sin as we do (Hebrews 4:15-16). Living as a man among men Jesus saw at first hand the results of sin in man.
He also has perfect knowledge of the remedy for sin (Revelation 1:5, 1 John 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:10 He brought life and immortality to light through the gospel). He alone has and can dispense the perfect remedy for sin (Hebrews 10:1-4, 12-14). He has never lost an obedient patient who faithfully follows his prescribed remedy.
THE PRESCRIBED ELEMENTS AND TREATMENT OF THE GREAT PHYSICIAN, AND HOW THEY WORK.
FAITH which destroys the love of sinning, the desire to keep on sinning. Faith is necessary for pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the victory over sin, self, Satan, and the world (1 John 5:4). By faith we walk (2 Corinthians 5:7), run ((Hebrews 12:1-2), and live (Galatians 2:20). Faith comes by hearing God’s word – Greek text says the words of Christ (Romans 10:17) which reveal God as the righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4:8), the Son of God as the effective sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:12 not by the blood of bulls … he obtained eternal redemption for us), and the Holy Spirit as the vital presence of God in the Christian’s life (Ephesians 2:18-22). Faith works by and through love (Galatians 5:6). Heart faith (emotion) alone is blind. Head faith (knowledge) alone is not enough. We need to follow with all our heart what our head assures us is true.
But how does faith destroy the love of (desire for) sinning? The love of God requires keeping God’s commandments. This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Loving God means one will stop loving the things that offend God and the Holy Spirit of God (1 John 2:15-17, Ephesians 4:30).
Love will lead one to purge his heart of all that would prevent the Lord from dwelling there. Pray for yourself, as Paul did, that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith … that you may know the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17-19).
REPENTANCE which destroys the practice of sinning. True and genuine repentance is a change of mind and heart (will and emotions) which leads to a change in life and actions (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Repentance is submission to God’s will. It requires the wicked man tp turn from his way, to forsake his wicked ways (Isaiah 55:7) and produce evidence of repentance (Matthew 3:8). One cannot say he has repented and is submissive and obedient to God if he is still living the old sinful life (Romans 6:1-2, 12-13, 17-18).
BAPTISM which changes the state and relationships of the sinner. Parallel: an alien takes an oath of allegiance and becomes a citizen; a single person marries and becomes a wife or husband; one is adopted into a family and becomes a son or daughter to the new parents. When one is properly baptized he or she becomes a citizen in the kingdom of God, the church (Colossians 1:13, 18), a part of the bride of Christ, the church (Revelation 19:7-9), a son or daughter in the family and household of God, the church (2 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Timothy 3:15, Galatians 4:5).
We can go further and note that one becomes a member of the spiritual body of Christ, the church when he or she is baptized on the basis of then-existing and growing faith and repentance (1 Corinthians 122:13). People, such as those sinners on the day of Pentecost, are not saddened by the command to repent and be baptized because they know it brings them forgiveness and a place in the church – to which God himself adds all the saved (Acts 2:37-39, 41, and 47). They rejoice in being allowed to obey God and receive His promise, His pardon, His salvation.
PARDON which destroys and removes the guilt of the sinner. Pardon is a way of acknowledging prior guilt and announcing forgiveness of sins actually and confessedly committed. God’s provision for and basis of pardon is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9 and 2:2; red also Romans 3:23-26). The blood (the sacrificed life) of Christ is made effective for the sinner, not at the altar or the anxious seat or mourner’s bench, not at the point and moment of faith and repentance, but only when faith has led the penitent believer to obey the Lord – specifically, to be baptized into Christ (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38). In baptism one is identified with the death and burial of Christ, also with his resurrection. We too are raised up by God and given a new life to live (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12-13). We may then, but not before then, speak of …
RESURRECTION when God raises one to new spiritual life in Christ which destroys the consequence and punishment sin deserves, both physical and spiritual death. One is not raised spiritually until the process of faith-repentance-baptism is completed. God pardons and makes one spiritually alive from the spiritually dead at that moment (Ephesians 2:1-2).
FAITHFULNESS which validates and guarantees one’s entry into the eternal life of God’s heaven (Revelation 2:10. But one must continue to walk in and with God for some time in a physical, mortal body. In that body we are sometimes burdened and we long to be free from the body, absent from the body in order to be at home with God (2 Corinthians 5:1-9). If we are faithful, if we end our life still faithful to God we shall someday be released, changed, raised up eternally in Christ, glorified in heaven with him (Colossians 3:1-4, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 John 3:1-4.
Those who obtain pardon and justification from God shall experience the resurrection to eternal blessedness. The Great Physician will have accomplished in us and for us the purpose of God by the power of God invested in him (John 6:35-40, Matthew 28:18).