THE TWO ASPECTS OF SIN
The Bible is most amazing in the way it is written. I have said this before and I will say it again that there are two aspects to sin, and there are two aspects to the way God deals with sin. The Bible tells us that there is a difference between sins and sin; one is before God, and the other is within us. Our sins before God have to be forgiven and washed away, while sin within us must be overcome, and we must be delivered from it. Our sins before God have been borne by the Lord Jesus, but the sin within us can only be removed through reckoning ourselves as dead. For the sins before God, we have the washing of the Lord’s blood. For the sin within us, there is the need for the deliverance of the Lord’s cross. We need God’s forbearance and forgiveness for our sins before Him, and we need freedom and deliverance from the sin within us. These two aspects of sin are entirely different. Today, we can only briefly consider the difference between these two aspects of sin. The Lord willing, we will discuss them in detail later.
For now, I will not mention the difference in the nature of sin and sins; we will only consider the difference in the effect of these two aspects. First, let us consider our sins before God. Our sins before God give us no peace in our conscience. Whenever we think of judgment, hell, death, and questions related to man’s end, we feel that we have sinned before God. Whenever we think of God’s holiness, righteousness, and His ordination, we become fearful. Today, those who are sitting here who have not received Jesus as their Savior surely have this kind of experience. If they do not have this experience, I feel sorry for them because this means that they are ignorant, insensitive, and unaware of their own danger. Anyone with a little thoughtfulness will feel at a loss and not have peace when they consider Hades, death, hell, eternity, God’s judgment, or sin. The reason for this is that they are sinners before God, and as long as their sin is not removed, they will not dare to think about these things. Once they consider these things, they realize that they will go into the lake of fire and suffer eternally. They fear and have no peace. This tells us that we are sinners before God. Our sins before God cause us to have no peace and to be afraid to think about such things as judgment, end times, and death.
But man not only has sins before God, he also has sin in himself. A seminary student once said to his teacher, "I have found one new thing in the Bible today, which is the doctrine of sin. Of course, the Bible mentions it. But I did not see it until today." The teacher said, "Have you only discovered the doctrine of sin from the Bible today? I found that out from man’s heart long ago." There is no need to go to the Bible to find the doctrine of sin; we can find it easily from man’s heart. Everyone can testify that sin is not only before God but is also within us.
We may lose our temper easily. We may think that outward things are causing us to lose our temper. Actually, all the outward things do not give us our temper, but a burning within causes our temper to burst out. We may try to suppress it by force. But we cannot do it; as soon as there is an opportunity, the temper will burst out again. When there is an explosion, we cannot blame it all on the sparks of fire; there must first be explosives. Sins issue from within. Many people think that the reason their thoughts are unclean and filled with sins is that they have read unhealthy books which entice them to sin. But many times when the environment is clean and excellent, and there are no temptations anywhere, is our heart clean? A young man said that he had read too many novels and that his mind was filled with evil and unclean thoughts. He asked if there was any way to cleanse his thoughts. Can we get rid of the unclean things within us just by shaking our heads? Can that be done? I can tell you that nothing will shake these things out from you.
Sin dwells within man. It has roots, and they cannot be removed. Many sinners like to gamble or smoke opium. Certain outward factors are not seducing them into such acts, but an inward sin is pressing them to act this way. Sin has its punishment before God and its power within man. It causes us to do things we are not willing to do. Even if we try to suppress it with all our power and will to keep it from breaking out, when an opportunity is there, it breaks out just the same. This is the true condition of man. Sin reigns within man. We are its slaves. It has the power to snatch us away and cause us to do that which we are not willing to do.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)