As I work my way through the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, besides paraphrasing the messages, I thought I could also try to capture some key brief insights that could easily be used in future sermons or conversations or probably more importantly, in every day life. Here, we look at the third sermon we have from Edwards, which has to do with the wicked man’s slavery to sin.
The Bible’s view of things is often very different than ours.
For example, we might be tempted to look at someone who is disobeying God and prospering and focus so much on their apparent prosperity that we envy them, when really, if they are disobeying God they are actually in a position to be pitied, no matter how much they have.
This should be obvious.
We wouldn’t after all, ever, envy a slave and the Bible tells us that wicked men are slaves to sin.
Yet it is all too easy for us to lose sight of this reality because sin dresses itself up and tries to look pretty. War always involves lying and sin as it wages war against our souls is a master in the art of deception. Therefore, we must slow down and think carefully about the reality behind the life a wicked man lives.
He is a slave.
1. He has to work very hard in order to do what sin asks.
“Wicked men generally think that the way of holiness and religion is much the hardest, and theirs to be much the easiest…But they are very much mistaken, for godly men have a great deal of the best of it, even in this world…”
One way to see this is by thinking about all the difficulties wicked men have to go through as they go to serve sin.
They have to work hard to serve lust because lust never is satisfied.
“The lusts of men are very fitly compared to fire, for the more fuel you throw on, the more furiously will they burn and rage.”
They have to work hard to get more riches, because riches never fully satisfy.
“The covetous man, if he should get the whole world in his possession would be no more satisfied than when he has nothing.”
They have to labor under accusations of conscience, and fear of death, while their sin actually gives their conscience more and more reasons to accuse them and brings death closer and closer.
Sin is often even hard on us physically. “Lust” Edwards says, “is like a worm that gnaws at the root of life.”
2. He has to do what sin tells him to do, no matter what it costs.
“Wicked men are very obedient servants to sin. All things in the world must give way to the commands thereof: the commands of God must not stand in competition with them, but must all bow down and be trampled upon by sin. His own interest and happiness must also give place when sin requires it, and so devoted are wicked men to their lord and master sin, that they will rather burn in hell forever than disobey him and rebel against him. They stand ready to be sent on any errand that sin requires them to go on; they wait at sin’s gates, and watch at the post of his doors, like an obedient lackey, to hear what commands he has for them to do. Thus, if sin requires them to steal, swear, defraud or commit fornication, it is done; if sin commands them to do that which tends to their own ruin and destruction, it is done; if sin commands them to run and jump into the bottomless pit, the sinner immediately obeys, and runs with all his might toward this pit of fire and brimstone. And whatever fears and dreadful apprehensions he may have on his mind, yet he is such a devoted servant to sin that it shall be performed. Thus he is entirely given up to this tyrant, sin.”
3. He receives no real, lasting advantage by sinning.
“The poor sinner will moil and toil, night day, all his life-long for sin, and he himself not at all the better for it. He has nothing from sin but his labors for his pains; there is no happiness that he is to receive after he has done his work, but he labors for nothing but to please sin and the devil, and because sin commands him to do so.”
In what way does the wicked man serve sin?
1. He serves sin with his whole soul.
“Other masters have only the outward man in their service, can rule only their outward actions and have no dominion over their thoughts and wills, but sin enslaves the very soul, so that he believes, wills, loves, nor thinks nothing but what sin allows and commands…There is no man in the world who has so absolute a command over his servant as to command his thoughts; every servant can think what he will, for all his master can do, but sin has dominion over the very thoughts of a sinner.”
2. He serves sin with his whole body.
3. He serves sin with all that he is.
“The substance of a wicked man is devoted to the service of sin – neither to the service of God, nor of his fellow creatures, nor his own service, but to the service of sin – to be fuel to his lusts, to pamper his pride, to nourish his luxury, to strengthen him to sin and fat him for the slaughter, such a slave as this, is the wicked person to sin.”
What can we looking on learn from the wicked man’s sad condition?
1. To be thankful for what God has done for us. Because this is the terrible condition from which God saved us.
“We are all born slaves; our souls and our bodies, with every power of both, come into the world bound to sin. We are born not only with the livery, but also with the fetters and chains of sin upon us.”
2. How much wicked people are to be pitied.
“When we see a servant that is cruelly dealt with by his master, made to labor hard perpetually and without ceasing, night and day, to go through fire and water, cold and heat, amongst briers and thorns, in perpetual danger of his life, and all this for nothing, his master will neither allow him food or clothing, nor anything else for his service, we pity and have compassion on such an one. But wicked men that are under the service of sin are much more to be pitied. Their master is more barbarous, their labor more difficult, and all for nothing, only to please sin, their master.”
3. That we should turn from sin as quickly and forcefully as possible.
“Come, be bold and courageous, and don’t be afraid to disobey sin; if you do so, you will not be hurt for it; the devil can’t hurt you for rebelling against sin. You have no more need to serve sin than to cut your own throat, which indeed you are doing as long as you serve sin; wherefore, continue no longer in his services.”
4. How terrible a master sin is.
- Sin is the worst master in the world.
“You, to your shame and disgrace, are servant to the filth of creation, which is too filthy to be allowed in it, and therefore at last shall be cast out of it and burnt in unquenchable fire. You serve the master who is the very loathing and stink of the universe…”
- Serving sin is the most humiliating service in the world.
“To serve sin is to become a fool and divest one’s self of reason and understanding and act more filthily than brute beasts.”
- Sin deals with its servants more cruelly than any other master in the world.
“Sin makes all his servants labor till they are blind and mad, till they are not able to see whereabouts they are, and then leads them away to their own destruction…the work he sets you about is to whet the knife whereby your own throat is to be cut, to sharpen and poison arrow that are to be thrust in your own hearts, to make a fire for yourself to be burnt in.”
- Sin pays the worst payment for the service it requires than other other master in the world.
“After you have spent your life and your soul in this slavery, after you have been vexed by the fears of death and been scorched by your conscience, and rotted in sin’s prison and Satan’s chains, all the wages you shall have for your pains is nothing but one of the chiefest – that is one of the deepest and hottest – places in the lake of fire and brimstone.”