Preaching Against Sin
By Will Graham
Isaiah 58:1, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins.”
“If you don’t believe there’s a devil, preach a message on sin and you’ll see how wrong you are!” The Baptist evangelist Billy Sunday realized that the fiery message of the Gospel was going to reap rejection and hatred. The words of God’s holiness shook the prophets—but these same words were the cause of much opposition, rebellion and hard-heartedness amongst the unsanctified. The same word that is a savour of life unto one is the stench of death unto another. Simeon had prophesied that Christ was “set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel” and that through His ministry, “the thoughts of many hearts [would] be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Some stumble at the word of the Lord and fall; whereas others rise from the depths of spiritual death through its life-giving power.
Anyone that has a clean conscience before God will never be offended at a message against sin. The folk that get upset are the ones who live in iniquity and so don’t like being exposed to the searching light of the Lord. The darkness hates the light and runs from it. Spurgeon said, “I have come this night as God’s ambassador to accuse many of you of sin!” Wigglesworth taught that he preached to make men mad or glad. The godly rejoiced at his Christ-centred preaching whilst the hypocrites burned with anger against it.
The preacher will be attacked and put to death if he doesn’t give in to the conformity of the age. There’s no problem with a candy-floss Gospel that tells a man how wonderful he is. But preach the true word of God and oracles of holiness; and death is your lot.
It’s the most exciting thing in the world to be a preacher. With lies and defamation, slander and insults constantly confronting the man of God; he learns to depend upon the strength of the Lord. Persecution and death-threats give a gush of life to his bones; this is the life that the first century preachers knew. However, where they pressed on in boldness and Holy Ghost fullness to preach the whole counsel of God, this cowardly twenty-first century “church” has settled for a message that has no sting to it. To offend is the gravest sin for the modern church. Nobody wants to hurt the feelings of the needy tares.
Preachers of righteousness are the need of the day. The man in the pulpit cannot afford to speak vaguely---there must be sparks of life emanating from his soul-communion with God. Believers are fed up with dead messages that bring no life to anyone—the fireless message is a tiring message. But the fire-filled word is both consuming and captivating. The man of God must get to the point. We’re all too fond of being politically correct and circle around issues without ever saying anything. Take holiness seriously, drink deeply of Christ and preach the Word of God. The word “sin” is never found in the mouth of the false prophet.
When all men speak well of you, then Christ says, “woe!” When all speak evil, Christ says, “blessed!” John the Baptist called men vipers; did he calm down his message to make it sinner-friendly? Did he care about upsetting emotions? No! He knew that his calling was to prepare the way of the Lord. He cleared the path and got rid of the dirt. John didn’t last long in public ministry, but his is a better inheritance now. Men may kill your body; but your soul is a faculty that only God can touch. Let God be your fear. Let His presence make you tremble. Those that tremble before God won’t shake before men. The heart of the prophet is decided, his mind is made up, there is no turning back—“I will go the way of the Lord”. Come hell! Come high water! Come a thousand trials and torments! Come what may, this eternal Gospel will be preached in all of its fullness. Will we be found faithful? It’s time to preach the truth again. It’s time to put hatred for sin back on our theological agenda.