by John R. Rice
Then the following verses take up this terrible condemnation that rests upon sinners and tell why they deserve no mercy and why they must be condemned. These show the awful moral guilt of Christ-rejecting sinners. Read these verses and see if they do not hold another of the saddest sayings:
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”—John 3:19,20.Does some sinner protest that he wants to do right and that there is no moral guilt in delaying his salvation? Does some sinner pretend that there are good reasons, good motives back of his failure to trust Christ as Saviour?
Do not believe it! There is never a good reason for doing wrong. In this case, the Lord Himself opens the door of the human heart and lets us look within. Light has come into the world, He said. Jesus Himself is the Light of the world. But men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Those who do evil hate the light; that is, they hate Christ who is the Light, and they will not come to Him because their deeds are evil. They love their sins. They will not come to Christ lest their sins should be reproved.
Unsaved men do not always know why they reject Christ. You see, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wick-ed: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). No man realizes how wicked he is unless the wickedness of his heart be revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.
Whether or not sinners know it, that is one ghastly and tragic reason why every Christ-rejecting sinner goes on without Christ and salvation. He will not come to Christ because he loves his sin. He does not want his sin reproved. So he hates Christ, the Light, and chooses the darkness of unbelief.
Thus a man chooses to have his mind clouded, chooses to go toward agnosticism or atheism rather than come to Christ and have his sins forgiven.
These words of Jesus prove the moral guilt of unbelief.
One may say that he does not come to Christ because he cannot give up some enslaving habit, some binding sin. But Christ did not say one should wait until he conquered habit or until he made his own heart white.
Thank God, Jesus Christ will accept the vilest sinner, the sinner who knows that he cannot reform himself, cannot break himself loose from the chains of habitual sin. No sinner need wait for victory over drink or lust or dope or over the power of sin in any other form before he comes to Jesus.
Jesus Christ will take the sinner just as he is and do for him all that he needs done, including not only forgiveness but cleansing.
Christ can save not only from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin; but He cannot save the sinner against his will. He cannot make a drunkard sober unless the drunkard wants to be sober. He cannot make the harlot pure unless the harlot longs to be pure. He cannot make the infidel into a believer unless the infidel wants to be a believer. The choice must rest with the sinner.
As long as a man loves his sin, holds onto his sin and hates the light that would expose it, he will not come to Christ, and Christ will not save him.
Last night I heard a successful businessman, greatly respected in a wide circle of prominent friends, tell how he came to Christ after forty-seven years in sin. He told how he said to God, “I am not coming signing any pledge to quit drink. I have signed them before, and that didn’t work. I am not coming to You promising that I will never swear again. I have tried again and again to conquer that habit, and failed. Lord Jesus, I believe that You died for my sins, and I want You to do for all my habits and sins what I cannot do for myself.”
He trusted Christ and since then has been used to win hundreds of souls one by one. There was a glad joy in his voice as he said publicly last night, “And since that time I have never taken a drink and have never sworn an oath!”
Christ will take a sinner who is covered with sin and save him, but the sinner must be willing for Christ to take away the sins and rebuke them and reprove them.
By the testimony of the man quoted above, I do not mean to indicate that God always instantly takes away a habit without effort. Sometimes He means for men to struggle and watch and pray and so have victory. But I do mean to say that it is not the fact of an enslaving habit or sin that keeps a man away from Christ. It is the wicked will of the sinner which makes him hold onto his sin and turn from the light and choose the darkness which makes it so God cannot save.
God can save the drunkard, the murderer, the whoremonger, the atheist instantly, if in his heart he hates his sins and turns to Christ, the Light. But God cannot save the purest woman or the most innocent child until each chooses to come to Christ.
How foolish are the ultradispensationalists who teach that repentance was necessary for Jews but not for Gentiles; it was fitting in the preaching of John the Baptist but not proper today! Such foolish talk springs from an utter misunderstanding of the unregenerate heart and of the Bible.
Everyone who is ever to be saved must face this innate love for sin and darkness, this natural antipathy to Christ and the light of the Gospel. And preachers everywhere should expose sin as the hateful, wicked thing it is, and urge men to repent, as did John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul, as well as Old Testament prophets.
What a sad fact is revealed in these words of Jesus that “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
Oh, surely if any sinner wants to do right, he will turn to Christ at once for mercy!