Derek Prince - The Essence Of Sin We All Struggle With
Now, I’m going to make another shocking statement. I wouldn’t dare to make it if Paul hadn’t made it first. You’ll find it in Romans chapter 7. I tell you, Romans is a most wonderful book. I was a professor of logic before I became a Christian. I really was interested in logic and I think logic is a wonderful thing. It’s like a computer. If you feed the right information into the computer you’ll get the right results. But if you feed the wrong information in you’ll get the wrong results. Logic doesn’t give you the answers. logic merely enables you to see if your conclusions are compatible. And so, I would say myself of all the things I’ve ever read the Bible is the most logical book. I personally do not feel intellectually inferior because I believe the Bible.
That’s my personal attitude. I would suggest to you don’t you feel intellectually inferior. They may label you something like fundamentalist. Okay. Be a fundamentalist, whatever that is. Actually, it’s mainly used as a sort of thing to evoke people’s emotions against you. The people who talk about being fundamentalist haven’t defined what fundamentalism is. There are lots of words that people use just to put a black mark on other people but they don’t define them. Don’t be afraid of being called a fundamentalist. The next time somebody calls you that, say: Please, would you tell me what you mean by a fundamentalist? All right.
Now we’re coming to this shocking statement of Paul, in Romans chapter 7. The further you go with him the more shocking he becomes. Romans 7:4 and following: Therefore my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead that we should bear fruit to God. Paul says at one time if you were a religious Jew, you were married to the law. And for you to depart from the law and be married to somebody else would be adultery, spiritual adultery, unless, you found out that the law had died. But through the death of Jesus on the cross, the law was put to death. Do you understand? This is a real problem for most Jewish people. They feel, if they don’t try to keep the law, and basically they don’t do much about that, they are being unfaithful to their husband.
There has to be a revelation that the law was put to death in Christ so that they could be married to another, the risen Messiah. And through Him both they and we can bring forth fruit. Do you understand? Fruit only comes by union. But what we are united to will determine what we bring forth. But if we are united, in union with Christ then we will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Now going on, Paul says: For when we were in the flesh the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it? The passions of sins which were by the law. In other words, Paul says: The law stirred up sinful passions. Can you absorb that?
Let me give you another passage in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 56. This is one of those breathtaking statements. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. Paul goes on in Romans 7, he says: There’s nothing wrong with the law, it’s perfect. The problem is in us. You see, if I can put it this way law works from without. It says do this, don’t do that. You say: Okay, I’ll do this and I won’t do that. And in doing so you are trusting on your own ability. That’s the problem, because you don’t have the ability to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. But you see, the essential nature of our flesh is to trust in ourselves and not to want to depend on God.
Let’s go back to the temptation in the Garden of Eden. What was the motivation that Satan used? You will be like God. There’s nothing wrong with being like God. What was the problem? They would be like God without depending on God. They would depend on the knowledge of good and evil. That’s the root problem of humanity; it’s the root problem of religious people. We want to be like God but we don’t want to depend on God. The essence of sin is the refusal to depend on God. That is sin in its essence. It’s not some particular sinful act you commit. It’s an attitude of self-reliance which shuts God’s grace out of your life. And this is the hardest thing, I believe, that God has to deal with in you and me. It’s this attitude of self-righteousness. I can do it by myself. I don’t need God.
As far as I know, and this is just an opinion, there are only two kinds of creatures in the universe that wanted to be independent of God. One is the fallen angels that joined Satan in his rebellion. The other is the human race. Nothing else in the universe desires to be independent of God. The birds don’t desire to be independent, the creatures don’t, the fish don’t, the stars don’t, they are all happily dependent on God. But you and I, because of the fall and our fleshly nature have inherited this problem: We don’t like to depend on God. We like to be able to say, I’ve done it by myself. I didn’t need God. Dear friends, you need God in the worst way, and you need God the most when you think you don’t need Him. And if you analyze your own Christian experience, I think you’ll find that every problem that you’ve encountered in yourself, stemmed from trying to do it without God, stemmed from the refusal to depend on the grace of God.
Ruth was in hospital some years ago, just awaiting surgery. She was very weak, she wanted to read her Bible and she couldn’t. And the senior sister, it was a Catholic hospital– Incidentally, I’d like to say in America if I had to choose a hospital, I’d choose a Catholic hospital because there’s at least a little bit of compassion left there. There’s very little in most others. This may not be true in New Zealand. That’s just a comment. But anyhow, Ruth was in this Catholic hospital and the senior sister who was well over 70, was going around visiting the new patients and she saw Ruth there, and Ruth had her Bible but she was too weak to read it. And so this dear sister said: Is there anything I can do for you? And Ruth said: Yes, would you please read the Bible to me? The sister said: What do you want me to read? Ruth said: Philippians chapter 2. The sister said: Well, that was the Scripture on which I was consecrated as a nun.
So they met together. And then this Catholic sister shared something that had happened. She’d attended a retreat for nuns at which the speaker was a monk from the Trappist order. Trappists are not allowed to speak in their monastery. They have a vow of silence. But when occasionally they are allowed out, then they’re allowed to teach people what they’ve learned in their silence. And so, this Trappist monk was teaching these Catholic sisters, and this is what he said, and she passed it on to Ruth. Now this really blesses me because I see that if God wants something to get around, it will get around! Here’s a monk who’s not permitted to speak teaching a little group of Catholic sisters who were just a group on their own. But, this message reached me and I put it on tape so many times it’s basically reached the world! Who planned that? Nobody but God.
Anyhow, this is what this Trappist monk said to these sisters: Pray to desire not to be esteemed, not to be independent and not to be in control. Would you pray that? It takes a little doing, doesn’t it? I’ve thought over that a long while. Well, not to be esteemed, I don’t have a big problem about that. Not to be independent, I’ve realized independence is a mistake. Secure... Sorry, not to be secure. Let me correct that. Not to be esteemed, not to be secure, not to be in control. Well, it’s the last two that really troubled me. Can I really desire not to be secure? Well, okay, my security is in the Lord. But where it says not to be independent, not to be in control, sorry, that’s the hardest one for me. Do I really desire not to be in control? In other words, am I really willing to let God be in control? That’s the issue. That’s grace, when God is in control. I tell you, I bless that dear nun, I hope she’s still alive. I thank her for what she contributed through Ruth to my thinking.
See, I see this as the basic problem of humanity, is the desire to be in control, to be secure, not to be dependent. And the essence of sin is to be in a universe that was created by a loving, all-wise God, and want to be independent of it. Don’t tell me, my dear brothers and sisters, you’ve never had that problem. Because, there’s none of us that’s always been satisfied to depend on God, to let God be in control. That is the real walk of faith. That’s the walk of grace. We don’t achieve it in a few hours. In fact, it’s taken me well over fifty years, and I’m not there yet. But, I’m closer than I was, let me encourage you with that.
Now, let’s go on. The law stirs up sin. Why? Because it says: You can do it. Go on, rely on yourself. All you have to do is keep these rules, and it tricks you into self-reliance, self-dependence. That’s the way the law deceives us. And please let me say there is nothing wrong with the law. Paul goes on in the same chapter and says the law is good, the law is perfect. there’s nothing wrong with the law. The problem is in us. In our fleshly nature we all have a desire to be independent.
I’m sure most of you have watched a baby. I notice about two years old, this desire really comes to the top. You say to this sweet little toddler of two years old, Come here, and she turns around and walks in the opposite direction. Is that right? That’s the old carnal nature manifesting itself in us. The law is God’s diagnostic to bring that problem right out into the open. You see, if you went to the doctor and you said, Doctor, I have a stomach ache. He wouldn’t just reach up and take a box of tablets. He’d try to find out the cause of your stomach ache. In other words, before he prescribed a remedy he would seek a diagnosis. And that’s how God deals with us. He doesn’t offer us a remedy until He’s diagnosed our problem. Then we know we need the remedy in the worst way.