Monday, December 20, 2010

When Silence is Sin

by Patte Smith on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 4:12pm

Timely, bold, kind, and wisely-directed rebuke is often used by the God of all grace as the means of awakening souls from spiritual death; this is an all-sufficient reason for our being ready to deliver it when occasion demands it. Can souls be won to God by any means? then we will use that means, and look to God the Holy Ghost to bless our efforts. It is frequently a hard and self-denying duty to administer admonition personally either to saints or sinners; but, if we love the souls of men, and would be clear of our brother’s blood, we must school ourselves to it, and make as much a conscience of it as of our prayers...

If men were not corrupt in heart, they would turn from sin of themselves...but, alas! their nature is so depraved that one sin is a prelude to another...Men’s consciences should be sufficient monitors; but...the watchers sleep, and the foes advance. Hence it becomes essential that, by agency from without, warning should be given. Brands must be plucked from the burning, for of themselves they will never leave the fire. Sin makes men—such madmen—that they are quite beside themselves, and sharp methods must be used to restrain them from self-destruction. An ox or an ass in a pit, will struggle to get out; but men are such silly creatures that they will not move hand or foot to escape, but rather delight in their own ruin; we must, therefore, as Jude puts it, “pull them out.”

The Word of God is very plain as to the duty of rebuking sin, although, from the neglect into which the work has fallen, one might have imagined that it was left optional, or allowed, rather than commanded. It is a most weighty observation that, according to God’s Law, silence concerning sin is consent to it.

“And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 5:1).

“By ill silence to leave men in sin is as bad as by ill speech to draw them to sin. Not to do good, saith our Savior, is to do evil, and not to save is to destroy” ~ Trapp

“And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” (Mark 3:4).

To leave others in their sins unreproved is to be “partakers of other men’s sins.” Paul teaches us this when he writes, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”—as much as to say, if you do not reprove them, you have fellowship with them. If I see a thief breaking into a house, and give no alarm, am I not, by my silence, an accessory to the act? Without the aid of my silence the burglar could not perpetrate the robbery; if I lend him that assistance, am I not, morally, his accomplice? The same holds good in all cases; but we are not left merely to infer the fact, for the Lord has told us by the mouth of His prophet Ezekiel, “If thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” The ruin and sin of others we shall surely partake in if they perish through want of our admonition.

Eli must break his neck for very grief when his sons are cut off in their sin; it was not meet that he should outlive those whom he had not endeavored to preserve from ruin by timely rebuke: had he made their ears to tingle with his upbraidings, his ears might never have tingled with the news of the terrible judgments of God.

How few Christians will be able to say with Paul, “I am pure from the blood of all men”?—none of us can be in that happy case if we neglect the duty of warning our neighbors for their good.

The law and the gospel with one voice call us to the duty we are now endeavoring to enforce. The law: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him” (Leviticus 19:17)..Those who forget this duty cannot plead that they are not sufficiently reminded of it, for the Word is very full and clear upon the point; and yet the most of us are so negligent in it that one might imagine we respected the foolish and cruel law... that none should tell his neighbor of any calamity which had befallen him, but every one should be left, by process of time, to find out his own troubles for himself. Alas! that sinners should hardly hear of hell until they come there!

 Scriptural testimony will have the most force with us; and what saith it?—”The rod and reproof give wisdom” (Proverbs 29:15). “Reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge” (Proverbs 19:25). “Let the righteous smite me,” saith David, “it shall be a kindness.” He calls it “an excellent oil, which shall not break my head” (Psalm 141:4). Christ styles it “a pearl and a holy thing” (Matthew 7:6). Solomon prefers it before silver, gold; and rubies; it is the merchandise of wisdom which is better than precious treasures (Proverbs 3:14, 15). He describes it “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold” (Proverbs 25:12). Our Savior encourages us to this much-forgotten service by the prospect of success, “Thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15). To gain a soul is better than to win the world, as he has assured us who knew the worth of souls better than any of us..You cannot do your friend a greater kindness than to admonish him in the Lord, nor can you wish your enemy a greater injury than to go unrebuked.

Exhort one another daily,” says the apostle,  “while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

How many a Naaman might have been washed from his leprosy if his Christian servants had been earnest enough to speak with him on soul matters! But, alas! Blood-guiltiness is hardly felt to be a sin in these days! Soul-murder is scarcely ever wept over! A poor wretch dies of starvation, and men cry out because bread was not given him; but when souls sink into damnation for lack of knowledge, they who withhold the bread of heaven will not allow their consciences to trouble them. May the Lord give us tenderness of heart to repent the neglect of the past, and holy resolution to labor more heartily in the future.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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