Taken and adapted from, A Fourfold Salvation
Written by, A.W. Pink
1. Sin becomes a burden to us.
First, our salvation from the pleasure or love of sin may be recognized by sin’s becoming a burden to us. This is truly a spiritual experience. Many souls are loaded down with worldly anxieties, who know nothing of what it means to be bowed down with a sense of guilt. But when God takes us in hand, the iniquities and transgressions of our past life are made to lie as an intolerable load upon the conscience. When we are given a sight of ourselves as we appear before the eyes of the thrice holy God, we will exclaim with the Psalmist, “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me” (Psa 40:12). So far from sin being pleasant, it is now felt as a cruel incubus, a crushing weight, an unendurable load. The soul is “heavy laden” (Mat 11:28) and bowed down. A sense of guilt oppresses and the conscience cannot bear the weight of it. Nor is this experience restricted to our first conviction: it continues with more or less acuteness throughout the Christian’s life.
2. Sin becomes bitter to us.
Second, our salvation from the pleasure of sin may be recognized by sin’s becoming bitter to us. True, there are millions of unregenerate who are filled with remorse over the harvest reaped from their sowing of wild oats. Yet that is not hatred of sin, but dislike of its consequences—ruined health, squandered opportunities, financial straitness, or social disgrace. No, what we have reference to is that anguish of heart which ever marks the one the Spirit takes in hand. When the veil of delusion is removed and we see sin in the light of God’s countenance; when we are given a discovery of the depravity of our very nature, then we perceive that we are sunk in carnality and death. When sin is opened to us in all its secret workings, we are made to feel the vileness of our hypocrisy, self-righteousness, unbelief, impatience, and the utter filthiness of our hearts. And when the penitent soul views the sufferings of Christ, he can say with Job, “God maketh my heart soft” (23:16).
Ah, it is this experience which prepares the heart to go out after Christ: those that are whole need not a physician, but they that are quickened and convicted by the Spirit are anxious to be relieved by the great Physician. “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up” (1Sa 2:6-7). It is in this way that God slayeth our self-righteousness, maketh poor and bringeth low—by making sin to be an intolerable burden and as bitter wormwood to us. There can be no saving faith till the soul is filled with evangelical repentance, and repentance is a godly sorrow for sin, a holy detestation of sin, a sincere purpose to forsake it. The Gospel calls upon men to repent of their sins, forsake their idols, and mortify their lusts, and thus it is utterly impossible for the Gospel to be a message of good tidings to those who are in love with sin and madly determined to perish rather than part with their idols.
Nor is this experience of sin’s becoming bitter to us limited unto our first awakening—it continues in varying degrees, to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. The Christian suffers under temptations, is pained by Satan’s fiery assaults, and bleeds from the wounds inflicted by the evil he commits. It grieves him deeply that he makes such a wretched return unto God for His goodness, that he requites Christ so evilly for His dying love, that he responds so fitfully to the promptings of the Spirit. The wanderings of his mind when he desires to meditate upon the Word, the dullness of his heart when he seeks to pray, the worldly thoughts which invade his mind on the Holy Sabbath, the coldness of his affections towards the Redeemer, cause him to groan daily; all of which goes to evidence that sin has been made bitter to him. He no longer welcomes those intruding thoughts which take his mind off God: rather does he sorrow over them. But, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Mat 5:4).
3. Sin produces bondage.
Third, our salvation from the pleasure of sin may be recognized by the felt bondage which sin produces. As it is not until a Divine faith is planted in the heart that we become aware of our native and inveterate unbelief, so it is not until God saves us from the love of sin that we are conscious of the fetters it has placed around us. Then it is we discover that we are “without strength,” unable to do anything pleasing to God, incapable of running the race set before us. A Divinely drawn picture of the saved soul’s felt bondage is to be found in Romans 7, “For I know that in me [that is, in my flesh] dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do…For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin” (vv. 18-19, 22-23). And what is the sequel? This, the agonizing cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” If that be the sincere lamentation of your heart, then God has saved you from the pleasure of sin.
Let it be pointed out though, salvation from the love of sin is felt and evidenced in varying degrees by different Christians, and in different periods in the life of the same Christian, according to the measure of grace which God bestows, and according as that grace is active and operative. Some seem to have a more intense hatred of sin in all its forms than do others, yet the principle of hating sin is found in all real Christians. Some Christians, rarely if ever, commit any deliberate and premeditated sins: more often they are tripped up, suddenly tempted (to be angry or tell a lie) and are overcome. But with others the case is quite otherwise: they—fearful to say—actually plan evil acts. If anyone indignantly denies that such a thing is possible in a saint, and insists that such a character is a stranger to saving grace, we would remind him of David: was not the murder of Uriah definitely planned? This second class of Christians find it doubly hard to believe they have been saved from the love of sin.