He Is Never Taken By Surprise

“Without a doubt, a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts Him, for He is the One who ‘works all things after the counsel of His own will’ (Ephesians 1:11). Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, ‘Fear not!’ ‘All things’ are subject to His immediate control. ‘All things’ are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore, ‘all things’ are ‘working together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). It must be so, for ‘of Him, and through Him, and to Him—are all things’ (Romans 11:36). Yet how little is this realized today even by the people of God! Many suppose that He is little more than a far-distant Spectator, taking no immediate hand in the affairs of earth. It is true that man has a will, but so also has God. It is true that man is endowed with power, but God is all-powerful. It is true that, speaking generally, the material world is regulated by law, but behind that law is the law-Giver and law-Administrator. Man is but the creature. God is the Creator, and endless ages before man first saw the light ‘the mighty God’ (Isaiah 9:6) existed, and before the world was founded, made His plans; and being infinite in power and man only finite, His purpose and plan cannot be withstood or thwarted by the creatures of His own hands.”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.9


A Definition of Sin

“There follows a definition of sin. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (anomia). There are other definitions of sin in the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 14:23; Jas. 4:17; 1 Jn. 5:17); but this, far from being ‘somewhat superficial’ (Dodd), is the clearest and most revealing. The statement ‘sin is lawlessness‘ (that is, a defiant violation of God’s moral law) so identifies the two as to render them interchangeable terms. Wherever one of them is read, it is possible to substitute the other. It is not just that sin manifests itself in disregard for God’s law, but that sin is in its very nature lawlessness. Lawlessness is the essence, not the result, of sin. Thus exposed in its ugly reality, the seriousness of sin emerges. The heretics seem to have taught that to the enlightened Christian questions of morality were a matter of indifference; today our sins are excused either by euphemisms like ‘personality problems’ or by the plea of cultural relativity. In contrast to such underestimates of sin, John declares that it is not just a negative failure (hamartia, sin, meaning literally ‘missing the mark’, and adikia, unrighteousness, a deviation from what is right or just), but essentially an active rebellion against God’s known will. It is important to acknowledge this, because the first step towards holy living is to recognize the true nature and wickedness of sin.”

– John Stott, The Letters of John, p.126-127

Fight With Gospel Principles, Not Legal Motives

“Examine yourself also by this:  When you are tempted, and must decide whether you will serve sin and rush into folly, like a horse into battle, or fight against it and suppress it, what do you say to your soul? ‘Hell will be the end of this course; vengeance will meet with me and find me out!’ It is time for you to look about you; evil lies at the door. Paul’s main argument that sin should not have dominion over believers is that they are ‘not under law, but under grace’ (Romans 6:14). If your battle against sin is only legal principles and motives, what assurance do you have that this sin will not have dominion over you, leading to your ruin?

“Also, this defense will not last long. If your lust has driven you away from stronger gospel considerations, then considerations of law and penalty will speedily fail you also. These will not restrain you when you have voluntarily given up to your enemy a means of preservation a thousand times stronger. Be sure of this, that unless you recover yourself rapidly from this condition, the thing you fear will come upon you. What gospel principles have not done, legal motives cannot do!”

– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.60-61 (italics in original)