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The ‘great evil of sin’ amplified in Roberts’ message at Midwestern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“Against thee and thee only have I sinned,” said revivalist Richard Owen Roberts, quoting David’s lament in Psalm 51. “How could he say this? He had sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, his family, his nation and his own body. How could David say such a thing?”

Roberts spoke at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 14 as a guest speaker hosted by the Midwestern Center for Biblical Revival. Roberts is the author of various books on the subject of spiritual awakening. His 9,000-volume personal library on revival serves as the core of the Graham Center Library in Wheaton, Ill.

“David could say this because the great evil of all sin consists in the fact that it is against God. Is there any sin that is not linked to pride? Anyone who allows himself to maintain a low view of God will have a high view of himself. The consequence of this is a distorted view of sin and an asinine view of salvation,” said Roberts as he introduced his text. “David’s low view of God lasted no less than nine months.”

Roberts continued, “How well you breathe a sigh of relief when you reflect on this story. You say to yourself, ‘By God’s grace I have never committed adultery. I have certainly never murdered.'” And yet, Roberts pointed out, when Nathan confronted David, “he did not make any to do about adultery and murder.” Instead, he said, Nathan’s emphasis was on the degraded view of God that David had slipped to.

“No one ever deals adequately with the issue of pride if they have not dealt adequately with the issue of God,” Roberts said. “The very essence of sin is self,” he reminded. “At the heart of all sin is pride.”

Roberts then enumerated how sin is offensive to God, noting that all sin is against God’s sovereignty, nature, name, his Word, person, purpose in creation, love, wrath, his Son and salvation.

With respect to God’s sovereignty, Roberts said, “This country’s founders said that man is endowed by God with certain unalienable rights. You cannot endow something to someone unless you have it to endow. God did not endow men with rights that he himself does not already possess. God expresses his unalienable rights in the Ten Commandments. That means that we do not have any rights in terms of sex or gold and goods or truth or God’s name or the Lord’s day. These are God’s rights. All sin is against God’s sovereignty.”

Turning to God’s nature, Roberts said, “God is by nature holy. Everything about him is holy. The amazing thing about Jesus Christ is that he was able to maintain that holiness while he lived on this earth as a man. However, since he is God, he would not sin and go against his own nature.”

When it comes to sin being against God’s name, Roberts said, “For the most pagan person on earth to sin is against God’s name, but for those of us who profess the name of God and who are identified in our world by his name to sin is almost beyond belief. We have tens of thousands of preachers who preach salvation from hell when the Scriptures clearly teach salvation from sin. How do you justify sinning when the very name of God by which you identify yourself is a declaration of salvation from sin? The angel declared that the baby’s name would be Jesus because he would save his people from their sins.”

Recounting how as a boy he had glimpsed the beauty of holiness when he heard the gospel, Roberts said, “I am grieved with myself when I read God’s Word. How is it possible to read the God’s Word on a daily basis and persist in sin? All sin is against God’s Word. Every time I sin, every time you sin, we sin against the Word of God which upholds the beauty of holiness.”

Noting that sin is against the person and the purpose of God, Roberts said, “God did not make you to sin. He made a perfect creation. And when you did sin, he gave you Jesus so that you could be forgiven of your sin and sin no more.” All sin is against God’s person and purpose, Roberts said, because men and women are made and remade in his image.

“I find myself greatly touched when I consider that every sin throughout my life has been a sin against God’s love,” Roberts continued. “I can readily pardon a man who has no knowledge of God’s love. He cannot possibly know what I know of the horror of sin. But you know about the love of God.” As a result, Roberts said, “Some of you have tried to be specialists in this subject. You talk too much about love and too little about law. But has much talking about love kept you from sinning? Has it kept anyone else from sinning? Indeed, it ought to keep all of us from sinning. And I am not talking about adultery and murder. I am talking about pride. And all pride is against God’s love.”

And, Roberts said, “All sin is against the dire warnings and threats of Scripture.

“We are soft on the subject of the Lord’s wrath,” he said, regarding that to be shameful. “That only proves that you do not love the God of the Bible. Instead, you love an infinitely lower concept of a god you have conceived of. We have in Scripture vast portions dealing with judgment and wrath.” Roberts said that he had marked every passage in the Bible in which God’s displeasure was described. “I put the letter ‘J’ in the margin. When I got through I could scarcely believe how many hundreds of passages I had marked out with the letter ‘J.'”

Roberts then noted that, “All sin is against the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. To think that when I sin I sin against the God who loved me so greatly as to send his Son to die in my place. It is a sobering truth is it not?”

Further, Roberts said, “All sin is also against God’s aspirations for me. This touches my heart deeply. I have just one son and one daughter. For years and years I had a secret prayer that I prayed for my son. It was an aspiration for him. I prayed that God would make my son infinitely more holy and useful in the kingdom of Christ than his father ever has been or will be. Day after day, week after week, year after year, I prayed. Now the aspirations of an earthly father for an earthly son could never compare to the aspirations that our heavenly Father has for us. Every time you sin you sin against the Father’s aspirations for you.”

Roberts concluded, “Would we not be wise indeed in declaring with King David, ‘Against thee, and thee only, I have sinned and done this evil in thy sight’? In this wildly wicked day in which we live we all need an anchor to hold us steady. That all sin is against God is the kind of powerful gripping truth that can turn us into holy men and women who claim our nation and this world for our blessed redeemer.”

    About the Author

  • Larry B. Elrod