My father was a very stern man in the sense that if you did something you weren’t supposed to and you got caught, you were needing to prepare yourself for some very strong discipline. I remember as a kid deliberately lying to my father to avoid his punishment. While this was wrong in itself, I felt like honestly wasn’t the best policy especially when my bottom was going to be the recipient of this punishment.
Everyone knows someone who just couldn’t take responsibility for their actions. It might be a fellow student who is always making excuses for his/her actions or it could be a co-worker who can’t stop blaming all his mistakes on everyone else. It could be a very important person who, caught red-handed, always denies he has done anything wrong and dodges the reality of his or her errors. Still, there are people who are proven guilty due to some pretty strong evidence that they have no choice but to bow their heads silently while convicted and condemned. They can’t find an excuse, their mouth is closed, they must admit their fault and face the consequences of their actions. The thought of being in this position makes most people cringe and that’s why allot of people avoid confessing their guilt until there is no more room to wiggle around it. Let’s face it, people don’t like to admit they have done something wrong and that is the problem we face in preaching the message of the gospel. People are utterly opposed to admitting they are sinners and rightfully condemned in light of a righteous God. They need someone else to come into the picture to help them mainly Jesus Christ. People just don’t think they deserve punishment for their crimes nor do they need someone to help them deal with their sin. What is even worst than all this is that people are not only sinners but they are “under sin”.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
The Lord Jesus often used what is called “parables” to communicate things which were true to life stories in order to teach a much greater truth. He uses the example of two men: one being a Pharisee and the other being a tax collector. The Pharisees were known to be men of religious discipline and generally due to their strict religious discipline, they saw themselves as “blameless” before the law and before God. Where the average person gave money every week towards the things of God, they gave double, they fasted twice as long as other Jews, they observed all Jewish rituals and avoided sitting at a table with “sinners” like the tax collector just mentioned. They took their relationship with God very seriously because they truly believed that living a righteous life would be rewarded by being raised from the dead and given eternal life. The tax collectors were some of the most despised people in the land of Israel at that time. The Romans had invaded and taken over their country. The Tax Collectors were fellow countrymen who ended up being representatives of this invading government and they were well known to be extortionists on the side in order get some money for themselves as well. They were traitors who were morally bankrupt and tremendously hated by their own people. In the parable both of these men came to the place of worship called the temple to pray. Both these men came to God in an act of prayer to receive God’s approval. One saw himself as deserving of God’s favour while the other, the tax collector, confessed himself a sinner before God and deserving of punishment. He cried out for mercy and in the end the despised sinner, who was willing to repent, found favour in God’s eyes while the self-righteous Pharisee didn’t.
His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin. (Proverbs 5:22)
Proverbs chapter five speaks of iniquities and sin. This term “iniquity” if you are not familiar with the expression means “evil or faults or crimes” and the term “sin” means missing the mark or to fail doing something and we associate it with a disobedience to God. We read firstly that our own iniquities notice it isn’t the iniquities of others but our personal iniquities “shall take” the wicked”.
The expression “shall take” would refer to being a captive or being captured with a trap. Our own iniquities will capture us. Charles Spurgeon used this analogy to describe the term:
“You have seen the foolish fly descend into the sweet which is spread to destroy him, he sips, and sips again, and by-and-by he plunges boldly in to feast himself greedily: when satisfied, he attempts to fly, but the sweet holds him by the feet and clogs his wings; he is a victim, and the more he struggles the more surely is he held. Even so is it with the sins of ungodly men, they are at first a tempting bait, and afterwards a snare.”
In case you are not aware, sin is very appealing for those who naturally want to sin. You begin by tasting the sweet splendor of sin, you just take a little sip of it but then you need more and more and then you begin to indulge in it, then you fall in love with it and finally you become addicted to sin. You think you have control over it however this sin becomes your master and you become a slave. The final portion of v. 22 says that you are held with cords of your sins. No one in their right mind would ever want to be tied down like a slave to his master but this is the case of those who are in their sins. There were different types of slaves in history but in this case we are speaking of the most severe; the one who was always bound and tied to his master! You see those who are in the flesh and are not born again have no problem with being a slave since they are in love with their sins. Job was so perplexed by his trespasses that he could express it this way:
How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
You see the very issue of slavery signified a lack of freedom. Not only do the cords of your sin bind you but you’re being pulled to somewhere you don’t want to go! You see your sins are dragging you to a place called the Lake of fire. What is this place? The bible simply says that it is a place where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. It is a place where the fire in never quenched and the worm never dies! I can’t really tell you in full what this place is because I don’t know. All I do know is that the scriptures say that we are to avoid this place at all costs.
There might be some of you who are thinking at this point: What am I suppose to do, how do I cut the cords, how do I unloosen the shackles? You see you can’t unloosen the shackles or cut the cords but there is someone else who can!
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
We read in John 8 again of those Pharisees who believed they had a right to the God’s favour due to their religious affiliations. We read here however that their religion or heritage was not the basis of being right with God. We read that the one who the Son sets free is free indeed. Notice right away what it doesn’t say, it doesn’t say that we set ourselves free, it doesn’t’ say that our good deeds set us free, or our priest or even our religion but the SON. He is exclusive, the one and only means of absolute freedom. But how did He accomplish this?
The bible tells us that Christ’s death has satisfied the judgment of God and freed men and women from the power and punishment of sin. Christ is our substitute and has been given all authority and power to set men free from the bondage of sin. Christ is the answer to freedom and being right before God. If you are a sinner who desires to be free from the corruption of sin and be saved from the coming judgment upon this world. If you would love to live as a free man who serves the one true God who created the heavens and the earth, if you want to be right with God and do what is right in God’s eyes, you need to repent and believe in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I welcome your questions and comments. If you would like to speak to me in private, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org