Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 10, 1951



Philosophers and students of humanity have found in every age that the persistence and the universal certainty of a sense of sin is the most tragic element in human experience. For other problems, man finds a cure. A broken bone, given time, will heal itself; an ignorant and unlearned man can be educated; a broken heart can be repaired, even if never fully restored. For disease and poverty and ignorance, man has sought and found solutions.

But for the terrible sense of guilt, no man has ever found a remedy. The race against conscience is a hopeless flight. The purest and most saintly of the race have been most red with shame over their sin against God. The great prophet, Isaiah, in the year that King Uzziah died, saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up. In the presence of such holiness and such purity he was overwhelmed with the sense of his own awful guilt. He cried out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts." Guilt, red and scarlet; guilt, corroding and cancerous; guilt, repulsive and fearful was searing his soul. Peter, in the presence of Jesus realizing the contrast between that immaculate Son of God and his own blackened and twisted soul, fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord." High-minded Paul, zealous for the law beyond all reason, still felt the terrible clutch of guilt closing its fingers around his heart, "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would, I do not; and the evil which I would not, that I practice . . . 0, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Our Own Experience

We need not go, however, to the Bible, nor even to the philosophers, to find confirmation of the universality and the inevitability of a sense of sin. Every one of us can testify that it is present in our own hearts. In our youth, perhaps, we are not so conscious of it. Religion then must attract us more by the ideals and the aspirations which it inspires us; but as the mellowing years hurry by, we turn more and more to religion for the remedy and the relief which is offered for our weaknesses and our sins. The need of forgiveness becomes increasingly urgent and persistent. We have missed our opportunities; we have neglected our duties; we have wasted precious years of our lives. We have not been fully loyal to the best we knew; we have been blind and stupid in our hot pursuit of earthly treasures; we have sinned against the love and light of God!

The years do not lessen nor wear thin this sense of guilt. On the contrary, they increase it. Guilt, a bad conscience, terrible remorse—how bitter and how horrible life can be when these are our constant companions. The nimble feet of youth may outrun them for a while; but time will take care of that. One day GUILT will stand in your path and block your way. There will be no turning to the right nor to the left. There will be no escape from his clutch. It will be then that you will know the full poignancy of that cry on Pentecost, the frightful urgency under which these heart-broken people cried out, "What shall we do?" It will be then that you will recognize the chilling truth and the dreadful accuracy of Luke's statement that they were "cut to the heart."

Escape Attempts

In ages past, men have tried to gain relief from this sense of sin by offering sacrifices to their heathen gods. They even went so far as to offer up human sacrifices. And the prophets of the Old Testament thundered in fiery indignation against the Israelites, because some of them were following the pagan example, and making their own children pass through the fire unto Moloch. Such sacrifices were able only to delude and deceive; they could never remove guilt; they could not bring about forgiveness of sin.

Indeed, even the holy law which God gave to Israel could not accomplish that. "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. Else would they not have ceased to be offered? Because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, should have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."

In modern times, men do not follow so much the practice of offering sacrifices to heathen gods; nor do they attempt even to follow the sacrifices of the Mosaical law. But we do have in these days a vast and awesome spectacle of multiplied millions of people going through rituals, ceremonials, traditional forms of worship, and following doctrines and dogmas designed by men in the vain and mistaken hope that these things will remove their guilt. Catholic people make confession to their priests, and do penance. Protestant people go to their various churches, founded by men, teaching the doctrines of men, and go through the rituals and ceremonials that have been laid down.

All such hopes are vain and all such efforts are wasted. Man's efforts can never release him from guilt. One may go through every religious device and ceremony that the race has ever devised, and not be one whit cleaner or less guilty. Philosopher, priest, and psychiatrist are alike impotent to remove the guilt of sin. Such is beyond human power. Only God can do that.

God's way is short, simple, and definite. There are no guesses or ambiguities about it. Peter put it in one brief and beautiful statement to the anxious men on Pentecost, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins." That is God's plan; there is no other. If a man is truly convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, then Peter's words are straight-forward and to the point in indicating the procedure for him to follow.

— F. Y. T.