But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Though sin admits of no definition in itself, any more than sound or colour or odour, being, all four alike, primary ideas; it may be defined, i.e., indicated, by pointing out its relation to other things with which it is essentially connected.
1. St. Paul defines sin by comparing it with law: "Sin," he says, "is the transgression of the law." He means the law of God, the supreme Being, the sovereign power of the universe. God has prescribed us laws, which we may or may not observe. Sin is in man what deviation from their orbits would be in the heavenly bodies, if they were endowed with a will and a power of disobedience, and should shoot off from the paths in which they now move with so much order, beauty, and beneficence.
2. So again we may define sin by its effects, its "fruits," its "wages," as the apostle calls them; and how easy and how melancholy the definition. It is enough to fix the thoughts on one particular, and that is, death. How wide the sweep of its scythe! how universal the havoc which it makes!
3. Once more let us look at sin in relation to the process by which it accomplishes these deadly effects. How comes it, we ask, that while sin is acknowledged to be the prolific source of all misery, still men make light of and rush into it? Sin has undoubtedly made passion strong, the imagination wild, the conscience weak; and these are parts of the explanation; but not the whole. In addition to this, sin deceives them all through, and in connection with, the understanding, to which deception properly belongs. Men cheat themselves, or allow themselves to be cheated out of eternal life. With the strength of passion, and the stupor of con. science, and the weakness of will, has been united, in marvellous sympathy, a sad hallucination of the judgment; and so we have done, and practised, it may be, what we should have thought perfectly impossible, as long as our reason remained with us. and what has ever since been a matter of painful and self-condemning recollection. And now, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? We have seen what sin is in relation to God and His law; what it is in its effects, and what it is in the process of its working. What now are the natural inferences from these points? Two at least present themselves, viz., that it is the greatest of all evils, and, at the same time, that it is the most insidious. The law, of which it is the transgression, is the prime law, the parent law, the law which makes all others possible, the law which develops moral agency, and binds the moral universe together. It is to the ethical, what gravitation is to the physical world. If sin were perfectly and completely triumphant, it would overthrow society as by an earthquake, shaking the deepest foundation of all things; and not all things in our world merely, but every other world also, where the distinction between right and wrong is known. If the Divine law is so comprehensive, fundamental, and absolutely necessary, then sin is a tremendous, and, in relation to all others, an incommensurable evil. The same conclusion is inevitable, when we look at it in its bearing, not on our moral but our sentient nature, our susceptibility to pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. All the suffering this moment in the world, whether of mind or body, whether open or secret, whether social or individual, whether from the recollection of the past, or the anticipation of the future, or the pressure of the present, springs from the root of sin. Oh, what folly to be fleeing from other evils — poverty, sickness, obscurity, shame, bereavement — and yet take no measures, while opportunity is afforded, to escape from the consequences of sin and its intrinsic evil! Oh, my friends, sin is a great evil; and it is as deceitful as it is great. It beguiles the soul it ruin. It is like those diseases which put the patient asleep, so that he slumbers into the very grave; or those which cause him to indulge fond hopes of life, up to the moment Death throws his unerring dart. It deceives in regard to a man's particular acts, and in regard to his whole moral state.
(W. Sparrow, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.