The Plague of Plagues

“But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23).

Sin is the deadliest plague ever to affect mankind.

Throughout history, deadly plagues have ravaged the human race. In just three years (1348-1350), the infamous “Black Death” (an outbreak of bubonic plague) killed half the population of Europe. In our own times, diseases such as AIDS have reached epidemic proportions.

But there is one plague that is far deadlier than all the others combined: sin. Sin has affected everyone who has ever lived (Rom. 3:19, 23). And unlike other plagues, sin kills everyone it infects (Rom. 5:12).

While sin invariably causes physical and (apart from faith in Christ) spiritual death, it has many other devastating consequences. Sin corrupts the mind (Jer. 17:9; Eph. 4:17-19), the will (cf. Jer. 44:16-17), and the affections (John 3:19; 1 John 2:15). Sin brings people under the control of Satan (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2) and makes them the objects of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). Sin robs people of peace (Isa. 48:22) and replaces it with misery (Job 5:7; Rom. 8:20).

Although as Christians we experience God’s gracious forgiveness, sin still has serious consequences in our lives. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), causes God not to answer our prayers (1 Peter 3:7), limits our ability to serve God (2 Tim. 2:20-21), or even disqualifies some from Christian service (1 Cor. 9:27). It also renders our worship hypocritical and unacceptable (Ps. 33:1; Isa. 1:14), causes God to withhold blessing (Jer. 5:25), robs us of joy (Ps. 51:12), subjects us to God’s chastening (Heb. 12:5-11), hinders our spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:13), and pollutes our fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 10:21). Most significantly, sin causes our lives to dishonor Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Every true Christian despises sin and yearns to be free from it. Do you realize the deadly nature of sin? I pray that the cry of your heart would echo that of Paul’s: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for delivering you from sin, and pray that He would give you a holy hatred for it.

For Further Study
Read Romans 7—8.
• How did Paul view his struggle with sin?
• What was the key to overcoming it?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187


Man’s Biggest Problems

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin is pervasive and deadly.

When the early church father Chrysostom remarked, “I fear nothing but sin,” he correctly identified sin as the greatest threat any person faces. Sin mars all the relationships people are involved in: with other people, with themselves, and, most significantly, with God. Sin causes suffering, disease, and death in the physical realm and also causes spiritual death—eternal separation from God in Hell.

Because sin is so deadly, we need to carefully define it, so we can understand and avoid it. First John 3:4 sums up the essence of sin when it says, “Sin is lawlessness.” Sin is refusing to obey God’s law; it is rejecting God’s standards; it is, in fact, living as if God did not exist.

In 1 John 5:17, the apostle John adds to his definition of sin, describing it as “unrighteousness.” James defines sin as failing to do what is good (James 4:17). Paul defines it as lack of faith (Rom. 14:23). Sin is the ultimate act of ingratitude toward the God “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Sin pollutes the sinner, prompting Paul to refer to it as that “defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1) from which sinners are in desperate need of cleansing. No amount of human effort, however, can cleanse a person of sin. Such self-effort is as futile as attempting to change the color of one’s skin (Jer. 13:23). Only through the death of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:12), is forgiveness and cleansing available (1 John 1:7).

Sin is the only thing that God hates (cf. Jer. 44:4), and so must believers (Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15). The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson noted that a prerequisite for sanctification is such hatred for sin. Renew your commitment today to grow in your relationship with the Lord by hating evil (Prov. 8:13).

Suggestions for Prayer
Pray for yourself and others that you would not be deceived by the subtleness of sin (Heb. 3:13).

For Further Study
• Identify the sins you struggle with the most.
• Using a concordance and other study tools, find out what the Bible says about those sins.
• Form a biblical plan of attack to combat them.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187