We have previously considered William Bridge’s claim, “Christians have no reason for discouragement.” The question is then raised, “Then why are there discouragements for the Christian?” Writes Bridge, “Sometimes discouragements are drawn from greater and grosser sins.” Yet if we are convicted of sin, and this conviction is the source of our discouragement, it seems there is a valid reason to be discouraged. The response, unsurprisingly, is “no.” Because even discouragement as a response to conviction is sin. Discouragement from conviction in the Christian is a different sort of sin. It is not sin against God’s Law but sin against Christ’s Gospel. Discouragement that arises from conviction is a sin against the Gospel for three reasons:
- “Christ was made sin for saints, therefore their sin shall not hurt them. It stands not with the justice of God to exact the payment of one debt twice.” God tells us we shall never be condemned for our sin. Christ was made sin for us therefore our sin will not hurt them. Luther wrote, “Christ was made sin-damning; our sin is sin-damned.” Christ has paid the debt of our sin better than we could “if we had gone to hell”. We would be there for eternity but now we have eternal life. We know, if we turn from our sin, God will be merciful and gracious towards us. Those who persist in sin however, will not be spared from his judgment as they continue in their sin.
- “As godly men shall never be condemned for their sins, so their sins shall never part God and them.” There is a psychological impact of sin on the Christian. They feel the guilt of sin more than the non-believer. Yet as our sin didn’t stop God from saving us, it will not stop God from pardoning us either. He is the immutable (unchanging) God who loves us to the end.
- “Now mark it, and you shall find, that God doth never suffer his people to fall into any sin, but he intends to make that sin an inlet unto further grace and comfort to them.” When we sin, God’s grace is in action upon us. There is no sin that should lead to discouragement when it leads to grace for those in covenant with God. Adam rebelled and he walked with God, yet God was gracious towards him. It was the sin of humanity that brought about the revelation of the Son of God incarnate. God allows our sin to be exposed, that we may see the truth about our heart and the love of his grace in Jesus Christ moves us to praise him all the more. Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. What amazing grace!
We may be discouraged for our great sins. Although some sins are greater than others, that does not give us reason to forget the promises and grace of God. We confess and find comfort in the knowledge that God shows his greatness in power and pardon.