Charles G. Finney, one of the great evangelists of the 19th century, in his famous Revival Lectures, devoted an entire chapter to the subject of “false comforts for sinners.” He emphasized that one of the worst things a Christian can do is to ease the anxiety of a sinner in any way, before he comes to the point of absolute submission to God.
Too many well-meaning people try to cheer the sinner, while there is still rebellion in his heart. Finney tells of a sinner who was “actually writhing under the arrows of the Almighty,” when a Doctor of Divinity approached him and gave the following counsel: “Religion is cheerful, religion is not gloomy, do not be distressed, be comforted, dismiss your fears, you should not feel so bad.”
Finney goes on to say that such comfort is miserable, for “the man had infinite reason to be distressed, for he was resisting the Holy Spirit, and in danger of grieving Him away. It is true, religion does not consist in feeling bad. But to tell an impenitent sinner to be cheerful! Why, you might as well preach this doctrine in hell, and tell them there, ‘Cheer up here, cheer up, do not feel so bad.’” 1
John the Baptist charged all the people with being the sons of Satan. He confronted the crowd, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7) This can be translated, “You children of the old serpent.” Dr. W. G. T. Shedd has pointed out that man’s depravity, in relation to man’s sinning, is threefold. 1. Spiritual blindness (Isaiah 42:7; Luke 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4). 2. Spiritual insensibility. The conscience is not eliminated, but is seared (1 Timothy 4:2). 3. Pollution (Titus 1:15; Romans 1:21). 2
“There are only two kinds of men: the righteous, who believe themselves sinners; the rest, sinners, who believe themselves righteous” (Blaise Pascal).3
© 2016 D & L Publications
- The Youth Teacher, Vol. 1, No. 2, April – May – June, 1955, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO, p. 56
- Adult Teacher Supplement, First Quarter, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO, 1965, p. 15