“Your ways and your deeds have procured these things unto you! This is your wickedness — it is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!” Jeremiah 4:18
Sin is the most dark subject that can engage our attention — but we have become so familiar with it, that it scarcely affects us at all. Not so the Lord — he calls it ‘that abominable thing which he hates.’ Yes, God hates nothing but sin — and no one, but for sin. God never hated a sinless being — and he never can. If we could get rid of sin, we would have nothing to fear; therefore we bless God that deliverance from sin is promised.
But sin is not only dangerous — it is bitter, and is the prodigious source of all bitterness! Hence the language of the prophet, “It is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!” Jeremiah 4:18. It is called the root of bitterness. It may appear pleasant at present, and may taste sweet to the depraved palate of the sinner; but as Joab said of war, “It will be bitterness in the end!”
Let us therefore think of:
The Bitterness of Sin: Sin is bitter in its NATURE, as it is… a departure from God, the source of all real happiness; opposition to God, the giver of all true pleasure; rebellion against God, the righteous ruler, who is pledged to punish it; the degradation of man, who was made in the image of the holy and happy God.
Sin is bitter in its EFFECTS: Look over the world — all its divisions, confusions, wars, diseases, bloodshed, and cruelties — are but the effects of sin.
Look into families — all the anger, envy, jealousy, enmity, and lack of love — are but the effects of sin.
Look at individuals — all the sufferings of the body, and all the tortures of the soul; all the sorrows of time, and all the agonies of eternity — are but the fruits of sin.
Look at the seeking soul — all his cutting convictions, bitter reflections, stinging remorse, gloomy despondency, and slavish fears — are but the effects of sin.
Look at the believer — all his terrible conflicts, deep depression, gloomy foreboding, and soul-distressing fears — are all the effects of sin.
Indeed whatever is…dark and dreary, distressing and painful, alarming and terrible — is to be traced up to sin!
Every sigh that ever heaved the bosom, every groan that ever indicated a breaking heart, every exclamation produced by violent pain – all, all are the fruits of sin!
Think of… the millions who have suffered, and are suffering; the fearful nature and extent of their sufferings; the agonies experienced on earth; the horrors endured in Hell — and say, must not sin, from which all these proceeded, be a bitter thing!
But here is: A Reason Assigned: “It reaches unto your heart!” Sin is not a wound in the flesh — but a disease in the heart! There it was conceived, there it is nourished, and from thence it flows.
Sin reaches to the heart — and defiles and pollutes it! Indeed, man’s heart is one of the most loathsome and polluted things in God’s universe! There is pollution enough in one human heart, to corrupt and defile the universe!
There is nothing so foul, base, or abominable, in earth or in Hell — but its counterpart is to be found in man’s heart!
Sin reaches to the heart — and alienates it from God. It has now… no sympathy with God, no desire to please him, no fear of offending him! Man fears punishment — but he does not fear sin!
Sin reaches to the heart — and distracts it. It has… no settled peace, no holy calm, no quiet satisfaction.
The passions are turbulent. The conscience is defiled. The will is depraved. The understanding is darkened.
The memory is a store-house of evil! Indeed every power and faculty of the soul is injured, perverted, and wrongly influenced — by sin!
Sin reaches to the heart — and damns it! It is condemned already, and if grace does not prevent it — the sentence of condemnation will be executed, and the heart will become the seat of… the most terrible agony,the most torturing pain, and the most dreadful despair — and that forever!
No lake of fire and brimstone, no bottomless pit, no horrible tempest — can convey to the mind any adequate idea of the horrors of damnation — which are the just desert of sin.
Truly, “it is bitter, and it reaches unto the heart!”
Reader, see how God speaks of sin, your darling sin, that sin which you now value so highly, and enjoy so much: “It is bitter!” Your sin is so bitter, that no tongue or pen can describe it. And what makes it so bitter is that “it reaches to the heart,” the seat of life, the source of action, and therefore…
defiles the whole person, misdirects the whole life; and exposes the whole man to the wrath and curse of God — and to that wrath and curse, forever!
From this bitter root, proceeds… all the bitter words, all the bitter tempers, and all the bitter actions — which make men miserable on earth, and will make the lost eternally miserable in Hell!
Our one great business therefore, should be to get rid of sin — this root of bitterness! And by faith in the Lord Jesus, which purifies the heart; and by the work of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses and sanctifies the nature — we may get rid of it. Let us therefore seek first, and before anything else — first, and more than everything else — that we may be washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Holy Spirit, convince us of the bitterness of sin! May it… be bitter to our taste, lead us to forsake it in practice, and seek to be delivered from its love and power in our experience!