Monday, March 24, 2014

THE INSANITY OF SIN (Luke Chapter 15)

“But when he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17).

The immediate context of this text is the account of the “prodigal” son.  It is set in the broader context of the grumbling of the Pharisees and scribes who were saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).  The chapter speaks to the “joy in heaven” that occurs when a sinner repents (Cf. Luke 15:7).  Several terms are prominent in the chapter: find(s) and found (15:4, 6, 8, 9, 24, 32); and joy, merry, and rejoice (15:7, 10, 23, 24, 29, 32).  Set in the broader context of this gospel account, the chapter highlights its major theme: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

According to Webster’s Dictionary a prodigal is one “who spends lavishly or foolishly.”  That’s what the prodigal did when “he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13).  We do the text and ourselves an injustice if we view the prodigal as an exception to the rule.  In Adam, we are all prodigals by nature (Romans 5:12).  It is in the heart of man to expend his life in vain and foolish pursuits.  It is in the nature of sin to do such things and the world, the flesh, and the devil unanimously concur (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The prodigal had both the money and freedom to do as he pleased.  He foolishly expended all his resources in these sinful pursuits (Luke 15:13, 30).  He spent everything he had (Luke 15:14).  A severe famine in the land left him hungry, so he got a job feeding pigs (Luke 15:14-15).  He became so destitute that he was longing to feed himself with pig food (Luke 15:16).  It was only then that “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17).  Sin makes no sense.  To expend oneself in sinful and vain pursuits speaks to the insanity of sin (Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 1:18).  But immersed in this sin-sick world, and rebellious by nature as we are, such insanity is commonplace.

The pivotal point in the account is when the prodigal came to his senses.  In the account that happened as the direct result of his impoverishment.  To be sure God uses such things to gain our attention.  The lost sinner can never be truly satisfied by the mere “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).  Thirsty souls can never find lasting refreshment in broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:12-13).  But sin is too tenacious a foe to be conquered by mere human reason.  The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bring us to our senses concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  We come to our senses only as He intervenes on our lives (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).  How wonderful the day when a prodigal is made “sane” through the ministry of the Holy Spirit!

Having come to his senses, the Prodigal decided to go back to his father and penitently hoped that he could get on as one of his father’s hired men (Luke 15:17-19).  He had lost everything and embarrassed his father—to be made a servant was the best that he could hope for.  But as he returned and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).  The father then put a robe around him, a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet.  He even killed the fattened calf and held a banquet for his son accompanied by music and dancing (Luke 15:23, 25).  Not only was the prodigal forgiven, he was reconciled and restored in an amazing fashion.

Such is the nature of God and the working of grace!  The penitent sinner cries out to God for mercy and seeks pardon for his sin.  The grace of God works in “far more abundant” fashion to bestow unanticipated blessings (Ephesians 3:20).  The new believer in Christ is not just forgiven, God’s love and grace are lavished upon him and he is made the recipient of “unfathomable riches” (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:8, 3:8).  All of this is to the “praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14) which is made manifest in the salvation of a prodigal. It is a joyful occasion when a penitent sinner comes to “his senses.”  He finds in the Savior one who was already looking for him.

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