In Chapter 7 of The Mortification of Sin, John Owen exhorts “preachers of the word” to take sin and its effects and make them useful in the pulpit. It is a challenge we would do well to consider and take up as heralds of the gospel. The effects of sin are devastating. Sin seeks to tear apart and utterly destroy every area of our lives. Even as Christians we continue to battle the desires of the flesh (Romans 7:14-25). To neglect sin in the pulpit would be the same as leaving a flock of sheep unattended in the midst of a pack of wolves. Left on their own with no protection, the sheep will be an easy target for the predator. To be clear, I am not talking about glorifying sin. What we know is that God can take what was intended for evil and use it for good purposes (Genesis 50:19-21). He affords us that same opportunity as preachers regarding sin. Sinful situations and occurrences can be used by God for good purposes. So for preachers:
It is their duty to plead with men about their sins, to lay load on particular sins, but always remember that it be done with that which is the proper end of law and gospel–that is, that they make use of the sin they speak against to the discovery of the state and condition wherein the sinner is; otherwise, haply, they may work men to formality and hypocrisy, but little of the true end of preaching the gospel will be brought about.
When I think of pleading, I think about a desperate situation that requires immediate attention. This is how we should think about people who do not profess Jesus as Lord and Savior. When preachers step up to the pulpit, they are pleading with men and women to see the world in its truest sense and profess allegiance to Christ the Savior. Sin has destroyed everything and left humanity destined for eternal damnation and separation from the Creator. But God made provision for us by sending his Son to die on the cross and rise again so that he might be our high priest and intercede on our behalf at the right hand of the Father. Only Jesus has accomplished this. So it is only Jesus who offers eternal life and salvation. There is no other way. Praise God for his love and provision. Praise God for his salvation.