Where Are Your Sins?

Where are your sins? The question must be answered by all. Those who refuse the legitimacy of the question deny the fundamental flaw of humanity.

J. C. Ryle posed that question at the end of a sermon that he began with the point obvious to most of us: you have many sins. “Every ten years of your life your have sinned, at the lowest computation, more than one hundred thousand sins.” (2 sins per hour, 15 hours per day, remembering that thoughts, words, and deeds can all be offensive to God).

He proceeds in this way:

  1. You have many sins
  2. It is of the utmost importance to have our sins cleansed away
  3. You cannot cleanse away your own sins
  4. The blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse away all your sins
  5. Faith is absolutely necessary, and the only thing necessary, in order to give you an interest in the cleansing blood of Christ.

“The atoning blood of the Son of God is the grand exhibition of God’s love toward sinners.”  In the blood of Jesus, Ryle says, we see the love of God most clearly. Or as John Owen puts it, “In the pouring out of his love, there is not one drop that falls to us apart from the Lord Christ.” [1]

Ryle concludes by asking, “Where are your sins?” There is no important question for us to settle in our hearts and minds. “I tell you that at this moment there are only two places in which your sins can be, and I defy the wisdom of the world to find out a third. Either your sins are upon yourself, unpardoned, unforgiven, uncleansed, inducing misery upon yourself. Or else your sins are upon Christ, taken away, forgiven, blotted out and cleansed away.” So the question stands, where are your sins?

The Christian must hear this question and immediately say to himself, “Cling to Christ.” Our sins are decidedly upon him, so they must no longer bring condemnation (Romans 8:1). Guilt leading to repentance must be followed by joy and a sense of freedom. But guilt leading to despair has no ground in reality for those whose sins are upon Christ.

The troubling anxiety caused by awareness of sin must be countered not by suppressing  guilt or by recycling prayers of repentance, but rather by clinging to Christ and recalling the greatness of his mercy (Romans 5:20).


[1] John Owen, Communion With God (Christian Heritage, 2007), 57.

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