What Shall I Do with My Sins?


What Shall I Do with My Sins?

April 7th, 1966 @ 12:00 PM

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
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Dr. W.A. Criswell

Job 7:20

4-7-66  12:00 p.m.



I tell you, sugar, you are a real trooper.  When I get off key in the middle of my sermon, I am unhinged.  I am unhooked, but in their mix up in their key, you just go right on as though that was the way it was meant to be.  That’s fine.  Oh, bless you, and all of you dear precious people in this queenly city who make possible the sacred hours of this pre-Easter service.  We could not express adequately our appreciation to the management of the Interstate and this Palace Theater, and for the kindesses that have made possible forty-seven consecutive years of our gathering in these noonday hours.

The theme this year has been, is "What Shall I Do?"  And Monday, What Shall I Do in the Hour of My Death?  Tuesday, What Shall I Do In the First Five Minutes of Eternity?  Yesterday, Wednesday, What Shall I Do at the Judgment Bar of Almighty God?  Tomorrow, Friday, Good Friday, a scene taken out of the life of the trial of our Lord, What Shall I Do With Jesus Which Is Called Christ?  And today, Thursday, Maundy Thursday, What Shall I Do With My Sins? 

In the pastorate God gave to me before coming to Dallas, I was called to the home of a gloriously worthy woman.  She was a Cherokee, and I would think in the days of her youth, a beautiful maiden.  Her husband had died.  They owned thousands and thousands of acres in the rich Arkansas River bottoms.  I went to their palatial home, was ushered up the steps to the bedroom where she lay so ill, sat down by her side, and asked her for why she had sent for me.  And she said, "Pastor, I want to talk to you about my sins.  The doctor has said I have but a few days to live, and I must be prepared to meet God.  And I’ve come to ask you what shall I do?"  She was one of the finest women I had ever known in all of my pastoral life.  And yet facing God, felt the oppressive guilt of the sin unknown to me. 

And that is the cry of the righteous and the holy man of God named Job when, in the seventh chapter of his drama and the twentieth verse, he cries aloud, "I have sinned; what shall I do?" [Job 7:20].  The book begins, "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil" [Job 1:1].  And not only did the author appraise him as such, but in the eight verse, "The Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect man and an upright, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" [Job 1:8].

Yet it is this godly and saintly patriarch who cries in the ash heap [Job 2:8], "I have sinned; what shall I do?" [Job 7:20].  This is an universal cry.  Not just the cry of a King Saul who disobeyed God [1 Samuel 15:9-18], and when the Spirit of the Lord left him and an evil spirit from God troubled him [1 Samuel 16:14], he cried, "I have sinned against the Lord" [1 Samuel 15:24].  Not just the cry of a Judas Iscariot [Matthew 26:14-16], who throwing the thirty pieces of blood money on the floor of the temple cried, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" [Matthew 27:4].  But this is the cry of the courtly preacher Isaiah when he said, "Woe is me!  I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" [Isaiah 6:5].  This is the cry of the incomparable apostle Paul when he referred to himself as the chief of sinners [1 Timothy 1:15].

This is not only the record and testimony of the Holy Scriptures: in the Old Testament, "for there is no man that sinneth not" [1 Kings 8:46]; and in the New Testament, "There is none righteous, no, not one" [Romans 3:10].  But this also is the testimony of secular literature.  Sophocles, the ancient Greek tragedian, wrote, "All men have sinned."  And Seneca, the moralist and Stoic philosopher of Rome, said, "Sin is common to all men."  And when modern fictional literature is accused of being salacious, and corrupt, and immoral – to read it is like looking into a cesspool – the modern literary novelist, and dramatist defends himself saying, "But I am a realist.  I but depict life as it is, sordid, and seamy, and corrupt."

This is not only the testimony of Christendom where the preaching of the gospel has heightened our sense of sin, but it is also the witness of the savage and pagan world.  When I am asked, "Pastor, when you go down to the Amazon jungle and preach to those savage heathen or in the heart of darkest Africa, what do you say and what message do you bring to those dark and benighted minds?"

The answer is most simple; I begin on common ground in a common denominator of all men everywhere.  I begin, "We all have hearts that are black.   There is sin in our lives."  And the savage Amazonian, or the Hottentot in Africa, immediately knows of what I speak.  "I have sinned; what shall I do?"  "The wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23].  "The soul that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20].  God Himself welded that link together.  And when we stand in the judgment, in the great day of the Lord, what shall I say, and what shall I do?"

Ah, time will efface it.  Time will obliterate it.  These sins in my life committed long ago, yesterday, in the past, time will obliterate any facet.  Do you remember the forty-ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, when Jacob gathered round him his twelve sons and was to pick out one upon whom he was to bestow the blessing, and he started with his eldest son Reuben?  And turning to Reuben said, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not prevail" [Genesis :4], and recounted to that eldest boy a sin dark and incestuous that he had committed more than forty years before [Genesis 35:22].  I could well think that, when Reuben stood there at the head of those twelve brethren, he well could have thought, "This vile, and dark, and infamous thing committed so long ago, it is forgot.  It is past. Time has effaced it."  But in that holy and awesome hour it was as vivid and as crimson as the day that he committed it.

Did you know that’s not just something in the Bible?  That’s a principle that runs through all of life.  We today are facing these figures concerning our income tax payments.  They have a way of saying that a thing can go beyond a day when it is not brought up anymore.  They call it a statute or a law of limitation.  And when a mistake has been made, or something has been allowed say three, four, five years, then the revenue agent cannot go beyond that.  That is with one exception, if there is sin involved, if there is fraud involved, if there is deceit involved, the internal revenue agent by law can go back for forty years into a man’s life.  It is as vivid the day it is discovered as the day it was committed.  And how much more so is that true in the presence of the great Almighty before whom there is not any past, there is not any future, there is only the present?  And our crimson wrong is as vivid in the sight of God today as it was when we committed the sin, the transgression, years ago.

What shall I do?  I shall hide it and secrecy will cover it and cloak it.  Nobody shall know.  I’m grateful we can hide our sins from the eyes of our fellow contemporaries.  There are thoughts, and things, and deeds done in childhood.  There are thoughts, and things, and deeds done in youth.  There are thoughts, and things, and deeds done in our manhood and womanhood that if they were portrayed here on this great screen, ah, how ashamed would we be.  The purest girl who listens to me speak, the finest matron in this audience, the most saintly character that belongs to any of our churches, if the inward life were portrayed here on this stage, would blush in indescribable shame.

You do not know.  But am I able to hide my sin from God?  Do His eyes not go to and fro in the earth and does not He behold the inner secrets of the heart?  Can I hide my sins from God whose eyes are as a flame of fire? [Revelation 1:14].  "I have sinned; what shall I do?"  Most of this believing world turns to some kind of rite, or ritual, or ceremony.  "This shall make atonement for my sin and wash it away."  Going through Africa, oh, how many times will you see blood on a stone, or a stake, or a tree, or an idol seeking to cover sin.  Near the Taj Mahal in India in the Jumna River, the sacred waters of the Jumna, one evening I saw thousands, and thousands, and thousands of Indians bathing, seeking to wash their sins away. 

I think of that scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth after he has slain the king of Scotland, a guest in his home, with a dagger.  When he plunged the dagger in the heart of the king and withdrew it, blood followed and stained his hand.  And returning to Lady Macbeth, and looking at his hands, she says, "Go wash your hand.  A little water will clear us of this deed."  And Macbeth, the thane of Scotland, makes his way to the fountain to wash his hands in water, and as he goes, he looks at their crimson and says, "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?  No, rather this my hand will the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red."

Or as Micah cried, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" [Micah 6:6-7].  "I have sinned; what shall I do?" 

This shall I do.  I shall take my sins to Jesus.  I shall lay them bare, confessed, naked, at His blessed feet.  Not to another man, he cannot forgive me.  Not the husband to the wife, the wife to the husband.  In my pastoral experience, I have seen ten thousand homes and lives ruined taking their sins to one another.  Never, ever, ever.  What shall I do with my sins?  I shall take them to Jesus. 

This is Maundy Thursday, that is the day our Lord disrobed, girded Himself with a towel and washed the disciples feet [John 13:3-5].  Gained its name Maundy from that mandate, "If I, your Lord, have washed your feet; ye ought to wash one another’s feet" [John 13:14].  Maundy, the mandate, the commandment, then clothing Himself again, He took bread and blessed it, and said, "This is My body which is broken for you" [1 Corinthians 11:24].  And He took the cup and blessed it, and said, "This is My blood of the new covenant, of the new testament shed for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:26-28].  For the Son of Man came from glory to the earth to save, to die for us who are lost [Matthew 18:11; John 12:27; Hebrews 10:5-14]. 

I shall take my sins to Jesus.  And Lord, in Thy blood, and in Thy sobs, and in Thy tears, and in Thy cries, and in Thy cross, and in Thy atonement, and in Thy sacrifice, O God, wash my sins away, for Jesus’s sake, "Father in heaven, forgive, forgive [Ephesians 4:32].  And does God forgive in Christ, O my soul?  "And the blood of Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin" [1 John 1:7].  "These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14].


Rock of ages, cleft – torn, broken, pierced – for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of a sin a double cure;

Save from wrath and make me pure.


Could my tears forever flow,

Could my zeal no languor know,

These for sin could not atone;

Thou must save, and Thou alone.


In my hand no price I bring;

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

["Rock of Ages," Augustus M. Toplady, 1776]


What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh, precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

["Nothing But the Blood," Robert Lowry, 1876]


I preached and was pastor out in the country for ten years, kindest thing the Lord ever did for me, leaving me out there in the country for a decade.  And we would have our baptismal services always in a creek, in a river outside. I could not tell you the number of times I have stood with a Bible in my hand in the middle of a river, or of a creek, and speaking to the people on either bank of the ableness of Jesus to save, and to wash our sins away – the sign of which is to be buried in a watery grave and raised to a resurrected life in Christ [Romans 6:3-5].  And every service I ever conducted in a baptismal scene in the creek or the river, I would have the people sing with me this song.


Happy day, happy day

When Jesus washed my sins away.

He taught me how to watch and pray,

And live rejoicing every day.

Happy day, happy day

When Jesus washed my sins away.

[Oh, Happy Day, Edwin R. Hawkins]


And I thought in the heart of this great city of Dallas we’d just make a country congregation out of this sacred hour, and sing that song again as we used to sing it in the middle of a river.  Sing it with me.


Happy day, happy day

When Jesus washed my sins away.

He taught me how to watch and pray,

And live rejoicing every day.

Happy day, happy day

When Jesus washed my sins away.


"I have sinned; what shall I do?"  I will take my soul to Jesus.  God, bless His name to us and to all God’s heavenly creation, world without end, forever and ever, for what He has done for us.  And our Master, this holy week, bless Thou these memorial services dedicated to Thee.  O, Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world [John 1:29], "Unto Thee who loved us, and washed  us from our sins in His own blood, be glory and honor, dominion forever, and ever, and ever" [Revelation 1:5-6].  O blessed Jesus, our Lord and Savior, amen and amen.