If you haven’t read Part 1, I suggest you do so before reading Part 2
What: Sunday Morning Message
Where: Gateway Community Church
When: March 27, 2011
Pastor: Randy Hageman
Out of this sinful nature come our sins, which may seem to only be about harming others or even ourselves, but the Bible makes the case that all sin is first and foremost against God. Every sin is a revolt against God, hammering another nail into Christ on the cross. It’s a denial of God’s design and plan for our lives, an affront to His moral and perfect character, and an act of disobedience.
King David sinned – he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then tried to cover up his sin and had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Yet, his confession, found in Psalm 51, doesn’t begin with sorrow about what he did against Bathsheba or her husband but what he did against God.
Psalms 51:4 (NLT2): “Against you (God), and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.”
David isn’t saying he did no harm to Bathsheba and her husband, but that sin is first and ultimately a betrayal of God’s laws and, in fact, of God Himself. In everything he did, David was acknowledging that whether there was harm to anyone else, he was betraying God’s plan and design for his life – he was breaking God’s laws, which he was created for.
All sin is first against God, for it not only is doing something wrong, it is choosing to be someone other than whom God created us to be. And in doing so, we harm our relationship with God – our relationship is now strained or even non-existent. Think about it – when I sin against someone, I do something that, among other things, sours our relationship with that person. If I hurt my relationship with you, I can do good stuff and buy you presents, but you’re going to simmer over the fact that I have never admitted I did something wrong, and nothing in our relationship can really get better.
There will always be something between us, until I admit I did something wrong and seek your forgiveness. The same is true with God, but the consequences are huge, because not only does it hurt our relationship with God, but our existence is tied to our connection with Him.
When that relationship with God is broken, our lives don’t work right, they don’t function the way they were created to function, and the result is death.
Romans 6:23 (NLT2): “For the wages of sin is death….”
And by death, the Bible doesn’t just mean physical death but spiritual death, eternal death, eternal separation from God – what we call hell.
It’s not God’s choice that we go there, or ever His desire for anyone. But, it is the result of our sins and sinful nature that break our bond with God. It’s the consequence of putting ourselves first in our own lives and actions.
But, you might rightly observe that while I do sin, the Bible also says that sin has become part of my corrupted nature – the way I am – what is called original sin.Does God hold me responsible for something that is beyond my control?
Jesus: “…‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.’” (John 8:34 NLT2)
In fact, John Stott writes:
“We are, in fact, enslaved to the world (public fashion and opinion), the flesh (our fallen nature) and the devil (demonic forces).” (p. 97, italics added)
Even after Christ has saved us and liberated us, in this life we’re still not completely devoid of this influence in our lives. We’re promised eternity, & God begins to transform us as we cooperate with Him, but that transformation is not complete until we meet Jesus face to face. Sin still has varying degrees of power over us, but God has taken this into account.
Psalms 103:10, 14 (NLT2): “10(The LORD) does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. … (14) For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
And the gift of a Savior is part of God’s response to Him knowing this.
But the Bible also shows us that while our responsibility is diminished, it’s not destroyed.
The Bible shows us all too often making our own choices.
As the Israelite’s prepared to enter into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them – and us – that there’s a choice to be made.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT2): “(19) Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! (20) You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.…’”
The Bible shows us that while we are enslaved, we still carry responsibility for the choices we make.
There’s a tension here that we cannot and dare not eliminate. It’s why we recognize Jesus not just as Savior but also Lord, because we need a new master who can lead us back to who we were created to be, who can show us how to live rightly, day in and day out, and through his Holy Spirit, makes it possible for us to overcome this inherited flaw in our corrupted nature. We’re broken, and we can’t fix it ourselves.
To say we can, to try, is another example of this desire to be our own god, to be self-dependent rather than dependent on God.
It is very humbling to realize this and accept this, but it’s also freeing. Just as the addicted person can’t begin to be changed until he or she recognizes they don’t have the power within themselves to overcome their addiction & sickness, so no human being can begin to be changed until he or she recognizes that we don’t have the power within ourselves to overcome sin. The very thought or desire to control it ourselves is a sign of the sickness. So God freely offers us the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, to be our Savior.
I quoted Romans 6:23 earlier, but I didn’t quote the whole verse.
Romans 6:23 (NLT2): “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The free gift, offered to all, because we all struggle with sin. The gift is eternal life, not eternal death.
And we receive that gift from God through Christ Jesus our Lord, our master, who enables us to overcome the enslaving power of sin that leads to death. And we receive this free gift as we admit our sins, our sinful nature, and our powerlessness against sin, and trust Christ and what he did for us on the cross. This act of admitting what is true about us is called confession, which leads to our forgiveness.
1 John 1:8-9 (NLT2): “(8) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. (9) But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
Confession is important not only to recognize what I have done wrong, for which I need forgiveness, but also to recognize how I am wrong, my nature is corrupted and in and of myself I can’t completely and totally do right.
It is the height of arrogance and self-dependence – and, therefore, sin – when I say or believe that I can do right all by myself. So I need confession not only to acknowledge what I’ve done wrong, but also to acknowledge that I can’t fix this on my own – I need God’s help.
I have to be dependent on Him, my Creator, just as we were created to be. I need to tell Him my thoughts and actions that go against His nature and His desire for me, as well as the things in our nature that lead to these actions.
For instance, a big one for me is self-centeredness that leads me to try to twist things to my advantage, and I have to regularly confess this.
Sin is like an infection, that if we don’t clean out the wound, it will get worse. It may be painful to clean the wound, but it’s better than the alternative.
We have to address it head on so that through our confessing we can be forgiven and made increasingly healthy by the grace and power of God.
These are typically not one-time battles, but daily, even hourly battles for many of us. We need the cross because through it God saves us from sin.
But how does God save us through the cross – why does He forgive us?