That S Word
February 4, 2018
Today we’re going to talk about a 3 letter word that nobody really likes to talk about in church. It makes us uncomfortable, it makes us squirm in our seats and we really want to hold our ears so we don’t have to listen to what’s being said. You know that word . . . it starts with “S”. It’s almost as bad as talking about money, nobody wants to listen to those sermons either.
Well, sometimes we need to dig deeper in our lives and broach those subjects nobody wants to talk about. So . . . hear we go. I’ll try to keep this as PG as possible. Of course, you all know what I’m talking about.
I’ll just spell it for you . . .
S – I – N!
You see, with that build up you thought I was going to talk about something else, so now, talking about this 3 letter word, doesn’t seem so bad!
As we look at growing in who we are in Christ, I was thinking – – ‘so where do we really start?’ We’ve been looking at the fact that we’re called to be humble, to practice humility. We are to admit we are not God, and God is God! That’s really part of our sin nature, we want to have control, we want to dictate the events in our lives, we want to make sure life happens the way we want it to happen, not the way God wants it to happen.
All of that is sin. Yes, we can go on and talk a lot about the various sins we commit. And the Bible is clear on those sins. We can go back to the 10 commandments and all of the laws in the Old Testament. Then, there’s Paul.
Paul is very clear about our sinfulness. We can list lots of scriptures, but let me start by giving you a couple of lists from Paul ~
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth ~
9 Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Then to the Galatians, he added this ~
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21
So, what does it mean to commit a sin? The word sin is a Greek word which was used in ancient times when an archer missed the target. It’s used in a similar way when it comes to sin. It means someone has missed the mark of God’s righteousness. It means someone has an eternal loss because they missed hitting God’s mark.
Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 ~
23 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
You see, that’s part of the bad news. And we’re focusing for a bit on this bad news. Paul later added in Romans 7
15 FEor I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15, 18-20
Understand what Paul’s saying. He’s telling us that he’s a sinner. Even though he has Jesus, he remains a sinner. Have you ever felt like Paul? You know the good you want to do, but it just doesn’t seem to happen the way you thought. Instead, the bad stuff happens, the sin comes out. You had great intentions, but that’s not how it played out. And you beat yourself up over it.
When Paul says, it is no longer I who do it, he’s not absolving himself of the blame or the sin. He is pointing out that it is the sin within him which is committing the sin, and as a result, Paul is the culprit.
So, we can go on and on and on. And we can beat ourselves up for all of the bad things we’ve done. We can look at ourselves as the worst of the worst. We can tell the world we’re no good, that we’re worthless used rags. That’s what Isaiah calls us. And all of that is true.
BUT . . . that’s not where we want to end.
It’s where we want to start. We start by confessing we’re sinners. We are people who sometimes sin without realizing it, and we are people who sin and know it and do it again, because there is that sinful, evil bent within us. There are lots of reasons for this, but we’d be here past the Super Bowl, and I don’t want you to miss the game!
In order for us to draw close to God and experience the power of His presence, as I said the past couple of weeks, we need to let go of our pride and arrogance, and replace that with humility and humbleness. God opposes the proud and arrogant, but will lift up those who practice humility.
So, we begin this movement by admitting our need for God in our lives. We admit as Paul tells us, that we are sinners. That we have sinned and fall short of bringing glory to God. We aren’t here to beat ourselves up. We admit our heart and our thoughts are not always good. We think and do things we know we shouldn’t do.
Now, we can end at this point, but that leads us nowhere. There is no good news if we were to end at this point. But we can’t end. We have to see the good news, because remember Paul’s words in Romans 3:23, he wrote ~
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Notice that all have sinned. Not some but all. None are exempt. Again, that’s the bad news. But here’s the good news, Paul doesn’t stop there. Listen to these next words from Paul ~
24 and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus — Romans 3:23-24
Now do you hear the good news from Paul? Yes, we are sinners, we have fallen short of bringing glory to God, BUT . . . we are justified – – and this is a huge theological word. It’s vitally important to understand what this means. It comes from a theological phrase which is called ~
Forensic justification means you have been declared innocent in a legal proceeding by God. You are on the defense. Every sin you’ve ever committed is being laid out before the judge. Your accuser is satan. The name satan literally means adversary. And that’s what he is. He’s pounding you and your sin. Naming them one by one, with passion and intensity. You believe all is lost. You have no witnesses on your behalf.
The trial comes to an end and God now declares you “NOT GUILTY.” You are not guilty because you have proclaimed Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is because Christ has taken your place. He’s taken away your sinfulness by His death on the cross.
This is a legal transaction in heaven. It’s a legal proceeding where God declares you NOT GUILTY! You are free in Christ! That’s great news! It doesn’t get any better than this.
Now, we take this one step further . . . and frankly this is one of the huge theological differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. We hold to another theological phrase called ~
This comes from passages like 2 Corinthians 5:21, where Paul wrote ~
21 For our sake God made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
This means Christ took upon Himself our sinfulness when He went to the cross and as a result, God now looks at us as righteous. That’s what imputed righteousness means. We are treated as though we are righteous – – – not because of anything we’ve ever done . . . but totally because of our faith in Christ. We do nothing other than to have faith in Christ. So, God now looks at you and I as if we are righteous. Like we are pure and holy because of what Jesus did for us.
That’s hugely important for us. Paul said it again in Romans 8:1, when he proclaimed ~
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
Think about it, we are sinners in need of God’s grace. And when we admit our sinfulness, when we admit our need for God . . . when we let go of our arrogance and control, and fall before God’s throne, we are no longer condemned. We are freed before God. Again, we receive what Paul spoke about early in Romans 6:23, saying ~
23 The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord – Romans 6:23
So when we put our faith in Christ, we are no longer condemned by sin, and we are no longer condemned to sin. Before Jesus, we couldn’t not sin. You’d think that knowing what our good and loving God wants us to do, or not to do, would be welcome news and easy to do . . . like “Love one another.” Yet, why is that so impossibly hard? It is difficult because of our sin nature.
It’s wonderful that Jesus forgives our sin and that we are no longer condemned, but another great privilege of our salvation is that we are no longer governed by that self-absorbed, disobedient nature.
Part of the Christian’s life is killing the sinful practices that spring up within us. And we can only accomplish this with the power of the Holy Spirit. We usually try on our own, and we ultimately fail because we are flawed, while God is not. And when we sin, it’s practicing confession and repentance.
Do you take sin that seriously in your life? When we truly recognize our sinfulness, we then have the opportunity to turn to God, to humble ourselves, to proclaim our guilt by confessing it to God and then turning away from that sin through repentance as we draw closer to God and we experience His grace and mercy; His power and courage in the midst of our daily living.