This morning, I’m going to begin a sermon series on sin. Oh joy, just what you were hoping for, right? In Hebrews 2:3, the author reminds us that the salvation that God provides repentant sinners is a great salvation, and we are fools if we neglect it. I would submit to you this morning that we cannot understand how great is our salvation until we understand how great is our sin.
We catch a glimpse of this truth in the 51st Psalm. This is King David’s Penitential Psalm of confession after he has been caught in the sin of adultery with Bath-sheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah in his attempt to keep the whole affair under wraps.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:1–4, NIV)
You can almost hear the plaintive wail in David’s voice as again and again he bemoans the sinfulness of his sin. Only as he comes to a new understanding of his depravity, does he also gain a new appreciation for God’s unfailing love, and His great compassion. He comes to understand that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). Praise and worship toward God cannot come from hearts filled with unconfessed sin.
I have discovered in my own walk of faith, that one of the ironies of the Christian life, is that the closer I come to Christ the more sinful I become. That doesn’t mean that I’m picking up “new sins” or “sinning more” as I grow older. It does mean that the increasing glory of Christ in me continually reveals how truly dark is the indelible stain of sin in my soul.
You see, the human capacity for self-delusion is nearly limitless. Scripture says we are all sinners, and we don't mind being called “sinners” as long as the sins are “nameless” and “faceless”. When we actually begin giving names to our sins—pride, sloth, lust, anger, greed—it is as though we are confronted by muggers in the back alley of our souls. In the 51st Psalm, King David is disgustingly honest with himself about the enormity of his sin and his need for the cleansing of his sin that only God can provide.
The value of salvation ought never be underestimated, for its price was the suffering and death of Jesus. In Hebrews 2:10, Jesus is called the author of salvation who brings many sons to glory. Therefore, the believer’s salvation is immeasurably great because our sin was immeasurably great.
As Baptists, we have developed over the last century our own hierarchy of sins that are to be especially avoided. The four greatest commandments in Baptist life have been, Thou shalt not drink, thou shalt not smoke, thou shalt not chew and thou shalt not go out with those who do! If you are really spiritual, you can add the next two commandments to the list: Thou shalt not play cards – except Old Maid – and Thou shalt not go to movies.
Seriously: There are some sins that must especially be exorcized in the believer’s life—sins that the early church considered deadly in that they can kill the Christ-like life within us. Those deadly sins include: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Lust, and Gluttony. I understand that sin is a topic many will feel uncomfortable talking about. Some of you may feel it is better to take a more positive approach to faith and not dwell on sin so much. Your like author Rita Mae Brown who wrote: “Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself.” Others of you believe that all sin is equally repugnant to God, and so any classification of sins is just not helpful. Still others of you just want to forget the whole thing since you’re saved and God loves you and you really don’t care about all this "sin stuff."
My heart’s desire over the next two months is to 1) help you understand that your sin is deeper than many of you have imagined, and 2) help you understands that God’s grace is greater than you ever contemplated!
God wants sinners to be saved from their sin today! He wants saints to fight sin with all their strength. ILLUS. In one of his fiery sermons, the evangelist Billy Sunday said: “I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and sin goes home to perdition.”
Are you fighting against sin with all your might?