“Where Are My Sins?”
Text: Psalm 51:1-11
Most of us are familiar with King David and his adultery with Bathsheba as well as his murder of her husband – Uriah, the Hittite. The horrible details of David’s sins are recorded in 2 Sam. 11. But it is Nathan the prophet’s poignant parable that finally elicits a confession from David. Read with me from 2 Sam. 12:1ff. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” Nathan then goes on to tell David some of the horrible things that will happen to him because of his sins. But notice David’s simple confession in verse 13: So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” David wrote the words to Ps. 51 from which we took our scripture reading this morning after Nathan had confronted David about his sin. There’s not an adult in this audience who could not echo David’s words: “I have sinned against the Lord.” It is with this confession that I want each of us to ask a personal question this morning: “Where are my sins?” During this lesson, I don’t want you to think about your neighbor’s sins. And I certainly don’t want you worrying about your brothers’ & sisters’ sins. I want you to ask yourself: “Where are my sins?” Please open your Bibles and study with me for the next few minutes and then be sure to search the scriptures daily to make sure I’ve told you the truth as revealed by God’s Holy Spirit.
Sin is a word most of us are familiar with. Even the children know about the first sin – that it occurred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit God had forbidden. Yet the word “sin” is not used in Gen. 3. But, if we turn to Rom. 5:12-14, the apostle Paul describes the sin of Adam: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Because of sin, Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden – out of paradise – and life was forever changed because death was now a part of our existence as a result of sin. Let me also mention that Eve was first tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit by the serpent or the devil. Now notice the words of 1 Jn. 3:8 – He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For us older folks, this certainly adds some credence to Flip Wilson’s famous punch line: “The devil made me do it!” So what is sin? From the account of the first sin, we can conclude that sin is disobedience to God. God had told Adam that he could eat of every tree of the garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that in the day you eat of this unique tree you shall surely die. But the devil told Eve: “You will not surely die!” Our first definition of sin is disobeying God – doing what He has told us not to do. Then at Mt. Sinai, God gave the old law to His people through Moses. God has now codified what His people can and cannot do. The apostle Paul reflected on the law’s purpose in Rom. 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” With the giving of the Ten Commandments, sin could also be defined as disobeying God’s law. Later, in Rom. 14:23, Paul states that whatever is not from faith is sin. Here the context indicates that any act which violates a Christian’s conscience is sin. We read in 1 Jn. 3:4 that sin is lawlessness. Lawlessness in this context appears to be the opposite of righteousness – just as it is in 2 Cor. 6:14 – For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? One more definition of sin before we move on. The inspired brother of our Lord wrote in Jas 4:17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. This is probably the one that is so overlooked by most of us. This is the one we can rationalize ourselves out of because we’re too busy or too tired. While all of these are valid definitions of sin, we need to understand what sin does to us. According to Isa. 59:2, our sins separate us from God – just as sin separated Adam and Eve from God. Under the old law, there were sin offerings and trespass offerings as well as a Day of Atonement. This day, known as Yom Kippur, is still the most holy day for Jews. In Lev. 16:30, the following explanation is given: For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. The problem with all these sacrifices under the old law was that they had to be continually repeated. The Hebrew writer gives this explanation in Heb. 10:1-4 – For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Since animal sacrifices will not take away sins, man has a sin problem described like this in Rom. 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Like our identification with David’s confession in 2 Sam. 12:13, we can all admit to falling short of God’s glory. Anyone who has read the OT knows that God often killed His people when they sinned. Once He destroyed the entire population of the earth except for eight souls. Later He destroyed people with poisonous snakes, plagues and even allowing the earth to swallow them up. God also allowed foreign nations to oppress them and take them into captivity because of their sins. So what is going to happen to us for falling short of God’s glory? The good news is found in Rom. 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And Rom. 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus far in this lesson, we have looked at what sin is, that it separates us from God and that the penalty for sin is death. We have also seen that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. The disciple who denied our Lord three times describes what Jesus did for us in 1 Pet. 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. Earlier in this same epistle, Peter wrote that Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. We’ve looked at what we’ve done – sinned – and we’ve looked at what Christ has done – died for our sins. Now what must we do? This question was asked on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:37 with the answer given in the following verse: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” When the Lord appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, this persecutor of Christians asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10) and the Lord told him to go into Damascus and there he would be told all things which were appointed for him to do. Acts 9:6 phrases the Lord’s instructions as “what you must do.” And, in Acts 22:16, Ananias told Saul what he had to do: “And now why are you waiting? Arise & be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” It is evident from the passages we’ve just read that we sinners must repent of our sins and be baptized to have our sins washed away and forgiven. The instructions in both Acts 2:38 and 22:16 are addressed to believers in Jesus Christ so I won’t quote Jn. 3:16 for you. But, as I was researching this sermon about sin, I discovered an interesting fact: the Greek word for sin appears the most in a chapter in the NT 16 times and the next most – 15 times – in an adjacent chapter. The 6th chapter of Romans contains the most references to sin followed by chapter 7. Listen to Rom. 6:3-7 – Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. The apostle Peter stated that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18-19) and it is in our baptism into His death that we come in contact with His blood. We saw in Acts 2:38 that our sins are remitted when we repent and are baptized. In Acts 22:16, Saul’s sins were washed away in baptism. So what happens to those sins? David wrote in Ps. 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Or, for the deep sea fishermen, I like this one from Micah 7:19 – You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. In Heb. 10:16-17, the writer quotes from the prophet Jeremiah who writes about a new covenant and the Lord says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” No matter what you’ve ever done, when God forgives you, those sins are gone. When God forgave you, He did not remember those sins. And that brings us back to the question of this lesson: Where are my sins?
We’ve looked at what sin is, what it does to us, the penalty for sin, how Jesus paid that penalty & what we must do to get rid of our sins. Sadly, too many of us doubt God’s promises. When God forgives, He forgets. 1st of all, if you’ve never obeyed our Lord’s commands and had your sins washed away, why not do that this A.M.? The Lord will get rid of your sins and remember them no more. Regrettably, our memories of our sins may remain but we can have a clear conscience knowing we’ve done what the Lord demands. This is shown in 1 Pet. 3:21 – There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Maybe we’ve obeyed the gospel and we continue to wrestle with sin. Even the apostle Paul had the same problem. See if his words in Rom. 7:19 sound familiar: For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. As humans, we all face the same battle with the flesh. That’s why Paul wrote that he had to discipline his body daily and bring it into subjection – 1 Cor. 9:27. Paul knew he must remain faithful until death to receive the crown of life. When we put on Christ in baptism, we get a little extra protection from the blood of Christ. 1 Jn. 1:7 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us (or continues to cleanse us) from all sin. & the good news doesn’t stop there. When we step out of the light of God’s word and the fellowship of our church family, notice the remedy provided in 1 Jn. 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. My friends, as we ask ourselves this question this morning – Where are my sins?, there are only 2 possibilities. They’re either forgiven or they are separating me from God. The blood of Christ is the most powerful cleanser in the world. Why not let it reconcile you to God as together we stand and sing?
(Walter Hill; Sunday A.M.; 11/28/2010)