Saved: From Sin (Inscription 51)
May 8, 2011
· 062, 051
· Sunday School
Happy Mother’s Day!
Next week is the Ladies Retreat, and it will be our chance to remember just how much we need you.
Q What are some of your Mother’s Day traditions?
Scripture reading: JOhn 8:31-38
SURGERY, not self-control
Are you familiar with “Stomach stapling”? It is an extreme measure for an extreme circumstance. It is dangerous (1% die from the surgery) yet for some it finally helps them get their weight under control, before it kills them.
Can you imagine going through all that, and still gain weight? Yet some still do. They have to eat around the clock to do so. But yet only 1 out of 5 actually lose weight long term. Why?
· Because, they are slaves to sin, unable and unwilling to control themselves.
I titled this section “Surgery, not self-control,” from a commercial with a lady who looked like she’d never had surgery on her stomach. Other places perhaps, but not her stomach.
· This is the human condition. You may not be a slave to your stomach in that way, but all of us are enslaved to sin.
Free to sin?
This is our second in a three-part series on what it means to be saved. Last week was “Saved from condemnation,” saved from the judgment and condemnation we deserve.
The problem is that we are stupid. As soon as we hear that we are saved from condemnation, forgiven, that God loves us, his grace covers our sin, we think “We can sin more!”
Paul dealt with this same problem:
Romans 6:15-16 15 ¶ What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Sin leads to death. Salvation, freedom from condemnation is not freedom to sin, it is freedom from sin.
· This morning, my goal is to help you feel that sin is slavery, something we are saved from, not get away with.
You probably know this, you probably believe this, in theory, but your actions may demonstrate otherwise.
Slaves to sin
Let’s take a look at what Jesus said:
NIV John 8:31-36 ¶ To the Jews who had believed him,
Jesus is talking to us, not non-Christian.
Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
This is rather ironic: Jews had in fact been slaves more often than free – of their c. 1500 years in existence, they had been enslaved for a total of 900 years, currently by the Romans.
34 ¶ Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
If you sin, then you are a slave to sin.
Q But doesn’t the Son set us free? Yes and no.
We are forgiven, we are in the process of being restored, yet every time we sin we are re-enslaving ourselves. It’s like being a slave to a cruel master, being freed, but then returning.
· Yes, Jesus keeps on freeing us, this is not about condemnation, but we keep going back.
Q Do you understand the difference?
He save us both from the guilt of sin and from sin itself.
Q Have you ever thought about it that way?
is it worth it?
Q Do you really believe the sin is slavery?
In our lives, there are two types of sin: The ones we want God to take (the embarrassing ones, e.g. losing temper) and the ones we want to keep (the fun ones, e.g. bitterness, lust, or greed).
· We view the first kind as slavery, but the second kind as something to “get away with.”
Let’s focus on the sin that we enjoy, the stuff that feels like “giving up”:
Q What sin do you try to get away with?
You know what I mean, you theoretically know that it is sin, but you don’t want to get rid of it:
· Taking a quick peak when the waitress leans over, or fantasizing about how romantic another guy would be.
· Fudging on earning statements to get better benefits.
· Hanging on to a grudge.
It can be a sin of omission as well as commission: Not doing something you are supposed to, such as giving, prayer, etc.
Get that thing in your mind, that is what I am going to talk about now:
· When you choose to sin, it’s because you believe the payoff is bigger than the cost, the benefit outweighs the cost.
Yes, sin is fun, at first. Think of sin as meth, moral meth. It is a blast (according to Wikipedia), but so not worth the consequences.
John 10:10 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
· Sin is a shortcut to happiness that ends in misery.
I’d like to invent a machine lets us feel consequences first. I’d call it a “consequences inverter.” Let’s say I decide to buy something we can’t afford so I buy it without asking my wife.
First suffer through the consequences: Telling Marilyn, months rebuilding trust, the extra credit card bills, the things we can’t afford to do, all before I get to enjoy my new toy.
And at any point I could stop it, all I would have to do is decide not to buy it. Would I grunt through? Would I say, this will be so worth it?
· I doubt it. I would probably say, let’s start by talking to Marilyn, figuring out how to do this.
Let’s face it, this won’t be a big seller.
I can’t invent that, so the best I can do is to try to drill into you: All sin results in suffering. You may just lack the perspective to see that fact, but it’s still true.
· Sin is that which hurts you, hurts your relationship with others, and hurts your relationship with God.
Knowing Sin is slavery
Change begins with truth accepted, not because knowledge itself changes you, but because it opens the door to the power source: Jesus. The truth you have to get is:
· Sin is slavery – every sin, every time.
Q Every sin? Even the ones that seem fine? Even the ones that are culturally acceptable?
When the Bible says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” it means that you may have enough perspective to know what some destructive sin is – hopefully all of you know better than to steal from your employer.
Q But what about the sins that you can’t see their consequences? You know God what God says, but you can’t see why.
Fear of the Lord comes in when you can’t see why God tells you to do what he tells you to do. Do you trust that he has your best interest in mind?
As a pastor, I have an incredible bird’s eye view of the slavery of sin. I get to watch so many people suffer from sin, and I have seen it enough that I can see long before it starts.
· I can watch you starting out on a path the leads to misery, but you won’t believe me if I told you.
A DR. PERSPECTIVE
Pastors are like doctors in that way, they watch the cause and effect time after time after time, put they cannot persuade their patients to do what it right.
· Rochelle is a skin specialist, and whenever it gets sunny she tells everyone to put on sunscreen and wear a hat.
People just laugh about it and say “it’s just a little sun,” but as someone who has removed skin cancer and known of people dying from it, it is not “just a little sun,” it is cancer.
In the same way, I watch, I want to plead with you, “It’s not worth it!”
· Don’t start looking at porn, it will pull you apart from your spouse, even if you are not married.
· Don’t get into that relationship just because you are lonely!
· Don’t drift away from the church!
· Don’t isolate yourself in this community!
· Don’t obsess over some nuanced Christian doctrine, making some little thing your litmus test!
· Don’t try to keep up with the Jones! It will leave you broke, empty, and isolated from God!
· Don’t make your life revolve around your children!
· Don’t place all your value in your spouse!
I have watched how these things work out, and it is not good.
Sin is never something we get away with. We are always digging the pit deeper, making it harder to get out. Every lie, every laziness, every glance makes it harder to do the right thing.
The sin of unbelief
Q Why do we do these things?
It could be a myriad of reasons:
· You may use porn to affirm masculinity because your father never did.
· You compulsively buy things because your mother did not provide for you.
· You may avoid community because you fear being vulnerable.
But there something deeper: At its core, all sin is a type of unbelief, not believing in God and his character. We believe we will be happier and healthier ignoring God and doing it our way.
This has been Satan’s tactic from the very beginning:
Genesis 3:4-5 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Q Do you see what Satan is doing? What is his tactic?
He is questioning God’s goodness – he makes God sound miserly, begrudging us the joy of experiencing his good gifts. He says that God does not have our best interest in mind – as if he knows eating the fruit will make us better, but denies it to us.
I believe that the most fundamental lie of the enemy is that God is not good. If we believe that God is truly good, then than no amount of temptation will cause us to disobey him, because we will know that obedience leads to joy and disobedience to pain.
So what now? The first step in change is changing how you think; it begins with accepting truth. This is what we have been talking about. You need to think and believe that sin is slavery something to be freed from.
Q So far, I have only talked about the sins we want to do, what about the ones you hate, that you know you are enslaved to?
The same truth applies to all sins:
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Freedom does not come from striving on your effort. It begins by recognizing sin for what it is, then quickly bringing it to Jesus. It goes from thinking differently to praying differently:
1. This is a prayer of repentance: Ask forgiveness.
We have to hate dishonoring God, hurting others, and hurting ourselves. We have to want it enough to change.
2. This is a prayer of submission: Affirm that he is Lord, and he has the right to tell you what to do.
Our fundamental choice is “Your will or my will.”
3. This is a prayer of dependence: Daily asking for his help becoming free and seeing sin as slavery.
We are not on our own; it is a cooperative process:
Philippians 2:12b-13 12 ...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
We each have our own part. God directs us what to work on and empowers us to do so. We choose to obey.
From here we begin acting different, at each little point making the hard decisions to obey God.
Perhaps the most effective tool God has given us is the least popular: Confession – sharing your sins with a trusted believer.
NIV James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
· You’re thinking, um, no thanks.
Sin’s best chance for survival is remaining hidden; it’s like a terrorist. It can’t stand up to an army; it’s only be effective when hidden. But once you confess it, God can send in Team 6.
· I have found that if I want to hide something, there is a pretty good chance I should not.
Sharing my sin with a few people I trust well, Marilyn and a few close friends, has been God’s most effective tool for freeing me from sin.
You have to choose “who” very carefully, but confession is very powerful because forces you to:
1. Acknowledge the sin: As specifically as possible (without “TMI”) explain how you disobeyed God in word, thought, action, or attitude. This is as the Spirit convicts.
Q Ever notice how much easier it is to justify in your own head?
2. Take personal responsibility: Even if blame can be shared, only own up to your part.
3. Genuinely repent: A genuine remorse for the hurt you’ve caused God (1st) and others (2nd). The other person can call you on false remorse (“Just sorry you got caught?”).
4. Receive forgiveness: Allow the other person to express grace and acceptance and remind you of God’s forgiveness.
5. Turn from the sin: Work with the other on how to make a permanent change.
Is this hard? You bet! But if you really believe sin is slavery, you will be willing to do what it takes to get rid of it.
To sum it all up: Jesus frees you from sin, give you the opportunity to be freed, like having you credit card and mortgage forgiven.
When you begin to think this way, you will repent and depend Jesus, then act differently, and confession is one of God’s best tools.
· Finally, your attitude towards sin will change. Obedience will feel more and more like “get to” and less like “have to.”
· PPT: Please text Rebecka, tell her service is almost over: 630-3836
Q & A