ILL: The drunk husband snuck up the stairs
quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and
bruises he’d received in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded
to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he’d pulled one over on
his wife. When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his
wife. “You were drunk last night weren’t you!”“No, honey.” “Well, if
you weren’t, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?”
ILL: The Sunday school teacher asked her class: "What are sins of omission? After some thought one little fellow said, "They're the sins we should have committed but didn't get around to." --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 457.
Sin. This word is not recognized by most unbelievers and is often avoided by many believers.
Question: How do most unbelievers respond to the question…Do you sin?
• Very often, unbelievers do not consciously think of their 'sin life' and if asked if they believe they sin, they will often reply that they realize they are not perfect but the good they do outweighs the bad. So they feel rather comfortable. There is no grieving over or mourning for the, 'bad', sin they do and concerning the 'good' they do, they often feel pretty confident.
ILL: Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman told of a distinguished minister, Dr. Howard, from Australia who preached very strongly on the subject of sin. After the service, one of the church officers came to counsel with him in the study. “Dr. Howard,” he said, “we don’t want you to talk as openly as you do about man’s guilt and corruption, because if our boys and girls hear you discussing that subject they will more easily become sinners. Call it a mistake if you will, but do not speak so plainly about sin. “The minister took down a small bottle and showing it to the visitor said, “You see that label? It says strychnine—and underneath in bold, red letters the word ‘Poison!’ Do you know, man, what you are asking me to do? You are suggesting that I change the label. Suppose I do, and paste over it the words, ‘Essence of Peppermint’; don’t you see what might happen? Someone would use it, not knowing the danger involved, and would certainly die. So it is, too, with the matter of sin. The milder you make your label, the more dangerous you make your poison!” (Source unknown)
Question: How do most believers respond to the question…Do you sin?
• For many believers, there’s not much thought given to thier sin life. If asked about it many believers will either try to avoid the subject altogether or will say something like ' God knows that I am not perfect but I confess it and God forgives me .'
• For many, there is a contentment concerning their walk with the Lord and their sin life. Sure they want to 'do better' but they realize that God has forgiven them of their sins through Christ's death on the cross.
Either way, whether an unbeliever or believer, many are content with their lives...sin and all.
Question: Is that how you think God wants us to feel about the sin in our lives?
• I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be content with my life, especially my sin life. I don’t want to either deny sin or rationalize it away.
• I understand that Romans 8:1 states that there is no condemnation to those in Christ but that doesn't mean I can become ambivalent to sin in my life or to it's consequences.
The reality is,
• sin effects our walk with the Lord
• sin effects our relationships with others and
• sin effects our effectiveness in ministry.
It’s important to examine the biblical principals associated with sin in the life of the believer and it's effect on his/her life.
ILL: Woodrow Wilson’s father was a minister
in the South. One day he joined a group of men caught up in a heated
discussion. One of the men lost his temper and swore loudly. Only then
did he see the Reverend Wilson in their midst. The man apologized
profusely and said, “Sir, I had forgotten that you were present. Please
pardon me. Dr. Wilson replied, “It is not to me that you owe an
apology, but to God.” (Larry Brook, The Quiet Hour, September-November,
1997, p. 54)
The Bible is full of examples of how sin negatively affects the believers fellowship with God.
Read: Gen 39:9
Question: Whom does Joseph say he will sin against by sleeping with Potiphar’s wife?
• In Gen. 39:9 we find Joseph tempted by Potiphar's wife to commit adultery. Joseph doesn't say that if he were to do this that he would be sinning against Potiphar but he states that he in fact would be sinning against God Himself.
Read: Psalm 51:1-4
Question: To whom does David say he sinned against?
• Psalm 51, especially verse 4, shows that David's adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah was sin and that this sin was against God and God alone.
This sin in David's life greatly affected his relationship with God, even after he had confessed it and repented, he still suffered the consequences of the sin.
Read: 1 Jn 1:6
Question: What does John say about sin and fellowship with God?
• 1 John 1:6 states that if we sin we walk in darkness. Therefore, if we are walking in darkness we can not have fellowship with God because in God there is no darkness (1 John 1:5-7).
Read: John 8:34; Romans 6:16-18; Lk. 16:13
Question: What does being a slave to sin have to do with our fellowship with God?
• John 8:34 states that we can become slaves to sin. So does Rom. 6:16-18 but we have a choice to become slaves to righteousness and God.
• Lk. 16:13 says we can not be slaves to two masters,
• Therefore if we are slaves to sin we break our fellowship with God.
• Unconfessed, unrepentant sin in the life of the believer breaks his/ her fellowship with God .
• We can not become like Christ if we are not in fellowship with Him.
that includes unrepentant, unconfessed sin will negatively affect the
lives of others around the believer.
Read: Ex. 34:6-7
Question: What is the effect of personal sin on those around the one in sin?
• In Ex. 34:7 we find that this type of sin will have devastating effects on your family even to successive generations.
Joshua chapter 7 tells the story of Achan.
• Achan disobeyed God and kept some of the items he found in battle. The result was his sin had a devastating effect on the life of Israel.
2 Sam. 24:10-17 shows us that David's sin caused thousands of his people to be killed by a plague sent by God.
Read: 1 John 1:7
Question: What happens when we hold in Unconfessed sin?
• 1 John 1:7 implies that if we sin we will breaks fellowship not only with God but with other believers.
This is very important. We are not just a bunch of people who decide to meet together occasionally on Sundays. As believers, we are not living a life independent of each other, we are, Scripture tells us, one body. If one member of that body is living a life of unrepentant, unconfessed sin, the whole body suffers.
effect on ministry is perhaps the most evident result of a life of
unrepentant, unconfessed sin.
Read: James 3:1
Question: What does this say about believers, sin and ministry?
• James 3:1 states that those who teach will incur a stricter judgment by God for what he teaches. Teaching is more than just what we say, it is what we do, if our people see our sin and as a result sin themselves, we will be held responsible before God.
Biblically, sin in the life of a believer, especially those in ministry, can have tragic results.
1 Sam. 2:11 tells the story of Hophni and Phinehas, priests unto the Lord, but sinful. God took their lives.
• The people knew the sin of these two men and it effected their priestly ministry to the people .
In 2 Sam. 24:10-17 we find that David's sin, thought confessed and repented, still affected his kingship before God and the people.
People will not you, will not allow you to serve them if they know you are ambivalent toward your sin.
Read: 1 Cor. 3:12-15
Question: What happens when in sin we serve God under our own strength?
• The ministry of one who is content with living a sinful life will be powered by their own abilities and passion and not by the Holy Spirit's power in their lives. This type of ministry at the judgment is called ‘wood, hay and stubble’ and will be burnt up because it was done in the flesh.
Sin, unrepentant and unconfessed in the life of the believer has devastating results and negatively affects his relationship with God, others and his ministry.
Therefore, as believers, holy and consecrated to God,
• we can not allow ourselves to be ambivalent about our sin.
• we can not allow ourselves to become content in the idea that Jesus death on the cross means that we don't have to deal with sin in our lives.
• we can not avoid the sin issue.
To walk with God, to love God with all our heart, soul and mind requires that we examine our lives, search our hearts like David, to see if there be any sin in us. And there seems to be scriptural support that we are not only to confess and ask forgiveness for our sins but we are to repent of them in it's fullest sense.
Question: What does it mean to repent of our sins in a full way?
This, I believe, has been a huge
contributor to the reoccurring sin pattern in the lives of many
Christians. I really can't say that I have come across many Christians
who talk about grieving or mourning over sin in their life.
• They intellectually acknowledge that their sins are
• They confess them
• and all is 'better'.
Yet, I have found many still exhibit habitual or patterns of sin. I believe that mourning over personal sin and how my sin affects God is the missing piece that now recognized and added will help break down the cycle or pattern of sin in our lives.
What caused me to think this? What I have read in Scripture but never applied to the Christian and personal sin.
Read: Matt. 5:4
Question: Thinking about habitual sin, a pattern of sin, what does this text tell us?
• Jesus, in Matthew 5:4 says 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted' According to theologian D. A. Carson, mourning is personal grief over personal sin. This is the mourning experienced by a man who begins to recognize the blackness of his sin the more he is exposed to the purity of God.
One who mourns over his sin grieves because he sees how great his offense is before God, but he also learns to trust Jesus as the one who has paid sin's ransom.
Peter, in Matthew 26:75, after he denied knowing Christ, remembered the Words of Christ and he wept bitterly.
Perhaps the greatest example of remorse or mourning over a personal sin is given by David in Psalm 51. Here is a list of the sin pattern of David and how he dealt with his own personal sin in this Psalm.
Psalm 51 David's Experience with Personal Sin
1. David recognizes his sin Vs. 3
2. David recognizes who he has sinned against Vs. 4
3. David recognizes his guiltiness Vs. 3
4. David recognizes his need for mercy Vs. 1
5. David confesses his sin before God Vs. 4
6. David asks to be cleansed from his sin Vs. 2, 9-10
7. David asks that he be restored to fellowship with God Vs. 11-12
8. David agrees to teach others about the results of sin Vs. 13
9. David shows grief and remorse over his sin Vs. 14, 17.
This whole Psalm, or song, by David to God is a prayer filled with language of remorse and mourning for his sin. We see similar language in Ps. 38:17-18 'For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.' David was speaking of the remorse, the grief associated with his sin against God...he was mourning over his sin AND how it affected his fellowship with the God he so very much loved.
Perhaps the passage which most has helped me to understand the process of grieving over my sin is found in James 4:9-10.
Read: James 4:9-10
Question: How does this verse say we are to handle the sin in our lives?
• I am not to disregard my sin or to trivialize it away.
• I am to weep and mourn over it.
• I am to change my laughter to sadness and my joy to gloom.
• It is only them will I realize my helplessness before the Lord.
• He will then life me up, help and encourage me.
Victory over sin, especially habitual sins, includes
• recognition of personal sin,
• understanding who it is I am sinning against,
• mourning over personal sin
• and then the confession of personal sin to God .
• It is only then that He will lift me up.
• It is only after this process that I will be able to exchange my sackcloth of mourning for a garment of praise.
• It is only then that I will be able to, with the help of Almighty God, break any patterns of sin in my life.
ILL: A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when
• they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
• and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished
• by prayer (84 percent),
• avoiding compromising situations (76 percent),
• Bible study (66 percent),
• and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
(Discipleship Journal, November / December 1992.)
• Over 75% of all internet users on line after 10 o’clock are viewing pornography. (The largest group viewing are boys between the age of 13 and 18)
• ½ of all married people will commit adultery during their life time. (Men are usually higher, but not much)
• The level of adultery within the church is half what the national average. The level of adultery among ministers is 1/5 of the national average.
• 1 in 4 Christians will commit adultery. 1 in 10 pastors will commit adultery.
The issue with sin…habitual and the oops kind is the heart. We need to have our hearts so radically changed so that we want to do the right thing. How?
Read: Romans 8:5-6
Question: What does Paul tell us about defeating sin?
Set Your Mind on the Things of the Spirit
• In Romans 8:5-6 Paul speaks there of the flesh and the Spirit. You don’t just look at the temptation and say NO. You do that! But if you are going to put it to death by the Spirit, you have to do more: you direct your mind, your heart, your spiritual focus another way, namely to the "things of the Spirit."
Set Your Mind on the Word of God
• "the things of the Spirit" are the words of God spoken by the apostles. These are the "things of the Spirit" that the natural person rejects and the spiritual person embraces. So to put to death the deeds of the body "by the Spirit" is to "set your mind on the things of the Spirit," which we now see means embracing the words of God.