(a capella singing)
The Gospel of Christ: Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Kevin Pendergrass…
Welcome to The Gospel of Christ. In this lesson we are going to be studying the truth about sin. Sin is something that, especially the political world today, has tried to almost get rid of. The political correct society does not even want to talk about sin. We want to make everything so subjective that sin is something that's objective, so let's do away with that. And we expect that out of the world, or at least we should expect that out of the world. The world's always been corrupt and always will be. But this also now has actually influenced even the Lord's church and Christianity. In fact, you'll hear people use other words instead of the word sin. Perhaps they'll use the word “inappropriate”. I've heard this word be a statute for the word sin. They’ll say, “Well, I don't think we should do that because it's “inappropriate”. Or maybe they'll say, “That is something that is offensive.” Well, call it what you may, but sin is still sin and always will exist. In fact, we have to get back to calling an ace an ace and a spade a spade because sin will always be around, and we need to know what is the truth about sin.
Well, first of all, what is sin exactly? The word itself carries the idea of missing the mark, someone who has missed the mark. And in 1 John 3:4, John is talking about sin, and he gives us a Biblical definition of what sin is. 1 John 3:4, the Bible says that “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” And so according to the Bible, when one does not abide in the law, what have they done? They have just sinned. Now, whether this is ignorant or whether this is willful sin, it is still sin. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught it's “’not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” that will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the Father,’” that's the one who's going to go to heaven. Jesus goes on to talk in verse 22 and 24 about the individuals who will be lost. Why? Because they practiced lawlessness. That means they did not fulfill the law or they did not abide in the law. You'll hear people today say, well, “You're legalistic.” “You're all about keeping the law.” Well, sure we are. Now, we're not legalistic in the negative sense, in the connotation that people want to use that, but wouldn't you much rather be legal on the Day of Judgment than illegal? We must practice what Jesus has commanded us to practice, because if we do not, we are practicing lawlessness and we'll be lost if we do not change.
Another Bible verse that teaches us what sin is can be found in James 4:17. In James 4:17 we read that a failure to do what you know is right is considered to be sin. The Bible says, “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When you are faced with an opportunity or a decision, and you know which one you should take, but you choose not to take that, then you have just sinned according to James 4:17. Another Bible passage that teaches what sin is can be found in Romans chapter 14. Now, the context of Romans chapter 14 is Paul, and he's discussing matters of opinion, or freedoms in Christ-things that as Christians we are authorized to do-but we are not obligated to do them. And if there is a freedom in Christ that perhaps you are authorized to do but in doing so it would violate your conscience, then Romans 14:23 teaches that you would be in sin because you violated your conscience. Now, this isn't talking about things that we are commanded to do by God. If God commands us to do something, it doesn't matter if it violates our conscience or not, we have to do it. This is talking about freedoms that we have in Christ. There are things that we might be authorized to do or are authorized to do, but I don't want to do it because it violates me, it violates my conscience. And so because of that, if I go ahead and do it any way, then I have sinned. See, the Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. And because of that, the Bible teaches in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And so the truth is that there is sin, sin does exist, and all accountable people have sinned.
But now I want us to look at reasons why we sin. Now, we could look at a number of reasons why we sin. In fact, we could look at a whole lot more than what we are looking at today. These are just a few reasons why we sin. Individuals sin first because sin is something that is enjoyable. While we're sinning, we can justify the things that we do. Sin has a pleasurable nature. Otherwise, we would not want to do it to begin with. If sin was something that looked terrible and went around and we had no pleasure in it at all, then would you want to be a part of it? Of course not. And so sin does have an earthly pleasure, nature to it. In Hebrews chapter 11 the Bible is talking about Moses and how Moses chose to follow the Lord instead of following after evil. And I love the way the Hebrews writer talks about Moses in Hebrews 11:24-25 and the way that he words sin. Look at what he says in verse 24 of Hebrews 11. The Bible says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy, notice this, the passing pleasures of sin.” I love that phrase, “the passing pleasures of sin”. Why? Because it shows that yes, sin is enjoyable; it is pleasurable; however it is a passing pleasure that will not be here very long. But this is what a number of people turn to. They want to turn to that passing pleasure instead of enduring afflictions and being pleasing to God. In John 3:19 the Bible is talking about Jesus and how Jesus came to this earth and how Christ is the light. And as Christians, Matthew 5:16 teaches us that we must be the light. And in John 3:19 the Bible says that “this is the condemnation,” talking about Jesus, “that the light has come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light.” Why? Because their deeds were evil! Men, if they are living in darkness want no part of Christianity. Why-because they like being in darkness. I've talked to individuals before, and they said they like who they are, they like living in sin, they like doing the things that they're doing. Why? They get that instant gratification. It's the instant feeling of pleasure. They don't want to have to wait. They can do something that makes them happy right now. Friend of mine was telling me that when his daughter was much younger, I believe she was two or three years old, he had a candy bar, and he offered it to her, and he said, “Honey, I will give you this candy bar right now, and you can eat this chocolate right now, or when you are 16 years old, I will buy you a brand new car.” Now, what do you think she wanted as a three-year-old child? She wanted that instant gratification. She said, “I want that chocolate bar. Give me that candy bar.” That's how we are sometimes as individual human beings. We say “Okay, we can have heaven for eternity later or we can feel good right now.” And we choose to have that passing pleasure of sin. In 1 John 2:15-17, John is talking about the word and the things in the world and how as Christians we cannot love this world. Too many of us love this world a little too much. The Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Now, in verse 16 what John is about to do is he's going to classify sin into three categories. He says, “For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life-is not of the Father, but is of the world.” All sin can be categorized into those three categories: either the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. Verse 17 says that “the world is passing away”-very similar language to that of what we just read in Hebrews chapter 11: “the passing pleasure of sin”. “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” And so one reason why people sin is because it's easy or because it's fun. It's something that is enjoyable. It's something that gives instant gratification.
Another reason why individuals sin is because it's easy. It's the easy route to take. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus is talking about the difficulty of going to heaven. Now, compared to the joys that we're going to receive in heaven, it's all going to be worth it, but it's going to be tough. Jesus said, “’Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.’” Jesus said the majority of the people are going to go to hell. Why is that? Well, because verse 14 tells us why. “’Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.’” That gate is very narrow that leads to eternal life, and it is a difficult road to take, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7. And so people sin because it's the easier route to go. In fact, a lot of lazy people fall into this. In Proverbs 15:19 the Bible is talking about the lazy man, and the Proverb says, “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.” Another Proverb found in Proverbs 21:25 talking about the lazy man says that “the desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” And so when people have the decision of do I do the difficult thing or am I going to choose the easy thing? Well, I want to choose the easy thing because it's just too hard to be Christians. It's just too hard. That Christian life, I don't want it. It's too difficult. I've talked to some people before in Bible studies who've erred away from the church. They've erred away from the truth. And I asked them why, and they said it was just too hard. They didn't want to do it. So they chose sin because it's the easy route.
Another reason why people sin is because of what we today would call peer pressure. We're following the majority. And don't believe that only teenagers and only young people are the ones who have to deal with peer pressure. You and I have to deal with peer pressure just as much as anyone else. And we read about the mob mentality in the gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Think about how all of these people got together to try to crucify Jesus and eventually they did kill Jesus. They were always against Jesus. And a lot of these individuals, if you would have placed them by themselves, would have not gone against the Lord. But because they had that mob mentality, because everybody else was doing it, they followed the majority and they fell into peer pressure. We want to be accepted by the crowds, don't we? We want people to like us. And Satan uses that. Satan uses that and says, “Well, if you want everybody to like you, you better follow the crowd.” “If you want to be accepted, do what everybody else is doing.” We preach this to our children. Let's make sure we're preaching it to ourselves. A passage that is found in the book of Exodus chapter 23 warns us of following the majority and how we should not follow the majority. And the principle there is laid forth for us in Exodus 23:2, where the Bible says, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” So we are not to follow a crowd to do evil. Just because everybody else is doing it, doesn't make it right. If you're speeding or if you're driving down the interstate and you're speeding and everybody else is speeding and perhaps people are even going faster than you, yet the police officer ends up pulling you over and you tell that police officer, “Well, everybody else is doing this, everybody else is speeding”, well, is that going to mean that you don't have to get a ticket? Is that going to excuse you from that? Absolutely not. So we cannot follow the majority and give in to peer pressure and sin.
Another reason why people sin, is because of their ignorance. They just don't know better. Perhaps they're very well intended individuals, they have the right intent, but they're ignorant, and therefore they fall into sin. Hosea 4:6 says that “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priests for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also will forget your children.” The Bible teaches in Romans chapter 1 about the beautiful creation of God or His invisible attributes beginning in verse 18 and following. How even those who do not have the Bible right now should be searching for the Bible, they should be searching for the truth because nature itself teaches us there is a God. But we have to go to the Bible to know who God is. And so there's no excuse for our ignorance. Are we like children, though? Are we like children tossed to and fro? Children are very easy to persuade because they're ignorant on a lot of issues. You can teach a child one thing and then the next day teach him something completely opposite, and they'll change and follow what you say the next day. We in some cases have become like children because we just let our ignorance lead us, and we'll just listen to one person one day, the other person the next, and we'll just follow whatever sounds good at the time. But the book of Ephesians 4:14 warns us and tells us that we should not be like children. Notice what Paul says about us and how we should not be like children. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:14 “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” Let's not be like children. Let's not allow our ignorance to lead us away when it comes to false teaching. Let's listen to what the preacher's saying or let's listen to what these people are saying about the Bible, make sure that we're not just letting our ignorance lead us to hell.
Another reason why individuals sin is because of fear: Fear of persecution; fear of losing their job; fear of losing even their family members; fear of losing their best friends; fear of punishment. Whatever the fear is, people sin because they're afraid. In Revelation 21:8, the Bible gives us a whole list of individuals who are going to be lost come the Day of Judgment.
And the first category is, those who are cowards. Those who are cowardly or are cowardly will be lost in hell for eternity. Even Peter himself became a coward right before Jesus died because Peter denied that he knew Jesus, three times. Now, just a short time before that, Peter was willing to die for Jesus. Peter even pulled out his sword. He pulled out his knife and he cut off the ear of that man who was trying to get Jesus. But you know what? Not too long after that, Peter was fearful. He fell into fear and allowed no longer his faith to lead him, but his fear, and he denied Jesus three times. This shows us that one day, we can be very strong and ready to die, and then just a few days later, we're denying Jesus. John 12:42-43, the Bible talks to us about some Jews, some leaders in fact in Israel who they believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but because of their fear, they were not willing to follow Jesus. Let's read John 12:42-43. The Bible says, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” And so, these are just a handful of reasons why individuals choose to sin.
But now, let's look at what sin does to us. When I sin, what does that do? First and foremost, sin separates us from God. It makes us guilty before him. In Isaiah 59:1-2 the Bible teaches us that it is our sins that have separated us from God. The Bible says in Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear you.” It's not that God needs a hearing aid; It's not that God's hand is not long enough. It's that our sins have separated us from God. God's not the one who moved. We're the ones who moved when we sin. In fact, Ephesians 2:1, as Paul is talking about sin he says that “you He made alive, who were once dead in your trespasses and your sins.” Those who live in sin are dead to sin. In Romans 3:19 Paul says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” When we sin, we are found guilty before God. We are separated from him. And ultimately, it will separate us for eternity if we do not change and follow his will, Romans 6:23. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” So the result of sin is spiritual death or separation from God, and such separation exists not only in this life, but more important, even in the life to come. So let's make sure that we are repenting. Revelation 21:8 teaches this: that if we do not repent, we will be separated from God for all eternity. The Bible in Revelation 21:8 says, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the sexual immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.” And so sin will separate us for eternity.
But sin also has its consequences on earth. Not only from a spiritual standpoint, but even a physical standpoint. It breaks up families. Sin causes you at times to lose your job, your money, your health. And the more you sin, the easier it becomes to sin. One of my favorite passages is found in the book of Galatians 6:7. And we need to remind ourselves of what Paul says in Galatians 6:7. He's talking about what we sow. We need to be careful with how we live our life because it's always going to come back in the end. The Bible says in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Now that's a very simple principle, is it not? If you sow something good, then what are you going to reap? You're going to reap something good. And if I sow something bad, what am I going to reap? I'm going to reap something bad. That's a very easy concept to understand. And people want to try to ignore this. But we can't. So how does sin affect our lives from a purely physical standpoint?
Well, think about all the diseases that come with sexual immorality. Romans 1:27, the Bible is talking about homosexuality, and it says, “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Another Bible passage talking about sexual immorality is found in 1 Corinthians 6:18, and Paul is talking about how sexual immorality hurts our own bodies, it hurts ourselves. The Bible says in verse 18 of 1 Corinthians 6 to “flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but who he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” All the diseases, the sexually transmitted diseases; on top that, all the births or all the pregnancies that happen because of all the sexual immorality. People say, “Well, I don't even believe in God, I don't even believe in the Bible.” Well, even if you didn't, it would be the way to live, because the Bible is watching out for us. It is trying to look out for our best interest.
When it comes to marriage, divorce and remarriage, God's plan is one woman for one man for life. We see this all the way back in the garden, Genesis chapter 2. What happens when that doesn't happen? A lot of heartbreak. In fact, Jesus only gives one scriptural reason to divorce your spouse: Matthew 19:9, and that is for fornication. If you've not done that and you've divorced for other reasons, then you have no right to marry another and you must remain unmarried or reconcile to your former spouse. There are consequences that you must pay. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 we read about that. The Bible says, “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: that a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” Now, the word depart there is used interchangeably with the word divorce. And so if you divorce for any other reason and you want to go to heaven, you're going to have to remain single or reconcile-unless you divorce for fornication.
And so even if you choose to repent, there are still some earthly consequences. People say, “Well, I've changed, I've repented.” Yes, but you still have to face those consequences. Think about Moses. Moses couldn't enter into the Promised Land. Why? Because he struck the rock in Numbers 20:8-12, when he was supposed to speak to it. Now we read in Exodus chapter 16 of Israel complaining; and they're wanting water; they're wanting food. And the Lord tells Moses, “You are to strike the rock.” And that's exactly what Moses did. But then in Numbers 20:8-12 when Israel complained, God told Moses to speak to the rock, and instead he struck it out of anger. What was the consequence? Does that mean Moses was separated from God forever? No. Moses could still be right with God, but there were was still consequence because of his sin. Even though he repented, he could not enter into the physical Promised Land. In Romans 13:1 and following the Bible teaches us about the government and how government executes judgment on earth. Proverbs 23:29 talks about alcohol and the dangers and all the terrible things that come with alcohol. One way or another, bottom line is that your sips will find you out. And the book of Numbers 32:23 the Bible teaches this principle. You can't hide from God. And even if you think you're getting away right now, you are not. The Bible says in Numbers 32:23, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.” In Numbers 32:23 the Bible plainly teaches that one way or another, “your sin will find you out.”
Well, now let's look in the last few minutes of this lesson the remedy to sin. We see what sin is. We see that all have sinned. We see reasons why people have sinned, and we see what sin does to us. And so what is the remedy to this sin problem? Well, the gospel. Romans 1:16: “It is the power of God unto salvation,” and only through the gospel, only through the Lord can we have our sin problem taken care of, Acts 4:12. We must be willing to change our lives, Romans 12:2. We are not to conform to this world, but we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We have to repent. And repentance is more than just being sorry. Repentance is an outcome of sorrow, not just sorrow itself. We read this in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. We see the difference between a worldly sorrow versus a godly sorrow. The Bible says, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” You see, what about that individual who robs the bank and they get caught and they say, “I'm sorry?” They have a worldly sorrow. They have a sorrow that they got caught, not a sorrow that they robbed the bank.
We must truly repent. Not only turn from sin, but we also have to turn to God and work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling”, Philippians 2:12. I cannot keep sinning and hope that God will take care of my sin. Hebrews 10:26, the Bible says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for our sins.” Folks, Jesus died so now I must give my life fully to Him because He did so for me. In Matthew chapter 10 Jesus taught this in verse 39. Jesus said, “’He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The question I want to ask you is have you found the remedy to sin? Have you obeyed the gospel? That's the remedy. That's the answer to sin, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Jesus is the answer. The Bible is the answer. Obedience to his gospel is the answer. The Bible teaches in Romans 10:17 that we have to go to the right source and have faith. We have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, John 3:16. As we just saw, we have to repent. We have to change. Not just be sorry that we got caught, but be sorry for what we did, Acts 17:30. We must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, Romans 10:10; and we must be baptized in water for the forgiveness of our sins, Acts 2:38. If you've yet to obey the truth, we pray today that you will obey the gospel of Christ.
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(a capella singing)