You are an extraordinary person. You
are smart, kind hearted, generous, well educated, and good looking. But, as a
minister of the Gospel, it is my duty to give you the message from God that all
those good things are not good enough. You still bear within your soul the spiritual
death that Jesus calls sin.
Even though we have known of the existance of sin from the
beginning of the human race, Recognizing the existance of sin, in this generation, has become politically incorrect. Even
the best of Churches, the best of Christians, even while preaching today's watered-down version of the Gospel, have dodged
the issue. People use meaningless euphemisms, pretend that the issue isn't there,
or isn't important.
Today's tolerant society has accepted as a normal part of conversation
the common and unrestricted use of every expletive in the English language.
Words that used to be against the law to say in public, and would
bring the speaker a fine, no longer even cause a shudder of shock or offense.
There is a word, however, that still sets people's hair on end. This word continues to cause immediate resentment and anger, and evokes openly hostile
response, whether the hearer is a church member or not. Even dedicated
Christians, ordained ministers, invent new phrases, ignore the Bible, and strangle their syntax, in order to avoid having
to use this word, even in sermons from the pulpit.
It is that terrible, unspeakable word, that we are going to talk
I'm speaking of the dreaded and feared R word.
The prophet Ezekiel gave a sermon on this subject, in Ezekiel, chapter
Starting at the 19th verse.
The soul that sins, it shall die. verse 21. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that
which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions
that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him. In his righteousness that he has done, he shall live. verse
23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live?
verse 24. but when
the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the
wicked doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness, which he has done, shall
not be mentioned. In his trespass that he has trespassed, and the sin which he
has sinned, in them shall he die.
It might be good to take a look at the three words the Bible uses
to define and explain sin.
First, there is the word sin.
The word sin has two meanings. It has the common meaning of the bad things
it also has the deeper meaning of the weakened condition of the human soul that makes us
perfect". A very common expression
is, well, we're "only human." The Bible says that God created man just
a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. And
much as we were originally created to be in the image of God, and in spite all
of the astoundingly brilliant things the human race has accomplished, we still find ourselves locked in a never ending struggle
with an invisible force inside of us that continually pulls on us and drags us away from the glory we were created for.
Next, we have the word trespass.
Trespass means the actual breaking of God's law. Sin in your soul is the
power that tempts you, and makes the trespass look like something you really want to do.
And so you give in to the power of sin and commit the trespass.
There is a third word that God uses to define sin, and that is the
word iniquity. Now what is iniquity? Iniquity
is a condition in your soul which causes you to love your sinful condition and
enjoy your trespass. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.
We are all sinful. The
weakness of human imperfection makes us tend toward wanting to do the things that God has forbidden us to do. So we commit the deed, and transgress. And then we find
that we enjoy the transgression, and want to do it again. That is iniquity.
He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. He bore our sins in His body
on the tree.
God told Adam and Eve, don't touch that tree, He wasn't trying to be mean. The
very creation of man in the image of God required that the man be given a choice to make between obedience and disobedience.
creation of Adam in the image of God could not be completed until this new living soul made the choice to follow that which
was good and right and the direction of God. People talk about the Fall of Adam. In actuality, he never fell. Because,
he was not completed yet. By choosing to disobey his creator, he fouled
up the completing of himself.
power of sin came into the soul of
Adam, and something died inside of him. Now the spirit part of man was in a shambles,
with all the powers of the dark side fighting for control.
that weakness for the darkness of sin was passed on to Adam's children. By one man's disobedience, sin came into the human race. A spiritual darkness came into the human heart, and the human race lost its way. We all know the story of the first murder. Cain got
jealous of Able, and killed him with a rock to the head.
Since then the history of the human race has been a history of, murder, betrayal, adultery, theft, abuse, cruelty, backbiting, backstabbing, selfishness and
just plain meanness.
Romans 3:10 There
is none righteous, no, not one.
The Lord said, The soul that sins, it shall die.
If the unrighteous shall die, and and there is not one righteous,
than we are all dead.
And that is the part of the message of Jesus Christ that no
one wants to accept. Jesus told Nicodemus, he that believes not is condemed already,
because he doesn't believe in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God. He that
on the Son has eternal life, he that does not believe shall not see God, because the wrath of God abides on him. That's pretty heavy stuff. The natural question anyone
would ask is, why? Why does my eternal life depend on me accepting that
the identity of Jesus Christ is God in the flesh? Why can't I worship somebody
else, like Budda, or Krishna,
or my honored ancestors, or the Great Pumpkin?
The Bible says that we are all dead in our trespasses and our sins. Because transgression against God separates us from the life of God. And if we are separated from the life of God we are dead.
It's like the electric cord on
your lamp. It can be the prettiest and most expensive tiffany lamp
you flip the switch on it and nothing happens. You change the bulb and try it
again. You still don't get any light. You
put in another bulb, and yet another bulb. And you begin to get frustrated. What's wrong with this lamp?
you see the cord sitting on the floor. The lamp is not plugged in to the
source of its power. It is a perfect lamp.
But it is not going to give one bit of light until it is plugged into the source of its power. But electricity is invisible. How are you going to find it
to plug your lamp into it? Well, you have this wire running through your wall,
and it connects to a socket that receives the prongs on the end of the cord. Insert
the prongs into the socket that is connected to the wire, and you get your light.
But you cannot plug that cord into just any old hole in the wall. The one dug by your resident mouse won't work.
It has to be the one
connected to the wire. Because the wire has the power in it. And Jesus Christ is the only God with the power of light in Him.
Your soul needs to come alive by being connected to the life of
God. But God is invisible, just like electricity.
can you connect to something invisible? By making it visible. And that is what Jesus Did. He made God visible by making Himself a human body. Now you recognize
that He is the source of power for your soul. Just like you recognise that the
electric socket is the source of power for your lamp. Once you recognize that
the socket is the source of the power, you plug the lamp in.
Once you recognize that Jesus is God in the flesh, and He is your
source of power, to bring your soul to life, then you will receive Him, and plug your soul into His power.
But if you refuse to recognize Him as the source of your divine
power, you will never receive that divine light, and your soul will stay in the dark, and stay
To receive that divine light, you have to stop, turn your soul around,
and go the other way.
John the Baptist had no problem with that dreaded R word.
Matthew 3. In those
days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.
Saying REPENT! REPENT!
All it means is stop going the way you are going, and turn around
and go the other way.
But the minute someone says that repenting is the way to find God,
all Hell breaks loose. "Don't try to proselitise me!" "Don't try to shove religion down my throat!" Everybody
who has ever heard the Gospel has hollered these words in one way or other. Even
people who finally give in and repent, these words were their first response.
And everybody who reacts this way thinks that they are the first one who thought it up.
I have heard many people,
over the years, cry out in frustration, "why doesn't God do something about the evil in the world? Well, actually, He already did. And the human race has largely
been angry at Him about it ever since.
God showed His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us, to redeem us from the power of sin. Isn't that doing something
about the evil in the human race?
before we cared about it ourselves. Before we knew Christ existed, He was weeping
for us, and shedding His blood for our souls.
But when we hear of his command to "repent", it makes us nervous, it makes us angry. Everybody loves the account
of Jesus making the five thousand fish sandwiches. And I think everybody's favorite
story is the one where he throws the furniture around and throws out the money
changers in the temple. But when He says, turn from your sins, because they have
killed you, and I want to restore life to
you, everybody goes into some kind of self defense mode and starts declaring that they are just as good as everybody
else and don’t tell me I need a savior. When Jesus says “come
unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”, He is not dragging you to your death. He is trying to drag you to your life. Your
job is to stop kicking like a scared mule and let go and let Him do it.
Everybody's favorite sinner is King David. That's because he committed everybody's favorite sin, and people can feel a kindred spirit with him. Let's take a look at what happened. His story is the perfect example of what happens when you don't stop, turn around, and go the other
David started out as a young boy with great talent and great honor. He would sit out in the field with his father's sheep, and compose songs of praise
to the Lord . He had faith, and devotion, and trueness of purpose. Even while he was fighting the wars with Saul, his father-in-law, that eventually put him on the throne
of Israel, he kept his faith and his integrity
strong and faithful. But he had within him the same weakness called sin that
every member of the human race has.
And one day, he let down his guard.
The first mistake David made, in his dallyance with Bathsheba, was
to forget something very important. Every transgression of God's law, committed,
In this case, the injured person was Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. He was one of David's most honored Generals, and a good friend.
Remember when Mrs. Potipher was after Joseph, in Egypt? Joseph did not declare, Mrs. Potipher, you're homely as a mud fence and I wouldn't have you on a bet. No. He said, Mrs. Potipher, your husband trusts me to run his entire household. I cannot betray his trust.
David should have thought
of Joseph's words, in relation to his treatment of Uriah, and backed off. Repented.
We see in David's situation the serious destructive power of sin. It started with one little deception. It's
not going to hurt anybody. We're just cheating for one night. But that one little deception got bigger and bigger. Because
that's what sin does. It grows. It
gets more complicated. The cheating went on for more than one night. Now David and Bathsheba
loved each other. One misstep gets another.
Now, the line is so old and cliched, people laugh at it. Dear, I'm going to have a baby.
back in Israel at this time, adultery
was against the law. It was a capital offense.
They were a new country, and serious about enforcing the moral law that God had given Moses on Mount
So now, David takes one more step downward. There was forgiveness in the Old Testament, even for this. This
was the place where David should have stopped, turned around, and gone the other way.
Repented. But by now David had forgotten all about his noble integrity,
and his faithfulness, and the songs he would sing to the Lord. All he could think
of was hiding his sin.
The only way he could think of was to call Uriah back home. Give him a military Leave of Absence. He'd
go home and visit his wife, and all would be swept under the rug.
Except that Uriah had a sense of good leadership and loyalty to
his men. He told King David, thanks. But
how can I go visit my wife while my men are sleeping out on the ground with one eye and one ear open and one hand on their
Now the trap gets tighter.
The Spirit of God is shouting at David. Repent. But he doesn't hear. David's
mind sinks even deeper into the dark. Last week, he sent Uriah a
Leave of Absence form. This week he sends him a transfer. Right to the front lines. And as planned, Uriah gets killed. So now he can bring Bathsheba home to the palace, juggle the dates on the calendar,
and issue the palace press release about a new Prince just a few weeks late, and hardly anyone will notice anything.
It all started with a perfectly understandable, universally understood,
weakness of the flesh. But David forgot the R word. Repent. Stop. Turn
around. Go the other way. He kept
going forward, and forward was a downward slide from temptation to transgression to iniquity.
From desire to betrayal, to lust, to adultery, to deception to murder. To God's judgement.
Prophet Nathan came to David, and gave him a parable. There was a man in your
kingdom who had a little pet lamb. The lamb was gentle and sweet, and the
man's loving companion, even sharing his meals and drinking from his cup. And
he had a neighbor who gave a party. and instead of taking from his own flock
of sheep, he stole his neighbor's little pet lamb, and barbequed it for his guests.
This account made David furious.
He ranted and hollered. Arrest that man.
Make him pay back four times what he stole.
Nathan looked at him and delared, you are the man. You betrayed your neighbor. You betrayed your friend. You stole his one and only pet lamb.
It didn't take David long to make the connection. David had to be knocked in the head,
he did come out of his self righteous mode, and realized how far he had fallen from decency and honor, and he did, finally, repent, and the Lord forgave him.
the Lord could not let this thing just pass. There had to be a punishment.
told David that as punishment for this awful thing, Bathsheba's baby was going to die.
He added that the evil that was done was going to rise up in David's household.
is another example of the terrible consequences of sin. David had several children
from different wives. And because of this scandal, they all did not see their
father as the sweet psalm singer of Israel, loving
the Lord of heaven. Four of them
followed Daddy's wretched lifestyle example. One of his sons raped one of his
daughters. Her full brother arranged an ambush, and killed the offending half-brother. Another of his sons raised a rebellion of the people, trying to dethrone David, and
wound up dead, hanging by his hair from a branch of a tree.
David had been doing his duty of raising his children in the Lord and teaching them by example of right living, maybe all
that horror would not have happened.
It would have been a good thing if David had listened earlier to
the call of the Lord to his soul. Repent!
As long as I am telling others to repent, and repentance seems to be a very rare experience
these days, I think I aught to tell you what it feels like.
It was Wednesday, March 13, 1957.
9:10 pm. In a lovely little church on the North side of Chicago.
Figuratively speaking, the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, grabbed me
by the collar, shoved me up against the wall, and
"do you want to go to Heaven or do you want to go to Hell? You've got thirty seconds to decide. No second chances. " It scared me half to death.
I have since learned that this used to be the normal thing, for hundreds of thousands
of people getting saved in revival meetings, since the Wesleyan Revivals. In
the Great Awakenings at the beginning of this country, and the revivals in the early 20th century. People came into contact with the Holy Spirit shining His light into their souls, and they saw the sin
that was there, and the ugly damage sin does to the soul, and why it makes the soul dead.
And it was a seriously emotional experience.
But that night, it was just me, suddenly, kneeling at that altar,
bawling my eyes out like I would never be able to stop.
I had a set of rules of moral conduct that I lived my life by. Never, never steal. Unless I really, really intended to put
it back first thing in the morning.
tell a lie. Unless, of course, in self defense.
let a boy touch certain parts of my anatomy. Unless, of course, I was feeling
a little reckless. With this sterling set of high moral standards, I was going
to dazzle the world with what a wonderful person I was.
But when the light of the Holy Spirit burst into my soul, and shined
that light on my sins, all I saw was rot.
My life and my sins flashed across my mind like bright color pictures. My biggest sin, it seems, was my hardness of heart.
This was my overall attitude that told God, hey, butt out of my life, I'll live it myself!
And then, there was a certain incident in high school, that would
take to long to explain the details. It involved a situation where I saw a person
being abused and picked on. At the time, it occurred to me that I should say
something. Intervene, and do what I could to stop the abuse and mistreatment. But I backed out, and changed my mind, telling myself that it was none of my business.
Fast forward, back to me at the altar, seeing my life flash in front
of me in those rapid fire mental pictures. That incident of thinking about sticking up for a person being mistreated had lasted no longer than a minute. And I had forgotten it. Yet at this moment of the Lord's light
on my sins, this incident exploded back at me, like an enormous weight that was dragging me to Hell. And the spirit of God shouted at me, every time in your life,
when you have had the choice between doing what was Right, and doing what was Easy, you have chosen the Easy. And the Lord was very displeased with those choices.
This, the Spirit of God declared, was serious moral cowardice. In Revelation 21:8, Jesus said, outside of the heavenly city, in the lake of fire,
are the fearful, and the abominable, and all the rest. What kind of fear
will keep you out of heaven? And drag you
to to God's eternal garbage disposer? Moral cowardice. The fear of doing what is Right because it will cause you trouble and people might disapprove of you.
Why do I remember this incident as an example of a thing judged
as sin that needed turning from? Because to me it was a nothing. I was barely aware of it. But to the Holy Spirit, it was a
transgression of the law of God, and that sinful power in my soul that made me choose
"Wrong and Easy" would drag me to Hell if I didn't disown it.
And when you let your
heart break enough to turn to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness of sins, be prepared for this same kind of inner earthquake that will change forever your understanding of the difference between Right and Wrong.
You will find to your shock that there are "nothings" in your life,
that you are barely aware of, that the Lord sees as huge transgressions that need repenting from, and His forgiveness.
Before the light of the Holy Spirit
enters your soul, you are barely aware of what sin is, or why it is so deadly, and offensive to God. That is why it is so hard to convince good, decent, kind hearted, generous people, that they need to repent. Your reasonable demand, is, what is it
that I have to repent of?
Try repenting of the very first sin I repented of. The attitude of, Hey, God, butt out of my life. I'll live
you open that door to the Holy Spirit, He will start shining His light on those little nothings in your soul that pile up
to a great mountain of transgressions and iniquities that bar the way between you and Jesus Christ, and drag your soul to
Luke 18. Jesus shows
us the difference between a soul that knows how to repent, and a soul that doesn't think
it is necessary. Two men went up to the temple to pray. A publican and a pharisee. Now a Pharisee was a member of
a very strict, religious group that lived by very strict rules and regulations of righteousness. A Publican was a tax collector, and considered to be the lowest and meanest of sinners, because of their
habit of stealing from people.
The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself. Jesus said the man prayed with himself. That means his prayer didn't go beyond the ceiling. It was
just him talking to himself. He
said, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
The Publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his
eyes to heaven. But smote his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you that this man went down to
his house justified, rather than the other.
Repenting is something that men are afraid of. But it is a most beautiful valued thing with God. For with
it, you touch Jesus, and deliver your soul to eternal life.