A Christian’s approach to life situations part 22
Sin is something that every accountable person must learn to deal with and overcome if they every hope to make it into heaven because sin separates us from God.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
But what is Sin? One lexicon I checked defines sin this way, “to act contrary to the will and law of God - 'to sin, to engage in wrongdoing, sin (Louw-Nida Lexicon).” John defines it this way,
NIV 1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
So, sin is what happens when you or I break God’s Law found within the New Testament and we learn that every accountable person has sinned (Rom. 3:23). So, this means that every accountable person is lost and separated from God. But thankfully, God loved us enough that He gave us His only begotten Son who came to this earth and lived the perfect life without sin (Heb. 4:15) so that He could become the perfect sacrifice that would take away our sin.
Since Jesus was willing to die for us, He has made it possible for every person to have the forgiveness of their sins by the power of His blood if they are willing to obey the Gospel plan of salvation. The Bible says that we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God Jn. 3:16, we must repent Luke 13:3, we must confess Jesus as our Lord Rom. 10:10 and we must be baptized into Christ for the remission our sins Acts 2:38.
All these steps are necessary for a person to have the forgiveness of their sins, but baptism is the point that are sins are washed away as Paul found in,
Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
Since baptism is the point that washes away our sin it also the time that we come in contact with Jesus cleansing blood as
Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
I don’t know of any greater moment that exist then when you come up out the watery grave of baptism knowing that all your past sins have been removed and that you are now a child of God. However, This does not mean that our problem with sin is over because we are still going to sin from time to time.
1 John 1: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Once we become a Christian, Satan is going to do his best to cause us to sin.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
We need to realize that the devil is good at what he does and he is good at finding ways of getting sin into our life no matter how hard we try to keep it out. When I think about this principle it always reminds me of my house. With Ken’s advice, I was able to make my house very air tight and you cannot see daylight around my doors. I thought to myself there won’t be any bugs getting into my house. Boy was I wrong. In the first year we moved into our house we killed scorpions every single day. The most I killed in one day was 14. So even though thought my house was bug proof, they found a small crack some where to get in that exactly how sin can find its way into our life as well.
So, in this lesson I want to show you sin develops and how we can overcome sin as Christians. If we are going to maintain our relationship with God then we must overcome the problem of sin in 2 ways:
John lets us know that the Word of God teaches us everything we need to know about overcoming sin.
1 Jhon 2: 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Since the Bible teaches how to do this, the first thing we need to learn in order to overcome sin is to understand how it develops. James 1:12-15 does this very thing as it gives us an outline of the development of sin.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James teaches us that the first stage in the development of sin is temptation and verse 14 show us that it includes 2 things:
So this mean that Temptation = Desire +
Let me give you an example of this. A small boy is tempted to steal some cookies when he wants or desires them and has an occasion or opportunity to take them. The temptation becomes stronger if he wants them really bad and has a good chance of getting them without being caught.
Note: At this stage in the development of sin, actual sin has not taken place, because, it is not a sin to be tempted. We can learn this from Jesus himself because he was tempted as we are, but he had no sin. Just like it says in,
Heb. 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
The second stage in development of sin is “sin” itself In James 1:15 we learn that “When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. So temptation only becomes sin when we act or yield ourselves to it. This tells us that sin involves some kind of action on our part
Again to put this into a simple equation Sin = Desire+ Opportunity + Action
The third stage in the development of sin involves the consequences of unrepented and unforgiven sin: which = “death” just like it says in James 1:15 “and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”
The death being spoken about here is referring to spiritual separation from God as we saw in Isa. 59:2 our iniquities have separated us from God; And our sins have hidden His face from us So that He will not hear.
If we die physically while in this state of unforgiving or un-repented sin, then we will experience the second death, which involves eternal punishment.
Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
We can now put this into a final equation. Desire +
Now that we know how sin develops and the consequences of it I want make some observations about it.
1. If sin overcomes us we die in that state, will receive the final punishment of Re 21:8
2. If we overcome sin, we can avoid this final punishment and experience eternal life with God.
So how can we make sure that we overcome sin so that we can experience eternal life with God? We can do this by stopping its development at any one of the four points leading to the final punishment. Now let’s examine how this may be done
The first thing we need to do is change our desires. This is the best place to begin since this is where the development of sin begins. Paul teaches us that changing our desires is a part of our Christian growth in,
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Also notice what he says in,
Gal 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
But how do we change our desires?
It is through the word of God. Our brain is kind of like a hard drive in a computer. A hard drive is a storage device just like your brain. If we fill up our hard drive with the word of god, we will naturally begin to change our desires to what God wants us to desire.
However if we only fill our hard drive up just a little bit with Gods word and we leave plenty of room for worldly things, we are going to desire those things which cause sin.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
You see, if we continue to put Gods word into our heart, it will be very difficult for sin to enter into our life. In fact as we read God’s word and see the consequences of sin and problems that it causes, we will hate sin.
Prov 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
So the more we study Gods word the less likely we will have the desire to sin, but it takes time to change our desires. So what else can we do to overcome sin? Well, we need to limit our opportunities. Remember, temptation only occurs when there is both desire and opportunity.
So while we work on changing our desires, we should limit our opportunities we have to create wrongful desires. We can do this by purposely avoiding situations that might cause us to have wrongful desires. We need to have the same attitude that David expressed in,
Psalms 101: 3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness
Also, we can do our best to avoid those who try to encourage us to sin as Paul says in,
1Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
So don’t hang around the wrong crowd. Hang around people that can encourage you in righteousness, like my daughter Sarah. Now, I have shared you this story with you before, but I think its good one and I will never forget for the rest of my life. When Sarah was about 6 or 7 years old she was always asking what day it was when we were going to church. If I told her Sunday she would get excited and say yeah, but if it was Wednesday she would say ah man. Now this happened for several weeks and my curiosity got the best of me and I started wondering why she was saying ah man on Wednesday. I thought maybe she didn’t like her Bible class. So, I finally asked her why and her answer has always been encouraging to me because she told me that she said ah man on Wednesday because we only got to go to church 1 time, but on Sunday we got to twice. Now, that is the kind of person that you want to hang around that will encourage toward righteousness.
However, as we all know we won’t be able to remove every desire and opportunity from our life. So what else can we do?
I would suggest that we have to learn to exercise self-control. Remember temptation only becomes a sin if we yield or act on it. If we can control ourselves from acting on our temptation then we can overcome sin. But how does a Christian exercise self control?
One thing we can do is pray for God’s providential help as Jesus taught in His example of how to pray in,
Matt 6:13 And lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Matt 26:41“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
This teaches us that we need to have an active prayer life. If we ask God for strength to overcome a temptation we are having I think He will answer our prayer. Paul certainly believed this as he said in,
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The more we have God in our lives by praying, studying, and being a doer of his word, the easier it will be for us to have self control. When we feed our conscience with righteous things, every ounce of our being will tell us when we are doing something wrong. I am sure we have all experienced our conscience telling us not to do something.
Our conscience can be powerful tool that can help us with our self control if we feed it with righteous things because if we feed it with evil things then it will not help us at all. If fact it will make it easier for us to commit a sin without any remorse because our conscience will become seared with hot iron 1 Tim. 4:2.
We also learn that God helps us with our self control by giving us a way out of our temptation,
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
However, there may be times when we don’t take advantage of the escape that God has provided and we sin. Well, what will do then? We must obtain forgiveness for that sin.
Remember that sin is only victorious when it is un-forgiven. As Christians we can obtain the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus and avoid eternal punishment in hell. Again lets read part of
1Jn 2:1 And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins
Propitiation is a means whereby sin is covered and remitted. Yes, Christ is truly the propitiation for our sins! By his blood we were forgiven of our past sins when we were buried with him in baptism. Acts 2:38, 22:16 Rev 1:5 By his blood we can be forgiven of our present sins when we repent, pray, and confess our sins to God. We can see this in,
1Jhon 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So you see, a Christian can overcome sin at any time by repenting and confessing them to God. Now lets put this all together on what it takes to overcome sin.
Our lesson tonight has focused on sins of commission that is sin we commit by action on our part, but there is also sins of omission. Sins which come from failing to do what is right as,
James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Overcoming these sins are done in a similar way. .
One thing we should never do as Christians is to think that we can just go ahead and sin without ever trying to prevent it and simply ask God to forgive that sin afterwards.
There are several reasons why we shouldn’t do this.
1. In baptism we were freed from the power of sin and we should present ourselves to God as servants of righteousness as Paul says,
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
2. Even though we can receive the forgiveness of our sins, we might still suffer the consequences of those sins.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
3. If we allow sin to deceive us, we may get to the point of sinning willfully and loss our salvation as,
Heb.10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
So don’t take the grace of God lightly and try to abuse it. Instead, we should praise God for his grace and use it to overcome sin in our lives. Let us read James 1:12 to help motivate us to do this,
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
I hope everyone in this room will realize that sin only brings about temporary pleasure and that we should always remind ourselves how wonderful heaven going to be and how it will last for an eternity. So, I hope this lesson will help to overcome sin in our life. I want close this lesson out by giving you some question to think about that pertain to over coming sin.
Are you studying your bible everyday to help you develop the right kind of desires?
Do you watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation?
Do you avoid circumstances and companions that you know will tempt you to sin?
Do you ask God daily to forgive you of your sins and to help you overcome sin in your life?
Adapted from one of Mark Copeland’s sermons.