Welcome today to Impact. We are so glad that you are with us. Today, we are concluding the series called “Urban Legends.”
Let’s do this. Would you look to the person to your right? Everybody look to your right. Everybody now look to left. Look to the person to your left. Very good. Now look at the person behind you, maybe a couple of people behind you. Go ahead and turn around. Look at behind you. Okay, you got them? Now, I want you to point at the one that looks like the biggest sinner. [laughter]
Go ahead and … go ahead and … a lot of people are pointing at each other, so it feels a bit weird to point at a person you that think would be the biggest sinner. In fact, in a lot of churches today, there are a lot of leaders who are going to say,
“We don’t even call people sinners. We don’t want to make people feel bad about themselves. We don’t want to talk about sin, and we don’t want to call people sinners. We just want to encourage people. We want to uplift people. We want to make people feel better about themselves,”
…which in some respects is good news, because we do need encouragement, and there are a lot of people that are discouraged, and a good encouraging message is important. But, if we don’t talk about sin, the reality of our sin nature, and it’s destructive power and it’s eternal consequences, then we, as the church, are doing perhaps the most incredible disservice to people that we could ever do with our entire lives. We water this down if we pretend like it is not a big deal. We are preaching a very, very dangerous message.
Some Thoughts: You look around today and what is really, really scary is that,
it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between people that are believers and people that are not believers.
You look at the actions and the lifestyles. For example,
if you look at studies today, you will find that
Just as many, if not more, Christians divorce as do non-Christians, and it should not be that way.
If you look at generosity and how much people give, studies show that
Non-Christians are just as generous, and some studies say more generous than those who call themselves believers. We need to think about that.
If you look at the life of the average Christ Follower you see that there is little or no difference about the way they do life than someone who doesn’t claim Christ.
and there is no difference on the outside, at some point, we are going to have to ask yourself, “Is there a real difference on the inside?” What’s the problem today in the church world? How does all this negative stuff happen!!!!
I think part of the problem is that so many people today want to add Christ to their lives, kind of like a little add-on. “Yeah, I’m still cool hip. I’m still doing everything I want to do, and yeah, Jesus is my home boy, too.”
Okay. We want to add Christ without subtracting sin. We want all of the benefits of calling ourselves a believer, but we don’t want anything that Jesus teaches to really affect the way that we do everyday life.
We want a revival in our hearts without repentance in our lives.
We want to add Christ without subtracting sin. Spiritual maturity, what is it?
Spiritual maturity isn’t just how much we know, but how much we obey.
It’s not just, “Hey, dude, I want this Bible study, you know, and I memorized all of these verses. And I’ve been to this kind of Bible study, and I know all this about Christianity and about God and about Jesus.” Spiritual maturity isn’t just how much we know up here, but how much we obey, how much we live out, and wouldn’t you agree that most people who call themselves Christians have been educated way beyond their level of obedience.
We know all this stuff, but we don’t live it.
This conversation leads us to Urban Legends #4
Today, we are going to talk about some very serious spiritual myths, urban legends about sin.
There are three of them that we will study. Three legends in one Day!!
1. I’m not a bad person
The first urban legend about sin, and you are going to hear this all the time when you come across people is, people will say this. Number one, they will say, “I’m not a bad person.” You know, there are a lot of bad people in the world, but you know, generally, I am a pretty good person. Yeah, people by nature, they are pretty good.” Are you ready for this? “You are a very, very bad person. You are a sinner!”
I mean, I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. We are born with a sin nature, separated and bent toward sinfulness. We are, by nature, sinful people. In fact, this is what scripture says, I John 1:8. The Bible says that,
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 1 John 1:8
The Bible says that there is no one that does good. We are sinful human beings, and we have to recognize that. If we don’t, we are in great spiritual danger. I will explain it like this.
Jurassic Park Clip
Jurassic World. All the movies are the same. The only difference is that it went from a Park to a World…we have this great island with dinosaurs, let’s all go, oops something went wrong, the water shakes, we almost die and we all end up okay..well most of us. If people don’t realize that and go to the Jurassic world or park they are in serious danger… It is the same for Christians…
Unless we see our selves as sinners, we will not see our need for a Savior. If we don’t realize that we are separated from God by our sinfulness, we will not see our need for a relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior.
So many of us, it feels good to say, “I’m not that bad of a person,” so we will compare ourselves with other people. We’ll watch the news and go, “Dude, that guy who just got arrested, he’s bad. She’s a mess. Can you believe what she did? She’s bad. I’m not that bad.” When we compare ourselves to people, we don’t feel that bad, but when we compare ourselves to a holy God, all of a sudden we realize this about ourselves.
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
…scripture says that, “all our righteous acts,” everything that we have ever done that is right and holy and pure, all of that added up together are like what? “are like filthy rags.”
Our best attempt at righteousness in the eyes of God falls incredibly short. “I’m not a bad person.” We are very, very sinful in the eyes of God, and unless we recognize that, we are not going to see our need for Jesus.
2. all sin is the same
Urban legend number two, if you are taking notes, and this is so common, in fact, I would guess that most of us probably believe this, and that is the legend that all sin is the same.
Now, why is this legend so common today? It is common because people will use this legend to justify their own sinfulness. You will hear,
“Hey, who are you to judge me, Christian person? You’re a sinner, too, and, and my sin is no worse than your sin. All sin is the same.”
In fact, a lot of people will say, “Well, doesn’t God say that all sin is the same?” Actually, God never says that.
Now, when is all sin the same? And let me be very, very clear, all unforgiven sin is the same in that it separates us from a holy God. The punishment for unforgiven sin is the same, and that is hell. All sin does separate us from God. Let me be very clear about that, but the consequences, both on earth and in eternity for our actions are not the same. If you are taking notes, write this down.
Our obedience, or our disobedience, it influences three things.
1. First of all, it influences our rewards in Heaven.
If you are obedient and you do some right things, scripture says you will be rewarded in Heaven, and that is very, very good news.
2. Our obedience, or our disobedience, secondly, influences punishment in hell. Now, let me just say first of all that hell is a very real place that you don’t want to go and you don’t want anybody to go there. It’s more horrible than you can ever imagine, but scripture is clear that there are some actions that people will commit against the heart of God that will lead to a more severe punishment in a place called hell. Okay?
3. Third thing, if you are taking notes, is this. Our obedience or disobedience, it also influences consequences on earth.
There are some sins that you can commit that aren’t going to wreck your life as fast.
There are other sins that you commit on earth that they are going to, they are going to hurt very, very badly, very quickly. For example, let’s say that I was late to church today and so I was going five miles over the speed limit and blew through a light that was just turning red, got pulled over, got a ticket. I sinned. Chances are pretty good you’d forgive me. I could pay the fine. I could still drive, and chances are, I could continue to be your pastor.
If, on the other hand, let’s just say I got a wild one day. I was bored. I stole all the money from the church, went to a foreign country, and joined a co-ed skydiving club. Haha. Okay? First of all, that’d be scary, but second of all, I would no longer be your pastor.
There would be more severe consequences for that sin than for the sin of speeding. There are different consequences for our sin, both on earth, and eternally. Let’s look at a couple of examples from the word of Jesus.
Luke 12:47-48, Jesus said, 47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
There are Different levels of punishment.
Old Testament, there were eleven sins that were worthy of the death penalty. There were hundreds that were not, but eleven, if you committed any one of these eleven, Old Testament says you deserved to die.
New Testament, I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, they show us certain actions that would forbid a person to be involved in church leadership. Different consequences.
Jesus, again, Luke 20:46-47, Jesus said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”
Urban legend number one, “I’m not a bad person.” Yes, we all are. Urban legend number two, “All sin is the same.” Yes, all unforgiven sin separates us from God, but all sin is not the same.
3. Number three, and this is played out almost every day in lives across the world, and this is the legend that people believe, “Well, shoot!
I’ve already sinned, so I might as well continue. I’ve already blown it in this area, so what the heck. I might as well keep on going.”
Where will you see this? Let’s just say I’ve got a young boy, a young girl, and they believe God’s standards of righteousness and they say, “You know what? We are going to wait until we are married to share in the gift of love making.” They really, really mean this. And then, boy and girl meet, and they get the tingly-winglies, goose bump feelings, watch the extra squirts of cologne, sniff … “She smells so good,” and her leg with no hair touches his leg with hair, and feels good, and next thing you know, they give away their virginity. Huh, blew it. “Well, since we’ve already done it, we might as well keep on a going.” And you will see people who had made a decision early on, “I will be a virgin when I marry,” and because they blew it at a certain age, they’ll have eleven sexual partners before they get married.
Where else will you see it? For me, before I was a Christ Follower, I wanted to make good grades in school, but I knew I would never, ever cheat … until the first day that I did. Cheated once, cheated again, and again, and again… I already did it once, might as well keep on going. We know we are not supposed to look lustfully at something, so we don’t. One day we are on the computer, and oh, ho, ho, ho, ho. And we do, we’ve already done it once, might as well keep on doing it.
a. The most Miserable people in the world are not non-Christians, but instead, Christians living in sin.
2 Peter 2:20 says this … 20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before.
Some of us are going to relate to the power and the truth of this verse. Scripture says this, “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (you have met the freedom of Christ), and you are again,” what? “Then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again.” Scripture says you are what?
“You are worse off at the end than you were at the beginning.” You know the life and the power and the forgiveness of Jesus, but you step back into the destructive power of sin. You will be worse off than you were even a long time ago.
The most Miserable people in the world are not non-Christians, but instead, Christians living in sin. Some of you, right now, you know this. The most miserable people in the room right now are not those who are not believers in Christ and doing whatever they want. It is those who are followers of Christ who step back into the destructive power of sin, and you are miserable, and you know it, and you ache because everyone else thinks that you are okay, but on the inside, you are dying in your sin.
Why is sin so destructive? Because it is incredibly progressive in nature. It may seem small and inconsequential one moment, but then it grows, and it grows, and it grows, and it grows, and it kills, fulfilling the message of the evil one who came to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. It is progressive.
James 1:14-15, But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
what? “It gives birth to sin, and when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death.”
What’s the problem? People want to add Christ without subtracting sin. They want revival without repentance. Spiritual maturity, it is not just how much we know. It is how much we obey. The problem is, many of us have been educated way beyond our level of obedience. What do we do? Scripture says that we repent. Everybody say, “Repent.” Okay?
b. We need to Stop ! and Repent from our Sins.
The church of Laodocea in Revelation, Revelation 3:19, Jesus was talking to this church, and this church is like a lot of us today. It was full of people that had an outward view of faith, kind of an outward look about them. They looked very religious, and they had all these material things, but scripture says they were very, very lukewarm. Jesus said this to them, He said, “19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” He said to them, “Be earnest and repent.”
We repent. “Re” pent, “re-turn,” “re-born”. All about the “re”
Let me quote Craig Groeschel on the importance of Repentance and the “Re”
When you rebuke the enemy, and return to God by repenting of your sins and receiving Christ, your spirit will be reborn, your mind renewed, your life will be rebuilt. You will be reconciled by the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, and while you rejoice, you will reap the rewards of a relationship with Jesus, causing real revival to break free. It’s all about the “re,” returning to the ways of God. – Craig Groeschel
What do people say about Christians? “Just a bunch of hypocrites. They say one thing and do another.” We want to add Christ without subtracting sin. Can I just say to you, when you really experience the freedom of Christ, you don’t want to live in that sin anymore, and if there is no noticeable difference from the outside, at some point, you have to question is there the reality of His presence on the inside. When is the last time your heart has broken because you sinned against God? When is the last time that you have worshipped and not been able to stop, because God has more grace than your greatest sin?
B. Closing Thoughts
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9
We often Accuse others of sins while excusing ourselves. What sin have you been excusing in your life?
What truth do you know that you don’t obey?
Who will I Confess my sins to this week?
It’s not a game. We’ve got one shot, one shot. Sin is not a joke. It is not something to avoid. It is something to address. Let God deal with it. When you rebuke the enemy and return to God by repenting of your sins and receiving Christ, your spirit will be reborn, your mind will be renewed, your life rebuilt. You will be reconciled by Christ’s redeeming work, and while you rejoice, you will reap the rewards of relationship, causing revival to break free.
Let us repent before God for our sinfulness. “Father, we thank You for Your grace that is greater than anything that we could ever imagine, and we thank You that Your mercy is available to those who are in Christ. God, we thank You that new life is available to those who would turn to You today.”
“Father, we ask in the name of Jesus that You would forgive us for these sins. God, we thank You that, in Christ, there is forgiveness, and God, we owe You all of our life because of Your grace and because of Your forgiveness. God, we confess this to You, and we thank You that whoever confesses sin to You, God, You are faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now, as you are praying today, don’t just confess to God, but I am going to challenge you to confess to someone else. We confess to God for forgiveness, but remember, we confess to people for healing.
The scripture says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you might be healed.” Right now, decide who you are going to share with to. It might be your Small Group. It might be a prayer partner. It might be someone in your youth group, men’s group, women’s group… It might be a college buddy, a teammate. It might be your spouse. Decide right now who you are going to confess to, and commit that to God. Say, “God, I am going to confess, so someone else can pray for me.”
“Now, God, we ask that You would set us free from these sins. Amen”