Whatever Became of Sin
Why did Christ die? We can say He died to save us. But why did He have to die on the cross. In the next few weeks I want to talk about His dying and why it had to happen. But let’s start with a story. This is in memory of Fred Craddock who was considered one of the most popular preaching professors in America. And a master story teller and preacher. I had the privilege of attending a seminar on preaching where he was one of the presenters. He went home to be with the Lord earlier this month. Here is one of those stories:
The receptionist buzzes the secretary and says, “The nine o’clock appointment is here.”
The secretary buzzes the boss and says, “Your nine o’clock appointment is here.” “Who is it?” “It’s Reverend Nathan.” “Well, send him in.” “Good morning, Reverend.
To what do I owe the honor of this visit? I know, I know, I know I’ve missed worship a few times lately but the war, the economy, a lot of family things going on. A few trips to take, I’ve been busy. But I sent my pledge in; it should arrive early next week.
I don’t know why you came but I’ve taken care of those things. How are you doing?”
“I just came here to tell you a little story.” “Oh, I love your stories. That’s one reason I come to worship, to hear your stories, I like your stories. I was just telling a friend of mine one of your stories the other day. What is it, Reverend?”
“Well there were two men in this certain village, one was very rich, one was very poor. The rich man had sheep all over the hillside; you could hardly count them. The poor man had one. It was rejected by its mother; he raised it from a little lamb, fed it with a bottle. It was in the house most of the time, sometimes slept with its head on his lap, drank from his cup. His children loved it; one ewe.
“The rich man had company arrive and he wanted to feed them well so he went out to get a sheep to slaughter for the feast. He did not take one from among his hundreds. He went to the neighbor’s and took the only sheep the neighbor had.
Slaughtered it for the feast.” “Slaughtered it, stole it?” “Yeah, the only one he had, took it, he had plenty …”
“Why, goodness, I’ve never heard of anything so insensitive, so cruel, so greedy, so selfish, so … I tell you he ought to pay back fourfold. Ah, no, that man should die for what he did.”
And Nathan said, “David, you are that man.” David knew, he didn’t have to be told. It was on his mind night and day. He remembered all the details. It was in the spring of the year when kings go forth to war and he had returned to Jerusalem for a little R & R. He saw this beautiful woman and brought her to the palace. After all, he is the king. And who is she? Her husband is a soldier in the army and he’s gone. These are difficult times, yakkety, yakkety yak.
She becomes pregnant. He sends for her soldier husband to come home and the soldier husband, Uriah, is a good soldier. “I can’t take my wife out to dinner and sleep in my own bed and have good meals in the comfort of home when my buddies are out on the cold ground eating K-rations.” And he would not go home. Plan A didn’t work.
Plan B: He sends word to the commander to have Uriah’s troop pressed to the front to take the city. And when he is out front, withdraw and leave him there vulnerable. And soon the word comes back; “Uriah was killed.”
The king comforts the poor widow and marries her. “You are that man.”
Samuel tells us that he fell prostrate, would not be consoled, and according to tradition, he prayed Psalm 51: “Have mercy, have mercy.” “It’s always in front of me. I wake up with it; I go to bed with it. It’s against you, God, that I sinned; it’s against you. The one relationship that means more to me than anything else and I stained it. Don’t leave me alone. I’ve lost all my joy. I feel like my bones are all broken. I can’t do anything right. If you withdraw from me, I’ll become an animal, I’ll be grazing with the jackasses, I’ll be nothing. Don’t turn your back on me. Clean me up. Give me a clean spirit. Forgive me.” I’ve been wondering what I would say when I very likely will see Him in Jerusalem, on the street, or in the temple, or on the cross. Very likely you will see Him. What are you going to say?
The receptionist buzzes the secretary, “The nine o’clock appointment is here.” The secretary buzzes the boss, “The nine o’clock appointment is here.” “Who is it?” “It’s Reverend Nathan.”
“OK. Morning, Reverend. I know why you’re here. You’ve heard about it, the whole town’s heard about it, it’s been in the papers. And I admit it; I made a mistake, so what? Cut me a little slack here. It’s not like I’m the only one in the world who ever made a mistake.
I mean these are war times and in war times you have an emergency situation, you relax all these moral restraints. We suspend the ethical; it’s just a difficult time for everybody. I know I’ve upset my kids, my wife, but they’ll get over it. I’m not a bad person. “You know I was anointed by the prophet to be the king when I was still just a boy in my father’s home. I’ve had a favored place in God’s sight; I’m not a bad person. When Israel was paralyzed in fear of the Philistines, I’m the one who killed their champion Goliath. You remember that? I’m the one that gave a home to the Ark of the Covenant and set up a place to worship. I’m the one that’s been wanting to build a temple to God. You remember the grandson of old King Saul, Mephibosheth, crippled boy? I brought him into my house and treat him like a son. I’m not a bad person. Hey look, we’re all human, we make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. It’s not the end of the world.
The way I look at it is this. There’s enough bad in the best of us, enough good in the worst of us, that it behooves none of us to say anything critical about the rest of us. You know the way I look at it, Reverend? Life just kind of ends in a draw, right? That’s the way I look at it. How’s your family?”
Craddock, Fred B. (2011-04-13). The Collected Sermons of Fred B. Craddock (p. 41). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
I. What can we learn from David’s story?
A. Sin goes against the Law of the scripture and it displeases God.
B. There is a domino effect to sin. Look at what happened to David:
1. He hadn’t been to worship – he was too busy to spend time in fellowship and worship. He was too busy for that. Mistake 1
2. Mistake 2 – He should have been with his men at war. It was the time of the year that Kings went to war – he sent his military people to take care of things and he stayed home for a little R & R. If he had been where he should have been none of the rest of the story would have happened.
3. Mistake 3 – He should have quit looking. When he saw Bathsheba he should have gone back in. He should have turned off the TV or the computer. He set himself up for failure.
4. Mistake 4 - He followed through with what he was lusting for. He fulfilled his imagination met with this gorgeous woman. He just wanted to talk with her. The next thing he knows she is pregnant.
5. Mistake 5 - instead of confessing his sin he tried to hide it with bring her husband home and when that didn’t happen he had him killed.
C. Sin damages us. It makes us sick spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
D. The only answer to sin is confession, forgiveness, and repentance. We will look at these steps next week in more detailed.
II. Here is the sad part now. We have become numb about sin. We aren’t concerned about sin anymore and we just sweep it aside, using excuses like I’m not perfect or I’m just like everyone else. Our biggest problem is that we don’t see how sin destroys things. We just excuse sin away. Check out what Paul has to say.
Galatians 5:16-21 (NIV)
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery (wickedness / corruption) 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
A. It is almost like sin doesn’t exist any longer. Think about it.
1. We see nothing wrong in telling a little lie.
2. Or cheating on our income tax.
3. Or looking at pornography or lusting after a person of the opposite sex
4. We see nothing wrong in talking back to a parent or a teacher
5. We don’t see anything wrong with taking something from work saying that is not stealing – we deserve it.
B. We excuse sin away – blaming it on someone else. Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. We are good at blaming someone else for the things that have gone wrong.
Writer Can't Blame the Internet for His Problems
At 11:50 P.M. on April 30th, 2012 technology writer Paul Miller started his yearlong commitment to live without any contact with the internet. So he unplugged his Ethernet cable, shut off his Wi-Fi, and exchanged his smartphone for a dumb phone. He said, "I wanted a break from modern life—the hamster wheel of an email inbox, the constant flood of [worldwide web] information which drowned out my sanity. I wanted to escape."
On May 1, 2013 he wrote an article titled "I'm here: back online after a year without the internet." Miller started by saying, "And now I'm supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I'm supposed to be enlightened. I'm supposed to be more 'real,' now. More perfect."
But Miller realized that the deepest problems in his life weren't related to something outside himself—like the internet. Instead, the real problems in his life resided in his own heart. Miller concluded:
What I do know is that I can't blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I'll stick with them when I get back on the internet—I probably won't, to be honest. But at least I'll know that it's not the internet's fault. I'll know who's responsible, and who can fix it.
C. In 40 years in ministry I have seen sin reign in people’s lives and see how it destroys them and those around them.
D. But we continue on as if sin doesn’t exist. We act like we don’t care!
E. Christ died because sin separates us from God – His blood is what cleanses us.
Small Child Teaches a Lesson on Confessing Sin
Every year at our Ash Wednesday service people have an opportunity to write their sins on a piece of paper, fold the paper, and then pin it onto a wooden cross as a reminder of Christ's forgiveness. One year a family came to the service, and they walked through the worship experience as an entire family. When they came to the confession station, they explained to their 6-year-old son the practice of confessing their sin and writing it on the paper.
So when they all grabbed a sheet of paper and started writing their confessions, he did the same. Remember, he is 6, so he started writing with large, clear block letters. The rest of his family wrote their confessions and then carefully folded the sheets so no one could see the sins they had written down. They intentionally left their names off of the paper as well. Then they walked to the cross and pinned their "sins" on the cross.
This 6-year-old wrote, "God, I'm sorry because I lie." But then he signed his name, and he refused to fold it. He walked to the front and pinned it to the cross. His parents asked, "Why did you put your name on it? Don't you want to fold it up so no one can see?" Then he said, "I wrote my name on it because I want everyone to see it. Because if they know it was me, maybe they can help me stop."
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.