These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, June 21, 2020.
Part 2 of HUMAN. Various Passages.
Welcome to week two of our series called Human. We're painting a portrait of humanity so that we can know who we are, what's gone wrong, and what is our potential going forward.
Today, we're exploring what's gone wrong.
Human history is a mix of majesty and misery. We are capable of so much good. We are inventive and kind and courageous. But, at the same time, we are seriously flawed. We have done so much harm to each other and even to ourselves.
I know in my own life that I can be kind one minute and selfish the next. Sometimes, I get it right. Other times, I get it so wrong. Aren't we all like this? The Bible tells us that we're all in the same boat:
(Isaiah 53:6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
The entire human family is like a flock of sheep that has wandered off from their shepherd. The Bible word for this is sin:
(Romans 3:23) All have sinned and fall short of (don't have) the glory of God.
Understanding what sin is and how it impacts our lives is the key to understanding what's gone wrong with humanity.
ANALYZING OUR SIN PROBLEM
We can get a good understanding of sin by looking at the three ways it impacts our lives. This is our diagnosis of the human condition:
1. SIN IS AN INFECTION.
Sad to say, there was a moment in human history when sin entered the world like a virus and it has infected every one of us in each succeeding generation. It all comes down to a decision made by Adam and Eve to doubt God's goodness, which led them to disobey his command:
(Genesis 3:6) When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
We can trace all our problems to that moment. The Bible tells us:
(Romans 5:12) Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
Sin is the universal human condition. It entered the world and no one escapes it. No one is born with immunity.
(Genesis 4:7b) sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you,
The good news is this: "Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). We'll look at how that works in a few minutes. The second way sin impacts our lives is ...
2. SIN IS A DISPOSITION
Our sinful condition results in an internal drive to sin, like a GPS guiding in the wrong direction. The Bible even calls it a law:
(Romans 7:21-23) So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
Sin is primal drive that attempts to rule our lives. It tries to tell us what to love and worship and what is most important. It is always working in our minds and bodies, holding us prisoner so we cannot escape.
(Psalm 36:1, NLT) Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
I watched a documentary on the Nuremberg trials. After the war, captured Nazi leaders were charged with crimes against humanity and called to account for their atrocities. What was most shocking was how ordinary most of them were before the war. These men who had exterminated millions of humans in death camps didn't look like monsters. They were soft spoken. But they were driven by an internal drive - the law of sin - to believe evil lies and to do evil things.
The law of sin wants to do this to all of us - even mature Jesus-followers. Paul expressed his frustration:
(Romans 7:24-25) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
We'll talk about the rescue from sin in a few minutes.
The third way sin impacts us is:
3. SIN IS ACTIONS
Our sinful condition leads to our sinful disposition and this leads to our sinful actions. The Bible tells it this way:
(James 1:14-15, NLT) Temptation comes from our own desires (that's our disposition, orientation towards sin), which entice us and drag us away (that's our drive that results from our disposition). 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions (result). And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death (consequence).
It's tough to come up with a simple definition of sin. So, I'm not going to try. However, it might be helpful to take a quick look at the variety of words used in the Bible to describe sin:
Failure or missing the mark.
Going astray, trespass, transgression.
Rebellion against God, ungodliness.
Perversity, wickedness, iniquity.
Breaking God's laws, disobedience. The Ten Commandments summarize the moral law of God. These are what loving God and loving people looks like - as defined by God. Today, we want to define love on our own terms but that's not how it works.
Sin is serious and cannot be overlooked. Every sin is first and foremost against God, When David confessed his adultery and murder:
(Psalm 51:4) Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
THE ONLY REMEDY FOR SIN
Sin is a condition that infects us like a virus. It is a disposition that drives our choices, and those choices lead to sinful actions. Sin has a tragic impact on every single one of us resulting in spiritual and physical death. In spite of this, sin runs rampant in the world.
That is a gloomy picture but I'm sure you can see the truth of it. I had to turn off my news notifications on my phone because it felt like every one of them was another example of sin. I don't need all that negativity all the time.
Throughout human history, we've tried all kinds of ways to cope with sin.
We've denied it as an invention of religious fanatics.
We've excused it as a product of a deprived upbringing.
We've tried to educate sin out of people and we've passed laws to prevent it.
And the reality is that none of it has worked. Human-centered attempts to deal with sin are roughly the equivalent of attempting to turn back the tide by standing on the beach with a sign saying stop. Why? Sin lives in the heart and only God can change a sin-sick heart.
Sin is our disease and the person and work of Jesus Christ is the cure:
(Romans 7:24-25) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The angel announced:
(Matthew 1:20-21) an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Only Jesus can kill the infection in our hearts. Only he can make us pure within. Only he can crush the driving power of sin out of our lives. Only Jesus can wash away our guilt and lead us on the path of love and life.
Like Humpty Dumpty, humans are broken. Only Jesus can put us back together again. Reach out to him right now and he will heal your sinful, guilty heart.
(Psalms 32:1-2) Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them ...
Consider praying as follows (Book of Common Prayer, 1979):
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.