Saved from Sin

Scripture: Exodus 34:7, 1 John 2:15-17, Romans 3:23
Date: 03/08/2003 
Jesus wants to save us from sin. Salvation is a theme throughout all the Bible. There is a battle between good and evil. There are three main types of sins: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I just felt deeply impressed by the Lord today to return to a basic theme that is sometimes misunderstood and in some cases seldom heard anymore and it is simply this: Jesus wants to save you from your sins. Now that may seem very basic. Sometimes people are insulted that you would talk about something so elementary. They say, “That’s the milk of the word, Pastor Doug. We need more of the meat.” Well, if a person can’t get the milk down then they don’t need to worry about swallowing meat yet, right? And sometimes we still struggle with this very basic truth of believing that Jesus wants to save us from our sins. I remember hearing about how President Calvin Coolidge was legendary for being a man of very few words. Calvin Coolidge came home from church one day and one of his White House attendants said, “How was church today, Mr. President?” “Fine.” “What did the pastor talk about?” “Sin.” “What did he say?” “He’s against it.” A man of few words.

It’s amazing he got elected. A politician with few words it sounds like an oxy-moron, right? But that’s really what it’s all about. We are against sin and so is the Lord. Sin is an enemy. Billy Sunday put it this way back in the days when preachers used to preach about sin he said, “I’ll kick sin as long as I’ve got a foot. I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless I’ll gum it until I go home to glory and it goes to Perdition.” Billy Sunday, if you ever heard about him, he actually would animate what he was talking about when he preached. That’s back before they had the video screens and television. When he preached about Nebuchadnezzar he’d drop down on all four and crawl around when he talked about the king going crazy. Very dramatic preacher. But that’s still the point.

God wants to save us from our sins. Sin is bad. It’s deadly. One of the central themes you’ll find in the whole Bible is the theme of Salvation and sin. All the way through the Bible in virtually every story and every doctrine you can find this thread consistently running that God is saving us from sin. It’s a battle between righteousness and sin, between good and evil, the government and motives of the devil and the motives and the kingdom of God. I wanted to quote something from Joe Cruz. He said, “It’s probably safe to say that the majority of Christians today are resigned to falling short of the moral law, in fact, they’re quite satisfied that God doesn’t even expect them to obey the law in the flesh or the spirit.” You know that thinking, that philosophy is prevalent that, “Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sin, but who is sinless?” And since nobody would have the audacity to wave their arm in the air and say, “Well, I’m sinless.” Then we all sort of resign ourselves to the fact that we don’t exactly know what it means to be saved from sin. It must not mean to be saved from sin, and that’s really exactly what it means.

We can buy into a very popular philosophy that is circulating among the majority of Christians that really what the Lord meant to say was he saves us with our sins, in our sins, but you can’t find that scripture. You can come to him in your sins and with your sins but he loves you too much to leave you that way. He wants to save you from your sins. I was hoping for a better Amen than that but I’ll keep working on it. Maybe we should begin with some definitions. Now don’t think for a moment that I’m going to take the next six hours and list all the sins. I’m not going to give you a litany of all possible sins, but there are some differences of sin and the words are used differently. One example would be if you look at the scripture in Exodus 34:7, here the Lord says, “Keeping mercy for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Now even by the Bible different kinds of sins are described different ways. You’ve got iniquity then you’ve got transgression and you’ve got sins. You’ve got different intensities of sins, different types of sin. Now all sin is deadly. I think we recognize that.

Of course there’s a lot of things that you can ingest that will kill you. If you ingest too much cholesterol it will probably kill you. And you can also ingest strychnine. It will kill you much quicker. I think I would enjoy dying from cholesterol more than strychnine. There are varying kinds of poison you can take that have varying effects and that’s how sin is. Sin is all deadly but some is more offensive to God. Some is much more quickly acting. And one way we know that is because the judgements that God sends against sins are sometimes more severe for various sins. You can see that in the Bible. So while we’re looking at the definition of sin keep in mind there are two categories of sin. You have what they call sins of omission and sins of commission. Those are two high-falutin’ words and what that really means is there are sins where you commit, you do something wrong, you break one of the Ten Commandments. You lie, you steal, you rob, you commit adultery, you are committing a sin, a sin of commission. Now in the area of sins of commission there are three categories for sins of commission. You might make a little diagram of this. This is very Biblical. One of the scriptures I’ve memorized is I John 2:15-17, “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world.

If any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him for all that’s in the world,” here they are, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of the Father but the world and the world passes away and the lusts thereof but he that does the will of God abides forever.” Three areas, lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride of life. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness how many temptations were there? Three. Those three areas where Jesus overcame in the wilderness represent the same areas where Adam fell in the garden. Isn’t it amazing? Christ did in a desert what Adam couldn’t do in a garden. Those were dealing with sins of commission. The devil tempted Jesus to commit a sin. Adam committed a sin when he did something wrong. Now sins of omission are equally deadly and it’s a different category. When you read about the great judgement in Matthew chapter 25, it starts with verse 31 where the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats and he says, “I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was thirsty you did not give me drink. I was naked you did not clothe me.

I was in prison or sick and you didn’t visit me.” He’s dealing there with sins of omission. They didn’t do anything wrong. Those people that Christ says are lost because they did not do it unto one of the least of these, they have not gone out and broken a law persee. They have neglected to love their fellow man and those are sins of omission. Does everyone, we all understand now what I’m talking about some of the different categories of sin. Now there’s some Bible definitions for sin. There’s more than you think. Let me ask you what is the most popular definition you find in the Bible? What is sin? The Bible defines sin as? Transgression of God’s law. You didn’t let me down. That’s found, of course, in I John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of God’s law.” It’s very simple. When God said to Cain, “Sin lies at the door.” Cain was getting ready to murder, break that law, he was going to commit a sin.

Sin is transgressing God’s law, but there are other Biblical definitions we sometimes forget about. You might jot some of these down. John 16:9 says the Holy Spirit is going to convict the world “of sin because they believe not on me.” It’s a sin not to believe in God. Have you ever thought of that? Romans 3:23, “Falling short of the glory of God” is sin. It says “All have sinned,” and how is that defined? “…and fallen short of the glory of God.” God has a plan that we should reflect His glory. Another definition is Romans 14:23, “For whatever is not of faith is sin.” We are to live by faith. “The just shall live by faith.” If we’re living in doubt that’s a sin. God wants us to walk in faith, to live by faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin. Let me redefine that a little bit or clarify that definition. Sometimes people do things and their conscience is telling them, “This is not right.” It may not be an explicit command but they’re doing something out of faith.

They’re going against their conscience and the Bible describes that as sin. I John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” So whenever anything is unrighteous by the definition of God’s word that is sin. Proverbs 24:9, “The thought of foolishness is sin.” You mean we can sin with our thoughts? Yeah, you can. And Jesus talks about a man or a woman thinking something inappropriately about the opposite sex they can commit the sin in their heart. It’s happening in the mind so sin is much broader than sometimes we understand. But stay with me. I’m not wanting to preach a sermon to depress you. I’m wanting to give you hope but you gotta stay with me here. So sin is a big thing. It invades the fabric of everything fallen man does. You cannot do anything right with a wrong heart. Everything you do in an attempt to please God is going to be polluted and corrupted by sin unless your heart is renewed. And it will demonstrate itself through these different ways. You’ll be breaking God’s law, thinking impure thoughts, you’ll be unrighteous, you won’t be living by faith. There are varying intensities of sin. I touched on that a little bit.

You can read there in Hebrews 10:26, “For if we sin willfully after we have received a knowledge of the truth there is no more sacrifice for sin.” So willful sin is even more offensive to God because we know what he wants. Then the Bible tells us in Psalm 19:13, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.” A presumptuous sin, you know, that’s something we’ve often been guilty of. It’s when we know something’s wrong but we know Jesus is merciful so we say, “Well, I’ll sin today and ask for forgiveness tomorrow.” That’s called presumptuous sin. That’s offensive to the lord. And then there are sins of ignorance. Numbers 15:28, “And the priest will make atonement for that soul that sinneth ignorantly… when he sinneth by ignorance before the lord.” You might be thinking, “Don’t you have to be conscious that something is wrong in order for it to be a sin?” Not necessarily. You know when you commit murder, hopefully no one here can relate, but when murder is involved are there varying degrees of murder? Is premeditated murder, doesn’t it usually get a more severe sentence than manslaughter or second-degree murder?

Some of it is premeditated and it’s thought out and that’s more severe. Well, that’s how it is with sin. Some sins are premeditated. Some are accidental. Sometimes people blurt something out because their hearts are not in the right place, they shouldn’t have said, and it was an unintentional thing. And so there are varying kinds of severity of sin. Probably one of the important points that I wanted to spend a moment on is in our culture where we have redefined everything and we have more pleasing titles there is a danger that we can also somewhat redefine sin that it loses its offensive nature. Paul talks about sin being made to appear as exceedingly sinful. Sin is a deadly toxic thing. Man calls it an accident. God calls it an abomination. Man calls it a blunder. God calls it blindness. Man calls it a defect. God calls it a disease. Man calls it a chance. God calls it a choice. Man calls it an error. God calls it enmity. Man calls it a fascination. God calls it a fatality. Man calls it an infirmity. God calls it iniquity. Man calls it a liberty. God calls it lawlessness. Man calls it a trifle. God calls it a tragedy.

Man calls it a mistake. God calls it madness. Man calls it a weakness and God calls it willfulness. Calling something by the right name is very important. I read that in the Oxford Union Society in London they’ve got a club and they have a law, “Any man introducing a dog into the Society’s premises shall be liable to be fined one pound. Any animal leading a blind person shall be called a cat.” We’ll just call it something else. Does calling it something else change the dog into a cat? We have a propane fireplace in our house. It came that way. And I remember coming downstairs several mornings in a row where I smelled gas and I went and I checked the little key that turns it on and it was off as tight as it could be. I’d turn it on it would come gushing out. I’d turn it all the way off. I’d say, “Well, that’s off. I didn’t know what the problem is.” The next morning I’d come down and I’d smell gas. And that happened for several mornings. It seemed like the smell was getting a little bit stronger so I talked to the people at the gas company and I said, “Could you please do me a favor and change the fragrance of the gas because I’d really like something that smelled better.” Some of you are wondering why I did that. I didn’t really do that. This is an illustration. Would that solve my problem to have them add some essence to the gas?

Or am I still in danger of exploding? Right? So just changing, trying to cover the stench with some fragrance that doesn’t really help it. You need to get it out. And I had to repair the leak. It ended up it was leaking around the key. So that’s how it is. Sin is deadly! And you know if somebody comes to a doctor and says, “Doctor, I’ve got this problem on my skin.” And the doctor looks at it and he thinks to himself, “That’s skin cancer but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” He says, “You’ve got poison ivy.” Is that doctor someone you would trust? Would you trust a pastor that calls it poison ivy when it’s really skin cancer? Well, I don’t want to soft-pedal it because sin is deadly. The reason I know that is Jesus died. The penalty for sin is death and we’re in a habit of trying to make it look pleasing. And whenever someone gets up to try to talk to us about our sin we think that they’re the problem and the world is the problem and we don’t want to think that maybe I‘ve got a problem. It’s like the man who eats Limburger cheese for lunch and he gets some on his moustache. Any of you ever smell that stuff? It’s rotten when it’s fresh! And then after a couple hours go by he starts to look at the other people in the office with him and he thinks, “Man, you guys stink!” He walks outside and he thinks, “Well, the porch stinks too!” Gets out in the street and he says, “Why the whole world stinks!” And it’s really the Limburger on his own moustache, right? Well, this is the way sin is.

Sin in our lives without being dealt with makes us critical of everybody else and we become very guilty and react in a variety of ways to manage that guilt. Sin is heavy. The Bible describes sin as a weight. If you’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress you know about the joy that the Pilgrim felt when he let his burden down. How many songs do we sing about laying aside our burdens of sin? Hebrews 12:1, “lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset us.” Ephesians 4:22, “That you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” It’s something you put off. It’s a weight that we let off. The Bible says, “Cast our cares upon the lord.” So many of us are weighed down, not only with sin, but with the cares. Some people might say, “Well, you know, Doug, stop trying to heap this guilt on people.” Another philosophy that has contaminated Christian thinking is the idea that all guilt is bad.

You should never feel guilty and if anybody stands up to make you feel guilty they’re the enemy of our society that is looking for serenity. You’re disrupting the peace of our culture if you tell people to feel guilty. But you know I can’t escape the truth that we should never feel good about doing bad. If you have children that are shoplifting and you catch them and they have no remorse, don’t ask me why this illustration pops into my mind, would that worry you? You’d want them to feel regret. You’d want them to feel remorse. And if you’re saying, “stealing is wrong, you shouldn’t do this” and your spouse says or school teacher says, “You’re putting guilt on the child. Don’t make them feel guilty.” Is that the right attitude? Or should you feel bad about doing bad? That’s appropriate guilt. So Jesus came to take away this burden, the weight of sin and one of the first things that happens when we come in contact with the lord, when the Holy Spirit begins to work in our life we become aware of that weight of sin. Now I’m going to get into some issues that are very heavy, very important, very important.

You cannot go to Heaven if you continue deliberately, willfully in your sin. We must be saved from our sin. There is no sin in Heaven and the idea that the lord is going to perform some chemical change in our minds and hearts right about the time Jesus descends from heaven that will suddenly transform us from sinners to saints is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that transformation, those conversions must take place now. If God can just wave his wand and suddenly make us holy against our will then, Lord, do it now, right? But you and I must participate in this plan of salvation and being saved from sin. The Bible says, for instance, Ezekiel 28:16 speaking about the devil, “And you sinned, therefore I cast you as profane out of the mountain of God” that’s a term that’s used for Heaven. The devil was cast out because of sin. The Bible says there was war in heaven. Satan was cast out and his angels down to the earth, why? Because of sin. And it’s a very simple analogy or evaluation if Satan was cast out of heaven for sinning are we going in deliberately sinning? Sin cannot be permitted in heaven.

It’s like if you wanted to observe an operating theatre where somebody is having brain surgery. Now there are doctors here who might correct me but I understand that there is a sack that encases the brain and the spine called the mengees and there are no white blood cells in there and that’s what meningitis is and if you get an infection there it can be fatal and so the sterilization procedures for brain surgery are the most stringent. So if you come from working at Taco Bell dressed in your work clothes and you want to sit there and watch the brain surgery they’re going to tell you to leave the room. You can’t come in unless you scrub and you put on these special garments. Heaven is pure. Heaven is holy. The purpose of the Plan of Salvation is God wants us to be a holy people. Do I have scripture for that? Yeah. God says, “Be ye holy.” He wants us to be a holy people so we can live in that holy place. You know don’t be discouraged. God would never ask you to be what you cannot be. You’ve heard me say before every time you find the word “be” that is a creative word. God says, “Let there be light…” there’s light. Let there be a firmament… let there be land let there be and it happens. When Jesus said to the leper, “Be thou clean” he was clean. So when God says there both is Leviticus and in I Peter, “Be ye therefore holy” can you hear it?

There is the echo of creative power in the very phrase. Be holy. So when God tells you to be something if you believe you can be it. God wants us to be holy because there is no sin in heaven. I Corinthians 6 this is important. I Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul is speaking, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” If that’s plain please say Amen. Thank you. Don’t be deceived. You know what that tells me? Even back in Paul’s day there were people being deceived into thinking that unrighteous were going to heaven. He says, “Don’t be deceived.” They even took Paul’s writings to try and make it say that. He says, “Don’t be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God…” And I’m glad he goes on, “and such were some of you, but you’ve been cleansed” you’ve been redeemed. And so Heaven is going to be filled with people who were those things but they’re not anymore. That’s why Paul says, those that do those things will not inherit the kingdom of God. God wants to save us from our sins and he is able to do it, friends. Otherwise what are we doing in church? Is this a place where we come together to be mesmerized and receive some false security that we’re going to be saved?

It’s like this man who gets a letter, he works at the IRS and he gets a letter enclosed with a check for $1,200. And the letter says, “I’ve had problems sleeping for a year now. My conscience has been bothering me. Enclosed you’ll find twelve hundred dollars on back taxes. If I don’t manage to go to sleep in the next week or two I’ll be sending the rest of the money.” In other words he just wanted to send off enough to quiet his conscience and give him the illusion that he was doing something right so he could sleep at night. And some people want enough religion to quiet their conscience. That’s very dangerous. The purpose of the Christian religion is to save us from our sins. God wants to deliver us from our sins, but I’m not done with the purity of Heaven. Galatians, Paul is speaking, chapter 5 verse 19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions…” You might take a pencil and circle any areas where you think you might have a challenge. And he doesn’t, this is not an exhaustive list here, this is just sort of a broad, sweeping list. “…contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissension, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” And the like covers everything else. Anything else like this.

It’s a big list. “…of which I tell you beforehand as I’ve told you in time past.” I told you back then. I’m telling you now. It’s always been true. “Those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Period. We are not going to Heaven deliberately practicing unrighteousness. Now you may have caught that a few times I’ve emphasized something “willful, deliberate”. Are there going to be people in Heaven that had too many wives? Three at a time? Is that too many? The Bible says, “no man can server two masters,” right? So two is too many, right? But will there be people like Solomon, David, Jacob, Abraham that had more than one wife to the time of their death? How can they be there? They didn’t know. The Bible says that “the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commands men everywhere to repent.” What is that Acts chapter 17 verse 30? When they don’t know… will there be people in heaven that owned slaves? Yeah, they didn’t know. Some of these things that people just didn’t know were an abomination because it was so permeated in their culture and the way they grew up. There are going to be people in Heaven that maybe worshiped God on the wrong day of the week… well, we should worship him every day but you know what I’m talking about, kept the wrong day as the Sabbath or… There is a whole variety of areas where people maybe failed because they didn’t know. But we are not going to Heaven when God has convicted us about something that is a sin and we persist in rebelling.

You heard our scripture reading, “If you refuse and rebel you’ll be devoured.” But if we humble ourselves he can cover any sin. It doesn’t matter if it’s red, white, crimson, it will be white like snow, right? But it’s the rebellion or almost as bad is this concept that it doesn’t matter. Revelation 21 Heaven is pure, “There shall by no means enter into it anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie.” Nothing is going to enter Heaven that is defiling. It will be pure. God wants us to be pure. Heaven is pure. Now it’s somewhere around this point that we begin to say, “now, Doug, obviously you’ve listed the big sins there. Extortion and murder and adultery and perversions, but you know, everybody sins a little bit and so little sins, they can’t possibly be the big issue. Any of you heard my collection? I’d be happy to e-mail this to you if you ask me. Now I’m going to get all these e-mails of my oxy-morons. I’ve got a special interest in oxy-morons. I remember a number of years ago I heard a preacher talk about oxy-morons and I didn’t even know what in the world that was. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t raise your hand, but there may be some here or who are watching that don’t know what an oxy-moron is. I was in that group. An oxy-moron is a phrase or two words that are put side by side that really mean opposites. I’ve got a great list here. I’m not going to read them all. That would take too long. Loose tights, an oxy-moron. Government productivity. Instant water, what do you add?

Black light, classical reggae, a mud bath, spend thrift, good grief, questionable fact, vague details, a wild garden, hopeful doubt, civil war. Civil and war are two opposite things, aren’t they? A small fortune, military intelligence. People always like that one. Freezer burn, jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly. They’re just opposites, right? Mercy killing, silent alarm, a holy war. That’s a… politically correct, airline food, female driver… Aw, the men are laughing. It’s ok. It was worth it. Rap music. I like these because you can get a laugh with two words. Resident alien, death benefits, act naturally, found missing. I’m just… Taped live, plastic glasses, twelve ounce pound cake, working vacation, oh here’s one, Microsoft Works, randomly organized. Free with purchase. Have you ever seen that one before? Free, with purchase! I could go on, but you know why I’m reading this? You know an oxy-moron? Little sin. Little sin is an oxy-moron. There really is no such a thing as a little sin. I’ll leave this up here if someone wants to grab it, you can copy that. I’ve got it on my computer at home. James 3:5, “See how great a forest a little fire kindles. A match like the tongue can set a whole forest on fire.” A little sin can be very deadly. Someone estimated that every year rats annually spoil as much food as can be produced by 265,000 average sized farms. Rats consume as much as produced by 265,000 average farms. Do little sins make a big difference? Galatians 5, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

A few years ago a lady got an e-mail and in the e-mail it said, “I love you” with an attachment. Well, what woman wouldn’t want to know who is in love with her? So she opened up the attachment not knowing that she had activated a virus called the “I love you virus.” Any of you remember that one? It was especially devastating. It shut down business and government operations. Just a little computer virus. Didn’t even take up a whole floppy disk and it was shutting down corporations. Little sins can be very deadly. Remember what Lot said when he was fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah? He said, “I don’t want to go to the mountains. Let me go to Zoar. I realize that it’s pegged for destruction but it’s a little town. It’s a sinful city but it’s a little sinful city.” You know you raise your voice and it doesn’t sound so bad. Hold up your pinky, “It’s a little sinful city, right?” But ultimately he ended up in the mountains, didn’t he? And God destroyed Zoar as well. So we mustn’t fall for that mistake. One reason God wants to save us from our sin is because he wants us free. Sin is a form of slavery.

The Bible tells us that the service of sins begins… that’s not the Bible, that was a statement by Spurgeon. “The service of sins begins with feasting and it ends in the pig pen.” Sin is slavery. Jesus said, John 8:34, “Most assuredly I tell you whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” He came to set us free from our sins. Proverbs 5:22, “The sinners own iniquities entrap him and he is caught in the chords of his sin.” The Bible tells us in Acts 8:23, “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” As anyone who has struggled with an addiction… well, that would be all of us. You have heard me say before that we’re all sinahalics, we’re all addicts. I’ve got a theory I still stand by that when God made man he initially made us, he designed us to be addicted to him. All of the things that define an addiction are fine if you attach those to God. Think about that. Going after something, craving it, spending everything for it, if God is what you’re addicted to, you’re a healthy person. But if you’re not addicted to God you simply have to figure out what it is you’re addicted to, but it’s something else. Some are workaholics, some are alcoholics, some are drug addicts, some are addicted to sex, some are addicted to spending, but we’re all addicted to something. It’s a bondage.

Sin is slavery and Jesus came to set the captives free. Romans 6:16, I’ve got three or four verses from Romans where he bears this out. “Do you not know that whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are the slaves of the one you obey whether sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness.” If you are living a life of sin you are a slave to sin. If that’s clear say Amen. He wants to save you from your sins. Romans 6:18, “Having been set free from sin.” What does God want to do for us? Just do a big cover-up or set us free from our sins. If you are an alcoholic or a drug addict do you just want God to declare you free or do you need to be able to stop drinking? It controls you. You’re enslaved. You don’t just want to be declared free and still be in jail. You want to be liberated. Romans 6:20, “And when you are the servants of sin you are free from righteousness,” but you go on to verse 22, “but now being made free from sin,” but now, not just when Jesus comes. Are you listening? You’ve been hearing a lie. Some of you I know have been hearing a lie that it happens later. “But now being made free from sin and become servants to God.” You can be addicted to God. That’s ok. “You have your fruit unto holiness and in the end everlasting life.” God wants to free us from our sins and he can free you. Amen?

Now when I quit smoking you’ve heard me say that I quit many times before I quit. And some people have successfully used the patch. They did not have that back in my day. Any of you remember… I don’t even… they went out of business. There was this company that actually shocked people to try and help them quit smoking. Does anyone remember that? You’d go an you’d pay them money and every time you’d pick up a cigarette they’d zap you with an electrical pulse and it was trying to sort of program you and people did temporarily get the victory but then when that sensation went away very few stayed off and that program failed. Any of you remember what I’m talking about? I don’t even remember the name of it but it was very popular, nationally advertised program, where you could quit smoking. You’d go into this place (and they made a fortune for a while) and they’d shock you every time you reached for a cigarette and they tried to reprogram you like an animal. And then of course I tried to taper off. That’s like cutting off a dog’s tail one inch at a time. And I would say, “Well, you know it used to be two packs, I’m down to one pack.” And so instead of dying in twenty years I’ll die in thirty. Then you know you’d get down to ten cigarettes a day and you’re miserable because you’re experiencing all the withdrawal of wanting to smoke like a full blown smoker but you’re trying to quit. Finally when I did quit it was you had to just go cold turkey. You just quit.

How does God want us to get the victory? Is it the patch? Is it the shock program? Or is he wanting us to trust him and walk in a newness of life? Let’s find out what the Bible says. Is it cease and desist? Or does he want us to slow down? Proverbs 4:4, “Stand in awe and sin not.” Proverbs 28:13, you can just jot these down, “He who covers his sin will not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” When Jesus met that woman caught in adultery in the temple, who I believe was Mary Magdalene, and He forgave her. He said, “I do not condemn you.” Don’t miss that. She was guilty. He forgave her. He gave her mercy. He gave her grace. This is the gospel, but then what did he say as she walked away? “Go, you’re free! You’re forgiven! And cut down on your sinning. See if you could scale back on that adultery. Get involved in a reduction program.” Is that what he said? Or was the Lord very decisive? He said, “Go and sin no more.” Did Jesus mean what he said? Now some of you are getting shaken up. You’re saying, “Doug, after church today you mean there’s no more sin?” Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? God is an idealist. John 5:14, Jesus healed a man who was born blind from birth “and afterward he found him in the temple and he said to him, ‘See that you have been made well.

Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.’” Did Jesus say, “Cut down on your sin?” You heard the story about the Highway Patrolman in California? They call it a “California stop” where someone sort of slides through the stop sign. Highway patrolman pulled this fellow over who had just slid through a stop sign. He never did really come to a full and complete stop and as he’s writing him a ticket this young, arrogant man began to say, “Come on, officer, you’re being ridiculous. It’s just the same thing. I looked both ways and it’s the same as a stop. You’re making a big deal out of this!” He was being very obnoxious and the policeman had heard so much of this from so many people he pulled over he just got where he couldn’t take it anymore and he snapped. And the policeman pulled out his Billyclub and began to thump the guy about the shoulders and head and while he was beating him the policeman said, “Now do you want me to stop or to slow down?” Now it is true sometimes you’ll get pulled over by a highway patrolman and it’s happened to me before. I got pulled over once… Karen wants me to share with you… I got pulled over when I was back in Collegedale a few weeks ago. I didn’t tell you this, did I? No. Oh. I was actually, Bonnie and I were just coming from Chip and Debbie Hicks’ house.

We had had dinner with them and I was on my way to a speaking engagement at the Collegedale church or some appointment there and on my way. You pull out onto a road, it’s a community you’re not used to… I don’t know. Looks like a road to me. And so I’m just going down the road California speeds and highway patrolman pulls in behind me and I say, “Bonnie, he’s going to pull me over.” And sure enough he starts flashing his lights just about the time I pass the sign that say’s 45 MPH. Forty-five, but I was going fifty-five or something. And so I pulled over, and he came over, and I said, “Officer, I’m sorry. I’m from out of town. I was on my way to church…” He starts, he looks at me and he starts getting real nervous, I mean, obviously nervous. I said, “I’m a pastor and I was…” He said, “I know who you are.” He felt really bad, I guess. I said, “Officer, I’m sorry. I was just on the phone with my daughter and she might go to Kuwait and I was a little distracted and I don’t know the roads.” I’m making up all my excuses. I finally said, “Can you have mercy?” He said, “Yeah, I’ll just give you a warning. Just see if you could slow down.” He’s shaking. Praise the Lord! I didn’t get a ticket. But they always say, “Just slow it down. See if you could slow it down.” Because, you know why?

They don’t really expect you to go the speed limit. But I’ve got news for you. The Ten Commandments are not ten recommendations. They’re not called the ten suggestions. They’re the commandments and God wants us to obey them. I Corinthians 16:34, “Awake to righteousness and do not sin.” How dare Paul say that! Something is wrong with his theology. I Peter 4:1, “Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourself therefore with the same mind for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” And the kind of suffering in the flesh Peter is talking about is you sometimes have to wrestle and strive and pray and sweat with God like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane and say, “Not my will, thy will be done.” That’s wrestling in the flesh that you can have the victory. Sometimes it’s a real battle. The greatest battle that we fight is saying, “Not my will, thy will be done.” Isaiah 55:6-7, “Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way…” Forsake the wicked way. “…and the unrighteous man his thoughts” the wicked thoughts. God wants us to be aware of these things. Ezekiel 18:31, “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed. Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit for why would you die, oh House of Israel?”

You know I’m really thankful that Ezekiel puts that in. We need a new heart. We need a new spirit. Because without the Holy Spirit we cannot live a new life, can we? I don’t want you to leave today without knowing that. I had a bumper sticker once and it said, “If you’re heading the wrong way, God allows U-turns.” And that’s the next point. Salvation is dealing with a U-turn and it means “you turn”. As you drive around the city you’ll see signs that say, “No U-turns permitted.” But God permits U-turns, doesn’t he?” Luke 5:32, “Jesus said, I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance.” That’s what repentance is. It’s a turning. Luke 13:3, “I tell you but unless you repent, you’ll perish.” He’s pleading with us to turn. Ezekiel 33, one of the most heart-wrenching scriptures in the Bible, “Say to them as I live says the Lord I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way.” Listen to God. “Turn ye from your evil ways for why will you die?” He’s pleading with us to turn around. He sees us, we’re paddling in a kayak in placid waters and we’re heading towards a waterfall and the currents going to get rougher and rougher and we won’t be able to turn eventually. That’s why the best time to turn is when you’re young. He’s saying, “Turn! Turn!

Why will you die?” Ephesians 2:1, “And you he has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” He wants us to turn around. Spurgeon said, “Sins are like burrs that stick to our clothes when you get off the road.” You know what I’m talking about? Those little hitchhikers? We get off the road, they stick, you gotta stop and pick them all off. Ephesians reminded me of the next passage. God tells us that we should be dead to sin and this is where the key is, being crucified with Christ. Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Now I would like to see by show of hands how many of you would find it a lot easier to resist temptation if you were dead? Let me see your hands. Well that’s the key. You come to the place where you really, fully surrender and say, “I am not going to live anymore for myself. I’m going to live for God.” Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are buried with him by his baptism into death that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father even so we should walk in a newness of life.”

You don’t stay dead. The old man dies and he’s buried when you’re baptized and you walk in a newness of life by the glory of God and by His Spirit. Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your mind on the things that are above not on the things of the earth for you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” You are dead. You’re a new creature now so we think about the new life. Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “I’ve been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live but now Christ that lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” I’m running out of time and I’m not out of sermon yet, but this is an important subject. Heard about a pastor who was trying to emphasize this for his church and he says, “Next week, friends, we’re going to do something a little unusual. We’re having a funeral service during the worship service.” And there is a casket there in the front of the church and flowers around it and after he preached this eloquent funeral message about this person in the casket he said, “Now I insist that you pay your respects before we leave.” And in the casket he had a mirror slightly tilted so as people went by they saw themselves. And he said, “Now as you go forth that old person is dead.

Go to live as a new creature.” And it really kind of helped dramatize for them what it means to be dead for the old person and to live a new life. The real point of everything that I’m saying here is that God has called us to be new creatures of a new government. This world is at war with the Lord. There is a battle going on between Christ and his kingdom and the devil and his kingdom. When you are saved you chose a new king. Psalms 19:13, “Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me.” Now think of that. Sin should not have dominion over you. If you’re a Christian it does not mean you’ll never fall. I think we all know that. That’s why the Bible says, “If any man sin…” I’m so glad John didn’t say “when you sin” because there is never an excuse for sin, is there? He said, “If” you sin “you have an advocate with the father Jesus Christ the righteous.” You can be forgiven. But sin should not have dominion. That means sin should not be controlling you. Christ should be on the throne controlling you, which brings me to my next point. Romans 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey it in its lust.” Do not let it happen. Do not let sin control you. Do not let it reign.

It should not be on the throne. Romans 5:21, “As sin reigned unto death even so grace should reign through righteousness.” Who is on the throne now? Jesus. You’ve heard people say, “Is Jesus your Lord?” Yes, Jesus is my lord. I’ve called Christ ‘Lord’. He’s my savior. What does it mean when he’s the Lord? How can we call him Lord if we’re really under the control of another ruler? When Christ is enthroned on the seat of our hearts then he is calling the orders and we’re obeying. Romans 6:14, “Sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under the law but under grace.” Evidence that you are under grace is that sin does not control you. You’re a new creature with a new king. It’s a new government.

Now here is the part I didn’t want to leave out. How do we turn from sin? Doug, what can you say that will encourage us that we can change? That we can be new creatures? First of all, the Bible tells us that it is the love of God that saves us. “We love him because he first loved us” and that’s I John 4:19. Where do we best behold the love of God? We see Christ lifted up. “If I am lifted up I will draw…” What is it that draws us? It’s the love of God. We see the goodness of God. The Bible also tells us here in Romans 2:4, “The goodness of God leads us to repentance.” You cannot turn until you see his goodness. So as you behold God’s love and God’s goodness and his sacrifice for you it should do something to you. If you know that when we sin it hurts him, it grieves him, it should motivate you with the desire to please him, to be a new creature, to be holy. Deuteronomy 6:5, “You should love the lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.” You know it was interesting I went through the times where Moses talks about obeying the commands of God.

You know he always says, “I command you this day to love the Lord and keep His commandments.” Love the Lord… keep his commandments. He always put love first. I think he understood that you cannot do anything that God wants you to do unless you love him. And of course Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” So how do we love him more? Well, the Bible tells us we love him because he first loved us. The more you look at his love for you the more you’ll love him. You can also read, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word.” The Bible promises, “These things are written for us upon whom the ends of the age have come.” I lost my place here. Here we go. In I John 2:1, “My little children, these things I write unto you so that you may not sin.”

You mean if we read the things he has written it will help keep us from sin? “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” As you fill your heart with the word don’t ever forget that this is called Jesus. Jesus is the word became flesh. As you fill your heart with Christ he keeps you from sin. You cannot keep yourself from sin. As you fill your mind with the themes and the teachings of Christ it gives you a power. This is how Jesus met temptation. This is how we meet it. But I’m not done. How do we turn? The Bible says, “Whoever abides in him does not sin.” That means we need to abide in him. What that means is walking with the lord, resting in him, communing with him, thinking about him. And as you abide in him it keeps you from sin.

Admit it, friends. How much easier would it be for you to resist whatever your specific sin might be if the Lord should suddenly appear when you are tempted? If the presence of the Lord should appear next to you, show of hands, would it be easier for you to resist the temptation if you saw his physical presence next to you? Come on. Fess up! Alright. So really it’s a question of believing he is there, isn’t it? Because he says, “I am with you always.” And so when we sin we think like Jonah that you’re hiding from God. You can’t flee from his presence. If you’re abiding in him and you know he’s there and you’re walking with him it keeps you from sin. So maintain that communion with God. “Whoever is born of God does not commit sin.” We need a new birth, don’t we? When we’ve got the new heart and the new birth it keeps us from sin. You know the struggle is that it is a painful thing to face that the Limburger cheese is on our mustache.

It is a painful thing for us to admit that we are sinners. David heeded everything he could to skirt the issue, to cast the blame, to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. Finally when he was confronted with the fact that he was “the man.” Nathan said, “David, you are the man.” You know what David said? “I have sinned,” and he erupted into a volcanic explosion of tears when he realized what he had done to God, what he had done to the kingdom, his family, and himself. He was converted. “I have sinned.” We need that experience but it’s painful. I heard about a minister in South America. I don’t know what city it was but he heard that there were some children that were living in the sewers of this city. I know that’s hard to think of and imagine but these children had found some shelter in the garbage and filth that was down there in the sewers and they spent all their time living in the sewers. I guess there were places that were elevated and shelves up in there where they slept and it became very common for them to trudge through the filth and the pastor heard about this and it just broke his heart. And finally he felt impressed.

He said, “I’ve got to do something for these children.” He went into the sewers with a flashlight. They didn’t even have flashlights. Their eyes had grown accustomed to the dark. And he began to try to minister to the children. He wanted to clean them up, but it took some coaxing to get them out. They’d come out at night and they’d root around in the garbage dumpsters of the town and during the day because the police were very hard, this may be San Paulo, I’m not sure. They actually, they called them the street urchins and they sometimes executed them. They just figured that they were worthless. He couldn’t get them to come out in the daylight. He finally was able to coax some of them to come and as they approached the entrance of the sewer they saw all the filth and their clothes and their hair. He could see some of the kids were trying to wipe it off but they couldn’t do that. They had to come with the man in order for him to clean them. But the light hurt their eyes and they saw the dirt. Some of them wanted to turn back. It’s like these people in South America. They found a whole town.

They were all dying prematurely in their 30’s and 40’s and they thought this is unusual. What was the cause of it? And some scientists lived among them and studied. They found out that there were insects in the walls of their adobe huts that bred a disease that was killing them. So they had three choices. They had to relocate them to where there was no infestations. They had to fumigate the homes, get them out of the houses and fumigate the homes and try and kill the insects. Or they could just do nothing and they would continue to die prematurely. You know the people in that town did not want to be meddled with by modern culture and they chased them all away and said, “We’ve lived like this for generations.” And they continued to just die prematurely because they didn’t want to deal with it. You know the average person who goes to church, they know that they struggle with sin but they get to the place where they are so used to it, so used to the sewer, they’re so used to the sin that they never come to the place and say, “I’m going to change. Lord, I want to face the light. I’m willing to be inconvenienced.

I want to be cleansed. I want a new life.” And that’s my appeal to you this morning. We all struggle with sin. Have you become comfortable with your sin? Some people first come to the Lord and they’ve got that conviction and the desire to be new creatures and you can see them making radical changes. And then often through exposure to long-time members they somehow vicariously get the idea that God saves us with our sin and they stop striving for holiness. But I want to tell you today that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He must save you from your sin if you are going to live in his Kingdom. Do you want to be holy? Would you like to say this morning, “Lord, by your grace, save me from my sin.” Is that your prayer?

Now some of you might be thinking, “Pastor Doug, you’ve set the bar pretty high this morning. You’re telling us to stop sinning.” No, that’s what God is telling you, friends. It’s not my idea. This is what the Bible is all about. He wants to save us from our sins. If I told you that you could leave this place of worship this morning with no sin on your record how many of you would accept that? Would you want that? It’s true! The Bible says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And you could walk out of this place clean before the Lord with nothing between your soul and the Savior. Why would you want anything less? If it’s your desire to have that experience and to lay your sins upon Christ this morning before we leave this place then I invite you. You may want to come in a special way. You may want to stay where you are. Come as we sing verse two.

That was our last verse but I’m not done talking. There are three ways that Jesus wants to save you from your sin. First you come just like you are with all your sin. “Just as I am.” And he accepts you and he justifies you just like you are. Then as you walk with him he saves you from the power of sin through sanctification. That may involve a process. It may be like a baby learning to walk where they fall in a decreasing fashion, their walk improves, their coordination gets better. You progress as the Lord reveals things to you. You’ll want to make those changes. Amen? Then ultimately God saves us from the presence of sin when Jesus comes. Then we’ll live in a place where we will never be tempted again and there will never be sin. He wants to save you from sin. First he wants to save you from the sins that are in our nature, the penalty of sin. He wants to save you from the power of sin and he wants to save you ultimately from the presence of sin. Would you like to receive all three? That’s the Plan of Salvation.

Father in Heaven, Lord, today we’ve returned to the basics. It’s easy for us in our culture where there are so many conflicting voices to even get our theology polluted and I pray that you will help us to understand that sin is deadly, that it’s offensive to you, that we’ll call it by its right name. If there is sin in our lives, and chances are that we all struggle, help us to recognize this to repent over those things and to turn. And then, Lord, I pray that we can find that peace that comes from knowing that our sins are now covered by the blood of the Lamb. Thank you that we can cast our cares and our burdens on Jesus. Help us to experience that liberation and righteousness by faith. Bless these people with the very struggles they’re going to face. And I pray that each of us can say, “Not my will, thy will be done.” Gain the victory through abiding in you, being born again, receiving your Spirit, a new heart and feasting on your word. Bless us as we go from this place that we can be different and walk in a newness of life. We ask for Christ’s sake. Amen.

God bless you. You may be seated.

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