Sin Nobody Admits - Part 1

Scripture: Luke 12:15-20, Romans 7:7, Isaiah 14:12-14
What is the sin nobody wants to admit? We can think of big sins that many have admitted to, but what about the sin of covetousness? Jesus warned us about this sin which is really a root of all sins.
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Our subject today is, The Sin That Nobody Admits. It is the sin we are afraid to mention. We must be afraid to mention it, because no one ever mentions it about himself. People have confessed to me that they have committed terrible sins. I can recall people who confessed being drunkards, who confessed stealing, breaking up another's home, murder, taking the Lord's name in vain, trifling on the marriage partner, Sabbath breaking, all the rest; but as far as I can remember in all my time in the ministry, no one has ever admitted to me that he was guilty of the sin we are going to talk about tonight, and I suppose the reason for it is that it's the root sin-the basic sin-the foundation sin. The Lord Jesus Himself solemnly warned us about this sin in Luke 12:15: "And He said unto them, take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." The sin that nobody ever admits is covetousness, or coveting.

We might define it before we go any further. I would like to give you three definitions that overlap. You may have better definitions, but we need to have some definitions before we go any further. The first one is, "Evil desire for a good thing." The second one is, "Desire to obtain a thing that is not rightfully yours." The third, "A selfish desire to keep what is not yours." These are definitions of the sin that nobody admits-the sin of covetousness. People just simply do not say, "I'm a covetous person. I want to get hold of that extra dollar. I want to reach out and grab and pull in everything I can get hold of." No, they just do not do that. People never come to me and say, "Well, I want to admit something-covetousness. Greediness is my trouble." No, it's a strange thing. It has always amazed me a bit. People do not mind at all admitting the grosser sins, the blacker sins, but when it comes right down to covetousness, I guess it's just too humiliating and no one wants to say anything about it.

Of course, it's a sin that is not condemned very much by our materialistic age. It is not even condemned very much by the church, it seems. You break any of the other commandments and immediately you get into trouble. But coveting-well, no one knows if you are coveting. But it's a commandment of the Lord, and yet is one that most people seem to overlook." But in God's sight, it is one of the blackest of all sins, because it's the root of every other sin. Remember what the apostle Paul said in Romans 7:7. He said, "I had not known sin ... except the law said, 'Thou shalt not covet.'" And so the point he was trying to get across was this: every single sin has its root in the sin of covetousness, and that's why God thought it was important enough to include in the ten commandments. It is the sin that comes before, and leads to, every other sin that you could possibly ever commit.

Covetousness led to Lucifer's fall. There he was in heaven. The Bible says that he was an angel, perfect in wisdom and beauty. But covetousness began to creep in. He desired God's place and God's praise and honor. Isaiah 14, gives a picture of this. Sometime when you have the opportunity, read the whole chapter. Verses 12-14 mention this one word over and over again - "I, I, I, I." He began to think of himself. I will do this, or I will do that. "I will be like the Most High," he says. "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." That's covetousness. That was his basic sin.

And I tell you, it is still our basic sin, for it is the root of every other sin. If we can stay away from this sin of covetousness, we might be able to get away from sin altogether-because it is the thing that leads to other sin. Now, I may as well warn you ahead of time. There's no way possible to get rid of coveting, except through the Lord Jesus Christ - absolutely no way at all. It takes special power from heaven to overcome this sin.

Now, going back to Luke 12 for a moment. After Jesus said, "Take heed now and beware of covetousness," He told a story to illustrate the point a little bit further. Let me read it to you, verses 16-20: "And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. And he thought within himself saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do. I will pull down my barns and build greater: and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Now notice. God calls this man a fool. Now, I may call a man a fool and be entirely mistaken. But when God calls a man a fool, he's a fool. Now this man is a fool. Why? Well, because he was concerned about himself, - "I, I, I," and forgot all about the solemn fact that one of these days we will all stand before the Lord in judgment. And so God said, "You're a fool. Tonight your soul will be required of you. Then whose shall these things be?"

This is a very solemn story, and every single Christian should give it very earnest attention and heed. The Lord is just saying here, "Go ahead. If that is the way you want it, get anything you want. Keep the things that are not yours. Make provision for more and more sin. You have the right to do it, but when the day of reckoning comes, and your soul is required of you, then whose shall these things be?"

Solomon spoke of the same thing in Ecclesiastes 11. This is a very interesting passage of scripture. Verse 9: "Rejoice, oh, young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes." He says, "Do anything you want to. Have a good time." "But know thou that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment." Yes, go ahead, have a good time, do anything you want to. Have it your way. But remember, "For all these things, God will bring thee into judgment."

And then in the next chapter of the same book, Ecclesiastes 12:14, we read: "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." You know a lot of people think they're getting by with secret sin, things that are in the inside, things that do not show up; like coveting, for example. It doesn't show. A person can go along and be quite a respectable Christian as far as other people are concerned, and yet be guilty of coveting. It does not show up, like many of the grosser sins. But mark you this. On the great judgment day, when the light from the judgment throne of God shines into every life, all of those things are going to be revealed, and people are going to see them in their rotten disgusting fullness. And one of the worst sins to be shown up on the judgment day will be the sin of covetousness.

I'm afraid we do not realize just how far this thing reaches. Take, for example, professional jealousy. Have you ever heard that expression? I want to tell you it is not limited to the professions. It is a term that we ought to use loosely, because it can apply to everyone everywhere. Wives are jealous of other wives, husbands of other husbands, workmen of other workmen. And it's covetousness, this professional jealousy, - coveting another person's praise or his honor, or his position. It's so widespread that there's hardly a place anywhere that it's not named. It even exists among preachers. And here's where the thing comes home. A person could build a very beautiful home, and I could go look at that home and say, "It's lovely. It's a masterpiece. You've done a very beautiful job." And that would take nothing from me. It would be easy for me to do that, because I'm not a builder. A person could paint a beautiful masterpiece-delightful, exquisite. And I could say, "It's superb. Never have I seen anything like it." I could lavish praise upon the man. And it would be nothing to me, because I'm not a painter. But when somebody stands up and preaches a better sermon than I can preach, then for me to say honestly and truly from the heart, "It was a masterpiece. The Lord was with you." That's something else. Do you see what I mean? Now, that's what we're talking about tonight. This matter of coveting somebody's else's praise, somebody else's success, somebody else's prestige, is one of the greatest sins mentioned in the Book of God. It is my prayer tonight that as we go a little further into this thing, every person in this auditorium will determine in his heart, to begin right now, laying hold of God for victory over that one specific thing until he or she is delivered from it.

It's a very terrible thing for a Christian to be guilty of coveting. It's bad enough for a world-ling, but it's an awful thing when a person names the name of Christ and is guilty of coveting. We need to learn to give God the praise for everything. Then we'll stop worrying about credit-who deserves credit for this, and who deserves credit for that-and give it all to God, where it belongs. And then we will not have so much trouble with this thing of covetousness.

I want to read another passage here. It is 2 Corinthians 8:7: "Therefore as ye abound in everything, in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love to us. See that ye abound in this grace also." Now here is the apostle Paul speaking to the church at Corinth. And he was telling them what a good church group they were. And he said, "Ye abound in so many things. In faith." Well, that's a wonderful thing to abound in, isn't it, and we can all use more of it. He said, "As a church, I've noticed that you abound in faith. You abound in utterance. You're able to get up and say what you want to say and make your position clear to other people. You abound in knowledge. You know what God wants you to know. In diligence." They were not a lazy people. Oh, they would get out and work for the Lord. "And in your love to us." He says, "You just love us so much. I want to commend you for all these things, but see that ye abound in this grace also."

What grace? It was a wonderful church-bound to have been. All of these things, he said, are indeed praiseworthy and good. It was a marvelous church, but he said, "There is another grace that I want you to abound in." To what could he have been referring? As you read just a little further down into the chapter, you will discover that he was talking about the grace of giving. He was talking about taking a collection for the poor people at Jerusalem. And he said, "Now this is a grace, and I want you to abound in this too, as well as these other things." Why grace? Well, it was the grace of the Lord Jesus that saved us. Our giving to God's cause can be responsible for saving other people and therefore that's a grace too. Did you ever think of it that way? That's the way the Bible teaches it. And he said, "I want you to abound in this grace also."

Why did he mention that? Well, because, folk, here is where most of God's people fail when it comes to coveting. Right here on this one point-the point of giving. Far too many of God's professed people are guilty of embezzling God's money. And that's why we're going to spend a great deal of time talking about that one thing. It is the sin of the hour.

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