Monday, July 30, 2018

The sinfulness of sin

As a preacher I rarely write out my sermons. I often have minimal notes. But this time I put in the work and wrote out this sermon. I had intended to preach it at Harmondsworth Immigration Romoval Cetre on one Sunday but in the end it took three half hour sessions.

The sinfulness of sin

American presidents have been controversial remembered for various things . Calvin Coolidge 
30th US president
In office
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
is remembered as a man of few words - taciturn. Someone asked his help with a bet. ‘I have bet my friend  I can get at least three words out of you, Mr President what do you say about my bet. You lose. ‘ And he was taciturn on sin. He was a regular church goer though not a member. One day Calvin C went to church but his wife didn’t. Perhaps she was ill. On his return she asked what was the sermon about. Sin. What did the preacher say? He was against it. 
   Exactly. That is what the Bible says, God is against sin.But that is not all. The Bible tells us what sin is and how the devil is all for it.
   Now I can give you definitions of sin from the Bible. It is lawlessness, transgression, breaking of God’s law. It is falling short of God’s standards - all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But the Bible shows we love stories and it tells us stories so we can learn about the world and sometimes stories help more than definitions. And the story starts as all good stories do at the beginning. ‘In the beginning God.’  Before anything else. There is God. The story is told that God made everything. That is was good. It took the Jews centuries to understand God is the one true God and he comes first. They went after the gods of the nations. Other nations were more powerful so they had more powerful Gods. Ours says he is the only God but lets see. But I have jumped ahead with the Jews and I am tempted to jump ahead with the Christians who came to see the God who comes first is not only one but three, father , Son and Holy Spirit and before the world was made there was God in trinity with perfect love and communication between father son and spirit. Ask a Muslim who tells you there is no king but Allah what Allah was dong before the creation. He won’t be able to tell you. But we know God was communicating with himself, words and love before he made the world. And the second thing the story tells us is that the world God made was good. 
So how come today’s mess? Here is the story. The culmination of God’s creation was man. Adam and Eve. Man is male and female. Adam first then Eve from him. God puts them in a good perfect place. The garden of Eden. He tells them to look after the garden and to have sex so they can have children. It is all good stuff. Work is good. Sex is good. How did it all go wrong? Enter Satan. Where from? We don’t know except that he must have been created. How come he is to lead the created world in rebellion against God? We don’t know where he got his idea but what we do know is that he brought his rebellion, let’s call it sin, into the created order. 
BTW this is not a fairy story. If Jesus of Nazareth is real he was the second Adam so the first was real too. Real Rom 5.Adam was historically the first man. I take Eden literally. I will not digress as to whether all of Genesis is literal. Are the days 24 hours? It does not matter . What matter is God alone is first; he made everything - how quickly or when is irrelevant. What matter s is God did it, it was good, now it is messed up. Here’s why. Satan messed it up . He is responsible but he alone is not to blame. One of my favourite Simpsons episodes has the parents in dispute and the one says to the other I am blaming you. But I am not holding you responsible. I never said you were but I am blaming you’. Who is to blame for this mess in the world? Who is responsible. The story tells us - all three parties, Satan, Eve and Adam - but not God. He made it good. We messed up with little help from our friend, Satan.
   The garden was good. Lots of trees with good fruit. But God told them about two special trees, the tree of life, eternal life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree alone was off bounds. Eat from it and you die. Keep off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Choose any other fruit. Fine.-  It was for a while until Satan comes on the scene. He approaches Eve. Why Eve and not Adam I will not go into here but she it was who was first deceived by Satan and that had consequences. The talking subtle serpent asked a question. “Did God actually say, ‘You1 shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Satan questions God’s word and mixes truth and error. Has God said you cannot eat of any tree? Satan questions God’s revelation. We are to accept God has spoken and we are to tremble at his word.  I gave up a London University theology course because the examiners were like Satan here questioning whether God had actually spoken. dIs 66:2 But this is the one to whom I will look:he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.Satan wants Eve to doubt God’s word and the think that if God has spoken he is severe.  Subtle Satan wants to portray God as severe. “Did God actually say, ‘You1 shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” If you want to be led astray listen to what Satan says about God. He misrepresents him as severe. The hard judge not the loving father. Want to know what God is like? He is a spirit who cannot be seen except in the person of his incarnate son. Want to see what God is like, look to his image Jesus.  But Satan sows a seed in Eve’s mind and look how she answers. Exagerration  of God as severe has caught on.  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, v‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Touching was never forbidden. Eating was. What did it mean to eat from this tree? Disobedience to God. Rebellion against him. Living on the basis of your choice not God’s will. Wresting knowledge of good and evil from the creation not from God’s word. God says sexual relations are to be in marriage between a man and a woman. Sinfull man says ‘I am made with sexual urges. What I am is what I should be.’ His knowledge of good and evil do not come from God but are the result of what he experiences in the world around him. He has eaten from the forbidden tree and continues to do so. Sin says, what you are is what you should be. God says I made you in my image for obedience to me. How are you to live? - by my word not by what you think is good or evil. Get your standards from me not the world around you.

πp Satan speaks. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 
See now he contradicts God as to the consequences of sin. You will not surely die. God said 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat4 of it you mshall surely die.’ Satan lies. He is the father of lies and his lies go against what God says is true. What is truth? It is reality. Reality is that there are consequences to sin. Satan says No. It is good to follow me. He is the master fisherman who knows how to hide his sharp barbed hooks with sweet baits. Following me is good he says. Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Better to follow me . Experience is good. Obedient innocence is bad. But we all now know this is a lie. Better not to be exposed to evil.The young boy around puberty finds a pornographic magazine thrown away as litter. He looks at it, is sexual stimulated and looking at porn becomes a habit. The devil lies and says it is good innocent fun. Enjoy your masturbation. God says do not commit adultery and that means do not look for sex outside marriage. The devil lies and says it does not matter. It does in so many ways. For example the way to avoid aids is not the government sinful lie of condoms, it is chastity before and fidelity within marriage. Sin has consequences. The lying devil denies it. You will not die, you will be like God knowing good and evil.You will learn more. You will set the standards. See how the devil mixes truth with lies. Yes the would learn more but was it good to do so? No. They would die. Be like God knowing good and evil? Yes like god in that you put yourself first as the measure of all things. But not like God for he does not participate in evil and die. Man does. 
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,2 she took of its fruit xand ate. If ear gate is not sufficient for the devil to enter he uses eye gate too. What we hear may lead to sin and so may what we see. Eve saw the good yet forbidden fruit. So may we. She has something I don’t. It is good. I want it. I shall take it. Good but forbidden. You shall not covet. You shall not steal. The devil says take it when no-one is looking. You will get away with it. He lies  as to the consequences of sin and as to its attraction. Take and eat is what she did. We have a different command to take and eat. It is from the tree of life and Christ is the way, the truth and the life. We are to take and eat Him.
But Eve did not stop there.’ and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, yand he ate. ‘ She spread the sin. Bad company ruins good morals. Adam had been innocent until Eve tempted him. Before Eve he was not in a good place. He was alone. Not good. But after he is given Eve, temptation. Some Christians have wrongly drawn a view of woman as temptress from this. The female of the species was made good, not a temptress. Adam enjoyed nakedness and sex with Eve. But then she fell and tempted him. Women still tempt. Not all. Yes all are a temptation to the man who lusts but an upright man may resist the temptress. Consider Joseph and temptress Potiphar’s wife. He resisted her and suffered for it. Contrast Samson, the temptations of forbidden Philstine women were his downfall. It wasn’t Eve being naked that’s a temptation to sin It was Eve who had sinned who persuaded Adam to join he in sin. Some women you should listen to. Your mother and your wife are not as likely to be the causes of sin as are your lusts even after innocent women let alone the seductress.Men do not go looking for temptation and pray it is not brought to you.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool3 of the day, and the man and his wife bhid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. ‘ God had met with and talked to Adam and Eve before. Gen 1:27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
rmale and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, s“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. tYou shall have them for food. 30 And uto every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. ‘ This was to them both. Have sex for babies and rule over all creation. Gen 2 seems to tell of God addressing Adam alone, ‘15 The LORD God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat4 of it you mshall surely die.” Did Adam alone get the prohibition? Did he fail in communicating the importance of it to Eve? 
But God who communicated to Adam and Eve now sought them out. God always takes the initiative. Initiative in creation in command and salvation. God is there always but man hides because of sin. This is what sin does. It separates us from God. We hide from Him. Sin separates. We are feeling down. We want to be alone. separate from people and from God for we avoid church. We sin and avoid confession and seeking forgiveness. Sin = separation from God.
But God takes the initiative though we are separated and hiding. ‘But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” God calls you today. Where are you? Hiding in sin or coming to Him. The is no hiding place from God. He is everywhere. He sees everything. He calls to you now. Are you hiding or coming?
Adam answers, ‘10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, cbecause I was naked, and I hid myself.” Sin brings fear of God - his judgment. Sin brings shame. Guilt for you have broken God’s law. Shame for you are naked in his sight.
But why was nakedness a problem. It had not been before. But after sin, ‘zThen the eyes of both were opened, aand they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.’ They were not just hiding from God but from one another. Shame over your body had come into the world. Before the fall nakedness was natural and normal. After the fall nakedness is not natural, abnormal. 
Some at this point want to speculate as to the source of the sins for clothing that God was to give them. But note here the first clothing was fig leaves over their sexual organs presumably. We now call them private parts and do not expose them for the avoidance of shame. But not it is mere fig leaves to cover the sex organs. Sex has become shameful and dirty.  Nowadays some peverse people glory in total nudity. It was alfright between the man and his wife until the fall brought shame. To advocate nudity in the open now is to parade shame and rebel against the consequences of sin. Naturism is wrong and so is visiting nudist beaches to gawp. IME you only see males and saggy female. Take it from this sinful clothed visitor.
Gen. 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 
Sin shifts the blame. Adam blames Eve . Eve blames >>>>
Note Adam also blames God - you gave me the woman. Yes. Given to help you not for you to follow her astray.
Gen. 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 
So God asks Eve and she says the serpent enticed me. That is what the devil wants to do.But we are to follow God not satan.
Sin has consequences
The first to sin is the first o be judged.
Gen. 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 
It does not mean that snakes suddenly lost their legs.
Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 
Here is the grace of God, the promise of salvation.
Gen. 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 
Sorrow, pain, soured relationship.
Gen. 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 
Gen. 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 
Work becomes hard,
Gen. 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 
Death will come to all.
Gen. 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 
Gen. 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 
First animal killings?
Gen. 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 
Gen. 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 
Gen. 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. 

Separation from God and cut off from eternal life.

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