Facing Sin in the World

Sin in the World

Sin comes at us in several different ways and how we should react is different based on how it comes. These ways are: in ourselves, in the world, and in fellow believers. Each one brings its own challenges and difficulties and must be handled in different ways.

In the World

The world is full of sin: unapologetic, wayward sin. As Christians who have experienced the morning of sin in our hearts, the repentance of sin in our self, and the ongoing process of finding and removing sin in our lives, we can easily forget that the sin in the world hasn’t met it’s Maker yet. The people are in a range of states that goes from never having experienced God to fully aware and choosing to reject His voice.

Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5 about how to handle sin in the world. He’s dealing with a sin issue in the church at Corinth and he’s talking about how to address it within the body. First, he reminds them of this, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). In other words, the world is bad and you can’t get away from it.

He goes on later to say, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.” Our job is to reach out the fallen and lost and offer them an example of the beauty of salvation through Christ. We can’t judge them for living in sin when they are under full sway of the law of death, as Paul talks about in Romans 6:20.

Sin is harmful, both to the ones doing it and everyone around them. There are times in our lives when we set boundaries for ourselves and our families to keep the harmful effects of sin away. For example, we may limit the movies we see or the music we listen to. Setting protective boundaries is different that judging the world and trying to make everyone look and act like you even if they don’t claim Jesus as their Savior.

We know that sin will be defeated by God in the end. The Bible says that all will bow and confess that Jesus is the Lord, but we don’t know when. Until then, we wait patiently as the sin around us ripens and prepares for the judgement that the Lord will bring on it.

Facing Sin in Ourselves

Sin In Ourselves

Sin comes at us in several different ways and how we should react is different based on how it comes. These ways are: in ourselves, in the world, and in fellow believers. Each one brings its own challenges and difficulties and must be handled in different ways.

In Ourselves

The first way that we need to face sin is in ourselves. It can be in our hearts and focus and it can cause us to bring distraction to our relationship with God and harm to our relationships with others. It’s bad news and it has to be dealt with. Jesus gives us the intensity of how we should be dealing with it in Matthew 18 “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.” (v. 18). Personally, I don’t read this as an invitation to self-harm, although there have been many in history that have used this verse that way, unfortunately. Instead, it’s setting a passion level that shows full commitment to obedience to the Lord and His commands.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23 ESV

Proverbs tells us that we should watch our heart because the flow of our life, the springs of our life come out of that source. If we are seeing sin in our choices, words, or actions, we need to stop and see where in our heart the issue is coming from. When you see something is wrong, are you willing to give it up no matter how much it hurts? This is the question we have to ask in order to be able to deal with sin our own heart.

This idea is root of the message that Jesus gives in Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” We can’t see clearly how to help and love others if we’re not honest and passionate about dealing with sin in ourselves.

God wants us to be committed to Him and to choose to obey His commandments. After all, our salvation is a free gift; our response to that gift is to live in such a way that we show our belief in Him and our love for Him and each other. How we responds to the sin that’s revealed in our life shows where our hearts truly are. Are we committed to Him that we will remove sin no matter the cost? Are we willing to stop judging others and look at ourselves only when we talk about living right?

I am truly and fully convinced that all the pleasures and gain that we sacrifice in this life will be worth it when we meet Christ. In addition, removing our sin is often form of protection for this life as well. Double bonus! If this is an area that you find yourself lethargic about, consider praying that God will give you a love of living only for Him and the strength to face whatever needs to be removed in your life.

Fresh Air, Part 1 – Sermon Notes

[These are sermon notes from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO by Craig Kackley. The message can be watched here.]

For many people the New Year is a good time to think about new changes and improvements in our life. This series is about choosing to use this year to build a deeper relationship with Christ.

On the earth, there is a weather phenomenon called the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This is an area where the trade winds converge and cancel each other out. Sailors call this area the doldrums. There’s not any wind and wind powered boats can’t move through this area.

Often our relationship with God falls into this pattern where we find that we’ve lost the passion in our relationships.

Four Stages of Doldrums

  1. We try to fake it.

There’s an idea that if we go to church we often feel like we have to have it all together. We know that we’re here to worship the most powerful God, but we feel pressure to put on a face, to pretend that everything’s alright.

  1. We put it off.

There’s a lie that time heals all wounds. In truth, time will make our wounds worse. A untended tooth can lead to a much worse situation: a root canal. Yet, we often do this with our spiritual life.  (Hebrews 12:15)

  1. We give up.

The heart of COTFC is to minister to people in this place, those who don’t have any hope in church or change.

  1. Death.

The end of all things that are not in the Lord.

We need to be spiritual revived. This revival, however, is not due to anything you do. It has to do with what you choose. This goes back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). In the garden, there was two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We tend to gravitate to the second tree, we try to understand things instead of focusing on our spiritual life. When we are feeling stuck, we move to the knowledge tree. It ends up pulling us in like quick sand and the more we struggle, the more we get sucked into knowledge which causes us to strive and struggle more and the cycle continues.

Christianity isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about living the life the Lord has for me is about deeply falling in love with Jesus, knowing Him, receiving Him and seeing Him in our life. It’s laid in Deuteronomy 30:19, “Today I have given you a choice between life and death… Oh that you would choose life…”

How Do We Choose Life?

Choice 1: To Do More – OR – Receive What Has Already Been Done

Some churches teach that to be spiritual or Godly you need to do more of something. Example, struggling? Read more. Reading 2 chapters a day? Read 4. They use the example of Jesus asking Peter to stay up just an hour to show that our prayers should be an hour long. If that’s where you are, you’ve missed it. Jesus said to the Pharisees that they searched the scriptures for life, but they missed that He stood in front of Him. One of the first steps to breaking out of spiritual apathy is to acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. We do not need to try earn His approval. Romans 5:8 Christ died for us while we sinners, not while we were getting things right.

Choice 2: Obey Out of Duty – OR – Obey Out of Delight

When we have the feeling of “getting” to do something, we are more likely to do that then when we feel like we “have” to do it. Anything that we feel like we are forced to do, we are going to stop doing when our motivation leaves us. Anything that we get to do, we are going to do because we enjoy it and not because we feel that someone is going to fail us or condemn us if we don’t.

Things become easier to do when we either love the thing we do or we love the person we’re doing it for. John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” This is great litmus test of the status of our hearts. Some people hear Jesus saying, “If you love me, prove it. Try harder and learn more. Eat more of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. See how much behavior modification you can do. ” Others of use hear, “If you love me, don’t worry about it. If you love me, you’ll do what I ask. Be with me and enjoying doing what I ask. It’s about a relationship and not about rules.”

Are you in the do more camp where you will never be enough because you are seeking what you already have? Are you in the camp of life to be given life through the blood of Christ so you can then turn around and obey out of delight?

Do You Value a Trusting Relationship With God?

Disrupting Traffic – 4 Steps to Sin Removal

Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. – Nehemiah 13:17-19 ESV

Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet who went back to Jerusalem and helped to begin rebuilding the wall and temple there. It was far more than just a physical restoration, however. The people hadn’t kept up on what the Law said and didn’t follow it, sometimes even when they did know what it said. Nehemiah came in to build the physical city, but also to begin restoring the spiritual state of the people’s hearts. One example of how he does this can teach us a great deal about what it takes to make Godly change happen in our lives.

  1. Calling a spade a spade.

When Nehemiah came back, he found that there was a thriving market happening in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. They were working and selling as if it were any other day of the week. Upset, Nehemiah challenged the leaders about and called them out on it. He reminded them that their fathers had done this and they had been punished for it.

Often we are afraid to challenge things in our lives, especially things that have gone on for a long time or are in some way bringing us benefit. Jerusalem was a wreck and while there was some returning of the economy, it was hardly the thriving city it had been. While the scriptures don’t tell us what the reaction to Nehemiah’s cleansing was, it is not difficult to image that there were many people who didn’t want to lose the market and the money that went along with it.

Nothing about the situation or any seeming benefit from it caused Nehemiah to see sin as anything other than sin. He knew that God wanted His people to keep the Sabbath holy, and he could also clearly see that they weren’t doing that. Instead of pandering or trying to convince people to agree with him first, he came out and talked about the sin.

In addition to this being a way of life, many of the merchants weren’t Jews. They didn’t have to follow the laws the Jews did. It might have been tempting to say that they could stay. But, since the non-Jews selling to the Jews was profaning the Sabbath just as much, Nehemiah didn’t even let that argument stand. Nothing would profane the Sabbath as long as Nehemiah had something to do about it.

  1. Disrupting everyday living.

In order to make the changes happen, Nehemiah locked the gates at the beginning of Sabbath (sundown on Friday). No one could come in to sell for the full Sabbath day. This is the crux of the change. Nehemiah didn’t start a petition or a committee to talk about ways to phase out the profaning of the Sabbath. He drew a line and said, no more. He found a way to stop the sin from continuing on.

We must be willing to do this in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not often as obvious or as easy as locking a gate to keep merchants out. Our troubles usually are more entwined with people and circumstances. No matter how complex the situation or how much we really like what we’re doing, as soon as we are enlightened to the sin, we must be willing to draw lines and make changes. What do you value more: the benefits of sin in your life, or a relationship of trust built with God through obedience?

  1. Protecting our interests

This also isn’t just a once and done event. After locking the gates, Nehemiah saw that some of the merchants had set up camp outside the city. How often does this happen? Just as we feel we’ve made progress on getting sin out of the center of us, we find that it’s set up a place right outside the door. It’s waiting right nearby to tempt us and try to take advantage of the first slip up we make.

Nehemiah knew that wasn’t a good option either. He went to the camped out people and threatened them if they didn’t move along. Sounds extreme, but Nehemiah knew that concession to temptation, even if in and of itself it isn’t a sin, is the first step toward failure. The camping out merchants had to go because they only reason they were there is to take advantage of a mistake.

We need to protect ourselves with as much wisdom as Nehemiah. Don’t allow a backup plan to exist for if you mess up. Don’t keep a temptation close at hand for when you mess up; by keeping it close, it becomes a guarantee of your failure! If your heart wants your troubles nearby, it’s most likely because transformation hasn’t truly happened. Guilt may have happened, even conviction might have happened. However, transformation hasn’t.

Transformation happens when we encounter God and His presence alters our very being to make us want Him more than anything else. Transformation makes us take precautions that protect our best interests: obedience. No more fudging or hiding a reserve supply of whatever it is that we’re into in the back of the closet. We draw clear lines and we find ways to remove the lingering temptation. Accountability with others who love us and want the best for us is one way that we can do this.

  1. In it for the long haul

Just because they finally got the Sabbath issues ironed out when it came to the merchants, there were more Sabbaths ahead. We can’t just get things right for the day and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. This is about establishing habits that set us up for a deeper relationship with God. It doesn’t mean striving for perfection, that’s not the goal. The goal is a real relationship with God and real relationships require give and take and showing up day after day, messy or dirty or late or whatever. Show up to be with God as you are day in and day out and watch the power that He allows to flow into your life.