MOMENTS OF TRUTH
25 August 2019
The title of our lesson this morning begs the question, “What is sin?” Simply, it is the transgression of the law as the apostle John writes in 1 John 3:4 the apostle John writes, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” It is to act as if there is no law; it violates God’s divine commandments. In John’s day a group called the “Gnostics” had argued that what was done in the flesh did not affect the spirit of man. They held that they were immune from the demands of the law. Even in our time some men claim that if they are born again they will not commit sin, while others alter that by saying that if they do, their sins will be automatically wiped clean and not counted against the Christian. Thus they conclude, “once saved, always saved.” This doctrine contradicts the truth as taught by John in 1 John. You see John says in in 1 John 2:29, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” We must recognize from this verse that one “practices righteousness” the emphasis is on that which is lived, “righteousness. As well John says in 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” For one to practice righteousness, they have “hope” in Christ, meaning they believe what they have been taught in Scripture and therefore they practice what they have been taught. They seek to adhere to the law and not “sin” against it. Notice this further what John says in 1 John 3:10, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” Those who “practice sin” ate the children of the devil because they are violators of God’s law. As we read in the New King James Version of the Bible to “sin” means to miss the mark. If one goes beyond that which the law states or falls short of it, he is guilty of “lawlessness.” Let’s recognize that John sharply rebukes those who would make light of sin in 1 John 3:5, “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” His readers are told about two truths about Jesus. He was manifested “to take away sin and in Him is no sin.” When the announcement of Jesus’ birth came it was stated in Matthew 1:21, “"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." John the Baptist exclaimed of Jesus in John 1:29, “"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The apostle Peter helps us to know that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice in 1 Peter 2:22, “"Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth". The apostle Paul says of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin an offering for us.” The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 9:28, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Jesus died on the cross to bear the sins of many. John’s point seems clear, “how can one who claims to be in Christ continue to participate in sin and frustrate the very purpose for which the Lord came?” As John continues in 1 John 3:6 he says, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” This verse helps us to know that when we “abide” or continue in the teaching of Christ we will not allow sin to “reign” in our body. We will not allow it to be the ruling principle in our life as Paul states in Romans 6:6-14, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” In our text John is not saying that a Christian never commits a single act of sin, for this idea would make him contradict what he has already written in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” The difference is that a sincere believer who struggles against sin will repent, confess, and pray for forgiveness when he sins.
Let’s notice some things about covering our sins. Know why Christ came to the earth is crucial in our understanding of covering our sins. It also helps us to know that there are two ways to cover our sins, the wrong way as we learn from Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Then there is the right way as we read in Psalm 85:2, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.” The right way to have our sins covered is God’s way, through the blood of Jesus Christ. Knowing this, let’s look at some examples from the Bible of folks who sought to cover their sins “their” way and not God’s way, meaning they sought to cover their sins the wrong way. If you will recall Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin by hiding among the trees as we read in Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Adam also tried to cover his sin by blaming his wife as well as God in Genesis 3:12, “"The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." Let’s not forget that Eve also tried to cover her sin by placing the blame on another, she blamed the serpent as we read in Genesis 3:13, “"The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Sadly, this is where a great many people are today with their lives, they seek to place the blame on another instead of accepting responsibility for their own choices and actions. Just listen to some more from the Bible who teach us what not to do when it comes to our sin for even Aaron, the brother of Moses first tried to shift his sin over to the people in Exodus 32:22-24, “"Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 "For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' 24 "And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out." Notice what else Aaron says, he blames the fire! He makes it seem as if all he did was throw in the gold and “magically” a cow came out. We know from the context that is just not the case.
From blaming others to blatantly lying, man has always tried to cover his sin, rather than face up to it. Let’s recognize another “wrong” method of covering sin. The Pharisees tried to cover their sins by appearing righteous unto men. Listen to what Jesus said of them in Matthew 23:5, “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.” Notice what Jesus says further to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:14, “"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” As Jesus continues to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees he points out even more of their “unrighteousness” in Matthew 23:25-28, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Today, there are many in the religious world that do things similar to these scribes and Pharisees. God knows their hearts and unless they heed the warning, and truly seek to “cover their sins,” in the judgment to come, they will have to give an answer.
From blaming others, lying, and giving a false appearance of righteousness, there is still yet another way the Bible reveals to us how some have sought to cover their sins incorrectly. Our next example comes to us from Acts 7:51-60. Listen to the context, “"You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 "Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 "who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Did you pick up on how these men tried to cover their sins? Instead of taking heed to the preaching of Stephen, they persecuted him and killed him. Stephen was the messenger! You’ve heard the phrase “don’t kill the messenger!” Well, that’s exactly what they did when they heard the truth about their sin.
There is yet another aspect we must note about attempts to wrongly cover sin and that is thinking that “time” will cover our sins. If we ignore it long enough it will just go away. But we have to remember that time means nothing to the Lord as the apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Attempting to Hide from God, blaming others, lying, covering sins by appearing righteous, persecuting others, and thinking time will cover our sins are all “wrong” ways to cover our sins. Thankfully, the Good Lord has provided us His Son to be the “propitiation” for our sins, the appeasement. There is a right way to have our sins covered. In Psalm 85:2 we read, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.” God has provided the means, through His Son. We are given the means to rightly cover our sins in Acts 2:37-38, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We are shone the right way in Acts 9:6, “So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." Paul finds out the answer from Ananias in Acts 22:16, “'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' We can also learn the “right” way from the story of the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16:30-33, “And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
Let’s not forget about erring Christians. They too are given a means in which they can be forgiven and have their sins covered properly as we read concerning Simon in Acts 8:18-24, “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." 24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me."
Having our sins properly covered is vital if hope to have eternal life with our Father in Heaven. But still, as we draw near to the end of our broadcast this morning, there is yet another question concerning “Covering sin” “Why does man need to have His sins covered?” Well, it’s quite simple, Man is lost in sin and cannot save himself by himself alone as Jeremiah 10:23 tells us, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Therefore, God has made salvation available to all men as Paul says in Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,” Paul also tells us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” There is no one on earth that has ever lived, except for Jesus Christ, who has not sinned. And as we learned from 1 John 3:4, “…sin is lawlessness”. Sins are not inherited, as some teach, but are committed as we violate God’s law. And it is important for us to know the consequence of sin as Paul states in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” The death here is spiritual, that is, eternally separated from God in hell. To avoid this death our sins must be covered meaning forgiven by God. They are only forgiven through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ and His Will as it is presented in the Bible. Let us adhere to the “oracles of God as Peter told us in 1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Let us do as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
Let everyone believe Jesus Christ as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Let everyone hear the Word of God and have the faith described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:1 and 6, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Let everyone do as Peter told those to do on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Let all confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God as Jesus explains in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Let all follow the wonderful example of obedience found in Acts 8:36-39 where Philip has been teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” You see, the Ethiopian realized He needed to obey in order to avoid eternal damnation as Jesus explains in Mark 16:16, “he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” The apostle Paul helps us see the importance of baptism in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” When one has been baptized, their sins are washed away and they rise a new child of God, a Christian. This is where the “walk in newness of life” begins. This new beginning requires a lifetime of service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”