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The Southgate Christian Fellowship

Message Centre

  Sin and the Cross

A lady, preparing to entertain guests, went to the local butchers and asked the attendant for a large chicken. He reached down into the cold storage compartment, grabbed the last chicken he had, and placed it on the scale.

"This one weighs four pounds, ma'am," he said.

"I'm not sure that will be enough," the woman replied. "Don't you have a bigger one?"

The attendant put the chicken back into the compartment, pretended to search through the melting ice for another one, and then brought out the same bird, discreetly applying some finger pressure to the scale.

"Ah," he said with a smile, "this one weighs six pounds."

"I'm still not sure that even that one will be enough," the woman said with a frown. "I'll tell you what - wrap them both up for me!"

 

Exposed!

I wonder how much the phrase 'be sure your sins will find you out', is commonly used today? People commit crime because they are sure they will not be found out. We do wrong things, and perhaps we hope we can get away with it, but we forget one important fact - God knows! And God says: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8).

The Cross of Jesus

The Cross of Jesus is God’s ever-powerful answer to sin, offering forgiveness and eternal life. St Paul says that - "...the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1Corinthians 1:18).

 The Cross is not a memorial to the past but, like the Holy Communion, it's an ever-present testimony and reminder of God's power to save.

How do we respond to the Cross?

Jesus went to the Cross for our benefit, but do we avail ourselves of this?

 If we do not come to the Cross of Jesus there are consequences: our sin is not dealt with and we live out of fellowship with God. We live with sin and compromise, and we can be tempted to boast of our own righteousness. As a result, we become dull in our spirits or conscience.

It is also the case that we become vulnerable to the pull of the world, to compromise, and to dodging the issue of sin.

A tarnished crucifix

When we lose sight of the power of the Cross to forgive us and give us victory over sin, we lose sight of the awfulness of sin and become oblivious to it and its consequences. King David is a good example of this when he sinned against Bathsheba (see 1Samuel 11:1-27).

 Sadly, this is the position for many today, Christian or not.

Excuses, excuses

When we live this way we are for ever making excuses. and we blame others.

 Look at how Adam and Eve apportioned blame as recorded in Genesis 3:12 -14. Adam said “She did it first, I’m just following her”. Then Eve blamed the serpent. Neither took responsibility for their own actions.

Another excuse is the claim 'it’s not my fault' - like Aaron and the golden calf (Exodus 32:24). When challenged by Moses about the golden calf he said, “It just came out that way”. A miracle? No, he was just weak willed and unwilling  to admit his responsibility for the situation. Admittedly there are times when we can be worn down by circumstances, though at these times we have a High Priest who sympathises and is able to help us (Hebrews 2:18), but this in no way excuses sin.

Another excuse can be that we were 'let down' by others. King Saul found himself in this position. He was ready to make a sacrifice to God but Samuel didn't turn up in time, so he went ahead himself. He had unfulfilled expectations so he felt justified in going ahead, usurping the function of the priest, even when he knew it was wrong (see 1Samuel 13:11-12).

Claiming 'it’s all in a good cause' can be another excuse for doing wrong. Remember the time when King Saul kept the forbidden spoil from battle (1Samuel 15:21)? He rationalised the temptation by thinking “It won’t matter this time, it’s all in a good cause”.

We must recognise sin as sin

Do we see ourselves as sinners?

 Some do, and are ready to repent and
ask for forgiveness.

Others are more cautious. How often have we heard people say “Well, I’m not really a sinner, I’ve never done anything really wrong like murder”.

The Bible’s verdict? Deception!

 Read again what St John sys…  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8). Is it possible to be without sin? St John goes on to say we make God out to be a liar when we make that claim (see vs.10).

So, what is sin?

At its simplest, sin is the result of being tempted and giving in to the temptation (see James 1:14-15). But we must go deeper to see what sin is, because…

 Sin is against God

When king David finally recognised he had done wrong he also recognised that he had wronged God. He said… "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…" (Psalm 51:4). He also recognised God’s right to judge sin (vs5).

 Sin is lawlessness

Lawlessness is a lack of conformity to the laws of God. St John puts is this way, "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (1John 3:4).

 God’s laws declare his holiness, purity and provision. Sin therefore is seeking to achieve holiness, purity and provision outside of God with the following results:

1: Seeking to achieve holiness outside of God’s holiness creates ‘religion’ - salvation through works and religious observances. It's what Paul calls… having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them
(2Timothy 3:5).

2: Seeking to achieve righteousness outside of God’s purity creates legalism, and life becomes devoted to obeying religious rules and regulations, like the Pharisees, exercising manipulation and control. We forget the words of Isaiah… "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6).

3: Finally, seeking to achieve satisfaction outside of God’s provision seeks to by-pass the abundant life Jesus came to give. He said… "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Dealing with temptation

We live our lives surrounded by the temptation to do wrong things, but we have not been left in a helpless state. As St Paul says… No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Corinthians 10:13).

 But, when we do fail and repent of our sin we are forgiven…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).

We must remember our
‘position’ in Christ:

We have died - I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

We have been buried - We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4).

We have risen to new life - …having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:12).

We are dead to sin and alive to God - In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

 

Come to the Cross and...
...and, yes, repent!

Easter makes sense when we regularly come to the cross and repent of our sins so as to live in the resurrection life of Jesus. God’s promise is that - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).

 Through the Cross God has given us
victory over sin –

God has broken the power of sin through the cross …because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Jesus said to the woman accused of adultery, “Go, and sin no more”.

 

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