ROMANS 3:10-20 FEBRUARY 8, 2015
“ROTTEN TO THE CORE!”
I heard a story of a man who went to a psychiatrist and complained about having an inferiority complex. The doctor listened to him for a while, then gave him a good news/bad news diagnosis. The doctor said, “The good news is you don’t have a complex. The bad news is- you are inferior!” It is easy to see evil in someone else’s faults. For example the actions of the Islamic terrorists in how they are executing thousands of people in barbaric ways reveal the evil that is present in people. Yet, it is difficult at times for individuals to admit their own sins. We tend to look at ourselves with blinders. Psalm 14:2-3 (NIV) “2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” It is not easy to admit that we humans are rotten to the core.
Most people, including many Christians, are confused about the nature of sin and how if distorts our understanding of how the world works. It is not unusual for people to say when someone dies that surely they are in heaven because they were such a good person. This is a good example of human logic. People are making judgments based on their own experience rather than seeking the wisdom of God. We need to have a biblical view of sin in order to put things into proper perspective.
When we look at other people and their behavior we are judging them from a horizontal point of view. We are looking at them from the outside. When we talk about how God’s world works and our relationship with Him we are in a vertical relationship. It is not for us to make decisions based on our limited knowledge. We are not God. When Jesus gave the greatest commandment he was speaking of the vertical relationship we have with God. Mark 12:29-31 (NIV) 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” This is the order of priorities; first we get right with God and secondly we seek to get right with others.
Sin separates us from God. God is holy and we cannot be in his presence unless our sins have been washed away. Romans 8:6-8 (NIV) 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Psalm 5:4-5 (NIV) “4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” Question 19 in the Shorter Catechism says it well. “By their fall all mankind lost fellowship with God and brought his anger and curse on themselves. They are therefore subject to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.”
If I asked you to name some famous good people who would you pick? I have heard many people who admired Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, etc… The problem goes back to the point I made earlier that we are judging other humans from the outside and we are not God who sees into the heart. Proverbs 21:2 (NIV) “2 All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” We need to admit to ourselves that we commit sin because we enjoy the sinful behavior. If we didn’t enjoy it we would not then be tempted. We are unable to save ourselves. We are lost and doomed to destruction. Who will save us from this predicament?
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We always like to jump ahead to verse 8. Notice what Paul tells us in verse 6 that we were powerless, “when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”. Salvation is a gift of grace. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
What happens when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Christ? Romans 6:6-7 (NIV) “6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Years ago I met a Christian who claimed to be sinless. He thought that it was not possible for him to commit sin. I do think he was a bit crazy. I showed him the scripture in 1 John. 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV) “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” It didn’t work as he had convinced himself that he was now perfect. I do long for the day when we will be made perfectly holy in heaven.
Until then I still struggle with sin. Paul warned the church about returning to a sinful lifestyle. Galatians 5:16-18 (NIV) “16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV) “7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
What I fear the most for each of you is that you will allow the culture to encourage you to be comfortable with sin. We are in a daily battle with temptation and our accessibility to sinful behaviors surrounds us. The world tells us that a little bit of sinning is okay. It’s not okay to tell little white lies. A lie is a lie. Giving in to pornography or gossip or laziness tempts us every day. God has called us to a life of obedience. God has called us to reject the sins which entice us. We must struggle every day to obey the commands of God. We are able to do so by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
A mother went to her room early one evening, but she couldn’t sleep. Because she liked a snack during the night, she had placed a dish of fruit on a small table nearby. As she lay there with her eyes closed, she heard her little daughter tiptoe into her room. Thinking her mom was asleep, the child took a large bunch of grapes and quickly left the room. The mother was disappointed with her daughter. She lay there saying nothing. After several minutes she heard her daughter creep back into the room and carefully replace the grapes in the bowl. As she left the mother heard her daughter whisper “This time I beat you, Mr. Devil, now go away!”
Do not make light of sin. Sin displeases God and hinders us when we chose to ignore the warnings of scripture. So do not put off reading your bible and seeking guidance from God every day. God will give us the strength and the will to obey him.
Let us pray.