Whatever became of sin? The famous psychologist Karl Menninger wrote the classic and best-selling book on that subject 25 years ago. He pointed out that no one uses the word any more, but the reality of its existence still haunts the guilty conscience. For Menninger, mental health and moral health were closely aligned. If our values and our behaviors are at odds, peace of mind and heart will elude us.
Menninger may be on to something. It seems popular in America to claim victim status for personal failure. The other night, Carol and I watched one of those hour-long documentaries on a capital murder than occurred a few years ago in St. Louis. Being our home town, we were familiar with the neighborhood, the hospitals, and the story, so it captured our interest. An off-duty police officer and her boyfriend were confronted by armed thugs as they left her mother’s house in the city. They were forced back inside, robbed and realized their lives were in danger since they could now identify their attackers. A scuffle ensued leaving three people shot and one dead. The murderers fled but sought medical attention for a bullet wound at a city hospital where they were quickly arrested. In the trial that followed, their defense attorney argued for their release since they were victims of broken homes and the influence of gang violence.
It reminded me of the lyrics in my favorite song by The Eagles called, “Get Over It.”
I turn on the tube and what do I see
A whole lot of people cryin’, “Don’t blame me.”
They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else;
Spend all their time feeling sorry for themselves
Victim of this; victim of that;
Your momma’s too thin; your daddy’s too fat.
Get over it. Get over it.
All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit;
Get over it. Get over it.
It’s like going to confession every time I hear you speak
You’re making the most of your losing streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak
You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in your guilt; you wallow in your pain.
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin’ everybody down.
So what’s to be done about sin? First, we must acknowledge its reality. There is right and wrong. We still teach our children to memorize The Ten Commandments as a good summary of moral law. The first three deal with our relationship to God and the last seven with our relation to our fellow man. An even shorter summation can be found in the New Testament; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Do this and you will be perfect! But unfortunately NO ONE CAN DO THIS PERFECTLY. The same Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (His nature and expectation).”
So what’s to be done about sin? When asked that question on Pentecost, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” What was true then is still true today. Only by forgiveness and the faith you receive by the power of the Holy Spirit will you be saved. As Paul later said of himself;
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
The same God who gave us Jesus gave us the law of Scripture and for the same reason; because He loves us and wants to prosper us and not harm us. When we walk in the truth of God’s Word our life, the lives of others and the witness we make for God are all blessed. But when we violate (sin) his ways, we bring harmful consequence into our lives, the lives of others and harm to our witness. God wants better for you than that. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the max!” I want the very best for my children so I have tried my best to teach them right from wrong. God wants the very best for me too and has given me His Word to guide me on my journey.
The longest chapter in the Bible is all about the importance of knowing right from wrong and putting it into practice. Psalm 119 says (in part), “Your teaching makes me wiser than my enemies for they are always with me. I have more insight than my teachers, for testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I keep your directives.” Who wouldn’t want to be smarter than their enemies, their teachers and people with a lifetime of experience?
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
- Was David (the author of this passage) perfect? If not, does that make him a hypocrite?
- Someone said, “If we forget we are sinners we will soon forget our need for a Savior.” Do you agree?
- What was the difference between the two men Jesus described in Luke 18:12-14?
In your opinion does the Christian church…
A. Talk too much about sin.
B. Not talk enough about sin.
C. Maintains the proper balance.
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Psalm 130 - The Message
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Come on out and support Christian education in our community by attending this year's Dinner Auction for St. John School on March 6. RSVPs are due back on February 13.
Calling all 4th & 5th graders! You’re invited to a frenetic night of fun on February 6. Find out the details!
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Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14 (and to lower my golf score)
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