This past weekend, I was honored to be able to speak at Victory Christian Fellowship in Lynden, Washington. The topic was assigned, as I was filling in for a pastor who was called out of town for an emergency. He asked me to continue his exegetical teaching through Romans, and the section for that week was Romans 3:9-20. This is a brutal, hard-hitting section of scripture, yet one with rich insight into the effect sin has on our lives.
The middle section of the assigned passage contains quotes from seven different Psalms, and this section constituted the core of that morning’s sermon – a sermon I titled “Kobayashi Maru,” depicting the “no-win” scenario, first appearing in the movie Star Trek II – The Wrath of Kahn. This week’s blog posting will highlight six key points from that sermon where I answer the question, “So, why is sin such a big deal?”
Six Reasons Sin Really Is a Big Deal
1 – Sin Guts our Character.
Verse 10 “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
With five and a half billion people on the planet, it is a challenge to imagine that there is not even one single person who is righteous. The reason this is a challenge for us is that it is our tendency to measure righteousness through relative comparison. I might be considered more righteous relative to Charles Manson, but significantly less righteous relative to Billy Graham.
The invalidity of such comparisons lies in the fact that I am not the standard of righteousness for Charles Manson and Billy Graham is not the standard of righteousness for me. God is the standard of my righteousness, just as he is the standard for your righteousness. Relative to God, there is nothing good within me. Sin guts my character.
2 – Sin Corrupts our Mind.
Verse 11 “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
By “corrupt” I do not mean corrupted in the sense of dishonest, like a corrupt politician. I mean corrupted in the sense of unreliable, invalid, or garbled.
I write software, and do database programming for a living. In the world of software, sometimes something goes a little sideways with the code, and as a result, bad data gets written to the database. When this happens, the data is described as having been corrupted. Applications that use corrupted data become dysfunctional, and the reports that are drawn from the data are no longer reliable sources of authority.
This happens to our minds when they become corrupted by sin. The data is jumbled. Our “applications” can no longerbe trusted. The reports our mind gives us about the world, and about life are invalid and unreliable. With a corrupted mind, we lack understanding, and with a corrupted mind, we do not seek God.
3 – Sin Hardens our Heart.
Verse 12 “All have turned away, they have together become worthless;”
When something beautiful and lovely is before me, for me to turn away from that beauty requires me to harden my heart against it. When a parent turns from a child, perhaps abandoning that child, or ignoring a child who is injured and crying, that requires a hardening of the heart. To turn our backs on the elderly, the hurting, the homeless, or the unborn – that requires a hardening of the heart.
A few years ago, I got involved with a group of men who took it upon themselves to rescue young girls who have been captured and enslaved by the sex trafficking business. At one of my first meetings with this group, I heard a young girl – probably fourteen or fifteen years old – say, “The first time I was sold for sex was when I was nine years old … I was sold by my father.” To do such a horrifying thing to a nine-year-old child requires a very hard heart.
For me to turn away from God – to turn my back to him – that requires a hardening of the heart. We have all done that. All we like sheep have gone astray – each one has turned to his own path. Our hearts became hard.
4 – Sin Contaminates our Throat and Lips.
Verses 13-14 “Their throats are an open grave … the tongue is deceitful … the poison of asps is on their lips … their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
In this verse, we see the throat, the tongue, the lips, the mouth, and at this point, we are fully corrupted on the inside. What started with our character, wormed its way into our mind. It flowed into our heart, hardening it as it did so, and now it flies out of our mouths.
Matthew’s gospel tells us that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And as a result of our hard hearts, our speech is corrupt. It is deceitful. It is unloving, and at times it is downright blasphemous.
5 – Sin Subjugates our Feet.
Verses 15 – 17 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they do not know.”
Our world is fraught with violence. It has been so since the beginning, and it will remain so until Jesus comes back to take us home. Though written centuries ago, the verses above read like our nightly news. Killings, wars, murder, unrest …
And finally …
6. Sin Distorts our Vision.
Verse 18 “There is no fear of God in their eyes.”
I have had conversations in the past in which various swollen-headed buffoons who, unable to see reality, have given in to their puffed-up arrogance. In this ego-inflated mentality, they say things like, “You know when I die and I get to Heaven, God’s gonna have to deal with ME. I’ve got some questions I want answered, man … And I’m gonna tell God a thing or two!”
Whoa! No, man. No, you’re not going to tell God anything. You’re going to melt at his feet like puddle of cheap butter.
There is no fear of God in his eyes.
All of this began with the oft-asked question, “So what’s the big deal with sin?”
There is our answer. Sin is a big deal, not because I say it is a big deal, or because your pastor says it is a big deal, or because the Bible says it is a big deal, or even because God says it is a big deal. Sin is a big deal because it makes a wreck of our lives. Scan through that list above again. Look at what sin does to us!
Treating sin cavalierly is like smoking cigarettes at the local fuel refinery. It is both foolish and dangerous. We do sin, and we will sin, but we need to understand that we are not to fall in love with sin. In Christ, our sin is forgiven, but as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.”
Victoriously in Christ!
Over to you: Knowing how damaging sin is to us, how is it that Satan can make it look so attractive?