Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

The Cost of Sin

April 28, 2016

King David was a man after God’s own heart.  This does not mean that he was perfect.  Even when he was a mature man of God who had served the Lord for years,  he made some serious mistakes.

I.  If God…then God…  II Samuel 24:1-2

Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.”

A.  When we read this with our cultural understanding, it seems as though God had caused David to sin so that He would have justification to punish Israel.  We have a problem with this understanding because it makes God actively causing sin and death.

Ancient Jews, and many contemporary Christians, believe that God is in control of what happens in the world.  For ancient Jews, they interpreted that to mean that God caused things.  They did not have a problem with that thinking.  Today, we do not believe that God is an active source of evil.  The way that we interpret it is that there is evil in the world, both humans and angels.  God restrains much of the evil that could happen, but sometimes He allows evil to have it’s way.  King David was not supposed to number the children of Israel,  that is one of the commandments that God had given them as a nation.  David knew the commandment, and broke it.

B.  Why God?  Why does God allow evil to have it’s way?  First, if we could not sin, then we would not truly be free.  Why does God allow some sins, but not others?  We do not have an answer to that question.  I would suggest that we be thankful for all the evil that is restrained, rather than be upset about what God does allow to happen.  God will give us the grace to deal with what He allows to happen in our lives.

II.  David Repents:  II Samuel 24:10-14

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.”’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”

14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

A.  David’s heart condemned him.  He has grown in his relationship with God.  He did not need a prophet to confront him with his sin.  He knew he had done wrong and asked God for forgiveness.

B.   David was given a choice of what would be the penalty for his sin.  This is highly unusual.  We do not normally have a choice.   He chose the plague, perhaps thinking that God would show mercy and the price would not be too great.

III.  The Price of Sin:  2 Samuel 24:15-17

 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died. 16 And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

We do not realize how our sin affects others.  In this case 70,000 people die.  That is a lot of people, a lot of death.  When David saw this he wanted to change his mind, but the choice had been made and it was too late.

We can be forgiven for the eternal consequences of our sins, but there may be consequences here on earth that may be severe.

We should resist sin.  James 1: 12*-13

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

We sometimes think that because God is loving and merciful, that sin is no big deal.

That is not true.

Sin hurts. 

IV.  David’s Offering:  2 Samuel 24: 18-25

 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground.

21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”

22 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.”

And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

Jesus has paid the price for our sin.  There is nothing due.

However, out of gratitude we should offer something to God.

Actually, our whole lives should be given to God.  We are meant to be His servants.

What are we offering to God?

These are the sermon notes from 4/24/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

The Christian Experience

February 22, 2016

I.  Repent!  Acts 3:19

 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

A.  Repentance involves two aspects: a turning away from sin and a turning towards God. It is not simply a cessation from sin.  It is a time of drawing closer to God.  There is the initial repentance when we are first saved, but that is not the only time that it is needed.  Repentance is needed anytime that we have strayed off the course that God has for us.  It is like a course correction.   It does not necessarily mean that we have lost our salvation, but rather that we have momentarily lost our way.  We need to get back on track.

B.  In our initial conversion, we become something new.  We are born again, a new creation.  (John 3:3, II Corinthians 5:17)

C.  At this point our sins are blotted out.  They are removed from our account even more effectively than hitting the delete button.

D.  We cannot overestimate the importance of receiving the refreshing that comes from being right with God.  God is our source of strength.  If you are feeling weary, turn to God for strength.

II.  Continue!  Acts 2:42

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

A.  They continued steadfastly.  Sometimes people fade, or go in spurts.  We should seek to be people that are consistent in our walk with God.

B.  Doctrine is not a bad word.  It simply means teaching.  We should continue to grow in our knowledge of the Word and the things of God.

C.  They continued in fellowship with other believers.  We are not meant to be alone.  We are meant to be a part of a community of disciples.

Hebrews 10:23-25*

 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

D.  The breaking of bread may be a reference both to sharing communion and to sharing meals.  Both of these activities can help to bring a sense of solidarity to a group of people.

E.  Praying together is important.  Our prayers are strengthened by numbers.  Prayer is one of the most important things that we do as the people of God.

The Christian experience is not just a moment in time, but a lifetime of moments.  Once we have our new life in Christ, we are to live out that new life, not just occasionally, but continually.

These are the sermon notes from 1/24/16.  Any advertisement that might appear has been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

Cease to Do Evil

June 29, 2015

Faith and works have had a turbulent history. Finding the proper relationship is important to our Christian faith.

I. Worship and Evil: Isaiah 1:10-15

“Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah:
11
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.

12
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
13
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood. ”

A. Offerings and Sin
Samuel said said to Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22) We cannot live sinful lives and then think that we can buy God’s forgiveness by giving a big offering. Certainly it is good to give offerings, but it is more important to be obedient.

B. Worship and Sin
We are supposed to worship God. It is good to gather together with other believers to worship and pray. Many traditional congregations begin their worship with a time of confession of sins and a request for forgiveness. That can be a good thing. The potential problem with this is that some may use it as an excuse to continue in sinful behavior. The thinking may be that I can do what I want throughout the week as long as I go to church on Sunday and ask for forgiveness. That is not how it works. We are not to use the sacrifice of Christ as a means to remain in our sins. It is by the power of God that we are able to escape the clutches of sin. To come together to worship God, and then purposely remain in sin brings no glory to God.

II. Cease to Do Evil: Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

I greatly appreciate the simplicity of the statement “cease to do evil, learn to do good”. Of course, we need to be able to recognize the difference between good and evil. That is something that we should turn to the Bible to identify. Our culture does not lead the way to godliness. As Christians, we should follow the Bible, not to earn our salvation, but to display our salvation. We should “let our light shine, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

We should seek justice. God is concerned about how we live in society. As Christians we should rebuke the oppressor and speak up for the oppressed. Evangelical Christians were opposed to the Social Gospel movement, which seemed to equate salvation with a good life on earth. The emphasis placed on forgiveness of sins is appropriate, but to ignore injustice is wrong. We should preach the forgiveness of sins first, and work for justice second. They are not equal concerns, but justice should not be ignored.

III. Forgiveness: Isaiah 1:18-20

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) Forgiveness is offered to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

However, we are also told, “If you love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15 We are forgiven for our past sins, but we are called, and enabled to turn away from the practice of sin.

Obedience will be rewarded, disobedience will be judged.

May God help us to cease to do evil and learn to do good, not because we are attempting to earn our salvation, but because we want to live out our salvation.

Repentance

May 11, 2015

King David is said to be “a man after God’s own heart”, that is; an example for the rest of us.  Yet, King David was an adulterer, and arranged for the death of an innocent man.  Obviously, this behavior is not what we are to imitate.  What we are to learn from is how he responded when he was confronted with his sin.  Psalms 51 was written to express his repentance.

Psalms 51:10-17

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

I.  A Broken and Contrite Heart

The first step is to recognize that we have sinned.  One thing that greatly bothers me is when people think that their life is right, and God’s Word is wrong.  When we measure our life by the light of God’s Word we will see that there is still room for improvement in our lives.  We still fall short of what we could, and should be.

Once we have recognized our sin, we should be sorry for our sin.  A “broken and contrite heart” does not make excuses for sin.

True repentance leads to renouncing sin.  We should turn away from sin.  As much as we can do so, we should avoid sin.  We should “cease to do evil, and learn to do good.”

II.  A Clean Heart

Once we have turned to God in repentance, we are forgiven for our sins.  We do not have to earn our forgiveness.  Forgiveness has been provided for us at the cross.  Jesus has made atonement for us.  “although our sins were as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow”.

III.  A Steadfast Spirit

As Christians we are meant to have life-altering changes take place in our lives.  A steadfast spirit is one that will be able to stand the test of time.  We are not “tossed about”  by events in our lives, but rather we are to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”.

IV.  Joy

There are times when the joy of the Lord has been drained from our lives.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It is like fuel to a car.  We top off the tank and we can run for quite a while, but the stress and strains of life can cause our tanks to run dry.  When that happens we need to spend sufficient time in the presence of the Lord, for “in the presence of the Lord, there is joy forevermore”.  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, we can expect it to be present in our lives.  If it is missing, then we must seek the presence of the Lord until it is restored to us.

V. Teach

First, God works in our lives.  Then we are able to teach others about the goodness of the Lord.

VI.  Praise

Praise is a natural and expected response to the forgiveness that God offers to us.  God is good to us in so many ways.  He is worthy of our worship and our praise.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

These are the sermon notes from 5/10/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Warning! Danger Ahead!!

July 28, 2014

Danger! Bridge Out!  Would you pay attention to a sign like this?  Probably so, but there are many other types of warnings that people routinely ignore.

I.  Warning!  Matthew 26:31-32

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Jesus knew what as going to happen on the night of his betrayal.  It was, in fact, a fulfillment of prophecy.  It was certainly going to happen.  When we receive warnings through the Word of God, we should take them very seriously.

II.  Pride:  Matthew 26:33-35

33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

And so said all the disciples.

Peter, and the rest of the disciples did not believe that they would be made to stumble.  Surely, they would not fall into temptation.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

I Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

We should take warnings seriously, recognizing that we too, can fall.

III.  The Fall:  Matthew 26:69-74

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed

Peter did exactly what Jesus had said that he would do, he denied even knowing Jesus, not just once, but three times.

We are all capable of falling, making mistakes, of doing the wrong thing.  That is why it is so important that we listen to warnings, and pray that God will give us wisdom and strength to do the right things.  We do not do what is right in our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

IV.  Repentance:  Matthew 26:75

. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

True repentance involves both sorrow over the wrong that was committed, and a commitment to do what is right in the future.  It is a ‘turning away’ from sin.  God can give us the power to change, but we must want to change.  It is not necessarily easy, but it is possible.

V.  Restoration:  John 21:15-19

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

This passage has a number of meanings, but for today, we recognize that Peter had denied Christ three times, and now, three times is asked if he loved Christ.

If we fall away, we can be restored.

That doesn’t mean that we should intentionally fall away, counting on restoration, but it should console us that if we do stumble, we can get back up.

We should pay attention to warnings.  We too, can stumble and fall into sin.  If we do, God is willing to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We can be restored and we can try again  to live as God would have us live.

These are the sermon notes from 7/20/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

Any ads that accompany this article are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

The Sin Cycle

September 13, 2008

Step one in the sin cycle is to recognize sin as sin in our lives.  This is not easy, because we are often willing to deny or justify what we are doing as acceptable.  We are very good at writing excuses.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to help us recognize sin in our lives. 

Step two is to confess the sin in our lives.  We need to be willing to admit that we are sinners and ask God for forgiveness and help.  Forgiveness for our past actions, or attitudes and help to change.

Step three is to accept.  We need to accept the forgiveness and the help that God offers to us.

Step four is to commit to do things differently.  Repentance is not just feeling bad, but it is about changing what we do, and say, and even think. 

Step five is to do.  If we are to truly change, then we need to “cease to do evil, learn to do good”.

The reason that I call this a sin cycle, is because it is an ongoing process.  Sometimes we are able to immediately change our behaviors, and sometimes it takes a while.  When we do manage to overcome certain sins in our lives then God will reveal to us other areas of our life that need to change.  The work that God does in our lives is ongoing, so the sin cycle repeats.