Sin, Part 1
Today we will begin a series on sin. We will examine what sin is; what to do when we sin; how to overcome sin; what to do when a church as a body sins; how we repent before the Lord; and what constitutes sin before God. We will see while it is true there is no condemnation in Christ, that doesn’t mean there is no conviction in Jesus. Sin is probably the least understood topic that individuals desire to examine. If you ask most people, “What is sin?” I don’t know what kind of answers you would get. Probably issues around right and wrong. Romans gives us the Hebrew meaning of the word sin. It says:
Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means to miss the mark. We want to examine what mark we are talking about. When we talk about sinning, what exactly do we mean? And we certainly won’t dissect the Hebrew and Greek today—you know better than that. We want to discover from God exactly what sin is and what constitutes sin in God’s eyes. Let’s go to 1 John, chapter 4, starting in verse 7. Because if we had to give a definition for sin, it would be the following: sin is an attack upon love. We tend to think of sin in terms of right and wrong and what is wicked in terms of outward kinds of logic. That goes back to the Garden of Eden when we decided to become as god, deciding what is right and wrong. But when we sin we sin against love itself. 1 John, chapter 4 verse 7 says:
1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Now verse 8 says
1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
When I sin, I sin against God Himself. I don’t sin in an abstract kind of way; in other words, when I do wrong under the state government, and I am taken before a judge, he doesn’t take it personally. He lays out the law in terms of its legal requirements, then turns and says you’re guilty or not guilty, depending on how well the argument was placed before him. But when we sin before the Lord it’s not a matter of presenting our case and coming before God to try and out-argue him. When we sin against the person of God; we sin against who He is. We sin against the very nature of love. That is the reason God’s justice is aroused. Because you haven’t sinned against the letter of the law, you haven’t sinned as you do with the government; you’ve sinned against the very person, the very character of God.
Let’s do an exercise with this next scripture. We will see today that love has a father, and hatred has a father, and you have to decide which God and which father you will follow. Let’s go to the law and look at the Ten Commandments in relation to the idea that missing the mark is missing the love of God. It says:
Deuteronomy 5:5 – (At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.)
And this is what God said:
Deuteronomy 5:6-7 – I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.
What does God appeal to? He appeals to the nature of a loving relationship. He says, “I came to you when you were in distress, I came to you when you were in slavery and I rescued you and pulled you out of that.” So the whole basis and beginning of the law is really an attitude of love. God is literally saying, “I am the God who loved you, I delivered you out of Egypt. I have brought you into this relationship—have no other gods before me.” But we don’t tend to look at sin in terms of a love relationship. We tend to look at sin in terms of right and wrong. And we say, okay, this is not an idol or that isn’t an idol. We need to look in our heart and see if we’re sinning against God by not loving Him.
Deuteronomy 5:8-9 – You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…
To what does God reduce the law? What does He bring us back to? What is the focus? It is a matter of love or hatred. Look at the next verse.
Deuteronomy 5:10 – but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
It is never a matter of right or wrong with God. It is never a matter of reducing things down to a legalistic kind of requirement. We either have the attitude to love the living God or we hate the living God. There is no middle ground. When we talk about missing the mark, we’re always talking about whether it comes from an attitude and a heart that loves God with everything. We don’t demonstrate an attitude that wonders if we did okay in an outward form or fashion. A man may do everything correct; he may do it according to the ink on paper. He may be a very Biblical person. The church can be very Biblical in every sense of the word, but not have love as the foundation that motivates everything else.
Deuteronomy 5:11 – You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God…
Is this a legalistic kind of requirement, a God standing above you saying, “I’ve got this stick in My hand and if you say something bad I will whop you with it”? He’s saying, “Those who love Me would not misuse My name.” If you love the living God, how would you represent that Lord and how would you talk about Him? How would you speak of Him? You would do all of these things with the utmost of respect, love and admiration.
Deuteronomy 5:11 – You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Is it because God is a selfish God or because God is mean and He’s demanding that everybody just keep their mouth clean? No, God holds men accountable because to misuse the name of the Lord is to sin against the very foundation, the very nature of love. It is to sin against the living God, who is love. We miss the mark when we use God’s name in a way that doesn’t ring with love.
Deuteronomy 5:12 – Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
To work and labor on the Sabbath says, I want something else besides the love of God in my life. I need something else to give me fulfillment and satisfaction. It is not a matter of missing the law in terms of doing a little bit of work, but a matter of the joy and privilege of being able to sit before the Lord and not have to work.
Deuteronomy 5:13-14 – Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
Is this just a requirement for us to get some rest and physical relaxation? Is this a medical thing that God concerns himself with? Even if it is all those things, it is first of all an opportunity to sit before the love and presence of God and fellowship with the living God. It affords a chance for us to say to everybody else, “You may rest before God, we may fellowship together, we may be partners together, and we may worship in joy before the Lord together.” It is a matter of love, not a legalistic kind of requirement concerning the Sabbath day and work.
Deuteronomy 5:15 – Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
What does He tug at? What is He seeking to draw? He’s trying to draw their hearts in terms of love, grace and fellowship, isn’t He?
Deuteronomy 5:15 – Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
When you look at their attitudes you see how they refused to rest. What kind of hard heart would have the attitude toward this kind of requirement where God comes and says “You must rest in my presence,” and refuse it? We’d rather be out shopping, or going here or there, or running all over the place, than sitting before the presence of the Lord, enjoying the God who is love.
Deuteronomy 5:16 – Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you…
Is this just a requirement to make everything run smoothly in a family? No, God wants to build love within that family. When a child disobeys his parents, it causes hatred and turmoil within that home.
Deuteronomy 5:16 – Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Even the Law points to love and the character of God, in terms of how a family should get along and what love should be there. Verse 17 is easy to see.
Deuteronomy 5:17-21 – You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
All of those things ring of us loving one another and being in a relationship with one another with the deepest of love. And so when we sin we sin against the person of God, for God is love.
Let’s forever get rid of the notion of sin being a matter of missing a certain law or requirement. The Pharisees had everything outwardly correct. They gave a tenth of their mint and spices. Yet they neglected matters of love and a relationship with God.
John 8:42 – Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me…”
It comes down to which father we want as our own. Satan is a liar. Satan is the author of lies and hatred. And a man chooses whether he wants to be aligned with Satan or whether he wants to be aligned with a God of love.
John 8:42-43 – If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you?
Why do we have to have everything spelled out in terms of right and wrong and legalistic requirements? In a family situation the father comes in and sets down the rules, and a child who’s rebellious will say, “Well, why do I have to obey all those rules?” And you explain to the child over and over again, why those rules are good for that child, but if he doesn’t want to obey them, he’ll never be convinced by the logic of the argument. Finally it boils down to; do you want to be in a relationship with me? Do you want to be a part of this family? Do you want to share in the love and joy that is in this family or do you want to belong to some other family? It all comes down eventually to what a man loves and who he wants to fellowship with. There were times as I raised my children they wouldn’t understand the rules that I was setting down. Eventually I would come down to the argument and say, “We’re father and son, aren’t we? Make a choice. It comes down to a matter of love.”
John 8:43 – Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
And why can’t they hear what Jesus is saying? Why can’t they hear concerning this matter of love? People want to debate all kinds of things, like the Trinity or holidays or Christmas and all these outward kinds of things. It really comes down to who you love and who you listen to. Verse 44 Jesus flat out says:
John 8:44 – You belong to your father, the devil…
In any man’s life it comes down to one of two fathers with no middle ground. It’s not like you can be in a relationship with God and the devil at the same time. You’re either in one camp or the other.
John 8:44 – You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Each man must decide which household he wants to belong to not in terms of right or wrong, not in terms of doctrine, ink on paper, or reading the Bible. He must decide who he wants to love and belong to. So when I sin, it’s not a matter that I somehow missed the mark in terms of Scripture. I know that my relationship with God is hindered because of my sin. When you first come to the Lord, it is a matter of right and wrong so much of the time. It’s trying to figure out exactly what is right and proper or wrong. But eventually as you mature, if you continue on in Jesus Christ, it comes down to seeing a frown on your father’s face. Or you begin to see a smile. It comes down to a matter of the heart. I don’t want to miss that little mark. I don’t want to fall short of love.
Again and again it comes down to which father you serve, which father you love. And a man who cannot stand up and say I love the living God with all of my heart, all of my mind and all of my soul and all of my strength, follows the devil.
1 John 5:18 – We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
Once a man passes from moving from Satan’s camp into God’s camp and Satan can no longer touch him, he’s no longer a part of that family. Once a man is a part of my family and my household, he is under my protection, he’s under my watchful eye, and he’s under the love that I have for him. Now verse 19 tells us very clearly:
1 John 5:19 – We know that we are children of God
Why? Because our doctrine is exactly correct? Because all the legalistic requirements have been met? Because we can quote Scripture?
1 John 5:19 – We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
It is one of two camps. Whether a man believes it or not that’s what influences his life. If he is not in Jesus Christ, Satan and his demons honestly influence him, motivate him, control him and move him in certain directions to please Satan himself. A man who is in God’s camp is moved along by the Holy Spirit, is moved along by love itself. And so a man is either being moved in his life by hatred, or he’s being moved by love. There is no middle ground in this. You must only decide which house you want to belong to.
1 John 5:20 – We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
It doesn’t say that Jesus Christ came to the earth and died so that we might be able to understand the Bible. We shouldn’t be able to examine what is right and wrong and feel superior about our walk in this world, that somehow we have all the morals and everything down. What does it say again? It says, “So that we may know him who is true,” that we may fellowship with him. When I sin against God, I sin against my father, and I sin against our relationship. When I am in darkness and hiding in sin, when I am rebellious, covetous, or stiff-necked, it is not a matter of breaking a bunch of laws. It is a matter of turning to love itself and saying, I don’t want to be a part of this household, I don’t want to fellowship with you and I do not want to hear your voice. And it goes even higher than that, if a man continues to sin, he attacks love itself, because when he sets out from God’s household, he seeks to please myself. He will seek to please Satan and he will harm other people that belong to the living God. Then love will arise and will bring justice on the earth.
1 John 5:20 – We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
When I sin, I sin against eternal life. I sin against joy, peace, life and everything that love is. If we will begin to look at sin in terms of offending the living God, then we might be more willing to be set free from our sins. If we only look at sin in terms of our own comfort, if we say to ourselves, I want to be delivered from this sin because it bothers me, we will eventually quit following Jesus Christ. We will be as the nine lepers, who go on their way and never come back to the feet of Jesus Christ. Or I will be like the multitudes in the world who desire to give up their depression, drug dependencies, nicotine, or whatever they’re addicted to. They want to get rid of certain things in their life, but they’re not in love with the living God, they’re in love with themselves. They just want to clean up their lives a little bit.
Galatians 3:22 – But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin…
We are separated from the living God, we are separated from love. That’s why the world cannot love one another, even as they sing and talk about loving one another. The whole world, Scripture says, is a prisoner of sin. Those who are not in Jesus Christ can’t help but sin. They can’t stop sinning. They like to sin, they enjoy it, they have no other choice—even if they want to stop, they cannot stop. How many times have we seen people, multitudes of people in the world trying to give up all kinds of things, only to die in their sins? Because they’re held prisoner until they decide to fall in love with God.
Galatians 3:22 – But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Again it comes down to which household we want to belong to. Who do we want to believe in, the evil one or the living God? We’re saying it over and over again because I want it to be in our hearts. When we sin it means we sin against love itself. David had just committed adultery. In fact he committed a lot of sins. He started out with the sin of laziness, he should have been out doing battle in warfare, but instead he walks around taking it easy in his house. He sees a woman, and he commits adultery. He not only commits adultery, but he also conspires to murder her husband. This is what David said:
Psalm 51:4 – Against you, you only, have I sinned
How did all of David’s sins lead to killing her husband? He enlisted other people in his schemes. The consequences led to the death of the child. How could he come in before the living God and say, against YOU only have I sinned. Because ultimately you have sinned against the nature of love and who God is in every essence and every sense of the word. So when he struck Bathsheba’s husband, he struck at love itself. He struck at the God who made the husband.
Psalm 51:4 – Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
When we lie, we lie against love. When we steal we steal from love. When we sin sexually we use the things of God, we use the person of God to fulfill our own pleasures and our own lusts. When you become angry, when you become hostile towards somebody else, you are becoming angry and bitter toward God Himself, not toward that person. You sin against love itself.
Acts 17:25 – And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
Look at what he’s telling us about God. As you work, and as you move your very being, everything about you is God Himself. The Eastern religions will tell you that we’re all one with the cosmos and there’s an element of truth there. Of course they make it this non-earthy kind of thing. I recently read a story about a man who was on an LSD trip and he talked about peeling an orange. He could see the cells within the orange and then he looked at himself in the mirror and he and the orange were one. Satan comes and whispers and declares that you are a part of the cosmos. But Paul is telling us something much deeper—God is a God of love. And the fact that I exist means there’s a portion of God within me. He gives me life and my existence. It is by Him that I exist. Read it one more time.
Acts 17:25-27 – And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
And look at what it says in verse 28.
Acts 17:28 – For in him we live…
As I’ve grown and matured in the Lord, at times thoughts go through my mind that are not holy, wholesome, positive. As I sense the presence of God more and more, then I see an unwholesome thought, I’m using the very presence of God to sin. And I sin against Him who gives me life, I sin against love itself. For in Him we live and move and have our being. It’s no wonder that love arouses itself to bring justice. Because you are taking the very nature of God, you’re taking the very nature of who you are, and why you were created and you’re using God Himself to sin.
Acts 17:28 – …As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”
To miss the mark is an understatement. And I begin to think and ask God, why is that such an understatement? If the word sin only means to miss the mark, that seems like an understatement of what we’re trying to declare here. Why not give it this definition? Because to miss it by so little is to miss love itself. To be in the Garden of Eden and eat a little bit of food is to miss love itself. So, it is a matter of aiming for a relationship with God above everything else.
Let’s look at love real briefly and then we will look at the fall in the garden. We will look at it through the nature of love, and see how they missed a relationship with God over something small. They sinned, they missed the mark. They ate something that they should not have eaten. They took one bite and their whole relationship with God was torn asunder. Why? They disobeyed a rule? How many of us in homes have disobeyed rules and our parents haven’t kicked us out immediately? It wasn’t just one rule that created the problem, it was the attitude of the heart that eventually separated the family.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Let’s see how love is missed by a small mark. Remember what we read in 1 Corinthians 13:7 how love always protects? Satan coming as the serpent seeks not to protect Adam and Eve but to bring them down. And when we use other people for our own schemes and plans and we don’t do what our father calls us to do, we cause them to fall and stumble to get our own gratification. It is the opposite of love. Now think how you feel when you read the newspaper and you come across someone who’s committed a heinous crime. You become all indignant, don’t you? You say, “How could they do that, and I hope they hang them, and I hope they bring them to justice.” And you become all upset because this person committed this crime and you demand that justice be achieved. If you have a small idea of what love is, imagine how a holy God who is nothing but pure love feels. When we use other people in circumstances in this body of ours for our own sin, we sin against love itself and that’s why His justice must arise to bring judgment.
Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.
He used his intellect to achieve his sinister purposes. We are like the serpent. We use all of our intellect, we scheme, we plan. How many of us have planned to sin and achieved those things so many times? And we have a plan for when we’re caught. We’ll even give an excuse as to why we did the sin, hoping someone will not catch us in our lies and scheming. We are at that point the opposite of love and pleasing our father the devil.
Genesis 3:1 – He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
First Corinthians 13:7 tells us that love always trusts. She was not in a loving relationship with God. The relationship was already being broken, because she didn’t trust that God told her the truth. This isn’t a question of missing the legalistic mark of saying, “You can’t eat from that tree.” It was a testimony to their love and trust of God. It was a symbol of the relationship with God. So when God said, “Don’t eat from that tree,” He was literally saying, “Do you love Me? Are you in a relationship with Me?” “Do you trust Me in every sense of the word?” And she sinned against love itself.
Genesis 3:2 – The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden…”
She knew the truth, she knew the rule. She didn’t sin against the rule, she didn’t sin in ignorance, she sinned against love itself. But God did say that she knew it fully.
Genesis 3:3 – but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
She missed the heart of love, found in 1 Corinthians 13:7, which says, “Love always perseveres in the truth.” She wanted something, so the opposite of love was going to cast that aside in order to get what it wanted. She didn’t want to persevere in the truth.
Genesis 3:4 – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
She wanted something. She cast love aside. She cast her relationship with God aside because she wanted the fruit. And 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Again she’s missing love, isn’t she? And when we sin let us not go back into the prayer closet and reduce everything down to right and wrong. That’s how we justify things in our hearts. Suppose you’ve sinned in the Body and someone brings it to light, what do you usually do? Do you look at it as a matter of love? I miss the point because I missed the heart of God. I sacrificed a relationship with God. It usually comes down to right and wrong and that’s how we ease our conscience, or that’s how we make other people feel guilty.
Genesis 13:4-5 – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
First Corinthians 13:6 tells us that love is not self-seeking. Eve goes for what she wants. She wants to listen to the lie, she wants to grab on selfishly for what she’s after. When we sin, we sin against love. We cast off our relationship with God, to get what we want. And sometimes it’s over the smallest thing. Sometimes it’s over a dollar bill, an opinion, an argument, a little bit of freedom or fun. We’re willing to say to God, I want nothing to do with a God who is love, I just want what I want. In Genesis 3:11 it goes on to say, when God came to the woman:
Genesis 3:11 – And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
And then verse 12 says:
Genesis 3:12 – The man said, “The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
1 Corinthians says love is not rude. The living God comes and asks a question, He’s trying to work redemption, He’s trying to work dialogue. He’s trying to bring them back into a relationship, but since they sinned and cast his love aside, it becomes difficult. What resides in Adam’s heart, at that point is to turn to God and say, “The woman that YOU gave me, she caused the problem.” It is to turn to the living God who is perfect in love and say, “You were wrong in your motives and what you did.” When we sin we do not sin against the law, we sin against the living God. We sin against love itself. We are literally saying, “I want my sin,” rather than, “I want a relationship with the living God.” It is no wonder they are worthy of hell.
In this next scripture we’ll see love being cast aside. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love does not envy. Verse 6 says:
Genesis 4:6 – Then the LORD said to Cain…
The fruit of Adam and Eve’s sin gave birth to Cain, and then Cain began to envy the righteousness of his brother Abel.
Genesis 4:6-7 – Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Cain never came to a place where he wanted a relationship with God above everything else. He only understood this sin in terms of right and wrong. Cain never understood Abel’s heart of love and could not figure out what Abel had that he didn’t. The difference was love and it was shown in the fact that Abel brought the fat portions from the flock and not his leftovers.
Genesis 4:8 – Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”
So we pass from envy to murder, all because our father and our mother, Adam and Eve, refused a relationship with God. They wanted something for themselves. Think of marriages that break up, look at relationships and families—it all comes down to whether we love one another or not, and whether we get our love from God.
Genesis 4:8-9 – “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Where did we see this attitude before? When a man turns his back on the living God, when a man turns his back on living love, the only thing that dwells in his heart is murder. It may not have a chance to express itself but it is there. So Cain turns to God, and he says, Am I my brother’s keeper? Is it my responsibility to know where he is at all times? This is the opposite of love.
Genesis 4:10 – The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
Love wants to bring about justice, and God made hell because of love. We don’t tend to think of hell as being in existence because of love. But we’ll see in the coming weeks that it is out of love that God made hell. Who wants to serve a God that allows Hitlers to exist and are never judged? Would we call that a God of love, a God who cares? But He said, “The blood of your brother cries out to me.” In Genesis chapter 18 verse 20 the same thing is echoed.
Genesis 18:20-21 – Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
Again think back when you read the newspaper you see someone doing some injustice to another person. You want to rise up and take matters in your own hands. You want to see justice done. If you feel a small portion of that, how much more does a God who is holy, pure, and perfect in love want to arise and bring justice? Let’s see again how this fruit increases as we move further and further away from love. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love is not proud.
Genesis 4:17 – Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.
His pride wells up. He boasts of who he is and what he’s able to accomplish. By the way, this is a stab in God’s eyes.
Genesis 4:13 – Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”
Of course he’s self-centered, all he’s concerned about is his own punishment. His brother’s dead; his blood cries out from the ground and he’s concerned about his punishment!
Genesis 4:14 – Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.
He realized that he would wander aimlessly all over the place and never be able to settle in, so he immediately built a city. He established a name for himself. He rebelled in more and more ways, and told God that he could not accept this discipline. He didn’t want to wander here and there. So he built a city, established himself and stayed entrenched in his sin. I know many men, that no matter how much you bring to them the need to repent, no matter how much you show them in terms of Scripture or pray for them, they are entrenched in their sins and they will not give it up. How many there are who God disciplines out of the greatest of love because He doesn’t want them going to hell? He doesn’t want to have to judge them and send them there, so He disciplines them, but they entrench themselves more and more in sin. Look at Genesis chapter 4:23 and remember that 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love does not boast.
Genesis 4:13-14 – Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words.”
Lamech, a son of Cain, and it just continues on and on. When a man rejects the living God, when he rejects love itself, the only thing you’ll see in his life is more and more wickedness, hatred, and vileness. We see this going on around us more and more in the world. Look at what he said:
Genesis 4:23 – I have killed a man for wounding me,
So strong, so powerful, so full of boasting: “I overcame them, and I conquered them!”
Genesis 4:23-24 – I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.
We see no grace or mercy here. No looking and saying “He’s a young man, he just didn’t know any better, he’s just full of all kinds of foolishness.” Lamech killed him because of a wound. He did more than his father Cain. When a man separates himself from love, from the living God, he becomes very dark indeed and becomes darker and darker with time. How many people do you know that are in churches today who claim to be Christians, and their idea of love is the complete opposite of love? They’re darkened, they have no understanding. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love is not easily angered,” and yet he slew a man because he was wounded, because he was a little insulted. It says we must keep no record of wrongs. But Lamech kept a record of wrong and he boasted of overcoming it. Verse 24 goes on to say:
Genesis 4:24 – If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.
He boasted more and more of his wickedness, of his vengeance.
Let’s back up just a bit. We’ve now seen that it is not a matter of rejecting right and wrong or legal requirements, but God himself. In Genesis, the serpent came to the woman. And said,
Genesis 3:4 – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
What does the serpent come along and say? He says you will continue to live and have life. And how easily we believe the lie ourselves. When it comes to the matter of sin, I want us to become very sensitive to what is said here—we will indeed die if we continue to sin. We’ll see in the coming weeks that Paul writes to the church in Rome, saying, “You’re only storing up wrath for yourselves.” There are times, literally, when I begin to contemplate sinning and I’ll hear whispers in the echoes of my mind, “It’s not that serious, God will forgive it or it’s small or I say a prayer and it’s over with.” I really don’t believe that I will surely die if I continue in my sin. When you talk to other people in the world do they take sin seriously? If you’ve ever repented to people in the world and you go back to them and say, “I’m sorry for what I did to you,” they say, “It’s no big deal, it’s nothing.” It comes naturally, it comes easily for us to believe we will not die if we hang on to a sin. This deceit caused Eve to participate in sin and to move forward with sin. We somehow think we can keep a relationship with God, that we can still go to heaven—even Cain was worried about moving out from the presence of the Lord. We believe somehow that we will escape, that we will be different, that we will not die. Let’s go to 1 Peter chapter 4, verse 18. As we begin looking at sin in the coming weeks, it is something of the utmost seriousness to deal with. We’ll see in the coming weeks that Jesus says we have to use violence to deal with sin in our life. In 1 Peter chapter 4 verse 18 Peter says the following about our salvation and being saved:
1 Peter 4:18 – If it is hard for the righteous to be saved…
Let’s read that again.
1 Peter 4:18 – If it is hard for the righteous to be saved…
It’s not a matter of just asking Jesus in your heart. It’s not a matter of just signing the back of a Bible and saying, “Okay, I’m getting in.” Peter himself who preached at Pentecost turns to those who want righteousness and he says,
1 Peter 4:18 – “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
And Satan continues to whisper, shout and declare everywhere that you will not die if you participate in this sin. How many things do we continue to do and we really believe that we’ll escape and confess it later. Or that we dealt with it years ago. Let us not be a people who die thinking that we will not die when we stand before God. It is hard, it is difficult for the righteous to be saved. When you come to God Himself, when you come to the God of justice, and you say I want to be delivered from my sins, it is a hard work that you ask love to engage upon. There are times you have to pray and say God, “Do not give up on the work of Your hands.”
Right now there’s so little conviction of sin. You spend half your time convincing other people they are in sin. There’s so little conviction of sin even among us who claim that we desire righteousness. So many times we have to come before God and say, “Soften my heart.” We do not take sin serious enough.
Jude 14-15 – Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Right now the ungodly are not under a lot of conviction. There’s very little conviction in the church. In fact, what is touted and shouted, of course, is there’s no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It’s as if there is no conviction in Jesus Christ either. Should we wait until He comes back with thousands upon thousands of holy ones to begin to take sin seriously, to be convicted about sin? It says in verse 15 again that God will come…
Jude 14-15 – …with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Let us go home and begin to ask God to judge us now, to hold us in His mercy and His grace, to cleanse us and purify us, to rob from us any thought or any inclination to think that we won’t die because of sin that we have in our life. Let us plead and pray and ask, let’s go to one another and confess our sins as James says in order that we might be healed. Let us fall under His conviction now, so that we are not condemned later on.
We need to be praying ourselves for a fresh conviction from the Lord. We’ve all tasted God’s mercy and grace. We know that if He convicts us and shows us sin it is out of the richness of love of who He is. We know God’s character is one of love, and when He comes to chastise us and show us things that are wrong, when He seeks to purify our hearts and our minds and our life, it is love acting and responding in our life.
John 16:5-7 – Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Let’s ask for the Counselor. What is the work of this Counselor, and what does He long to bring in our life? He longs to convict us of sin and to bring righteousness and judgment.
John 16:8 – When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin.
We desperately need the Holy Spirit moving not only in our own lives but in the community around us, to convict the world of sin. Man left to himself will never be convicted of sin. We sinned in the Garden of Eden and anything we had that was good or noble in our hearts to discern right and wrong died and disappeared that day. And we need the Holy Spirit to convict those around us, not our arguments, not our reasoning, not just showing of Scripture, not just ink on paper. We need God whispering in their hearts that their soul is in jeopardy. But it first begins with our hearts, it begins with the Church of God, it begins with those who are pursuing righteousness.
John 16:8 – When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin.
Ask for guilt and conviction, because they produce life. Most of you who are sitting in the chairs today are here because you felt guilty at some point. You felt that there was something wrong. It was love itself, it was God Himself telling you that you were in the wrong. And somewhere along the line you had to stop and you had to agree with God. How much more now that you know His love, when you know His mercy, that He seeks to cleanse and purify? We should embrace it and rejoice with it. We should run with it.
John 16:8 – When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment
It is said of the first church in Acts that they lived and grew in the fear of the Lord. We’re praying to become more afraid of the living God. This fear brings about repentance, holiness, and life. We should begin to look at matters of sin and take it more and more seriously by the power of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:9 – …in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
The Holy Spirit will come, He will convict, all because the world will not believe what Jesus Christ says is true. When we talk about sin we’re talking about the need for Jesus Christ to come and die for our sins. It’s sad, sometimes we’ll make jokes around here about some character changes that God works in my life or somebody else’s life, and I’ll turn and say, “You know, Jesus had to DIE in order for that to change.” It looks like a minor thing to us and we kind of laugh it off a little bit. But it was no minor thing. It robbed me of a relationship with the living God. It robbed me of a relationship with love itself.
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, draw close to us with your presence. And bring in your timing and in your manner and in your way, Father, conviction of sin and life and love, all of who You are. Father, we want to share in Your holiness, we want to be with You forever. We know, Father, that of the deepest of labor of love, you’re seeking to purify and cleanse us. Give us soft and teachable hearts to You, O Lord. Draw us into Your light and Your wonderful life. And Father we pray that You convict those around us that they too might share in life and joy. We praise You Father for the good that you have worked, how you’ve delivered us from so much. Let it not blind us, Father, to the seriousness of sin. Let it not rob from us, Father, that eagerness to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.