Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Freed From the Shackles of Sin by a Single Act of Righteousness’
© September 29, 2013, by Steve Mickelson
BLCF Call to Worship:
Responsive Reading 605: Prayer of Penitence (Psalm 51); Prayer
Opening Hymn: #32: How Great Thou Art
Let us pray…
As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we profess our faith that while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins, Romans 5:8 (ESV): 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But ask Christians what is meant by sin and you may get any of variety definitions: a sin is an act, it is state of grace or lack of, it is the legacy or birthright we carry as descendants of Adam and Eve; it is in our nature; it a manifestation of a defiant attitude towards our Maker; and so on. No wonder there is some confusion among both believers and non-believers alike! It is very difficult to have a meaningful dialog or to witness about sin and salvation unless we have a mutual understanding and agreement of the terms that we discuss. The definition of salvation is fairly clear, but what about sin?
Let us have a look of how the Online Farlex Free Dictionary defines sin:
sin 1 (s n) n.
1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.
a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.
b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.
3. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.
intr.v. sinned, sin·ning, sins
1. To violate a religious or moral law.
2. To commit an offense or violation.
[Middle English sinne, from Old English synn; see es- in Indo-European roots.]
sin 2 (s n, s n) n.
The 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See Table at alphabet.
[Hebrew în, modeled on în, shin (the following letter).]
Sin (s n)
The Babylonian god of the moon.
We might have a better idea of what is a sin if we look at what Bible scholars commonly refer to as the original sin. In recent sermons, we looked at how Adam and Eve violated God’s singular rule: not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan stepped in and rationalized that eating the forbidden fruit would elevate them to the same level as God. Let us look at what happened after Adam and Eve chose to ignore God’s rule. In Genesis 3:17-18; 22-23 (ESV), we read:
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.
I find it interesting to note that the tree of life was not forbidden to Adam and Eve, which implies that they were able to eat from this tree and live forever before they ate from the tree of knowledge.
Note in Verse 18: in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; which indicates that Adam’s days are numbered and finite and eventually will end as indicated in Verse 19: 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
So the consequence of sin is death, but God has a plan, a solution, as we read in Paul’s Epistle of Romans 5:12-18 (ESV):
Death in Adam, Life in Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
But was committing a sin the result of an act or the thought something else? Let us look at Romans 7:12-14 (ESV):
12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Sold under sin sounds like slavery. This is confirmed in John 8:34 (ESV):
If by definition a sinner is a slave to sin, then what is the remedy? Galatians 5:1 (ESV):
Christ Has Set Us Free
5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
We have seen the consequences of sin and God’s solution in Jesus Christ. But what does God expect from us in this equation? Lets next look at Colossians 3:5-6 (ESV):
So from Colossians 3, we see some expressions of sin and understand that sin is earthly or worldly in contrast to being spiritual. And the solution the Lord provided to us for sin is unconditional, Romans 5:8 (ESV):
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Still, God expects us not to surrender our commitment and drive, but that instead of allowing ourselves to be slaves to sin, which is associated with things that are of the world which is Satan’s realm, we must surrender ourselves to matters of spiritual reality which is the domain of God, Romans 6:16-22 (ESV):
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
In addition to commitment to follow the righteous path which leads to sanctification and the promise of eternal life, we must remain vigilant to avoid temptation from Satan to given in to the impulses of our own carnal or worldly desires, which will lead us down the path to sin, James 1:12-15 (ESV):
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
God does not tempt us for He cannot be tempted. But knowing the law can lead to temptation. And temptation then leads to sin, Romans 3:20-25 (ESV):
20 For by works of the law no human being[a] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The Righteousness of God Through Faith 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Footnotes: a.Romans 3:20 Greek flesh
So the sin of humanity initiated by Adam was removed by the righteous act of Christ in the Death in Adam, resulted in Life in Christ verse we read earlier in Romans 5:12, requires faith on our part, as we read in Romans 3:22, which then leads to our redemption through Christ. This passage indicates that though all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, all are entitled to redemption and grace to be received by faith. Faith or lack of faith is the key to sin. Adam and Eve sinned as a result of trusting Satan more than God. And the only way we can receive God’s redemption, grace and glory are to give up our faith in things of the world and return to having faith in God, by accepting the unconditional gift of Jesus Christ paid on the cross at Calvary.
Let us pray…
Our Closing Hymn is #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride
Benediction (2 Peter 1:2): May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
– Go in Peace of the Lord!