“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”Romans 3:23
Many years ago, a lady in one of the many churches I have served in as a pastor, came up to me after I finished preaching and gave me her critique of my preaching style and content of the morning’s message. That morning’s topic was sin. Without going into a lot of detail, her main point concerning my preaching content (style notwithstanding) was not very flattering. She said, “People don’t need to keep hearing that they are sinners, we know what we are, we need to hear things from the pulpit that are uplifting and motivational!” I took her words to heart and I tried as well as I could to look at my preaching from her perspective. And knowing all too well that I am not God’s gift to the pulpit and the fact that my preaching can be one dimensional, I went back over the sermons series I was preaching to see if I spent more time speaking on the topic of sin at the expense of preaching messages that were of the uplifting, motivational variety. Although I didn’t come up with anything that proved her case or not, it did give me pause to reflect whether sin really matters. As my title of this article states, “Does sin really matter?”
I suppose it is possible that all of us before coming to Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior were confronted by someone who quoted Romans 3:23. If not, I can assure you that I certainly was as a co-worker shared with me a Bible tract written by John R. Rice, entitled “What Must I Do To Be SAVED?” The subtitle states, “The plan of salvation made plain to sinners from the Word of God.” With a lengthy 24 page track I was confronted with Romans 3:23 on page 4 as Rice, the evangelist, confronted me with the Scripture concerning my sinfulness. Continuing to read this pint size theological treatise concerning the plan of salvation (made plain), I was confronted with the fact that sin was a bad thing and that it kept me from having the right relationship with God. Knowing at that point I wanted to have the right relationship with God, I kept reading and by the power of the Holy Spirit I accepted Jesus as my Savior through the process of re-reading that tract over the course of a week. I read that tract so much, so often, that I began to memorize the verses that were printed out “plain to sinners from the Word of God.”
Over the years since my salvation experience, I have come to understand that my view of sin will always effect my view of Jesus Christ, His work on the cross, His power to take away sin, my relationship with the Father, and how I view those who are lost and those who are saved. The less I make of my own sin, the less I make of the sin of others. The more that I ignore my sinful behavior, the more I tolerate and ignore the sinful behavior of others. But if I were to pick one area where sin really matters out of all areas I have mentioned, it would be Christ’ work on the cross. Without sin, sinfulness, sinners, constant sinning the cross not only makes no sense, but it would be silly, pointless, and foolish. But let’s dig a little deeper to answer the question, “Does sin really matter?”
As I thought through this question, I came up with some all or nothing type answers. Now, I must warn you, I am an “all or nothing” type of guy. On things that matter most to me I am all in, no middle ground, take no prisoners. As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “No one dies for their opinions, you die for your convictions.” So here is one of my convictions concerning sin.
SIN REALLY MATTERS BECAUSE TO LESSEN THE GRAVITY AND SEVERITY OF SIN WILL NULLIFY THE WORK OF THE CROSS—Making less of sin than what it is will cancel out the need for Christ to go to the cross. Making our sinful behavior, our sinfulness, our propensity and proclivity for sinning a misdemeanor when God views it as a felony, does not just minimize the cross, but eliminates the need for it.
Let me see if I can illustrate this. You have a broken water main to your house. You call the city to tell them you have no water pressure in the house and that there seems to be a pond developing in your front yard. As you continue to explain the gravity of your situation, you are put on hold for 10 minutes then reconnected to a person who is in the water department. After what seems to be a lifetime on the phone, a young city engineer for the water department tells you that what you are experiencing isn’t a big deal and they will get to it by the end of the week. Meanwhile, your front yard looks like waterfront property as ducks start to use it as a landing pad.
Is the broken water main serious or not? Does it really matter if you get it taken care of or not? How will the continued pouring out of water on your block not only affect you, but also those around you? For you, this is a serious situation and making less of it by a city engineer doesn’t take away the gravity and severity of your problem. Your broken water main going into your house will have serious consequences for you and for those around you. You need it fixed, not sometime at the end of the week, but as soon as you hang up the phone with the water department’s engineer. If this problem is not serious, why have a water department at all? What is the sense of putting together a department in name only if they are not going to deliver when it counts?
The same could be said of sin and the cross of Christ. Why would God go to all the humiliation, and degradation, in sending His Son to the cross if sin really doesn’t matter? If sin doesn’t matter why nail His Son to a tree? Here is the all or nothing of sin—IT DOES MATTER! Like your broken water main going into your house, if you don’t get it fixed sooner or later your house and the houses around you will stop being what they were created to be—livable, filled with life. And when sin doesn’t matter, when the gravity and severity of our sin is lessened, the cross of Christ suffers, its power diminished, and the message of Christ makes no sense.
BUT WE KNOW BETTER—Sin really does matter; it matters to God, and it should matter to us. It matters so much to God that sin couldn’t be dealt with any other way than the cross. We didn’t choose the method by which our sin would be dealt with, God did. Like a broken water main, we too are broken, broken by sin and suffer all the ramifications that come with it. And ignoring it will not lessen the gravity and severity of our sin problem.
My sin, your sin, cries out for the cross of Christ! What I find so interesting is that the world, humanly speaking, is a broken place but the vast majority of its dwellers ignore the issue of sin. We have a broken environment, a broken political system, a broken economy, and we cry out, “Fix us!” Yet, when men of God stand in the pulpit and tell the saved and unsaved alike that we have a real problem with sin and that sin matters, we are somehow not uplifting and motivational. Yet, the world cries out, “Fix us!” Why? Because we are broken, broken by our sin nature, broken by our sinful habits, broken, and accursed by God. Yet, let me say this very carefully, yet, not without hope!
“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who hanged is accursed of God.”Deuteronomy 21:22-23 NKJV
What was written by Moses is reiterated by the Apostle Paul, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.’” Galatians 3:13-14 (ESV)
Our sin matters because at the end it brings forth death, “For the wages of sin is death…” But Christ took the place of our stinking sinful and cursed life. My life and yours should have been placed on the tree of death instead of His. Why? Because sin is serious, it really matters, and the cross of Christ proves that God could not, would not ignore it. And knowing Christ went to the cross in my place and yours still tells me that my sins, your sins, and the sins we will even commit today still matter very much to Him. They matter so much to God that He was willing to sacrifice His Son on our behalf—Oh, what wonders of His love!!!
You want to be lifted up today? Go to the cross! You want to be motivated to live the Christian life today? Bury yourself in that glorious cross of Calvary! That blood drenched cross, the curse removed, everlasting life given, oh dear brothers and sister go to the cross—your sin matters to God. And there is proof in the cross of Christ!
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN, wishing you Joy in Jesus!