At our Men’s Study this last week on the life of Moses we studied the chapters around our text and I want to come back to it and look at one aspect of it is more depth this morning. With a sermon title, The Gospel is the Glory of God, you might be wondering what we are doing in the OT. We’re blowing up another myth. Last week’s myth was that the Gospel is just something we share with people who are not Christians. Rather the Gospel is something we need to share with ourselves every day. We need to cultivate the habit of preaching the Gospel to ourselves daily to counter all the other voices in our heads and lies in our culture. Today we will see the Gospel is in the heart of God and on display in all of His dealings with His people. God has lead His people, the nation of Israel, out of Egypt and has brought them through the wilderness to Mt. Sinai. In Exodus 20 we read the Ten Commandments which are like marriage vows, covenant commitments, where God makes His covenant to be their God and they will be His people.
How many of you aspire to be a preacher? Any of you want to be a preacher when you grow up? Can any of you picture yourself as a preacher? OK, let me ask a different question. How many of you have worries, fears, doubts, anxiety, nagging concerns, negative thoughts, self-pity, self-condemnation? How many of us are ever worried or stressed about our lives, our families, our finances, our futures, our health, about some situation or relationship? Guess what, you are already a preacher and just didn’t know it. All of us are preaching to ourselves all the time. All our worries, fears, doubts, lingering anxiety, feelings of impending trouble or doom, are all a kind of false gospel that we all preach to ourselves. It starts as soon as we wake up with the troubles of the day facing us, and it is the last thing we do as we fall asleep. Every quiet moment can be interrupted with a cycle of negative thinking and self-talk.
I am thankful for First CRC. Can I say I am proud of you, without stirring up the sin of pride? You have received this sermon series on serious sins well. Many have expressed appreciation or spiritual benefit. You haven’t complained to the elders that the pastor talks about sin too much. Considering we live in a culture that increasingly chooses violent kinds of options when confronted with sin and evil, it’s to your credit that you have endured this series without calling it hate speech or wanting to shoot me. First Church still has prayer of confession as a part of our weekly cooperate worship. Many churches have abandoned this spiritual discipline. Church is where we should be able to be honest about our spiritual condition, where we can all say we are sinners and learn what kind of sinners we should be, which is repentant sinners. The only people in heaven are repentant sinners, the only people who can be members of this church are repentant sinners. Jesus didn’t come into the world for the righteous but for the unrighteous, to seek and save and have fellowship with sinners. The goal of these sermons has been to open our blind eyes to how all of us are caught in the entangling web of self-destructive sins and passions and sinful desires and to encourage us in the fight for our true joy and pleasure, which will never be found in sin.
The meaning of anger. One of the most helpful books on anger is by David Powlison, Good and Angry. It’s so good I want to read the entire second chapter to you. “Do You Have a Serious Problem with Anger?” Yes. That’s it, maybe the shortest book chapter in history. At the end of each chapter he has some applications. At the end of this chapter he suggests going back and rereading the chapter several more times. Do you have an anger problem? Have you ever had smoke coming out your ears or been red in the face or raised your voice? If you are human the answer is yes. From our two texts we learn there are three kinds of anger. First, there is God’s kind of anger called the wrath of God (Romans 12:19). God’s wrath is an expression of His holiness and justice. His wrath is perfect and pure and righteous and justified. It is always completely under control and never sinful. Second, being made in the image of God there is a way in which humans can also have a righteous anger, especially in the face of gross injustice and assaults on God’s character and nature. We carry in us a sense of what’s right and wrong, just and unjust. Paul says it is possible to be angry and not sin (Ephesians 4:26). In fact it would be a sin if Christians never got angry about injustice, abortion, domestic violence, abusing and distorting sex, dishonoring marriage, mocking God and His Word. Third, there is sinful anger, the last of the seven serious sins we have been considering. We could easily spend three sermons on these three kinds of anger, but I am only going to focus on the anger that affects us all the most, our sinful anger, what James refers to as, “the anger of man [that] does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). This is a universal sin. Everyone sins this sin. Anger is cross cultural, it respect no ages or peoples or positions. Anger may be the very first sin each of us ever commits as an infant. The youngest children can fly into a rage and throw epic temper tantrums over food, bedtimes, Legos, and Rainbow Dash. I wonder if the candy and toy aisles in stores are ever get completely dry of tears?
The season of Lent is a penitential season of preparation that leads up to Resurrection Sunday. This Lent we have studied six of the so called seven serious sins. The snow day in February pushed anger to next week. This serious look at our sin should heighted for us our joy on this Sunday when we see what God has done to forgive us all our sins. Today truly is a day for rejoicing. The sting of death is sin and the wages of sin is death, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. As our deeper look at sin gives us more of an appreciation of this day, so also a deeper look at our victory will give us a deeper appreciation of this day. Paul paints a vivid picture using four scenes to show us what Christ has done for us. They show us four blessings that are ours because of Christ, that are ours as Christians. Two internal blessings and two external blessings.
We live in one of the most affluent countries on earth, we are better off than every previous generation, we have access to an abundance of goods and services, yet somehow it isn’t enough. Modern American advertising skillfully and subtly fuels our desire for more, making us feel like our quality of life depends on having this or that. We are barraged with messages of what we need, must have, even deserve. Facebook is brutal. I can see what my high school and college classmates are doing, where they are traveling, what they are driving, what their house or second house looks like. The battle against this sin will be tough because everything in our culture is against us. We are all supposed to pursue the American Dream. We are all called to pursue our happiness and happiness is found in money, possessions, and achievements. We invented the bumper sticker: He who dies with the most toys wins. We live out the motto: some is good, more is better and too much is just right. What is greed? A good desire gone bad.
Introduction. In this season of Lent we are exploring the so call seven deadly sins. But to avoid the implication that other sins aren’t deadly we are calling them the seven serious sins. Sloth, what it is and isn’t. How did this sin make the big seven? What’s wrong with a nice nap, or sitting on a beach with a cool drink or looking forward to a day off or a round of golf to relieve the stress of work? All work and no play makes for a dull existence. Of the seven serious sins, this may be the most misunderstood. What it isn’t. Being still in a noisy and chaotic world is not sloth. We need to withdraw and take time to rest and reflect. It’s Biblical to be still and know He is God. Jesus withdrew from busyness. Sabbath is not sloth, it’s also Biblical. God commands us to rest from our work. Sleep is not necessarily sloth. God created us needing to sleep. It’s one of His ways of humbling us and reminding us how dependent we are. It’s necessary so our work can be fruitful. Recreation or play is not sloth. There is a time to play, to laugh, to enjoy God’s good gifts and pleasures in life. Goofing off now and then is not the same as laziness. Retirement is not necessarily sloth. There is a season when our main vocation may be done, and we enter a different season. We can still be useful and productive and glorify God. What it is. Sloth has many faces and goes by many names. Sloth is apathy, indifference, lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concern. If sloth had been the original sin, we might all still be in paradise. Our modern mantra for years has been “whatever.” Whatever, don’t care, not my monkeys, not my circus. Now the new whatever is “meh.” Sloth is procrastination. This is the Round Tuit sin, I’ll get around to it. This is the half-way sin, where we give up early, just quite, don’t care anymore. Our half-hearted efforts end with the first sign of difficulty or resistance. Sloth has been called the noon time devil, the early afternoon sin. We have talked about how one sin leads to another which leads to another. King David’s first sin may have been sloth, not doing what he should have been doing. “In the spring of the year, when kings go off to war, David stayed at his palace, and late one lazy afternoon he got off his couch. Sloth led to lust, lust led to anger, anger led to murder, murder led to pride, and pride led to his fall. Desire leads to sin and sin leads to death. Sloth is a dangerous sin.
Creation: God’s good gift. Let’s get clear what the Bible teaches about sex and marriage. Some people perceive Christians and the church to be negative about sex, so I want to begin with a clear positive statement about what God says about sexual love. Before there was lust, meaning before there was sin, there was purity in sexual desire. God created us male and female and called it good, He created marriage and called it good. God created the beautiful and wonderful gift of sexual intimacy and He created men and women to be attracted to each other and to desire relationships with each other. And it was very good. God has given us a precious gift in our sexuality. What do we do with something that is very valuable and very precious? We put it some place where it will be safe and secure, some place where it won’t be damaged or broken or stolen or cheapened. The Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting in art history. It’s in a secure place in the Louvre in Paris behind an unbreakable glass security shield. Our God-created sexual desire is like a beautiful pearl. For its beauty to shine it must be set in the golden pendent of marriage. When you have something that is very good and valuable, you protect it. God wants the very best for us so He gave us one of His very best gifts and He put it in a context where it would be beautiful and safe and clean and unashamed. But instead our culture takes that pearl and casts it before the swine of fornication, adultery, pornography, incest, child abuse and homosexuality. It cheapens and trivializes it in places like one night stands, affairs, movies, videos, TV, magazines, porn sites on the internet and romance novels. Outside of marriage nakedness and sex becomes abused, polluted, spoiled. All sexual activity outside of marriage cheapens and damages God’s good gift. It would be like taking the Mona Lisa down to the street corner. Many people try to call sex outside of marriage love but it’s not, it’s really stealing, it’s taking. At the most it’s love of self, it’s selfishness, taking what I want for myself. It’s not seeking the best for the other person. Sex outside of marriage says “I want your body, but not you as a person. I don’t want you as a covenant partner, just as an object to satisfy my desires.” That desire without a commitment dishonors the other person. That is lust, not love.