Summary: Sin is bad because it takes so much more than it gives - God is great because he takes only what is needed and gives more than we could ever ask or imagine


The Setup (Gen 38: 1 – 11)

- Why do we have genealogies in the Bible?

- Judah & his three sons: Er, Onan, Shelah

- What was Onan’s sin?

Act I: The Price (Gen 38:12 – 20)

- Price vs. Cost

- Signet ring = your driver’s license

Act II: The Cost (Gen 38:21 – 26)

- This woman is more righteous than I

Act III: The Gift (Gen 38:27 – 30, ___________________)

Title: An X-Rated Sermon

Text: Genesis 38, Matthew 1:3

MP: Sin costs you way more than its apparent price.

FCF: God works completely contrary to the sale mentality – his desire is to pay for your sin.

The Setup (Gen 38: 1 – 11)

- Why does the Bible have those genealogies?

o Dostoevsky “Every happy family …”

o Alcoholism / Abuse – Sins of the Father

- The Family Tree (Er, Onan, Shelah)

- Levirate Marriage (Deut 25:7)

- Getting the sex for free – it’s stealing – how I treat my wife sometimes…

Act I – The Price (Gen 38: 12 – 19)

- 14th Street / Winston Churchill / Price (v16)– How romantic!

- Price vs. Cost: SUV, cigarettes – The price you pay is a fraction of the cost

- Judah thinks a “kid” / ends up handing over his entire wallet

Act II – The Cost (Gen 38: 20 – 26)

- If you can’t trust a woman you met on the side of the road, who can you trust?

- Tamar pregnant / Judah thinks his problem is solved

- This woman is more righteous than I… A woman who played the prostitute, slept with her father-in-law, and ran off with his name…

- Makes me feel dirty – All our righteousness like filthy rags

- Some valuable lessons already: Sin is Rated X because … extortion

Act III – The Gift (Gen 38:27 – 30, Matt 1:1-3)


The highest of the high holy days on the American consumer calendar is now upon us. Its advent begins with Black Friday; it will culminate in the Christmas Eve rush to buy the perfect gift for every name on our list. And in this month we will follow the star, as it leads us from sale to sale, in the hope that we will somehow make “the deal” getting what we want for the lowest price possible. [If I break into Tom Lehrer’s Christmas Carol, you can stop me.]

The story I would like to expose you too this morning is definitely not the kind that would be made into a Christmas Movie – it’s even more jaded in some ways than the ultimate Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. Indeed, if it were to me made into a movie, it probably would be rated NC-17 for mature themes, a misnomer if I ever heard one.

This story is one of lies, sex, theft – even death. Its heroine is a prostitute, its villain a complex man literally of Biblical proportions. I’m not going to lie to you – there is a lot of sex in this story that would make a nun blush. But if you leave this morning thinking I told you a story about sex, I will have truly failed. No, if anything, you’ll be seeing a story of theft and exploitation – that our God, who calls himself the Father of the Fatherless and the protector of the widow and the orphan, would find to be a tear jerker and not a porn movie.

We are going to see that Sin is Rated X, not because of things like sex, but because Sin is an Extortionist. It is the opposite of the Christmas Sale – it fools you with the low price, but it costs you more than you will imagine. It exposes hidden motives that are ugly and revealing. It demands an exchange that makes buying a sub-prime mortgage look good. Of course sin is going to be rated X. But bear with me and you will see even this story has a suitable, Christmas happy ending.

Now, turn with me please to Genesis 38. I’m going to break it down for you into three acts –The Price, and the Cost, and the gift. I’m going to encourage you to be reading the text for yourself as I lead you through it. The story is a little long to read end to end. Price and cost are different things as we’re going to learn in a bit, but we need to start at the beginning. But, before we get into the lesson, we need to start with the setup.

The Setup

Now Genesis 38:1 – 11 is the setup – the Teaser before the commercial break, if you will. It starts with one of those stereotypical genealogies that gives the Bible a bad name as a boring book, right? So, why does the bible do that?

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