Summary: This series is a study of the seven deadly sins contrasted with solutions found in the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. This first sermon uses the Parable of the Sower to introduce the series.
A Holey Lifestyle
Seven Sins and Solutions
Preached by Chris McCarthy at Northampton Church of Christ (nhcoc.com) on 1.2.11
*** Note to Sermon Centrists: I drew a lot of content for this sermon series from “Seven” by Jeff Cook. Read it for good measure.
Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
• Then, in the intensity of the moment, Isaiah realized he was standing in a powerful light
Reminds me of a scene in CS Lewis’s Great Divorce (explain bus trip from hell to the foothills of heaven)
Hours later there came a change. It began to grow light in the bus. The grayness outside the windows turned from mud-color to mother of pearl, then to faintest blue, then to a bright blueness that stung the eyes. We seemed to be floating in a pure vacancy. There were no lands, no sun, no stars in sight: only the radiant abyss. I glanced round the bus. Though the windows were closed, and soon muffed, the bus was full of light. It was cruel light. I shrank from the faces and forms by which I was surrounded. They were all fixed faces, full not of possibilities but of impossibilities, some gaunt, some bloated, some glaring with idiotic ferocity, some drowned beyond recovery in dreams; but all, in one way or another, distorted and faded. One had a feeling that they might fall to pieces at any moment if the light grew much stronger. Then-there was a mirror on the end wall of the bus-I caught sight of my own. And still the light grew.
Here’s how Isa. Responded…
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Contrast this with how Isaiah describes God’s presence later in his book…
Isaiah 60:1-2 (MSG) Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God's bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you: Your sons coming from great distances, your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you'll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!
Isn’t it interesting how light can fill us with terror like we talked about in Isaiah 6, and then the next moment we find that same light can comfort us like we talked about in Isaiah 60? I guess the difference is in how comfortable we are in the dark.
Another way to think of this struggle between comfort and concern in God’s presence it by considering our holeyness. (holiness or holeyness? Slide)
BUCKET WITH HOLES and Water (not obvious in beginning until water is poured in)
It feels as though I was once made strong and whole, but something has gone to work on me, hollowing out my insides. It is cliché to say, “I feel empty,” when I have done something wrong, but often that is the effect of my failures.
• It feels as though something is at war with me — within me — that is determined to make my life miserable and it keeps popping holes in soul.
The Bible has a name for this force in us and in our world that is clawing away at what was once solid. It calls the force “sin” and suggests that when early humanity first chose death over life, sin — this active absence — was unleashed and began eroding all that was once good.
• Sin is first and foremost a corrosive power. Augustine wrote that sin “tends to make that which is cease to be.”
• It is a parasitic force, and like all parasites, sin does not exist on its own. It thrives off a host. The unconscious goal of sin is to cut pieces out of the fabric of reality and call the incisions “real life.”
From the earliest days of Christianity, lists were written naming the manifestations of this power. These lists were not assembled for curiosity’s sake. The writers were doing the work of physicians —diagnosing the disease that is killing us. And around the sixth century, one of the lists came to be viewed as definitive. Seven cancers were identified and exposed as the power of sin at work in us, mangling our desires and pointing us toward poisonous delights: