Summary: S I N -- it is a word we don’t like to use anymore in our churches.
The “S” Word
There is a three letter word that we don’t like to say in churches.
The rest of the world uses this word all the time, but we don’t.
It makes Christians feel uncomfortable.
It makes us feel dirty.
The word is S – I – N.
Yep, some of you are probably very disappointed that I am using this word “Sin” in church. I don’t know, maybe you were hoping it would be another three letter word starting with “S.”
Apparently several people thought I was going to preach about “sex” – not “sin.”
So I don’t know what to preach about today. Maybe we should vote.
How many of you want me to preach about sin, raise your hand.
How many of you want me to preach about sex, raise your hand.
Well – doesn’t matter how you voted – the sermon I wrote for today is on sin, so sin it is.
But actually, that’s my point. We don’t want to talk about sin, not even in church.
It used to be quite fashionable to talk in our churches about sin.
Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon that I was required to read in high school – and it was public school. It was considered to be a good example of Puritan literature. I’d be interested to know if they still use that in English classes today.
The sermon was “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
The first time Jonathan Edwards preached it in his home church, it was like any other sermon – no reaction at all. But when he visited another congregation, he preached it again and people actually cried out in fear, they fainted, they trembled and some men actually grabbed onto the pew in front of them for fear of slipping backward into the fires of hell.
How come you guys don’t react that way to me and Joe? We never see you guys tremble with fear or faint. Well, come to think of it, I did have someone faint in one service, but it had nothing to do with the sermon.
But when Jonathan Edwards preached about sin and hell, people acted like they were about to live out “Psycho” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or some other frightening movie.
“Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature… The sin of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury. Your heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.”
But we don’t talk about sin anymore.
We avoid mentioning that word – S-I-N.
In our worship services we almost always have a Prayer of Confession. We do this because Christians have almost always included a confession of sin in worship services, and usually near the beginning.
This dates back to the beginning of the Christian Church – even to Old Testament times before Christ was born.
The reason is that when we approach God, we should become aware of who God is – and we should become aware of who we are.
God is great, and powerful, and compassionate, and loving.
And we – well, we are not all that great, or powerful, or compassionate or loving. We have, in fact, fallen short of the glory of God.
I know this not only from having known myself, but I this from having read it in the Word of God.
In the New Testament book of Romans, Paul said, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
In I John 1:8 we read, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
But most of us like to think that we are without sin.
And society has been teaching us for decades to develop within ourselves and to develop within our children a “good, positive self-image.”
And admitting that we are sinful doesn’t seem to lend itself to a good, positive self-image.
In fact, in recent years it has become fashionable in many churches to omit the prayer of confession because the admission that we are sinful seems unfriendly to guests who may visit us in worship. It seems too depressing.
But it is reality, and confession of sin is a needed part of our spiritual journey.
But this is nothing new.
Take a look at how all of this started. There we were in the Garden of Eden.
Then one thing leads to another and Adam and Eve violate God’s instructions – in other words, to use that dreaded word – they “sinned.”
We read that story in the Old Testament lesson from Genesis – but this is what happens next.