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Summary: While sin is an act, much like to drink or to drug; sinning is a state of being, just like being an alcoholic or being a drug addict. Therefore, if one wants to be rehabilitated from the state of being a sinner, then one needs a 12 step program to support

Sunday, July 6, 2008

“Admit you are a Sinner”

Text: I John 1: 8 – 10

We embark on our Summer Sizzler series with an ambitious theme: “12 steps in nine weeks: breaking your addiction to sin.”

Many of us will quickly recognize the 12 step program idea that is most poplar with alcoholic and narcotic rehabilitation programs. Those programs have achieved a solid reputation for supporting persons who are seeking to rehabilitate themselves from the ravages of those diseases.

I would argue that while to sin is an act, much like to drink or to drug; sinning is a state of being just like being an alcoholic or being a drug addict. Therefore, if one wants to be rehabilitated from the state of being a sinner, then one needs a 12 step program to support them in their journey.

During my time at Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion church, we developed the largest AA support group in Baltimore City. We also sponsored a NA program. At the beginning of every meeting, the participants would state their name by saying for example, my name is Alvin Hathaway, and I am an alcoholic. The group would respond, good evening Alvin Hathaway. I also attended a graduation program for members of a narcotic anonymous program, and they would begin their meeting by saying. My name is Alvin Hathaway, and I am an addict. The group would respond, Hello Alvin Hathaway.

I wondered what was the therapeutic value in stating that you were either an alcoholic or a drug addict.

It was explained to me that if one is in a state of denial, then one will not be receptive to treatment.

Is it possible that the reason sin is so prevalent in the world is that the people of the world are in a state of denial?

Is it possible that the reason why sin is so prevalent in the church is that the people of the church are in a state of denial?

Wait a minute; I can hear you saying, before I admit to something, you better define what it is.

What is sin?

Sin is missing that mark of the high calling which is found in Christ Jesus.

The effect of sin is God separating himself from you because sin is diametrically opposed to God and God and sin cannot be in the same place at the same time.

Where sin is; God is not; where God is; there is no sin.

The devastating effect of being a sinner is that when you are in that state of being you are in opposition to God’s purposes.

That was the whole issue when we examine the original sin of Adam and Eve in the garden. When they decided to oppose God and follow the serpent, which is Satan. God separated himself by throwing them out of the Garden of Eden.

The Garden represents the place of perpetual relationship with God.

Being a sinner is different than having an ethical lapse or a moral indiscretion. Ethics and morals are really dependent upon a culture’s definition of right and wrong.

For example, on the international scene there is an uproar over the election of Robert Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe. By all accounts, he violated ethical and moral norms by strong arming his way into the presidential office.

In other words, he sinned. Some would say he lied, he cheated. He killed, and he stole to win reelection.

Mugabe silenced all the heads of African governments by saying if you are going to judge how I won the election; I will disclose how each of you won your elections. No African President spoke a word in opposition to him.

If you live in a glass house, you should not throw stones.

The nature of ethical and moral norms is dependent upon the culture’s definition of right and wrong.

Jesus even used this idea of ethical and moral norms when he confronted the men who wanted to stone the woman for having an array of relationships by writing in the sand and asking who is willing to cast the first stone. As the men were presented with their own indiscretions, they slipped away without casting a stone.

The nature of ethical and moral norms is dependent upon the culture’s definition of right and wrong.

Being a sinner is different than having an ethical lapse or a moral indiscretion.

Ethical lapses and moral indiscretions are physical; being a sinner is spiritual.

Being a sinner is habitually missing that mark of the high calling which is found in Christ Jesus. What results is that one is separated from God, and God separates himself from you because sin is diametrically opposed to God and God and sin cannot exist at the same time.

Ethics and morals are dependent upon cultural norms; but sin is dependent upon ones spiritual relationship to the Holy Spirit.

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