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Summary: Christians don't do what they used to do.

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Breaking the Grip of Sin

1 Peter 4:1-6

Rev. Brian Bill

February 21-22, 2015

Play Wall of Me video. Our sins create a wall of separation, don’t they? [Hold up brick]

Do you know what a “euphemism” is? The word comes from the Greek, euphemismos, which means “good speech.” It’s the idea of substituting a pleasant word for something not so pleasant. For instance, getting fired is now called a “career change opportunity.” Another example is when a car dealer advertises a “pre-owned vehicle” instead of a used car.

Unfortunately, our society has become quite adept at replacing the word “sin” with other softer expressions like “mistakes” or “struggles” or “accidents” or “errors in judgment.” Instead of saying, “I sinned,” it’s easier to say, “I slipped.” Just this week a well-known professional baseball player referred to allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs this way: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension…” Interestingly, he never admitted what he did exactly but instead hopes the word “mistakes” takes care of it.

Here are some common sin synonyms, or pretty ways to say an ugly word.

• “Stretching the truth” (sin of lying)

• “Living together” or “hooking up” (sin of fornication). Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

• “Affair” (sin of adultery)

• “Drinking a little too much” (sin of drunkenness)

• “Sharing some news” (sin of gossip)

It’s easy to excoriate our society but let’s be honest. Sin seldom shows up in sermons today or Christian books or even Christian music anymore. By the way, I will say the word “sin” over 100 times in this message if you’d like to count. Some of you are already looking for the exits.

More than 40 years ago, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a book called, Whatever Became of Sin? He pointed out that our society has rejected the concept of sin and no longer talks about it. He made the argument that simply removing the word “sin” from our collective vocabularies would not make it disappear. Like any good doctor, Menninger prescribed a solution to the problem of “vanishing” sin when he called on pastors to: “Preach! Tell it like it is. Say it from the pulpit. Cry it from the housetops.”

When we don’t call sin what it is, we short-circuit the need for forgiveness and thus the necessity for the blood of Jesus Christ as payment for our sins. Jesus didn’t come just to help me manage my mistakes, or unpack my baggage or help me have my best life now. He died in my place as my substitute because my sin was so foul and rancid and repugnant that it separated me from a holy God.


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