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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.

I read a very sad story this week. Former pastor and best-selling author Rob Bell believes the evangelical church is moments away from “embracing gay marriage” (which is another euphemism). In an interview about his new book called “The Zimzum of Love,” Bell said this to Oprah Winfrey: “I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense…”

Listen. Simply restating the problem of sin by giving it a soft edge doesn’t make it go away. Instead of putting a spin on sin, let’s look at one of these 2,000-year-old inspired and inerrant and authoritative letters we know as the Book of 1 Peter.

Our topic today is “Breaking the Grip of Sin.” As we begin I want you to think of that one besetting sin that holds you in its grip. What is that one area of disobedience that you default to? Instead of just calling it something you “struggle” with, own it right now and call it what God calls it - sin. If we want to break sin’s vice-like grip we must start by not sugar coating it or excusing it. Here’s the main idea for this weekend: Christ-followers don’t do what they used to do.

I was on vacation last week but since we love gathering with God’s people at Edgewood our family slipped in for the second service and heard Pastor Jeff preach a great sermon. I wrote down one of the phrases he used and want to repeat it again today because it will help us as we work our way through 1 Peter 4:1-6: “We don’t fight for victory, but from victory.” Let’s stand and read God’s Word together.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

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