Summary: Getting rid of sin, and then choosing not to sin, is by far the best way to live.
But Even If He Doesn’t…
Lessons from Exile: Dan 3 Lent week 2 Mar 4, 2012
How big a deal do you think sin actually is?
This is the second Sunday of Lent, and we continue our journey to the cross and the empty tomb together. This is a season of repentance, but with that comes joy. I’ve been thinking about how Lent sometimes becomes morose; sometimes even our celebration of communion becomes a little bit heavy, we talk about sin and the mood gets a little depressing, sometimes almost defeatist. Should it be like that? Yes, sin is serious business. Yes, conviction is unpleasant (to say the least). Yes, sometimes we need to squirm as the Holy Spirit speaks to us of things that need to change. And yes, as your pastor who loves you sometimes I need to stand up here and say, God says don’t live like that. It will hurt you. Stop it. Repent, already!
But. To stop there is sort of like paying for the plane ticket, going to all the work to book a hotel, reserve a car, plan a bunch of things to do, but then staying home feeling all depressed because of how much money it cost and how much time it took to look up those places and choose those things. Crazy, right? Yes! Just as crazy as only looking at sin – how much it cost, how much time it lost, how depressing it is. Or just as defeatist as only staying at the cross and never going to the empty tomb. See, the point is that conviction of sin is good because it leads us to repentance, repentance leads to freedom, and freedom leads us to joy.
Let me take it a step further: getting rid of existing sin, and then choosing not to sin, is by far the best way to live. Honestly. Everything else is a hideous lie. And yes, that means that a whole lot of the messages of our popular culture are hideous lies: have lots of sex and you will be happy (and if you can’t, just use pornography, that’s almost as good!) – LIE!! get lots of money, and you will be happy – LIE!! pursue everything you want and when you get it you will be happy – LIE!! be skinny, and you will be happy – LIE!! have a big house and a fancy car and pretty friends and the latest gadget, and then you will be happy – LIE!! Those do not bring happiness; actually they bring death. When those are the types of things we pursue, they kill our soul, our capacity to love and be loved, and our ability to accept and embrace that which truly brings life. And, to be really honest with you, I hate those things because I see, all too clearly, in myself and in others like you whom I love, how those things bring death and pain rather than the happiness they so easily promise.
Getting rid of sin, and then choosing not to sin, is by far the best way to live.
Let me approach this from a slightly different direction: If you stop and reflect on the moments in your life when you have been most alive, most intensely full of joy, most full of life, most deeply satisfied in the depth of your being, what moments would you identify? I know it is not going to be when you were looking at porn, had $1000 in your hand, were skinny, or when you got some possession. Whatever thrill those may have brought were temporary, fleeting, and disappointing. I am quite confident, instead, those moments in life were times when you experienced the presence and love of God in relationship with Him and in loving relationships with others. When sin was far away. When you were close to Him. Awake to His presence. Maybe like the three main characters in our story.
Dan 3 (NLT):
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3 So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then a herald shouted out, People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.