Summary: You are worse off than you think. But, you are also better off than you think. Do understand this is to rid yourself of confusion.
CONFUSION-FREE CHRISTIANITY (Romans 5:12-15)
Confusion is a big problem in our world today. Perhaps one of the best examples of confusion I have ever seen is this past week, on TV. They were showing hundreds of Iraqi people, standing in the streets, shouting and screaming their support for Saddam Hussein. After showing those people, the news-casters interviewed some Middle-eastern people living here, people that once lived there. “What do you think of your fellow countrymen, cheering for Saddam?” they were asked. “They are confused,” was the answer.
Those former residents of Iraq who now live here described their country as a very difficult place to live. Everyone is poor, even though the country exports millions of dollars worth of oil every day. Everyone is scared of saying anything against Saddam. Poor and scared. And yet, they stand in the streets, shouting and screaming their support for the very person that causes them to be poor and scared. Why?
“It’s because they’re confused,” the former residents of Iraq say. “They don’t understand how bad off they really are. They aren’t allowed to watch the news or listen to the news. They have been cut off from the truth, and they don’t know anything else. They are poor and scared, and they believe that that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s why they’re screaming in the streets – confusion.” These aren’t my words, but the words of some former residents of Iraq interviewed on TV this past week.
Yes, confusion can be a problem. An even bigger problem, though, is spiritual confusion. A majority of people today are spiritually confused. Listen to a non-Christian talk – what will he say? He will say things he feels very strongly about – perhaps he would even be willing to stand in the street and shout and scream his opinions. “God is not important!” he will say. But watch him pray when he gets in trouble. “I don’t worry about heaven or hell!” the non-Christian will say. But watch him tremble when he is told he is going to die.
People are spiritually confused – you don’t have to look hard to see it. Even within the Christian church there is a great deal of confusion. Some Christians baptize infants, others do not. Some Christians say that we are saved by God’s grace alone. Others say that we are saved by a combination of God’s grace, and us earning our way to heaven. Some churches say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Others say that he is one of many options. Why all these differences? The basic problem is spiritual confusion.
Today, on this third Sunday of the Lenten season, our goal is to sweep confusion out of your minds and your hearts as we study the Word of God. In general, people are confused about two things, and we are going to look at those two things today. First of all, we are going to see how we are worse off than we think. And secondly, we are going to see how we are better off than we think. If you understand these two phrases, and how they fit together, your confusion will melt away.
How bad off are we? “Well, I don’t think I’m all that bad. Life is alright. A few problems here and there, but nothing really bad.” But look at verse 12: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” The Bible says that you, and all people, have been poisoned with sin. How bad is that?
The word for “sin” in the Bible is an interesting one. “Sin” really comes from a word that means “muddy confusion.” Think of it this way. Right now, with all the talk about terrorism, many cities are guarding their drinking water supplies very very carefully. It would be a terrible thing for a terrorist to drop chemical poisons into the water. Even just a little poison could make that drinking water lethal to millions of people. Imagine if a terrorist poured so much poison into the water that it turned black.
The Bible says that this is what has happened to the human heart. At the beginning of time, it was perfect, pure, more pure than the purest of water. But then, muddy confusion, sin, entered the world and poisoned the human heart. And this didn’t just happen to Adam – it happened to all mankind, including you. Your heart has been poisoned with sin, a lethal poisonous kind of mud that changes you into an enemy of God.
“Well that can’t be,” people say. “Look at my children - both of them are very cute, both are being brought up in a good way. And yet, isn’t it interesting that if you put just one toy into a room with two children, they will fight over that toy. “Mine!” one of them says. “No, mine!” the other says. One child pushes the other. One child bashes the other over the head with a Tonka truck. Why? Even though they’re cute, have good parents, their hearts, and the hearts of all mankind, have been poisoned with sin.