Summary: Sin isn’t just disobeying the “thou shalt nots” of the Bible.
Have you ever gotten in trouble for something that you didn’t do? Now I know that everyone at one time during his or her childhood was probably wrongfully punished for something that they didn’t do. You know, maybe your brother or sister was the culprit and for some reason you got in trouble for it. I personally can’t remember such a time in my life, most of the things that I got in trouble for I was the guilty one. But I know that it happens.
But have you ever gotten in trouble for something that you didn’t do? Let me explain what I mean. I’m going to tell on myself this morning. There have been times that I have taken my wife to work and before she got out of the car she would politely ask me to do something for her that day. Whether it be switching the load of laundry that she had started that morning or buying something that we needed or whatever. But she would ask me to do something. And I would say, “Sure, I can do that.” And I would go home and begin getting to work putting a message together or going and seeing someone or whatever it was, but I would get busy. And before I would know it the time had come for me to hop in the car and go to work or go get Cora. And as I would be driving along, I would remember, “Oh no, I forgot to do the laundry.” Any husbands here been in that boat before? Now, the reason that I’m not telling this like it was a single experience is because it’s not. I have had this happen several times. But Cora would come home and she’d go down in the basement and find the laundry all sitting where she had put it that morning, and sure enough I’d be in trouble. Now, do you understand my question? Have you ever gotten in trouble for something that you didn’t do?
Now, that little tattle-tell on myself may be funny to some of you, and it’s even kind of funny to me… now. But the truth that I want to share with you this morning isn’t funny at all. You can find that truth in the book of James, chapter 4. Turn there with me if you would and let’s read it together. It’s just a simple, short verse that is packed with a powerful truth.
James 4:17… Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
To him that knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it’s sin. Sin isn’t just disobeying the “thou shalt nots” of the Bible. But there are things that the Lord has asked of us. And when we turn our backs from those things and ignore them, all the while knowing that this is something God wants us to do, then we are sinning.
Let me give you an example from Scripture. In Matthew 19, Jesus is confronted by a
young man who asks Him what it takes to have eternal life. Let me just read you that passage.
Matt. 19:16-24… And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
So Jesus tells this young man that in order to get into heaven he must obey the commandments. OK, we understand that. In 1 John we’re told that one way we know that we’re a child of God is if we keep His commands. But Jesus didn’t stop there. When the young man said, “I have kept all of these commandments from my youth,” what does Jesus go on to say? “Then sell your possessions and follow me.” And what happened? The young man went away sorrowful, because he was very wealthy. He was unwilling to do what he knew was right.