Summary: This sermon is about the misery of sin in the believer’s life.

Sunday Morning March 12, 2000 Bel Aire Baptist Church Hobbs, NM


The Misery Of Sin In The Believer’s Life

JAMES 4:13-17; GALATIANS 5:16-23


Isaiah 35:8: "And a highway shall be there, and a way, And it shall be called The way of holiness..."

1. There is a way that God has called each of His children to follow.

a. It is the way of holiness.

b. And God is so committed to our walk on this path that He has given us easily identifiable signposts to guide us.

c. The question is whether we will choose to follow them.

2. When you come to the crossroads of spiritual decision, you have a choice: to either heed God’s signs and continue day by day on this important way, or to ignore them and muddle through.

a. You may be struggling with sin, wrestling with forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply, or battling with the idea of submitting yourself

wholly to God.

b. No matter where you find yourself, denying or ignoring God’s directions will leave you immature and ineffective; following them will allow you to handle these situations wisely, obediently, graciously- and victoriously.

3. The way of holiness clearly illustrates that each crisis of decision in the Christian life is a turning point.

a. An opportunity to choose God, to express your devotion to Him, and to experience His direction.

b. There are inevitable decisions you will face in your Christian walk.

c. Making biblical choices will free you to enjoy all that God has for you on the way of holiness.

4. One of the misleading half-truths that preachers can convey to babes in Christ is the notion that after conversion there are no more temptations, testings, or


a. It therefore comes as a great shock when a young believer discovers that it is still possible for him or her to sin.

b. It is the crisis of failure in the Christian’s walk.

c. Of course, "there’s victory in Jesus"; but there can also be defeat when we cease to abide in Him.

d. John the apostle reminds us that "if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:10).

5. The signpost of sin is highlighted in the passages in our

texts and I want to deal with the subject from a threefold aspect: the mystery of sin, the misery of sin, and the mastery of sin in the believer’s life.

a. This morning we will look at the second, the misery of sin in the believer’s life.

"To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

6. Although this verse can be applied to the unsaved, its primary message is to believers.

a. James has referred already to believers as "doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22)- those who have received "the implanted word"

(James 1:21).

b. At the same time, there is a mysterious "moral dualism" in our text.

c. Here we have "good" and "sin" in the same person.

d. When we search for the explanation, we find it in the Word of God.

In the fifth chapter of Galatians, verses 16-18, Paul writes,

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the

lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and

the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one

another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But

if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

Here is the mystery of moral dualism from last week.

A Moral Dualism That Polarizes The Believer’s Life

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against

the flesh; and these are contrary to one another"

(Galatians 5:17).

A Moral Dualism That Paralyzes The Believer’s Life.

"The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the

flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do

not do the things that you wish" (Galatians 5:17).

7. We are never going to be triumphant in our Christian

experience until we learn to gain victory over the mystery

of sin.

8. Where this mystery is unresolved there is:

The Misery Of Sin In The Believer’s Life

"To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

9. In this chapter of James, we have three aspects of this

misery of sin described for us.

I. The Misery Of A Worldly Life

A. God asks, "Do you not know that friendship with the

world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore want to be

a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God"


1. In verse 13 James scolds those who say, "Come

now, you who say, ’Today or tomorrow we will go to

such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and

sell, and make a profit.’"

2. Someone asks, "What’s wrong with that? What’s

wrong with planning? What’s wrong with traveling?

What’s wrong with selling? What’s wrong with

buying? What’s wrong with getting rich?"

3. Nothing- except that you do it without God.

4. For a Christian to launch out on any project without

God is to become worldly.

5. Worldliness in Scripture means carnal affections,

carnal attractions, and carnal ambitions.

6. We are living in an hour when we’re so brainwashed by television, radio, the press, and even by some preachers that we are made to feel out of it- unless we are "with it" in the world.

B. Paul writes, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the

mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living

sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your

reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this

world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

(Romans 12:1-2).

1. J.B. Phillips renders it, "Don’t let the world around

you squeeze you into its own mold."

2. Revival will only come when a remnant of God’s

people are as distinct from the world as Jesus was.

3. He ate and drank with sinners, but He was "holy,

harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners"

(Hebrews 7:26).

4. Can you be marked out in any company as a

clear-cut Christian?

5. In your plans, which may be all legitimate, does God

have first place?

II. The Misery Of A Wasteful Life

A. "You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what

is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little

time and then vanishes away". (vs.14).

1. James is really asking, "What is the nature of your

life? How long do you have to fulfill your destiny? Don’t you know that your life is as a vapor?"

2. In the morning the mist hangs upon the trees, but

presently the sun comes up, and before you know it,

the mist has disappeared.

3. That’s a picture of your life.

B. I read a poem that simply said this:

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

1. Those words really hit me hard!

2. I have wasted a lot of time in my life.

3. Oh, you may talk about your strength today, but

tomorrow you may be as helpless as a baby.

a. You can’t guarantee a single day.

b. For whom are you living?

c. What is the destiny of your life?

d. Nothing is more miserable than to know you

are living a wasteful life.

4. One day you are going to stand before the judgment

seat of Christ, and if your life has been self-centered,

worldly, manifesting those sexual, spiritual, and

social sins we’ve been thinking about, you are going

to see that whole life of yours burned up.

5. You will have the shame of pressing the charred

embers of a wasted life into His pierced hands and

saying, "That’s all I have for You, Lord."

III. The Misery Of A Willful Life

A. James says, "But now you boast in your arrogance. All

such boasting is evil" (4:16).

1. If you continue in a worldly life, a wasteful life, you

will soon discover yourself in a willful state where you couldn’t care less.

2. I have to talked to preachers and to Christians

generally who have become so careless and callous that they joke and boast about their subnormal Christian living.

B. Such individuals are on a collision course, for "to him

who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin"



1. There is an answer to this mystery and misery of sin and

we are going to look at it more in detail next week, but

I can tell you right now that the answer is Jesus Christ.

2. Are you living in the misery of your sin?

3. Is your sin keeping you and others from being able to truly worship God?

4. Is your sin keeping our church, community, nation from

seeing revival?

5. Are you willing to confess your sin to God so that He

might cleanse you?

2 Chronicles 7:14 has become our focus, or atleast mine.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble

themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

6. When are you going to humble yourselves before God and

pray and seek His face, and as we heard here today turn

from our wicked ways?

7. It’s vital that we do it soon. What are we waiting for?