Summary: If you entertain thoughts about entering into a sexual relationship with a person and you begin to fantasize it and visualize it, then you can step over the line and you can commit adultery in your heart and it all began with a tempting thought.
Please open your Bibles with me to Romans 1. We are going to start looking again at the passage of scripture that begins with verse 18 but culminates in the end of the chapter where we are today. The topic of the message today is on sin–and yes, I am against it. Grady Nutt, a Texas who is now with the Lord said, “I grew up in a Baptist church so I learned about sin from the experts.” I guess he was saying we’re experts about it.
Many farmers in South Alabama and South Georgia grow peanuts. It’s one of their main crops. I heard about a preacher who moved down there from the north who didn’t know anything about peanuts. One Sunday after he preached on sin, a little boy came forward. This was a boy who ran around with two others. He came down front crying and said, “Preacher, oh, I have sinned. I have been throwing peanuts into the river.” The preacher said, “That’s okay, son, God will forgive you.” The next Sunday he preached on sin again, and the second little kid in the group of three came down, and said, “Oh, preacher, I have sinned. I have been throwing peanuts into the river.” The preacher said, “Well, God will forgive you, son. Go back to your seat.” He was perplexed by this thing of throwing peanuts into the river, so the preacher asked the third little boy, “Your two friends are really upset, and they have confessed the sin of throwing peanuts into the river,” and he said, “What’s so bad about that?” The little boy said, “Well, my name is Peanuts.”
Sin is the topic of this message and if you don’t have any trouble with sin, you are dismissed. You can go to the cafeteria because the message is not for you, but if you struggle with sin in your life even as a believer, we’re going to talk today about how to overcome it. We’re also going to talk about the consequences of it. Begin reading in Romans 1:28-32:
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.”
Then he changes from talking about what they do to what they become.
“They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
When a person rejects God’s truth, God “gives them over” to:
Sometimes, people say, “Well, I don’t do some of the things the Bible calls sin, but I don’t condemn others that do it, and I don’t mind other people doing it.” Well, you’d better be careful to not only avoid doing it yourself, but be careful you do not approve of others who live a certain way. Today, as we talk about the slippery slope of sin, I want you to see those three times where the Bible says God gave them over. Look at verse 24, “When a person rejects God’s truth, God gives them over” to 1. degraded acts. They do things degraded in nature. The second time the phrase is used, God gives them over to 2. shameful desires. That’s exactly what it says in verse 26. It says “God gave them over to shameful lust…” (desires) The third time it says God gave them over, he gave them over to 3. a depraved mind. Now, I believe, he has reversed sequence, because a degraded act is never done until there is a desire–it starts in the mind. What I want to do today is talk to you about the slippery slope of sin, and how when you get on this slippery slope of sin before you know it, you’ve gone much too far, and you’ve gone much too fast. There are five steps people follow when they slide down this slope:
1. A tempting thought a sinful desire
It starts with a tempting thought. What begins only as a tempting thought may slide down and become a sinful desire. A tempting thought is not sinful. Sometimes people come to me very upset, because they say, “Pastor, I am having all of these terrible thoughts that run through my mind. There must be something wrong with me.” I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you. The same thing that is wrong with every one of us: We are sinners by nature and by choice. We are targets of the devil’s temptation, and he will always try to make us sin. But, the fact that a tempting thought comes through your mind does not make it sin. Let me explain. You cannot keep bees from flying in the air over your head, but you can keep them from building a beehive in your hair. The same is true with tempting thoughts. The thoughts are going to be there, but you do not entertain them, you do not allow them to lodge in your mind. So, tempting thoughts are not sinful. But, if they become something you hang onto, fantasize about, visualize about, it can cross over the line and become a middle sin or a sinful desire.