Summary: Sermon #2 Using Steve Deneff’s book "Whatever Became of Holiness" as a guide, we look at sin is, and how to truly repent.

What Ever Happened to Sin?

G.K. Chesterson once said the doctrine of original sin was the one belief that empirically validated by 3500 years of human history. But the doctrine of sin has fallen on hard times lately. Not because we have bettered ourselves, nor even because we have denied it, but because we have given it another name besides “sin!”

If you doubt, read your newspaper.

A man from Boston was acquitted fo flying illegal drugs into the United States because he suffered from “action addict syndrome,” and emotional imbalance that makes a man crave dangerous adventure.

A mob of young men in Miami robbed, beat, then shot to death a middle-aged man as he stopped for an accident in their neighbourhood. Witnesses say the robbery of twenty-seven dollars from the victim’s pocket was a secondary motive. The real culprit? “Young men in the neighbourhood have too many guns and too much time on their hands,” said the Associated Press in 1994.

This past fall, a man walks into an Amish community school and murders five school girls, some in execution fashion. In his suicide note to his wife, he talked about molesting two little girls twenty years earlier, and dreamt of doing it again.

Whatever became of sin? In his book with the same title, Karl Messinger asked the question. This is what he said in his book.

“[Sin] was once a wordon everyone’s mind, but now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin involved in all our troubles - sin with an “I” in the middle? Is no one any longer guilty of any thing? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented and repaired and atoned for?... Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it?”

What Is Sin?

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

There are about twenty words in the Bible for “sin” The most popular is hamartia, “to miss the mark.” But in the Greek context is everything. “Missing the mark” is not merely an innocent blunder or a poor shot. It is something worse.

Sin is a problem of the will and desire. We are known by our actions, and defined by our nature. Jesus taught in Mark 7:21-23 that people do sinful things because they are tainted.

For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ’unclean.’

Mark 7:21-23

R.C. Sproul put it this way: “We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.” The heart or mind of a person is already polluted with something that is opposed to the authority of God or the idea of surrender - something that sets itself up against the life of purity and discipline. This what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5)

Dogs bark. Birds fly. Bees sting. Sinners sin. Each one is done for the same reason: it is their nature to do so.

So sin, real sin, is not the committing of murder, theft or adultery. It is the evil desire behind the act. It is the desire to live outside of God’s presence and on our own; to put ourselves first; to make our own decisions. Isn’t that the trap that snared Adam and Eve? The act of eating the fruit did not bring sin into this world. They placed their own beliefs above the word of God.

When the will is changed, however, the power of sin is broken. This is the miracle of conversion. To find a change, true repentance must take place.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation…”

(Isaiah 30:15)

Repentance is more than an admission of guilt. It is a well-aimed missile into the heart of the sinful nature.

It is neither sorrow without change, nor change without sorrow. It is sorrow with intent to change.

True repentance is not the first step toward salvation. It is salvation! In the Old Testament, “repentance,” or nacham, is associated with both emotion and resolve. In the New Testament, “repentance” (metanoia) is used to describe the changing of one’s mind.

In true repentance, the seeker changes his mind, not only about God but about himself and his sin. This involves not only turning away from sin, but a turning toward God in humility and conviction. Mark 1:15 puts it all in a very simple little nutshell, "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15) Early Christians expected more from their repentance... and got it.

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