Summary: This sermon looks at what sin is, why we sin and how to not sin.

The night air was as thick and as silent as velvet. When suddenly the stillness was broken by the soft flapping of leathery wings. Out of the gloom came anger, his already contorted features twisted as he saw the man. Anger’s cohorts were already there, perched on one shoulder was despondency while alcohol clung to the man’s back.

Knowing that it wasn’t right the man tried to shake the demons free but they were too strong for him to combat on his own. And still anger sat there, waiting, biding his time. Despondency dug his claws in deeper and as he rode the man alcohol twisted his mind and brought his will to submission.

And as anger watched and mused he planned his attack on his helpless victim. Once the twin demons of despondency and alcohol had broken the man’s will then and only then would it be anger’s turn and anger would make the man dance to his tune. Oh yes, then he would be in control. And the things that anger could do in co-operation with the twins. Who would the man vent his anger on, his family, perhaps slap the kid around a bit, teach him some respect. Or maybe it was time that his wife knew who was boss. Maybe it would be a friend, someone who tried to help him break the ties of alcohol, yes now wouldn’t that be fun, he could show that wimp what a real man was made of.

And there it was the perfect opening, alcohol and despondency had been joined by self pity who was reminding the man of all the abuses, both real and imaginary that had been heaped upon him. The time was right and anger swept in his wings beating furiously in the air, and he had the man in his grip. Helplessly the man struggled in the grips of his own private demons unable to do the right that he wanted to do but compelled by forces beyond his reach to do those things that he hated. Once again good had lost the fight and in anger he struck out at the ones he loved.

What a great story, it’s super fiction but rotten theology.

How does sin effect us, how does sin control us? What makes us sin? And what is the result of our sin? The mania that swept the Christian world after Frank Perriti had published the novels “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” would have us looking in every corner and behind every door for the demons who twist and distort all things good and drive us to do the things we hate. But is it scriptural to blame demons for our sins, or is that simply a cop out. Twenty years ago the comedian Flip Wilson would defend his actions by saying “The devil made me do it”. Have we accepted that as a valid excuse in 2005?

Let’s look at sin. Larry read a passage earlier that dealt with one man’s struggle with sin. That passage is found in the book of Romans. Romans is the sixth book in the New Testament and the first of what we call “The Epistles” now contrary to popular belief the Epistles were not the Apostles’ wives. It’s just a fancy word for letter and the rest of the New Testament is a collection of letters. Some of the them personal, for one person and some of them were corporate, they were meant to be read aloud to a church. The book of Romans falls into that category. The book was written by Paul who we were introduced to in the book of Acts. The book was written around AD 57 to a group of believers, most of them Gentiles in the capital city of the Roman Empire. Thus it is addressed to the Romans, if it was for a group in Halifax it would have been the book of Haligonians.

Why was it written? As you read through you discover a couple of reasons. So Paul could introduce himself to the Romans and to encourage them.

The very first question has to be: What Is Sin? Collins dictionary defines sin as “the breaking of religious or moral law, especially through a wilful act.”

Well the Old Testament never formally defines sin the concept is “anything contrary to the known will of God”.

The word used throughout the New Testament literally means “to miss the mark.” that is certainly testified to in Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Now I am sure that we could enter into all kinds of legal definitions of sin at this point, is this sin, how about this. And if we do that we end up like the preacher who declared that there were 748 sins and after the sermon people were lined up to get a copy of the list. In it’s simplest definition sin is disappointing God through our disobedience. That’s sin.

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