This is another message I shared at outdoor school with the kids. I hope you get something out of it.
In Psalm 139 verses 1-4, we find an open invitation to God to search our hearts and to allow him to examine our lives and see what is going on, to check the attitudes and motives of our heart.
Many times as pastors we can get stuck in an environment, where all of our friends are Jesus people, where we get to talk about Jesus everyday, pray to God, and everyone loves God to loose our sensitivity to God. It is entirely possible that even pastors sometimes lose sight of God, and did not even realize it. Let me share a quick bit about Samson.
To abbreviate the story that we all know so well, Samson was really strong. He had never had his hair cut. God had made a weird promise with him that as long as his hair was long, God would make him strong. So Samson was a mighty warrior who did great and terrible things. One day he met a woman who was paid to find out his weakness, and she bugged him until he told her what she wanted to hear. But what is important is that Samson had become so comfortable in his surroundings that he was not paying attention. Delilah had shaved his head, and his strength was gone, and he did not realize that the Lord was not with him. It is so easy to fall into that trap of waking up day after day assuming that God is with us, and not even realizing when he is not. So today, I want to talk about sin. If there is anything that breaks our sensitivity to God, it is sin.
Sin is real, and we have all done it. Romans 3:23 tells us that we have (For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God). What, you do not believe in sin? You are not alone. In today’s culture and society many say that there are no absolutes, and truth is relative. However, that is not true. There is a right and a wrong. Every single person has a standard that they live by, even the most vile, sick people. What if I called your grandma or mom and invited her to church, brought her up on stage, and did a Chuck Norris style roundhouse kick to the face? I do not think that any sane person would say that this is an acceptable act.
A bout a year and a half ago, there was a Portland mother who decided that she did not want to be a mother any longer. Maybe you heard this story in the news. One day, she took her 2-year-old and 6-year-old off to the Sellwood bridge, and threw them off. The 6-year-old survived but the 2-year-old did not. Is there anyone who can say that this is a just, or moral act?
James 4:17 says, “Anyone who knows the good they ought to do, and do not do it, sins.” This is an interesting one to ponder, and very difficult to think about, because we are all guilty of this on a regular basis. For example, the other day, Roberta and I were on the way to the grocery store. It was the last day of the pay period, so there was no food in the house, and we had a friend coming over, but we did not know what time he was coming. To top it off, I was hungry, and it was already getting later for dinner (it was about 6:30). On the way to the grocery store, we noticed a woman on the side of the road, obviously stranded. Roberta asked me, “Should we stop?” My answer was, “Yes, we should, but I don’t want to.” And we kept on driving. That was a sin, we saw something good that we were supposed to do, and neglected it.
What is sin? Sin is defined as anything that goes against God’s law. We find God’s law of course in the Bible. Basically, it is summed up with these two commands: Love God, Love People. Sin is anything that goes against his commands, or gets in the way of our relationship with God or other people.
If Jesus were to physically appear to you, and be with you in body, what behaviors would you change? What friends would you not hang out with? Where would you not go? What movies would you not watch? These things that you would change are probably sin. What makes it hard for you to worship God? Maybe you have a hard time worshiping God because every time you close your eyes, you are mentally picturing the websites you are visiting. Perhaps you have a hard time worshiping God because you feel guilty about what you said to a friend about someone else.
Sin will be found out. You can hide something from people for so long. You are never hiding anything from God. King David is a classic story of the impossibility of hiding sin from God. When David sinned with Bathsheba, he did literally everything he could do up to and including murder, yet his sin was still found out through God’s providence. About ten years ago, there was a youth pastor in Tacoma, Washington who was hiding some sin in his life. One day one of the board members of the church was in prayer, and God revealed to him that there was sin in the church. As he pressed forward in prayer, God revealed that the sin was not in the congregation, but in the pastoral staff. He pressed further, and God revealed that the sin was the youth pastor. So, this board member went to the church office and confronted the pastor. Though the pastor had not said anything to anyone about the sin he was concealing, when confronted he grabbed a pen and paper began writing the name of youth students that he had abused. Sin always has a way of being found out.
God hates sin, because it is the opposite of who He is. 1st John 4:8 tells us that God is love. His love is all for people and for us to spread that love. Sin however is a blatant disregard for God and for others. Sin is ultimately selfish, because sin is all about putting ourselves over others. You were created for a purpose-to love and serve God. Sin gets in the way of you loving and serving God.
The other reason God hates sin is because it ultimately ends in eternal separation from Him. This is not God’s desire for us to be separate from Him; he wants us to be with Him. 1 Peter 3:9 reaffirms this fact, “The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Through it all, there is some good news: sin can be forgiven. God loves to forgive us of our sin, all we have to do is to ask. Psalm 103:12 tells us that when God forgives our sin, he puts is as far away from us, as the east is from the west. Not the distance of the north from the south. You see, north and south actually meet together at the north and south poles, east and west, however never meet. You can go east forever, and never go west. That is not possible with the east/west concept. You can only go north for so long, then you end up going south. Also, did you know that God’s memory sucks? Hebrews 8:12 says that God will wipe out our sins and remember them no more.
Sometimes we get caught up in the idea that we are too bad for God to accept. That is never the case. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” There is nothing that is too bad for God to forgive. All you have to do is to ask.