Starting Point | Coming to Terms

Scripture: Matthew 5:20–22, 27–28; Luke 15:21–22, 24

Idea: Recognition paves the way to restoration and redemption.

Bite the Dust from Psalms 72:9
The Blind Leading the Blind Matthew 15:13-14
By the Skin of Your Teeth from Job 19:20
Broken Heart from Psalms 34:18
Can a Leopard Change his spots? From Jeremiah 13:23
Cast the First Stone from John 8:7
Drop in a Bucket from Isaiah 40:15
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry from Ecclesiastes 8:15
Eye for Eye, Tooth for tooth from Matthew 5:38
Fall from Grace from Galatians 5:4
Fly in the Ointment from Ecclesiastes 10:1
For everything there is a Season from Ecclesiastes 3.  “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds.
Forbidden Fruit from Genesis 3:3
Go the extra mile from Matthew 5:41
Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-37
He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword from Matthew 26:52
How the Mighty Have Fallen from 1 Samuel 1:19
Let there be Light from Genesis 1
The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil from 1 Timothy 6:10
Nothing but skin and bones from Job 19:19-20
The Powers that Be from Romans 13:11
Pride comes before a fall from Proverbs 16:18
Put words in one’s mouth from 2 Samuel 14:3
Rise and shine is from Isaiah 60:1
The Root of the Matter from Job 19:28
Scapegoat from the Old Testament Law (Leviticus 16:9-10 specifically)
See eye to eye from Isaiah 52:8
Sign of the times from Matthew 16:3
Straight and Narrow from Matthew 7:14,
Twinkling of an Eye from 1 Corinthians 15:52,
There’s nothing new under the sun from the book of Ecclesiastes 1:9
Wash your hands of the matter from Matthew 27:24
Weighed in the balance from Job 31:6
What God has joined together let no man put asunder from Matthew 19:6 in Miles Covedale’s translation of the Bible
Wit’s End from Psalm 107:27
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing from Matthew 7:15
Writings on the Wall from Daniel 5. 

Our culture is steeped with ideals that come from what is called Judeo Christian ethics.

  •  Even our swear words are from the bible. Damn, Hell, etc…
  • It all comes from the bible.  The bible has been influencing culture for 3,700 years.

I. Today, we tackle a term that always rears its ugly head in discussions about faith: sin.

Sin is an uncomfortable and somewhat antiquated term.

  • It’s uncomfortable because it leaves us with no wiggle room, no one to blame.

So we substitute another word—one that leaves us with lots of wiggle room. It’s an out. It sounds hopeful.

  • We use the term mistake.
  • A mistake involves insufficient knowledge. Implication: We didn’t know better.

Here’s something I know about us:

  • Sometimes we make “mistakes” on purpose.
  • Sometimes we plan our “mistakes.”  Premeditated mistakes

What do you do with a mistake? You correct a mistake.

II. You can’t correct you. 

You’ve tried for years.

  • Your parents have tried to correct you. Your spouse has tried to correct you. You’ve paid people to help correct you, and now, your kids are trying.

Some of you have lost friends, spouses, and maybe even jobs because of your propensity to make mistakes.

You know it’s going to hurt, but you do it anyway. You blow up jobs, marriages, relationships.

Why can’t you just quit making those “mistakes”?

  • Quit losing your temper? Quit lying to your husband? Quit eating so much? Drinking so much? Looking at that stuff?
  • Why can’t you correct yourself?

Restarting your faith journey requires an honest look in the mirror and coming to terms with the fact that perhaps you are not a mistaker. It’s deeper than that. You should consider that you’re a sinner.

Sinner: Someone who knows better but does it anyway

III. Jesus’ purpose in talking about sin was restoration, not condemnation.  

He believed sin separated us from God, and forgiveness connected us to God.

  • But as long as we think we were mistakers, we would never seek forgiveness because a mistake doesn’t require forgiveness—only correcting.
  • Sin can be forgiven, and then, relationship can be restored.
  • Mistake was bad judgement. Mistake was I didn’t know any better. I didn’t have all the information. I’ll just try to do better. We know that’s not true. We knew it was wrong and did it anyway, and sorry doesn’t cut it.

The only way for a relationship to be restored is for the offender to acknowledge the fact that there was an offense. Not just “sorry”  But I’m Sorry! I was wrong! It was NOT a mistake. I did it on purpose and I'M sorry. 

His approach was unusual. Jesus said that God loved you and wanted to be restored to humanity, but the only way for us to be restored is to seek forgiveness because forgiveness connects us to God, and the only people who will seek forgiveness are people who realize that they didn’t just make a mistake but will own the fact that they have sinned. If it’s not the first time, you are a sinner…

Confession of sin is not the end. It’s a means to an end. And that end is the end of separation from God. In that confession of guilt, God can forgive.

Matthew 5:20–22, 27–28
“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [They were full time good people. So how good do you have to be? 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder . . .’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” 
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Then he insisted that even though you are a “sinner,” he and God loved everybody anyway.

  • You’re a sinner. God loves you anyway. I don’t condemn you.

Jesus’ example of what this all means.  "The prodigal Son"

One day, while surrounded by the religious and the very non-religious, he realized neither group understood how God viewed sinners. He told three parables about . . . not sinning things, but lost things. You have heard that term before. The saved and lost. Jesus believed our sin makes us lost to God, and God doesn’t want us lost. When you lose something, it is separated from you. Sin separates. We are lost in sin.

Jesus told 3 parables that day. He said the kingdom of heaven is like… In other words this is how God operates. 1 Lost sheep, he leaves the 90 and 9 and there is much celebration in heaven. 2 lost coin. The house is turned upside down to find the lost coin. Much celebration in that house.

The third parable he told that day is the most famous. A boy gets separated from his father because he didn’t want to do what the father wanted him to do. And in the end, the boy realizes that he separated himself from his father and decides to try and be restored.

The way he left home gave his father every reason not to restore him. And by this point in the parable, everybody knows the father represents God. Jesus puts these words in the son’s mouth.

Luke 15:21–22, 24
21 “ . . . ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet . . .
24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” 

Moral of the story: If you consider Jesus. If you are considering starting over. If you are considering the Christian faith, you MUST understand sin. Sin is not a path to condemnation, but the key to restoration. Recognition of sin paves the way to restoration and Redemption.

Conclusion

  1. You would like to think that you are just a mistaker who needs correcting, but you know better.
  2. Jesus said you are a sinner who needs forgiving.
  3. That’s hard to admit, regardless of what you think about Jesus.
  4. Embracing the idea of sin alone leaves us feeling condemned, so we resist.
  5. Jesus taught that embracing the fact that you are a sinner is actually a means to an end—an end you can’t get to any other way. That end being forgiveness and restoration.