As a minister, you never want to minimize sin. Sin brought death into the world. Sin cost God his one and only Son. Sin put a guiltless Jesus on the cross. Without a proper understanding of sin, you are incapable of grasping the gospel. I find myself divided between two kinds of lessons on the subject. There is the inventory style of sin sermon. We look into God’s word, and whatever he calls sin, we call sin. The other kind of sermon looks at sin’s relation to a holy God and demands repentance.
Today we want to combine those ideas as we examine a list of sins; and how they show who our master is. The apostle John tells us, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil,”-I John 3:8. But those born of God are different, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he (God) is righteous.”-I John 3:7.
The Bible is full of lists of sins, from the Ten Commandments to the Sermon on the Mount, we are told what God expects his people to do and not to do. Let’s take a look at one of these lists of sins and see what we can learn.
Galatians chapter five is one of my favorite passages from which to teach the subject of sin. The Spirit through Paul refers to sin as “works of the flesh.”-v19. These are the, “To not to’s,” “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”-Galatians 5:19-21.
Christians are to be obedient children and these are the things our Father wants us avoid or repent from. Sex relations among the unmarried is a direct offense to God’s created order. Men and women joined together in the one flesh relationship for life is God’s way for God’s people. Jealousy, uncontrolled anger, strife, division, and drunkenness destroy the people of God and weaken the body of his beloved Son.
These works or actions are things we are told not to do. They are from the devil. The things of God in chapter five are not actions, they are the conditions of a converted heart. They are the result of God’s Spirit abiding in believers, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”-Galatians 5:22-23.
These two lists are a mirror we use to examine ourselves, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”-I Corinthians 10:12. And a looking glass to determine who among the sheep of Christ are worthy of the staff of leadership, “an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”-I Timothy 3:2-3. Notice how similar the qualities of character are in both passages. The qualities a bishop should have are the simple result of a life lived abiding in Christ.
In the early 1800’s the Stone-Campbell restoration movement condemned the divisions of denominational creeds and names. Instead of declaring their religious identity by labeling themselves Presbyterian, Baptist, or Lutheran, Thomas Campbell wrote this about how we should determine who is a Christian; “those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the same by their tempers and conduct, and of none else; as none else can be truly and properly called Christians.”
Who is our spiritual leader? Are we wallowing in works of the flesh? We are of the devil. Are we bearing the fruit of righteousness? We are God’s children. I know whose home I want live in for eternity. Crucify sin. Live by the Spirit of God.