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! Introduction
It’s hard for people who are dishonest to get away with things today.
My brother-in-law used to work for a security firm and it was his job to try to catch employees who were stealing.
He would put hidden cameras over the tills where they thought that an employee might be stealing and they would catch them in the act.
Have you ever gotten away with something?
Perhaps as a child you took a cookie and your mother didn’t find out.
Perhaps as an adult you drove through a speed trap too fast and they didn’t come chase you.
Perhaps you gossiped about someone and you were not called to account for it.
If we believe God then even though we seem to have gotten away with these things the fact is that we haven’t.
Numbers 32:23 says, “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out."
If that is true, then we need to pay attention to sin and its presence in our lives.
I.                How Does God View Sin?
The main reason we don’t get away with sin is because God is Holy, God knows everything and He hates sin.
Luke 8:17 warns us, "For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light" so we won’t get away with sin.
Not only does God see, but because He is holy and hates sin, He will deal with it.
Isaiah 6 reveals the holiness of God.
When Isaiah saw God and realized who He was, he was absolutely devastated because of the contrast between the holiness of God and his own un-holiness.
Proverbs 15:9 reminds us that, "The Lord detests the way of the wicked..."
            But what does it really mean that God hates sin?
Is it simply that God doesn’t like it when we break His rules or do we need to look a little deeper than that?
Certainly God hates it when we break His rules.
James 2:10, 11 says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
But when we read in Romans 14:23 that, “… everything that does not come from faith is sin" and when we read in James 4:17, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins…" we realize that there is more to it than just violating a list of rules.
I believe that if we view sin as simply breaking a list of rules we have not understood God nor have we grasped what sin is.
If we view sin as simply breaking a list of rules, we have not understood that God is not a person with a clip board and a pencil marking off when we fail.
If we view sin in that way, we must always ask, what is on the list and have I violated it and we fail to understand what God really wants.
We begin to get a glimpse of how God views sin in Proverbs 6:16-19 where we read, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."
Here we see that sin is an inner evil which begins in our heart.
In fact, Matthew 15:19 is very clear about this when it says, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."
God views sin not only as a violation of a list of rules, but as evil that begins in the heart and acts out in ways of wickedness.
The Seriousness of Sin
Have you ever knowingly sinned and told yourself, “It isn’t that serious?”
It is very tempting for us to not to view sin as dangerous, but if God is holy and sin is a deep fault in our heart, then we cannot ignore it.
Sin is serious because of what it is, what it does and what will happen because of it.
!! A.                 Because Of What It Is
Sin is very serious because of what it is.
If it is not just a breaking of a list of rules, but a deep brokenness in the heart, then it is something to be taken very seriously.
The first story in the Bible which describes where sin begins shows that fundamentally sin is disobedience to God.
God told Adam and Eve that they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
They chose to do so anyway and did so in defiance.
As soon as they did so, it was clear that they had not only broken the rule, they had engaged in rebellion against God.
Such disobedience is described in Exodus 34:7 as "…wickedness, rebellion and sin” thus further indicating that it is an act against the very heart and will of God which breaks covenant with Him.
In John 16:9 we read of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit who will judge the world, "in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me…" We see in this verse that there is a connection between sin and unbelief.
If we do not believe in God then we will not believe that He is holy and we will not believe His Word and we will not believe the consequences of sin and our sin will be an act of unbelief.
Sin is also serious because it is so pervasive.
David says in Psalm 51:5, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."
All of us have sin deep in our hearts and this has always been true.
In fact, 1 John 1:10 reminds us that, "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."
!! B.                 Because Of What It Does
Sin is also serious because of what it does.
First of all sin deceives us.
Hebrews 3:13 warns that we should not be “…hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."
Sin is like a Venus Flytrap which is an attractive flower which is actually carnivorous and eats insects.
It looks good, but is deadly if you are a fly or some other insect.
Sin may look attractive, but its attraction is deceptive.
For example, wanting money is attractive and we are all motivated by it, but it can so easily trap us in greed and jealousy and all kinds of other evil.
Sin destroys.
I read Psalm 73 in my devotions this week and part of the Psalm describes the perspective that people seem to be getting away with sin.
Psalm 73:3 says, "… I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills."
Yet in most other places the Bible teaches that sin always destroys.
It is destructive first of all in the fact that it separates us from God.
This was the first evidence that something was wrong when Adam and Eve sinned.
When they heard God walking in the garden, they were afraid and hid from him.
That was the first time that had ever happened and should have been a clue that something was seriously wrong.
That separation from God continues to the present day.
Sin is destructive in that it enslaves those who participate in it.
In John 8:34 Jesus warns those listening, “… everyone who sins is a slave to sin."
Some sins are obviously enslaving for some people such as alcohol, drugs and gambling.
But every sin has an enslaving quality about it.
Once we have let ourselves sin, it doesn’t take much before that sin becomes a habit and we find that we are always doing it.
Ultimately sin is destructive simply because it will always destroy those who engage in it.
James 1:15 shows us the process of sin which is desire àsinà death.
So according to that verse, sin always leads to death.
Romans 6:16 describes that process in another way when it says, "Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death…"
            I mentioned a moment ago the lament of the Psalmist in Psalm 73 who wondered why it was that wicked people seem to get away with sin?
Yet the Psalmist goes on in Psalm 73:16, 17 "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny."
!! C.                 Because Of What It Will Do.
This brings us to the other reason why sin is serious and that is because even if it does not lead to destruction in this life, ultimately it does.
The Bible has much to say about this ultimate destruction.
It is alluded to in Ephesians 2:1 when it says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…" To say that we were dead is to say that ultimately there is no hope for the person who is a sinner.
In fact Galatians 5:21 after listing a whole bunch of evil things says, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Even more strongly we learn that there are many places in the Bible which tell us that the destiny of those who live in sin is hell.
Hell is described in Matthew 25:41 as an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…;" as a place of eternal punishment in Matthew 25:46 and as “darkness and everlasting chains” in Jude 6. II Thessalonians 1:9, describes what will be the destiny of those who sin when it says, "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power."
From this verse it seems that one of the greatest tragedies of hell is the absence of God.
It is hard to know exactly what hell is like because I believe that the pictures the Bible presents are literary images which help us understand in human language something that we do not have on earth.
What is very clear to me is that it is a place that I do not want to be.
You know those movies where the hero tries to restore justice and in the process buildings are destroyed, vehicles are trashed and there is a path of destruction as he rushes through the streets fighting evil?
That is sin.
The image of violent destruction is fitting for sin.
It is terrible, it is serious, everyone of us is implicated by it, we all sin and so we are all caught in its terrible path of destruction.
Forgiveness for Sin
Is there any way out?
Is there any way to avoid the destructiveness of sin?
Is there any way to get out of the grip of sin?
The good news is that there is.
Jesus is the way and the only way out of sin.
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