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Grace to You - Resource

Last Sunday morning I, at our communion service, addressed the issue of sin and how to deal with the sin that so easily entangles us.  And this morning, I want to follow up on that.  I know we need to start into our series on Titus and I'm going to do that and we need to return to our series on the book of Revelation, and I'm going to do that as well, but these other issues have come in to focus because of the recent political scene.  And I was thinking about what we talked about last week with regard to sin which so easily entangles us and how we deal with sin as Christians, it struck me that the present political scene is talking a lot about values.  Have you noticed that?  Everybody wants to talk about family values, moral values, traditional values, and it strikes me as a rather a fruitless discussion since no one is willing to talk about sin.  And as long as you will not define sin then you cannot define morality; and so all the talk about values amounts to little more than some sentimentality.

 

In fact, I've been so concerned about this that I have a three-book contract with Word Publishers and I said to them, I said, "This third book that I'm going to write which hasn't yet been done, I would like to write on the subject of sin," thinking that I would immediately get told that that would never work.  I was amazed when they responded by saying, "We think that's great."  So I'm prepared in the next few months to dig into the subject of whatever happened to sin.

 

And it's kind of a curious thing to me because it's, if anything is true of our society, true that we don't want to even acknowledge sin.  We continue down a path of improperly diagnosing man's behavior and therefore not having any clue about how to cure it.

 

Several years ago Dr. Karl Menninger, of the famous Menninger Clinic, which is a psychiatric clinic and he's a world-famous psychiatrist, wrote a book and the title of the book was just that, Whatever Happened To Sin?  Here was a renowned psychiatrist basically saying, "I operate a psychiatric clinic and if I'm going to help people with their problems, I have got to tell them about sin."  He tried to make people face the reality of sin as the curse that creates the problems of life.  The book was somewhat widely read but also widely rejected.

Frankly, sin isn't as nearly as marketable as other things.  Today in our culture I think it would be fair to say that sin isn't even an acceptable word.  You don't hear anybody talk about sin, certainly not a politician, rarely a preacher in some cases.  Not only is it an unacceptable word, it is an unacceptable cause for the troubles of man.  With all this talk about values and no talk about sin, the definition of values is hopelessly vague.

 

Certainly sin is not an acceptable diagnosis of man's problems.  We look at the world and what do we see?  We see evil everywhere but it's not defined as evil.  We see sin everywhere but it's not defined as sin.  It's not an acceptable word. It's not an acceptable cause. It's not an acceptable diagnosis of man's nature.

 

In fact, things that we used to willingly say were sin we don't want to call sin anymore.  There was a column in the August 29 Dallas Morning News written by columnist Anne Melvin.  She wrote this column about sin interestingly enough. This is what it says, part of it: "Most sins have gained respectability through politics or profitability.  They're mostly all legalized, advertised, organized, supervised and taxed.  We've got liquor by the drink, and young girls dress like hookers just to be in fashion at their homecoming dance.  We've got your basic graphic sex on cable TV and an entertainment market from wind-up toys to electronic state-of-the-art based solely on violence.  So, hey, is it fair to name all these little diversions sins?"

 

She goes on, "Sin, go figure out how you can make a fortune for Time Warner with a recording about killing cops, how you can refuse to let school children say grace for lunch and then teach them how to use a condom before recess.  Clearly we are foundering here, a society preoccupied with values yet hopelessly vague on sin," end quote.

 

It isn't just the politicians and it isn't just the profit takers who want to market sin and sell it.  The politicians don't want to talk about sin because they don't want to alienate any sinning votes.  The entrepreneurs and the materialists don't want to talk about sin because they can sell it.  The government doesn't want to talk about sin because they can tax it.   But what is really most amazing, I guess, of all is that even the people helpers, the counselors, the psychologists, the psychiatrists, they don't want to talk about sin either.  And again I remind you, they don't want to talk about sin because they don't want to deal with the sin in their own lives, and secondly, because sin doesn't sell very well.  Sickness sells a lot better.   Addiction is a much nicer word than iniquity.

 

I read a book yesterday, the title of it is, I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.  It's a short book, I read it in the morning and then I thought about it in the afternoon.  It's written by a lady by the name of Wendy Kaminer and it's a secular book.  And in this secular book she confronts as a critic the new anthropology, the new theology, the new psychology.  That new stuff that is called abuse psychology, or codependency, all of that kind of stuff that basically is saying, "You're really a wonderful person and everybody keeps abusing you and what's happening outside of you is the problem because everything inside of you is so wonderful."

 

She talks about the fact that this new anthropology, this new sociology, psychology, theology and she even lists...well she lists secular sociologists, secular psychiatrists, Christian psychologists into one big bag as all affirming basically the same thing.  She writes this in evaluating the movement and articulating what they believe. This isn't her view but this is what she says they are espousing, "No matter how bad you've been in the narcissistic 1970s and the inquisitive 1980s, no matter how many drugs you've ingested, or sex acts you've performed, or how much corruption you've enjoyed, you're still essentially innocent.  The divine child inside you is always untouched by the worst of your sins."

 

And then she further says these new definers of man's nature say, quote: "Because no one is inhabited by evil or unhealthy urges because inside every addict” that's the new word for sinner “is a holy child yearning to be free."  And then she goes on assessing what they say, "They say inner children are always good, innocent and pure, like the most sentimentalized Dickens characters, which means that people are essentially good and evil is merely a mask, a dysfunction."  She says, "The therapeutic view of evil as sickness not sin is strong in codependency theory." that's that new kind of theory.  "Shaming children, for example, is considered a primary form of abuse."

 

In other words, what she's saying, if I can digress, is that if you make your child feel any shame about anything, any guilt about anything, that is a form of child abuse.  That will wind up, you can be sure, in the courts, and it already has as child abuse.

 

She goes on, "Both guilt and shame are not useful, they say."  And then she adds, "Someone should remind these people that there is a name for people who lack guilt and shame. They're called sociopaths."  She's right.

 

But here is a secular writer looking at the face of the people-helping industry and saying these people are saying that innately inside in the deepest heart of man, he is innocent, pure, holy and good.  Boy, it's amazing how all these people who are that way on the inside can be so rotten on the outside.

 

The point is this. You basically have a culture that denies the reality of sin.  And as we said in our discussions about homosexuality, if you misdiagnose the problem then you're not going to be able to offer the proper cure.  So what happens is, if you alleviate people of the responsibility for dealing with the sin in their lives, you have, in effect, made them unredeemable.  You have damned them.

 

That's the kind of culture we live in, not just minimizing sin but eliminating it.  And then coming up with the unbelievable idea that man is some kind of good, holy, pure thing inside, longing to be free from these terrible dysfunctions that have occurred on his outside because of the way he's been abused by others, usually his parents.

 

Now we're victims, to some extent, of that kind of thing in our culture.  We have as wicked, as wretched, as sinful, and as vile a culture as could be imagined.  And at the same time we have a massive campaign to remove the word "sin" from our vocabulary.  You talk about putting people in an unredeemable position. They aren't even going to understand that they are responsible for their own offense against God. They're not even going to be in a position to seek a deliverer from their iniquity, thus they are unredeemable.  I can't imagine that Satan could have devised any more effective plan than to move a culture toward the most wretched, vile kind of life, and at the same time sell it wholesale the philosophy that no such thing as sin exists innately in the human heart.  Talk about damning a culture, damning a world, that's how to do it.

 

Now the fallout to this...the fallout to this we feel in the church, and the church tends to minimize the reality of sin, even in its own life even among Christians.  We tend to be desensitized, don't we, to the iniquity around us, and if we are desensitized, let me tell you this, to the iniquity around us we will be desensitized to the iniquity in us.  If I am not outraged by the sin I see outside, then I will be less likely to be outraged by the sin I see inside.  People always decry the Victorian era, periods of history where even the society itself has had a highly developed sense of sin.  But those kinds of societies at least articulated a morality that held the church accountable.  Now society holds the church accountable for nothing because society has no morality, no definition of sin, therefore the church can behave itself in just about any way it wants.  In fact, I imagine today that because of the way the church has behaved itself in our culture, it would be very hard for anybody in the church to do anything that would shock the world.

 

So the fallout of this kind of sinless definition of man and the overexposure that even Christians have to iniquity and to sin through the media, desensitizes us to our own sin.  And I'll tell you what that can do.  Because we don't really see the sinfulness of sin, because we don't really see how sinful we are, it is possible to think of ourselves as more holy than we really are.  If you go back, for example, and read in the writings of godly men in...in the past, you very often find them bemoaning and bemoaning and bemoaning their own sin.  And you read about their lives and they seem so holy and so pure and so devoted to Christ and yet so overwrought with sin.  Sin was highly defined in ancient times, even in the society in many cases.  And it held even the people who were Christians up to a high standard.  Nobody was letting them off the hook in the culture.  Nobody was blaming their parents for the way they acted, nobody was blaming some codependency or some addiction. Everybody was dealing in the culture with sin as sin, at least to some degree.  And consequently people were confined to those definitions, saw them for what they really are and I think in some ways the sort of general human goodness in the culture, the sort of pervasive morality helped control the thinking even of Christians.  Now we don't have that benefit.  We can just about call ourselves Christians and live any way we want to live.  And if we sort of exceed the average, we tend to think of ourselves as holy.

 

J.I. Packer, who is a well-known theologian and a skilled thinker, writes this, "Christians often imagine themselves to be strong, healthy and holy.  But the way to health is to recognize that we are weak and sick and sinful."

 

The point is, don't let the society give you the standard.  I mean, if you're a little better than the society you're in, that doesn't make you very good because they don't have any definition of sin.

 

Packer goes on to say, "The first truth is that we are all invalids in God's hospital," all of us Christians. He's talking about believers.  "In moral and spiritual terms we are sick and damaged, diseased and deformed, scarred and sore, lame and lopsided to a far, far greater extent than we realize.  We need,” he writes “to realize that the spiritual health we testify to is only partial and relative, a matter of being less sinful and less incapacitated than we were before."  And then here's a great statement: "Our spiritual life is a fragile convalescence.  It is a fragile convalescence easily disrupted and we are prone to damaging delusions about it." Profound.

 

I grieve because the way our culture goes does affect the church.  And because we're two notches above the way they live we assume that we are holy.  We are engaged in a fragile convalescence from the near fatal disease of unregenerate life. Therefore we need to deal with sin and we need to deal with it strongly in our lives.  And we cannot allow the world's standard to become ours.  The politicians can talk all they want about values, family values, traditional values, but when they talk about that they do not mean what you and I understand as biblical Christianity.  We've got to deal with it on biblical terms.

 

So, how are we to deal with sin?  It's there, we have to understand it, we've got to tackle it, triumph over it. How do we do that?  Last week we gave you some principles for dealing with sin that easily entangles us.  If you weren't here, you need to get the tape because it's a very important study.  And basically last week what I looked at was present and future.  What you need to do now in the present battle with sin, and in order to defend yourself in the future.

 

There's another component that I want to talk about today and that's the past.  I think there is a certain sense in which you've got to look into the past in order to deal with sin, in order to triumph over sin that easily entangles you.  The future we arm ourselves for.  "Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation."  The present, we battle sin, “hating what is evil, clinging to what is good.”  But there's also a past look and I...I want to give you that and in order to do that I want you to turn to 1 Peter chapter 4.

 

Now this particular text yields up some very rich truth and could be approached from a number of viewpoints, and I'm not going to take the time to exposit in detail. I have done that in our study of 1 Peter.  I really want to draw from this text several key points related to our discussion of dealing with sin in our lives.

 

Verse 1, "Therefore since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God; for the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lust, drunkenness, carousals, drinking, parties and abominable idolatries.  And in all this they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation and they malign you, but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."  We'll stop at that point.

 

The point here that I want to draw you to is in verse 1.  "Arm yourselves with the same purpose,” with the same purpose.  You've got to be armed with a certain kind of purpose in order to battle sin.  You are, verse 2, to “live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men.”  In order to live that way, in order to live not controlled by the lusts of men, you've got to have a certain purpose of heart.  In fact, it's a purpose of heart that is demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ.  Christ is the first illustration that he gives right there in verse 1 and then later on he reaches back into their own past and illustrates from their former lifestyle another point in calling them to holiness.

 

In the center of that there is reference in verse 2 to the will of God, and I want to take those three points: Looking at Christ, looking at God, and looking at the past life.  And I want to say to you that if you're going to be able to be armed properly so as to live the rest of the time in your flesh no longer for the lusts of men, you have to look back at Christ, you have to look back at God, and you have to look back at your former life.

 

I think Peter gives us very insightful glimpses here.  Let's look at verse 1.  Anyone who is going to be armed to deal with sin, who is going to live his life without yielding to the lusts of men, is going to look back and see Christ.  And here's the context, "Therefore since Christ has suffered in the flesh..."

 

Now what does he mean by that?  Well, "suffered in the flesh" simply means he's died.  It's just a phrase referring to death.  At the end of verse 1 he says, "The one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin."  You cease from sin when you die.

 

You say, "Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that Jesus Christ has suffered in the flesh, that is dying, and in dying has ceased from sin?"  That's right.  You say, "Wait a minute, Jesus Christ never sinned."  That's right, too.  "Then what is he saying?"  What he is saying is that Jesus Christ, mark this, was in a constant battle with sin. Is that not true?  He was in all points what? Tempted like as we are yet without sin.  There was a personal assault on Jesus Christ by the powers of darkness.  You get a window in that when you see the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4, Luke 4, and you see how Satan came to Him in the time of His greatest physical weakness after fasting forty days and forty nights and being alone in the desert.  Came to Him at that time and tempted Him.  There was an assault on His person, on His will, on His emotion to try to get Him to capitulate to Satan and to engage Himself in sin.  Sin assaulted Him personally in the matter of temptation.

 

Secondly, sin assaulted Him through the means of persecution.  Satan was after Christ from the very start to destroy Him.  He wanted to destroy Him as a baby and when He was born he massacred all the babies under two years of age in that region in order to try to effect the slaughter of the One who would be the King, the Messiah.  It was unsuccessful.  The story of Scripture doesn't recount it but you can be certain that there were other occasions when Satan may have moved against the child Christ in the years of His growing up and would have taken His life had not God preserved it.  You know as well as I do that when He began His ministry the multitude tried to kill Him, effecting the work of Satan in an untimely way.  And He disappeared from among them.  They would have thrown Him off a cliff if they could have.

 

There were many times when the Jews, the leaders of the Jews would have killed Him.  They plotted His death repeatedly.  There was persecution of all sorts.  There was blasphemy against His name.  There was maligning against His character.  He was persecuted repeatedly by those who rejected Him.  Sin was after Him, first of all, personally through temptation, secondly through persecution.

 

Finally, sin was thrown upon Him in its fullness as He bore our sins.  In fact, the Bible says He was made sin on the cross and there the heavy weight of sin was placed upon Him.  He suffered, as it were, in the flesh and He suffered from the attacks of sin.  Sin attacked Him in temptation, obviously from outside since He was impeccable, sinless and could not sin on the inside because He was holy God.  Sin attacked Him through the persecutions.  Sin, of course, then was even poured upon Him in its fullness by God the Father as He became the substitute.

 

In every case remember this, will you, sin made Christ suffer.  He battled it through temptation.  He suffered the indignities and the persecution and the blasphemy and the hatred and the hostility and the violence of evil men and women.  And He suffered until it crushed out His life when He bore sin on the cross.

 

So look back.  If you're going to entertain sin in your life, says Peter, look back.  He's reminding persecuted believers here, by the way, who are undergoing some heavy, heavy persecution.  And under that kind of duress it is not unreasonable to assume that some of them may have begun to defect, maybe not wanting to take the heat, some small compromises.  And he reminds them that Christ, the very One he has just described in verses 18 to 22 of chapter 3, who gave His life for them, who when reviled reviled not again, who when He was being evil spoken of never retaliated, and who paid for their sins, that same Christ suffered extremely beyond anything they will ever know and never sinned and never fell to sin, and never stopped trusting the Father, and never yielded up His confidence, and never gave away His hope, and never defected.  And He becomes your pattern.

 

Sin did everything it could to destroy Christ.  It was ineffective and He was triumphant.  But He endured it all and it was all painful.  Even temptation must have been some kind of an offense to His holy nature.  Certainly blasphemy was and mockery and all the rest, and to say nothing of sin bearing.  He suffered.  He suffered and naver...never gave in.  He suffered and never sinned.  And he says, does Peter, you have to arm yourself with the same purpose and you know that the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.  The one who goes all the way to death is relieved from sin.

 

Well what is that point?  The point is this, if you're faithful like Christ was even to the place where they take your life, as bad as it sounds it's really good because when you die you cease from what? From sin.  That's the arm... That's how you arm your mind.  You say, "I will be holy and I will be pure like my Lord, He is the author and the finisher of faith.  He is the model and the example and He suffered all the way to blood.  And if I go that far in my suffering, if I stand for Christ and holiness and righteousness and it cost me my life, the reward is no more sin, for death means sin has ceased."

 

When Christ died on the cross He was relieved from sin.  Never again would He be tempted.  Never again would He be persecuted.  Never again would anybody spit in His face.  Never again would they mock Him to His face.  He was exalted to the right hand of the Father.  Never again would He bear in His own body our sins.  Sin was gone forever from any personal contact with Christ.

 

And so it is with us.  He says, look, if you're going to deal with sin you've got to have the same kind of purpose, the same kind of...the word in the Greek means idea, thought, concept, the same perspective is probably the best way to say it, that Christ had.  I will endure to the very end, even if I die in the process I will then be freed from sin for good.  That's the resoluteness of purpose that you see exemplified in Christ.  The One who was made sin, the One who came into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh, Paul says in Romans 8:3, gives us the pattern.  If we're going to live no longer in the flesh, following the lusts of men, we have to have that kind of perspective.

 

And then there's a second thought here at the end of verse 2 that strikes me.  If we are going to have this same perspective, and if we're going to see what sin did to Christ and therefore its horror and its heinousness and realize that like He we are to endure without compromise to the very end because even that means only reward and bliss, beyond that if we're going to live the rest of the time in the flesh we have to recognize not only how sin affected Christ, but how it affects God, how it affects God.

 

Look back in the past.  He says you are to live no longer in the lust of men but for the will of God.  You've got to realize that every time you've committed a sin in your past, you've defied God's will, you've disobeyed God's will, you've rejected God's will.  In a sense, you've usurped the throne.  You've pushed God aside and said I will take command of my life; I will do whatever I want to do.  You're not in charge, I'm in charge.  It is the ultimate act of blasphemy, really, because it questions God's authority, it questions God's sovereignty.  Follow this, it questions God's wisdom.  It questions God's goodness because sin says I'm in charge, I'll do it if I want, I'll make this thing work out into my life, I'll do it because it will bring me pleasure, it will bring me satisfaction.  And all of that says, "God, You don't really love me or You wouldn't withhold this thing from me cause it's going to be so good.  God, You're not really wise or You'd really see how this thing can work in my life some way and produce some benefit.  You're not really in charge because You can't stop me from doing this."

 

You see all of that is inherent in sinning.  When I sin I say, "God, move over, I'm in charge."  I say, "God, You're not as wise as You think You are because if You were You'd let me do this and understand it will all work out.  And thirdly, You're not as good and gracious and kind as You ought to be because if You were You'd let me have what I so desperately want."

 

You see, all of that attacks the character and the purpose of God and I become then a rebel.  Look back at your sin and understand what it was. It was an attack on the will of God, an attack on the authority of God, the sovereignty of God, the purpose of God.  It is flat, outright, overt disobedience to God.  And how can you, as we read this morning, say you love Him and not obey Him?  See sin for what it is.  Back in Psalm 51 David said, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned."  All sin is against God.  It attacks Him first and foremost.  That's why the point of confession is to God.  You may affect others with your sin but the primary point of confession is always to God.  You may need to seek forgiveness from others because you have sinned against them. The primary point of confession is still God.  He is the One most holy, He is the One most offended.

 

If I'm going to deal with sin in my life, then, I've got to look back and see what it did to Christ, how it pursued Him all through His life and brought Him only pain, only sadness, even tears, ultimately death.  That's what sin is like, it wants to kill Christ. It wants to kill the purest who ever lived.  You need to remember that.  That's what it wants to do and that's what it wants to do to you, kill what is pure, what is Christ-like.

 

And, secondly, you need to remember, too, that sin is a violation of the will of God.  And every time you have sinned in the past you have, as it were, usurped the role that God has as the authority and the leader.  Jeremiah, the prophet, wrote a couple of times the words where God said, "I have spoken to you again and again yet you haven't listened to Me."  How it must grieve the heart of God that His children are so rebellious.  Every time we sin it is outright rebellion, and what a long track record of rebellion.  It isn't helpful to go back into the past and regurgitate all your specific sins. God has forgotten them.  He's buried them in the depths of the deepest sea. They're removed as far as the east is from the west.  He remembers them no more.  But it is good to remind yourself that every time you ever sinned you absolutely, rebelliously struck a blow against the will of God.

 

And there's a third thing that I think comes out in this text and that is very vivid in verses 3 to 5.  You must remember what sin has done to lost humanity. You must remember what sin has done to lost humanity.  Or to put it more personally, remember what sin was doing in your life before you became a Christian.  Verse 3, "For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the pagans."

 

What's he saying?  He's saying, look, haven't you had enough of that stuff?  Haven't you had enough of that stuff that pursued Christ, bringing Him nothing but sorrow till it killed Him?  Yes it was in the purpose of God but nonetheless it was sin that effected it.  Haven't you had enough of that stuff that rebels against God who seeks only your best?  And haven't you had enough of that stuff that used to be the typical fare of your daily life?  I mean, surely it's true, isn't it, that when a person is converted, when they're saved, if they're not saying anything else they're at least saying this, I have had enough of this.  Aren't they saying that?  I can't carry the load of my sin anymore.  I want forgiveness, I want deliverance, I want transformation.  Surely when you came to Christ weren't you saying, “I can't bear this anymore”?

 

Peter then gives a graphic and tragic description of the devastating effect of sin on mankind in general.  And he reminds the readers and us that we've had enough of that.  And the reason we converted...we were converted... The reason by the Spirit of God's power we were turned around and moved the other direction was because there was wrought in us by God a hatred of all of that.  That's enough, he says, that's sufficient, you've had that.

 

He knew these people were converted out of a pagan background.  They were influenced still by the presence of that paganism.  These people had come to Christ because they had enough of that stuff.  They...they literally had enough of carrying out the desire of the pagans, the Gentiles, the nations.  He means the lost, the unsaved, the unregenerate.  You've had enough time working that out, accomplishing that, producing that.  Now, you're supposed to spend the rest of your time no longer for the lusts of men, verse 2 says. That's done.

 

And isn't that what we all said when we were converted?  Or something to that effect?  Lord, I've had it with that stuff, I want to live for You, I want to follow You, I want to walk with You.

 

And then just to remind us what that life was like he said, "You used to pursue that, having pursued a course of sensuality," aselgeia. It describes unrestrained vice, unbridled sin.  It's an old word that's often used to translate it, debauchery, excessive indulgence in sensual pleasure.  You had that and you had the lusts, the evil desires, the feelings, the kind of mindless passions.  And you had the carousals as well as the drunkenness and the drinking parties.  Those all go together kind of, drunkenness speaks for itself, carousals has the idea of a wild drunken party, a sort of a public...a public...it pictures a kind of a group of people sort of going down the street in a public display of drunkenness.  You've been in on the drinking parties.  You've engaged in the abominable idolatries.  "Abominable" means they are at variance with the law of God; they are lawless.  You... You were in the whole package, right?  Sexual wickedness, alcoholic excess, ungodly, worshiping the wrong things, the wrong gods, you had the whole package.  You did it all, isn't that enough?  What is there you want back?  Haven't you had your fill?  Remember that, will you, that you filled up on that, you overdosed on it and you wanted deliverance once. Now do you want it back?

 

This is so much the way of life of the world, it says in verse 4, that in all this they're surprised that you don't run with them.  They can't believe you don't want to live like that anymore.  They just don't believe that.  It doesn't make sense.  Why?  Because they can't understand the things of God.  They can't accept your transformation.  They don't make any sense out of it.  It is a matter of absolute wonder to the ungodly to see a person transformed by Jesus Christ.  It is inconceivable to them.  And so they're surprised that you don't run with them; that you don't continue to run the same way they're going.  Very interesting graphic words: "To run with them into the same excess of dissipation."  It's like a group of people running and taking a big jump in a cesspool.  That's the imagery in the terms.  They're running real fast into the cesspool of dissipation, plunging into it.

 

Hardly a spa for the children of God, says Peter.  They're driven by an irresistible compulsion.  They don't understand what happened in your life.  He's setting up the simple principle, you are so different.  You once said I had enough, you came to Christ.  You know they don't even comprehend your transformation.  It's a different lifestyle.  They are... They're aliens.  They don't even connect with you.  Why would you go back to that?

 

Furthermore, they malign you.  They don't even like you, why do you want to act like people that don't even like you?  The word "malign" is blasphēmeō, blaspheme you.  It means to defame, attack you, slander you.  Here is the cesspool crowd slandering the Christian.  They're an ugly bunch.  They are an ugly bunch, sexually perverted, drunk, worshiping all their false gods, rushing madly into the cesspool of sin.  You've been saved out of that.  You wanted out of that.  You don't have a thing to do with that anymore.  They don't even like you anymore.  Why in the world do you want to do what they're doing?

 

And then lastly he adds, besides this they're going to give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  They're going to pay a price for this.  I mean this is damnable lifestyle.  You don't want anything to do that.  They have to give an account.  They are amassing a debt to God they will be required to pay forever in hell.  And whether they live or die in this world, whether they're around till the Judge comes, or whether they die before He gets here, they're going to show up at the judgment. They're going to be condemned.

 

The sad reality here is this shows you the heinousness and the stupidity of sin.  I mean, you got delivered from that.  You had enough of it.  You said, "It's enough, I'm done with that stuff."  And why would you now want to go back and do what they...they do?  And they're not even like you.  I mean, they run in a different track, jumping into a different pool than you do and they don't even like you.  They resent you.  And furthermore, what they do is headed for damnation.  I mean, you're so different, why would you do this?

 

In dealing with sin in your life, then, Peter says, to these persecuted believers who perhaps were prone to fall to temptation, look, remember Christ, what sin did to Him.  And it's a powerful force. It may kill you but even that is a deliverance.  Fight it all the way.  That's Hebrews 12:1 and 2 and 3, fight it all the way, you haven't yet resisted unto blood, just like Christ did.

 

Remember, secondly, what sin, what your sin, everybody else's sin has done to God. It's rebelled against His holy will and purpose.

 

And remember what it's done to these people, It's made them live their whole life jumping into cesspools and ultimately to be damned in hell.

Shunning sin then involves present action.  We saw that last week.  It involves future preparation.  And it involves past perspective.  Beloved, as I said, this is one society, I guess, where Christians can get away with anything because the culture sure doesn't have any standards.  But God does and they're very high and He calls us to live to those standards.  And it's concerning to me that the society has brought the standard so low that we may not really understand how sinful we all are before God.  I'll guarantee you one thing, you think a lot more highly of yourself in terms of holiness than God does because we tend to want to elevate ourselves and we tend to let the society define for us what iniquity really is.  All of us find ourselves with Paul saying, "Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"  All of us find ourselves with Paul saying, "I'm the chief of sinners," if we're really honest.  And we need to deal with that.

 

Father, we thank You this morning that Your Word is light and truth and we thank You that You have granted it to us with such clarity that a wayfaring man, though he be a fool, need not error.  We live in a society struggling to define what morality is, what is right, at the same time fiercely denying Scripture, denying You, denying Christ, and denying sin.  How hopeless they are. How hopeless they are.  Help us to be the living definition of holiness.  Help us to gain victory over the sin that so easily entangles us, to remember what it did to Christ, what it always does to You and always has done, rebelling, and what it has done to lost humanity, and thus to run from it, shunning it, pursuing holiness.  Show us the sin of our lives, don't let us escape.  We indeed are engaged in a very fragile convalescence.  Help us, Lord, to deal honestly with our own hearts, find Your forgiveness, and pursue a righteous path for Christ's sake.  Amen.

 

 

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Grace to You
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