May 22, 2007
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
The Greatest Commandment
Good morning! I’m Bryan Kimsey, co-pastor of 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Last time I talked about the fall of man due to his disobedience to God’s command, the curse that resulted from that disobedience, and the mercy of God in planning for atonement for that disobedience. Today, we’re going to take another look at sin and just what exactly sin is. As always, may God grant me the words to speak and you ears to hear. May the truth of Jesus Christ shine into hearts of darkness to the glory of God the Father. Amen!
First we need to define sin. What is sin? Webster’s 1628 dictionary, a dictionary based on Biblical standards, defines “sin” as “the voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule or duty, prescribed by God, or any voluntary transgression of the divine law.” There are other definitions, but these are the ones we’re after. Note the key words in this definition: “voluntary”, “transgression”, “known rule”, “prescribed by God”. This sin is nothing that you’re forced into, it’s nothing of which you are ignorant, and they are God’s rules. That’s Webster. There are over 400 references to sin in the Bible and the first occurs in Genesis 4:6-7 where God is speaking to Cain and says “why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Romans 14:23 says “whatever is not of faith is of sin.” So, we have it that sin is a transgression, or a failure to follow, a rule laid out by God. As we saw last time, these rules are really for our own good. It’s like when our parents said “Now that stove is hot- don’t touch it!” or “Don’t go near that pit- you might fall in!” They’re telling us these things for our own good. Likewise, God lays out His rules for our own good. And like children who must touch the stove, we fail to follow even the simplest of God’s rules. We think we know better. We won’t get burned by the stove. Nope, not I!
Specifically, what are these commands that God has laid out? If you ask people this question “What are the commandments of God which should not be broken?” most can name a few of the 10 Commandments and most people will say “you shouldn’t murder”, “you shouldn’t steal”, “you shouldn’t commit adultery.” Those are, indeed commandments of God, and breaking them is most definitely a sin, or a transgression against God, or a failure to obey God’s commands. A few more people will even be able to quote Christ where he says that even thinking of breaking a command is a transgression. In Matthew 5:21-22, Christ says:
Matthew 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' (22) But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
Here, Christ is saying that simply being angry with your brother or calling him a bad name is spiritually the same as murder. No, you didn’t actually kill him, but you were angry with him. You did not love him. Later in Matthew, Christ says, in a similar way:
Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.' (28) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
This should put many TV shows, advertisements, and so on in a different light for you. If you see an attractive person in those ads and think to yourself, “Boy, I’d like to….”, you have committed adultery with that person in your heart. In your heart, you have broken God’s command that says “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” And you’ve done this just by thinking!
These things are sins and are not to be taken lightly. I speak to so many people who are not convinced of their sins and who will say “Well, I’m not that bad…I haven’t killed anyone. And I haven’t actually committed adultery…sure, I like to see a pretty girl just as much as anyone, but I’ve never committed adultery.” Well, these things are sins, but if this is our focus, we are missing a vitally important truth. Take a look at the 1st Commandment, from Exodus 20.
Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
This is the FIRST commandment and being first, is therefore the most important one. When asked by the lawyers what was the greatest commandment in the law, Christ replied:
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'
These two statements really say the same thing. If you love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, then there will be no room for anything else. No room for idle pursuits, no room for lust, no room for TV shows, no room for coveting, and no room for any of these “other gods.” Who can do this? Who can love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind? I certainly can’t. I’m constantly distracted by distractions. In Romans 3, the apostle Paul quotes the Old Testament and says:
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; (11) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. (12) THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE."
King David was a man after God’s own heart and yet his thoughts strayed and he found himself committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murder, piling sin upon sin, until it crushed him into repentance. His Solomon was the richest and wisest man that ever lived and also sinned, by taking foreign wives and being led astray by their gods. The apostle Paul himself said:
Romans 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (19) For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
None of these Biblical heroes could love the Lord with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind. They all got displaced, discouraged, and distracted. Do you think you have succeeded where these Godly men failed? Not I!
Now, here is the problem, if the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, what then is the Greatest Transgression? In other words, if this is Rule #1, what then is Sin #1? It’s not murder, theft, adultery, or covetousness, it is simply failing to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is something of which we are all guilty. So, think about that. You personally may have never killed anyone, may have never stolen anything, may have never committed adultery, or may have never coveted any of your neighbor’s possessions, but have you loved God with every fiber of your being? Again, not I! And if you’re honest with yourself, you will have to answer “Not I” for yourself, too.
There we have a little bit on sin and I hope you’ve gained some insight on what exactly is sin, how persuasive it is, and how deep it runs in our lives. The bad news is that we’ve all sinned. In some way or another we have all fallen short and have all failed to keep at least some of God’s rules. We all deserve punishment for our transgression, just as Adam deserved his punishment. We have sinned against an infinite God and the punishment must meet the crime. Unfortunately, we are incapable of making the payment- after all, what do we have that is truly ours? God has created all and given all and we really have nothing. But, the good news is this- just as God Himself covered the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden, so has He provided sin atonement for us. Our atonement, however, does not merely cover our sin, but removes it from God’s sight forever and ever. This atonement is, of course, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth who was God in the flesh come to be like us, face the same temptations as we do, yet without sin, and then suffer an unwarranted death for our sakes. Through Jesus Christ, and through him alone, we have atonement for our sins. God has provided a coat for us. He has provided a Passover Lamb to shield us from His wrath, He’s provided a High Priest to make sacrifice for us eternally, and He has provided the Man, Jesus, to take away the curse brought upon us by the man, Adam. Are you wearing the coat of Christ? If you are, hallelujah, brother! If not, I urge you to reflect on this message, consider your sins, and consider the consequences, which God has laid out. The damage between you and God is already done and you cannot undo it yourself. Repent of your transgressions, take the offered coat of Christ, put it on, and be saved.
Back to KLMX sermon, May 21, 2007, Genesis 3
Forward to KLMX sermon, May 23 2007, Christ is Superior