Episode 1. Sin is Common not Normal
Sometimes there’s one particular sin in our lives that we just can’t shake – it keeps coming back again and again to rob us of life. And so many of us – well, we just accept it. That’s the …
Sin, these days, for many is an out–dated notion. Whenever I mention that word – sin – some people are bound to sneer. But look around – it’s everywhere. It is! But whilst sin is common, it’s far from normal.
Welcome to another week here on A Different Perspective. I love the beginning of a new week and today, today we’re kicking off a new series of programs for the next few weeks. This particular series is called Overcoming Stubborn Sin Once and For All. And God triggered in my heart, just the other day, when I was sitting down talking with a man, more about him later.
Now let me ask you, have you ever had a pen in your pocket and it’s leaked? It’s more common for men I guess. We’ll put a pen in our shirt pocket or perhaps on the inside pocket of a jacket. And then, for one reason or another, the pen leaks. And you end up with an ink stain all over your shirt or your jacket.
Now that stain, it’s called a stubborn stain isn’t it? At least that’s how we refer to it where I come from. And the reason we call it a stubborn stain is that no matter what you wash it with or scrub it with, it doesn’t matter what you do to it, it just won’t come out.
I remember when that happened to one of my favourite jackets a few years ago now. I mean I really liked this jacket. It was soft, it was comfortable, it looked great. I spent a fortune with the dry cleaners but it doesn’t matter what they tried, the stain didn’t come out. This great big blue ink stain, smack bang in the middle of the front of the jacket.
And so I simply couldn’t wear it out anymore. I mean I would have looked ridiculous. But isn’t it funny these days, when we have a stain like that on our characters, it seems we almost wear it out with pride or at the very least, we just put up with it. After all it’s a stubborn stain, there’s nothing I can do about it.
And that’s the attitude of this man I was telling you about at the beginning of the program. Here’s the thing. He rings me up the other day and wants to catch up for a cup of coffee. So we sit down at a cafe, little bit of small chit-chat up front and then the crunch issue. The thing that he wanted to talk to me about. That was his sin. It was a sin he’d been struggling with all his life.
Turned out that his particular Achilles heel was his temper. Now he’s a lovely man but he has this hot temper and he just flies off the handle at the drop of a hat. He was sharing with me what had happened just a few days before. A situation where he’d hurt some people that really mattered to him.
The more I listened the more I got the impression that as far as he was concerned this was something that he was stuck with. And the best he could do was to manage the symptoms. There didn’t seem to be a single thought in his head about treating the disease. And the reason that this shocked me is that this man is a Christian with a powerful heart after God. And a real commitment to Gods word.
So I listened without saying too much. But the more I turned this conversation over and over in my head, the more disturbing it became. It was like he had a stubborn ink stain on his jacket. But he was intent on wearing that same jacket out, day after day, with the stain on it. There was no thought of changing the jacket.
Do you see the point? We wouldn’t think of wearing an ink stained jacket out to work and yet we’ll take who we are with this great big stubborn stain smack bang in the middle of our character and our personality. So prominent, so obvious that no-one could ever miss it. And wear it out day after day for a whole lifetime, resigned to what we think is the fact that there’s just nothing we can do about it. Changing the jacket never seems to cross our minds.
Have a listen to this in the context of what we’ve just been talking about – stubborn sin. It comes from Galatians chapter 3, verse 27. It says,
“As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
And again, Ephesians chapter 4, verses 22 to 27.
“You were taught to put away your former way of life. Your old self, corrupt and deluded by it’s lusts and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to clothe yourselves with a new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours for we are members of one another. Be angry but don’t sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not make room for the devil.”
Now both of these scriptures are really, really clear. They’re about putting on a new jacket. They’re about clothing ourselves in Christ. In righteousness. In holiness. Clothing ourselves in the new creation that we’ve become in His image when we put our trust and our faith in Him.
There’s nothing, nothing, so far as I can find in Gods word that says sin is normal. Sure, it’s common, all too common. But normal it ain’t. Have you put your trust in Jesus? Have you? Then you are a new creation.
“The old things have passed away and all things, all things are new.” 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17.
We all have one or two stubborn sins in our lives. For some it’s their temper or their anger. For others it’s lust. For others it’s always seeking glory and recognition. For others again it might be low self-esteem or unforgiveness or gossiping or slander. Other people are addicted to gambling or perhaps it’s worshipping other Gods. Some people don’t seem to be able to help themselves. Some are involved in the occult.
My friend, the list goes on. And we sometimes behave as if the only person that has this stubborn sin stain is us. Listen to me, it’s everyone. I’ve never met a person who hasn’t had to grapple with at least one stubborn, persistent, ongoing form of sin in their lives.
So many men are addicted to pornography which now, with the internet, has over half, over half of all men addicted to it. Something we’re going to be talking about over the coming weeks. And they live in secret shame. Imagining that there’s nothing that they can do about it. And over half of all women in western society, at least half, suffer clinically from low self-esteem.
And each one of these stubborn sins, well, you know what they are? They are the devil’s way of robbing us of life. Remember how Jesus said,
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.”
See so many of these sins are, these days, dressed up to look respectable. Seductive. Normal. Now the person who puts their faith in Jesus kind of knows that they’re not right. But like that man I was talking about at the beginning of the program, somehow they’ve resigned themselves into believing that there’s just nothing they can do about their particular brand of stubborn sin.
Whether it’s a red stain or a blue stain or a black stain. Well you know, that’s just my colour stain and ain’t nothing I can do about it.
Let me give you a very blunt response to this. Rubbish. Absolute rubbish. That’s a deception of the devil and you won’t find it in the Bible. Jesus said, when He was quoting Isaiah chapter 61, verse 1. He said:
“That God had sent Him to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.”
There is no fine print in there that provides you or me with a personal exclusion for our particular brand of stubborn sin. Jesus died once and for all, for everything and for everyone who would accept Him and put their faith in Him.
Now I’m a man who’s had more than his share of stubborn sin to work through. Anger. Temper. All sorts of stuff. And because I’m one of those strong-willed people, those things have had a stronger hold on me than most. And here’s what I’ve discovered along the way and I’m still discovering.
Jesus came to set me free from every sin. Every sin that robs me of life. He came to set you free from every sin that robs you of life. To clothe us in Christ, to make us a new creation that shines His glory into this lost and hurting world.
That’s the truth!