************ Sermon on Psalm 5:4-7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 2, 2003
"No Perfectionists in the Church"
Topic: SinChristians know there is something that is as dangerous and as inescapable as the Komodo dragon. Like the Komodo, it strikes and kills. Like the Komodo, you can't get away from it. What am I talking about? Sin! Sin is like the Komodo dragon: dangerous and inescapable.
Subtopic: Universality of
Title: Komodo Dragons
A couple of days ago I read a newspaper article on the Komodo dragons of Indonesia. Komodo dragons are closely related to the dinosaurs that roamed the earth many years ago. A full-grown Komodo can be 10 feet long, 2 feet tall, and weigh 300 pounds. A Komodo eats deer, dogs, boars, wild water buffaloes, horses, and, sometimes, humans. They prefer to gulp their prey whole. The story is told of a Swiss wildlife conservationist on Komodo Island who, being tired, made the mistake of taking a nap under a tree. All that a search-party later found was his camera, his hat, and a bloody shoe.
Komodo dragons are easily among the most dangerous animals alive. They have hooked, razor-sharp, saw-like teeth. Their saliva is poisonous and they can whip their tail through the air to knock an unsuspecting creature to the ground. They blend right in with the landscape so are almost impossible to see until it is too late. The scariest part is that an intended victim cannot escape a Komodo dragon. You see, Komodo dragons can run up to 10 miles per hour, climb trees, swim against strong currents, and dig their way out of holes or around barriers.
The Komodo dragon: very dangerous and inescapable.
I No Perfectionists Within the Church
A There are Christians as well as Churches that fail to recognize this. These Christians and Churches have what I call "perfectionist" doctrine (Wesleyan Methodists, Free Methodists, Nazarenes, the Church of God in Christ, the Church of God, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church). These Christians and Churches think that it is possible to be free from sin in this life and on this earth. They do not think of sanctification, of becoming Christ-like and holy, as a lifelong process that is finished only with death or the return of our Lord. Rather, they think of holiness, of a sin-free life, as a sudden "second blessing" given after being born-again by the Spirit of God.
These Christians and Churches support this teaching with the words of the Apostle John:
(1Jn 3:6) No one who lives in (God) keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.These words seems to say that no born-again Christian commits sin.
(1Jn 3:9) No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
(1Jn 5:18) We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
B That this is not the case is evident from two other verses to be found in 1 John:
(1Jn 1:8,10) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us ... If we claim we have not sinned, we make (God) out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.And, our text from Psalm 5 – in talking about God's anger against sin – presupposes that we all our sinners.
Among Christians and non-Christians alike there has always existed the tendency to deny one's sin. One way is to dress up evil as good so that sin is not sin anymore. That's the method used by Satan on Eve in the Garden of Eden. "Go ahead," he said, "eat from the tree, for then your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (cf Gen 3:5). The Great Deceiver tries to make evil sound like something good. We see this in the abortion debate. Abortion is not called murder; it is called "pro-choice" and a woman's right to control her own body. Evil is dressed up as something good.
Another way to deny one's sin is to make the claim John refutes in his first letter – the claim of perfection.
However one goes about this business of denying his sin he is a liar and makes God to be a liar. Scripture says,
(Rom 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ...
(Rom 3:10) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;
However we are to understand and interpret the words of 1 John 3:6,9 and 1 John 5:18, we are not to take them as saying that born-again Christian do not sin.
Our life experience confirms that this simply cannot be the case. Who here among us doesn't struggle with sin? Who here can't say with the born-again Apostle Paul:
(Rom 7:14-19) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. (15) I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do ... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (19) For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.At the time of Jesus there was no one "without sin" who could throw a stone at the woman caught in adultery – one by one they had to leave without condemning her (Jn 7:53-8:11). Likewise today there is no one "without sin" who can throw stones at sinners. For we all, don't we, experience daily the continued power of sin within our lives!?
C How, then, are we to understand what the Apostle John means when he says those who are born of God do not sin? John's meaning is that those who are born-again do not "just" continue to sin. Those who are born-again do not blithely and unreservedly continue in sin, they do not abandon themselves to sin, they do not accept and embrace sin. Yes, the old ways of sin continue to exist, but those old ways are resisted and fought, they are regretted and deplored.
D I have quoted Paul on his and our struggle not to sin. But our sin – is it always in spite of ourselves? In spite of our good intentions do we end up doing bad? Are our sins usually accidental? Are we generally aiming right when we miss the target? Do we "fall into sin" in the same way as a blindfolded party guest accidentally falls into the swimming pool?
Subtopic: Attractions of
Title: Full of Life
Let's face the truth, my brothers and sisters, all too often we born-again, redeemed people purposely plunge ourselves into sin. Like the athlete who purposely dives into the water, so we purposely dive headlong into sin.
At the close of a sermon one Sunday morning a member came forward to confess his sin. With tears flowing he took the minister's hand and meant to say, "My life is full of sin." But what came out was, "My sin is full of life." That's so true, isn't it? Our life is so full of sin because our sin is so full of life. We love and enjoy our sin because sin is fun.
E Even in the lives of born-again Christians sin remains very much alive and real. There is no perfectionism and no perfectionists within the Church.
This coming week, as you prepare for the Lord's Supper, you are to examine yourself. Whether born-again or not, the truth of Scripture remains: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). Realize your sin and misery; be honest with yourself and before God and don't claim perfectionism for yourself.
Topic: SinIf we are honest with ourselves, we too will have to say that God hasn't made us perfect yet either. We have not reached the exalted plane of sinless perfection.
Subtopic: Universality Of
A couple took a trip for a couple of days and left their little girl with the neighbors who had four boys. When they returned the little girl said to her daddy, "There are four boys in that house where I have been staying. They have family worship there every night. Each night their father prays for his four little boys."
Her father replied, "That certainly is good to hear."
"Daddy, he prays that God will make them good boys, and he prays that they won't do anything wrong."
Her father said, "Well, that's very fine."
The little girl was silent for a moment, and then she added, "But Daddy, He hasn't done it yet."
II God's Anger Against Sin
A What we also have to realize, congregation, is that God is angry, terribly angry, with sin:
(Ps 5:4-6) You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. (5) The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. (6) You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.
God is a holy God. He calls all His image bearers to be holy even as He is holy. And, He becomes angry when we fail.
B In the Old Testament God's anger was continually directed against Israel for forsaking His covenant and breaking His laws. This wrath of God was exercised against His people through such things as the fiery serpents in the wilderness when the people spoke against God and Moses (Num 21:4-9), or through the three days of pestilence when trust was put in armies instead of God (2 Sam 24).
The New Testament Gospel is introduced by John the Baptist's warning of the wrath to come (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7), a note which is continued in Jesus' preaching (Mt 4:17; Lk 21:23). The Apostle Paul says,
(Rom 1:18) The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, The Biblical message is so clear, isn't it? God is angry with sin.
(Rom 2:5) But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
(Eph 2:3) All of us (are) by nature objects of wrath.
C Let us consider, for a moment, the sin in our lives that God is angry with. God is angry with the sin we are born with. Because of our connection to Adam – our federal head, our representative – we are all conceived and born in sin. This "original sin" found within us corrupts our nature, renders us guilty, and makes us all deserving of God's wrath.
God is also angry with the sin we actually commit. Go to any Church or look within the heart of any believer – you will find there every type and manner of sin: pride, envy, anger, self-indulgence, unchastity, anxiety, laziness, gossip, slander, greed. And, I'm afraid that our sin is not just limited to our deeds: our thoughts, words, feelings, and inclinations are all touched and tainted by sin.
One of the most disturbing teachings of Christ Jesus is that God is also angry with our sins of omission. A Sunday School teacher once asked her class: "What are sins of omission?" After some thought one little fellow said: "They're the sins we haven't gotten around to yet." Actually, sins of omission are the good we haven't gotten around to yet. It is a sobering thought that the heaviest charge laid against any of us may be the charge that we were silent, uninvolved, withdrawn, unconcerned. For instance, someone needy was at our door, and we preferred to watch TV. A call went out to begin a ministry to shut-ins or prisoners, and we did nothing. Someone wrote a troubled letter, and we never bothered answering. A brother or sister in the Lord has cancer, and we are too scared to visit. Another student at school is unpopular, unhappy, and lonely and we do not befriend him or her. Our leaders favor the expansion of abortion clinics, and we keep silent.
Sins of commission in our life are easy enough to see – if we are honest with ourselves. Original sin and sins of omission are a little harder to see. Yet, they are just as real. And God's anger against them is just as great.
Even in the lives of born-again Christians there is sin against which the anger of God burns. This coming week, then, in preparation for the Lord's Supper, consider not only your sin and guilt but also the wrath of God against your sin and guilt.
Topic: SinNo matter how hard we try to cover or deny our sin and sinful nature, it is fool's work. Sin, like the snake, is still there. It becomes clear, doesn't it, there will be no worthy partakers in this building next Sunday evening. Each one of us has sin and guilt against which the wrath of God burns.
A man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the unsuspecting mouse into the snake's glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with a brilliant plan.
What did the terrified creature do? He quickly set to work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. The mouse thought that by covering the snake it had solved its problem.
The solution, however, came from outside. The man took pity on the silly little mouse and removed him from the cage.
Yet, ours is the privilege of eating and drinking the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper.
How is this possible?
Verse 7 of our text from Psalm 5 tells us on what basis we can enjoy table fellowship:
(Ps 5:7) But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.Like the mouse, our only solution is outside intervention: the great mercy and grace of God. In other words, we sinners can come to the Lord's Table next week only because of God's great mercy.
What is this great mercy of God? It is His mercy towards us in Christ Jesus. It is a mercy by which He punished our sin in His beloved Son with the shameful and bitter death upon the cross. It is a mercy by which His Son humbled Himself on the cross to hell's deep agony, which wrung from Him the cry, "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46).
This coming week, in preparation for the Lord's Supper, you are to examine yourself. Admit that you are not perfect. Be fully aware of the wrath of God against your sin and misery. And believe in Christ Jesus as your only Savior.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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