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Overcoming the Sins of Your Past

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   Introductory Story

Overcoming the Sins of Your Past
II Corinthians 7:10

There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm.  He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods; but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner.  As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck.

Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it.  He was shocked and grieved!  In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile; only to see his sister watching!

Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.  After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes" But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen."  Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?" So Johnny did the dishes.

Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper."  Sally just smiled and said, "Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help" She whispered again, "Remember the duck?"

So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.  After several days of Johnny |                Story IllustrationI.  Sin            a.  Easy            b.  FunII.  Walk away            a. Harder            b. Less consequencesIII. Explanation of story people            a. Brother is us            b. Sister is conviction  |

doing both his chores and Sally's; he finally couldn't stand it any longer.  He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.        

Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, "Sweetheart, I know.  You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you.  I was just wondering how long before you would tell me what had happened."

This little story illustrates many of our lives.  We find our selves in a situation that presents 2 options: the first being to sin, which is usually the easiest and let’s face it, the most fun; and the second being to listen to the conviction of the Spirit and walk away, which is the more difficult of the two, but the consequences are small if any.  In our story, the little boy committed a sin by killing his grandmother’s prized duck.  You could say that he is a representation of each of us here today.  Rather than confessing that sin and asking forgiveness, he decided to keep it quiet.  Now enter the sister into our story, which could represent the conviction that told us it was wrong not to confess by hiding the duck and lying.  By the brother’s lack of confession to his grandmother, she continued to bring the sin to his attention until he could bare the sin no longer and confessed.  The grandma in this story can be viewed as symbolic for God, who is always watching.  So how do we overcome the sins that we have committed in the past and stop their power over us?  To begin, let’s look at sin it’s self.


            There are many passages in the Bible that speak about sin.  But what exactly is sin?  I John 3:4 tells us that “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  And sin is real.  It is a barrier between us and the Lord.  If you do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are considered dead to the Lord by your sin.  We all know what is considered sin as we know what right from wrong. But how do we know what is right and what is wrong?  Not everyone has the 10 commandments, and even those that have access to them typically do not read through Exodus to find them.  Well, each one of us is born into this world with a conscience.  Our conscience is our guide between right and wrong.  It t |             e. Conscience tells us when we approach sin or have jumped into sin             f. Some deny knowledge            g. Claim “what is right for me may not be what is right for you”            h. Everything is relative            i. Even those who don’t know Christ know it is wrong to murder and steal            j. Romans 2:14-15                            i. Key to verse        |

ells us when we are approaching danger, or sin, and when we have jumped head first into that dangerous sin. 

            There are those who will deny knowledge of right and wrong and try to claim that what is right for me may not be what is right for you and vice versa.  Right and wrong are relative in their eyes.  But this is not true.  God has established right and wrong and tells each one of us.  Even those who do not know Christ know it is wrong to murder and to steal.  Where does that come from?  The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 2 verses 14 and 15 that, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, [he is talking about the 10 commandments] do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, [and here is the key] since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”  The “them” in this case is that their thoughts are defending the law not their sin.

            As a human being, we know what is right and what is wrong.  The law of the Lord is written on our hearts.  And when we sin, we sin against God.  When David sinned with Bathsheba and broke all ten of the 10 commandments (when he coveted his neighbor’s wife, lived a lie, stole his neighbor’s wife, committed adultery, committed murder, dishonored his parents, and thus dishonored God), he didn’t say “I’ve sinned against man.” He said, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” (Ps. 51:4)  Our sin is not confined to our own bodies, but rather it is a direct assault against God.  I hate to use such a strong illustration, but it is appropriate in this case.  It is like each of us standing right in front of God, and when He tells us not to do something for our own good.  Instead of listening, we spit in His face and do it anyway.  That is why David said that it is against God and God alone that he had sinned. 

            Some people say that God has tempted them as a test.  They say that God has dangled the carrot of sin in front of their face just to see if they would fall.  But God is never the tempter nor is He the creator of sin.  Satan is known as the great tempter throughout the Bible. But we cannot stand by falling into sin, saying that Satan alone is |                   n. Can’t fall into “Satan tricked me”                    o. James 1:13-15                         p. Those in Jesus will not spiritually die                     q. License to sin?                r. Meginionto   |

to blame.  We should not fall into the “God it was not me, it was Satan.  He tricked me,” routine.  That just does not work.  If you are breathing, then you have a conscience.  If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have the Holy Spirit dwelling with in you.  So where does sin come from?  Turn with me to James chapter 1 and verses 13-15. James 1:13-15.  “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  James speaks of death due to the sin, and while this is true that we are dead in our trespasses against God, those who are in Christ will not be sentenced to spiritual death and everlasting torment, but will have everlasting life with God because they have put our faith, hope, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that we have a “license to sin?”  The apostle Paul says “May it never be.” (Romans 6:2)  The word in Greek here is meginointo, which in modern terms would be more like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.  No way!” 

Peter leaves us with a thought about our actions in relation to sin, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)  We must resist sin at all times, but we also recognize that we are fallen beings and will continue to fall into sin even in spite of our best efforts.

So when we do sin, is it guilt or conviction that weighs us down?

Conviction or Guilt

            Jesus tells us in John chapter 16 and verses 7 through 11, John 16:7-11, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” 

It is clear from this passage that conviction is the pronouncement of guilt of sin.  |              b. Conviction is pronouncement of guilt of sin             c. Courtroom example                        i. Judge pronounces guilty verdict                          ii. Spirit pronounces guilty verdict                         iii. Admit guilt, plea for lower sentence                          iv.  Believers can confess sin to the Lord and receive lighter punishment                          v. When confess, no longer carry the burden of that sin                         vi. Sin is given to the Lord to take care of       |

If you have ever been to court or have watched a show that has a courtroom seen, there comes a point where the judge will pronounce whether the accused is innocent or guilty.  If they are guilty, they are convicted of the crime.  This is similar to the conviction we feel when we fall into sin.  Through the Spirit, we feel the conviction, the guilty verdict, of our sin.  Following along in the courtroom scene, if someone admits their guilt, they are given the chance to plea for a lesser charge and receive a reduced sentence, or they can remain quiet about their crime and receive a harsher punishment.  In the case of believers, we are given the opportunity to confess to the Lord and receive a lighter punishment, that is, the punishment that the world would give us alone; or we can keep that sin as a secret and feel a stronger conviction weigh on us from within as well as the consequences of that action in the world.  Now when we confess, we no longer carry the burden of that sin on our shoulders.  We have given that burden to the Lord to handle for us, which He did when He died on the cross and said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

            So after we have confessed, why would we continue to feel guilt?  Guilt works as a vice against us.  It is that feeling that even though you have made amends, you are still eaten up inside about your actions.  It breaks you down to a point of ineffectiveness, which is to the Devil’s delight, by making you feel unworthy to serve.  Guilt is a device used by the Devil to make sure that we do not spread the message of Jesus.  But do you remember who Jesus delivered His message to?  It was not the righteous, but the unrighteous. It was the tax collectors, prostitutes, and the needy.

Do you remember the sister in our story?  She confined what her brother could do because of his conviction that lying to his grandmother about killing the duck was wrong. But when he confessed and freed himself from the guilt; he was able to do things once again.  She is conviction because once the brother confessed his sin; she would not bother him again.  Conviction is not intended to torment the person, but is intended to bring them to the Lord for relief; just as the boy experienced when he confessed to his grandmother. But is confession to the Lord all that He desires?


 VII.  Repentance            a. God does not want heartless confession              b. God commands us to repent              c. Stop, Drop, and Roll                  d. II Corinthians 7:10                e. Only God is able to forgive [IF NEED MORE]

            The Lord does not want us to simply say, “God, I did wrong.  Amen.”  Then continue to do that wrong over and over and over again.  He wants us to repent.  God “commands all men everywhere to repent. Because He has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness.” (Acts 17:30-31)  So what is repentance?  Repentance means to “stop, drop, and roll.”  We are to stop committing the sin.  We are to drop to our knees in prayer for forgiveness.  And we are to roll away from that temptation or from that sin.  We are to turn 180 degrees and walk, run, or crawl in the other direction, if need be.  That is repentance.  Our passage for today is II Corinthians 7:10 because it tells us that, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  If we are to receive forgiveness, we must turn from our sins and ask with a broken spirit for God to cleanse us from our wrong; and He is willing and gracious to forgive us. 

Forgiveness – Psalm 130:3-4 (forgiveness); Isaiah 44:22-23; Jer 50:20; Matt 6:14-15; Rom 5:8-9 (justification); Eph 1:7; Heb 10:17; I Jn 1:9


Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done, whether it is lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness; whatever it is, you need to know that God was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing.  He has seen your whole life, and if you will repent from that sin, God will forgive you.  The teeth of guilt can be pulled forever, but it is up to you.  Have you repented of your sin?  Have you broken down the barrier between you and God so you can live a fruitful life?  Maybe you have been a Christian for some time, but have let the barriers of sin get between your being effective in your witness, thus leading you to become inactive for the glorification of God.  If you need to straiten things out between you and God, I invite you to come, and we can pray together. The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgiveness; He not only forgives you, but He forgets.  It is by God's grace and mercy that we are saved. 

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