Text: Romans 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8-10; James 5:16
Thesis: To stress that we all are sinners who need help and forgiveness.
(1) When introducing oneself at an A.A. meeting, one will typically say something like: “Hello, my name is ____________ and I’m an alcoholic.”
(2) Alcoholics Anonymous has a long history of helping alcoholics overcome their addition. At the heart of the program is the twelve steps, which are:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought though prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
(3) Regardless of whether it is alcohol or some other sin, we, as Christians, all struggle and need help and forgiveness.
(4) For whatever reason, we tend to hide our sins and pretend as if we’ve mastered temptation and look down on others who are struggling with sin as though they wore some kind of “scarlet letter” and are unworthy to be a part of the church.
- Consider some lyrics from “Does Anybody Hear Her?” by Casting Crowns:
If judgement looms under every steeple
If lofty glances from lofty people
Can't see past her scarlet letter
And we never even met her
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even knows she's going down today
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
(5) Today, I want to challenge your thinking so that you will be willing to admit that you are a struggling sinner who continually needs forgiveness and help from God and from the church family to overcome.
(6) I am not downplaying the seriousness of sin, I am only trying to encourage us to be more open with our struggle in order to win the battle in the end.
(7) Let us note some Scriptures to help in this area:
I. We are all sinners.
A. Romans 3:10 – There is none righteous, no not one
B. Romans 3:23 – All have sinned and come short of the glory of God
C. 1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we lie and do not the truth
II. We all continually struggle.
A. Romans 7:19 – For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing
B. Romans 7:22-23 – For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members
III. We all continually need forgiveness and help.
A. 1 John 1:7 – If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin
B. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse up from all unrighteousness
C. James 5:16 – Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working
D. Galatians 6:1 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted
E. Consider this story from Tony Campolo:
A few years ago Tony flew to Hawaii to speak at a conference. The way he tells it, he checks into his hotel and tries to get some sleep. Unfortunately, his internal clock wakes him at 3:00 a.m. The night is dark, the streets are silent, the world is asleep, but Tony is wide awake and his stomach is growling. He gets up and prowls the streets looking for a place to get some bacon and eggs for an early breakfast. Everything is closed except for a grungy dive in an alley. He goes in and sits down at the counter. The fat guy behind the counter comes over and asks, "What d'ya want?" Well, Tony isn't so hungry anymore so eying some donuts under a plastic cover he says, "I'll have a donut and black coffee." As he sits there munching on his donut and sipping his coffee at 3:30, in walk eight or nine provocative, loud prostitutes just finished with their night's work. They plop down at the counter and Tony finds himself uncomfortably surrounded by this group of smoking, swearing hookers. He gulps his coffee, planning to make a quick getaway. Then the woman next to him says to her friend, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be 39." To which her friend nastily replies, "So what d'ya want from me? A birthday party? Huh? You want me to get a cake, and sing happy birthday to you?" The first woman says, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?" Well, when Tony heard that, he said he made a decision. He sat and waited until the women left, and then he asked the fat guy at the counter, "Do they come in here every night?" "Yeah," he answered. "The one right next to me," he asked, "she comes in every night?" "Yeah," he said, "that's Agnes. Yeah, she's here every night. She's been comin' here for years. Why do you want to know?" "Because she just said that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think? Do you think we could maybe throw a little birthday party for her right here in the diner?" A cute kind of smile crept over the fat man's chubby cheeks. "That's great," he says, "yeah, that's great. I like it." He turns to the kitchen and shouts to his wife, "Hey, come on out here. This guy's got a great idea. Tomorrow is Agnes' birthday and he wants to throw a party for her right here." His wife comes out. "That's terrific," she says. "You know, Agnes is really nice. She's always trying to help other people and nobody does anything nice for her." So they make their plans. Tony says he'll be back at 2:30 the next morning with some decorations and the man, whose name turns out to be Harry, says he'll make a cake. At 2:30 the next morning, Tony is back. He has crepe paper and other decorations and a sign made of big pieces of cardboard that says, "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" They decorate the place from one end to the other and get it looking great. Harry had gotten the word out on the streets about the party and by 3:15 it seemed that every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. There were hookers wall to wall. At 3:30 on the dot, the door swings open and in walks Agnes and her friend. Tony has everybody ready. They all shout and scream "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" Agnes is absolutely flabbergasted. She's stunned, her mouth falls open, her knees started to buckle, and she almost falls over. And when the birthday cake with all the candles is carried out, that's when she totally loses it. Now she's sobbing and crying. Harry, who's not used to seeing a prostitute cry, gruffly mumbles, "Blow out the candles, Agnes. Cut the cake." So she pulls herself together and blows them out. Everyone cheers and yells, "Cut the cake, Agnes, cut the cake!" But Agnes looks down at the cake and, without taking her eyes off it, slowly and softly says, "Look, Harry, is it all right with you if...I mean, if I don't...I mean, what I want to ask, is it OK if I keep the cake a little while? Is it all right if we don't eat it right away?" Harry doesn't know what to say so he shrugs and says, "Sure, if that's what you want to do. Keep the cake. Take it home if you want." "Oh, could I?" she asks. Looking at Tony she says, "I live just down the street a couple of doors; I want to take the cake home, is that okay? I'll be right back, honest." She gets off her stool, picks up the cake, and carries it high in front of her like it was the Holy Grail. Everybody watches in stunned silence and when the door closes behind her, nobody seems to know what to do. They look at each other. They look at Tony. So Tony gets up on a chair and says, "What do you say that we pray together?" And there they are in a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon, half the prostitutes in Honolulu, at 3:30 a.m. listening to Tony as he prays for Agnes, for her life, her health, and her salvation. Tony recalls, "I prayed that her life would be changed, and that God would be good to her." When he's finished, Harry leans over, and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he says, "Hey, you never told me you was a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to anyway?" In one of those moments when just the right words came, Tony answers him quietly, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning." Harry thinks for a moment, and in a mocking way says, "No you don't. There ain't no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. Yep, I'd join a church like that."
(1) Jesus has/will deliver us (Romans 7:24-25).
(2) Are we walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7)?