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The Unknown Sin

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Today’s text is not a character study, nor is it an example of someone that we should try to be like.

Sometimes as we go through the Bible, amazing things happen, and we can say be like this person.
Sometimes, it’s be like Peter.
Sometimes it’s be like Paul.
Sometimes it’s be like Samson.
Then there are other times when it’s:
Don’t be like Peter.
Don’t be like Paul.
Don’t be like Samson.
Here we are in the middle of Genesis, we’ve spent some time with Abraham.
There’ve been times we’ve seen genuine faith in him, and we can say, be like Abraham.
… Today’s not one of those days.
Let’s open up our Bibles to , and we will look at today.
Read .
We’ve got 3 points for today’s sermon.
First, we need to stop making excuses for sin.
Second, God has a thorough judgment.
Lastly, God is far kinder than we deserve.
Let me set the scene for you.
Back in , which was about 25 years earlier, Abraham and Sarah went into Egypt.
Abraham was concerned about the safety of his life.
So he told his wife Sarah, to lie about who she was.
The lie was to say that she was his sister.
He was afraid that Pharaoh would kill him, and take Sarah as his own wife, so they lied.
What ended up happening, was God sent plagues upon Egypt, because they had sinned by taking Sarah.
It then became known to Pharaoh what Abraham had done.
Sarah was given back to Abraham, they were given riches, and they were sent packing.
Now we fast forward 25 years to Genesis 20.
God has just destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their terrible sins.
Fire and sulfur fell from the sky, leveling it to the ground.
There’s Abraham, looking to the East, seeing the smoke rising to the sky.
He thinks to himself, I’m not going there.
So he sets out to the west, goes towards the coast, away from Sodom and Gomorrah.
He comes to the land of Gerar.
Once there, he meets the king, Abimelech.
By now, Sarah is 90 years old, but Abraham returns to an old lie.
He tells Abimelech that she’s his sister.
Abimelech thinks that she’s available, takes her to become his own wife.
But before he does anything that a husband would do to a wife, the Lord appears to him in a dream.
God says “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
God says
God announces judgment upon Abimelech.
Additionally, we learn at the end of the text, that God also made the women of Gerar barren.
A barren nation is a weak nation.
A barren nation is not a prosperous nation.
A barren nation is a failed nation.
God then says to return Sarah to Abraham.
And in a certain amount of irony, in verse 7 God says that Abraham is a prophet.
Why’s that ironic?
Because prophets shouldn’t lie.
They are to faithfully deliver God’s Word to the hearers.
It’s ironic because Abraham had lied.
If he’s a prophet, he’s a terrible prophet.
Even Jonah, perhaps one of the worst prophets told the truth.
After the dream, Abimelech knew why the curse came upon him, he also knew that God was going to kill him.
So he calls Abraham to him.
He confronts Abraham.
God has clearly blessed Abraham, and why would Abraham put Abimelech in such a deadly situation?
Obviously, God would protect Abraham no matter what, so why would Abraham put Abimelech in a situation to make him sin and incur God’s wrath.
Abimelech demands answers from Abraham.

And in Abraham’s response we come to the first point of our sermon, we need to stop making excuses for sinning.

Because that’s exactly what Abraham does.
Verses 11-13 are Abraham making excuses for his sin.
We aren’t that different from Abraham.
We live in a culture that thrives on excuses.
A person commits murder - it’s because he wasn’t loved as a child.
A person steals - it’s because he never had a Teddy Ruxpin.
A man cheats on his wife - it’s because she didn’t give him enough attention.
If a Christian sins, it’s “the devil made me do it.”
But it’s never our fault.
I remember my very first car accident.
I was
I was pulling out of the Best Buy Parking lot in Murrieta, there was a car in front of me.
They pulled out and made a right onto Madison.
And doing my best California stop, I followed them out of the parking lot.
I looked left and rolled out of the parking and smack right into them.
They had stopped while making their right.
Only I didn’t see them stop, because I was looking left, and planning on following them on out.
Oh, I made my excuse.
Why’d they stop?
I still don’t know why they stopped.
But who’s fault was it?
Mine.
I rear ended them.
I should have been watching.
But when I talked to the insurance company, I made sure to mention, that I didn’t think it was my fault.
I wish the story ended there.
It was shortly after that, that I was subbing for a class.
As I’m taking role, I call a kids name he says “here” then he says that I rear ended his mom for no reason coming out of Best Buy.
I was embarrassed.
We make excuses for sinning all the time.
I made an excuse on why I hit that car, I tried to not claim responsibility.
In the same way, we make excuses for sinning all the time.
So Abimelech questions Abraham, why’d you lie to me.
In verses 11-13, we see Abraham justify his sin, he gives excuses on why it’s not his fault that he lied.
First, he wrongly assesses Abimelech and the people of Gerar.
Understand, he’s just heard about God judging Sodom and Gomorrah for their terrible sins.
He’s near those now smoldering cities, and assumes that Abimelech and Gerar is just as bad.
And so he thinks that he needs to tell a lie to save his bacon.
In verse 11 he says, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
He wrongly judged the people of Gerar, thinking they were just like Sodom and Gomorrah.
We need to be careful of ever assuming to know the actions of another person before they do them.
There was a time we were in Mexico with the youth group.
We were in Tijuana, and I was lost.
We were in a giant round-about.
I didn’t know where I was going, and there was a guy in the intersection trying to get my attention.
I’m doing everything I can to ignore him.
Don’t make eye contact with him.
Pretend to need to look way out in the horizon.
Whatever I can to not make eye contact with him.
I’m thinking he’s selling candy, or wanting to wash my windshield, or he’s begging for pocket change.
Whatever it is, I’ve made up my mind that he’s a swindler, and I’m going to have nothing to do with him
Finally, for whatever reason, I roll down my window to see what he wants.
He says something.
I ignore him.
He says where are you trying to go.
And I angrily say “over there.”
And he says, “Okay, okay, you need anger management.”
I’ve got a car full of youth group kids, and they’re all just laughing at me.
Anger management.
He then helped me out and told me where to go.
I judged him wrong.
And I based my behavior off of a wrong assumption.
We can wrongly judge people.
Thinking someone is so bad that he will never become a Christian.
Sometimes our assumptions put us on the defensive, or cause us to act irrationally.
You ever been preemptively mad at someone?
Something has happened, and you’re sure that the other person is mad at you.
Now you haven’t talked to the person at all, but you’re sure their mad at you.
So now you start acting cold to the person.
They start acting cold towards you, but only because you’re kind of being a jerk to them.
Finally, you talk to them about it, and you find out there’s no issue at all, but you wrongly assumed something.
Just a bit of advice, don’t judge someone till they actually do something.
Abraham had no reason to lie to Abimelech.
I think that’s part of turning the other cheek.
Let the other person make the mistake, we don’t need to be the ones to sin.
The second way that Abraham justified his sin was that one sin deserves another.
He thought his life was in danger, so therefore it’s okay for him to sin also.
It was a defensive sin.
No where in the Bible does it say, “If you are going to be sinned against, it’s okay to sin back.”
It’s simply not there.
Let’s use a big bad example, suppose you’re life is in danger, it doesn’t mean you can sin, or lie to escape the danger.
Couple examples for you.
John MacArthur talked about smuggling Bibles into China with his wife and family.
The Bibles were carefully hidden in their luggage, and on their person.
He had made it very clear, that as they were going through customs, if anyone said, “Do you have any books or Bibles?” they were to answer honestly and truthfully.
Even though a lie might make it easier to bring them across the border, the sin doesn’t justify a lie.
In Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, she talks about how they had made a hiding place underneath their kitchen table.
The book documents Corrie’s family hiding Jews in their home during World War II.
They had multiple hiding places in their home.
One of the hiding places was under the kitchen table.
On one particular day, the Nazis came into their home and said, “Where are you hiding the Jews?”
Her sister boldly said, “Why under the kitchen table?”
She was convicted about always telling the truth.
The Nazis were frustrated by the answer and walked out, because there’s no way they’d actually hide Jews under the kitchen table.
One sin doesn’t justify another.
You see, when we lie, we are saying something about God.
God never lies.
God tells the truth.
God is truth.
And we are created in His image.
Therefore, we are to reflect His character and some of His attributes to the world around us.
What is it we reflect?
If we lie, what is it we are telling the world around us about God?
We are saying that God lies, and that’s blasphemy.
Are we reflecting truth?
There’s a third excuse that Abraham gives, it’s residual sin.
You’re thinking, what’s residual sin, it’s the sin that we had before we were converted.
Look at verse 13, “And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
When they first set out on their journey, way back in , Abraham and Sarah made this arrangement.
And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
Whenever they enter a new territory, they’ll say that they are brother and sister to keep Abraham safe.
This is an old sin, and one that they’ve never repented of.
Sometimes, there are old sins that continue to plague us, even after we’ve been converted.
They’re deep sins.
They’re almost a part of who you are.
And you can justify them, by saying:
It’s who I am.
It’s how I’ve always been.
It’s a part of my make up.
My dad did, so I do it.
And then we proudly display these sins as if we’ve made an arrangement with God that we can continue to do this.
Quite simply, this is not acceptable.
Yes, there are sins that can define us.
There are sins that are easier to do than others.
And we’ve been doing these sins a long time, so much so that they’re second nature.
But that’s never an excuse to do them.
The Corinthian church was never the model church.
I Corinthians was a letter written to correct a sinful and chaotic church.
And II Corinthians was a letter written by Paul trying prove his apostleship.
But there’s one thing that he does commend the Corinthians for, and that is that some of them were able to repent of deep, personal sins.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Our culture sees that list of sins as defining too the individual.
Sexual sin
Homosexuality
These are seen as unrepentable.
The tide of the culture is that it’s going to be illegal to tell people to repent of it, or to help them repent of it.
Drunkards
Alcohol is seen as a disease, something that can’t be controlled.
Thievery and greed are psychological, a result of a bad childhood.
Yet, how does Paul speak of these sins and how did the Corinthians view these sins?
“And such were some of you ...”
Emphasis on were.
It’s how they used to be, but not anymore.
These were deep, personal, defining sins, that the Corinthians were able to repent of.
It’s time to stop blaming our sins on our circumstances, the people that we are around, our family, or our past.
It’s time to admit, the sins were wrong.
And leave them behind.
We’ve looked at our actions, but from here on out, we are going to look at God’s actions with our sin.

We see that God is a thorough judge of sin.

This is a little frightening, but it’s a testimony to the justice and fairness of God.
Verse 3, God appears to Abimelech in a dream and says, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
This is a reminder that God judges all sin, whether or not a person is aware of it.
Abimelech didn’t now that he was doing anything wrong, but the reality is that he was about to commit adultery with another man’s wife.
This makes God just and thorough.
May this become a reminder that we don’t get a free pass to sin if we don’t know if something is a sin or not.
Let me say that another way, it’s not okay to sin if you don’t know it’s a sin.
It’s the same way with human laws.
You don’t get a free pass to speed if you don’t know the speed limit.
There’s a speed limit, whether or not you’ve seen the signs that state it.
I know of one individual who recently was taking a drivers test.
Part of a drivers test is being back up without hitting the curb or any objects.
This man, like many of us, has a back up camera in his car.
I’ve found that I can see a whole lot more with my back up camera then I can if I turn my head.
When I turn my head, I can see what’s immediately behind me, but I am not able to see very far out to the sides of the parking to see if cars or people are coming.
But my camera, it’s nice and wide and I can see a whole lot more.
Well, back to my friend taking the test.
He’s supposed to back up, so he puts his car in reverse, and looks down at the camera.
He backs up straighter and safer then ever before.
But that’s not the requirement.
The rules are that he needs to turn his head and look backwards.
So he’s docked points for not turning his head.
He spoke up and said he didn’t know he was supposed to turn his head.
That doesn’t erase the rule.
You may say that’s not fair, but there’s a rule and you are to follow it whether or not you know about it.
You have to follow the rule whether you know about it not.
God’s law is thorough.
Abimelech was guilty of breaking God’s law, and he was found to be a dead man.
The wombs of the women in his nation were closed.
And worse was coming.
This is a reminder of the standard that God judges by.
He doesn’t judge by what you know, but by what you’ve done.
There are some who wrongly think that God won’t condemn a person if they don’t know about Him or if they’ve never heard about Jesus.
This is wrong on a couple levels.
First, if personal knowledge is the litmus test, and if we desire people to go to heaven, then the best evangelism would be to say nothing at all.
If personal knowledge is required for a person to be judged then what does that do for evangelism.
If for some reason a person doesn’t know about Jesus and they die and this means they get an automatic trip to heaven.
Then rather than sending out missionaries to preach the Gospel to people who’ve never heard it, we should keep them at home, so they continue to live in ignorance.
What we should be doing is keeping it a secret.
Obviously, this is wrong, because we are commanded by Jesus to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them what He commanded, not keeping it a secret.
Second, the other reason why it’s wrong to say that people who have never heard get a free pass, is because all people know there is a God, and all have sinned.
explains God has made Himself plain to all people.
It’s not a lack of knowledge that is the problem, its that people reject the truth.
says by their unrighteousness they suppress the truth.
This means they are rejecting what’s built into their own DNA.
God doesn’t judge us on what we know, He judges us for what we’ve done.
All men have sinned.
And so what we need to do, is help people see their sin and then be able to help them see their need for a savior.
Galatians says that the Law is like a tutor, a school teacher.
It helps us see our condition.
What does this do?
It removes any excuses that you might have.
It should put the fear of God within your heart.
Because all of us have sinned, and none of us can plead ignorance on judgment day.

Though we are all guilty, God deals far kinder than we deserve.

First, though we run to sin, God restrains us.
Think of Abimelech.
He sees Sarah.
Her beauty captures his soul.
He looks into those 90 year old eyes, and sees a soul mate.
He inquires about her and finds out that she’s Abraham’s sister, she’s available, so he takes her to be his wife.
But notice God’s restraint.
When God and Abimelech are having this conversation, God says, “it was I who kept you from sinning against me.”
The doctrine of Total Depravity says that we have fallen, and all have sinned.
says that there is none righteous.
says that the heart is desperately sick.
But this doesn’t mean that we are as bad as we can be.
God restrains us.
God restrained Abimelech.
The most wicked person I can think of in the last 100 years would be Adolf Hitler.
Yet, even Adolf Hitler didn’t kill his own mom.
Nor did he desire to do so.
God restrains us.
gives a command where 3 times a year all the males of Israel were to go to Jerusalem and appear before the Lord.
That sounds fun.
A nice guy trip.
The problem was is it’s all the males.
Who was the army?
All the males.
And if all the males are in Jerusalem, who’s going to defend the borders?
What happens if an approaching army comes and attacks?
In it says, “no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.”
God restrains their desire.
He says their enemies won’t even covet the land.
The thought of attacking Israel won’t be in their enemies minds.
God restrains us.
In the Lord’s prayer, towards the end of it we pray, “lead us not into temptation.”
Why do we pray that?
Because God restrains us from being as bad as we can be.
There is something even greater that God does for us, and we see a hint of it in God’s dealing with Abimelech.
Look at verse 7 and look at God’s response to Abimelech.
“Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live."
Abimelech is to return Sarah to Abraham.
But notice what Abraham’s going to do, Abraham will pray for Abimelech, and Abimelech will live.
Why is this needed?
Because our sins have disqualified us from going before God.
Our sins have separated us from God.
And so we need someone to intercede for us.
We need someone to go before God and plead with him on our behalf.
And so Abimelech gives Sarah back to Abraham.
Abimelech blesses them with great riches.
Grants them safe passage in the land.
And then Abraham prayed.
In essence Abraham stood between God and Abimelech, and pleaded peace.
And peace was given.
This same sort of thing happened at the end of Job.
Job’s friends, weren’t the best counselors.
At the end of Job, Job prays to the Lord to forgive his friends foolishness.
He stood between them and God.
We too need an intercessor.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you need to go to a priest and have him intercede before you and God.
And this happens during confession.
Sadly, that misses the point.
Abraham was a shadow of a better intercessor.
Job was a shadow of a better intercessor.
They were shadows of Jesus Christ.
Our intercessor is not a priest in a box, but Jesus Christ Himself.
describes the intercession of Jesus,
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
He’s at the right hand of God, and is interceding for us.
We sin.
And Jesus turns to the Father and says, I suffered for him.
Therefore those who are in Christ are at peace with God already.
Abimelech needed to go to Abraham for the hope of peace.
We have Christ now.
And if you’ve never done this, you need to go to Christ, and plead with Him now.
Because if He hasn’t interceded for you, then you’re like Abimelech.
“Behold, you are a dead man ...” because of your sins.
But like Abimelech there is peace because we have an intercessor.

Let me wrap this all up for us.

We sin.
Don’t make excuses about it.
Own up to it.
Fight residual sin from your unconverted life.
And repent.
Remember, God is a thorough judge.
He judges not off what we know, but what we’ve done.
And if you’ve sinned, then you are guilty.
But lastly, the Lord is kind.
Not only does He restrain, but Jesus intercedes.
Though we have sinned and we do sin, though His justice demands our death, Jesus has died and now is interceding.
Let’s pray.
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