“THE PRICE OF PRACTICING SIN”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 07-29-07 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Proposition: If the born again believer continues to practice sin, he will neutralize the grace of God in his life, discredit the ministry of the Gospel and strain relationships within the community of faith.
- LAST Sunday’s message was on one of the most wonderful verses in all of the New Testament…wonderful because of the good news it brings to those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- WHEN you are reconciled to God through repentance and faith in Jesus, you are made into someone new, someone you were not before….all by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
1. New identity….a spiritual man/woman.
2. A new creation…the old is gone, new things have come.
3. A new relationship…once enemies of God, now friends.
4. A new mission…once you lived for yourself, now you live to urge others to be reconciled to God.
5. A new righteousness…because that is what you have become in Christ.
- ALL of this happens because when you come to Christ, capital “S” sin is dealt with in your life.
- THERE are several good definitions of sin….but capital “S” sin is the absence of God, separation from God. By your choice….
* He is absent from your heart.
* He is absent from your life.
* He is absent from your motivations.
* He is absent from your choices and actions.
- AND that is the core of the human problem.
- THE small “s” sins, like lying, greed, gossip, immorality are serious, but they are only a symptom that the capital “S” sin is not resolved….you are not reconciled to God.
- THE good news of the last 6 verses of 2 Corinthians 5 is that in Christ capital “S” sin is dealt with because you are reconciled to God. He is no longer absent from your life.
- UNFORTUNATELY there are too many believers who start out being reconciled to God, but are content to continue living in the small “s” sins…mistakenly thinking there are no consequences.
- AND in the first few verses of 2 Corinthians 6, Paul cites three devastating dangers of allowing small “s” sins to dominate your life after you are born again.
ii. Neutralize the grace of god
- LOOK at verse 1 with me,
“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…” (2 Corinthians 6:1)
- IT was the grace of God and only His grace that reconciled you and me to God through Jesus Christ. Grace is the generous benevolence and power of God on our behalf. We are…
“…justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- BUT God’s grace is not only for salvation. It is the very power of God poured into the life of every believer every day by which we live our lives and deal with the stuff of life:
* We grow in strength and wisdom only because the grace of God is on us (Luke 2:40)
* It is the word of God’s grace that “builds you up and gives you an inheritance with all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
* Romans 5:2 says that it is only by God’s grace that we stand.
* Romans 5:7 says that in Christ Jesus we receive an “abundance of grace.”
* Romans 5:20 says that when we are battling against increasing sin, God’s grace is always bigger and stronger.
* Our ministry gifts are given to each one of us by God through grace (Romans 12:6)
* We all do the work set before us by the grace God has given us (1 Corinthians 3:10)
* In fact God has a grace for every situation and challenge we find ourselves in.
* Hebrews 4:16 says that God’s throne of grace is available to each one of us and we can approach Him boldly to find grace in time of need.
* Hebrews 13:9 says we are strengthened by grace.
- NO wonder in the opening verse of our passage for today from 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul says to the Christians in Corinth….I urge you!
- THIS is the strongest kind of language for his charge…I urge you, “don’t receive the grace of God in vain.”
- WHAT does that mean?
- HE acknowledges that they had indeed already “received” the grace of God…that is how they became believers.
- BUT Paul was concerned that their persistent pursuit of sinful actions, would eventually neutralize God’s grace in their lives.
- THE Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Anselm, wrote the following on the subject around 1100AD, “He receives grace into a vacuum … who does not work with it, who does not give it his heart, and who, through sloth, makes that grace ineffectual, by not doing all that he can to express it in good works.”
* Some of the Corinthian Christians were saved, but had not made a clean break with the idols and gods of their Greek culture.
* Some were saved, but continued to gossip and divide the church over loyalty to this leader or that.
* Some were saved, but continued to live participate in Corinth’s preoccupation with sexual sin.
* Some were more impressed with the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of God.
* Others were off in some self-absorbed spirituality trip that lacked humility and bordered on arrogance.
- AND Paul tells them that he is afraid that if they let sin rule their lives, if they don’t turn back to God in brokenness and repentance….the grace of God that saved them would be in vain….lost.
- DON’T do it….cries the apostle Paul.
- DON’T let sin run unchecked in your life until the grace of God that is indispensable to our survival is canceled out.
- DAVID watched the grace of God gradually lift off his predecessor and mentor, King Saul…until Saul is living like a man possessed.
- AND it had such an impact on David that when he fell into sexual sin, he cries out in Psalm 51:11-12,
“Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:11-12)
- THAT is the kind of response God is looking for from us when we grieve Him with sin in our lives….and we will ever walk in the strength of His ever increasing grace.
- PAUL concludes his thought on this subject by quoting from Isaiah 49,
“…for He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
- WE are living in the times of God when His grace is made available to all humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ.
- BUT these are God’s times and seasons of initiative towards us and we cannot afford to play around as if we have all the time in the world to respond to Him…the window of grace will not stay open indefinitely.
iii. discredit the gospel
- LET’S move on to the second danger of allowing sin unchecked in our lives to harden our hearts…in verse 3,
“…giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited.” (2 Corinthians 6:3)
- THIS is one of the really serious dangers of unrepented, un-dealt with sin in our lives….the Name of Jesus and the Gospel we profess is made to look ridiculous to the world.
- IT doesn’t just happen in the national press when national Christian leaders fail.
- IT happens just as painfully when your neighbors can hear your family disputes played out in Technicolor for the world to hear.
- IT happens when your work associate sees your Bible at work but also sees you cutting corners on your hours or your work load….or spending too much time with someone else’s spouse at lunch hour.
- CAN I just say something about repentance here that I think the world understands better than we Christians do.
- I THINK the world understands the weakness of our humanity, and would be willing to hold our faith in high esteem even when they saw us mess up, if they saw two things:
* That we demonstrated a concern for what God thought of us and moved to repentance before we were found out.
* And if we took full responsibility for our sin and blamed no one else for our fall.
- IN the next few verses Paul anticipates the excuses that some Christians give for why they messed up, and he says,
“…but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
- I’D say that pretty much covers the times to be faithful to the Gospel…and God in you is fully able to do just that in everything!
iv. strain relationships in the community
- HERE is one last danger caused by unrepentant, unconfessed sin in our lives.
- LOOK at verses 11-13,
“Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. 12 You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. 13 Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)
- UNREPENTED unconfessed sin will not only strain your relationship with God, it will strain your relationship with the community of faith.
- IT had caused a rift between the Corinthian church’s founding pastor, Paul, and the congregation.
- SIN, when it is open and unconfessed, will separate friends, break down true fellowship, or worse yet, opens the door to a spirit of compromise throughout the whole community of faith.
- LISTEN to what Paul had said to the Corinthians on this very matter back in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11,
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)
- SIN affects us all in the community of faith.
- LOOK at the flip side of this principle, in 1 John 1:6-7,
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)
- NOBODY is saying that any of us in this building will ever be perfect in this life….but if we walk with Jesus,
* in humility and a broken and contrite spirit,
* readily admitting it when we have messed up and running to God and each other for forgiveness,
* we will have true fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus will continue to be powerful to cleanse us from ALL our sin.
- THERE is something powerful and persuasive about a community of faith when we live this way with God each other….and something dangerous takes place when we walk in open sin, either judging or condoning it in each other.
- SO there you have them…the three dangers of walking in unrepentant sin:
1. You will eventually cancel out the grace of God in your life…and who can live without His grace.
2. You will bring discredit to the Name of Jesus and the Gospel…and He has done way too much for you to hurt Him in that way.
3. You will put a strain on the community of faith.
- YOUR response, my response to this challenging passage of Scripture?
* Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me (repeat)
Cast me not away from Thy presence O Lord
Take not They Holy Spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me.