Faithlife Sermons


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People magazine recently surveyed 1000 people to find out what Americans in the 1980s regarded as sinful. What prompted this survey? The fact that Joan Collins' $14 million seven-hour miniseries "Sin" was such a big hit suggested that Americans were intrigued with just what Moses' tablets tried to do away with— sin. Here are some of the magazine's findings:

Northeasterners as a group were most tolerant of sin, while Southerners were the least.

Readers said they commit 45.64 sins a month. Churchgoers felt they commit a lot more than non-churchgoers did.

Most readers said they were significantly more tolerant of homosexuality, abortion, revenge, pornography, and premarital sex than they were 15 years ago.

84 percent said they would tell a teller if she/he made a mistake in their favor; only 60 percent said they would fess up if the bank machine had made the mis­take.

Parking in a handicapped zone was a little worse than greed, which was bet­ter than cutting into lines.

A public defender in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is trying to get his teen-age client off the hook for brutally murdering his parents. To add to the teen's problems, he also killed a convenience store clerk for "thrills." His attorney is ar­guing that he should be spared the death penalty because if he were executed, "the most beautiful poetry in the world.. .will never be published." - Liberty Report

"Fishes," said Confucius, "are born in water; man is born in the Law. If fishes find ponds they thrive; if a man lives obediently in the Law he will live his life in peace."

Gangster Al Capone was not known for his efforts to obey any moral laws, let alone the Ten Commandments. But he made a comment once that shed some light on how far all of us fall from true righteous living. "I make my money by sup­plying public demand," said Capone. "If I break the law, my customers, who num­ber hundreds of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as I am. When I sell

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liquor, it's bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver platter on Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality."

Capone has hit on an ancient sinner's past-time that began about five minutes after Moses came off the mountain—the double standard. It goes like this; "I may be bad, but I'm not as bad as him". Capone was guilty, but so were his patrons. They both broke the same law. All of us are guilty of breaking another law—the Ten Commandments set down on Mt. Sinai so long ago. Some do it blatantly— like Big Al. Some do it discreetly, like his wealthy patrons—but "all are guilty and have fallen short of the law." —"Al Capone, Chicago's Untouchable Mobster", American History Illustrated October, 1987, p.50

We like to think that we really aren't all that bad. Maybe a little goof here or there, but on the whole, we're pretty swell folks. Keep the Ten Commandments? No problem, but a story from World War II challenges our thesis that normal folks are pretty good at the core.

'The inquisition, like the Holocaust, could be perpetrated by most of us under appropriate conditions. Leon Jaworski (Chief Prosecutor, Nazi War Crimes Trials and Watergate) describes in detail the brutal murder of eight US airmen during World War II. Taken captive after being shot down, the men were on their way to a POW camp, when their train was stopped at Russelsheim, a small town in the state of Hesse. The railway line ahead was being prepared.

"A crowd gathered to look at the Americans. Hostile murmurs began. Then as murmurs became shouts and as shouts rose to a crescendo, the men were dragged from the train to be stoned, kicked and battered. A couple of citizens approached the Protestant pastor and the Catholic priest, begging them to intervene. Neither complied.

"In a brief space of time two or three unrecognizable, bloody corpses lay on the ground beside the train, while the rest lay at different points along the streets of the town. Even in death they were not left alone, the battering continuing until intestines and inner organs lay exposed to view. What amazed Jaworski was that the perpetrators of the crime were normal, kindly people.

"Having made every allowance for the abnormal times, Jaworski concludes, "as I thought of Joseph Hartgen, the two sisters and the other 'good hearted' people of Russelsheim, I realized that none of us know what we are capable of doing until we reach such a point. As we cannot envision the heights we can reach by placing ourselves into the hands of God neither can we imagine the depths to which we can sink without him."— John White, The Healing Touch of Church Dis­cipline.

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