Friday, January 30, 2009

sin monkey [manuscript for the first sermon in the series]

Contrary to popular belief, “sin” is not simply restricted to doing bad things. Neither are the consequences of sin limited to the anger and frustration of God.

No – all sin has real-life consequences.

These consequences are not always immediately discovered or suffered; meaning, it sometimes feels like we get away with our sin because nothing bad happened as a result right away

Neither are they always obvious or appropriate; meaning, we sometimes think that some of our suffering in this life has nothing to do with our sin when – in actual fact – it may be a direct result of it

And, lastly, the consequences of our sin are not always foreseeable or avoidable;
meaning, our sin may cause a kind of chain reaction that affects us and the people we love in harmful ways we may not ever have intended or desired.

Taken together, these consequences ought to remind us that sin is a serious problem. It is not just something we do that we know we shouldn’t…no, it’s far more treacherous than that. In fact, it’s probably better to think of sin as being alive – as if it has been born into the world through our negligence, our stupidity, or our wickedness, etc.

You see, every time we sin it’s as if we’ve brought home a pet monkey. This “sin monkey” has a mind of its own. It wants to do things that you don’t want it to do and it will certainly do those things while your attention is diverted elsewhere.

Furthermore, the things the monkey wants to do are not good things. Monkeys, as a rule, are mischievous and destructive. The monkey wants to smash your pictures, break your stuff, trounce your furniture, and harass your friends and family.

While the monkey is little – little sins, after all, might conceptually begin as little monkeys – the consequences of bringing the monkey home seem miniscule and easy to repair. A small monkey is only likely to break a few picture frames which are easily replaced, just like a small lie is easy to correct or make-right once we’ve been caught in it.

Bigger sins, though, mean bigger monkeys. And bigger monkeys can do a lot of damage. A large monkey in your living room will trash your house, destroy your peace of mind, and keep the people you love away from you because of:

  1. your anxiety over their safety
  2. their own worries about their safety
  3. the ridiculous nature of owning a monkey in the first place
  4. their impatience with your inability to control your stupid pet

This, again, is just like bigger sins. For example, a substance addiction will keep your friends away because of:

  1. your strange behavior as your try and hide your addiction
  2. their worries about their safety [and the safety of their children and their reputations] while you are drunk/stoned/etc
  3. their judgment – they cannot believe you’d be so foolish as to ever “experiment” with drugs/alcohol/prescriptions/porn/etc
  4. their judgment – they cannot believe you’ve let this problem get so out of hand

And, of course, just because some sin/monkeys start out small doesn’t mean they wont grow. In fact, every sin/monkey will grow until it is finally killed. Sin doesn’t just go away – remember, it is alive now that it has been born into the world – it must be put to death.

For the wages of sin is death…

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

The soul who sins is the one who will die.

Sin can only be resolved with blood.

So, little sin monkeys eventually grow into larger, more destructive ones. For example, a small lie you tell your new employer about previous work experience doesn’t matter much when you’re an entry level clerk; however, ten years down the road – if that lie is discovered – you could lose your job, your severance, your reputation, and any chance at a similar job in a similar field.

Because you fudged your resume.
Or your taxes.
Or your sexual history.

Smaller sins are only smaller at first, and they are only considered “smaller” because they’re easier to make right.

Half truths and exaggerations can be mended; the Holocaust cannot.

But the longer you let the monkey live, the harder it is to kill. It just keeps getting stronger and stronger and your fear of it keeps on growing.

You get the point.

At least, I hope you’re starting to…after all, one of the big reasons we’re doing this series is because so few people ever seem to get this.

Sin must be put to death.
Every sin.
Every time.

Of course, when I say this many good and God-fearing Christians think that what I’m driving at is our need for Jesus Christ. Christ, after all, atoned for all our sins and makes us right before God.

This is 100% true.

However, it is also true that Jesus’ sacrificial death has NOT removed the consequences in this life for our sins.

To put it simply, you may not go to Hell for your sins because of Christ, but you may continue to live in Hell now despite him.

Sin is as much about experiencing Heaven-on-Earth as it is about getting into Heaven after Earth, as much about avoiding Hell-on-Earth as it is about avoiding Hell after Earth.

It is as much
about an Altered Life
as an After Life.

Jesus saves us from the ultimate punishment of our sinful nature.

He does not, however, prohibit us from owning pet monkeys.

Consequently, many Christians are often bewildered as to why their lives suck so much. They think that Jesus has paid the penalty for their sins – which he has – and that that means their sins will no longer haunt them in this life – but here is the problem.

Sin still has real life consequences. Period. Being a Christian doesn’t save you from the natural consequences of your sin – no! – the real worth of following Jesus is access to the Holy Spirit who guides us into lives of decreasing sinfulness and increasing maturity.

The Spirit leads us to sin less SO THAT we suffer less in this life
SO THAT we can shadow God in the redemption of this world, acting as His

SO THAT we can devote our time and energy into helping others experience the
life that God has for them instead of worrying about [and trying to fix the damage from] our
sin monkey as it destroys all that we own – our possessions, our achievements, and our

So, what everyone needs to do is kill the monkey and fix their furniture.

You’ve got to invite God to kill the sin monkey – cooperating with Him and being obedient to His Spirit – and then you’ve got to invite God to help you repair everything that the sin monkey has ruined – furniture, relationships, possessions, self-image, and every little thing in between.

Kill the monkey. Fix the furniture.

That’s the bottom line.

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