We're continuing this morning in our series in the life of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke, and I want to begin this morning by asking you a question. Here's my question. What is the greatest problem of mankind? Now immediately our minds start to spin. You say, Lon, that is really much too heavy a question for 11 o'clock on a Sunday morning.
But think about it for a second. What is the greatest problem of mankind? Some people would say world hunger.
Maybe some people would say poverty or crime or economic issues like the national deficit here in America. Maybe some people would say the greatest problem in the world is social injustice or nuclear weapons or whatever. It's very interesting, however, when we turn to the Bible that we find a very different answer than any of these that I've just said. And we should listen to the answer that we find God giving us in the Bible because who should know what the greatest problem of the world is better than the one who created the world?
Well, the answer God gives us in the Bible is very simple. He tells us that the greatest problem of mankind is sin. You see, sin is the central theme of the Bible from cover to cover. The Bible begins in the book of Genesis by telling us about sin entering the human race through Adam and Eve. And then the Bible ends in the book of Revelation by telling us about God's plan to eradicate sin once and for all from His creation.
And in between, every page in between deals with the issue of mankind's sin and God's response to it. So the answer to the question, what is the greatest problem of mankind? God's answer is sin. Now I have a second question for you.
My second question is this. What is the most distinctive or the most unique thing that biblical Christianity proclaims to this world? The answer to that question is that the most distinctive thing that biblical Christianity proclaims to our world is that sin can be forgiven, is that God is interested and anxious to forgive your sin, my sin, and everybody else's sin who's willing to come to Him the way He tells them to. It's true that Christianity offers us a noble way to live. It's true that Christianity offers us great behavioral models to pattern our life after.
Men like Abraham, Moses, David and Paul, women like Mary and Ruth and Deborah. But the essence of Christianity is not noble ethics. And the essence of Christianity is not giving us great behavioral models. The essence of true Christianity is that God is offering to forgive our sin. That is the essence of the Christian message. God wants to forgive our sin and He's made a way to do it and still remain holy Himself in the process. And Jesus talks about this in our passage for this morning. And so I want to talk to you about it in a message entitled The Authority to Forgive Sin. Now, before we look at the passage in Luke 5, it would help us if we understood why sin is a problem. In other words, if it's not broken, why should we fix it? If we don't understand what's wrong and why sin is a problem, why should we worry about the solution? So let's talk for just a moment about what is the problem with sin? Why is it a problem for the human race? There are two reasons I'm going to give you.
I'm sure there are more, but there's two I'm going to give you this morning. Reason number one is sin separates us from God. Here in Isaiah 59, I want you to look. It says, verse 2, but your iniquities have separated you from your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear you. You see, friend, sin severs us from God. And that's why for so many of us, God seems so far away, so distant, so remote. God is not remote.
God is not far away from you at all. But He feels that way and He seems that way because sin has erected a barricade between you and God. And if we don't fix that barricade sometime during this life, A, we spend our whole life feeling alienated and isolated and distant from God, missing the things that He wants to do in our lives. And if we don't fix it before we eventually die, we go out into eternity separated from God.
And God has no choice but to send us to a place where people live estranged from God for all eternity, a place the Bible calls hell. Sin separates us from God. That's a problem. The second problem with sin, oh, and could I say before I go on, you can't fix that problem. Nobody here on earth can fix that problem for you. That's a problem that is unfixable by any human being.
And that's a big problem. The second problem with sin is that sin produces guilt. In the book of Genesis, I'd like you to turn back to the very first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 3, sin produces guilt. You know, there is false guilt in our world.
There are many people who grew up in families where mom and dad got divorced, and as children, they felt guilty that somehow it was their fault that mom and dad got divorced. If you grew up in a situation like that, allow me to tell you it is not your fault. That is false guilt.
You have no business carrying it. It's not your fault. There are some of us who grew up in homes where we were molested or abused, either physically or sexually, and many times people grow up feeling like it must be their fault somehow that this happened to them. If that's you, may I say to you, that's false guilt. It was not your fault.
You are not responsible for that. There is false guilt in our world. But many people in the world would have us believe that all guilt is false guilt.
That's not true. There is real guilt also in our world. Real guilt comes when our conscience tells us that we have offended God and done something that's wrong. That is real guilt.
That is genuine guilt. And it is part of the psyche of what sin produces in the human spirit. Would you look in Genesis chapter 3. If you remember, Adam and Eve were told they couldn't eat of this tree in the middle of the garden. Now I don't know whether it had apples on it, oranges on it, or pomegranates on it. It just says in the Bible it had fruit.
But whatever the fruit was doesn't make a bit of difference. What makes a difference was God said don't eat of it and they ate of it. They disobeyed God. And something very radical happened in Adam and Eve's psyche that had never happened before. It's guilt.
I want you to see it. Verse 8. It says in chapter 3 verse 8, Then the man and his wife, Adam and Eve, heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
God would come to the garden every day in the cool of the evening to walk with man and talk with man. But this day it was very different. Because it says on this day, verse 8, They ran and hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Now Adam and Eve had never done that before, ever. Something had gone radically wrong inside Adam and Eve. They were feeling something they had never felt before. What they were feeling was guilt.
Because their conscience was registering the fact that they had offended God and disobeyed him. Folks, you can fool some of the people some of the time. But you can't fool your conscience.
You didn't program it, God did. And even though there may be times when we can justify and rationalize our actions, so that we can really convince our logical mind that we're not doing anything wrong, your conscience knows the real truth. And if you are doing wrong and it's registering that you're doing wrong, it's like a big old neon sign on the inside of your soul flashing that you are. And that results in guilt, which all of us deal with. It results in therapists raking in millions of dollars a year trying to help people deal with guilt. But folks, therapists cannot solve the problems because therapists cannot forgive sin. The guilt comes from sin and a therapist cannot forgive sin. Separation from God, genuine guilt. These are two of the big problems that sin brings into a life.
That's the bad news. God wrote the Bible to tell us the good news. And the good news is that God has made a prescription for dealing with sin. He's made a way to reconcile us to God when sin has separated us. He's made a way for us to get rid of the guilt once and for all, not just to sublimate it with drugs or sublimate it with sex or sublimate it with alcohol or sublimate it with therapy, but to get rid of it.
He's made a way. Jesus talks about that in Luke 5. So let's go there and look, shall we? Luke chapter 5. The events that happen here happened in the little town of Capernaum around the Sea of Galilee, and they happened in Peter's house. Luke doesn't tell us that, but Matthew does. And so this takes place in Capernaum, verse 17. One day as he was teaching Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and from Jerusalem, and they were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
And so Jesus began healing people. Well, it didn't take long before there was a huge crowd that gathered, a mob almost. They packed in the house like sardines. They spilled out of the house into the street. The crowd was so large and so pressed in that people could hardly even move, the Bible tells us.
It was kind of like Circuit City just before Christmas at this place. And so this is the situation that's important for us to understand if the rest of what happens here is going to make sense. Verse 18. It says, And some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat, on a stretcher, and they tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus, but they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd. You understand people were pressed so tightly together that when they said, Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, there was no place for people to go. They just couldn't move. So there was no way they could get this paralyzed friend of theirs in to Jesus.
So they came up with a very ingenious solution. In those days, the houses around the Sea of Galilee had flat roofs, not like our slanted roofs, but flat, because people would go up on the roof at night and would enjoy the cool breeze coming off the Sea of Galilee. There were normally steps that went up on the outside of the house to the roof. And so the Bible says, look with me, verse 19, They went up on the roof. They went around the side of the house and they began carrying this man up these steps on the stretcher and so straining and lugging and pulling and they got him up on the roof. Then they calculated where below the roof Jesus was standing.
They said, all right, now I think it's about six feet in from this wall and eight feet in from this wall and 12 feet in from this wall. And then they said, I think we got it. And they drew a big old bullseye up on the roof. And the Gospel according to Matthew says they started to dig a hole in Peter's roof. And the Bible says, look, verse 19, They went up on the roof and they lowered him on his stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the crowd right in front of Jesus.
They did a pretty good job of locating that bullseye. But they had to dig a hole through the roof first. And they couldn't dig a little tiny hole and lower him down long ways because what would happen?
Yeah, I mean, you know, he'd come right off. So they had to dig a big hole so they could lower him down nice and flat. So these people dug a humongous hole in Peter's roof.
Now, can you imagine the scene down in the house? Jesus is teaching, the people are crowded in and all of a sudden people start going. And they look up. They're trying to concentrate. Listen, and it's like more stuff starts dropping and all of a sudden they look up and here's this little hole up in the roof. And the hole gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and stuff's falling everywhere. And finally Jesus stops teaching altogether because it doesn't make any sense to teach.
Nobody's listening. And they're all standing there staring up at the roof as this huge hole develops. And these four men put this guy on the stretcher and lower him down on ropes right at Jesus' feet. You say, well, was Jesus mad? We know Peter wasn't happy, but was Jesus mad? Look, the Bible says, verse 20, And when Jesus saw their faith, was it hard to see?
I don't think so, do you? When Jesus saw their faith that they dug a hole through this man's roof, he said to the man who was paralyzed, friend, your sins are forgiven. Well, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, they didn't like this. They began thinking to themselves, verse 21, Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? For who can forgive sins but God alone? These guys weren't right very often, but they were right here. They got this right. Who can forgive sins but God alone?
What's the answer? Nobody. They were absolutely right. Only God and God alone can forgive sin. The problem is they didn't recognize God when he was standing right in front of them.
That's where they messed up. They asked a legitimate question. Who does this man think he is telling this man, your sins are forgiven? Well, Jesus responded, verse 22. Jesus knew what they were thinking and he asked them, Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven, or to say, get up and walk? Now let's stop for a second. Jesus asked a question. We ought to answer it. Which is easier to say to somebody, your sins are forgiven, or to say to them, if they're paralyzed, get up and walk?
Which is easier? Okay. Say, I don't want to give the wrong answer. Well, isn't it easier to say, your sins are forgiven?
Why? Because who's going to check you out? How's anybody going to know whether it's really true or not?
How's anybody going to verify it or validate it? If I walk up to you on the street and I shake your hand and go, Hey, it's great to see you. God bless you, brother. Your sins are forgiven today. What do you do? You say, well, gee, Lon, thanks.
We really appreciate that off the mice of you. But how do you have any idea whether that's true? You don't. And there's no way you could ever know. And there's no way whether these people could ever know for sure whether Jesus was really forgiven the guy's sins or whether he wasn't. But wait a minute, you say to a paralyzed man, get up, pick up your stretcher and walk home.
Well, that guy is either going to get up, pick up his stretcher and walk home, or he's going to lay there and stare at you. And real quick, you're going to know whether or not you have the power to do that, aren't you? Do you understand Jesus's question? Jesus's question was, all right, Pharisees, which is harder to say?
Is it harder for me to say to the man, your sins are forgiven or harder for me to say, get up, take up your bed and walk? Well, it's much harder to say that because there's a way for you to check me out. There's a way to know whether I can do it.
There's a way to know whether I'm telling the truth. Now watch. He says, but, verse 24, so that you may know, watch, that I have the authority on earth to forgive sins. He said to the paralyzed man, I tell you, get up, take up your stretcher and go home.
Do you understand what Jesus was doing? He was saying, all right, if one of these things is easier to say, your sins are forgiven, and one's harder to say, get up and take up your bed and walk, if I can do the harder one, what? Then I can do the easier one. If I can do the one that you can check out and prove and that we all admit is more difficult, then certainly it stands to reason, I can do the easier one, right?
And so that you might know that I have the authority to do the easier one, I'm going to do the harder one. You get what he's saying? You follow what he's doing. Can you imagine what must have happened? That whole room must have fell deathly silent. And don't forget, there's still the four men looking through the hole in the roof. They're glancing down like, whoa, what's going on? The Pharisees were all glaring at him.
The people were all hushed with excitement. I mean, Jesus has put it all on the line, folks. He either can do both or he can't do either one. It's the pivotal moment. And he turns to the man and he says, all right, he says to him, now get up, pick up your stretcher and go home. What happened?
Verse 25. And immediately the man stood up in front of all of them and he picked up the stretcher that he had been lying on. Have you ever had the flu and been in bed two, three, four days? I don't know if you've experienced this, but I'm sure you have. When you first start getting up out of bed again after you've been laid out for three or four days or you've been in the hospital for three or four days, you're wobbly. Your muscles will atrophy so fast it's not even funny. You're unstable, you're unsteady, your muscles are weak. This man hasn't walked in years, maybe hasn't walked in his whole life. And here the Bible says that when Jesus healed him, he stood up immediately, picked up his bed, and he's ready to leave.
No atrophy, no weakness, no unsteadiness, no unstableness, no nothing. You know, that fellow might have had trouble getting an aisle to get into that place, but I don't think he had trouble getting an aisle to get out, do you? Oh, excuse me, no, no, no, go right ahead. Don't let me stop you.
Oh, please, please. Look what the crowd said, verse 26. And everyone was amazed and gave praise to God and they were filled with awe and said, we have seen remarkable things today. In one of the other gospels, it quotes him as saying, we have never seen anything like this before. Of course not. How often is it that you see God right in front of you?
But dear friends, listen, don't miss this. The main point here is not that Jesus healed this man. That is not the main point. The main point is what Jesus proved by healing the man. And what he proved is that he had the authority to do the easier thing as well, and that is the authority to forgive sin, just as he claimed. And this is the good news of the Bible. The good news of the Bible is that Jesus shed his blood on the cross as payment for our sins and that Jesus has the authority to forgive the sin of any person and every person who will come to him the way he tells him to come. And accept him as their savior and their Lord.
You say, well now, wait a minute. There are lots of religious leaders that have lived, lots of religious teachers who have said that their way was the right way, their way was the only way, their way was the correct way. I mean, there was Muhammad in Buddha and there was Joseph Smith in the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses and rabbis down through the ages who opposed Jesus and a whole host of other little religious leaders here and there. So how do I know Jesus's way is really God's way? I mean, how do I know it's really the right way, you know? Great question. Very good question.
Deserves an answer. And the answer is the resurrection. You see, my dear friends, the resurrection is what sets Jesus Christ apart from every other religious leader of all time.
The resurrection is like God putting his good housekeeping stamp of approval on Jesus as the one true way to have your sin forgiven. Buddha never rose from the dead. Confucius never rose from the dead. Muhammad didn't. Joseph Smith didn't. Neither did Maimonides, Rabbi Akiba, or any pope.
They didn't even claim to, much less do it. Jesus said, I'm going to, and then he did. And the reason he did it is because he really is the one who has the authority to forgive sin.
None of these other people ever rose from the dead because they're not the ones with the authority to forgive sin. God only has one way to have sin forgiven, and to deliver people from hell, and that way is by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord, our personal Savior. The Bible declares this without apology.
John, chapter 14, verse 6. Jesus said, I am the way. He didn't say, I am a way. He said, I am the way. I am not a truth. I am the truth.
I am the life. Listen, nobody comes to the Father except by me. Nobody. Not you, not me, nobody.
Not the President of the United States, not the senators, not congressmen, not judges, not kings, nobody. That's what he said. Now, either he's a complete lunatic and absolutely out of his mind, or he's telling the truth. And God gave him all the miracles that he did, like here in Luke, chapter 5, to prove to us he's not a lunatic, he's not an idiot, he's not out of his mind, he's telling us the truth. The reason God raised Jesus Christ from the dead is, again, to verify that he's not an idiot, but that he was the Son of God telling us the truth. To validate that Jesus is the only true way to God, to validate that his blood is the only true payment for sin, to validate that Jesus has the authority to forgive your sin, my sin, the sin of anyone and everyone who's willing to come and accept him as Savior. This is what this passage is all about. And I'm sure glad there's someplace we can take our sin to have it dealt with.
What would it be like if there was no place to take it and have it dealt with? The good news of the Bible is there is a place, there is a person to whom we can go that will deal with our sin and get rid of it for us. Now that's our passage, but it leaves us asking the question, so what?
And it's pretty simple, isn't it? It's not hard to figure out the so what from this passage. Remember the story in the Bible about the prodigal son? By the way, do you know what prodigal means? Say, yeah, it means sinful because he went away and lived a sinful lifestyle. No, it doesn't mean sinful.
Say, it doesn't? No, it means wasteful because he took all his dad's money and went away and wasted it. So it's the story of the wasteful son. And you remember this was a young man who didn't like the way his dad was running his life and was convinced he could run his own life a lot better than his dad was running it. So he went out to try. We'll skip to the end of the story.
Let's scroll down a little bit. And when we get to the end of the story, what we find out is he made a complete mess out of the whole thing doing it his way. And he ended up in the pig pen fighting for slop with the pigs for something to eat. Now, his father still loved him. His father, in spite of how badly that boy had messed up, his father was still waiting at home with open arms to love him and receive him back and forgive him and restore him. And the only thing that stood between that boy and the forgiveness and the restoration of his father was what? Human pride.
That's all it was. It wasn't that the boy didn't have a need. The boy had a need and he knew he had a need.
He's in there in the pig pen fighting for slop. He knew he had a need. And it wasn't that the father wasn't willing.
He was. The only thing between those two was pride. Pride, not wanting to admit that he was wrong. But this story has a happy ending in the Bible and that's why I like it because I love happy endings. And the happy ending is that the boy decided to humble his pride and to make a 180 degree turn and go back to his father and admit that he had been wrong and admit that he needed help and accept his father's forgiveness. And you know, the father never said to him, I told you so. Did he? Never. If you don't listen to me, you wouldn't be in that mess.
No, never said that to him. What his father did is he hugged him and he loved him and he wept over him and he kissed him and he said, come on. It's great to have you home. We're gonna have a party. And you see folks in the story, the prodigal son is us and the father is God. And we do the very same thing, don't we?
I think there's probably a lot of prodigal sons and daughters here this morning. Some of us are Christians already. We've trusted Christ as our savior. We know that our sins are forgiven.
We're going to heaven when we die. But some of us have wandered into places and into things where we had no business going. And we've tried to justify it and we've tried to rationalize it but inside here our conscience keeps registering the fact this is not right.
You have no business being involved in this. And our relationship with God has been suffering because of it. God says in the Bible, if we will confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But the if is, if we are willing to admit that he was right all the time and we were wrong, that the way he said to do it all the time was the correct way and our way was not. That takes humility.
That means we've got to take a hit to our pride. That's why God says, come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Even though your sins are as scarlet, I'll make them white as snow. But let's sit down and reason together. Let's talk. And let's let you tell me that I was right all the time. And I won't tell you I told you so.
I'll just love you. Some of us here need to do that as Christians. You know, isn't it neat that God is the God of the second chance and the third chance and the fourth chance and the 50th chance?
I'm sure glad he is, aren't you? I read a little statement a guy gave at a conference. He said, oh, God of the second chance and the new beginning. Well, here I am again.
And that's good. Some of us need to go back to God and say, God of the second chance and the new beginning. Here I am again, God. Messed it up again. But thank you, God, that you forgive.
Some of us here have never trusted Christ as our Lord and our Savior. We've been running our life the way we wanted to run it. We've been following everything the world tells us is worth living for, everything that makes life exciting and worthwhile. And frankly, we're at a dead end. Emotionally, spiritually, I mean, we're beat up. We feel like we just got out the ring with a Riddick bow and we're bruised and we're battered and frankly, we're a little bit discouraged because we followed everything the world said works and none of it seems to work.
So where do you go from here? We're ready for a change. And you know, if you're ready for a change, that's such a great place to be in life because God deals with people who are ready for a change. The great news is that Jesus has the authority to forgive your sin, to reconcile you to God, to give you a whole new way of living if you'll let Him.
And He invites you just to come to Him today if you've never done that. Don't worry about what you've done. Don't worry about where you've been. Don't worry about trying to clean yourself up first.
You can't do it. Don't worry about it. All God wants you to do is come. Jesus will remove your sin. He'll wipe it away. He'll wipe your guilt away. He'll reconcile you to God. He'll remove the barrier between you and God. He'll recondition your life here on earth. He'll give you the promise of heaven after you die. He'll take you in His arms and He'll love you.
If you'll forget about your human pride and if you'll humble yourself and come to Jesus today, just like that man on the stretcher did. You ever think about how that man came? He came offering Jesus only two things. He offered Him helplessness because what was that guy going to be able to do?
Nothing. And he offered Him trust. He said, Jesus, I believe you can help me. I'm helpless, but I believe you can help me. And if you'll come and offer Jesus the two same things, helplessness and a willingness to trust Him, God will revolutionize your life.
I hope you'll do that today. There is a place to take sin, to have it dealt with forever. Jesus proved it.
And now the invitation's open to you. The only thing between you and God is your pride. May God help you deal with that today so you can deal with God today.
Let's pray. I'd like to ask you to keep your heads bowed and your eyes closed, please. If you're here this morning, you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Your life has kind of hit a dead end, and you're ready for a change. And if you'd like this morning to humble yourself and come to Jesus like that paralyzed man did, say, Lord Jesus, I'm helpless to deal with my sin, to make my life everything I dreamed it would be, but I believe you can help me. I'd like to accept you as my Savior this morning. I'd like to turn my life over to you. If that's you this morning, I'd like you simply to slip your hand up so we could pray together. Anyone here like to do that?
Would you slip your hand up, please? Thank you. God bless you. Anybody else? Anyone else?
Thank you, yes. Maybe you're here this morning and you're a Christian, but you've been in places doing things that you know you shouldn't have been. God's not interested in condemning you.
He's interested in forgiving you, restoring you. And if you'll humble yourself and admit that He was right and you were wrong, He'd be happy to do that today. Stop rationalizing it. Stop justifying it. Just admit it's wrong. Confess it.
If you're here as a Christian and you'd like to come to God today and do that, I'd like you to slip up your hand. Thank you. Thank you. Anybody else? Uh-huh, thanks. Thank you.
Come on, it'll never be easier than right now. Anybody else? Uh-huh.
Thanks. Dear Heavenly Father, I'd like to pray for those people who put their hands up. That you right now would reassure them that you have forgiven them and that you love them so much. And I pray for the Christians who raise their hands that they would sense a freshness and a cleansing in their lives even this morning. Give them the power, I pray, not to go back and do what it was that they just raised their hand for anymore.
May they draw on your power. Lord, even if they go back and do it again, let them know they'll always find forgiveness in you. Teach us as Christians to take advantage of your authority to forgive sin every day in our lives. And I want to pray for the several folks who raised their hands saying they wanted to commit their life to you for the first time as their Savior and their Lord.
Maybe there were others who want to do that, but they didn't raise their hand. For those of you who did or those of you who want to, I'd like you to pray silently with me right where you sit. Dear Jesus, I acknowledge that I'm a sinner.
I acknowledge that I've broken your law. I come to you this morning admitting my helplessness to forgive my own sin and trusting you through the blood you shed on the cross to forgive my sin, to reconcile me to God, to assure me of heaven after I die, to make me a child of God. Become my Savior and my Lord beginning this morning. I pray in Jesus' name. Father, help these people who've prayed this prayer to sense your presence beginning today in a way they've never sensed it before as you make good on your promise to save and deliver from sin anyone who comes to you through faith in Christ. Thank you, Lord. There's a place we can take our sin where it can be dealt with. Thank you for making a way for us. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-24 08:05:30 / 2023-02-24 08:19:58 / 14