Paul is not writing this to cause you to question your salvation or to cast you into despair. Do not respond to this message with morbid introspection if you are a Christian, because that's not what this text is designed to promote. Paul is showing the true colors of sin. The Bible tells us that there are different manifestations of sin, but the results of sin are the same when it comes to your relationship to God. And on this edition of the Truth Pulpit, as Don Green teaches God's people God's Word, he'll be laying out those consequences as Don continues our series, As You Walk with Christ. It's part one of a message titled, The True Colors of Sin.
Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. And Don, the message we're about to hear is especially important in light of the culture we live in. Isn't that true?
Bill, that's certainly true. And my friend, you know, I guess our culture probably isn't all that different from every culture that's ever existed over the course of time. Every culture loves sin in its rebellion against God.
But we need to understand that the fact that it's our environment doesn't mean that it's what we should swim in. Sin brings God's judgment. Sin sent Jesus Christ to the cross. The gospel calls us to repent of sin and to turn to Christ in faith for our salvation. Your perspective on sin sets your course for all of life.
Thanks Don. And friend, let's join our teacher now to begin today's message. Those of you that feel the weight and the pull of sin and you feel torn and you go through that tension and you move back and forth and on the one hand desiring righteousness and yet seeing also the effect of the temporary passing pleasures of sin, let me say this to you and what this passage is teaching you. It's addressed to your mind and it is telling you to develop a mindset in yourself that is like this. You should not respond to temptation merely by whether the sin appeals to you in the moment or not. Rather, you must learn to think more deeply about sin. You should think about what sin brings with it, that the bait of temptation has a very deadly hook in it.
And as a fish swimming in water, you learn to avoid the bait because you realize the danger of the hook that is attached to it. Because clear thinking about sin's consequences will help condition your heart in the direction of holiness and the point is that when your desires are aligned more closely with holiness, then the behavior will follow as well. Look at what Paul says. I want to read verses 5 and 6 with you again to emphasize this text with us. Paul says in verses 5 and 6, For this you know with certainty.
He's talking about matters that are undebatable, that cannot be contested. This is a matter of certain truth clearly revealed in God's Word. He says, This you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man who is an idolater has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ in God.
Verse 6, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. What's Paul doing here? He is detailing for us two eternal costs of sin. And he is doing so in a way that is designed to help you pursue godliness in your Christian life. The idea of this is for Christians to pursue godliness. And if we follow the flow of Paul's thought, you'll see why this is such a powerful influence toward holiness in your life. He's laying out the consequences of sin. He's laying out what it costs.
And the first cost is severe. It is unthinkable what comes with sin. First of all, the first cost that Paul lays out for us is that sin results in exclusion from God's kingdom.
Exclusion from God's kingdom. You know, brother and sister in Christ, the most important thing that you have, the most precious thing that you have, is your hope of eternal life. The fact that you can go through this life with a long-term serenity and confidence because things are well with your soul. And you know for certain that when you die, you will enter into the presence of God and he will never abandon nor forsake you. That is the most precious possession that you have. It is infinitely more valuable than your closest human relationships or whatever wealth or other things that you enjoy in life.
That is the most precious thing that you possess. Now, what Paul is saying here and what Paul is doing here is that he's talking about sin as a principle and sin kind of as a sin as it exists. And he is saying that sin is evil. Sin is wicked.
Why is it wicked? Why should you as a Christian view sin as your mortal enemy rather than an occasional friend that you would want to welcome into your life? Paul is saying understand that sin is what keeps people from having and possessing that hope of eternal life. The thing that you most value, the most precious thing that you have, sin keeps other people from having it. Look at verse 5 with me again.
I want to keep the text fresh in your mind here. He says, For this you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man who is an idolater has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. What he's doing here is he's talking in general terms. He's not saying that as we'll see in a little bit. He's not saying that anyone who ever commits one of these sins can never go to heaven.
That's not his point and I'll make that clear to you later on. Rather, what he is doing is he is pointing out the consequences of violating God's holiness. He is pointing out the ramifications of sin. And he is helping you see it in its broader context.
Because it wasn't much different back then in the first century as it is today. The world knows how to dress up sin so that it looks very attractive and something that appeals to you. It appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. It wouldn't be a temptation if there wasn't something appealing about it. But the world never gives you the full story.
It never tells you the fullness of it so that you can assess it properly. Only scripture gives you that blessing. And as scripture does this, it points out that the consequences are unthinkable. Pursuing a life that is devoted to sin like that.
It is unthinkable. And why Paul is saying this is this. He wants you to sit up and listen, to pay attention here. He is saying things to grab our attention because this is crucial.
And what does he say? He says, those who practice immorality or have a greedy disposition have no part in God's kingdom. They do not belong to the realm over which Christ reigns.
They do not belong to him. They do not have the hope of eternal life. They are going to hell.
That's what he says. They are not saved and they won't go to heaven. Now Paul often made this point. And I want to show you a couple of passages to re-acquaint you and to reinforce what we're saying here. 1 Corinthians chapter 6, a passage that we've often looked at. And the whole point that you need to see is that a lifestyle that is enmeshed in sin, a lifestyle that is given over to these sinful things is the mark of a life that does not belong to Christ. Paul says, 1 Corinthians 6 verse 9, he says, Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Now, look, we should just stop right here and park it and focus on one particular point. Because it is so, Paul says, he said it in Ephesians, he said it in Galatians, which we'll see, and he says it here in 1 Corinthians. He says, don't be deceived on this point. Over and over again, when he talks about how a lifestyle of these sins shows that someone does not belong to Christ, he says in that context, don't be deceived.
Now there's something really crucial that you have to understand. The fact that Scripture warns you repeatedly about this shows that there is a great danger at stake. Your own natural love for sin, and the way that the world presents sin, and the fact that false teachers will minimize the consequences of sin are all a great danger to make you think that maybe sin isn't that serious after all. And, you know, if you've got, if a man stands up with a title of a pastor tattooed on his forehead, and says, oh, don't worry, God is a God of love, and there is nothing but forgiveness and green grass ahead for you after you die, then you are not going to, and that's the message that you hear, you are not going to think sin is something very serious at all. You will be deluded into thinking that it's not a big deal to God. And there are all kinds of forces trying to take your mind and condition it so that you won't take sin seriously.
Ultimately, all generated and energized by Satan, who tries to blind the minds of the unbelieving. Scripture says don't be deceived. These things are not okay. In fact, not only are they not okay, they exclude people from the kingdom of God. You can't have it both ways. You cannot love a life of sin unrepentantly and simultaneously belong to the kingdom of God.
Those two things are mutually exclusive. That's what Paul is saying. Look over at Galatians, just the next book to the left from Ephesians, Galatians 5, verse 19. Scripture warns us. Scripture pleads with us. Scripture commands us. Galatians 5, 19 says, now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul says, I've warned you about this in the past. I'm warning you again.
Don't be deceived. You're straying away from what you need to be thinking. Understand that God's kingdom and the holiness of God excludes those things from being a simultaneous love of those who are saved.
What are we to make of this? And as we turn back to Ephesians, chapter 5, why is Paul saying these things to us here at this point as he pleads for the purity and the unity of the church, which we've seen from Ephesians 4, 1 up until this point? Why is he emphasizing it here?
I'll tell you why. It's because you, brother and sister in Christ, you are vulnerable to sin. You're not yet glorified. You're not yet perfected.
And Paul wants you to live a holy life, and sin still clings to you like it does to me. And the world is skilled at making it appealing to our eyes and desires. And there is nothing that's going to be presented along with it to caution you, to help you think through it all. It's just a dog whistle designed to make you mindlessly respond. And so we need help to understand. We need help to resist. We need help to turn away.
And here's how this helps you in that way. This text in Ephesians 5 is showing you a powerful incentive to resist and a powerful incentive to turn away, to not give in again. This text is giving you as a Christian the reason why you can turn away, and you can turn away with a desire that is stronger than the temptation that presents itself to you. What's it saying? Sin...this is so important.
This is so important. Sin is not attractive when you think rightly about it, because sin is costly. People who love sin are excluded from Christ and his kingdom. And it is crucial to understand what Paul is and is not saying so that you can appropriate this rightly.
Paul here is not writing with severity, even though it may seem that way. He is not saying that Christians, true Christians, will never feel these temptations. That's not what he's saying.
He's not saying that. In fact, it's because Christians do feel these temptations that he says it. He is not saying that Christians never sin. 1 John says, if you say that you're without sin, you lie, you deceive yourselves, and the truth is not in you. The whole reason that we claim to be Christians and that we proclaim Christ as Savior is because we're saying we're sinners and we need someone to help us, someone to deliver us. And so, he's not setting up an impossible standard here that none of us meet, and that we would just drive it deeper into the darkness and pretend like it doesn't exist when we talk with each other and then we just turn into hypocrites.
We're not trying to turn you into a hypocrite here. He's not saying that Christians won't feel these temptations. He's not saying that Christians will never sin, and we know this because he is writing to Christians. He's not suddenly, in the context of writing about the purity and unity of the church, he's not suddenly injecting a note of terror to undermine everything that is comforting about what he said up to this point. We know that he's writing to Christians because he's made it plain so many times. You need to see this, that he's writing this to those who are saved, and he's saying these things about sin's consequences to somehow help Christians in a way that I'll make more obvious in a moment.
Go back to the very beginning of the letter. I want you to see that he's writing to Christians just like you. Ephesians chapter 1, verse 1, Paul says, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
He says right from the start, let me tell you who my audience is. I'm writing to those who know the Lord Jesus Christ. They're a saint. They're set apart by God. They belong to Christ, and I'm writing to build them up and to encourage and help them.
That's the framework of what he says. He's writing to Christians. Look at chapter 2, verses 8, 9, and 10.
Stay with me because all of this connects. Paul says in chapter 2, verse 8, he says, It's by grace you've been saved through faith, that not of yourselves that is a gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
He's using the indicative. He says you're saved by faith. You're saved by grace through faith.
You're his workmanship. You're created in Christ Jesus. And so he's writing as an apostle to those who already belong to Christ. And if you belong to Christ, you can never be lost. Look at chapter 4, verse 32. I'm skipping over other passages that would make this point about who his audience is.
We come into more of the near context rather than the remote context of the beginning of the letter. Paul says, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. You're a Christian, he says. God has had grace on you. God in Christ has forgiven you. And yet he tucks in this warning about the eternal consequences of sin. Look at verse 7 of chapter 5. Just after these warnings about exclusion from the kingdom of Christ, Paul says, Therefore do not be partakers with them, for you were formerly darkness, and now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light. What's my point? My point is that he's writing before and after. You see that he's writing to Christians like you and me. And yet he is describing the severe consequences of sin and says that people like this have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
How are we to connect these things? Well, the fact that he says these things, here's something that I think will encourage you. The fact that Paul feels the need, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he feels the need to say things on sexual immorality and greed and vulgar talk. It's obvious that he's not writing for no purpose. It's obvious that there was something within this body of believers that he was addressing that needed to be corrected. But he's not denying their salvation as he does this. He realizes that Christians like you need help in this area. He is being, in other words, he is being realistic. And so as he says these things in verses 5 and 6, and some of you need this sweet, fresh water of encouragement to understand, Paul is not writing this to cause you to question your salvation or to cast you into despair. And so do not respond to this text or respond to this message with morbid introspection if you are a Christian, because that's not what this text is designed to promote. What is he saying then?
What's his point? What Paul is doing here is he is showing the true colors of sin. He is helping you to peel back the superficial veneer to see the reality that lies beneath it. He's helping you look past the flashing lights of casinos that are designed to suck you in to that realm of greed and robbery and theft to look past that which would attract you to see through it so that it will not be appealing to you any longer. He is writing in a way that will help you look past the sensuality that is presented right in your face on the TV screen or on your computer screen to look past that so that you can see it for what it is. And it is so crucial for you to do this. It is so crucial for you to understand it. Paul is writing as an apostolic pastor saying, I am here to help your soul, to promote holiness in your life. And for me to do that, I need to say something very plain to you, he says, as he writes. Here is how you should think about those sins. Remember the context, sexual immorality, greed, vulgar talk, vulgar language and those things seem to come in package.
You get three for the price of one. But what Paul is saying is, remember he is writing to Christians. Now all of this should pull together in your mind. He is writing to Christians to help them, not to drive them into despair. What is he saying?
He is saying this. He says, you need to think about those sins that attract you in this way. Sin is alien to the realm of Christ. He is saying that sin is infinitely evil. Let me say it again, sin is infinitely evil. It is wicked. It is spiritually disastrous.
It is a cancer. It is not what it seems to be when the pleasant temptation knocks on the door and beckons you to come. Measure the intrinsic evil of sin by its consequences. Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden over one sin. Romans 6 23, the wages of sin is death. Those who love sin, watch this, get the adverb here.
Those who love sin unrepentantly are excluded from the kingdom of Christ. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part one of his message titled The True Colors of Sin. We'll continue on our next broadcast, so be sure to join us then here on the Truth Pulpit. You know, you can hear any of our series again at your convenience when you visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com. You can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies for your personal study library. Plus, you'll also find the link follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you again next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's word here on the Truth Pulpit.
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