We are not yet delivered from the presence of sin, John says, be honest. We are not yet freed from our participation in sin. In fact, the more you grow in Jesus Christ, you're going to become more and more aware of how sinful you are, those deeds, those thoughts, those actions. You're going to thank God that your standing is forever taken care of, but you're going to be mortified over how wicked you are. You're going to go through the day, and you're going to say, how do I deal with these stains?
I've flipped that cushion over a thousand times. When God saves us, He removes the penalty of our sin. And by the way, that removal is permanent.
He never changes His mind later. We know that the death of Jesus Christ was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sin. But God doesn't remove our sin nature. We're not slaves to sin, but we still battle and sometimes succumb to sin. I'm confident that you know exactly what I'm talking about because you've lived it. Therefore, it's important that believers know how to deal with their sin properly. Please stay with us as Stephen Davey addresses this important issue today on Wisdom for the Heart. I can't tell you how many times in ministry I've had people tell me, Stephen, you know what I'm doing and wrong.
In fact, I had somebody tell me not too long ago that I was way too black and white. On this particular sin they were involved in, in fact, he actually said to me, what you need to do is get out more. John would effectively say in response, no, what you need to do is get real. Stop the wordsmithing. Stop the clever rationale to try and get around sin.
In fact, he says, here's what's really happening in your life at that moment. Verse 8 again, it's the simple fact that this kind of thinking leads to self-deception. We deceive ourselves. The verb he chooses for deceive is from the Greek word planao. We get our English word planet from this. The ancients, many of them believe the planets were erratic wandering bodies. They were wrong about that too. But he pulls that word out of ancient thought that's untrue as well.
He says, when you start following those things which aren't true, your life becomes this erratic wandering body. So get real. Fourthly, this really remedies everything, frankly. Be honest, stay close, get real, and now fourthly, admit everything.
How's that? Admit everything. Look at verse 9. If we confess our sins, one author said that's the biggest if in a Christian's life, if. If we confess our sins. The word he uses for confess here is a verb that means to agree with another, literally to say the same thing about something that somebody else says about it. So what he's saying here, when you confess your sins, you're actually saying what God says about it. You're going to set lying aside and you're going to say, oh, this is what God says about that. So you're actually taking God's side against yourself.
It's not very comfortable, is it? It's like you're stepping out of yourself and you're turning around and you're saying, self, I am agreeing with God on that particular action or thought that you're having. I'm agreeing with Him that it isn't just something unfortunate, that it's actually sinful. If we confess, my wife used to put our children, as they were growing up, through the paces of true confession and making apology because it was so easy for kids and it's so easy for us to go, yeah, sorry, I'm sorry, oh, that's easy to say, isn't it? Yeah, sorry, next.
So she'd stop them. No, name it. What was it? Tell it to them, I am sorry for doing ABC. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?
You know how much time that took? That's true confession. And unfortunately, our culture which has now redefined sin has nothing to confess anymore. And so, as one author put it, what we once called sin is now an array of disabilities. All kinds of evil conduct are identified as symptoms of some kind of disorder. Modern culture has created a brand new gospel in that man is not a sinner, he is a victim.
So culture is losing its ability really to be cleansed because it has nothing to confess and certainly no one to confess to. Case in point was a man who was shot and paralyzed while committing a burglary in New York. News article read that he was shot by the store owner who was within his rights but the attorney successfully convinced the jury that the man was first of all a victim of society, driven by economic disadvantages. The jury agreed the store owner was actually required to pay the man a settlement. Several months later, the news followed up with this, the same burglar, now wealthy and in a wheelchair, was arrested while committing another armed robbery. Another man won a similar kind of settlement. He had mugged and brutally beaten an elderly man in the subway and was shot by police while fleeing the scene. He sued the New York Transit Authority, 4.8 million dollars was compensated to him. The elderly man he mugged, a cancer patient by the way, was still paying doctor bills while the thief is now a multi-millionaire. And yet another case, a drug dealer, shot and killed eight children and two women at close range and without mercy. Jurors were led to believe and they so decided that drugs and stress were a quote, reasonable explanation for his actions.
They ruled that he had acted under extreme emotional distress and found him guilty of a lesser charge. And that makes sense in a culture that is removing sin as sin. When you remove sin, you remove guilt and there's nothing to confess, there's nothing to be guilty of. And this is a downward spiral. You see, it's a lot easier to say, I am a victim than I am a sinner.
That's a lot harder to say. I shared something I came across not too long ago with the men's quarterly breakfast. It was great, the fellowship with a couple hundred men who came and I'd come across this and shared it in a similar vein as we are honest with ourselves and our Lord about a CEO that had been removed by the board.
Prophets were down. New CEOs coming in, the old CEO wanted to help them out and so he said, look, I know you probably don't want my advice but you're going to need it and I have pared down my years of experience into three simple statements. And I've prepared three envelopes for you. Whenever you make a mistake, you need help, go to envelope number one and do exactly what it says and so on. The new CEO thought, well, I'll probably never need that. But sure enough, months into the job, he made a mistake. He called it wrong.
It was costly. It was obvious and he remembered those envelopes and he went to the door pulled out an envelope number one and it simply said, blame me. So he did. He blamed the old CEO. It was his fault. He inherited the guy's problems. He had set the course and so this wasn't really my issue and everybody bought it and he was off the hook.
Everything went along well. About a year later, he made another big mistake and he went right to that second envelope. Envelope number two and it read, blame the board and so he did. He blamed the board. He had inherited that board. It was a mess and they weren't following his leadership and everybody bought it and he was off the hook and everything was fine and a little less than a year later, he made another mistake, undeniable, costly.
He went and opened envelope number three which read, prepare three envelopes. I mean sooner or later, it ran out of people to blame, right? The apostle would say, well, just go ahead and fess up the first time. Admit it. Less genuine, repentance, honest, confession, nobody to blame but ourselves. And this gets to the heart of our problem.
In fact, C.S. Lewis said it this way. He said, the problem with fallen man is not that we are imperfect creatures who need improvement. It's that we are rebels who must lay down our arms. He says that surrender is called confession and repentance. Now you might have noticed that John moved from the singular use of sin in verse seven to the plural use of sins in verse nine and it is significant. Verse seven is referring to our standing, that is we are continually cleansed and our standing never changes by virtue of the cross work of Jesus Christ.
Verse nine is talking about specific sins that affect our fellowship. The Old Testament sacrificial system, by the way, dealt with this wonderfully. The Levitical law included both the sin offering and the trespass offering, which you might think are the same thing but they weren't, they had different reasons for being given. The sin offering related to the principle of sinfulness, the core of being sinful. The trespass offerings related to specific sins.
So that's why you stood in line when you were turtled of. The sin offering dealt with who they were. The trespass offering dealt with what they did. One author put it this way, the sin offering dealt with the root of sin. The trespass offerings dealt with the fruits of being a sinner.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ introduces the same concept with a wonderful metaphor. He may remember he's in the upper room, none of the disciples want to wash each other's feet because that's the role of the servant and there wasn't a servant for them and so they were going to eat with dirty feet. Jesus gets a basin, girds himself with a towel and he goes around and he plays the role of servant. And it's terribly humiliating for these men.
They're humbled, they're grieving, they're probably weeping. And he gets to Peter and Peter says, uh-uh, you're not going to wash my feet. You're not going to play servant to me. And Jesus says, if I do not wash you, you will have no fellowship with me. And so Peter responds, well, in that case, give me the whole bath, I'll dive in.
I love Peter. And the Lord says something very significant. He says, he who has bathed needs only to wash his feet and he is entirely clean, John 13. In other words, Jesus is referring to the all cleansing bath that relates to your standing represented by God's application of Christ's crosswork toward your account, that total once for all completed transaction called justification, cleansing by means of the offering of Jesus Christ for us. Ending feet, on the other hand, became this metaphor that Jesus would use to represent the ongoing daily cleansing in the lives of believers for what they do. We are not yet delivered from the presence of sin. John says, be honest, we are not yet freed from our participation in sin. In fact, the more you grow in Jesus Christ, guess what? You're going to become more and more aware of how sinful you are, those deeds, those thoughts, those actions. You're going to thank God that your standing is forever taken care of, but you're going to be mortified over how wicked you are. You're going to go through the day, you're going to say, how do I deal with these stains?
I've flipped that cushion over a thousand times. This is the kind of specific cleansing that John speaks of in 1 John 1, 9. In fact, I want you to notice carefully, he alludes to the cross, he implies the crosswork. Notice his promise. If we confess our sins, specifically to get in the way of fellowship, he says, God is faithful.
What does that mean? He's going to keep his word, and who is his word to? Not just you, but to his son. God the Father is satisfied with Christ's crosswork, and the promise within the mystery of the triune God will never be backed up on. He's going to be faithful to that satisfaction toward you. John also says, he's not only faithful, but he's righteous.
He's just. Now, you'd think he'd say that God is faithful and merciful, that God is faithful and gracious, but he says, no, God is faithful and just. He's talking about the cross. He's effectively saying, God will not demand a second payment for your sins. He isn't going to see you performing some sin, and he's going to say, well, you're going to take care of that one, buddy. That's yours. No.
There's no double jeopardy. All you have to do is confess those sins, and fellowship is restored. Say, Lord, I got my feet dirty again.
I know I was here five minutes ago, but I'm back. You know what it is like in the lives of little children? They don't think their feet are dirty.
They've been playing outside all day long, and their feet are green. You grow in Christ and you discover how dirty your feet are, how easy it is to get them dirty. God is just. Jesus paid it all means Jesus paid it all. And who is it that finds daily forgiveness and cleansing and that restoration of fellowship and friendship?
It's the one who says, Lord, I'm going to admit everything. This is what I did that was wrong. Will you forgive me? Let me show you quickly one more scenario, and the positive command would be simply this. Get right.
Get right. Notice verse 10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Again, his word is not operating within us. Now in this final scenario, John definitely pulls the mask off the Gnostic teacher who claimed that you could arrive at a perfected sinless state. John uses the perfect tense here to refer to somebody who actually says, I haven't sinned in the past. I haven't sinned in the present, and I'm not going to sin in the future.
See my halo. This denies the word of God. God says it this way, for all have, what, sinned. You know what the literal Greek translation of that word all is? For all have sinned.
Here it is. All. Listen, the most popular preaching in any generation is preaching and teaching that minimizes the sinfulness of man and exaggerates sort of this blind tolerance of God. If we try to deny that our sin really isn't sinful, and you know what, I'm actually getting better. In fact, I've arrived. I never sinned intentionally.
I've had people tell me that. Whenever I sinned, it wasn't intentional. Not only do we lie to ourselves, but we make God a liar. We minimize what we do, represent it well in the satirical prayers written tongue-in-cheek by a rather insightful believing author to represent the average individual's shallow view of sin and the holy character of God.
Here it is. Benevolent Father. We've occasionally had some minor errors of judgment, but they're really not our fault. We've made some unfortunate choices due to forces beyond our control. We have sometimes failed to act in accordance with our own best interests and be true to ourselves. Under the circumstances, though, we did the best we could, and we're glad to say that we're doing okay, perhaps even slightly above average. Be your own sweet self. And those of us who admit we're not perfect, grant that we never lose self-respect, and we ask all these things according to the unlimited tolerances which we have a right to expect from you.
Amen. You go to God like that even as a Christian. You begin to redefine your sin and downplay your sinfulness, your sinful acts, and you're going to move through the stages of a lifestyle that will lead you to the porch of discipline because He loves you.
You could end up, as John will write in his second letter, we'll get there eventually, forfeiting not your salvation, but your full reward. One author put that downward path in these terms. Denial, minimization, normalization, rationalization, justification, and celebration.
Let me amplify that and repeat those steps. It begins with denial. That wasn't me.
Did people say that? Well, that wasn't me. Well, who did it then if that wasn't you? Denial. Then it moves to minimization. It really doesn't matter. It's not that big a deal. Then it goes on to normalization.
Everybody does it. It moves then on to rationalization. You don't make sense. To justification, I think is the right thing to do. To celebration.
You know, you ought to do it too. I've dealt with people over the years in that tragic and dangerous stage of celebration where I just expect the discipline of God's hand to move. They've said to me, things like my life has never been as good as it is now. I know you say that and I know your Bible says that, but I am having the time of my life and I know God is pleased. My friend, it's one thing to lie to yourself. It's a far more dangerous thing to make God a liar and his word untrue, which is what we do when we refuse to acknowledge our sin. This 80-year-old apostle, I want you to picture in your mind this gray-haired man, long probably white beard, grabbing us all by the nap of the neck who are bound up in this kind of thinking and simply saying, get right with God.
Get right. You're only penalizing your joy and binding your heart and who do you think you're fooling? He sees those stains. When you allow your life to accommodate them, make a design out of those stains so it all just kind of works together. Unrepentant, unconfessed sin, we end up being the loser on every count. Richard Hoeffler in his book, On the Miracles of Jesus, wonderful little paperback, I couldn't find mine and ordered another one found on Amazon out of print, written 30 years ago.
It arrived yesterday. He told the story about Jimmy, a young boy, who along with his older sister were spending a couple of days visiting their grandparents, and while they were there, the grandparents gave Jimmy a slingshot. I have no idea what grandparents are thinking when they do that. Just give them matches and gasoline while you're at them, okay?
Here, burn the house down. But they did tell them to play with it in the woods behind their house. And he took aim, he let these little stones fly. He never hit anything he aimed at, fortunately. But on his way home for dinner, Hoeffler writes, he cut through the backyard and saw his grandmother's pet duck. He took aim and let a rock fly into his shock. The rock hit the duck in the head and instantly killed it. The boy panicked, of course.
In desperation, he took the dead duck and hit it behind the wood pile. And as he turned to run into the house, he saw his sister, Ashley, standing over by the corner of the garage. She had seen everything. You guys have had sisters, huh?
Brothers do it too. She didn't say a word. They walked in. A dinner? After dinner, Grandma walked into the kitchen, said over his shoulder, okay, Ashley, let's clear the table and wash the dishes. And Ashley hollered back, Grandma, Jimmy said he wanted to help you in the kitchen today, didn't you, Jimmy? And she said to him, remember the duck. Later in the day, Grandpa called the children to go fishing. And Grandma said, I'm sorry, but Ashley can't go. I need her to help me get supper ready. And Ashley smiled and said, well, Jimmy actually told me he wanted to help with dinner tonight.
Isn't that right? She mouthed him, remember, the duck. This went on for several days.
Jimmy ended up doing all the chores for both he and his sister. Finally he could not take his imprisonment and his guilt any longer. So he went to his grandmother and confessed it.
To his utter surprise, his grandmother took him in her arms and said, I know, I was standing at the kitchen window and I saw the whole thing. She went on to say, because I love you, I was already willing to forgive you several days ago. And Jimmy, I would have never again mentioned the duck. I couldn't help but add a few lines here to our thoughts that the thief of our joy, the enemy of our soul, the lion who will trouble our hearts and our consciences will persist in whispering, never forget. Don't forget. Remember the duck, Peter. Remember the rooster, Thomas. Remember your doubts. Now the rest of you guys, remember you abandoned Jesus in his darkest hour.
Don't ever forget that. You know, it's interesting that Jesus Christ wants us to remember certain things, but not those. In fact, He tells us that He has chosen to remember them no more. The record of sin has released our standing and individual sins that we confess, we can walk away knowing He's forgotten. Be honest about your sin. Stay close to the Savior. Get real about the direction of your life. Admit everything.
Get right with Him lest you waste your life messing around with what binds you. And shock of all shocks, when you come clean, if you haven't yet come for that bath of salvation, God stands ready. Maybe for you it's today. If you've had that bath of justification, but your feet have gotten dirty, God stands ready to wash your feet in that sanctifying process and He cleanses your conscience and He straightens out the steps of your path. He has a way of washing those red jelly stains away that nobody can wash away. No one else can, but He washes them away and then chooses not to remember. With that, Stephen concluded his message called Answering Life's Ifs.
It comes from the series called After Darkness, Light, and we'll continue through that series the next time we're with you. But before we go today, I want you to think about the last few Christmas seasons. Then let me ask you, do you struggle to keep your focus on Jesus during the Christmas season?
Does the busyness of the holidays distract you from the true meaning of what you celebrate? We have a resource to help you lead your family in an intentional Christ-honoring activity. It's called the Advent Event. This is a fun, easy, and enriching family activity to help focus attention on the birth of Jesus.
All the while you'll be discovering the big picture of God's plan through the entire Bible. Kids of all ages would enjoy the crafts, the stories, the sounds, and the motions that make up the Advent Event. And best of all, it fits easily into your family's busy schedule. Christmas might seem like a long ways away, but it's important that you sign up for this free resource in November. That's because it begins December 1, and it has a family activity for each day in December. If you're a parent or grandparent, you're going to want to be part of the Advent Event.
If not, tell someone else about it. All the information you need is at wisdomonline.org forward slash Advent. Once again, visit wisdomonline.org forward slash Advent. We also have a magazine that we publish. Steven deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain rooted and grounded in God's Word every day. We call the magazine Heart to Heart. This is a resource that we developed for two reasons.
We use it to show our appreciation to all of our wisdom partners. We also send three issues of Heart to Heart magazine as a gift to everyone who asks. We'd like to send it to you if you haven't seen it yet. You can sign up for it on our website. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. And then make plans to join us back here next time on Wisdom for the Hearts. Thank you for watching, and I'll see you next time.
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