WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS
Sunday Morning Sermon
November 29, 1998
Fair Avenue Baptist Church
In recent months I have said very little about the headlines regarding our President’s moral failure. Scripture commands us to honor, obey and pray for all those in authority over us.
But, I am convinced more than ever that the critical issue is not the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, but the church on Fair Avenue and churches like it all across America.
In the midst of all the allegations,
and public opinion polls,
what should our response be?
Most certainly we should pray.
There are no human solutions to the mess our nation is in at this time.
Humanly speaking, there is nothing we can do to straighten this mess out.
It will not matter how much we vote,
It will not matter how much we campaign,
It will not matter how much we reason or persuade,
Humanly speaking, there is nothing we can do to straighten this mess out.
There are only two things we can do to help and try to get our country back on track:
(2) live holy lives
The time has come for us to humble ourselves and cast ourselves on the mercy of God.
In addition to prayer, I believe our response must include two crucial elements:
1. WE MUST GRIEVE
The time has come for us to grieve over the condition of the presidency.
Yes, I know it aggravates us,
Yes, I know it bothers us a bit,
Yes, I know it is frustrating to us,
But, does it grieve us?
Do we grieve for our President?
Do we grieve for our country?
Have we prayed for our leaders lately?
Did you pray for our leaders TODAY?
Have we given any thought to the long term effects of this mess on our children?
We ought to be grieving for our children and for future generations.
What has happened with our President is that we have reached the level where we no longer blush over sin.
Because when people at the highest level can sin without consequence, everyone begins to believe that it is okay for them to do likewise.
We, as parents, should grieve that our children have been exposed to and read about and heard things that should not have been imagined.
The horrible thing is that they have been exposed to evil at an age when their conscience is tender and their memories fertile.
The seeds that have been planted will possibly one day bring forth the same kind of evil fruit.
And worst part is that they did not lose their innocence in the filth of the locker room or a perverted television show,
they lost it in what were intended to be, and once were, the hallways and offices of honor.
The consequences will surely include an inability of our youth to trust and respect authority - a sure recipe for rebellion.
But both Christian history and my experience in almost 25 years of ministry tell me that there is a deeper issue - one that must be faced head-on by all of us who call ourselves Christians.
What we need to look at is the CAUSE, not the effect.
Someone once said, and I wholeheartedly agree:
“As goes the West, so goes the world;
as goes America, so goes the West;
as goes the church, so goes America.”
That brings to point number two.
2. WE MUST CHANGE
Not only should we grieve, but we must live a life that changes our country - God’s way.
And the only way we will change is to deal with sin.
We knew the President was a whoremonger, but we elected him anyway.
We knew he had some shady deals in his life, but we elected him anyway.
If it hadn’t been for the Christian vote, he would have never been elected. Then we turned around and voted for him again.
We claimed we were voting for the economy, but that was bunk.
We had reached a point in our society where morals no longer mattered and we voted that way.
And why is that?
It is because we have reached that point in our churches today.
For serious Christians, we should be focusing not on the failure of the President.
We should be looking at the failure of the church to set the right Biblical example of how to deal with sin.
The truth hurts.
And the truth will reveal that a respected and well-known TV evangelist named Jimmy Swaggart was caught in a motel room with a prostitute and Jim Bakker was exposed for his sexual escapades ten years before President Clinton had sex with an intern in the oval office.
HEY, sin is real.
Sin does happen.
Failure will occur - both in the world and in the church.
I have been amazed in recent years at the number of Baptists who have fallen into sin.
One pastor begins an affair with a woman and before you know it, his wife agrees to it and they have a three-some. And to make matters worse, the pastor’s daughter catches all three in bed.
A pastor’s wife has an affair with a staff member, and two marriages are broken.
A pastor is convicted of having sex with a minor and will spend time in jail.
Another pastor is convicted of embezzlement.
A Baptist college professor seduces several students and ruins their lives.
Yes, sin does happen.
It happens right here in our churches.
Sin does happen,
Sin will happen,
Don’t let it shock you.
What should be different, however, is the Christian’s response to sin.
When a Christian sins, it should be followed by
surrendering of rights,
Anything less is empty and shallow.
Anything less will set a pattern for those who follow - a pattern of disrespect for righteousness.
The truth is that we have no business telling our political leaders to deal with their sin until we as Bible believing Christians are willing to deal Biblically with our sins.
What should a Christian do when they have sinned?
Have I truly repented of my sin?
Have I truly forsaken my sin?
Or am I just sorry I got caught?
I know one preacher who was convicted of a crime. He is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Yet, he has never apologized.
To the best of my knowledge, he has never repented.
B. Be Broken
Am I willing for the whole world to know my sin, if necessary, in order to be right with God and man?
Am I more concerned about the reputation and glory of God than I am about my own reputation?
Don’t get on President Clinton for his lack of serious repentance and apparent lack of brokenness if we are not willing to repent and broken over our sins.
It seems that today when a Christian sins, we want to forget it, and because of our lackadaisical attitude, there is no brokenness.
C. Be Honest
Have I been honest about my sin?
This goes along with repentance and brokenness.
D. Humble Ourselves
Have I been humbled by my sin and its consequences?
Has it brought me to my knees?
Has it brought me to a place of humility?
Have I been humbled?
E. Take Responsibility
Have I accepted full responsibility for my sinful choices and their consequences?
Is there anyone or anything I am still blaming for part or all of the consequences of my sin?
Am I defending myself, excusing, or justifying what I have done?
The preacher I know who has been convicted of a serious crime, he is still blaming everyone else around him.
F. Surrendering of rights
Am I willing to surrender my rights as a Christian leader OR do I insist on acting like nothing happened?
Several years ago a preacher from Denton runs off and leaves his wife. Within months, not years, but within months he is teaching an adult Sunday School class in a church less than thirty minutes from where he pastored.
I saw him in a restaurant with his girlfriend,
Spoke with him,
It was as though nothing had happened,
Not much had changed (except his bed partner),
Everything was okay.
Have I made complete restitution to all those I have wronged, regardless of the cost?
Have I sought to be reconciled with those against whom I have sinned?
Have I apologized?
Am I humbly acknowledging my fault and seeking to restore the relationship to a meaningful state?
And before I go on, I have concentrated on some of the sins of pastors and others.
But what about the sin of gossip?
The sin of backbiting?
The sin of whispering?
The sin of bitterness?
The sin of unfaithfulness?
The sin of not tithing?
The sin of not praying?
Yea, we like to get on the sins of people when it comes to adultery and the like, but we sure get quiet when it comes to talebearing.
The hope of our world,
The hope of our country,
The hope of our state,
The hope of our city,
The hope of our church,
It all hinges upon Christians taking full responsibility for their failures to the Biblical role model that God intended.
What should a Christian do that sins?
surrender our rights,
and seek reconciliation.
Until Christians are willing to follow the Biblical pattern for making things right, our country will never turn to God.
Whether it be for adultery,
or a big mouth,
we must make things right if we expect God to bless our lives,
and bless our church.
It’s up to us.