We have been told repeatedly that we have a sin problem. America has a sin problem. The world has a sin problem. The church has a sin problem. You have a sin problem. I have a sin problem.
And, here’s the bad news: they are absolutely right.
But this is a good news church and I’m a good news preacher so, here’s the good news:
The sin problem is not what you or they think it is.
I’ve been accused of being “soft on sin” because I don’t preach on sin. Not preaching sin is not being “soft on sin,” it is putting sin in its place.
(Hebrews 10:1-2 ESV) 1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins.
Here we see that the law was a shadow of good things to come. Even though the law was holy, it was not good for the people because it was a standard that was impossible for them to attain.
Paul called the law the ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3:7). He also called the law the strength of sin (1 Corinthians 15:56); in this same passage he calls sin the sting of death.
So, when we try to uphold the law, we are ministering death to ourselves by strengthening sin.
The greatest sin of sinners — and the only sin that will separate anyone from God — is the sin of rejecting Jesus (John 3:18).
The greatest sin of the saints is ignoring righteousness — that is, rejecting righteousness-consciousness.
I want y’all to see the effects of sin-consciousness. Let’s take a look at David, a man after God’s own heart. He wrote:
(Psalms 119:11 KJV) Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
This is the same David who lusted after Bathsheba — to the point he would have her husband murdered. This is the same David who disobeyed God’s command about taking a census.
David was sin-conscious and, therefore, he sinned. If you’re sin-conscious, you can’t help but sin!
I love the story of the Wallenda family. They were a clan of tightrope artists. They were one of the most successful circus acts in history. Even thought they suffered their share of tragedies, they continue to perform to this day. Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of the family once said his success came from the fact he remained focused on what’s ahead of him and not beneath him.
In other words, he focused on completing the walk, not the fall.
Growing up, I was a big fan of Evel Knievel. Evel did some spectacular stunts but he had some spectacular crashes. Even after some horrific failures, he always went right back to what he did best. He was always focused on success, not failure.
When you’re sin-conscious, you focus on the things that make you stumble instead of the journey. It’s like taking a road trip but missing all the scenery for fear of having an accident.
When Peter stepped out of the boat to come to Jesus (Matthew 14:24-31), he was fine as long as he was righteousness-conscious (focused on Jesus). He only began to sink when he became sin-conscious.
“Wait a minute, preacher,” you say, “how do you get sin-conscious from this.”
Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23) and God didn’t give us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Peter got out of the boat focused on Jesus and became double-minded.
We don’t deny sin exists but we deny its power over us. Romans 6:14 tells us that sin has no dominion over us, since we are not under law but under Grace.
When a soldier goes into combat, he must be mission-conscious and victory-conscious. If he becomes enemy-conscious, this could get him killed.
Sin is real and its consequences are real but if you’re righteousness-conscious, we strip sin of it’s power. Sin has no power of a righteousness-conscious saint!
The strength of sin is the law. Therefore, legalistic preaching will produce in abundance the one thing that it rails against. The more you preach against sin, the more power you give to sin.
As for me, I’m not going to preach on what God Himself said He’d forgotten (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17). God clearly said He would remember our sins no more. In Hebrews 8:12, God is saying this in the context of the covenant of the law passing away. In other words, the very thing that magnified sin is now superseded with the covenant that eradicated sin.
I love what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus:
(John 1:29 ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
We are under the covenant of Grace; the covenant of righteousness. The sin problem is not that we sin too much but that we are too sin-conscious. The problem is not in our behavior, it’s in the understanding of our being. The problem is not that we aren’t standing against sin, the problem is that we are not resting in righteousness.
Righteousness-conscious saints will avoid more sin by accident than sin-conscious people do on purpose.
© 2016 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)