Did you know there was something called the “seven deadly sins”? Does that mean sins can actually kill you? In this message, we are uncovering what sin is, what it costs us, and why it doesn’t disqualify us, but rather makes us the perfect candidate for the love of God.
All right, well good evening, Porch. It's good to be with you, and I have a little crew that's here with me. We're slowly adding back to our number. So, not the crowd we usually love to have present with us, but we're glad you are present with us online. As JD just shared, we are starting a new series called Seven Deadly Sins. My name is Todd, and I love being with you guys when I get to jump in. I hang out with the rest of the crew here at Watermark, and it's a privilege to be with you guys tonight.
This series, Seven Deadly Sins, is kind of not the best series to get pitched to, to kick it off, right? I mean, sin is not everybody's favorite topic. It's one of those things when we hear about it, we start to crouch down like, "I'm not really sure I want to talk about my sins or talk about sin in general." It's not a very popular topic ever. And especially even in some environments we would call churches, you don't hear sin talked about very much, which is crazy. Until sin is bitter, Christ will never be sweet.
So we're going to talk about seven deadly sins. Now let me just start this whole series off by saying that all sins are deadly. All right? I've been asked the question before, "Are some sins worse than others?" and it depends on what you really mean when you talk about that, right? Because if you're asking me if you would rather speak a poor word about me, either in my presence or behind my back, or clock me in my face, or take a machete to my throat, neither one of them, or none of them, are really things I would prefer you do.
But if I have to choose between you speaking poorly of me or taking a machete to my throat, you know I'm definitely going to say, "Go ahead and say a bad word about me," because I don't want anybody to really come at me hard with a machete. It doesn't usually go well for me when that happens.
So in terms of its effect… By the way, we have this sense in our world that there are laws that when we break you sometimes call them misdemeanors. You know, where you would get a fine for running a stop sign or you'd get a fine if you kind of make your way into an intersection after that yellow light wasn't so yellow anymore.
And then there are other things where we go, "Hey, it's not going just to be a fine or a ticket and a nuisance and a couple of hundred bucks;" it's going to be a couple of decades in prison, or in certain cases it can even be life for a life. So, even in our world, in our relationship with one another, we realize there are certain things we do to one another that have more grievous effects. But what all sin does is it breaks and hurts relationship, and that's ultimately what sin does in our relationship with God. Sin separates us from God, and every sin separates us from God.
Now let me just back this up a little bit and talk about why we want to encourage you guys to make war against sin, because sin is not your friend. It always advertises itself like that, right? It always comes at you like, "Hey man, this is going to make you feel good for a little bit. It's going to make others attracted to you. It's going to make you feel better about yourself." I mean, if it wasn't attractive, we wouldn't give ourselves away to it, but there's something about the deceitfulness of sin that is seductive to all of us.
This series we're doing, called Seven Deadly Sins…you saw it there in what we kind of call our Porch bumper…we grabbed this title that's kind of a very familiar title to us, Seven Deadly Sins, and we mentioned them. You know, lust, and pride, and anger, and greed, and gluttony, and sloth or laziness, and then envy or jealousy.
Those are the seven deadly sins we're going to talk about in the weeks ahead. I want you to tune in as we focus in on each of those because we're going to talk to you about… What we're going to do is come at you with some truth about all seven of those things. Every single one of them has some momentary source of gladness to us, but in the end when we give ourselves to them, it doesn't go very well for us for very long.
It's a phrase that has been long shared by many people where sin will cost you more than you want to pay, it'll take you farther than you want to go, and it'll keep you longer than you want to stay. That's what sin always does. So we're going to take each of those seven sins and those seven deadly paths, and we're going to really tell you the truth about what's on those paths. We're going to let you know what happens when you swallow the hook and don't just get that momentary sense of satisfaction.
But tonight, what we want to do is set up the series by just talking about sin in general. I want to make just one more quick comment about the seven deadly sins. There aren't seven deadly sins in your Bible. The Bible says if a man keeps the whole law and yet offends in one point, he is a lawbreaker, and he's a sinner. And the Bible says God is holy, and because he's holy, he can't have fellowship with that which is not like him because it would compromise him. You guys know that, right?
If I have a water jug right here that's just good, pure water, and I just put like a drop or two of poison or cyanide in there, you're not going to go, "Oh, well it's mostly water!" You're going to go, "No, that's contaminated." It's no longer trustworthy. It's no longer good, so you don't want that water anymore.
God will never change his character and his nature. So he wants a relationship with us, but when we become unlike him, when we leave his will for us, it separates us from him, and that ultimately is the problem with sin. It breaks relationship with the God who's the God of life and the God of love, the God of peace, the God who is light. So when you leave the God who is life and love and peace and light, you're going to get hatred, and war, and depression, and despair, and darkness, and death! And that's why God hates sin, because he loves you.
There aren't seven deadly sins in the Bible. I'll show you in just a moment the closest thing we have to a list in the Bible of seven deadly sins. The idea of seven deadly sins actually came from what's called the Desert Fathers. So just to take you back a little bit, after Jesus was here on earth and he died for our sins, you're going to have a moment where there were men who as they began to follow him became some of the early, what we call, church fathers.
They took the words of the apostles, and they taught them, and they studied them, and they developed the theology of the church based on what Jesus had given to his disciples, who then, with the assistance of God and the Holy Spirit, recorded, and God brought to remembrance the things he wanted them to remember and record the things he wanted them to record, and then he built out our Bible.
So these guys would study that, and they would write. Some of the early Desert Fathers were guys who basically became the leaders of what would be later the monastic community. They would go out in the desert, and they would study, and they would seek to be holy in the way they lived their lives.
So there was a brother whose name was Evagrius Ponticus. There should be eight deadly sins, like the seven we mentioned and naming your kid Evagrius Ponticus! Right? I mean, like that's a problem! Okay? You didn't go to elementary school with a lot of Evagriuses, and there's a good reason for it.
But Evagrius Ponticus was the very first guy who made a list of actually about eight things he said you have to really avoid these thoughts, and you have to avoid these activities, or they're going to do what one of the apostles wrote: they're going to wage war against your soul. And who wants to declare war on themselves? When you embrace sin, that's what you do. You declare war on your own heart.
Now what's so interesting… By the way, I'll just take it a little bit further just to kind of wrap up the seven deadly sins. It was about in the sixth century, so about 560, one of the popes, Pope Gregory, boiled down that list of eight or nine down to seven specific sins, and they're the ones we listed for you here. There have been movies made about them. I don't know if you guys are into Netflix. There's actually a Japanese anime called The Seven Deadly Sins that showed up a number of years ago on Netflix. There are a number of books. There are songs.
This little phrase has kind of made its way into our society, but you need to know, according to God's eyes, what has been adapted within that lineage that came from Pope Gregory, the Roman Catholic Church, there aren't in God's eyes sins that are venial, which means forgivable if you do them and don't even repent of them. A venial sin, that's just a word that means forgivable. They weaken your relationship with God. They injure your relationship with God, but they're not mortal.
So sometimes those of you guys who grew up around a Roman Catholic context, you might hear about venial sins, which means forgivable even without formal repentance, and mortal sins, which there are dozens of them, not just seven. They will tell you, "Man, if you don't repent of these, and get to confessional, and go through the penance process before you die, then you have not just weakened grace or injured grace, you have eliminated grace.
It's why so many of us had this mindset like, "Man, I did this thing, and if I get killed now before I get to church, crossing the street and get hit by a bus, man, I'm in trouble." You need to know something: we're all in trouble.If a man keeps the whole law and yet offends in one point, James says, he is guilty of the whole law. He's a law breaker. We're no longer holy, and we no longer have a relationship with God.
This is a verse I'll just use to kind of set this up. In Isaiah, chapter 59, verse 1 and 2, Isaiah is writing to this people who have been separated from God, and Isaiah 59, verse 1 says, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is his ear so dull that it cannot hear."
But here's the deal. The reason you're not experiencing the blessing of relationship with God is because you're really indifferent to who God is. You go your own way, you make your own gods, you are your own god, so you choose your own good, and you choose your own life path instead of returning to the way that the God who loves you, who is love, and light, and life, you choose hatred, and darkness, and death.
This is what it says in Isaiah 59, verse 2. It says, "But your iniquities…" which is just a fancy, biblical word for sin, "…have made a separation…" Do you see that word? It's awful. "…between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear."
So, gang, listen. You need to know this. Every sin is deadly because it separates us from God, and every sin needs to be taken to him and confessed. Now look, this is earth. None of us are ever going to be free from sin's temptation. Temptation isn't sin. Christians still sin. We still quench the goodness of God in our lives and grieve God by going our own way even though we love him.
The Bible tells us, you know… I mean, I will say this that we ought to live in a continual state of repentance while we're here, of constantly acknowledging there is a God who is good, and his way is right, and his way is true, and that we need him, and apart from him we can do nothing. We need to acknowledge that what the Scripture says is true, that no sin or temptation comes to us that overtakes us in such a way that it's not common to everybody else.
One of the things that's going to be so true as you go through the seven deadly sins is you're going to find one, and you go, "Man, nobody lusts like I lust. Nobody struggles with greed the way I do. Nobody is as prone to envy or laziness or anger as I am. Man, if you knew how I was raised, you would know it's not easy for me to be calm all the time."
But "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…" and the Scripture says, "…and God is faithful…but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." But you might not even be bothered by sin that much, and I hope this series quickens your heart and awakens your heart to the reality of sin.
Let me just read you a few quotes of guys who've shared about sin in the past. This is a guy who was a pastor hundreds of years ago. He said, "First we practice sin…" We do it, and, "…then [we] defend it…" Then we sometimes even "…boast…" about our sin. "Sin is first our burden, then our custom, then our delight…" Then it becomes "…our excellency." It's kind of what identifies us.
What's interesting is when it starts to identify us is some of you guys have committed or maybe you're stuck or gripped by one of these sins, you're not controlled by the love of God, you think you're defined by your sin, the Bible just says…listen…the Enemy is going to always accuse you. "You're a lust bucket! You're an immoral woman! You're a rage monster! All you do is want, want, want. You're like a leech, 'Give! Give! Give!'"
The Enemy, who hates you, he always calls you by your sin, but the Bible says God in his grace calls you by your name, and he just looks at you, and he just… In the Scriptures it says God is "…the lifter of _ [our] _ head." I can tell you I know just like from times I was competing and playing sports, and whenever I would throw an interception or miss a key shot or not fulfill an assignment, it's just human nature to just kind of hang your head and just kind of put your head down, but the Scripture in Psalm 3 says, "God, you're my glory, and you're the lifter of my head."
Satan is going to call you by your sin, but God calls you by your name. And he says, "Hey, Todd, I'm not going to define you by that last play or by that moment; I'm going to define you by the fact that I love you. I created you in my image. I want a relationship with you." Don't let sin be your burden, your custom, your delight, or your excellency.
This is just true of sin, isn't it? This is what another guy said. He said the progression of sin is this. First, it startles us. "Then it becomes pleasing; then it becomes easy; then delightful, then frequent; then habitual…" Then a way of life; then the man feels no guilt. "…then obstinate; then resolves never to repent, and then is damned."
Sin will take you farther than you want to go, it'll keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you want to pay, but thanks be to God that he loves you, and when he looks at you, he sees a son or a daughter who has been held captive by someone who hates you, and he loves you, and he wants to set you free.
If when you look in a mirror you see somebody you hate, and if you see somebody who's identified with a past action, you are listening to a liar, and you need to listen to what God is going to say to you tonight in the midst maybe of your sin. He wants to call you home to him. One of the reasons we're going to do this series is, like my friend Sam Allberry said, "It's going to be much harder to physically resist a sin you've been mentally rehearsing."
Some of us do that. We first are startled by the idea we could do something, and then as I said, it becomes pleasing, then easy, then even delightful, and we start to rehearse it with images we look at, or people we run with. Our playground and our playmates encourage it, and I pray that as a result of our time together tonight and our time in God's Word that you realize that sin is not your friend. Jesus is a friend though of sinners. Jesus doesn't hate sinners; he dies for them, and he loves you. God hates sin because he loves you.
Scripture says, "This is a trustworthy statement, worthy of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came in the world to save sinners." But you need to know this. Until sin is bitter, Christ can't be sweet. So we looked everywhere today (it kind of hit me today) for a parachute, a real parachute, and apparently they're just not lying around. So we could not find a parachute for the life of me. So this is not a parachute; it's just a backpack, and it's stuffed with some clothes to kind of look like a parachute.
But I want you to imagine this. I mean, I want you to be aware of who Jesus is, because what so often happens is because we don't talk about sin, we kind of make Jesus somebody who is just okay. Like, Jesus will do. I guess I'm not going to go with Muhammad, I'm not going to go with Buddha, I'm not going to go with atheism; I'm going to go with Jesus. Jesus will do. Jesus is going to be my God. I'm okay with Jesus.
A lot of times what people even do is they tell you that Jesus is going to be a good buddy. He's going to make your life better, so you want to follow Jesus, because if you follow Jesus then you're going to become healthy or wealthy or wiser.
Now can you imagine if tonight when you came in here, imagine we're giving this talk while we're on an airplane. All right? So we're flying along, and I just kind of come along and say, "Hey, would anybody like a parachute? It's going to make your flight better. You'll enjoy it more. It'll just make the three-and-a-half hours before we land across the country just kind of fly by. So I want you… Who would like a parachute? Because it's going to make our entire Porch flight better."
So I asked just a little bit before we started for a volunteer, Steph goes, "Hey, I'm happy to wear this parachute." So Steph, I want you to put on this parachute. Okay, are you ready? There you go. Just slap that thing on. I want you to actually put it on, okay, and I want you to fly with us the rest of the message. Okay, sit down there. Go ahead and put it on both shoulders. You have to put that parachute on right, and I want you to buckle.
You know, no one ever does this, but I want you to because I want that parachute you're really going to enjoy… I want you just to enjoy your flight with us, so buckle there the waist thing, and you can go ahead and sit down and just enjoy your flight. I'm glad I gave you that parachute. Okay, how are you doing? Is that comfortable? I told you it was going to make your flight better. All right, well, you were a volunteer, so there you go. You have it. Just hang in there with me.
But let me just tell you what has happened. You know, in our world, our world because it has bought a lie, it doesn't see sin as deadly. In fact, we have gotten to where, just like in that little progression I talked to you about, we feel no guilt, we see no need to repent, we make sin our delight and our excellency.
This is exactly what it says in Romans, chapter 1, in the very end of the chapter, where it says in verse 28 that because they did not delight to acknowledge the goodness of God, this is what happened. "…they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer…" This is Romans 1:28. So, "…God gave them over to a depraved mind…" A mind that doesn't work right, that starts to try and find life where there is no life.
You see, that's one of the ways God brings judgment to us. He gives us what we keep asking for. God is not a rapist. He doesn't make you love him. He is glorious and good, and he gives you evidence that he is who he says he is, but he lets you choose. That's what love is. Love is a choice, and God shows you why we should choose him, but he says, "If you don't want me, you go your own way."
So it says that these men and women, given over to a depraved mind, they do what's not proper for the human condition. They embrace what wages war against their soul, so they're "…filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God…"
What Paul would do as he continued this argument in the book of Romans is he would tell you that every man knows the beauty and goodness of God. They see it in creation, and they see design, and they see beauty. They see man pollute it. They see man denigrate it. They see man abuse it, but they see the beauty of God in every sunrise, in every sunset, and in the splendor of the human body, and creation as God intended it, and yet we reject it.
It also says we see the standard of God that's embedded in the heart of every single man. God doesn't need to give us a law. We have a law written in our hearts; it's called natural law. In every civilization on earth there are people who go, "You know what? It's wrong to take another man's chicken." Even cannibals don't eat each other; they eat other tribes, and they go, "It'd be wrong for you to eat other members of our tribe. Now it's fine if we do this to others, but for us, we don't do that." It's called natural law.
But what happens is when we leave the law of God and when we suppress even the conscience God has given us within us, we end up being people who not only practice these things that are worthy of death, but…watch this…we "…give hearty approval to those who practice them."
People say all the time, "Man, hey. Why would you want to put your law on me? Why do you want to tell me what's right and wrong?" I'm here to tell you I don't want to tell you what's right and wrong; I want to tell you that you're free to choose whatever you want to choose, but you're not free to choose your consequences.
What I want to do is just take a little moment and just walk you through the story and remind you who God is, who doesn't call you by your sin, but he calls you by your name, and he says "Child, come home. Todd, I love you, and I don't want you to be without understanding, or untrustworthy, or unloving. I want you to know me and my grace."
Every sin is deadly because it separates us from God. We already saw in Romans that God gave us over to a depraved mind, but that depraved mind is the mind God gave us because the Bible says there is liar. So in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, this is what it says. When I share with you what I'm about to share with you, and one of the things I'm going to do in just a second is pray, and I'm going to ask you just to pray this simple prayer. You can just do it with me now. This is the prayer.
"God, if you're there and you're real, would you let me hear the words from the Bible tonight that tell me you do love me, that you don't see my sin; you see your son or your daughter who is depraved in mind and has been lied to and has believed a lie, and may your truth set me free." That's the simple prayer.
Some of you need the ultimate truth that God is good, and God is love, and God is kind, and you need to embrace him as the Savior. Others of you need to remember the goodness of God so you walk according to the righteousness he intended for you to walk in, and you stop trifling with the sin that killed your Savior.
But just pray right now, eyes open, "God, if you're there, you can handle my open eyes. Just give me a heart to wants to know what is true, because I know your Word says there's a gospel that is veiled." The good news is veiled, and it's "…veiled to those who are perishing…" Then verse 4, "…in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of [your Savior Jesus] Christ, who is [made in] the image of God."
I'm going to end this message, and I'm going to show you what Jesus did when he was on earth that's a picture of how God sees you. But let's go back to the very beginning, all right? In the very beginning, we had the story of God, who is the Creator. Now the reason we start in Genesis with creation is because if he's the Creator then he knows what you were made for, and he knows how you should operate your life. He knows what's going to be waging war against you in your human experience, and he knows what's going to make your human experience delightful.
What he ultimately says is this. And you need to know there is only really one sin that is deadly, just one. Biblically, there is one deadly sin, and that is the sin that says God is not good. It's the sin that says God is not necessary. It's the sin that says God isn't God. "I don't need him for life. I don't need him for light. I don't need him for understanding. I don't need him for anything. I think God will do. If he'll make my life better, I'll chum up alongside of him, but he's not God. He's not ultimate." That's the only sin that is primary in the Scripture.
It's a sin that, in effect, says God is not good, his Word is not true, and disobeying him is not that big a deal. It's a sin that leads to death. The wages of sin is that we say, "I don't need you. You're not who I think you are. You're not who you say you are. You're, in effect, a liar. So I will go somewhere else to find life." The reason you never find life ultimately, not just in the seven deadly sins, but in anything, is because God can't let you have what doesn't exist.
Now let me just show you what we have here. In Genesis, chapter 1, God, the Creator, after he walks through this world we have… And I will tell you this world we have is created because God is trying to reveal his glory. God didn't create man first; the angelic realm was created first. And even though the angels had been given everything necessary to enjoy God forever, there was a rebellion, the Scripture tells us.
Amongst those angels there was one who his job was, frankly, scholars believe, to reflect the glory of God, because God was so glorious even angels who were created to exist in his presence couldn't look directly on him. So there was an angel who would reflect the glory of God, and then others would serve God and tend to him, and ultimately that one angel, Lucifer, became convinced they weren't attracted to the glory of God on him; they were attracted to him.
So he exalted himself above the other angels. Then he said, "We don't need God. Just follow me. I'll do you better than God." And it says in the Scriptures that a third of the angels were swept away in that rebellion, and they were cast in the outer darkness. Then when that happened, there was really no longer a discussion about who the most powerful being was. It was clearly God, because there was judgment that was brought on those who said they would be a better god than him.
But the question remained, was he really right?I mean, I wonder if he could've done a better job. I mean, clearly he can't take God on in a cage match, but maybe he would've done a better job. I don't see anything really wrong, but maybe he would've done a better job. And God, in order to reveal more of his character, created beauty and form where there had been previously only been a place of judgment and chaos and void.
Now he left that enemy, Satan, as prince of this new world, but in that new world, he made it Edenic, he made it perfect. It lacked nothing, and into that new world, we find in Genesis, chapter 1, that in the beginning of your Bible is not the "in the beginning" of all of history. The "in the beginning" of all history is really found there in John, chapter 1, verse 1, where it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And nothing came into being except through him.
If you go all the way back to Genesis 1, you're going to find that in the beginning of basically God's creation of man, he made man on the sixth day, and he made the earth man was on glorious, and he put man in his image to rule over that world, and that world would be well when man walked with God, enjoyed God, and listened to God. But he warned man there would be somebody there who would tell him, "You don't need God," just like the angels.
So in Genesis 1…I'll just read it to you…verses 26-28, it says, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing…'" You have dominion just like God has dominion over all of creation. We have been given to us dominion over the earth.
So "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them…" Now notice the very first thing God does with us. Before he gives us a single command, he just blesses us. "I love you. Here it is." God blessed them, and then he "…said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply…'" Others who are blessed.
"Fill the earth with others who are blessed. Subdue the earth. Rule over them just like I rule over them, over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. I've given you everything," he says, "every plant yielding fruit that's on the seed and the surface of the earth, every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you. And all the beasts of the earth, they're yours. You're going to name them. You're going to live in peace with them."
But we're going to find out that this is what he says in the story specifically he tells in Genesis 2, where he goes and expands. Genesis 2 is basically a commentary on Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26 through 31. In Genesis, chapter 2, verses 15-16, he says this to the man. He creates the man first, and he says to the man, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely…" Take whatever you want, "…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from [that tree] you will surely die."
Now why was this there? Why did God put that stinking Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil there? Here's the reason why. Because God wants relationship, and you don't have relationship with people who are robots, who have no choice. So God created perfect creatures. One of the things that perfect creatures have to be able to do is love, and you can't love if you don't have choice.
So what God did is he created a world that was beautiful and perfect. There was no reason not to trust him, but in the midst of that, he says, "It's up to you whether you want to trust me or not. This is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and if you eat of it, you'll have the ability to discern between good and evil, but you don't need to. Just look at me. Is there any reason to believe I'm not good? I've given you authority. I've given you (later) woman and man together, that you're naked and not ashamed."
That's just a picture. Can you imagine? We can't even think about a world where we're naked and not ashamed, because we're so self-focused, or because when I look at you in your nudity, if I'm not self-focused, I'm you-focused, like, "How can I exploit you for my pleasure." But that wasn't the relationship Adam and Eve had. They lived in innocence, enjoying one another, not exploiting each other, not self-conscious.
"But just trust me," God said. "You don't need to know what I know because ultimately you're not like me." Now let me just say this to you real quick. We're adults here at the Porch, so we all made mistakes this week, right? And most of the mistakes we have made we have not made because of ignorance. We have learned that certain behaviors socially are going to cost us friendships or are going to be a blessing to other people, and yet we made decisions to be petty and act in anger, or to act in lust, or to be greedy, or any of the other deadly sins.
It wasn't an information problem; it was we know good and evil, but we're not intrinsically good. We're not God. So even knowing good and evil, we don't choose good. We sometimes just flat out choose evil. Can I get an amen? It wasn't a hearty one, but it was one like, "I guess you're kind of right."
Look what God did. I want to show you something here. He just said, "I love you." So this is Genesis 1 and 2. You have God, and there is peace between God and humanity, and we know that in God and humanity there is male and there's female, and they have been given dominion over the world, and we know part of the world includes the animal kingdom. There is peace, and we all would love to hang out in Genesis 1 and 2.
Now watch. We're going to get to Genesis 3, before we get to Genesis 3, I want to just read to you from John, chapter 8, because this is what Jesus when he was here, who is the visible image of the invisible God, who has come to pursue people who are sinners and who are held captive by the deceiving one who told them, "You don't need to listen to God. God is not that good. His Word is not that true. Just follow me and you can be your own god."
This is what Jesus says to the people he came and spoke to. In John, chapter 8, and verse 43, he says, "Why do you not understand what I am saying?" When Jesus came, he says, "It is because you cannot hear my word." Now why can't we hear his word? Because our eyes are veiled. We're dead in our trespasses and sins.
Verse 44. He says, "Well, here's your problem. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. That's your lineage. He was a murderer from the beginning. What I intended to live, he killed, and he doesn't stand the truth because the truth is not in him. There's no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature. He is not like me. He is a liar, and he's the father of lies, and because I speak the truth, you don't believe me."
This is the beauty God intended. This is Eden. Now in Genesis 3, let's just take a look at it together. Let's look at it very quickly. In Genesis 3, we have the Serpent. So let's just come up here. He starts off, so we have the world is going to speak, which, you know, the created beings, let's just go the animal kingdom.
Right here that's where they are, animal kingdom. The Serpent. Okay, right there. And it says to the woman, "Has God really said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?" "The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die."'"
Now let me just make a quick comment right here. This is why you have to study your Bible well, and you want to go to a Bible-believing church. You want to go someplace that teaches the Word of God, somebody doesn't add to it or take from it. You don't want to go to a church that doesn't talk about sin because it might upset you. Well, sin should upset you because it separates you from God and from one another.
I think one of the very first sins that was ever committed was Adam was not careful with what he shared with Eve. I mean, I can just see him saying to Eve in a sense, because if we read the chronological story of creation in Genesis 2, God says to Adam, "Hey, don't eat of that tree or you'll die." And I can see him going and in effect saying, "Hey, listen, let's not even touch that tree because if you touch it, you'll die."
So I don't know that for a fact. All I know is that somehow Eve either didn't remember or distorted it. I mean, she's innocent, so she said, "Now, we can't eat of that tree and we can't even touch it." That's not what God said. There's an opportunity when you don't know the Word of God, and you don't understand the Word of God, or somebody can twist the Word of God, it's going to always create a problem for you. This is what the Liar did. He saw an opening.
"'Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden"?' The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die."'" Opportunity.
So the Serpent said to the woman, "Oh, you're not going to die. Watch! For God knows that in the day you eat from it… Here's God's problem. Look, I'm touching it; I'm not dead. He says you shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die, but God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil, and then he's going to be threatened by you." That's the pitch. "God is not good. He doesn't have your best interest in mind."
So he tells the woman what to do. Watch this. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise…" The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life. Every single sin we're going to talk about in the weeks ahead appeals to your eyes, your flesh, or your desire for more of you. Every sin falls into those three things.
You can either decide to follow God in what he says about how you should live, or you can just follow yourself in your own choice of what good is. But here's what happens in Genesis, chapter 3. We have the animal kingdom who tells humanity what they should do. Specifically, we have the female being told and believing who later goes to the male and says, "Hey, I took a bite of this thing. It was pretty good, and you're not going to believe what I know."
So man, who was with her when the whole thing went down and was silent… So if the first sin was not the poor teaching of the male, it was certainly the silence of the male, the passive male who sat there and just went along with Eve as she followed her eyes and her flesh and her soul's desire to be a king.
We see what it says right there in the Scripture. It says in verse 6, "…she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings." Because that's what man always does. He comes up with his own way to cover sin. The works of man will cover our sin.
But now we have the world, specifically the animal kingdom, telling humanity, specifically woman who's going to tell male what to do. So now they know what good and evil are. So now they are going to tell God what's good and what's evil. And this is how we're going to deal with the fact we're now naked and ashamed. Do you see anything unique about these two things? It's a complete inversion of what God said should be.
Now you need to know… This is Genesis 3:1-8. If you pick it up in Genesis, chapter 3, verses 9 to the end of the chapter (I think there are something like 24-odd verses in Genesis 3), you're going to hear God say, "No, boys, I am God, but here's the thing. Now there is enmity between us because you no longer have a relationship with me. You don't have faith in me.
That lie you attributed to me, that I wasn't good, that I wasn't glorious, that my way isn't right and true, that I didn't have your best interests in mind, and that is blasphemy, that is sin against me. And even worse, you try to cover up your nakedness with your own works, and that won't work because the wages of sin is death." So there's enmity now between God and humanity.
He says, "Here's the deal, humanity. You're going to have a problem," because you know right away God says to Adam, "Adam, where are you?" Now it wasn't because Adam was really good at hide and seek. What God is saying to Adam is what he's saying to you tonight…listen to me…God is saying, "Hey, where are you in relationship to me? Where are you in relationship to sin? Adam, do you know what you've done?"
You see, this is going to be the key for you being set free from your relationship with sin. Anybody who's in any kind of recovery ministry knows that the very first thing you have to do is you have to admit you have a problem. Until you admit you have a problem there's no helping you. So there's enmity between the man and the woman. Adam is over here, and God says, "What happened?" He says, "Well, the woman you gave to me, she created this problem." So now we have enmity between the man and the woman.
Then you're going to go on to see that there's now a conflict between man and woman and the world, and the man is going to have a consequence in his relationship with the world. The world is not going to bring forth fruit without toil. The woman is going to bring forth new life that's going to be a burden and a pain to her because, "Your child is going to break your heart because just like you, my child, decided to go your own way, and it broke my heart…"
Can you relate to this? Have some of you guys broken your mama's heart with some of your choices? Did you grow up with a natural bent to say, "Yes, Mother. Yes, Father. As you wish"? No, you go your own way, and it just is heartbreaking. Some people believe the reason women have pain in childbirth is because of Genesis, chapter 3. The pain is not the pain that came with the actual delivery of the baby; it was that the baby who was delivered is like mama, a sinner, and like daddy, a sinner.
There are some people who even go so far as to say women should not have epidurals when they give birth because they're trying to mock God and reverse the curse. It's so interesting. None of those people who say that say that men shouldn't use John Deere tractors when they till the earth. Right? Because the curse that was given the man was that now you're going to bring forth the fruit of the earth with toil and sweat on your brow. "Well, not if I sit there in an air-conditioned John Deere I'm not!"
So let me just say whatever is going on there in Genesis 3, it's not saying you can't get an epidural, and it's not saying you can't drive a John Deere; it's a lot worse. Now here's the beauty. Do you see this? God is saying, "Hey, you can't change what is. I'm sovereign. Humanity is underneath me, and male and female, that's just the way it's going to be."
Men are stronger than women. They're not more glorious than women. They're not more valuable than women. But if men and women don't get along… Man is not going to live well without woman, and women are not going to live well with abusive men, and this world is broken, and there is no peace.
Now real quickly, what you see right here in Genesis, chapter 3, is God showing his hand. He said, "Listen, if you guys want help, here's how you're going to get help. You're going to get rid of your fig leaves in your own effort to deal with your sin, and you're going to take my sacrifice for you.
So what did God give Adam and Eve? We see the answer right here in verse 21. It says, "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Here's my question. Where did he get the skin?Did he go down to the local tannery? Because up to this moment there was no death. He got the skin from an innocent animal that was there in Eden doing nothing but hanging out while Eve went over there and plucked an apple, took a bite of it, and then all hell literally broke loose.
Now Fluffy the lamb is over here grazing, and God takes Fluffy. I think it was a lamb. I can't prove it. I'm just going to say God, the master Teacher, always uses object lessons, and I think it was a lamb that was slain, and innocent blood was shed, and it covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve if they received God's provision for their sin.
From that point forward, God begins to reveal more of his mercy and more of his nature. We see God has said, "What's going to happen is there's going to be a war," and you're going to see that the seed of the woman is going to come forth, and eventually it will crush the Serpent, which is representative of rebellion.
And you're going to see that the seed of the woman is going to be bit in the heel. In other words, it's going to be struck for a moment, maybe taken down, but it's going to not be mortal. But the wound to the Enemy is going to be mortal. God is going to accomplish his goodness and his grace, and God now begins to show not just that he's powerful but that he's good, and merciful, and kind, and gracious, and glorious.
Let me do this for you very quickly, because when you get to your New Testament, there's going to be something that happens called the cross of Jesus Christ. It's going to be, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" When you get to Ephesians, chapters 1, 2, and 3, you have the story of Christ's coming into the world.
Let me just read to you Ephesians, chapter 2. This is Ephesians 2, verses 1 through 10. Watch this. "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…" Just like Adam and Eve. "…in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived…" I did; you did. "…in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us…" Watch this. Do you see who God is? He's a loving God; he's not just a just God. He's a loving God. "…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…"
There was a Lamb who was innocent, who was slain, whose blood was shed, and we are covered. That word covered is a word that's called atoned. That's what covered means. You're atoned for. Your sin is covered by the blood of the Lamb, that if you'll just go… When he says to you, "Where are you, lust bucket? Where are you, angry man? Where are you, envious one? Where are you, immoral woman?" "I'm lost in my immorality."
He says, "You're my child. Will you come? Will you acknowledge you're there where you don't belong, and will you come to me because I've made provision for you? Not with just a lamb in the garden, but with a Lamb on a cross."
He showed who he said he was because he raised him, verse 6 says, and seated him in the heavenly places, Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come we would come to know the surpassing riches that are available in the kindness and the grace of God toward us through Christ Jesus. This is the gospel that is veiled to those of you who don't understand it is by grace you are saved through faith, and even your faith is not of yourselves because you're dead. God gives you the gift to believe.
Some of you tonight are going to believe. "God, I believe. I'm stuck in my trespasses. I believe you have sacrificed your Son that I could be reconciled to you." That faith itself is a gift of God, not as a result of your works, so that no man should boast because this is about the glory of God, which is what he's revealing, because the more you see the glory of God, the more you're going to love him, and the more you love him, the more you'll appreciate him. Here's the thing. Till sin is bitter, Christ can't be sweet.
Stephanie, how are you doing? Are you comfortable out there? You look like you're leaning forward a little bit. But I told you it was going to make your Porch experience better. No, I didn't give that to you on this plane, Stephanie (and I offered one to all of you in my little metaphor and my analogy), because it was going to make your flight more comfortable. It's because this plane is going down. It's going to wreck.
There's never been a plane (a human life) that has taken off that hasn't gone down, and if you put on Christ because he's going to make your dating life better, he's going to make your business grow, he's going to make sure you're never going to get cancer, you're not paying attention. That's not who Jesus is. He is the Savior of the judgment that is due you, and your plane is going down, and you're going to die. The statistics for death are rather impressive. For every single person born, that person dies because the wages of our sin is death.
God in his grace is letting us sometimes live a thousand little deaths with our conviction of hatred of life, our despair, our despairing, our depression, our never being satisfied with other things. It's a gift from God. He whispers to us in our pleasures, but God is shouting to you in your pain, "This is not the world I intended for you. This is not the soul I wanted you to have. That's not the father I wanted you to have. That's the father of lies; I'm the Father of light. And I'm not just glorious and powerful; I'm good and kind. I'm merciful, and I want you to love me."
You see, what God is doing before the angelic realm is he's showing… They're looking at him and go, "Those people who had perfection and left you, just like us, you're redeeming them? You're letting them live in the consequences of that, but you yourself are going to go to earth and die for them?" That's why when you get, by the way, through Ephesians, chapters 1, 2, and 3, where the gospel is brought forward, and you get to chapter 4, he then says, "Now how shall we live?"
When you get to Ephesians, chapter 5, specifically, he says, "Listen, now that your lives have been changed by the gospel, guess what else can change?" So when you get to Ephesians, chapter 5, watch what this looks like. You have God on the throne, who died on a cross, and now there is peace again with humanity who trusts in him.
And you have male, who loves now as Christ loves the church and gives himself to the woman who lives with him in a way where he does nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind considers others as more important than himself. So she delights in submitting to him. He uses his strength to protect her, provide for her, and she loves him with a never-ending love.
In the picture of her response to a sacrificial leader, the two of them are a picture of how we respond to God. There is peace between God and man, so man is made new, so man can now have peace with woman, and woman can have peace with man. There is no enmity anymore between us. It's why when we get to Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 31, it says, "For this reason…" In a Christian relationship. "…a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
What's so important about that verse? It's a direct quote from…guess where? From Genesis 2. Do you see this? God, through the cross, has restored a taste of glory. If we'll trust in him, men and women can live in peace. This is why, Porch crowd…listen to me…you don't want to marry somebody who is still living underneath the Deceiver, the Liar, who says, "You're there for a sexual pleasure. You're there as long as it's useful to him. You're there until he beats you up so much even through your battered-wife syndrome you can't stand it anymore."
Don't marry that guy. You marry somebody who knows the goodness and the glory of God, who has himself been forgiven, who has received grace so he can be a forgiver and a gracer, somebody who has been served by a sovereign, so he can serve you, and you respond to him in love, and the two of you can be one as God intended for us to be.
But here's the deal. You get to Ephesians, and there's still a war between us and this world. The prince of this world is still in this world, and he hates us, so watch this. Right after he says Christian marriage is this amazing thing, he gets in Ephesians, chapter 6, to this.
He says, "Be strong though in the grace of the Lord and in his might. Put on the full armor of God so that you might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the Devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. So put on the full armor of God, and you'll be able to resist the Evil One who wants to lie to you again, that even though God died for you, you're still prone to wander and go back to your foolishness and your sin. Stand firm," he says, "in the gospel."
I actually was doing this with a couple. I was doing premarital counseling once, and I just said, "Look, man, you're still at war." And I had the gal say to me, she goes, "Then why am I wearing white at a wedding? I ought to wear camo." And I go, "I dare you! That'd be awesome because you're right."
Do you know why Satan hates Christian marriage so much? Because Christian marriage brings glory to God and shows that two can be one and love one another and live selfless lives because it's a little shadow and a picture of the way the Godhead has always lived. Because Christian marriage brings forth kids who can be taught the love of God.
Who though they won't be perfect parents, but they're going to say, "Hey, we are not going to destroy this home and destroy one another and be abusive towards you because God has taught us how to live and how to love, and I want you to know this God. If anything that's good in us is because we're paying attention to God. So this is a home of peace, and we want you to know the reason this home is different than others is not because we go to church but because we follow the King of Kings, and he has taught us the right way and the good way, and it's a blessing to you."
Some of you guys have grown up in those homes. Not many of you have anymore, and God wants to change that. My daughter, who grew up in an imperfect home, but it was a Christian home with a mom and dad who loved each other and who sought God's ways, my daughter says, "Hey, Dad, here's my story. I have more joy and less scars, and I need to trust in Jesus too or I'm going to be divisive and go my own way and leave the God-informed teaching of my parents. But I see the sin in me, and I repent of it." Now there's generational faithfulness and blessing, and I watch them raising their children to know the goodness of God.
I'll just close with this. This Jesus who came and died on a cross, the very first thing he did when he came to earth is he spoke these words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" It's the same thing he said to Adam, "Adam, where are you?" If Adam said, "I'm doing just fine over here in my sin," then God would've left him there. But he just said, "I'm here and I'm naked. I'm vulnerable. I'm scared." Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" First words out of his mouth.
Can I just say this to you? God is not looking to catch you in your sin; he's looking to set you free from the sin that captured you, and set you free, and give you grace, and restore you back into relationship with him so you can be a picture of the glory that is to come, because there's going to be a day he comes to judge the world. He's going to bring judgment to the world right now by the way you're not of the world, and you're light in the world, so the darkness is being exposed by the light with which you live.
You're not like other young adults. You're not lust buckets, materialistic, selfish people. You're learning the ways of Jesus. This is what Jesus did the first time he shows up. He runs in. The very first miracle he commits in Matthew is with a leper. Now a leper is somebody who is a picture of a sinner. It's somebody who's dying from the inside out. It's a nerve disease. It's inside. It's underneath the skin that eventually makes its way out to where everybody can see it. Lepers were cut off from society. They had no relationship with anybody.
The very first casualty of every sin is always relationship, and a leper was completely cut off. When Jesus came down, it says, from giving the Sermon on the Mount, this sinner who heard the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," he said, "I'm poor in spirit. Lord, if you're willing, you can make me clean." Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said, "I'm willing." Immediately the grace of God went to work in his life, and immediately the grace of God can go to work in your life.
You're going to see God is moving towards you in this message. He moved towards lepers. He moves towards us not to judge us but to heal us. There is more mercy in Christ than there is sin in us. But where are you? Are you okay? Is sin still your friend, or are you sick and tired of being sick and tired, being cut off, hoping that the next thing will satisfy you even though you know it won't?
It has taken you further then you wanted to go, it has cost you more than you wanted to pay, and you can't believe you're still there. But he's willing. You just have to come. He wants to make the world right again. You're still going to be at war. It's not easy, Christian. He's not here to make your life more comfortable; he's here to save you.
Hey, Stephanie, if this plane was going down, aren't you glad you took what I offered you? But not because it made your life more comfortable. You're like an alien and a stranger in this group. But do you know what? When the plane starts to rattle and go down, everybody else is freaking out, and there's peace in you.
So you need to lose the lie that Jesus is here to just do. He isn't just here to do. He's not going to make things easier; he's here because he has done for you what you could never do from yourself. He will never be sweet until sin is bitter. I'm praying you get sick of sin, and I'm praying you might even have the wisdom to not have to drink deeply of it, but you'll just walk in the goodness of God.
Father, I pray in the weeks ahead as we talk about these seven expressions of rebellion, and Lord knows we've tasted them all at some level, that we would be reminded again that on the way of these things there isn't life in any form or fashion, but there's only life in you. So Father, we trust in you.
We come to you, and I pray that there's somebody out there tonight who just like that leper just says, "Lord, if you're willing, I believe you can forgive me. I look, and I see leprosy, I see brokenness, I see hopelessness, but Father, I also listened to your Word declared tonight, and I see you, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. And I let go of religion. I let go of the fig leaves of human works, and I say you have to clothe me in an innocent one that's shed because of my sin.
So, Lord, in poor in spirit I come to you, and I confess my sin. I believe in my heart, Lord, that Jesus is Lord and that you've raised him from the dead. And I confess with my mouth that he is Lord, and I thank you that that results in righteousness, and I believe in my heart that you raised from the dead, and that results in salvation.
And then, Lord, I want to walk with you. I no longer have to listen to this Liar who told me your Word is not true and disobeying it is not that big of a deal, and that you're not good, but I see your goodness, that you ran to me in my sin, and you love me, and you restore what my sin has lost. O Father, teach me your ways. Let me run with your people."
Let us sing your songs. Let us be light in the midst of darkness that others can see the goodness of our Savior. Thank you for the sweetness of your mercy and the goodness of your way. Let us sing and let us live in the goodness of God, amen.