PULPIT TODAY SERMON
by Robert D Pace
POWER OVER SIN
(Humor) Everyone wants mastery over various issues of life. In fact, a newlywed couple was discussing who would be responsible for making the decisions in the family. As the conversation ensued, the young man attempted to explain the Biblical role of male headship to his wife. His bride listened politely until he finished his sound, doctrinal discourse. She replied: “Honey, you may be the head but I’m the neck and I’ll turn you any direction I want.”
Let’s read our text in John 8.
I. The Truth About Sin
Servitude and slavery have always been an affront to mankind with its bondage, forced labor, and abuses. There’s nothing sacred about it. And while men declare they don’t want to be enslaved, everyone is enslaved. Enslavement can occur in the form of habits, emotional turmoil, addictions, or pain. Everyone is in the process of trying to free themselves from something. We will discuss this later, but for now let’s consider Christ’s words in our text.
This is one of those occasions when Jesus infuriated the Jews. Even the casual reader can detect their anger. As slaves of the Egyptians centuries earlier, the Jews were overly sensitive about the subject of slavery. And here’s how Jesus, a Jew Himself, reignited the controversy. Jesus looked into the eyes of His audience and said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Instantly the Pharisees fired back saying: “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You shall become free’?”
Christ’s very insinuation of Israel being in slavery supremely insulted the Jews. And that’s despite the historical evidence that proved they had been enslaved numerous times. For example: the Jews had been captives to the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and now the Roman Empire had subdued Jerusalem and the entire Middle Eastern world.
But Jesus statement transcended the physical act of slavery that the Jews repeatedly endured. They had misinterpreted Christ’s statement. Jesus wasn’t referring to National slavery, He referred to their spiritual slavery. Jesus knew the Jews were captive to sin and unbelief. That’s why He said, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” This is the greatest bondage known to man. And it’s universal.
But once the Jews realized Jesus referred to their spiritual slavery their anger intensified. And you have to understand their thinking. The Hebrews considered Abraham to be their Religious Prime Minister. He was the eminent personage of their Patriarchs. Abraham was without equal in Hebrew history as he towered over their prophets, priests, and kings. And Scripture supports this assessment! The Bible calls Abraham “the friend of God.”
But here’s the problem: The Jews assumed their genealogical connection with Abraham, “the friend of God” also gave them a spiritual connection to god. They assumed the righteousness God imputed to Abraham was automatically transferred to them. But let’s not be too quick and smug to indict the First Century Jews of this error without examining ourselves. Many people were Born Again five, ten, or twenty years ago,” yet today, they live without any spiritual fruit or passion for Christ.
Notice what John the Baptist said about our spiritual connection to God in Matthew 3:8. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (9) And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” That statement is clear: We are not connected to God through a rich Christian heritage from our parents. Our spiritual connection to God comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
In a nation where seventy-five million people claim to be Christians, I believe Jesus is saying: “Real Christians produce spiritual fruit. And when people are connected to Christ they will manifest the “fruit of the Spirit.”
(Transition) That leads us to point two. I want to talk about “The Slavery of Sin.” Perhaps that sounds harsh and offensive. I’m not trying to sound that way, but the fact remains: The Slave-master of sin can destroy you.
II. The Slavery of Sin
Romans 6:16 says: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (15) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (16) Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (17) But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (18) You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
That couldn’t be clearer! Those that transgress God’s Word are enslaved to sin. Those that obey God’s Word are enslaved to righteousness. The Bible says “sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” Conversely, Christ and His Word bring forth eternal life! Now, which do you choose? It’s important to serve the right Master because it can make the difference between life and death.
(Transition) Consider the consequences of being enslaved to the sinful nature. First, slavery to sin is controlling.
A. Slavery to sin is controlling.
Have you heard someone say: “It’s my life and I’ll live the way I want?” Nothing could be further from truth. People that practice sin don’t do what they want, they do what sin wants! Sin is dominating. Its grip and pull are greater than the force of gravity!
Certain sins are so strong that they are nearly inescapable without supernatural help.
Harmful substances can become so controlling you can hardly go an hour without them.
Drugs can dominate the behavior of people.
Pornography can be worse than a bad habit.
(Quote) That’s why Simon Peter said: “for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Peter 2:19). The philosopher Seneca said: “A man can get into such a state that in the end he hates and loves his sins at the same time.”
(Transition) But then sin is not only controlling it’s confining.
B. Sin’s slavery is not only controlling it’s confining.
(Illustration) Years ago, the African people discovered a unique way to capture animals. They would hollow a log and cut a hole just large enough for the animal to press through its hand. Then they would place bait inside the log. When the animal discovered the bait, it would squeeze through his hand, and clench its fist around the food. But with a clenched fist, it couldn’t remove its hand with the bait. And that’s when captors would apprehend the animal. The animal lost its freedom simply because it wouldn’t release its desire.
That’s what sin does to people! Sin can be so alluring that once people grip it they can hardly release it, even though it’s leading to their captivity. And the power of sin can eventually incarcerate the strongest of people. It’s what the Apostle Paul said. Nobody can master it.
Let me speak tenderly to someone that has taken the first step toward something that can ruin you. You know this is something that displeases God. With the love of God I urge you to abandon it! Forsake it! One link of sin won’t confine you, but it always leads to another link, and then another, and another. And the interconnected links of sin will finally form a chain that you can’t break.
That’s how it begins! It starts with one insignificant link of sin. Then you add another link. Eventually, you’re dragging around the heavy chain of sin and you realize you’re bound. But you can’t break free! You’re shackled and you can’t simply walk away. Satan has you captured.
There always comes a point when you no longer have a grip on sin; sin has its grip on you. You’re consumed by it and it not only controls your thinking it controls your behavior. Eventually, sin will lose its luster and start tormenting you.
But there is an answer! You must appeal to Calvary. You bow at the place where Jesus conquered sin and ask for His help.
(Illustration) Years ago I preached for a “seasoned” Missionary/Pastor in Naples, Florida. He said: “The older I get, the more I discover that everything happening in life is provoked by spiritual forces.”
I’ve also discovered the truth of that statement. There are evil spirits that cloak themselves behind life’s pleasures. Label them whatever you want: demons, Satanic forces, “principalities and powers.” Just remember, dark forces influence this world in the worst possible way. These spirits never work for human good. They seek to manipulate us like puppets.
When you dabble with sin, you’re not dabbling with “abstract evil.” Sin isn’t a vague, ambiguous thought. You are entertaining the agents of Satan. And you’re no match for them! That’s why Jesus commands us to repent from sin. He commands us to turn from evil and place ourselves in the path of righteousness. That’s why we can’t play games with sin. Sin isn’t harmless and we shouldn’t attach harmless euphemisms to it. We shouldn’t excuse it or pass it off as a personality disorder. Sin is what it is!
Realize something: The world system is sin’s Best Friend! That’s why culture, society, and government always placate it. Sin knows how to “turn a profit,” so government makes room it under the cloak of taxation or “added revenue.” A sizable portion of society embraces abortion and alternate lifestyles, so politicians curry the favor of voters and appeal for “tolerance” toward these issues. Again, the world system is sin’s Best Friend!
Perhaps temptation isn’t looming largely over you at this moment. But somebody you know is wrestling with sin and you have a responsibility to help them overcome it. The Apostle Paul said Christians have a duty to pray for those being lured into temptation. Listen to his words in 2 Timothy 2:26. Paul said we should pray for men to come “to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Do you pray like that? If not, start praying that way today. Pray faithfully for your loved ones to overcome their temptations. Sin is destructive and incarcerating!
(Transition) Third, let’s discuss, Slavery to Jesus Christ.
III. Slavery to Jesus Christ
Let me repeat a statement from the introduction. Everyone is enslaved to something—everyone! But today I’m asking you to submit to the loving lordship of Jesus. When you do that, you will discover a satisfying sense of well-being and liberty. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
Ironically, being the bondslave of Christ is the highest position in life. The Apostles knew this and that’s why they proudly proclaimed their servant-hood to Christ:
Romans 1:1 Paul called himself “a servant of Jesus Christ.”
In James 1:1 the Lord’s half-brother referred to himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ.”
In 2 Peter 1:1 Simon identified himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ.”
And in Revelation 1:1 John called himself a “servant of Jesus Christ.”
There’s a reason the Apostles submitted to Christ’s lordship: they knew servitude to Christ meant more than being His slave, it meant being His child. And if we’re God’s children, it means everything belonging to Christ belongs to us! This is what Galatians 4:7 means when it says, “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (NASU).
We are heirs of God’s promises, provisions, blessings, and the inheritance prepared for us in heaven.
He’s given us the ability to master sin; not endure the bondage of it.
He’s given us “precious and magnificent promises.”
(Illustration) There is an interesting and factual story told of buzzards. These are the giant-feathered fowls serving as nature’s cleanup crew; environmentalists of a sort. When these vultures are placed in a cage 8’ square, with the top completely open, they cannot escape! They remain imprisoned to their surroundings. These vultures need 10’ to 12’ to sprint to their takeoff. And without that takeoff space they remain captive for life. Additionally, the nocturnal cave-bat cannot take flight from level ground. It needs uneven ground or slight elevation to thrust itself into the air. Further, bumblebees cannot escape from a long-neck bottle. They are unable to lift their eyes and see an escape hatch.
In many ways we resemble those creatures. We struggle tirelessly to escape the constraints of sin and temptation. Unfortunately, we aren’t always able to break free because we’re employing the methods of man without soliciting the help of God. Here’s what we must understand: Deliverance from our sins does not involve our vain attempts to GET OUT. We are powerless against some sins. Deliverance from our sins involves us LOOKING UP. We must look up to Jesus Christ, who offers freedom from all bondage! And his love and compassion are waiting to set you free.