MESSAGE FOR FEBRUARY 7, 1999 FROM ROMANS 6:12ff.
As we continue in the second half of Romans six, where Paul gives us some basic lessons in how we are to fight against sin, we need to pause and give a very broad over view of those truths we have seen about sin. First, we saw that just because Christ has given us freedom from sin’s controlling power, that does not mean there is not a fight to be fought against sin. We saw the Old Testament precedent to this paradox with the conquest of the promised land by the Jews. God had promised to GIVE the children of Israel the promised land, but there were still battles to be fought so that he might be glorified in the midst of the fight. The fight against sin must be viciously and energetically fought every day of our lives. That is primary. We must not look for any “remedy” for sin that doesn’t include a fight.
We have seen that sin is not merely an act, but a controlling power. Paul describes the power of sin in this context. Sin can be obeyed—v.16 and sin kills, etc... it’s a power, not fundamentally a behavior. We have seen that sin has its roots in what the New Testament calls “this world.” The “world” is that spiritual infrastructure in opposition to God and which is ruled by Satan. We saw that this world’s sinful pull concentrates its efforts in the Christian’s “flesh” or sinful nature—that spiritual reality which is anchored to and aligned with this world.
Paul tells us that in this fight against the reign of sin, there are only two opposing spiritual powers which vie for control over us. As we live our lives there are only two possible masters, either sin reigns or grace reigns in us. Part of the reign of sin is seen in its power to blind us as to our true relationship to God and sin. Therefore, a good test to see if we are being controlled sin is NOT to look for sin, which can so easily deceive, but to look for signs of the grace of God such as those found in the beatitudes. As we do this, we can discern more clearly and safely where the sin is in our lives. We saw from verses 12-13 that when we sin we are in fact actively serving the controlling power of sin. We are submitting ourselves to its control—placing our selves under the power of sin as its slave so as to carry out its destructive agenda in and through us. We saw this meant by extension that when we sin, we are actually warring against God and his kingdom because if we are not serving God by grace, we are hostile to Him.
That is a brief over view of what we have extracted from Romans 6:12ff about sin and its attempts to reign in our lives. As we seek to progress into more of Paul’s message about how we fight against sin, we must first emphasize one crucial truth that Paul has as an underlying presupposition. There is one element Paul simply assumes to be true of his audience in light of what we have just said about sin and if this element is not here, we will never find lasting liberty in our battle against the power of sin. We may know Pauline theology of sin better than Paul but if we are not armed with this one crucial attitude, we will not have any lasting display of the liberating grace of God in our life. That element, which we will spend some time this morning on is simply, the hatred of sin. In order for these truths about sin to be something we can draw on in our battle against sin, they must be coupled with a hatred of sin.
Any Christian and most any other reasonable person would say that sin is a bad thing and is to be avoided. Sin is not a good idea—it is distasteful and harmful. Those statements are true, but the Bible is clear that in order to fight and win against sin, we must not stop there. If our attitude toward sin stops at the level of distaste or even a strong desire to avoid sin, we will not see the power of sin consistently defeated in our life. The Bible clearly and repeatedly, implicitly and explicitly teaches that the healthy believer must have a holy hatred toward sin. Let’s look at three truths which dictate that we must have a hatred toward sin. The first reason we must hate sin is: The biblically prescribed way we are to deal with sin demands that we hate sin. We know that we must hate sin from the repeated references which speak to how we are to respond to sin.
The consistent message from Paul as to how we are to treat our sin is, KILL IT. Crucify it, mortify it, exterminate it. Romans 8:13 says, “…by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body…” Colossians 3:5 says,
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. You don’t tolerate sin, you don’t allow it to hang around and peacefully coexist with it. When you see sin in your flesh, you go after it with a vengeance. God has given us not only permission to kill sin, but he has put out a contract on the sin in our lives and has ordered us to carry out that contract. All Christians are commissioned to be contract killers when it comes to sin. We see it and we terminate it. We show no mercy toward it. We are to be merciless and vicious when it comes to sin. Sin should see us coming and cower in mortification. When it sees us drawing a bead on it, it should be kissing its loved ones goodbye, because it has met its executioner and there are no pardons—no stays of execution. We are to kill sin with brutal efficiency.
If we are to take this kind of cold-blooded action toward sin, that necessitates we hate it. Jesus, in Matthew five compares murder with hatred. The reason is murder and hatred come from the same place in the heart. Murder is hatred incarnated. You must hate to kill. That is obviously speaking of the evil kind of hatred. But one kind of hatred is not only NOT evil, it is holy. That is, a blood hatred of the sin in our lives. Many people in this room would be able to tell stories illustrating this truth. How does a long struggle against sin in our lives progress in many cases? It begins as a nuisance, then a problem, then a big problem, then a crisis, then a disaster. Your emotional disposition toward that sin grows proportionately to how we view that sin. When it’s a nuisance, you feel embarrassed by about it. When it’s a problem you feel troubled by it. When it’s a big problem you feel ashamed. When it’s a crisis, you feel sick about it but when it becomes a disaster, you HATE that sin and you don’t care what it takes, you know in your HEART, you just HAVE to get rid of that sin. This is the point at which many people truly repent of that sin--when they see it as disaster and hate it. The message of the Bible is that sin is ALWAYS a disaster--worse than we can realize, from the first moment we have it in our lives and we should hate it from the very beginning.
Why is it that sometimes it may take us weeks or months or years to work up to that point of hatred? One reason the Bible says we are to hate sin is because God is holy. “Be holy, [that implies a hatred of sin—holiness hates sin…why?] because God is holy.” One of the best and purest reasons to hate sin is because our holy God hates it and we who love God should hate it too. But when our love for God has grown lukewarm, we will hate sin for another reason. Our hatred for sin is NOT because we are so intimately in touch with a holy God who has the freedom in us to display his holy hatred of sin THROUGH us. No. Often, we end up hating sin at the end of a long, wearisome process because over time we come to painfully realize what it is DOING to us. It is a disaster to NOT primarily because it is a disaster in the eyes of a holy God, but because it threatens to hurt us—our relationships, our businesses, our quality of life. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and the guilt gets more and more and more uncomfortable until it becomes unbearable to us. Then, we by God’s grace end up hating that sin.
Now, that reason for hating sin is not evil and God, by His Spirit is not ashamed to use that motive. But wouldn’t it be better to hate sin because you love God so much and He is so real to us? Because He is our Father and we want to be like Him, to love what He loves and hate what He hates? Wouldn’t it be so much better if we were to hate the sin for HIS sake and not only our own? So few people are in that place and we need to repent of this lukewarmness which hates sin primarily because it is painful to US. The first reason we must hate sin is because the biblically prescribed way we are to deal with sin demands hatred of it.
The second reason we must hate sin is because to not hate it is to hate God. We dealt with this last week on another level, but we must see it again. James 4:4 says, “…friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes and enemy of God.” The lines are drawn in the sand here. To be a friend of the world which is the sin soaked, sin empowered domain of darkness is to hate God. This means by extension that if God is our close friend, then we will hate the world. (And as we sing in the choruses, he is our very BEST friend—our most intimate confidant) Remember, in Matthew 6:24 says, “"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” There is no room for loving the things of this world AND being a friend of God. That is not open to us. If we are to be God’s friend we must hate the world. This doesn’t mean that we will hate the PEOPLE of the world. NO, we are to love them because they are created in God’s image and Christ loves them and died for them. But we are to hate the sinful things of this world which exist in opposition to God and which the enemy of our souls seeks to use to pull us into sin.
Let’s ask the question—Do we HATE the sinful things of the world—really HATE them? Lets do a bit of testing in this area by pointing to some unmistakably worldly things and checking to see if we HATE them. A while back a motion picture was released. Now, I am using a movie to test to see whether we hate the things of the world NOT because ALL movies are inherently evil, but because the quickest way for many Christians in our culture to see how much they truly hate the world is to see how they relate to much of the media which is so saturated with the wickedness of this world. This motion picture, according to a published review carried in the dialogue 13 uses of the Lord’s name in vain. It portrayed in an unqualified positive light premarital sex which the Bible calls fornication. It also contained nudity.
Here is a movie which uses the Lord’s name in vain 13 times, contains fornication and nudity. Is it safe to say that this movie could be considered worldly in its content? If we don’t say “yes” we are in bad shape. The name of the movie is “Titanic.” I’m not looking down my nose at anyone because I have seen more than my share of awful films, but I have been shocked at how many Christians have gone around telling other believers that they just have to see this film with its blasphemy, fornication and nudity. The response to this might be, “But it wasn’t ALL bad—it was beautifully written, magnificently filmed and well acted—it was a work of art and was recognized as such.” All that is true, but let me ask you, if we really HATED fornication, nudity and blasphemy, would sit through a movie, regardless of its other virtues?
If I gave you a barbecued pork sandwich made with only the finest ingredients, but informed you there were three small chunks of raw sewage in it would you eat that thing? Of course not and the reason would be because it had raw sewage in it. You wouldn’t be the least bit tempted by the hearty seasonings, the fine cuts of meat and the fresh baked bun. That would make NO difference to you. All you would be able to think about is those two chunks of raw sewage. You would never swallow that because you, having never even eaten raw sewage HATE raw sewage!! The reason we can not only sit through a “Titanic” but come out raving about it is simply this, we don’t hate the sin of this world very much. And if we don’t hate the world very much, according to James we surely must not much of a friendship with God.
We need to be seeing these kind of artistically high quality productions, whether they be on television, books, or the theatre as spiritual seductresses. You see, when we see a production utilizing brilliant people and fabulous artistic facilities, we need to stop being wowed by that and start seeing it for what it often is, spiritual seduction. Think of it this way, if Satan were going to lull a Christian to sleep about the evils of blasphemy, fornication and nudity, do you think he would use as a conduit for this garbage a grotesque, disgusting ugly vehicle? NO! That would never attract us. He would include these wicked, evil elements against the back drop of some very beautiful, delightful elements. That kind of bait will attract some flies. Its about seduction, beloved. The most successful prostitutes are those who are the most beautiful. When are we (and I’m speaking first to myself) going to start seeing these offerings of the world not within the context of as art, (which is how the world defines it) but as spiritual seduction? We can tell how much we hate the sewage of this evil world by seeing how we respond to it even when it is presented to us in a beautiful package. The second reason we must have a hatred for sin is to not hate it is to hate God.
A third and final reason we must hate sin is: sin killed our best friend.” If you want to know the extent to which something is evil and deserving of our hatred, ask questions like—“how much beauty does it destroy?” “How much innocence does it defile?” “How much undeserved pain does it inflict?” Those kind of tests are the ones we commonly apply to measure evil and wickedness. The plain truth is, you will never find anything more deserving of our hatred using this test than sin because sin killed Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lamb of God. That title hearkens back to the sacrificial lamb. God had a law about sin and its payment. Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
If there was no sin, there would be no need for the shedding of blood and in that sense it was SIN that killed the lamb. Don’t misunderstand. We must never view Jesus as some sort of helpless victim. No, Jesus willing submitted himself to the lethal power of sin and he gave up his life, no one took it from Him. But the fact remains that in a very real sense sin killed Jesus. Sin took the most beautiful human being to ever live and stuck him naked to a cross and held him up as a cursed criminal, a target worthy of public ridicule and the spittle of men he created. That’s what sin did to Jesus. Sin took the most innocent being in history, the ONLY perfectly innocent man and defiled him with such putrid evil that his Holy Father, who loved him indescribably, was forced to turn away from his Son in utter disgust. That’s what sin did to Jesus. Sin brought the Lord of the universe into such agony that he cried out in total despair and anguish. That’s what sin did to Jesus.
Is Jesus our best friend? If he is and we love him half as much as we say we do in our hymns and choruses, and if sin is the perpetrator of such cosmic injustice, such heinous torment to this One we love more than anyone, what should be our natural disposition towards it? He is our betrothed—our bridegroom! If someone were to brutally kill your spouse or dearest loved one, wouldn’t that engender some hatred? Sin killed our best friend—if we don’t hate it, what might that say about our regard for Christ?
When we read Paul’s treatment of Romans six and our fight against sin, we have such a treasure store of truth to arm us for battle. But if we know these truths like the back of our hand, but go into battle against sin without a blood hatred for it, we will not find the liberty Christ died to bring us. Without this hatred for sin, we are doomed to frustration. This may be what has been what is missing for many of us. May God give us the grace to meditate on these and other reasons to hate sin and may he, by His Spirit produce a group a believers who love nothing more than God and who hate nothing more than sin.
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