Sunday’s Sermon 8/18/19

Sunday’s Sermon 8/18/19

Today’s back to basics lesson is on sins and sacrifices.

Again, like everything else in this basics series, you can not read the Bible and miss this. In fact, the Bibleis so filled with the notion of sins and sacrifices that we can read it and yet be numb and even blind to what that means. As Isaiah said and Jesus repeated: Hearing they don’t hear and seeing they don’t see! He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Let’s look at sins and sacrifices… Imagine if today, for worship, we were to bring in our sacrificial animals to be killed and bled out and the blood sprinkled on alters and carcasses burned as a sacrifice for our sins. Can you even imagine doing that? That’s so far removed from our American culture and sphere of experience. We don’t even think about doing such things, do we? In our culture the word “sin” has fallen out of use, and the word “sacrifice” is probably used more in sports than anywhere else in normal conversation. A fresh look at these first principles is in order. We need to reclaim these basic biblical concepts and realize that they are critical aspects of life, not to be shoved into a religious hole or relegated to Sunday’s church talk.

When we open the pages of the Bible, from Genesis 4 on, we read about sin and sacrifices all through the entire 66 books! We see that the great and final sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, everything before Him stands as a shadow of Him, and everything afterward stands in His shadow too. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is THE very center piece of all human history. Jesus Christ marks all of time: BC to AD. Of course, Jesus Christ is the center of our worship, and Jesus as our sacrifice for our sins is the very pinnacle of the Christian faith. But also, Jesus Christ’s purpose of saving sinners through His sacrificial death on the cross, has no equal anywhere in heaven or on earth.

Talk about a basic Christian principle! Nothing else compares to this. Nothing else even comes close. So, as I said, it is good for us then, to reflect on this basic principle of our Christian faith, since everything else falls in the shadow of it and finds it’s meaning through it. In Christ are found all the treasures of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and particularly is this so concerning His sacrifice for our sins. I am tempted to do a summary review of the Bible on sin and sacrifices, but that would take us a year’s worth of lessons. I select these: Genesis 4 gives us the first example: Abel’s offering of the firstlings of his flock received God’s favor. Abel offered a blood sacrifice, pleasing to God. Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God so Cain, in anger, allowed sin in the door or his heart and shed the blood of his own brother. Sin brings bloodshed. This truth cuts two ways. The bloodshed of Abel’s lamb in sacrifice to God brought God’s favor. Cain’s bloodshed of his brother, Abel, brought God’s punishment.

Sin brings death, bloodshed, and violence. Sin is the antithesis of God’s righteousness, corrupting and destroying all that is good in God’s creation. Sin is the evil we naturally desire when we turn away from God, fail to listen to God, and disobey God. Sin breaks God’s word, but… we will ultimately see, that sin is finally broken and defeated by God’s word. Sin is broken through God’s ultimate sacrifice. True sacrifice is the path back to God from sin. Blood sacrifices depict the punishment of God against sin. Sin brings death, blood sacrifice (death) is the price and punishment for sin.

The wages of sin is… death. But the gift of God (the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ) is eternal life. Sin brings death, God’s sacrifice brings life. Here’s the biblical truth: Sin is here, and it kills us. Eph. 4:1-2, James 1:14-15. Hell is the second and final death. It is the place prepared for the devil and his angels, the lake of fire, the eternal place of torment, shut out from the very source of life. No one lives in hell, you die there, eternally in the state of spiritual death and condemnation against sin. Hell is the place where the total wrath of Almighty God is unleashed without limit against his enemies. Jesus Christ spoke more on hell than anyone else in all of scripture. Why? He knows what hell is. He came here to save you and me from it. His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, was to take away our sins, and lead us back to God’s eternal life.

Here’s the tough two-sided part.

First, sin is a lot of fun, for a while. Sin looks desirable. Sin calls your name and tells you that your

missing out if you don’t do it. Sin crouches at your door. Its desire is to have you, but you must master

it. That’s what God said to Cain. What did Cain do? He opened the door and let sin in. What do you do

when sin comes knocking? Sin is the most natural thing you can do. Eph. 2:3. We are by nature,

children of wrath. It’s natural! It’s fleshly! It’s everywhere! And it’s killing everybody in its grip. It was

sin that killed Jesus Christ on that cross! Your sin… my sin… Sin brings forth death. Is that what you

want? Do you really want to crucify the Son of God again? And again… and again? Sinners don’t know

what they are doing. But you and I, Christian brothers and sisters, we know. We know. Hold up your

left hand and look at it. Imagine a nail right there in your wrist, and it’s driven into a tree. Every time

you sin, you drive it in deeper. Is that what you want? Listen to Proverbs 5:21-23. You see, if we don’t

believe in God’s word, we will break it without caring. But the one who hears God’s word and believes

it, and is broken hearted, poor in spirit, who mourns over their sins and meekly submits to God’s will,

and embraces the sacrifice of Christ in obedient faith, will, in the end, receive God’s eternal reward of

everlasting life in glory. But sin is just so easy for us.

Second, sacrifice is hard. It requires letting go of what your flesh naturally wants. It is out of sync with

the world. You’re not going to be cool with all your unbelieving friends if you decide to follow Jesus.

Jesus said, “If anyone would be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34. This is one of the few statements of Jesus that all three of the

synoptic gospels repeat. God wanted to make sure we got it. By the way, following Jesus is a lot more than just what happens in church assemblies. That’s another first principle we need to get through our heads and into our hearts. Churches talk about losing their youth, I’m not sure we’ve ever had as many of them as we think. How many of our children are learning to obey all that Jesus commanded us and are faithfully following Him outside of the church walls? How many of our adults are leading their children to follow Jesus in their homes and outside of these walls?

Do we really want to embrace the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Do we not realize that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you and I could live as we please and do what we want in this world? There’s so much more! But let’s finish with this story –