We all need to recognize that there is an inescapable reality that confronts us regularly. Recognition of that reality paves the way to restoration and redemption. Everything that exists has a starting point. Faith has a starting point as well. That’s the focus of this series.
We did not begin this series with the statement, “Because the Bible says so…” Rather, we pose the question, “Who is Jesus?” We are going to swing back around to that question in a few weeks. Today, we tackle a term that always rears its ugly head in discussions about faith: That term is SIN.
MISTAKER or a SINNER?
Sin is an Uncomfortable and Somewhat Antiquated Term. We only use it in religious contexts. When my kids disobey, I don’t say, “You’ve sinned against me.” The idea of sin is uncomfortable because it leaves us with no wiggle room and no one to blame. It’s a hopeless and condemning word.
We Substitute Another Word. One that leaves us with lots of wiggle room. We use it as an ‘out’ and it makes the bad thing seem a little more hopeful. We use the term mistake. A mistake leaves us some room. A mistake implies that we had insufficient knowledge. It leads others to believe that we didn’t know any better.
BUT, here’s something I know about us: Sometimes we make “mistakes” on purpose. Sometimes we even plan our “mistakes.”
- Have 3 people in your group read Matthew 5:20–22, 27–28 from different translations of the Bible. Highlight any words or phrases that you find interesting. Discuss your selections.
- Why do you think our culture is uncomfortable with the word “sin”? Do you resist the idea that you are a sinner? Is there something offensive about that? If so, why? If not, why not?
Who Can Correct YOU?
We Make the Same “Mistakes” Repeatedly. What do you call someone who does that? You can correct a mistake. BUT… can YOU correct YOU?
You’ve tried to correct mistakes for years. Your spouse has tried to correct you. You may have even paid people to help correct you. iI’s likely, you have lost friends, a spouse, and maybe even jobs because of your propensity to make mistakes.
Why Can’t You Just Quit Making Those “Mistakes”? Why can’t you quit… losing your temper? Lying to your husband? Eating so much? Drinking so much? Looking at that stuff? Why can’t you correct yourself?
And, even when you aren’t making that mistake, you want to. What do you call a premeditated mistake that hurts somebody?
Restarting your faith journey requires an honest look in the mirror and coming to terms with the fact that perhaps you are not a mistaker. It’s deeper than that.
You should consider that you’re a sinner. A sinner is someone who knows better but does it anyway.
- Do you see evidence of sin in the world around us? If so, where?
- What kind of reaction does the word “sin” stir in you? What do you associate with it?
Jesus’ purpose in talking about sin was restoration, not condemnation.
Jesus believed sin separated us from God. He also believed that forgiveness connected us to God. But as long as we thought we were mistakers, we would never seek forgiveness. A mistake doesn’t require forgiveness—only correction. So, He raised the “goodness” bar so high that nobody was good—even the religious people. He said things like this to a bunch of “full time” good people . . .
Matthew 5:20–22, 27–28 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder . . .’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Then, in the face of such unattainable “goodness”, He insisted that He and God loved us anyway. For example, He said to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
So, you’re a sinner. But, God loves you anyway.
He told a story once of a son that broke his father’s heart. The way that son left home gave his father every reason not to restore him. But Jesus shocked everyone listening when He put these words in the story of the prodigal son and his Father. (Everyone listening would have concluded that this “Father” represented God.)
Luke 15:21–22, 24 “ . . . ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But . . . the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet . . . 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Moral of the Story: Recognition of sin paves the way to restoration and redemption.
Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
We would like to think that we are just mistakers who need correcting, but we know better.
Jesus came to bridge the gap created by our sin—not our unintentional mistakes, but our sin. Recognizing our sin paves the way to restoration and redemption. When we are ready to embrace the truth about our sinfulness, Jesus is ready to forgive our sins and restore our relationship with God.
- “Jesus’ agenda in pointing out our sin was not condemnation but restoration.” Is that statement difficult for you to believe? Why or why not?
- Read Luke 15:11–32. What’s most surprising to you about this parable? How does it challenge the way you view God?
- Do you resist the idea that you are a sinner? Is there something offensive about that? If so, why? If not, why not?
Used Under License from North Point Ministries