"Keep Your Eyes on the Road"
TEXTS: 1 John 1:8-10
1. Sin is deeply embedded into and onto our humanity. The pervasive nature of sin can even impact how we respond to our personal sin. Meaning, humanity often responds to sin in sinful ways; in a way that steers our hearts away from the goodness and mercy of God. And when we consider the construction of the OT tabernacle, and all the objects that the Lord directed His people to include in it, we can discern that the Lord is deeply concerned about our response to sin. Why? If we respond to sin wrongly, and have a flawed theology of sin, it will direct us to misunderstand and misinterpret the saving work of Christ.
2. You may be familiar with a certain story that appears in the news cycle periodically. The story details how an animal trainer, who focuses their work on apex predators (like lions), was mauled by the animal they care for and are in the process of training. And inevitably someone will say, “We are just so surprised this happened!? The trainer and their lion had a very close and loving relationship. We are in disbelief that this tragedy has unfolded!” But no one should be surprised. What can we expect to happen when someone puts their face right next to the face of an apex predator? This type of story serves as a good example of how humanity often “cozies” up to sin while wrongly thinking that it won’t hurt or devour us.
3. We discussed some of the basic realities about sin that the Word of God reveals to humanity. We referred to these realities as “foundational truths." Foundational truths are the universal realities that the Bible proclaims about sin (and we must know and understand them if we desire to build a solid and biblical theology of sin). What are some of the foundational truths concerning sin that we must grasp if we wish to build a healthy theology of sin? They are as follows: (1) we are not good people who are corrupted over time, we are born in sin and with a sinful nature (Romans 2), (2) sin can be defined as disobedience to God (Genesis 3), and (3) our sin nature has been passed down and inherited through every generation of humanity starting with our first parent and the representative of the human race–Adam (Romans 5).
4. Believers also need to be reminded of the effects of their sin. It is easy to wrongly think that the cost associated with sin is to simply feel uncomfortable in our souls and in church settings for a brief period of time following our decision to sin. But such thinking does not equip us to resist sin. Our hearts will harden and we can find ourselves thinking, “I can choose this sin because I am willing to pay the costs!” But that type of logic greatly underestimates the true effects of sin. Sin destroys, the consequences of sin are painful and confusing, and we seldom consider just how far-reaching the effects of our sin will be.
5. How can we discern what sin is and isn’t? We primarily discern sin by: our conscience, our relationship with the Holy Spirit, and by reading and hearing the Word of God. But we must understand some nuances concerning how we discern sin. First, the Word of God is the highest and ultimate authority regarding what sin is and isn’t. Secondly, we cannot rely solely and fully on our conscience to discern sin. Why? Our consciences can be misinformed by our culture, our family, our upbringing, and many other things. Meaning, our internal sense of justice and morality can be shaped in a way that contradicts the Word of God. In short, no single person can decide for themselves what sin is and isn’t. But know this--if you are a child of God, you will know what your sin is. God will be in constant conversation with you about it. Not to nag or condemn you, but rather so He can extend forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.
6. At the heart of sin is a failure to image God correctly. We were created in the image of God and to be image-bearers of God. For example, when we are truthful we communicate to those around us that the God we serve–the God who made us “like Him” in His image–is also truthful. It works in the negative sense as well. If we withhold forgiveness, we communicate to the world that the God we serve is not willing to offer humanity forgiveness. Choosing to sin is essentially proclaiming to the world that sin can provide for us better than our Creator can. Therefore, when we choose to sin we are communicating a lie about God to the world, which disconnects us from the purpose of our existence, and that causes unrest in our souls. This view of sin is far superior to the view that many in our culture have adopted: that sin is simply breaking the rules, and God gets grumpy when you break His rules, so you better listen or He will get mad and punish you.
7. Humanity often responds to and deals with sin in wrong and unhelpful ways. What are some of those typical responses? We can wrongly respond to sin by attempting to: (1) minimize our sin, (2) legitimize our sin, (3) rationalize our sin, (4) shift the blame for our sin, (5) divert focus and attention off of our sin, (6) use worldly grief as motivation for repentance, (7) embrace our sin, or (8) punish ourselves for our sin while allowing self-hatred to permeate our hearts and minds.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. Can you think of any examples concerning how we often adhere to a flawed theology of sin? What are some lies about sin that many people have in place as their foundation to understanding and dealing with sin?
2. How do we "cozy" up to sin (Truth 2)? What does this practically look like in the life of a believer?
3. Can you think of any additional "foundational truths" about sin that were perhaps not mentioned on Sunday morning?
4. Discuss how a believer discerns what sin is and isn't. How have you observed sin being pointed out in your own relationship with the Lord?
5. Which wrong response to sin seemed to resonate with you? Have you had to deal with one of them in your personal battle against sin and, if so, how did you navigate overcoming that sinful response? In other words, what helped you get to the place where you could face that sin with the proper response?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- To develop a healthy and biblical view of sin
- On behalf of those who find themselves totally discouraged in the fight against their sin