by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Romans 13:11-14
I. I received a complaint several years ago. After reading an article on why sex outside of marriage is sin, the reader complained, “I wish you guys would pay more attention to the golden rule, ‘love thy neighbor,’ than all the homophobic and ‘sex is sin’ stuff.”
A. After pointing out that the article did not say sex was sin, but only sex outside of marriage was sinful, I began dealing with the idea teaching against sin and teaching the golden rule were two different topics.
B. It was especially interesting as the website at the time contained over 1,400 pages of material at the time of the complaint, less than 50 dealt with sexual sins and most of those were responses to direct questions from readers; yet I was accused of being too focused on this one topic.
1. About ten years ago, about 12% of the 7,500 pages on the website covered sexual issues.
2. I don’t have a good way to measure it at the moment.
C. The truth was that he objected because the article he read applied to his situation and he didn’t want to listen to it.
1. He later confirmed this. “Alas, I do live in sin, but it’s not homosexuality; I live with my girlfriend.”
2. Not that he was interested in changing.
3. He needed to say I was wrong so that he could feel justified in his own sins.
4. He wasn’t interested in leaving his sins. “If living in sin with my girlfriend is my worst sin, I’ll gladly take it.”
D. He continued, “I feel the golden rule is being ignored by the church these days: the laws that say “love thy neighbor and your enemies and love God with all your heart.” Maybe if you teach these principles instead of pointing fingers, people will follow you. Sure, you teach that homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and the rest of your favorite subjects are sin. That’s fine, but I believe there are more pressing issues that are leading men astray.”
II. How does a person teach “love God?”
A. Jesus stated that loving him involved obedience - John 14:15, 21-24
B. Friendship with God means doing as He directs - John 15:10-14
C. You cannot know and love God without keeping His commandments - I John 2:3-6
D. Keeping His commandments is loving God - I John 5:3
E. When a person sins, he is breaking the laws of God - I John 3:4
1. Hence, teaching against sin is teaching people to love God
2. It is not the whole, because people also need to be taught righteousness.
3. There are two halves, casting off sins and putting on righteousness - Romans 13:11-14
F. Yet, the idea that a person can be righteous while remaining in sin is foolishness - I Corinthians 15:34
1. We have died to sin - Romans 6:1-2
2. We must cease from sin - I Peter 4:1-2
III. How does a person teach “love your neighbor?”
A. The first passage that popped into my head - Romans 13:9-10
1. Loving your neighbor means not sinning!
2. Why? Because most sins involve harming a fellow human being.
3. Think about this way, it is generally recognized that the last six of the Ten Commandments are an application of the idea of loving your neighbor, but five of those six are commands to not sin.
a. Only “honor your mother and father” is stated in the positive
B. Loving your neighbor is considered the second greatest command because it is the natural result of loving God - I John 5:2
C. It is God’s command to love one another, and thus keeping God’s command results in loving your neighbor - I John 3:22-24; 4:21
D. We cannot love our neighbor while remaining in sins that harm our neighbor - Ephesians 4:20-32.
E. It is again a two-sided problem. Sins must be discarded while righteousness is added - Colossians 3:1-15
IV. Sadly, some think sin doesn’t matter
A. The man who is committing fornication, but doesn’t think it is so bad, told me, “As I said, you’ve got your own beliefs. Some people believe music and dancing is a sin. Who am I to argue with them? Whatever gets them to heaven.”
1. In other words, you have your sins, I have my sins, but none of that matters because we’re all going to heaven.
2. It’s sad, because it is not even close to biblical.
B. I pointed out several passages that clearly stated that his “favorite” sin of fornication will keep him out of heaven.
1. I Corinthians 6:9-10 - He will not inherit the kingdom
2. Revelation 21:7-8 - A part of the second death (hell)
a. This list is particularly interesting because it combines things that many feel are minor sins with those people see as major sins
(1) Minor? : cowardly, unbelieving, disgusting, lying
(2) Major? : murder, fornication, sorcery (or drug users), and idolatry.
b. He didn’t like having fornication being equated to murder by the way.
C. There is only one way to heaven - Matthew 7:13-14
D. It is a sin to alter God’s message - Galatians 1:6-10
E. Does my little sin matter? Oh most certainly! Recall - Romans 6:1-2, 12-19
V. We will appear before God to be judged - II Corinthians 5:10
A. There is no escape - Romans 2:2-11
B. Do you want to face God’s love or God’s wrath? The choice is yours to make.