Whatever Became of Sin?

by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio)

I John 3:1-10


Introduction: There is much talk today about reclaiming the culture. Reclaiming the culture is a pointless, futile exercise. We live in a post-Christian culture and are under the judgment of God. There is no use trying to polish the hand rails on the Titanic.

This is not pessimism - it is realism. Christ will build His Church as He promised. These days were predicted in II Timothy 3:1-5, 13. Forget social reconstruction - it is a waste of time and resources. The Church has become too willing to embrace the fads of the world; especially in psychology.

The problem is not too much activism, but too much assimilation. The Church is growing less concerned with sin and more obsessed with self-exoneration and self-esteem. We are losing sight of sin as the root of all human woes. Here is what we have today: temperament, addiction, dysfunctional families, the child within, codependency and other similar escape mechanisms.

When you remove the reality of sin, you take away the responsibility for repentance! Abolish human depravity and you make void the reason for salvation. Erase personal guilt then you eliminate the need for a Savior.

Dr. Karl Menninger said - "In all of the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of sin, a word which used to be a veritable watchword for prophets. Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins?"

Dr. Wayne Dyer is at the forefront of this movement. He named guilt as "the most useless of all erroneous zone behaviors." He says guilt is a neurosis. "Guilt zones", he wrote, "must be exterminated, sprayed clean and sterilized forever." The most prevalent means of escaping blame is by classifying every human failing as some kind of disease.

A San Francisco supervisor mounts a "Twinkie defense" to explain his illegal behavior. A former presidential adviser pleads not guilty to perjury because he consumed a quart of whiskey on a daily basis.

Here is where we are. A persistent pattern of conduct in which the basic rights of others and major age-appropriate societal norms and rules are violated is now called a conduct disorder. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior is called oppositional defiant disorder.

A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking is called histrionic personality disorder. A pattern of irresponsible and antisocial behavior beginning in childhood or early adolescence and continuing in adulthood is antisocial personality disorder.

Mental health is contingent upon - if not synonymous with - moral health. The first step to any truly effective remedy for mental and emotional afflictions is an honest assessment of one's own sin and the acceptance of complete responsibility for your own behavior.

In our text the Apostle John cites five proofs of profession to help you and me be sure we have not fallen away from the biblical truth concerning sin.

1. Is There An Eager Anticipation? (3:1-2)

2. Is There A Voluntary Purification? (3:3)

3. Is There A Constant Submission? (3:4-6)

4. Is There A Lack Of Deception? (3:7-8)

5. Is There A Clear Distinction? (3:9-10)

Conclusion: The heart can become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. These five questions serve as healthy reminders to help us all avoid being conformed to the world's system. There are indeed rare instances in organic brain disorders where a bona fide doctor and appropriate medications may be indicated.

However, in many instances the brain is fine but the heart (i.e. the seat of the will) needs to come to grips with its accountability to God. The Church is in real danger of trading in the Cross for a couch. We are told to "confess" our sins in I John 1:9. The Greek term means "to say the same thing" about something as God says.

If something is indeed a sin and we persist in calling it a sickness then there can be no genuine confession. Psychology is rapidly replacing preaching in the Christian media and the pulpits of the churches are not too far behind.

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