In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his series on Travels with Jesus. Here, he talks about what Jesus had to say about sin– an inside job. Here are some excerpts:
Sin is an inside job. It is a reflection of who we are in our fallenness apart from God’s saving grace. Jeremiah minced no words in declaring that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). John Calvin said: “The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood lurks, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself.” Neither of these is an optimistic or hopeful diagnosis, is it?
(Let me add a parenthesis here to say that the doctrine of total depravity [the T in the TULIP acronym] does not mean that you or I or those we love are as bad, as evil, as wickedly depraved as we can possibly be. “Total depravity” is probably not the best way to frame it. R.C. Sproul, I think, preferred the term “radical sinfulness” to describe the fallen condition of our hearts apart from the saving work of Christ.
We are radically sinful in the sense that, as the word radix implies, we are sinful at the core of who we are. It is not that we are as bad as we can possibly be, but that sin has tainted us in every way and in everything we do. Jesus believed – and believes – in the doctrine of radical sinfulness. He knows it to be true; that every one of us is born with a sinful bent. He knows that we are all natural-born sinners. It is not a flattering thought or a popular idea these days. But it is true. End of parenthesis.)
From a human point of view, there is no cure for the human heart. There is no cure for the evil (and the capacity for evil) that resides in the heart of every person. There is no vaccine you can take or program you can install that will remove the virus of sin in your life.
The sin-virus that resides in each human heart manifests itself in a multitude of ways. Jesus mentions no fewer than 13 of them:
This list is representative, not complete. Paul gives a similar list in Galatians 5:19-21, before contrasting it with the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23). Not all of these may be besetting sins or recurring temptations in your life. I hope not! But if you’re honest with yourself and honest with God, I have no doubt that you see yourself in some of these actions and attitudes that reside in a sinful human heart.
This would be a reason for despair, if not for the magnificent message of God’s grace to us in His Son Jesus Christ. Sin is an inside job. In a different way, so is grace.
Proverbs 4:23 says that heart is “the wellspring of life.” The heart – your heart – is so important that the Bible says: “Above all else, guard your heart ….” Above all else! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important in your life than the spiritual condition of your heart.
Sin… starts in the heart and works its way out in our attitudes and actions and words. But we are not stuck in our sins. You are not stuck in your sins. Nor am I in mine. Why? Because of grace. God’s grace, which comes free of charge to people who don’t deserve it and never will, changes us from the inside out. It changes us on the inside, and the change it makes in us – inside – finds expression on the outside in the way we live.
Let me ask you:
Sin is an inside job. Pastor Neil has much more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.