The Core Sunday Gathering

July 24, 2011

Sinner.

-Question: Who is the worst person who ever lived? (No living people, no one you know personally.)

        -How did you decide that?

        -How do you know if one person is a worse sinner than another?

-Last week we struggled a bit with the term Saint, and whether we are one.

        -Because even if the Bible calls all Christians “Saints”, we’re not quite ready to sign up just like that.

        -But we’re also not eager to wear a shirt with the opposite word on it.

                -That word being? Sinner. In case you need proof, let me refer you to Billy Joel

                -“I’d rather laugh with the ________ than cry with the _________.” Anyone?

                -So it’s obvious these words belong together.

        -Trouble is, you probably feel stuck in between them.

                -You might call yourself a Sinner if you’re offering a spiritual disclaimer or something

                        -like “of course I’m a sinner like everyone else, but…”

                        -That sounds nice… but you’re not too likely to just say “Yep. Sinner… that’s me. Ryan the Sinner.”

                        -And when you’re picking out a hat to wear out for the evening, the dunce hat is not your first choice.

                                -Although John Piper doesn’t mind pointing out that he’s a bad person.

                                -[VIDEO] http://www.videosurf.com/video/john-piper-is-bad-extended-video-7769929

                                -Question: Is he right? Are we all bad?

                -We might say so, because we like to think we’re humble people,

                -But humility is sort of a phantom, isn’t it?

                        -It’s a garment I wear when I think it will improve my looks

                                -Like grunge fashion... it may not be attractive,

                                        -but if it’s in style at the moment, sure I’ll put it on to be accepted.

                                        -But I’m also quick to change out of it as soon as the appeal disappears

                                -We want just enough humility to seem approachable, and not arrogant.

                                -Still… “Sinner” is not a label I’m crazy about… It’s overboard, right?

                                -Like somebody who’s fishing for compliments with a lot of false modesty

                                        -You know the people I’m talking about: the annoyingly humble people.

                                        -As if you introduced Tiger Woods as a great golfer and he’s like “nawww… seriously guys.”

                                        -Or Barack Obama as the nation’s first minority president, and he says “come on… no big deal.”

                                -These are the same people who are always pointing out what Sinners they are.

                        -So that you can respond by telling them that they really are good people, and not sinners.

                        -Once again, humility is a phantom… just a tool to get you to be nice to them.

        -And if it’s hard to use it on myself, it’s downright offensive to use it on someone else. It’s just out of the question.

        -So what are we supposed to do with the word “Sinner”?

                -We might as well start by figuring it out from God’s perspective, and look at how he sees us.

HEBREW

-[SLIDE] Khat-ta

        -Wicked; Offender – there’s really no wiggle room in this word. These are the Bad Guys. The Villains.

                -Pharaoh is the Khat-ta when he refuses to free the Israelites

                -And the Israelites are the Khat-ta when they build a golden calf

                -And Achan who stole a bunch of treasures from Jericho and buried them under his tent

                -And King Saul who attempts to murder David

                -These people are “blotted out of God’s book”. That’s not a threat, it’s a promise. A rough one.

GREEK

-[SLIDE] Hamartolos

        -One devoted to sin; enslaved to sin. A person who would call evil good and good evil        

                -Peter knows he is Hamartolos, because he’s afraid to even meet Jesus at first

                -The prostitute is labeled Hamartolos, who later anoints Jesus’ feet

                -And the tax-collector declares himself Hamartolos at the Temple, but he goes home right with God.

                        -Do you notice a difference yet, between the Khat-ta, and the Hamartolos?

        -The term gets used in Scripture, at first, as a behavioral designation

                -But eventually it gets wrapped up into people’s identities… as in “Once a Sinner, Always a Sinner.”

                        -The partiers at the tax-collectors house were called “sinners” even though they were following Jesus

                        -Even when she was in the middle of a beautiful act of worship, the prostitute was identified as a sinner.

                        -So they couldn’t shake that label: Sinner.

                -Sin becomes the manure that you used to wallow in, and you’ll never stop smelling like it.

                        -“Yep, he’s a poop-roller. He rolls in the poop.”

                        -“I think he stopped years ago.”  -“Hard to say… because he smells like poop.

        -Often we smell it on ourselves when no one else does.

                -So we’ve resigned ourselves to second-class status in the kingdom

                        -Not qualified for “real ministry”

                        -Not eligible for God’s promises or blessings

                        -And not deserving to be called his Beloved.

        -This… just so you know… is a LIE. It’s not just wrong, it’s actually a LIE, designed to pull us off the road.

        -We can’t forget that we WERE Sinners

                -Jesus says he didn’t come for the Saints, but for the Sinners. (Mt 9:13) And that’s what we all were.

                        -He says that he is a Friend of Sinners

                        -We take comfort in that… and rightfully so.

                                -We can take comfort that everything good about us is directly from Jesus. He brought us here.

                        -I’m glad my parents are diaper-changers. But thankfully that’s in my past, not my present.

                                -My mom changed my diapers back then, so that I could become the adult I am today.

                                -And Jesus is a Friend of Sinners, so that he can make Saints out of us.

DID YOU CATCH THAT? IF YOU’RE A CHRIST-FOLLOWER, YOU’RE NOT A SINNER ANYMORE.

        -Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.

        -And he has made Saints out of us.

                -Perhaps with more than our share of bruises

                        -I understand those bruises, and that struggle to shake the Sinner label

                        -We do the things we hate… Paul says it really well.

                        -Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

        -We will sin, but we are not enslaved to sin. We do not call evil good and good evil. And we let God heal us.

                -To make Saints out of us… more and more each day.

                -Not pious, judgmental, anal-retentive do-gooders

                -But gracious, colorful, lively, curious, generous, helpful, worshipful children of God.

                -Don’t just dream about it. You can decide right now to receive that identity from your Father.

PRAYER