Preaching On Sin and Responsibility

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Sin and responsibility may not be the most comfortable topics about which to talk or preach. No one really wants to consider that they are responsible for something they did i.e. sin. It is much easier to blame sins on someone else as if they some how caused the sin and, therefore, avoid personal responsibility. It is much easier to compare one’s sin to another person’s much worse sin in order to minimize sin and personal responsibility.

Is taking personal responsibility of sin minimized because of the way sin is expressed at times from the pulpit? Is the sinner a victim of sin or a perpetrator? Is it all Satan’s fault?

When thinking about preaching on sin and responsibility one approach that seems popular today is that the sinner is the no-fault victim of their sin. The sermon isn’t usually worded in such a straight forward victim-hood manner, but an illustration is used in which the sinner plays the part of the victim.

For example, an illustration may be given where a person finds himself in a burning building with no way out. The person is afraid, helpless and trapped inside by no fault of their own. The message to the person in the pew is that they are a victim of this burning building. The building, of course, represents their sin. Jesus may then be rightly presented as the only Savior who can rescue them.

But what does this approach to sin express to the sinner about responsibility and repentance?

A better illustration of a person trapped inside a burning building would be that the person is a rebel sinner who started the fire. Scripture tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23 ESV). The sinner is a rebel against God who commits and is responsible for their own sin which, without Jesus, earns him death.

The sinner is trapped in a burning building because that is where they want to be in an effort to get away from the authorities (who represent God). The sinner has, in essence, taken himself hostage with his own sin as he destroys the building with fire. And he loves it. Jesus arrives on the scene to rescue the rebel. Only Jesus, the living water, can put out the destructive flames of sin for all who turn/repent of their sin and trust in Him.

When thinking about sinners being guilty perpetrators of sin one’s understanding of the gospel and sinfulness before God is affected. There is also a clear measure of grace and humility that shines through in the gospel when it is presented to at-fault, guilty sinners. Trusting the gospel’s power in evangelism to convert the rebel sinner is also encouraged when it is understood that the sinner is not a victim for the sinner does not save himself.

As for Satan, he is not a cuddly baby in a costume luring innocent victims to rebel against God and people should not walk away believing they are such victims.

Thoughts?

 

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tagged as , , , in Church Issues,Evangelism,Gospel,morality,Sermons,theology

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TT December 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Self-portrait?

2 Mark December 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Yep. My favorite outfit. 😉

3 Steve Martin December 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I think you have it exactly right, Mark.

“The sinner is trapped in a burning building because that is where they want to be in an effort to get away from the authorities (who represent God). The sinner has, in essence, taken himself hostage with his own sin as he destroys the building with fire. And he loves it.”

Very well said. We are not innocent victims of an outside force. We are complicit with it. Indicted co-conspirators, for sure.

But thanks be to God that He loves sinners. He doesn’t love their sin, but He loves them…so much so that He was willing to die for us.

What a God!

4 Mark December 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Thanks, Steve. I agree with your words also. What a God.

5 Chris @ PrayBuddy.com December 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Sin and repentance are the whole reason that Jesus came and died. God desired that we would repent, believe, and be saved. When we avoid crucial topics like these… it really waters down the gospel message.

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