Thursday, September 8, 2016

What We Believe - Why Don’t You Just Be Yourself? (The Doctrine of Sin)

Below are notes from our seventh discussion in a series entitled "What We Believe." This 14-session series considers the fundamental doctrines of Christians. This week we discussed the nature of sin. You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

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Focus of this Session
  • We’re in a series dealing with some of the great questions of faith/doctrines of the church.
  • During this session we’ll focus on the question: Why don’t we just be ourselves? To answer this, we’ll consider the Doctrine of Sin. 
  • During the session, we’ll use the Bible to define the core of sin.
At the Core of Sin
Image result for nature of sin
  • Genesis 3:1-13 - Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”
  • Romans 1:20-32God's eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That's why those people don't have any excuse.  They know about God, but they don't honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark.  They claim to be wise, but they are fools.  They don't worship the glorious and eternal God. Instead, they worship idols that are made to look like humans who cannot live forever, and like birds, animals, and reptiles.  So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies.  They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen. God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural. Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds. Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That's why they do all sorts of indecent things. They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip,  say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil. These people don't respect their parents. They are stupid, unreliable, and don't have any love or pity for others. They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.
  • Romans 2:1-11Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things. We know that God is right to judge everyone who behaves in this way. Do you really think God won’t punish you, when you behave exactly like the people you accuse? You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him? But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness. God will reward each of us for what we have done. He will give eternal life to everyone who has patiently done what is good in the hope of receiving glory, honor, and life that lasts forever. But he will show how angry and furious he can be with every selfish person who rejects the truth and wants to do evil. All who are wicked will be punished with trouble and suffering. It doesn’t matter if they are Jews or Gentiles. But all who do right will be rewarded with glory, honor, and peace, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. God doesn’t have any favorites!
  • Romans 2:12-29Those people who don’t know about God’s Law will still be punished for what they do wrong. And the Law will be used to judge everyone who knows what it says. God accepts those who obey his Law, but not those who simply hear it. Some people naturally obey the Law’s commands, even though they don’t have the Law. This proves that the conscience is like a law written in the human heart. And it will show whether we are forgiven or condemned, when God appoints Jesus Christ to judge everyone’s secret thoughts, just as my message says. Some of you call yourselves Jews. You trust in the Law and take pride in God. By reading the Scriptures you learn how God wants you to behave, and you discover what is right. You are sure that you are a guide for the blind and a light for all who are in the dark. And since there is knowledge and truth in God’s Law, you think you can instruct fools and teach young people.  But how can you teach others when you refuse to learn? You preach that it is wrong to steal. But do you steal? You say people should be faithful in marriage. But are you faithful? You hate idols, yet you rob their temples. You take pride in the Law, but you disobey the Law and bring shame to God.  It is just as the Scriptures tell us, “You have made foreigners say insulting things about God.” Being circumcised is worthwhile, if you obey the Law. But if you don’t obey the Law, you are no better off than people who are not circumcised. In fact, if they obey the Law, they are as good as anyone who is circumcised. So everyone who obeys the Law, but has never been circumcised, will condemn you. Even though you are circumcised and have the Law, you still don’t obey its teachings. Just because you live like a Jew and are circumcised doesn’t make you a real Jew. To be a real Jew you must obey the Law. True circumcision is something that happens deep in your heart, not something done to your body. And besides, you should want praise from God and not from humans.

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