Results from a new study released from Ellison Research finds that 13 percent of Americans do not believe at all in the concept of sin. But, a majority of Americans (87%), however, do believe in this concept and they include adultery (81%), racism (74%), use of hard drugs (65%), failing to say anything if they’re given too much change by a cashier (63%), having an hard drugs (56%), cheating on their taxes (52%) and homosexual activity (52%) as sin. “Sin” was defined in the research as “something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective.” (Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, 3-14-08)

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In a recent “Wizard of Id” comic strip, the watchman calls out, “Who goes there?” A voice in the darkness answers back, “I’m a man of the cloth looking for sinners.” The watchman countered, “Well, you’ve come to the right place.”

The fact is that the sinners’ club is a big one. Dare we say our nation, community and even our churches are full of them? But, we have a message for that big club. While all have sinned, we have a savior who came to take away the sins of the world.

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An old Frank and Ernest comic shows Frank asking Ernest, “Which would you rather do?Watch virtue triumph in a movie, or evil triumph in a newscast?”Sometimes it seems we can’t see virtue triumph anywhere, but the Bible tells us that eventually God will triumph over evil.

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Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “An abstainer is a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.” Surely this is the logic of a world that imagines God as a cosmic kill joy. God wants us to have noble pleasures.

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Ruben
Ramirez of Yakima Washington wanted life in prison. To his disappointment he was
only sentenced to 8½ years. Perhaps you saw his story in the newspaper. Ramirez
told people he robbed the bank, not for money but to activate the state’s “three
strikes” law. Ramirez had been going through hard times; he was broke, out
of work and without family. He did not have a gun and actually invited the teller
to trip the alarm. Due to a technicality, his robbery did not trigger the “three
strikes law.” It is difficult for us to imagine that anyone would want to
be in prison for life. Yet, we see that many people choose to remain is a spiritual
prison when they can be free in Christ.

 

_______________

J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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The book, Significa,
tells of Sir Henry Morgan, the famous pirate, who once won a libel suit against
a man who called him-of all things–a pirate. The man was John Esquemeling,
one of Morgan’s former crewmembers. In a book entitled, Buccaneers in America,
he told of Morgan and his men killing, burning, raping and pillaging. In the
court’s settlement, Morgan won 200 pounds and an apology. The publisher and
author apologized for claims that have all later been historically verified.
While none of us wants to be known as a sinner, that is what we are. We can
deny it, or we can repent of it, and be made whole.

________________________

Michael Shannon,
Preaching March/April 2004

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According to Paul Boller, people were fond of telling this anecdote about Woodrow
Wilson. At the end of World War I, Wilson presented his “Fourteen Points”
to make sure nothing like the Great War would happen again. Politicians did not
like the point as much as Wilson did. They refused to support Wilson’s vision.
According to the story, Wilson went to leave and Moses asked to speak to him.
Moses asked, “Are you Mr. Wilson?” “I am,” replied the president.
“I am sorry for you for they have done such dreadful things to your “Fourteen
Points,” said Moses. “For the matter of that,” said Wilson, “I
should advise you to go back to earth and see what they’ve done to your Ten Commandments.”

_______________________

Michael Shannon, Preaching May/June 2004

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According to the Reuters news service, a Kenyan villager was scrubbed clean by
his neighbors because he had not bathed in 10 years His neighbors resorted to
the action because his odor sicken those around him. They first tied the man with
a rope, bathed him and scoured him with sand for over four hours. The man has
now promised to wash once a day. That must have been a monumental task, but spiritually
we have been where this man was. It was a great day when Jesus washed our sins
away.

____________________

Michael Shannon, Preaching May/June 2004

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According
to Paul Boller, people were fond of telling this anecdote about Woodrow Wilson.
At the end of World War I, Wilson presented his “Fourteen Points”
to make sure nothing like the Great War would happen again. Politicians did
not like the point as much as Wilson did. They refused to support Wilson’s vision.
According to the story, Wilson went to leave and Moses asked to speak to him.
Moses asked, “Are you Mr. Wilson?” “I am,” replied the resident.
“I am sorry for you for they have done such dreadful things to your “Fourteen
Points,” said Moses. “For the matter of that,” said Wilson, “I
should advise you to go back to earth and see what they’ve done to your Ten
Commandments.”

_______________
J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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According
to the Reuters news service, a Kenyan villager was scrubbed clean by his neighbors
because he had not bathed in 10 years His neighbors resorted to the action because
his odor sicken those around him. They first tied the man with a rope, bathed
him and scoured him with sand for over four hours. The man has now promised
to wash once a day. That must have been a monumental task, but spiritually we
have been where this man was. It was a great day when Jesus washed our sins
away.

_______________
J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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Leave a Reply

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The
book, Significa, tells of Sir Henry Morgan, the famous pirate, who once
won a libel suit against a man who called him – of all things – a
pirate. The man was John Esquemeling, one of Morgan’s former crew members. In
a book entitled, Buccaneers in America, he told of Morgan and his men
killing, burning, raping and pillaging. In the court’s settlement, Morgan won
200 pounds and an apology. The publisher and author apologized for claims that
have all later been historically verified. While none of us wants to be known
as a sinner, that is what we are. We can deny it, or we can repent of it, and
be made whole.

_______________
J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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There is a community
in southern Iraq that is named by locals as the site of the Garden of Eden.
There was even a tree there called the Adam tree. After years of conflict and
the recent hostilities, the area that was purported to be the Garden of Eden
is now a ruined mess. At one time the regime in Iraq thought they might make
a tourist attraction of the town, but there is little to attract anyone now.
Even the Adam tree is gone. Much of its current condition was the result of
political opposition in the area, but war has ravaged it even further. The locals
hope that now that hostilities have ended pilgrims might come to the area again.
Whether or not this is the sight of Eden is debatable. What is certainly true
is that we lost Eden long ago. In losing Eden we subjected ourselves to estrangement
from God and from each other.

_____________________

Michael Shannon,
Preaching September/October 2003

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“All of us have times when we’d like to be completely free to do whatever we want. But total freedom or complete independence is never an option for us. The Bible declares that we are servants by nature, even though we might not realize it.”

“Slave-making ants of the Amazon illustrate man’s predicament. Hundreds of these ants periodically swarm out of their nest to capture neighboring colonies of weaker ants. After destroying resisting defenders, they carry off cocoons containing the larvae of worker ants. When these “captured children” hatch, they assume that they are part of the family and launch into the tasks they were born to do. They never realize that they are forced-labor victims of the enemy.

“Just as these little creatures are captives from the time of their birth, so we enter the world enslaved to sin. But by turning to Christ in faith, and by the Holy Spirit’s power, we can begin serving the Lord. We are all servants.”

(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 7/22/03)


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David Jeremiah has observed, “Almost weekly we hear about a new computer “virus” that is spreading around the world – deleting files, crashing hard drives, and souring attitudes. Software viruses act like their biological cousins – they spread from one computer to another. The surest way to prevent them from infecting other computers is to delete them as soon as they’re discovered.

“Hitting the “delete” button on a computer is a simple and effective way of staying virus-free. But the language of the New Testament pictures staying sin-free as a little more involved. Paul describes sin almost like a virus. He calls it leaven, the bacteria that makes bread dough rise. Once leaven gets in a lump of dough . . . well, getting it out takes some effort. Far better never to let sin get into our lives to begin with. But if it does, what do we do then? We must repent – that is, make up our minds to go a different way. Then confess – agree with God about what we’ve done, and receive His forgiveness. Finally, put on the armor of God: faith, righteousness, and the Word of God. Don’t let the virus of sin multiply in your life. Far better to deal with our own sin than to have God deal with it for us.”

(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 7/25/03)

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During one of his trips through the African bush, British missionary and explorer David Livingstone was started by a noise. Turning around to find out what had caused it, he saw a lion in the act of springing. The lion caught Livingstone by the shoulder and began to shake him the way a dog or cat does when it has its prey in its teeth. “It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of pain or feeling of terror, though quite conscious of all that was happening,” Livingstone recalled afterward. “It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation, but feel not the knife.”

Imagine what it was like for Livingstone being caught in the grip of a deadly enemy, with no sense of pain or feeling of danger. Instead, he was entranced and captivated by an agent whose only intent was his destruction. This is what it’s like when the believer is captivated by the attraction of sin. It is possible to respond to temptation with the same kind of “dreamy” consciousness that a temptation is occurring but without the sense of distress or fear that would provide a motivation to flee.

Today in the Word, Aug. 2003, p.23

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In some circles it is common to refer to practices like the use of marijuana and prostitution as “victimless” crimes. This indicates a belief that these practices are a matter of individual choice. Since those who engage in such actions are the only ones who suffer the consequences, they should not be penalized for choosing such a lifestyle. In reality, however, there is no such thing as a victimless crime. An individual’s actions affect the entire community. This is doubly true of the church, where “each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:5). Like the physical body, the spiritual health of one member of the body of Christ affects the other members.

Today in the Word, Aug. 2003, p.14


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Separation from God

I live in a small, rural community. There are lots of cattle ranches around here and every once in awhile a cow wonders off and gets lost. It’s a big deal because if you happen to hit (as in “drive into”) a lost cow, it’s your fault and you have to pay the rancher for his cow. (That is part of the rural culture – we have to worry about nuclear destruction and runaway cows.” Ask a rancher how a cow gets lost, and chances are he will reply, “Well, the cow starts nibbling on a tuft of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks ahead to the next tuft of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks to ahead to the next tuft of green grass and starts nibbling on that one, and then it nibbles on a tuft of grass right next to a hole in the fence. It then sees another tuft of green grass on the other side of the fence, so it nibbles on that one and then goes on to the next tuft. The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost.”

-The Wittenberg Door

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It is reported that Gandhi taught his own version of the seven deadly sins. He
said the seven deadly sins were:

1) Wealth without work
2) Pleasure without
conscience
3) Knowledge without character
4) Commerce without morality
5)
Science without humanity
6) Worship without sacrifice, and
7) Politics without
principle

___________________________
Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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One of the mysteries of medicine concerns the epidemic of influenza that swept
around the world in 1918. Called “Spanish influenza,” the disease
suddenly began in March of 1918 and ended just as suddenly in November of the
same year. During that time over 21 million people died. The disease struck
every country on earth! While the virus that caused it was finally identified
in the 1930’s, no one knows how the epidemic got started and no one knows why
it suddenly ended.

It will come as no surprise that sin is in the world in epidemic proportions.
It claims its victims in every land. But we know how the epidemic got started.
It started with Adam and Eve in Eden. And we know how the epidemic will end. It
will end when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and of
His Christ.

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Dave Barry said that the solution to the health care crisis was this:
“Medical science should stop coming out with new disorders. We already
have plenty of disorders, but every time you open a newspaper you see an
article about how medical science has discovered a new disease.”

Of course, we recognize the difference between discovery and invention, but
there do seem to be many new diseases. Spiritually, however, we are still
plagued by the same old disease, sin. The symptoms may vary, but the disease
remains the same. And as there are no new spiritual diseases, there are no new
cures for the old disease. “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the
blood of Jesus.”

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