May 29, 2022 The Reality of Sin

The Reality of Sin

May 29, 2022




Scripture reading: Matthew 15:10-20.


Our Lord’s teaching in this passage is a continuation of his response to the Pharisees and scribes on the dangers of following human traditions. We saw last time that every Christian group, including Evangelicals, have traditions and these traditions pose obstacles to pure living before the Lord.


When Jesus was first asked about his disciples’ failure to honor the tradition of washing hands before eating, he replied by addressing all man-made rules. Now, in these verses, he returns to the original objection of his disciples’ failure to wash their hands. Jesus says:


11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”[1]


Let me ask a question. If you eat or drink something that has harmful bacteria or a parasite within it, will your body be defiled? The answer is yes. But Jesus said that it not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person. Therefore, we see that, in the mind of our Lord, a person is not their body. A person is what is within the body, a soul.


This overthrows the materialistic or naturalistic worldview that is prevalent in the Western nations. Many purveyors of error in our public schools teach that atoms and molecules are all there is. There is nothing more to the world than physical things. Besides being a completely hopeless worldview, nothing could be more false.


In verse 15, Peter asks the Lord to explain what he means. Verse 16 ought to catch our attention:


And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?[2]


What is your impression of this verse? Do you think the Lord was pleased or displeased with the fact that his disciples did not understand his teaching? It is obvious that he is mildly displeased, otherwise, he would not have made the comment, yes?


Here is a question.  Could the Lord ask this of you? If he were here, would he say to you, “Are you still without understanding?”


For some of us, I believe the Lord would say, “Well done. You have made yourself familiar with the Scriptures and you have an understanding of my will.” (2 Tim 3:14-17)


But, to others he would say, “Are you still without understanding?” What would he say to you? Whatever your answer, do not just answer. Do something! If your answer is, “I think he might commend me,” then ask the Lord to reveal more to you! If your answer is, “He would rebuke me,” then for heaven’s sake, do something! Don’t just come here to sit next week unchanged! Ask the Lord to renew your commitment to abide in his word (John 8:31-32) and then make that a priority in your life.


Our Lord then says:


Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[3]


This is not to say that what we eat cannot adversely affect our bodies. What we eat can and does affect our physical constitution. Our Lord’s point is that what we eat does not affect our souls. We know that what we eat can even kill us. But what we eat cannot kill our souls. Sin will kill your soul! And this is precisely what he says:


But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. [4]


The Lord then lists some common but deadly sins. We see, then, that our Lord strongly affirmed the reality of sin as well as the consequences of sin. What our Lord affirms, we must assimilate and allow it to become a part of who we are. Our mind needs to be transformed and conformed to his mind! The more our mind and thoughts are conformed to his, the more freedom we will experience (John 8:32) and the more enjoyment of life (Phil. 1:25; I Pet 1:8; Gal. 5:22; Psalm 87:7) will we have.


What is sin? Most simply, it is a transgression of God’s law:


Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.[5]


When we disregard God’s commands and live only according to our personal desires that is sin.


One of the purposes of God’s law is so that we will experience fullness of joy and contentment.[6] God created us and knows exactly what we need to live a happy and fulfilled life.


When we live by God’s direction we discover that his commands are what we really desire in the deepest part of who we are.


But, we violate God’s commands because of our rebellious hearts. The result of these violations, these sins, are a ruination of our contentment and even our very lives! As if this were not bad enough, the Lord Jesus has revealed to us that there are more dire consequences to sin. The reason for this is because sin is nothing less than cosmic treason!


God created us. This means that he has the right to direct us and command us. And, as we have observed, his commands are for our good. By virtue of him being the source of all things and life itself, every person is required to give obedience, glory, and honor to the Great Creator. To disobey God, to fail to honor him, is more than a mistake. Sometimes you will hear those who object to eternal punishment, for example, say that it is “not right” for God to eternally punish those who “just made some mistakes in life.”


Sin is far, far more than a mistake! A mistake is what you do when working on a math problem and your calculation goes awry. A mistake is when you are playing chess and you expose your king to check or even checkmate by a poorly thought move. Most often, mistakes are errors in judgment we make about morally neutral or insignificant matters. Sin involves a rebellion against God Himself. Sin is treason. Sin is treason in its highest, meaning worst, form. It is treason against One Who deserves our full allegiance. It is treason on a cosmic scale.


Sin is serious indeed. It’s seriousness is revealed by our Lord’s frequent condemnation of it. But also by the consequences of sin. The Lord taught that, if we should die in our sins, then the consequences are eternal death – the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is never-ending. Even the smallest sins, if not atoned for, mandate eternal separation from God. The Bible reveals that God is holy and that he cannot countenance sin. If we die with our sin then there is no hope. Yes, the penalty for sin reveals the utter seriousness of sin!


Here, I wish to say a word for those who have not yet had their sins forgiven: Your sins separate you from God even now. It is not a matter of how you compare to others. In order to think more highly of ourselves (as all like to do), we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others who, it appears to us, are simply not very nice people. This is what the Pharisee did in the parable of the temple-goers. He compared himself to the tax collector.


If you remember, the Lord condemned him for that. Yet, we all tend to do that. Listen! The standard is not your co-worker. It’s not your boss. It’s not your favorite actor who happens to be on his fourth marriage. The standard is God’s law. The living standard is Jesus, because he lived in perfect obedience to the Father’s law.


When we compare our lives, and our thoughts (Isaiah 65:2; Matt. 5:27-30; 6:14-15, 24; Romans 12:3; Heb. 4:12; Phil 4:8), to those of the Lord Jesus, when we compare them to what God has revealed in his word, we perceive that we have not only sinned now and then, but we have sinned often and without excuse!


If the Lord did not reach down and offer us redemption, no one would have any hope of eternal life because the justice of God matches his holiness and he must cast you away…forever!


We do need to be delivered from the wrath of God! The wrath of God is not a popular notion. But we do not decide truth by popularity. We decide truth in accordance with what God has revealed. God has revealed not just once or twice, but often, that he is angry with both sin and the sinner![7]


The Lord has graciously made a way for us to be delivered from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin!


Would you be saved from the penalty of sin? Would you escape the Lake of Fire? Then the way to do that is by trusting in the gospel. The word gospel is an old English word meaning “good news.” The bad news is that our sins separate us from God and condemn us to eternal punishment. The good news is that God has made a way for our sins to be forgiven. He sent his One Unique Son to the earth who lived a perfect life and then went to the cross to die in the place of those who would place their faith in Him. He rose from the dead in order to prove He is Who He claimed to be, the Lord and Savior of the world! He also resurrected to release His divine life to empower all of his disciples to overcome the power of sin in their lives!


To believe the gospel means more than to agree to the facts of the gospel. To believe the gospel means to surrender to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ and to begin to follow Him (Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 14:25-33). There is no such thing as salvation without actually following Jesus.


For those who would choose to embrace the gospel and receive the promise of eternal life, please speak with me today, before this morning ends.


Now I would like to say a few words to those who are already followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Starting at verse 12 of our passage this morning, Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He began speaking to the Pharisees and scribes (15:1). But, in verse 12, he speaks to his disciples. This teaching about the importance of dealing with our sins is for all people, but there is a particular application for his own disciples. These words are for us! Jesus brought the subject of sin up because he desires and expects his own to deal with sin in their lives, and never to ignore or pass over sin!


The teaching of our Lord and the apostles is that we deal with our remaining sins. The two ways that we deal with our remaining sin are by confessing them to the Lord and by taking measures to protect ourselves from sin’s power.


Brothers and sisters, we must confess our sins to the Lord as soon as we are aware of them:


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [8]


Two weeks ago I gave a message about living in the promise of God. It was entitled The Storm. In that message I affirmed the truth that we need to find promises of God that are for us (not all promises in the Bible are for us) and then exercise faith in the promise. When we do this, our lives change!


I John 1:9 is such a promise! We must live in this promise. I will tell you why. We will still fail the Lord now and then. When we do we may think that the Lord is so displeased with us that he had given up on us, or that he won’t forgive us, or that he holds a grudge. Those are all lies if we belong to him. We may think that way because some people we know are like that: they may not forgive us or they may hold a grudge. But God is not like fallen man! He is God! And he says this about himself:


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

23    they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. [9]




The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’[10]

The Lord abounds in steadfast love and he forgives! But we must believe the promise. We must live in the promise! Thus, when you fall, don’t stay down! Get up! Confess and live in the sure promise of forgiveness!


But we are not those who remain in our sin. We renounce it. We take measures to avoid sin. We take measures to even avoid temptation. We don’t place ourselves in the same situations that allowed sin to infect us to begin with. Consider what Solomon wrote:


13    Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. [11]


We confess our sins. But we also forsake them! Of course, this means we give them up. We hate them. We deny them! When we do this we receive mercy. Praise God! “Lord, thank you for your mercy upon us!”


One of the shortest and easiest summaries of confession is found in William MacDonald’s one-volume commentary of the New Testament, probably the most popular one volume commentary in modern times:


“ In order for us to walk day by day in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers, we must confess our sins…We must drag them out into the open before God, call them by their names, take sides with God against them, and forsake them.”[12]


Finally, let me say that, in our struggle against sin we must never refrain from calling on the name of the Lord. What the Scriptures mean by calling upon his name is to “verbally invoke the name of the Lord,” that is, to call out loud! There is power in the name of the Lord Jesus! It can be as simple as, “O Lord Jesus!” Just those three words! When you call upon the Person of the Lord Jesus what you get is the Person of the Lord Jesus! His presence will empower you to forsake sin in the moment of temptation! Thank you, Lord!


Let’s be honest. Are not these three matters so simple?


  • To confess
  • To forsake
  • To call upon his name!


Yes, these three things are so simple! Yet, our experience is that many will succumb rather than overcome. Listen! Our overcoming will not be because we are strong! It will come because the Lord is strong! Confess, forsake, call! Then see God deliver you! He will!


Jesus warned about sin defiling his own disciples. He warns us. Choose this day to remain defiled or to live in the promise!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 15:11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 15:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 15:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 15:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 3:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] This in no way contradicts another purpose of the law, which is to convict the sinner by showing him/her their sinfulness in failing to live in accordance with God’s commands. Both are true.

[7] Job 21:20; Psalm 5:4-6; 7:11-13; 11:5-6; 21:8-12; 88:7; Isaiah 51:2; Jer.7: 20; Rom. 2:7-8; 9:22; Eph 5:5-6; Col. 3:5-6; 2 Thes. 1:7-9.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 1:9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (La 3:22–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Nu 14:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 28:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[12] William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: New Testament (Wichita, Kansas: A and O Press, 1989), 1126.