Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sin and the dirty jumper. Eph 4:17-end

Amos 2:6‘For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent.
They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines

Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned21when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

What's So Bad About Sin?
An arrow missing the target is a “sin”. Missing the target. At least they tried?
What do we get so het up about? As last week it is about At-one-ment – being at one with God and with all his children.

What are they? In Hosea sin= treating the poor as a sub-human resource to be exploited for personal advantage. When those who are troublesome to us become “them”. When we generalise unscrupulously - “They're all the same”. In Ephesus that greed shows up in immorality – it is treating other people as being there for our personal gratification. Churchyard bag snatch.This week a 90 year old lady had her bag snatched by a youth in our churchyard. How could anyone live with themself who did such a thing? 
In these cases Sin is not offending against some arbitrary deontological law. It is not a rebellion against God and His authority. It is the effect on those around us that matters, says the prophet.

What's the effect? I don't mean the effect on those whom we sin against. I mean the effect on us who sin. Sin will harden hearts and darken understanding – Eph 4:18. We develop a loss of spiritual sensitivity. We become dominated by our appetite. Even Christians who have been set free from the law of sin and death are enslaving themselves again to sin when they succumb to its blandishments. There is a foolish moment when we, knowing that what we about to do is wrong, go ahead because we know deep down that we can be forgiven. Yes we can. But that sin has an effect upon us and our ability to maintain a close relationship with God. If you sleep awkwardly your arm will be uncomfortable and you will wake up. If not it will go dead – and then not hurt at all. When you wake it gradually come to life with pins and needles – painful. Maybe you wish it were numb again? Sin is like that. Painful to wake up to. Tempting to go back to. Deadening. Deadly.

Sinlessness: Christ is our norm. Eph 4:25-32 We are to know At-one-ness with Him.
You may not snatch anyone's bag. But what weakness or foible or character trait do we excuse in ourselves? Where have we given up the fight?
John B had a dirty jumpers. The curate's direct action. Here's a new jumper. Put it one and give me the old one. Its going in the bin! Have you got used to an old familiar dirty jumper.
Take off old ways - like a soiled jumper. You need an intention. You need to struggle. You need a new jumper! A renewed way of thinking.
A rule of thumb:
Old way                                     New way
appetite                                      God?
False                                          True.
Anger                                         Forgiveness.
Steal                                           Work.
Badmouth                                  Blessing.

Weigh every action and decision. Sin gives a hold to Satan – and he is tenacious.

Put on a new jumper!

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