There is a Serious Problem!
This is not a pleasant subject to bring up.
Who wants to be reminded of negative things?
Who wants to hear bad news?
It's amazing how hard we work to cover up the negatives of life. Substances that are dangerous and deadly are consumed in an effort to escape painful realities. Many have tried the self-help route. We've been through the positive mental attitude exercises and slogans--several times. Yet, even though we keep telling ourselves that everything's fine and okay, somehow there is still a gnawing voice deep inside that whispers, "Everything's really not okay! Something is lacking. Our lives are not what we want them to be."
With fun, fads, fashion, food, and foolishness, we try to mask our anxiety and escape our pain. We work hard to find "happiness." We work even harder to keep it. The feeling that everything's really not okay keeps coming back.
What is the Central Problem with which All Responsible Human Beings Must Come to Grips?
According to the Bible, the most dangerous and damaging "problem" for all human beings is...SIN!
Wait! Don't hang up! Don't run away thinking that this is just another "guilt trip." There are sensible explanations and workable solutions to the human struggle.
Give God a chance to speak and work in your life to make things better. Hear the message before you make a response. There is a better way to find peace in life. Peace! Yes, peace within our lives. This is what we want. This is what we need. And, this is what we can have if we are willing to accept God's wisdom.
Here's the plan for our study. In this lesson, our focus will be "the bad news"--the problem. In the next lesson our focus will be "the good news"--the solution. The "good news" is good! Listen to what the Bible says about "the bad news." Hear what God says to you about "the good news." Get the full picture before you draw conclusions. Make sure you find it.
Focussing on "The Problem" Not "The Problems"
Problems! Problems! Problems!
Constantly, we hear "the problems." The airways are filled with the problems of modern-day life. You have heard them all. Problems on the international front, problems in the nation, problems in the cities, problems at home, problems in our schools, problems in the work-place. Problems.
The wheels of government grind daily as frantic efforts are made to find solutions to our problems. Experts are hired. Money is spent. Policies are written. Security is strengthened. Technology is expanded. Anything to help us deal with these problems.
Could it be that we have gotten so caught up in trying to deal with "the problems" that we have overlooked "The Problem?" The Bible speaks of "One Problem" that fuels and feeds "the problems." The "many problems" within the human family are external symptoms of an internal killer disease--"The Major Problem."
Treating symptoms may provide temporary relief, but it can never give permanent release. We must identify and eliminate "The Problem" if we are to solve "the problems." Until law- makers, educators, parents, employers, religious leaders, and others address 'The Problem," we will simply continue mopping floors while the faucet is still running.
The one, central, fundamental, major problem of the human race is sin. This is "The Problem" causing "the problems." The heart of the matter is "the heart." The human heart.
Here's how the Bible says it. "...all are under sin. There is no one righteous, not even one...all have turned away... there is no one who does good, not even one...there is no fear of God...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:9-23) "Sin" is the universal problem.
Some would say, "I'm no saint, but I'm certainly not a bad person."
This is a rather common response when the subject of "sin" comes up. It's natural to get defensive and begin to rehearse our "good points" in comparison to those "other people." Have you ever said or thought something like this:SIN
- "Me--a sinner?"
- "I try to be honest."
- "I don't harm anybody."
- "I am a good neighbor."
- "I'm certainly not a criminal."
- "I'm not a bad person."
- "I tend to my business."
- "I'm good to my family."
"Sin" is somebody else's problem. The "sinners" are those "bad people" who are locked up in prison--the killers, thieves, and rapists. All of this brings up a very important question.
What is Sin?
Think of "sin" as the picture word
Why the big "I" in the center of this word?
At its root, sin is an "I-centered" way of thinking. This, of course, leads to an "I-centered" way of living. You don't have to commit some horrible act to be a sinner--just live a "self-centered" life rather than a "God-centered" life.
We were created by God to serve and honor Him. This is the primary purpose for human existence. (Colossians 1:16) Yet, we "do our own thing." We are self- absorbed. It's me... my... mine. My convenience and comfort is what counts. God is treated like a spare tire in the trunk. Sin is living for self rather than God. Sin is "self-worship" rather than "God-worship." (Romans 1:25; 2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Now, we understand why the Bible says, "All have sinned... there is none righteous, not even one." None of us has to go to school to learn to be selfish. It comes quite naturally. Selfishness is at the heart of what sin is all about. When sin is mentioned, recall the picture word given above.
How do we plead with respect to sin? Guilty? Or not guilty?
Illustrating How Sin Works
Study the ILLUSTRATIONS below. Can you decipher the intended message? The "Big-I" mentality can eventually result in a life that is God-less! Can we see and sense the tremendous power of sin? Where are you in the process? Sin! This is "the problem" that leads to "the problems."
Our Need for God's Mercy
Are we convicted by our sinfulness?
Do we understand our desperate need for Go and His mercy? Can you make the following statement?
"God, I am a sinner before You. I have lived for myself. My conscience convicts me. Your Word rebukes me. I have done my own thing. I have hurt You, my God. Have mercy on me!"
The Consequences of Sin
Sin always leads to sad and serious consequences. Always! Worst of all, sin--selfish thinking and living--always seperates us from God. (Isaiah 59:1-2) The "Big-I" actually becomes a wall that cuts us off from God.
How Will We Respond?
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable -- an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Read it. The spirit of the Publican reflects the attitude that God wants to see in all sinners. Bowed before Him with an awareness of our sinfulness, we can only cry out, "God have mercy on us--we are sinners!"
In the next lesson of "The Seeker" series, we will study the "good news" of what God has done to rescue sinners.
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