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Romans 6:1-11 June 25, 2017

How to Get Rid of Sin

For most of my life and especially since Ive been a preacher, I have had a problem with
sin. My big problem with sin is how people who are not Christians think most Christians think
about sin.
One of my favorite apocryphal stories about sin is attributed to President Calvin Coolidge. It
is almost hard to believe in todays Twitterverse that a president could have a reputation for not
commenting on stuff, but Coolidges nickname was silent Cal. He actually had a lot of smart
things to say and many memorable quotes. But you really had to pump him pretty hard for
A famous anecdote (which is generally accepted as fictitious) tells of a dinner party during
which the person sitting adjacent to the Coolidge said: Mr. President Ive made a large bet that
I would be able to make you say more than two words. Coolidge considered this proposition
carefully and then replied slowly and emphatically, You lose. The Coolidge family was known
to actually enjoy this story and didnt object to it making the rounds.
President Calvin Coolidge came home from church one Sunday and his wife asked, What
did the preacher preach about? The President replied in his usual concise manner, Sin.
Then Mrs. Coolidge asked, What did he say about sin? The President replied, He was
against it.
Sin. Its something that Christians are against. Hold that thought.
Now, lets move onto a popular mindset about sin often shared in story and song.
Sin is fun.
Here are a few things that Christians have considered sinful that many people think are fun:
Playing cards, going to movies, dancing, making out, sex before marriage, weird sex after
marriage, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and marijuana, reading popular fiction,
recreational drugs, and gambling.
So out of these two statements a formula is generated.
Sin is fun. Christians are against sin. Therefore, Christians are no fun to be around. They
are condemning and judgmental. And since we all know Christians who do these sinful
things, they are also hypocrites.
Flipping the mirror back onto ourselves, there are many Christians who believe that if the
preacher doesnt make us feel really guilty about our sinful behavior, we really havent been to
church. I once served a church in which a former minister had a reputation for this kind of
One of the members was sharing this with me. Pastor Bruce, when she preached to you,
you were really preached to, if you know what I mean. I knew what he meant. He meant that
everyone had gotten a good spanking that morning. In the name of Jesus.

I am not about to make you feel guilty today or rake anyone over the coals. But I would like
you to hear what I think about sin and what the apostle Paul says that we can do to get rid of
sin in our lives.
For starters, lets define sin. The Greek New Testament has 33 words that are translated as
sin. The most common word is hamartia, which means missing the mark as when an arrow
fails to hit a target. Following this analogy, sin is whatever leads us away from doing what is
best for us. And, for the believer, our target is life at its fullest with God.
What should we do with this sin problem? The Scriptures say that we should repent and
believe in the gospel.
The Greek word for repent, metanoia, means to change your mind or your direction.
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ comes to us with forgiveness and salvation
and new life while we are still lost in sinful behavior. Jesus came to a messed-up world and did
his best to show love to all persons. But the world actively pushed back against this offer of
love and nailed Jesus to a cross.
But Gods love cannot be buried in a tomb and, if Gods love is to help us with our sin
problem, Gods love and grace must be stronger than our power to sin. In Jesus, we find a love
that pursues us and seeks us out in order to show us that living in sin may seem pleasurable at
the time but it is not ultimately the very best way for us to go. In fact, sin is by its very nature
self-focused, self-absorbed, and unconcerned about ultimate repercussions.
The best place to begin a discussion about sin is not with miserable sinners but with
those of us who have known the love of God in Christ. You cannot walk away from God until
you have known God. The more you come to know and believe in a loving God, the more you
come to understand that your life is a gift to be given away for the sake of others.
If we begin with our knowledge of Gods amazing grace for us and if we open up our lives
to Gods love in us, we will make more decisions for a greater good than ourselves and
consequently see the possibilities for new life in all persons. This is really a new way of life.
Living for God and for others instead of yourself is the best kind of life.
But sin will always be attractive you cant deny the pleasure you obtain by looking out for
Number One but the complete forgiveness and rebirth that we receive from Jesus is
hindered if we start imagining new sins for Jesus to forgive. Thats living in the past, one step
forward and two steps back. Can you believe in love enough to pray for a new heart and a new
way of life? When we are baptized into the faith, Paul says, our old self is crucified with Jesus,
including our sinful habits. Take your sins, kill them, bury them, drown them and leave them
Its Kingdom living, friends, that we are about. Gods Kingdom has room for all persons and
we love God best when we love one another. There is a time in childhood and early adulthood
where most persons are going to break laws, cross lines, and compromise ethical standards in
order to enjoy the thrill of reckless freedom. But there comes a time to put aside childish ways
and to care for others. Sinful living begins with selfish pleasures but can quickly morph into the
greater sins that destroy others lives: racism, genocide, physical and emotional abuse, hatred,
pollution, vandalism, murder, and so on.
Love, on the other hand, freely received and freely given, only opens up the world to better
things: beauty, healing, compassion, kindness, understanding, and so on.
Its not a hard choice to make, if you take the time to think about it and act on it. You just
have to care enough about love to begin to live a life that is willing to put sin to death.
Fortunately, Jesus has done that for us. Will you let Jesus do that for you?
If love is to do its best work, love needs to hit its target. Lets make love our aim in life,
move away from the sin that used to hang us up, and discover the life that really is life, today
and forever. Amen.