MISSING THE MARK
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Baker City, OR June 12, 1988)
1Cor.6:9-14 Or know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me; but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods: but God shall bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: and God both raised the Lord, and will raise us up through his power.
This morning I would like to talk about sin. Sin is a broad subject, so I am limiting my talk to sin as it relates to our spiritual development.
I. KNOW WHAT SIN IS
Sin = Grk: amartia (HAMARTIA) "a missing of the mark". It is the picture of a marksman who has a target out there and he either shoots beyond the mark or his aim falls short of the mark. So sin from a moral viewpoint, would be not measuring up to an ideal or a goal. In this sense Paul uses it in:
...for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;
So, our mark is God's glory. The glory of God, doca (DOXA) is his perfections; his praises; his excellent greatness. Man in his ideal state is the image and glory of God.
For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God:
Man in his ideal state glorifies God, his creator.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? and you are not your own; for you were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body and your spirit which are God's.
This mark of the glory of God can also be viewed as our goal.
...whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel message to which we responded, was a call to obtain someday the glory of Jesus Christ. And we obtain this glory when we appear with him in the resurrection.
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifies and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
So our goal is to be like Jesus Christ in his perfection of glory in heaven itself, to share his image and be partakers of his inheritance which is ours also through him.
But the way we get there is a process in the present time of our struggle against sin, and it is the culmination of all the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ working in us through his life, to bring us to perfection. We have to persist in faithfulness. We must endure.
But what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. But what is more, I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, the one from law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God based on faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I follow after, if indeed I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not yet count myself to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything you are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal to you:
So we do everything in our power to attain to that goal - that mark of the high calling - the resurrection to glory. That process in which we strive is called sanctification. The idea being that we partake of his glory and future glory to the extent that we partake of his image of holiness and his sufferings in fellowship.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.
Sanctification is a double effort. It takes God's effort and power - but it also takes our effort and endurance. We are brought to the image of Christ through his Spirit.
Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
So we are being changed into the same image - the image of our hearts and minds and spirits, to look like his. That image is the summation of what we call sanctification or holiness.
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the delineation between the belief of the truth and sanctification of the Spirit. I believe that this process of the sanctification of the Spirit is what is involved in the Spirit changing us into the image of the Lord. I believe the Spirit's job in this is to make the truth that we know and believe to be experiential. That is, we experience it. The truth that we believe is real. The word of God in our hearts is not just a bunch of principles and concepts that sit there in our hearts and do not produce a fruitful outcome. But we have experience of the truth and we can have a full knowledge of the truth because we experience it. The fruit that is produced is Christ's image.
The way this is accomplished is by lifting us up to the spiritual realm - or the heavenly places, (Eph.2) where we have a communion and fellowship with Jesus Christ and his life becomes our life. From this realm, since we are in the spirit and not in the flesh anymore, we can see the face of Jesus Christ and have experience of the truth and really grow in spiritual understanding. This idea and the role of the Holy Spirit is found in:
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
We are in the spirit because the Spirit of God indwells in us - he causes us to be in the spirit. But this sanctification cannot happen without our effort in obedience and belief of the truth. Our patience in enduring temptation is necessary.
Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, even as you do walk, --that you abound more and more. For you know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. Therefore he that rejects, rejects not man, but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit unto you.
This self-control and conforming our lives to the image of his holiness is necessary for our continued spiritual growth. It is not an arbitrary set of standards but a practical application of the truth of who we are in the spirit. We cannot be both spiritual and fleshly minded, we have to be one or the other.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. And every one that has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
We purify ourselves with the motive and expectation of seeing and being just like Jesus. "Follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Heb.12:14)
Therefore, seeing that this is our goal, it would follow that anything that would hinder me from attaining to that goal of the glory of God, would necessarily be bad and wrong and cause me to miss the mark, my goal - therefore God calls it Sin.
Sin is straying from our goal. It damages our image. We want to be spiritual, but sin makes us carnal and enslaves us again to its power. Sin works through the flesh, that is where is "dwells" or remains active and has control - we, through the truth of Jesus Christ and quickened by his new life, must overcome the flesh. The rebellious principle of sin is working through our human nature to bring us into slavery to it again. How?
1.) It hardens the spiritual heart
Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called "To-day;" lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end:
Sin, in essence is rebellion against God. That we think, for the moment, that we know better and we can do it ourselves, and we can direct our own steps, and we can fulfill our own needs our own way immediately without waiting on or relying on God.
Now, every time we do that, our heart gets pulled away from God. That is why when we repent we have to humble ourselves and open our hearts again to God and submit ourselves to him in doing what he wills.
Rebellion is not the way of life. That makes us miss the mark of being like our God. The end of that course is a hardened heart that has rebelled against God for so long, it cannot come back in humility - it does not care anymore. That is the deceitfulness of sin. (see next point)
2.) It blinds the spiritual sight
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who being past feeling gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you did not so learn Christ; if so be that you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: that you put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, being corrupted according to the lusts of the deceit; and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, that according to God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
To have spiritual sight takes a heart that is pure and unaffected by passions; a humble child-like heart that can receive from God whatever He in his grace is willing to give. This is what Jesus means when he talks about having our eye "single", i.e. having a healthy spiritual organ of sight.
Being enslaved to sin takes all that away. It closes our eyes so that we cannot tell what is going on.
For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins.
Sin makes us forget what we are suppose to be doing. It makes us blind to spiritual issues that are going down, and unfit and unable to work in the kingdom.
3.) It deadens the spiritual life
Sin will kill us.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no man: but each man is tempted, when by his own lust he is drawn out, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin: and the sin, when it is fully-formed, brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
That is the course of sin. It brings spiritual death. That rebellion of heart that sin is, will ultimately reach what it, in its nature must perfect, what it wants most; complete separation from God.
II. BE CIRCUMSPECT
So we must be faithful and circumspect in our walk as Christians, and be wise about what can hinder or promote our spiritual life.
We are now children of God and we share the liberty for which Christ has made us free. But we must use our liberty wisely. Since we are not under law, that does not mean that we can just do anything we please. We need to seek and do those things that will promote our spiritual life, that will be an expedient, i.e. that will expedite me on my way to the goal. Read again:
- 1Cor.6:9-14Or know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me; but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods: but God shall bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: and God both raised the Lord, and will raise us up through his power.
Paul is talking about the contrast between their old life and their new life. The course of their old life resulted in not obtaining the kingdom of God. Their new life has to be lived circumspectly so as not to jeopardize their way to life.
"All things are lawful for me." Paul probably said this in Corinth referring to indifferent things contained in the Law that would neither hinder nor promote his spiritual life, like foods and drinks. All things were lawful for him. But the Corinthians began abusing that statement and applying it to license all kinds of immoral things, like fornication.
So Paul counters with - Yes, "indeed all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." All things were lawful for him because he was not under any law that prohibited anything. But the thing that restricted his freedom was the thought that what he did might do spiritual evil to himself or others. He asks what would best get him to his goal (expedient). Sin does not get us to our goal does it? (Apply this to the debate about legalizing drugs)
When I build a house, I could build it any way that I care to. But if I want it to stand for 100 years, if I want my family to be comfortable in it, if I want it to serve my needs, then I have to build it with that in mind. I must be faithful to the plans - to the blueprint. There are certain things I must do to reach that objective. And there are certain things I must not do to build it right.
As a Christian all things are lawful for me, but not everything will get me to heaven. We have to take aim to hit the mark. If I want to be like Christ, if I want to be pure, if I want to be holy, some things will hinder my progress and destroy my character and my relationship to God. All things are lawful for me, but not everything will profit me.
The end does not justify the means - but the end often determines whether the means should be used or not. Given the wrong means, you may not reach your goal.
Can sinful things ever be used as a means to godliness? Of course not. You cannot build that way. That is why they are classed among sinful things - they miss the mark, practicing them will cause you to fall short of your goal. You will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Or know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
That is why sin is wrong. Not just because God says, "Thou shalt not..." Ask yourself why did he say, "Thou shalt not..." Because he loves you. Because he wants you to have life; he wants you to reach your goal.
Sin is poison. It may look real delightful, it may feel real good and satisfy you, but there is death in it. (Apply this to the Mr. YUK stickers that Mommy puts on the bottles under the kitchen sink.)
Sin is not an arbitrary matter. God did not capriciously choose what was right or wrong. Sin is something which, if practiced, will destroy you. It will cause you to fail in your goal. Sinful things cause you to miss the mark. Sin will war against your soul and drag your spirit down to carnality, which is spiritual death.
We have the choice.
So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: for if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
For you, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another. But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you by no means will perform the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; so that you may not do the things that you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Paul does not say, "Thou shalt not...Thou shalt not...", but in keeping with their position in Christ, he gives them the practical result of their actions.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul also said, "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
His liberty in Christ was in all things, but not to the extent of losing that very liberty. In reducing his position to one of slavery to a sin, he loses that liberty in the Spirit.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts of it: neither present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it not be. Do you not know, that to whom you present yourselves as servants to obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were servants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching unto which you were delivered; and being made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness. I speak as a man because of the weakness of your flesh: for as you presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. For when you were servants of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end result of those things is death. But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end result, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Know you not that they that run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? Even so run; that you may attain. And every man that strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be disapproved.
When faced with a temptation we have to stop and ask ourselves, will this get me to my goal? or will it foul me up and divert me from my course? Is it a spiritual expedient - or a trap? We have been given great freedom in Christ - it is our responsibility to grow up and walk as children of light, knowing what the will of the Lord is - knowing what will promote my life in Christ and what will hinder it.
Paul said that we will reap what we sow.
Flesh = corruption. Spirit = everlasting life
If you are involved in a sin - flee from it. If Satan has tripped you up - the way back it to confess it - (homologeo), repent, change your mind, and God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness and set you back on your course to the goal. You must be willing. If you are willing then God will work with you and correct you. Don't be surprised when he chastens you and especially don't loose heart. He loves whom he chastens and treats them like sons. Be of good courage and God will bring it about in your life. He will complete what he started in you. Are you willing?
~ Invitation ~