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Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

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I John 1:7-10

INTRO.: New York City’s Jesuit University, Fordham, has for many years had a ram as mascot for its football team. The ram is selected by an audition and is cared for by the students. In 1974, a newspaper article appeared announcing that the then Ram mascot, one Rameses the 24th, had given birth to a lamb. Discovering their "ram" was actually a ewe caused considerable embarrassment to the university and athletic program. The students explained, "It had horns, so we assumed it was a ram."

It’s very easy to be deceived, and the easiest person we have to deceive is ourselves. As John notes, we tend to deceive ourselves about sin.

We sometimes try to fool ourselves into believing we have no sin or we can handle the problems of sin and guilt in our own way. Who are we kidding? Only ourselves.

Sin is a deadly reality. It causes shame, fear, suffering, toil, grief, and death, both physical and spiritual.

It separates from God.

We need to know how to deal with it in a realistic way.

We need to quit kidding ourselves and use the means God has provided to deal with sin.

I. Some of the ways men try to deal with sin themselves:
A. ILLUS.: The Muslim doctrine of Ragéd (one who sleeps in the womb), which affirms that a human pregnancy can be as short as 175 days and last as long as 5 years.
1. This was originally for the benefit of Muslim men, who were sometimes away from home for years on pilgrimages to Mecca. Meant to cover adulterous activity by their wives. This was very important because of laws governing inheritance.
2. In modern America, we try to cover up sin by legalizing it. I.e.: cohabitation, abortion, homosexuality.
3. We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, so we cover up sin. Isa. 5:20.
B. Consider the case of Adam and Eve: Gen. 3:12, 13
1. Adam blamed the woman (and by implication, God) and the woman blamed Satan.
2. We may try to justify sin by getting others to join in or blaming others.
3. Or we claim God has put us in such circumstances as to make it impossible to avoid sin.
C. If we can’t cover it up or blame someone else we may call sin a sickness:
1. This avoids personal responsibility. After all, who would impose guilt and punishment for a disease?
2. We may blame sin on childhood influences. That may be partly true, but the decision is still ours to make.
3. All these schemes for dealing with sin involve deception, what John calls darkness. God has an enlightened way to deal with sin and guilt.

II. God’s way of dealing with sin and guilt: let’s look at the example Jesus gave; the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11ff
A. First, recognize and acknowledge sin: I John 1:9
1. We are told the prodigal "came to his senses." Luke 15:17-19
2. Confessed his degradation and deprivation were caused by his own sin.
3. Recognized his sin was against his father and against Heaven. He is a sinner.
B. 2nd, take action to correct the situation: the prodigal got up and went to his father. V. 20
1. Nothing would be accomplished by sitting in the pig pen castigating himself.
2. If we come to God for forgiveness, we must come with a sincere acknowledgment of our own sinfulness and a genuine desire for forgiveness.
3. The journey back would not be easy. He would have to admit foolishness, failure, and defeat. It never is easy to admit we are sinners in need of forgiveness.
C. Find and accept forgiveness: Luke 15:20-24
1. A loving father waits to accept us and provide every blessing we need to enjoy and serve Him.
2. He has even opened a road to forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus.
3. In our day, forgiveness comes through accepting the sacrifice of Jesus and obeying the commands given through Him and His apostles.

III. Now, we must make a decision: Which way is better? Man’s way or God’s?
A. The way that really faces the facts:
1. Man’s way is to keep everything in the dark, to cover it up. Common sense tells us even physical disease can’t be handled this way.
2. God’s way is to "walk in the light." in doing so, we bring ourselves into fellowship with God and He forgives our sin.
3. This ends deceit, guilt, fear of discovery.
B. The method that deals with causes rather than symptoms:
1. Sin originates in the heart, that’s where the treatment needs to begin. Mark 7:21-23.
2. Only God promises to put His spirit within us and give us a new heart. He will provide a new willingness to serve Him and new emotional strength.
3. Men want to cover up the effect of sin. God wants to eliminate it by treating it at its source. He wants to transform us inwardly. Rom. 12:2
4. He will, if we allow it, make us into new creatures. II Cor. 5:17
C. The way that is preventive:
1. God frees us from sin and guilt and also teaches us how to avoid sin in the future by knowing and obeying His Word.
2. We are shielded by God’s power. I Pet. 1:5. He will help us overcome sin and temptation.
3. God provides a way out of temptation. I Cor. 10:13

CONC.: Let’s not kid ourselves about sin. It is a real force in the world today and a real problem in our daily lives. Only by acknowledging the problem and seeking god’s help can we overcome sin and guilt.
But, there is victory and forgiveness in Christ. "There Is Power In the Blood."

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