Program Air Date - 7-15-01



Good morning! Thanks for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our Savior.

Our commitment this morning is to give glory to the Creator through the singing of songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope and pray that each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.

This week we would like to mention another congregation which helps in making the Living Word Program possible - each Lord's Day morning. The Aurora Church of Christ in Aurora, Missouri, is a fairly new support of our work and we are happy to have them as a part of this work of our Lord. We really appreciate this fine congregation for their like-desire to see the gospel of Christ taken to the whole world.

Please take advantage of the opportunity this morning to meet with this family of God. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., these brethren will begin with a Bible study and then at 10:30, they will have a morning worship assembly. On Sunday evening at 7:00, they will again come together for a worship service. This congregation also offers a mid-week service at 7:00 each Wednesday evening. If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me or their minister, Bobby Stafford. Their telephone number is: 1-417-678-4756.

This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by singing a song which considers the importance of the Christian walk with Jesus Christ. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee."
(SONG # 1)


"Walking with Christ", what a wonderful thought to sing about this morning. In fact, isn't that what our Christian life is all about?

Of all the Bible writers, Paul gives us some of the clearest thoughts along these lines. Remember what he said in Romans 12:1,2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." We are commanded to be a living sacrifice. Not like this world but different - thus striving to be Christ-like!

I also love what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1. There we read, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." You see, we have it right when are doing that which exemplifies Christ.

Now the only problem is, we must realize that no one ever said it would be easy, in the Bible! In fact, we find quite the opposite in God's Word. James said, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials," chapter 1 and verse 2 of his book! Notice here that he doesn't say, "if you suffer trials," he said, "when you suffer them!" When we are living for Christ and doing that which is according to His will, it is not a question of "if," but of "when," we will suffer!

Notice what Paul further said in 2 Timothy 3:12. There we read, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Again confirming that those who follow God and do it right, will suffer in this life!

Think of all those in the Bible who suffered when doing God's Will. Often they were beaten, imprisoned, laughed at, spit on, humiliated! However, they all stood strong and did it for the sake of Christ.

But you might ask, "How can we be happy about this or rejoice in suffering?" That's a good question! The answer is - when we suffer for the sake of Christ we will be blessed by Him. And ultimately we will receive the crown of life if we have been proven faithful to the end! Read with me 1 Peter 3:14, "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed." Those who are obedient to Christ, will be blessed.

Finally, hear God's Word in James 1:12. There he says, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." If you really love God, "keep His commands." And although we know we will suffer for His sake, remember that all will be worth it when He gives us our final reward.

This morning, we will begin a new series of study considering, "Accepted Social Sins Of Our Day!" Thus our specific topic today is, "What is Sin?" So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Is It For Me, Dear Savior!"


Speaker: Ray Sullins

We're beginning a new series this morning. We're thankful that you continued with us so that we might continue to look at many of the sins of today that are pretty much accepted socially in our society and in many parts of the world. So we want to begin at the very start at looking at "what is sin?" Really this is been a plague you might say or a concern of man from the very beginning, a problem that we find even with the very first man and woman in the garden of Eden. In fact, you might remember there that it was Adam and Eve who were placed in such a wonderful place, provided for, and how they were given so many great blessings by God and even the tree of life, so that they might live forever. But it was Satan who came to them and they were deceived and they gave in to sin and they were the first sinners on the earth, the first created and the first sinners. So sin has plagued man from the very first and it continues even today to plague mankind.

This might be the same question that David asked in Psalm chapter 8 and verse 4 when he said, "What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you should visit Him?" There he asked the question, the very important question, "Really, what is man all about?" Why would you even create man? Why is it that man exists? What is the purpose here, really? Because David knew better than anyone that sin existed and that he as well as others sinned against God, even though they loved God. They did things contrary to His will.

Job understood the same thing. A man who was so faithful to God, who had been well-blessed by God and who was eventually tempted as we know by Satan, but still did not curse God. But in the book of Job, Job chapter 14, notice what he said there in verses 1 and 2. He said, "Man who is born of woman is a few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away. He flees like a shadow and does not continue." Notice here a man, a child, an infant that comes forth from the mother, a man, a woman, but as he says here, "trouble, problems". You and I know this to be true. Life is full of headaches and trials and problems, persecutions that come our way, and in fact temptations that cause us to turn away from God, and that take a hold of things that really are not according to His will. Thus, doing that which is not according to His sight. And as he mentions here even in verse 14 similar to what we read in the book of James, that life is like a vapor. Here he says that "man is like a flower. He's there for a little bit in that flower and then dies. It fades away. He comes forth. He's like a shadow but it doesn't continue." You see, life is short. And because of that we need to understand the very great importance of this topic today.

You see, man is different from any other creation that God has made. He's much different because he is the special creation that God made, the one that He made there again in Adam and Eve, the one that He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the one in which He placed the soul, the essence of man, really God in us.

If you'll look with me in the book of Thessalonians, 1st Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 23, we read the following from Paul that says, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Your whole, as it says here, spirit, soul and body, the essence of man, all of man, the completeness, not just the physical the flesh, not just the blood, not just the skin. But again, all of man, God even in us, the soul. So we're special. We're special to God and that's why He wants us to follow Him. That's why He created us to be those that might prove worthy of Him and that's what He's wanted from the beginning even again from Adam and Eve, and throughout all of the children of Israel and their history as they were given the laws there at Mount Sinai and they followed the Law of Moses, the Old Testament. Even us today, that's exactly what He wants even though He knows we will make mistakes, even though He knows that temptation is there and we will sin. God still loves us and He made us so that we might make the right choice so that we might understand as we read in James 2 and 26, "As the body without the spirit is dead, again faith without works is dead." You see, we've got to have the spirit and the body for it to be worthwhile. Otherwise, we would just be another animal. We would just be another being on this earth that really doesn't make any difference whatsoever as far as eternal destinies and those things which are to come someday.

So as we consider these things and we think about sin, then we know that sin is that which separates us from God. It is that which many times pulls us away from that creator. It pulls us away from following the one that we really want to follow, and that's why we want to look beginning in the book of Romans where Paul introduced to us sin and the concepts of sin. In fact, Romans chapter 3 in verse 23 there we have a very, very short but a very clear verse as it tells us there, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." All. Who? Everyone. In fact, if you'll notice here brethren and friends, Paul was talking to Christians. He was talking to Christians at Rome. So let me ask you something. If Christians can sin, which we do, we make mistakes daily, what about others? Well everyone sins. In fact, isn't that what it is all about? Isn't that why Christ came to the world that He might die? In fact, that's what He goes on to say there that now being justified by grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. What redemption are you talking about there? (Verse 24 of the same opening.) Well, verse 25 goes on to say, "Whom God set forth as the propitiation by His blood through faith demonstrated righteousness." You see, we have forgiveness now. We have been washed clean from that sin, cleansed if you will, because again God's son died on the cross. He shed that blood to wash us clean, to give us the opportunity to say, "Yes, I am a sinner. I made mistakes and I will make mistakes, but as long as I'm in Christ and I'm making my best effort and I'm willing to correct myself and repent, then God is there to help me. He is there to show me that love, that love that He has promised to me and to all those who will obey and follow His will."

I want you to also look over to the book of 1 John because John also deals quite a bit with this topic and trying to help us understand really what sin is all about. If you'll notice with me there in 1 John chapter 1, notice what verse 10 says. He says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." Now have you heard people say before, "I don't make mistakes. I don't sin." Well here it says as John again is addressing mainly Christians says, "If we say we don't sin, we're liars." You can't claim you don't sin. Why? Because Paul said, the inspired Paul, as the word of God was breathed through him, "All have sinned." You sin. I sin. The one sitting next to you this morning sins. Those that you know, your friends, your family, your neighbors, all sin. And again friends, that's why we need the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

You might say, "But Ray, what is then sin? I've always heard about sin. I've heard people talk about it and people discuss it, but really what is it?" Well, the Bible again gives us the answers and that's the wonderful thing about God's word because it always tells us what we need to know. In 1 John chapter 5, we find the answer to this question as so many other questions as we read there in verse 17 together. "All unrighteousness is sin and there is a sin not leading to death." What is sin? All unrighteousness. Now this is real easy to understand because we have God who is righteous and then we have that which is not of God, being unrighteous. So all unrighteousness, the opposite of God, anything the opposite of God is sin. Now how would we know what God wants. Well again, that would be established by scripture. That would be established by what we have here in scripture. It would tells us exactly what is required of us. The word of God, that truth that is found in the Bible, God's will, that tells us what God wants and so when we know what God wants, and then we say this is something that God has not approved of or that He really has not said for us to do, then again, we sin when approach or we involve ourselves in those types of things. You see, we sin because we do that which is contrary to the will of God. Don't say you don't sin. "You're a liar", John says. But realize that all practice unrighteousness. All do that which is contrary to the will of God. That again is why it is so important for us to discuss this topic of sin.

To not only look at in general what sin is and say we need to refrain from it, but as we continue in our study together over the next several months, looking at specific sins and why is it that our society says, "Enjoy them. Take them. Have them," when our God says just the opposite that really they are not according to the will of God. They are the opposite of what God wants. So again, we will be challenging one another in our study to see exactly what God wants, what He expects of us, what He really desires of us in all things. You see, that is the purpose of our series and hopefully that will encourage us to do again more what God has asked us to do in every facet of life, not just in areas that we want to or that we feel good about, but in every walk of life that we might choose again exactly what God wants and not what you and I want.

I want to read another verse that is found back in the book of Romans, back in Romans chapter 6, and I want to read together there if you will verse 13 together. It says, "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness of God." Righteousness of God. Righteousness to God. Righteousness again being God. Unrighteousness being sin. So again, in establishing what is right and what is wrong, we establish what is of God and what is not of God. When we do that which is of God, we are righteous like God. We are Christ like. We are Christians. When we do that which is opposite of God, what do we do? We do just the opposite. We do that which is contrary to the will of God. You might say, "But Ray, I'm not convinced yet. Why is this topic so important? I know I sin, but if God is there to help me, what does it matter?" Well as long as you're in God, as long as you're doing His will, it might not matter to some degree, but the reason is because of the severity of sin. In fact, if you'll look with me in the same opening here, Romans chapter 6 and verse 23, you'll notice here very clearly that in that verse it says, "The wages of sin are...(what?) death. But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus." Notice here that sin not only separates us from God but it kills our soul, it destroys that soul, that spirit of man that is of God. Why? Because we're choosing the opposite of God and following it and participating in it and enjoying it rather than choosing God, His goodness, His mercy, and His righteousness as He would have us to. We've already read one verse again over in the book of John that told us the same thing that sin, all unrighteousness is sin, and sin leads to what? To death. So the reason it is so important is we all sin and sin leads to death. So I don't know about you but I want to know exactly what sin is so that I might understand what God does and does not want and then I can know what to do and what not to do, because I don't want to die. I don't want to lose my soul. I don't want to do that which is contrary to His will.

Well there's one other thing I want to look at in relationship especially to sin in our discussion this morning. That's found in the book of James if you'll turn there in your Bibles because James again deals a lot with this concept of sin, probably one of the best explanations that we have on sin and that is in the first chapter there again in the book of James. He mentions there in verse 12 the concept of being tempted as we read this morning and the concept of how we are tempted and blessed in temptation because God is going to give us things when we are and we endure. But notice what he goes on to say beginning in verse 13, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted of God.' For God cannot be tempted of evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin brings forth full-grown death." It brings forth that death. It is that which deceives us.

Now I want you to look at the full picture here of what is being said. We're going to be tempted. We're going to be tempted to sin. It is blessed when we endure it, but when we are tempted, don't do like so many today and say, "Why has God done this to me?" Have you heard that before? Somebody is in the hospital or suffering. Why did God allow this? Well let me read that again in verse 13, he said there, "God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone." God didn't tempt you. He didn't tempt Adam and Eve in the garden. Did He? Satan came there, the deceiver. He didn't tempt Job. Did He? Well he allowed him to. Yeah, but He didn't tempt him. Satan tempted Job. Didn't he? But notice as it goes on to say there, not only does God not tempt, but it says here in verse 14, "Each one is tempted by his own desires." Your own desires pull you into the desire of temptation. In other words, you see something, you like it, you desire it, you want it to an extent. Now you might say, "But Ray, that happens to me a lot." That's not sin. The writer here is not saying it is a sin to be tempted. It's not a sin when the devil places something before you or when a friend comes up and says, "Do you want to be involved in this?" Even though you know it's not of God. That's not the sin. Notice what the sin is in verse 15. "Sin is when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." You see, when that desire, when you allow that desire to be acted upon and you do whatever it is that you have thought about. That's when you have sinned. And in fact, as it goes on again to say here, "And sin when it is full-grown brings death." Why? Because it's saying here, "Sin being full-grown, you've chosen it, the unrighteousness over righteousness, over God." You see, what we're talking about here in our discussion this morning is in relationship to where we will go, in relationship to heaven and hell. It determines whether we will go and be with God for eternity or whether we will lose our souls and be cast into everlasting torment with Satan and his angels. You see, this is the choice we're talking about when we talk about sin. Righteousness like God. Unrighteousness like Satan. The choice is going to be yours in our discussion, considering each of these sins saying, "Is this something I'm involved in?" And if you are plead and begging of all these aspects is going to be that you leave these things that are contrary to the will of God so that you might receive that which is not death, but that which is eternal life.

So remember that we must not sin and those who sin are not of God but of their father the devil. But in all things, let's always focus on His word to know what He would have us to do and to obey Him.
(SONG # 3 - "Jesus Calls Us!")


Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803

Many of these materials are also available on our web sight:
That address is:

Or if you prefer, you may call us at:

May we all take the time to understand more about sin, and to refrain from it, because we know that it separates us from the Love of God!
(Program closing)