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The Curse of Sin

Last week we took some time to increase our vocabularies with some old English words that most people today have never heard of – words like sluberdegullion, glabriety, quockerwodger, snoutfair and of course, that ancient word that hardly anyone uses anymore – the word sin.

And I noticed something very interested as I was speaking last week. When I was talking about sluberdegullions and quockerwodgers – the mood in the congregation was light-hearted and jovial. People were chuckling and smiling at these strange words and their definitions. But as soon as I said the word “sin” – the mood instantly changed. Everyone quickly become solemn and quiet.

And I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising. Sin isn’t a very pleasant topic. It’s not fun to talk about. After all, sin is the word that reminds us that each one of us have missed the mark. We have failed to be who God created us to be.

That was really the main point of what we talked about last week. Last week we tried to define sin. 

When we looked at the original Hebrew word for sin “Khata” – we saw that it literally meant to miss the target. We read in the book of Judges about these expert slingers would could slingshot a stone at a hair and not miss it! They would not Khata – not miss the target – they would not sin.

And so the basic definition of sin is to miss the mark – to fall short of whatever we’re aiming for.

The Bible tells us that we have all Khata-ed – we have all missed the mark and fallen short of our target. And do you remember what our target was? Our target was the Glory of God. Romans 3:23 tells us:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV

All of us have missed the mark and failed to do what God created us to do – that is to reflect his glory.  We looked back in Genesis and saw that when God created mankind, He created us unique in all of Creation. God created us in His own image – to be as much like Him as humanly possible – to be reflections of his goodness and glory.

But that is the target that we have all failed to hit. We fail, probably on a daily basis, to love God and to love one another the way that God loves us. We’ve failed to reflect the glory and the goodness of God. We have sinned.

And I think that most people – at least most people who believe in a good God – would not argue against the fact that every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Most people will admit that there are times when they have lied or acted selfishly or thought evil things about someone else.

It’s impossible to go though life without sinning. In fact, we briefly looked at how the Bible says we are slaves to sin. We have this inner drive to be selfish. To rebel against or to ignore God and to care for our own well-being at the expense of others. Try as we may to mimic God’s goodness, our sinful nature makes it impossible for us fully reflect the goodness of God. We just can’t do it.

And to say that that creates a problem for us is an understatement. There are all kinds of consequences that come with sin – some of those consequences are experienced here and now in this life and some of them will be experienced in the life to come – but all of sin’s consequences are extremely destructive.  And so for the next couple of weeks I want us to look at what some of those consequences are.

This message series that we started last week is called “Counting the Cost of Sin”. 

We live in a world that would like to deny the very notion of sin – let alone the consequences of sin. And so as a result, many people feel they have no need for salvation because they don’t understand what they need to be saved from. And even as Christians who have been saved, I think many of us either take our salvation for granted and/or we continue to live in sin because we fail to grasp how destructive sin is to our lives.

We fail to understand the cost of sin – and so we really don’t value the lavish gift of God that is our Salvation – our forgiveness and freedom from sin.

So as I mentioned earlier, last week we tried to define sin a little bit – and now this week, we’re going to begin to count the cost of sin.

I want us to start in the beginning – which is always a good place to start! In the book of Genesis we read the account of God’s Creation of the world and everything in it – including mankind. And I just want us to noticed the state of Creation in Genesis chapter 1 before Adam & Eve introduced sin into the world in Genesis chapter 3.

I won’t take the time to read the entire chapter, but 7 times in Genesis chapter 1, as God creates all the various elements of our world, God observes that what He made was good.

God made the light and he saw that the light was good.

God divided the dry land from the oceans – and he saw that it was good.

God made all the plants and trees – and he saw that it was good.

God made the sun, the moon, and the stars – and he saw that they were good.

God made all the fish and the birds – and he saw that they were good.

God made all the land animals – and he saw that they were good.

And then in verse 31, after God finished his entire work of Creation – we read this:

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31

I kinda get the idea that God wants us to know that the world he created for us was very good! I mean, this is all in chapter 1 of the Bible – It’s like the first thing we are told about God – that God created a good world – and we’re told it 7 times. Why do you suppose it’s so important for us to know that God created a good world?

I wonder if it’s because the world that we live in today doesn’t always seem to be that good? It seems our world is filled with the opposite of good.

John MacArthur writes:

When God completed His perfect creation it was very good because there was no disorder, there was no chaos, there was no conflict, there was no struggle, there was no pain, there was no discord, there was no disease, there was no decline, there was no death.  Now, we all live our whole lives with all of that.  Life is defined by disorder, chaos, conflict, struggle, pain, discord, disease, decline, and death. ~ John MacArthur

Isn’t that the truth?! I don’t think we can make it through a single day without witnessing or experiencing at least some of that.

On a global scale we have issues of war and poverty, oppression of entire people groups, genicide, famine, disease… And that’s just what we see on the news. And we certainly don’t have to look that far.

In our very own neighbourhoods we have abusive relationships, broken families, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, and the list could go on and on…

I think all of us recognize that the world we live in today is not “very good” – as it once was.

So what happened? What happened to this world that God created that was very good? Well, the short answer is sin. Sin happened.

To see how this all came about, I want us to look at Genesis chapter 3. And I imagine most of you are probably familiar with this story, but as I read through it, I want you to take note of all the consequences that came because of Adam & Eve’s sin. 

And just as a reminder before we begin, as John MacArthur noted, prior to this event, in the world that God created, there was no disorder, there was no chaos, there was no conflict, there was no struggle, there was no pain, there was no discord, there was no disease, there was no decline, there was no death. All of that was absent from the human experience!

Now watch to see how that all changes… Genesis chapter 3, verse 1.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 

Genesis 3:1-8

Ok, just pause here for a second. Already, we see at least three immediate consequences for Adam & Eve’s sin. The moment they sinned, they immediately experienced shame, guilt, & fear. Now, just for a minute: Can you imagine a world without those three things? Wouldn’t it be awesome to never have to experience shame, guilt or fear?

But that’s a totally foreign concept to us, isn’t it? All of us have experienced those things – many of us live in that state of shame, guilt and fear. But that’s the cost of sin. That’s part of the package. Maybe we experience that fleeting moment of pleasure when we indulge in sin, but shame, guilt and fear will always follow. That’s always part of the cost of sin.

But there’s more. Let’s read on…

9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

Genesis 3:9-13

Let’s pause here again. In these few verse we can see the evidence of a few more consequences of sin. This was the first time in history where we see broken relationships. Notice in these verses how Adam seems to accuse and blame both God and Eve for what has just happened. He says… “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit.” Adam’s blaming Eve for giving him the fruit and he’s also blaming God for giving him the woman.

Likewise, Eve passed the buck to the serpent. “The serpent deceived me – that’s why I ate it.” Both of them blamed someone else for their failure – refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. 

Now what do you think that does to their relationship with one another? What does that do to their relationship with God? 

Remember, before this, they had never broken trust with one another or with God. They were perfect reflections of the goodness of God – they had always acted out of love for one another and for God. Until now…

And again, we just can’t imagine having a perfect relationship with someone. I mean, can you imagine a spouse who never fails to act absolutely loving towards you. A spouse who never lets you down – never says something that hurts your heart even a little – a spouse who is always thinking of you.

That’s what Adam & Eve had until this moment…. Broken relationships are always part of the cost of sin. You can’t tell a lie to someone (even a little white lie) without damaging that relationship. You can’t say one unkind word to someone without damaging that relationship. There is no little sin that doesn’t make a damaging impact on your relationships. Broken relationships are always part of the cost of sin.

But unfortunately, there’s even more. Let’s keep reading at verse 14.

14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, you are cursed

    more than all animals, domestic and wild.

You will crawl on your belly,

    groveling in the dust as long as you live.

15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and her offspring.

He will strike your head,

    and you will strike his heel.”

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,

    and in pain you will give birth.

And you will desire to control your husband,

    but he will rule over you.”

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree

    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,

the ground is cursed because of you.

    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,

    though you will eat of its grains.

19 By the sweat of your brow

    will you have food to eat

until you return to the ground

    from which you were made.

For you were made from dust,

    and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:14-19

In these verses God describes the curse of sin. And just to clarify, this curse isn’t like the voodoo curses you see on tv or anything like that – it’s really more of a description of the consequences of sin that would impact the entire world and everyone in it.

And if I were to summarize this curse with just two words – it would be struggle and pain. Before this, all Adam & Eve knew was comfort and ease. Life was not difficult for them. Every day was a banquet in the garden of Eden. They had everything they wanted – their job of tending the garden was easy and fulfilling for them – it brought them joy and delight. Even their relationships were filled with comfort and ease. They had no marital problems. No bad days. Life, as God had designed it, was one of comfort and ease.

But now, the curse of sin changed all that. Their life would be characterized now by pain and struggle. They would struggle in their relationships. They would struggle in their work. They would struggle just to survive. And that struggle would continue until the day they died. That’s all part of the curse of sin.

And that’s the world that we now live in. We have inherited that same curse of sin – it continues to this very day. We understand a life that is characterized by pain and struggle. We experience that every day. We struggle in our relationships. We struggle in our work. We struggle just to survive. That’s all thanks to sin. And we will continue that struggle until the day we die.

Which, by the way, was the final element of this curse. We didn’t read it earlier, but God had warned Adam and Eve exactly what would happen if they choose to sin. In Genesis 2 – verse 16

16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Death was never part of God’s design. It was never God’s intention for man to die. And that seems really strange to us, because in our experience, death is just a part of life. You live and then you die. In fact, the moment you begin to live, you also begin to die.

At the moment of conception, as your body begins to form and grow in the womb, at the exact same moment, it also begins to decay and it begins the journey toward death. Death seems to be an integrated part of life – but that was never God’s design. 

Sin would bring the curse of death to every person who would ever live. And we’re going to talk a lot more about that next week, but for today, I hope you’re beginning to see the enormous cost of sin.

I mean, we all experience these consequences on a daily basis. We know what its like to feel shame, guilt and fear. We know what it’s like to have broken relationships. We understand a life that’s full of pain and struggle. And we most certainly understand that we are all on a journey towards death.

But what we might not understand is that these are all direct consequences of sin. Not only is sin what introduced these things into the world in the first place, but our own personal sin compounds these effects in our lives.

When we choose to live apart from God and in opposition to God’s ways – when we fail to live in a way that reflects the glory and the goodness of God – we are adding to our lives the shame, guilt, and fear that comes with that sin. We are causing further damage to our relationships with each other and with God. We are multiplying the amount of pain and struggle that we experience in our lives.

This last week at kids club, we had the kids try to memorize Romans 6:23…

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

While the world often paints sin as freedom from God’s cumbersome and archaic laws – it paints the wages of sin to be joy and happiness, but reality is the exact opposite. Sin may give us a fleeting moment of pleasure, but then it immediately steals our joy and happiness. It steals our peace and destroys our relationships. And ultimately, the cost of sin is death.

And as I mentioned, we’re going to talk a lot more about that next week, but before we end today, I want us wrap up on a note of hope. I don’t want to just leave you down there in the dumps feeling hopeless about life.

I read an interested article this week titled – Why Did Jesus Wear a Crown of Thorns?

It refers of course to when Jesus was crucified – how in mockery, the soldiers wove together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. Matthew 27:27 says:

27 Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. Matthew 27:27-30

It was a moment of utter disrespect and insult and shame. But unknown to them, what was intended to be a mockery of Jesus’ claim to be the King of Jews, was actually a powerful statement of what Jesus would accomplish on the cross.

I think it harkens right back to God’s pronouncement of the curse of sin in Genesis 3. Let me read that again:

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree

    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,

the ground is cursed because of you.

    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,

    though you will eat of its grains.

19 By the sweat of your brow

    will you have food to eat

until you return to the ground

    from which you were made.

For you were made from dust,

    and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:14-19

One of the key elements in this curse is the mention of thorns. Throughout the Bible, thorns are used as a symbol for the curse of pain and struggle that comes with sin. 

  • For example, when the Israelites fail to remove the sinful Canaanites from the Promised Land, God warns that those nations would become thorns in their side.
  • Or in other times in the Old Testament, when God pronounces judgement on different nations for their sin, He talks about how thorns will overgrow their vineyards and their land.

Thorns are very vivid reminders of the curse of sin. 

So I think it’s very significant that Jesus was given a crown of thorns. It reminds us that Jesus took the curse of sin upon Himself – to put and end to the curse and to free us and all creation from its consequences. 

Paul reminds us in Romans 8:20…

20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:20-21

This freedom from death and decay – this freedom from the curse of sin was made possible only by Jesus’ death and resurrection! 

Jesus paid in full the terrible cost of sin. He took all of its consequences and all of its curse on himself so that we could be free. And as we read in Romans 6:23 earlier, God’s free gift of life is now available to anyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ.

Through Jesus Christ – we have the future hope of a sin-free, curse-free world. A world free from pain and struggle – a world free from broken relationships – a world free from shame, guilt, or fear.

The book of Revelations paints us a beautiful picture of this future reality. Let me just read a bit for you – starting in Revelation chapter 21, verse 1.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

and then if you jump down to the next chapter

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 21:1-4, 22:1-5

I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to that day. That day when God restores His very good world. This is the hope that we have through Jesus – this is the hope that gets us through the pain and the struggle of this life – it’s the hope of a better life yet to come.

And I would just encourage you this morning – if you are growing weary of the pain and suffering in this world – if you want to have this hope of a better life yet to come – I would encourage you to look to Jesus. Put your trust and hope in Him. 

Now of course, He’s not going to instantaneously make this life all better – you’re still going to go through pain and suffering – sadly, that’s the reality of the situation. But in the midst of the pain and suffering, God can give you comfort and encouragement knowing that there is a better life awaiting you – a life free from the curse of sin.

This morning we want to end with what might seem to be an unusual choice of songs – the song is Joy to the World. And we usually think of this song as a Christmas song – celebrating when Jesus came to earth as a little baby. But when you look at the lyrics – specifically as it talks about God ending the curse of sin – this song is really more about Jesus’ second coming – when He returns to earth and makes all things right again. Look at this verse:

No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

That right there, is the future hope that we have through Jesus.

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