Recently in the wide world of sports, the University of Arkansas’s head football coach Bobbi Petrino was fired for having an adulterous affair and lying about it to university authorities. When it was being reported on by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on ESPN’s Mike And Mike In The Morning, Mike Golic said in essence,
“Bobbi Petrino made a mistake, and everyone
When Magic Johnson announced that he was retiring from the NBA because he had contracted the Aids Virus, he too said that he had made a mistake.
Hear it strong:
“WE NOW LIVE IN AN AGE IN WHICH PEOPLE
ARE NOT MORALLY WRONG, BUT
ONLY MISTAKEN. “
It is common now to refer to moral failure as a MISTAKE or ERROR IN JUDGMENT. And not only that, when the mistake is exposed, the moral failure now a mistake, is softened even more with the attendant phrase,
“AND AFTER ALL – EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES.”
Yes of course everyone makes mistakes! And COMMONALITY certainly does make THE ADULTEROUS MISTAKE less culpable than what it first sounded like or appeared. After all, if everybody does it, certainly the guilt of it is diluted into a generalized – common boo-boo at worst.
Immorality today almost sounds like a misdemeanor when it is all said and done these days. So come now you RAH RAH FANATICAL RIGHT-WINGERS, enough of your MORALIST POLICE CARS with their SIRENS WAILING and their LIGHTS FLASHING AND WHIRLING. Come now, settle down, for after all, no GROSS IMMORALITY has been committed, just a MINOR INDISCRETION at worst. SIN IS OUT, OOPS IS IN!
Hear it now:
“VERY FEW FOLKS WHO COMMIT INFIDELITY ARE
ADULTERERS ANY ANYMORE, JUST THOSE
WHO HAVE BEEN SIDETRACKED
We live in a world that does not believe in SIN anymore. It does not believe in SATAN. It does not believe in HELL. It does not believe in ETERNAL REWARD or ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.
And shockingly, neither does much of the modern church, for they never preach it, and they send out fewer and fewer missionaries to save people from the HELL of it all. If you will:
“THE SINFULNESS OF SIN HAS BEEN ERASED.”
I. THE DEADLY AGE OF WORD REVERSAL
It is much trickier and more deceptive than all that we have said so far, and anything that we have seen in history throughout all the ages. All around us:
“WORKERS OF VICE ARE WEARING THE GARMENTS
OF VIRTUE, AND SINNERS WHO HAVE DEVILISH
QUALITIES ARE DRESSING THEM UP AS DIVINE
To be more exact, we are living in the unprecedented age of word manipulation and word reversal, in which the NEGATIVE is being characterized as the POSITIVE, and the POSITIVE is being characterized as NEGATIVE. If you will:
“MEN LIVE BY AN EVIL MEASURE AND EVALUATE
THEMSELVES BY A GOOD MEASURE.”
While the SHAMEFUL is now HONORABLE, and the HONORABLE is now SHAMEFUL, the Prophet Isaiah saw the same in his day, and he warns us in Isaiah 5:20-21,
“Woe to them that call evil good and good evil; who
substitute darkness for light and light for
darkness; who substitute bitter for
sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and clever in their own sight.”
Changing the label on the bottle does nothing to alter the contents. They are what they are, no matter how you falsify the label. You and I must remember that in a society which calls SIN a MISTAKE, the following happens:
-EVIL a NEUROSIS.
-SIN CONVICTION a RELIGIOUS GUILT COMPLEX.
-SECRET SIN an UNNECESSARY TRAUMA.
-CONDONING OF SIN laudable TOLERANCE.
-INIQUITY merely NON-CONFORMITY.
-GETTING TIPSY AND BUZZED a HAPPY HOUR.
-CURSING the FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
-SPEEDING the MAKING OF GOOD TIME.
-MASTURBATION an INNOCENT PLEASURING OF SELF.
-FORNICATION a MUTUAL DISCOVERY.
-GREED a very WISE GETTING AHEAD.
-SELFISHNESS is SELF-PRESERVATION.
-COVETOUSNESS wise GOAL SETTING.
-ADULTERY an EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIR.
-ABORTION a WOMAN’S RIGHT.
-CHEATING – SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
-HOMOSEXUALITY an ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE.
-GLUTTONY enjoying GOURMET CUISINE.
-PORNOGRAPHY an APPRECIATION OF FORM AND SUBSTANCE.
-PAINTING NUDITY an EXPRESSION OF THE ARTS.
God pronounces His awful WOE upon all of this and more in Isaiah 5:20. But He also and equally condemns the flip side of this woeful abuse of words as well, namely calling GOOD EVIL. It happened in Isaiah’s day, and it is killingly metastasizing in modern society which now not only calls EVIL GOOD, but GOOD EVIL.
-HETEROSEXUALITY – TRADITIONAL BONDAGE.
-DEFENSE OF HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE ACT (DOMA) – INTOLERANCE.
-PREACHING AGAINST SIN – HATE-CRIME.
-CALLING A SINNER BY HIS SIN (fornicator, adultery, homosexuality) – A FELONY.
-PRAYING TOGETHER ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS – UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY.
-BIRTHING A DOWN-SYNDROME BABY – CHILD CRUELTY.
-PUBLICLY POSTING GOD’S LAWS – UNLAWFUL.
-READING THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS – UNLAWFUL.
-THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE in SCHOOL – UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
-CHRISTIANS – GUN TOTERS AND DISCRIMINATORY (by Barack Obama).
-GENESIS CREATION ACCOUNT – MYTHOLOGY.
II. MISTAKES AND SINS
We now hear sins being recast as mistakes all around us. But that is like calling Satan a misguided angel, and calling Hell urban blight. Not only is it a complete distortion and misrepresentation of truth and reality, it is gutless word-mincing to try and take the edge off of the devil and his hellish eternity.
Sins and mistakes are not synonyms, not even close. They have absolutely nothing in common. Even if they were spelled the same and pronounced the same, they are so dissimilar that they still would not be homonyms but rather antonyms. To substitute a mistake for sin is like substituting accidentally pounding one’s finger with a hammer with premeditated murder with a fully loaded gun.
There is so much wrong with that word MISTAKES, it is hard to know where to begin. First of all, God according to the Bible does not forgive mistakes-errors, but He does forgive sins when they are confessed.
We read in I John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from
It does not say,
“If we admit our mistakes, he is faithful and
righteous to correct our mistakes….”
Tookie Williams was one of the founders of the vicious street gang known as the Crips back in 1971. In February of 1979, Tookie killed his first person in a convenience store robbery, putting two bullets execution style in the victim’s back. A month later, he killed 3 members of an immigrant family from Taiwan as he robbed their hotel. They were 76, 63, and 46 years old. In 1981, Williams was found guilty of all 4 murders and sentenced to die, though he maintained his innocence. In 1987, he was placed in solitary confinement for over 6 years because of his violence toward guards and fellow inmates.
Hours before his death Tookie told a local radio station, “I stand strong and continue to tell you that I am innocent. Yes, I have been a wretched person, but I have redeemed myself.” He was executed at San Quentin on December 13, 2005.
On December 8, 2005, as Tookie’s execution was just days away, Gov. Schwarzenegger held a closed hearing to help decide whether Tookie’s death sentence should be commuted to life in prison. Many famous people argued that Tookie should live because he was a changed man.
But the Governor was troubled by two things—Williams never APOLOGIZED for killing those 4 people (the Govenator’s exact words), and had never cooperated with the police in their efforts to deal with the gang problem in California. Here it is again:
“SUBSTITUTING APOLOGY FOR CONFESSION.”
HEAR IT AGAIN:
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and purify us from
Not an APOLOGY, a simple “I’M SORRY,” but CONFESSION, a profound,
“I agree with God about my sin.”
That’s what the word “CONFESS” means:
“To agree with, to say the same thing as God
about my sin.”
To use the imagery of I John, true confession allows the brilliant light of God’s holiness to fall on our sins, so that not one of them is hidden in the darkness. That’s what verse 7 means when it talks about “walking in the light.”
We humans have a tendency to walk in the darkness when it comes to our sins. We deny that we have sinned. Oh, we’ll admit that we haven’t always been perfect, but we don’t see our actions as terrible sins. Or we deny that we are inherently sinful. We say, “Yes, I’ve committed some sins, but I’m basically a good person.” We try to stay in the darkness, so that we don’t have to face the ugly truth about ourselves.
Confession walks in the light of God’s truth about ourselves and our sins. It agrees with God. “These sins are terrible, I did them, I mourn them, I want to stop them. I don’t want to be merely forgiven for my past. I want to become pure and holy like my God.” If we do that, says our text, God is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us.
But CONFESSION is much more than AGREEING WITH GOD ABOUT SIN. It is also and at its heart FEELING WITH GOD ABOUT SIN. Listen:
“CONFESSION IS NOT PUNCHING AN AUTOMATIC
PRAYER BUTTON TO GET INSTANT FORGIVENESS.”
There are those who believe that God DOES NOT CRY! I totally disagree. That motion comes from the concept of a DISTANT – UNFEELING – AUTOMATIC PRECISION GOD. If you want to know Who God really and What God is really like, look at Jesus. He WEPT!
II Corinthians 7:10 tells us in no uncertain terms that there is GODLY SORROW over sin that leads to repentance.
“THE WORLD CRIES OVER SPILT MILK (MISTAKES),
WHILE THE TRUE CONFESSING SINNER
WEEPS OVER HIS SINS.”
The late D. James Kennedy writes:
“In this life, because of sin, there is much sorrow. Between our far from God, sin-laden souls, and the joy that is at the right hand of God, there is, I believe, almost of necessity, a vale of tears to be crossed:
“JUST AS ICICLES HANGING ON THE FROSTED
BRANCHES DRIP WATER WHEN THE SUN
SHINES ON THEM,”
EVEN SO THE SIN-FILLED SOUL, WHEN IT IS
BROUGHT CLOSE TO THE SON OF
All the sins of man eventually turn into tears. For some, the tears come in this world. For those with harder hearts, they come in the next world. However, they will come, for God has so ordained that sin must bring tears of contrition and repentance.
Don’t misunderstand: I would have you to clearly know that it takes more than our salty tears to wash away the stains of all our sins. It is only when we place our trust in Christ, and Him alone, that we can find forgiveness and the confident hope of eternal life with Him in Heaven.” (End of Kennedy quotation)
III. TO ERR IS HUMAN – TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE
This lethal word manipulation that is rampant really gained impetus with the well-known statement:
“TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE.”
To ERR (NOT-AIR) is the root word for ERROR which is a synonym for MISTAKE. We are back into Isaiah 5:20 again,
“Woe to them that call evil good and
Man commits sins while baseball players commit errors and make mistakes. Man commits sins while baseball pitchers throw balls and quarterbacks throw in-completions – interceptions – errors – mistakes.
The statement that we are dealing with, namely to err is human, has misled more people than we can imagine. It is once again the attempt to tone down sin into a much more benign goof-up.
And again, we are back to the fact that Bobbi Petrino made an adulterous mistake, and after all everyone makes mistakes. Except for pastors of course, because they are not really human, and for them to commit errors is viewed as downright sinful.
The differences between sins and mistakes are so great and so multiple, that an entire book could be written about it, and before you know it, you would have to write a second volume.
Here are just some of them, and I am sure you will be able to add some that I have missed. Please send me your added ones and I will post them, but here is what I know for sure at the moment.
-A MISTAKE is the miscalculation of the mind, while SIN is the disease of the soul.
-A MISTAKE is an involuntary error, while SIN is a voluntary evil.
-A MISTAKE is an unintentional deviation, while SIN is an intentional defiance.
-A MISTAKE requires rethinking, while SIN requires repentance.
-A MISTAKE by itself must be humanly penalized, while SIN by itself must be divinely punished.
-A MISTAKE must be admitted to self, while SIN must be confessed to God.
-A MISTAKE is a departure from human rules, while SIN is a breaking of Divine commandments.
-A MISTAKE has temporal consequences, while SIN has eternal consequences.
-A MISTAKE can lower our grade, but SIN can lower us into hell.
-A MISTAKE requires correction, but SIN requires the CROSS.
-A MISTAKE requires a pencil eraser, while SIN requires cleansing by the BLOOD of JESUS..
-A MISTAKE once made cannot be undone but only corrected, but SIN once committed can be removed by the blood of Jesus as if it never happened.
I know that I have just scratched the surface, but it is those last huge differences that Satan does not want people to discover, and make no mistake about that. You see, you don’t wash away mistakes, you undo them. Satan does want people to get ahold of the realization of personal sin and the washing away of it by the blood of Jesus, for then he has lost them, and that is a mistake he cannot afford to make. You see, he doesn’t worry about people admitting that everyone makes mistakes, but what he does not want people to acknowledge is Romans 3:23,
“For all have sinned and come short of the
glory of God.”
And I John 1:7b,
“…and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses
us from all sin.”
For then the enemy of our souls is defeated when he loses his subjects to the sin-blood reality. That is Hell to him before he goes there. It is easier for him to face his hellish future as long as he can take your and my unwashed, sinful soul with him, for misery loves company.
You see, his future is like looking into a huge, dark, blank, eternal IMAX screen, which can only be made more bearable if he can see your and my faces in it.
“In Cambridge, England, St. John’s College spans the river Cam with an enclosed bridge built in 1826 and it is known as the Bridge of Sighs. It is named after a more ancient and more famous structure in Italy which links the Doge’s Palace with the jail in Venice. Here prisoners sentenced to their deaths crossed over, dejected in mind and heart. (Therefore the name, “The Bridge of Sighs!”)
Presumably, students at St. John’s cross their bridge with equal dejection as they make their way to their examinations, which are to them not entirely unlike executions.
There is another Bridge of Sighs. It reaches from SINFUL MAN to the HOLY GOD, and carries the sorrows of the former to the throne of the latter. David crossed it, (“against Thee, Thee only have I sinned…”- Psalm51:4), though he was by no means the first and certainly not the last. Not a foot bridge, it is crossed only by those who crawl on their knees. All those who do this are noticed instantly by God.”
The cross of Christ should also be called THE BRIDGE OF SHAME. Death on the cross is marked out in the Bible as so shameful, that we read in Deuteronomy 21:23,
“He that is hanged on a tree is accursed
“DEATH ON THE CROSS IS SO SHAMEFUL THAT
THE INFAMY OF IT WAS WORSE THAN
The Romans used it to crucify the vilest criminals. Therefore, in Hebrews 6:6, Christ’s murderers are characterized as those,
“who put Christ to an open shame.”
“CONFESSION IS CROSSING THAT BRIDGE OF
SHAME, SHAMEFUL TO SIN, BUT
FOR THE CONFESSING
Know this if we know anything in this deadly world of word manipulation:
“THE BLOODY BRIDGE OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST
DOES NOT TAKE THE MISTAKEN FROM
INCORRECTNESS TO CORRECTNESS,
BUT IT TAKES SINNERS FROM SIN
TO SALVATION, AND FROM
It is the only bridge in the world that can do and does this, for Jesus is the only Bridgeman Who can lead across the gaping, fiery canyon of Hell safely into Heaven. It is the only SUSPENSION BRIDGE THAT will lead you over the GULF OF HELL safely into HEAVEN FOR ALL ETERNITY.
And there are those here today that must CROSS THAT BRIDGE OF CHRIST’S CROSS, because you have never done it with urgency, with understanding, with conviction, with confession, and with GODLY SORROW.
And when you do, THE GRACE OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS WILL NOT ONLY FORGIVE YOU, BUT HIS GRACE OF FORGIVENESS WILL DECLARE YOU RIGHTEOUS JUST AS IF YOU HAVE NEVER SINNED.
Those who lead worship services for elderly people in nursing homes, care facilities or hospitals know the power of the psalms and familiar hymns. Those who struggle with the effects of advancing age or illness may have forgotten virtually everything. But many of them remember well the psalms and hymns they learned as children.
The elderly father of friends struggled with dementia. He no longer recognized his family members. Yet just days before he died, he joined his family in singing “Amazing Grace” with gusto. GOD’S GRACE OUTLASTS EVERYTHING, INCLUDING OUR SINS.
IV. UNDERSTANDING OUR TIMES – KNOWING WHAT TO DO
We read about a particular family in the Bible that doesn’t receive a lot attention, but the attention it does receive is more than noteworthy. We read about Issachar and his sons in I Chronicles 12:32 with the following high commendations:
“And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood
the times, with knowledge of what Israel
-Issachar – The meaning of the name is “he will bring a reward.”
-Men – a person, people.
-Understanding – to separate mentally, to distinguish, be cunning, diligently, deal wisely, be prudent.
-Times – occurrences…occurrence means an event, an incident, happenings, circumstances.
-Know – to ascertain. The Hebrew word know in this verse is yado, which is a word that means God gives personal understanding and revelation, and is not a knowing that comes forth from reading a book for example.
Good stuff! If there was ever a time that we need to mentally be separated from our world, and to know and ascertain from the Holy Spirit what is going on in the modern world and church, it is now.
Then to do something about it the best way we know how, as in preaching and teaching to our people a series of Issachar- insight sermons about the word manipulation taking place today that will draw children – teenagers – men and women away from Christ and the cross and the Word of God, as well as imperil their eternal souls.
We are doing our Issacharen duty before God too, on behalf of the unsuspecting, be cunning as serpents and gentle as doves. Listen brothers and sisters, we are not proprietors of pet shops, but we are caretakers of eternal souls for which we will give account before the Lover of our souls one day soon.
We must realize that the evil forces that we are dealing with are artists in calling evil good and good evil. They are “renaming” and “resurnaming” all of the Biblical fundamentals of the Christian faith, as well as doing it every day and right under our very noses.
Please hear this good:
“IT IS TRUE THAT LABELS CANNOT CHANGE A
BOTTLE’S CONTENTS, BUT WE ARE NOT
DEALING WITH BOTTLES BUT WITH
Listen again real good:
“FOR FINITE AND VULNERABLE HUMAN MINDS,
MASQUERADING BAD WORDS CAN FOUL
AND DISGRACE THE GOOD THINGS, AND
MASQUERADING GOOD WORDS CAN
FLOWER AND GRACE THE
And now it is our responsibility in these dangerous times to expose the fouling and the flowering at every discernment that God gives us, and He is imparting discernment on a daily if not an hourly basis in these dangerous days.
Preachers today ought to lay before their congregations the scandal of what is happening in the interchanging of Heaven and Hell as synonyms. These fires of falsification and word- manipulation are raging out of control, and just when we think we have one put out, another one starts, and all of them are planned burns by the devil himself and his demonic pyromaniacs who want to turn the world and the church into nothing but a burned-over landscape of burning embers with smoke and haze.
And what is more, so slippery, sneaky, and subtle are these purveyors of pretense and perversion, that what is also happening is this:
“THOSE LIARS AND FLIM-FLAMMERS THAT SATAN
IS USING ARE, AS WE TALK, BEING FOLLOWED
AS MEN OF TRUTH BY TENS OF THOUSANDS
WHO BUY INTO THEIR DECEPTIONS, AND
EMBRACE SONS OF SHAME AS PERSONS
Well now, I close with this:
In chapter twelve of “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll records the following conversation: “Where shall I begin, please, your majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end, then stop.”
But I assure you that our stopping now does not mean that we are at the end. Frankly, there is no end to it, for the evil spirits of the fatal imposture and forceful-farce of words will never stop until Jesus Christ the Truth finally puts an end to them forever. So, goodbye only for now, but not for long! Amen.