Sun. a.m. AGCC 9/26/99


TEXT:     I Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 3:10-18, 6:20-23


What does the Church have to offer the world that cannot be found anywhere else? The world can offer education to make you smarter, it can offer you great career opportunities to make you wealthier, it can offer you a nice home to make you comfortable - but only the Church can offer you a way to have your heart, soul and mind transformed by the gift of God's salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord. The only answer for man's deepest need is God's love and salvation. Only Christ's forgiveness of sins can transform the human soul. It is a message too important not to share! ILLUS:One Mercedes Benz TV commercial shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Someone then asks the company spokesman why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success. He replies mater-of-factly, "Because some things in life are too important not to share." How true. In that category also falls the gospel of salvation, which saves people from far more than auto collisions. -- Jim Beranek, Parkersburg, Iowa. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3. You can educate a thief, but they may only become a smarter thief, you can grant wealth to a evil man and he will only find more expensive ways to exploit others with his evil. Only a transformed soul can change the outward expressions of a person. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that the greatest transforming power in the universe is the love of God expressed through the death of His son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. I. SINFUL CHARACTER      Rom. 3:10-18; I Cor. 6:9-10 A. Natural State     Rom. 3:10-18 1. From the garden of Eden man has been a fallen creature! a. A simple look at history will bear this out - look at the evil man has expressed since the earliest days of written records! b. We can see the selfish demanding nature of fallen man From the cradle and our cries to have life be the way we want it to be. 2. Why is it that many sinners don't seem to feel the weight of sin in their lives if this is true? ILLUS:Peradventure some sinner will say, "perceive nor feel any weight in myself, do I ever so many sins." To whom we answer that if a dog having a great stone bound about his neck is cast down from a high tower, he feels no weight of that stone as long as he is falling down, but when he is once fallen to the ground he is burst all to pieces by the reason of that weight. -- from a sermon preached by John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (ca. 1508). Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 3. 3. Paul made it very clear that there isn't even a single man or woman born that is free of the need of transformation. a. As Paul says in the text, there is "none righteous, not one" b. No hope in our natural state, we need a supernatural solution! c. We have it in Christ alone! B. No Salvation!     I Cor. 6:9-10 1. Paul in writing to this Church in the city of Corinth finds himself reminding these Christians that there is no salvation for the wicked outside of Christ. a. He is warning them of a truth that is not popular preaching these days, that there is a real heaven but also a real hell! b. Mankind is forever calling things beautiful that are really loaded down with sin - but it does not matter what you call it, sin is sin! ILLUS:In one Polish city there is a street named Beautiful. It is probably the ugliest street in town. Unpaved, it is filled with ruts and potholes, and to drive faster than five miles an hour would be unthinkable. Obviously the street didn't turn out the way planners had hoped. What about our lives? Did they start out to be beautiful and become ugly? Are we living with unfulfilled dreams and unrealized plans? Probably all of us are, but we serve an understanding and a forgiving God. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 2. Paul is reminding the Corinthian Christians that there is no hope for the sinful outside of Christ, God does not turn away from sin and ignore it. 3. Perhaps we would be more passionate about salvation if we truly understood the lostness of man in his sins! II. SALVATION BY CHRIST      I Cor. 6:11; Rom. 6:20-23 A. New Status!     I Cor. 6:11 1. Why is Paul talking about such horrible sins to a wonderful group of Christians in a Church? a. Note the first part of this verse: "AND THAT IS WHAT SOME OF YOU WERE!" b. They had once been those very people he had just listed! (1. These upstanding believers in Christ had among them people who had once been adulterers, thieves, prostitutes, homosexuals, greedy, drunkards, swindlers, etc. (2. God can change anyone! 2. They used to be the ugly people of society - but God loved them and forgave them, and cleaned them up! 3. This is the message of salvation! - somewhere along the lines they heard the voice of God call them to a new lifestyle, a transformed life by Christ's power, not their own power! That whisper of His love for them as sinners was enough to bring them to repent and experience God's love and salvation - to transform them. ILLUS: In The Whisper Test, Mary Ann Bird writes: I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. When schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them I'd fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me. There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored--Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy--a sparkling lady. Annually we had a hearing test. ... Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back--things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, "I wish you were my little girl." God says to every person deformed by sin, "I wish you were my son" or "I wish you were my daughter." -- Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 1. 4. The Church is not a place of perfect people, it is a place of redeemed sinners! 5. In our modern world we would hear that many of these people cannot be changed, but the passage here in Scripture would say otherwise, thieves, homosexuals, drunkards, etc. all transformed by God and now members of the body of Christ! 6. Does this mean they were perfect now and never made mistakes? No, but it does mean they don't live in these sinful states anymore. a. Being a Christian doesn't mean you never fail, it means however that the transformed person you are in Christ would be repentant when you do err and forgiveness would be sought again. b. As transformed people we do not dwell in places of sin anymore there is a real difference! ILLUS: You don't drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there. -- Chinese proverb, Christian Reader, Vol. 34. 7. How did they get their new status as believers if they had once been such sinners? a. "You were washed" b. "You were sanctified" c. "You were justified" 8. It wasn't by their power, it was through Christ's sacrifice and power that they had been transformed! B. New Source     Rom. 6:20-23 1. Paul states that our slavery to sin has ended in Christ, we now have a new source of strength and power, one greater than our own. 2. The great cry of humanity has always been "FREEDOM" ILLUS:In the late summer of 1989 one million people in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia linked arms and formed a human chain that was 360 miles long. When the chain was completed, one word was passed along the line. Each one spoke to the next until that one word had been passed along all those 360 miles. The word was "freedom!" When our Lord Jesus Christ cried from the cross "It is finished," he might as well have said "freedom!" Our freedom from sin, our freedom from ourselves, our freedom from death and the grave were all won on the cross and celebrated in the resurrection. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 3. However, there is a greater message of freedom than political freedom, or social freedom, or even financial freedom it is the freedom that comes through Christ to no longer be slaves to sin! a. Man worships freedom, but worship of God IS FREEDOM! b. Of all the people on Earth, believers in Christ are the freest - no matter what kind of political system they are forced to live under, their soul has been set free of the burden of sin and the tyranny of sin! 4. God's gift of eternal life not only transforms our life on this side of eternity, but seals that transformation for eternity! 5. No wonder Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to not forget how high God has now elevated them. 6. Those who give themselves to Christ will find their lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit - we can be the people of God! CONCLUSION:    What can change the human heart? Education can make smarter sinners but still not change the soul! Money can make a sinner more comfortable materially but still not satisfy the soul! Only Christ can change a life! The greatest hope for humanity is a savior. Have you been transformed by Christ yet?