God's Glory Revealed: Through Sin

(Psalm 51:9-12)

You are all sinners! I'm a sinner! We're all sinners! Let us pray. Almighty God, may the words of your message today penetrate deep into our souls. May your glory be revealed to us in a new and exciting way. In Jesus name. Amen.

It may seem strange that in preaching about God's glory I would start this sermon series addressing how God's glory is revealed to us through our sin. Well, I begin with sin because this is a place we all share, this is our common ground; whether we like to admit it or not we're all sinners. There has been only one perfect person, and that's Jesus Christ. All others born in this world have sinned and will sin; we have all fallen away from God and God's ways at one time or another.

You see in the beginning God created humanity in his own image. God created humans as spiritual beings and equipped them, by grace, with reason and free will. And God created humanity with the capacity to love, to be just, holy in living, and pure in heart.

But humanity fell from their God given position of prominence because of a willful act of disobedience (sin) by Adam and Eve. As a result humanity became self-absorbed and unholy, and sin then corrupted the nature of every person. In other words we not only live in a world infected by sin, but each person is touched by sin, and because of our very nature we commit sin. We all have the nature of sin in us; we all have a propensity towards disobedience.

Let me illustrate this point with the simple example of wet concrete. What thought comes to mind when you walk by some fresh concrete and read the sign that says "do not touch" or "do not walk." We want to put our hand prints or foot prints in it, maybe even engrave our initials. That's because within each of us there is a sinful nature bent on disobedience.

Sin is the great common denominator of our lives. It comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes, but at the end of the day it's all sin, and it's all disobedience to God. And sin is sin; there are no gradations of sin, no one sin is worse than another. Now as humans we say that's unfair, certainly murdering someone is far worse than stealing a magazine from a store. But God doesn't see it that way. In God's eyes sin is sin, it doesn't matter what the sin, it's all wrong, and all sin is being disobedient to God's law.

The hard truth is, we've all turned away from God at one time or another, and are in need of God's forgiveness and mercy.

Now as we see and experience all the sin in the world it can be easy for us to call for judgment, but we'd better be careful because if we want swift judgment, guess what, we too will be judged. And I don't know about you but that worries me; judgment is not something I look forward to, because I know I've fallen short of God's glory from time to time.

The thing is, we, meaning humanity, tend to look at things through a temporal filter or lens. And just as we want to classify sin based on its overall impact on society:

  • we also want justice done,
  • we want the wrath of God to come upon those we deem as evil and sinful people,
  • we want God to correct all that's wrong with our world by getting rid of those people,
  • and we want God to punish those sinners.

Now it's not that wanting justice is a bad thing for those who have sinned; we just need to understand we too are sinners, so any call for justice includes all of us being judged as well.

But thankfully God looks at things through an eternal filter. And it's helpful if we too learn to see things with an eternal perspective as well. This filter doesn't dismiss sin, or minimize the affect sin has on humanity, but this filter does acknowledge the truth about sin and helps us remember that it's not those sinners for whom God's mercy is available, it's for all of us sinners that God's mercy is available.

David in Psalm 51, I think captures perhaps what our true feelings are when it comes to sin and God. David writes, speaking to God, "Hide your face from my sins." You see we really don't want God seeing what we do, do we? It's embarrassing. And just as we don't want to disappoint our parents, we don't want to disappoint God either. But God does see what we do, no matter how hard we may try God sees and knows everything we do. And David knows this truth too, because he immediately asks God to purify his heart and to renew his spirit.

It was a gut wrenching time for David as he realized he had turned away from God by his sin. And I suggest you take the time to read David's entire story in 1 and 2 Samuel. The last thing David ever wanted to do was disappoint God, but that's exactly what he ended up doing. And yet, David also knew that God would forgive him if he went to God and from his heart confessed his sin and was open to being changed by God, to be made clean.

God's knows of our nature to sin, God knows the trouble we can get ourselves into, and God knows that despite the sin in this world he can ultimately use our nature to sin for his greater glory.

God's glory revealed through sin can really be summed up using the words of Romans 8:28 which states, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Notice this passage doesn't say that in good things God works, but rather in all things God works. This means that even in the midst of our sin God continues to reveal his glory with the hope that we will turn back to him, seek his forgiveness, and receive his mercy. And not only that we turn back to him, but also because we're so affected by God's love and mercy we want to witness to his glory so that others will want to repent and return to a right relationship with God.

If you read the entire story of King David you'll see that he provides us with an excellent biblical example of someone who was completely devoted to God, fell away from God, and then by God's grace returns to him.

David had disobeyed God and caused himself and others harm by his actions. And throughout the painful time of the discipline he endured as a result of his sin he praised God and didn't challenge God about the consequences he was facing. God's glory was revealed to David as he submitted to the consequences of his sin, consequences he knew he deserved.

Another way God's glory is revealed through sin, again using David as one example, is that when we're in our most unlovable hour we still experience:

  • a God who loves us,
  • a God who is ever present with us,
  • a God, who even when we're walking through our darkest hour, remains with us.
  • A God we can call out to "Create in me a clean heart O God!"

To be sure there were earthly consequences to David's sin, just as there are with all of us, but God didn't condemn David to a living hell, if you will, he instead extended his mercy and restored David to a right relationship with him. David made mistakes, he recognized his mistakes and learned from them as a result perhaps he was scarred for life, but in the eyes of God he was made clean. So God's glory is revealed through the consequences of our sin, and his glory is revealed through his mercy and love for us, in spite of our sin.

I recently read a story about Velma Barfield, a drug addict who had been convicted of poisoning and killing four people, including her mother. As a consequence of her actions she was condemned to death and lived on death row for six years while the appeals process was taking place.

While in prison Velma received Christ as her Lord and Savior and sought God's forgiveness for her sin. Now this was a sincere conversion, not one concocted by a PR person for the benefit of the media. And as a result of her conversion she firmly believed her sins were forgiven and she became a vibrant and enthusiastic Christian while in prison. She shared and lived the Gospel during her incarceration.

Now Velma didn't take lightly what she had done; she had committed a horrible crime and took complete responsibility for it. Nor did she take God's forgiveness lightly because she knew God's forgiveness came at a high cost, Christ's life on the Cross. Yet through Christ's death she knew God had demonstrated his love for all sinners, even for a murderer like herself. So Velma, for the first time in her life, knew what it meant to be loved.

As the time of her execution approached Velma was quoted as saying, "If I had the choice of living free on the outside [of prison] without my Lord, or living on death row with him, I would choose death row." Can you imagine having a life so void of love, so void of God that returning to a "free" life would have been worse than living in a prison?

Before she died, Velma wrote her story of tragedy, turmoil, drugs, anger, depression, violence, and finally, the grace of God. She said, "I want my story told because I hope it will help people understand what God can do in the life of one loathsome and desperate human being. I [now] understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he called himself the chief of sinners." The day Velma was put to death it was recorded that she went peacefully to her death, her lips moving in silent prayer.

Clearly God's glory was revealed in Velma's life while in prison, as she became a powerful witness to God's saving grace offered through faith in Jesus Christ. So there is good news, even in the midst of sin no one is so far gone that God can't redeem them.

No sin is so great that God can't forgive, except for the one unpardonable sin of denying the work of the Holy Spirit, essentially attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to actually being the work of Satan. But even with that said I believe God will receive even someone who denies the work of the Holy Spirit if they repent and turn back to God.

Now forgiveness doesn't remove our responsibility or keep us from experiencing the earthly consequences of our sin, but eternally speaking our lives will be changed, and life will go on in the land of never ending light.

You see for Christians the ground at the foot of the cross is level; there's no higher or lower place for people based on the sin committed, we're all standing on common ground, we're all standing on level ground, we're all standing on holy ground. Through Christ's death God has demonstrated his love for all sinners, even sinners like us.

The words to the hymn we sang just a few minutes ago ring true: "Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, o Lamb of God I come, I come." As we turn to Christ he will receive us just as we are, and then by his grace and our receiving of his grace he will work in us to cleanse us from sin and make us new.

I am convinced that the root of all our human problems comes from the human heart and our sinful nature. Therefore, our greatest need is spiritual in nature. We need to be changed in our inner beings.

When we come to know Christ and commit our lives to him, God comes into our lives and begins to change us from the inside out. We become washed clean in the blood of Christ; this is God's promise and gift to us.

Our willingness to face the consequences of our sin and seek God's forgiveness is what will allow God's glory to shine through us. And when we do what we know is right, and we do what we know to be God's truth, God's glory can't help but be revealed. We can't hide God's light under a bowl or in a building, instead we are to let it shine; let it shine bright for the world to see.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

I've read the last page of the Bible and sin is not the final word, God's grace and truth are! Amen.

In addition to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible the following resources inspired and/or were used in part in the preparation of this sermon: 1. Glory Revealed by David Nasser 2007.

Read other messages by Pastor Wade