Sermon for Sunday, February 4, 2018
Sin and Happiness
As humans, we are created to have meaning and purpose in our existence. In the past, I have preached sermons the purpose God had in created us. We have been given the wonderful gift of life by God and he intends that our lives have meaning and purpose. Today’s lesson will focus on these two points:
1) An important by-product sin is the loss of happiness.
2) An important by-product of forgiveness is the gain of happiness.
Understanding sin is a major component of what God wants us to know about ourselves.
A religious counselor’s perspective:
“Sin is often the root of emotional and psychological problems. People are emotionally disturbed because they are sinners or have been damaged by other sinners and we should heighten our sensitivity to sin.”
 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
A purpose of God is that humans exercise their freedom of choice:
 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
This freedom of choice is a part of being created in the “image of God” in chapter 1.
After the first sin, humans are described as knowing good and evil.
 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”
In chapter 3, God describes some of the destructiveness and consequences of sin.
 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
In chapter 4, we find the consequences of Cain’s sin in the murder of his brother:
 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”
In chapter 6, we see the consequences of sin for a whole nation and the world:
 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Verse 9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”
The point: Noah was counter to the prevailing culture.
The dominant culture will always stray from God. This is why there is so much wrong with the world today.
God promises a blessing in the descendants of Abraham:
 I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Perhaps there is more to the promised blessing of God than salvation through Messiah Jesus. The Bible also shows us a better way of life. This life will give us meaning and purpose.
In Genesis 18, God warns Abraham about the destruction of Sodom:
 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby.
 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way.  Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”
 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous  that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
Note that later there are only two men in Sodom (Genesis 19:1). In verse 19:1 these two men are described as angels but in 18:22 the remaining man is called the Lord.
Abraham believed there might be innocent adults in the city besides Lot and his family but there were not:
 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.  Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Remember the religious counselor’s perspective:
“Sin is often the root of emotional and psychological problems. People are emotionally disturbed because they are sinners who have been damaged by other sinners and we should heighten our sensitivity to sin.”
Sometimes the innocent suffer because of the sins of others. There were innocent children in Sodom and Gomorrah who suffered because of the sins of the parents just like there are innocent children who suffer today.
God is perfect in justice as well as love. As Abraham says, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (v. 25).
There are two views regarding sin:
1) Belief in sin is the cause of our unhappiness. To have joy, we must desensitize ourselves to the concept of sin.
2) People are unhappy because they are sinners and they need to experience the joy of forgiveness.
Remember, there is more to salvation than forgiveness. God also tells us how to live and have relationships with other people. Our forgiveness points the way to meaning and purpose in life.
If you want to be happy, be aware of sin!
To be happy, we must look beyond the world we often love:
1 John 2:
 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 Corinthians 15:
 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Note that wealth is not always a predictor of happiness.
1 Timothy 6:
 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Suicide notes of the poor revealed that poverty was not the primary cause. Instead, the primary cause was a lack of purpose for living. In other words, if people had meaning to their lives they could cope with their poverty.
J B Myers