||White Collar Sins
||Sin in a Three-Piece Suit
Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God. We’re usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. My purpose in this series isn’t to condemn anyone. I hope to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, consider five characteristics of sin.
Connect Recap Notes: January 14, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Sin in a Three-Piece Suit"
Text: Matthew 23
Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God.We're usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. In this series called White Collar Sins, Pastor Skip hopes to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, Pastor Skip considered five characteristics of sin:
- Sin Is Detectable (vv. 1-3)
- Sin Is Dangerous (v. 23a)
- Sin Is Diverse (v. 23-26)
- Sin Is Deceptive (v. 27)
- Sin Is Dismissible (v. 37)
Sin Is Detectable
- Masks were part of ancient Greek theater, and the term hypocrite described the two-faced actors. Later it began to be used for someone who pretends to be something they are not.
- The phrase white-collar crime was coined by criminologist Edwin Sutherland. It referenced someone who committed a nonviolent crime for financial gain.
- White collar sin isn't what we think of as typical, obvious sin; it often wears a mask of decency, even religiousness.
- Hamartiology is the study of sin. We study sin because before we can understand salvation, we must understand how much we need it. Hamartiology explains the problem and points to the solution.
- In Matthew 23, Jesus confronted the religious elite, showing them the harm of their hypocrisy.
- Sin is detectable to a holy God; the word harmatia means to miss the mark. Sin is "any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature."1
- The word sin is used 446 times in the Bible; sins is used 187 times.
- Today, sin has been explained away by psychology and sociology. Many religions disregard it as relative or illusory.
- Probe: Because God knows everything, He knows every sin. But how can other people detect sin (actions, words, etc.)?
Sin Is Dangerous
- Jesus used the word woe eight times in Matthew 23 as an exclamation of grief to cry out against the Pharisees and scribes.
- Sin is so bad that it brings judgment and separation from God. God's entire activity on earth centers on curing the sin problem.
- Sadly, some recognize sin in others, but fail to recognize it in themselves.
- Probe: Discuss this Martin Luther quote: "The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation." Why is this true?
Sin Is Diverse
- In the Old Testament, some were so concerned with the details of giving, they forgot the big things—mercy, justice, and faith. In their legalism, they neglected what God desired for their lives. Sin is more than just actions; it is also attitude.
- There are two major types of sins:
- Sins of commission: doing something we shouldn't
- Sins of omission: not doing something we should (see James 4:17)
- Some sins are obvious, and some are not so obvious. Some are open and flagrant, and others are hidden and appear respectable.
- The less obvious are white-collar sins: gossip, selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, and envy.
- Probe: Discuss the two types of sins and the different sins that fall within each group. Why are both types considered sin—missing the mark?
Sin Is Deceptive
- Many religious people are skillful at making appearances of right living: they're clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside (see v. 5), ensuring their works are seen by men.
- The greatest blasphemy isn't a person who doesn't know, walk with, or love God, but one who pretends to know, walk, and love God—but doesn't.
- This is why we need to "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33).
- Probe: Charles Spurgeon said, "If you're not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you." Why is it important to seek the Lord with your whole person (heart, mind, soul, and strength), and not just one part of you? Will sin permit a half-hearted approach to God?
Sin Is Dismissible
PracticeConnect Up: Only a holy being can have complete fellowship with a perfectly holy God. How does Christ's righteousness make us holy, allowing us to come boldly before God's throne (see Hebrews 4:16)? Discuss this statement: Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us (He saves us—see 2 Corinthians 5:21), and by the Spirit we are sanctified (continually made holy over time).
- As Jesus closed His last public sermon, He lamented His people's refusal to receive the cure for sin. He used tender language—"as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (v. 37)—showing His desire to forgive, heal, and dismiss sin.
- Sin is the problem, and Christ is the cure. Jesus came to forgive sin and demonstrate God's love (see Matthew 1; Luke 19).
- In verse 37, we see the greatest opportunity and the greatest tragedy:
- Opportunity: "I wanted to gather your children together."
- Tragedy: "But you were not willing" (the worst sin of omission).
- There's only one thing improved by breaking: the heart of a sinner. Jesus will improve your life for all eternity.
- Probe: Discuss Psalm 51:17: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." Why does God desire a broken spirit? How does God restore your spirit? Jesus is willing and able to take care of your sin. Are you willing to let Him?
Connect In: In church, it's easy to wear a mask and be a hypocrite. How can we guard ourselves from being like the religious elite in Matthew 23? Chip Ingram suggested three ways:2 begin within (look at yourself), start with your own heart (your attitude), and weigh the consequences (your actions). How do you deal with hypocrisy in your heart?
Connect Out: How would you answer a nonbeliever who says, "The church is full of hypocrites. I've never found a Christian I can trust"?
1Wayne A. Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith
, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1999, p. 210.
2Living on the Edge, "How to Overcome Hypocrisy in Your Heart, Part 1," https://livingontheedge.org/broadcast/how-to-overcome-hypocrisy-in-your-heart-part-1/daily-radio#.WlqpOIUfHFY
, accessed 1/14/18.
- In ancient Greek culture, actors wore masks as they delivered their lines in plays
- Sad mask for sad lines and happy mask for funny lines
- Hupokrités= somebody who wears a mask, an actor, a hypocrite
- White collar sins
- Borrowed from the term white collar crimes
- Mainly financial crimes: fraud, money laundering, etc.
- A crime committed by someone of respectability and high social status
- Can incur as much if not more jail time as some blue collar crimes
- A short theology on sin
- Hamartiology is the study of sin
- Hamartia = a sin, failure
- Logia = to study
- You can never understand our great salvation until you understand how much you need it
- The last recorded public sermon Jesus preached was a confrontation
- He unmasked the Pharisees
- He exposed their sin
- Sin Is Detectable (vv.1-3)
- God always knows our sins (see Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8)
- The word harmatia is used over 200 times in Scripture
- Means tomiss the mark or to fall short
- There is a divine standard that we have missed
- Sin = any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature
- You can essentially look anywhere in the Bible and be confronted with the idea of sin
- Sin is not a popular concept because our culture views man mechanistically
- It is explained away as psychological or social conditioning
- It is explained as a way we deal with guilt
- Sin Is Dangerous (v. 23a)
- "Woe to you" (vv. 13-16, 23, 25, 27, 29)
- Woe is an exclamation of grief
- Ouai in Greek
- Oy in Hebrew
- Proselyte (v. 15)
- A proselyte is a convert
- Proselyte of the gate
- A half-convert
- Believed in the God of the Jews but was unable to sacrifice in the temple because they were uncircumcised
- Proselyte of righteousness
- A full convert
- The Pharisees sought to win these converts
- Sin in its undetected and unrepentant form bars one from heaven
- All of God's activity on the earth was focused on curing this problem
- Sin put the Perfect One on the cross
- We are really good at spotting other people's sin and really bad at detecting our own
- Sin Is Diverse (vv. 23-26)
- Sin takes on many forms
- The law required the Jews to pay a 10 percent tithe to keep the nation of Israel going (see Leviticus 27:30-33)
- There was an additional tithe to fund the worship system (see Deuteronomy 12:6)
- Every third year, there was another tithe to support the Levites and widows
- The Pharisees went above and beyond that, even so far as to divide up their spices
- They were so concerned about the small, insignificant things that they were ignorant of the big things
- Mercy, justice, and compassion
- Sins of commission and sins of omission
- Commission: doing something you shouldn't
- Omission: not doing something you should (see James 4:17)
- A man doesn't have to do anything to destroy his home
- It must be nurtured
- Some sins are obvious while others are hidden and "respectable"
- Gossip, selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, envy
- You will not ever keep the Ten Commandments
- They aren't just about your actions; they are about your attitude (see Exodus 20:17)
- Sin Is Deceptive (v. 27)
- The Pharisees cleaned themselves up on the outside so people would look at them (see v. 5)
- You can cover up a lot in a three-piece suit
- You can cover up a lot with a Bible in your hand
- You can cover up a lot with a cross around your neck
- You can cover up a lot with a song on your lips and a smile on your face
- The worst form of blasphemy is when one pretends to know, walk with, and love God, but doesn't
- We must be intentional about seeking God
- Matthew 6:33
- Sin Is Dismissible (v. 37)
- Sin is the problem, but Christ is the cure
- Jesus lamented that the Jews refused to take the cure to sin
- He used tender language
- This is the whole reason Jesus came to the earth (see Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 1:29)
- The greatest opportunity and the greatest tragedy
- The greatest opportunity
- Jesus wanted to gather the children of Israel together
- Jesus wanted to give the cure to sin
- The greatest tragedy
- They were not willing
- They were not interested in the cure
- Jesus is willing and able to take care of all our sin, if we are willing (see 1 John 1:9)
- God wants to bring you closer to Him (see Psalm 51:17)
Billy Graham, John Lennon, Martin Luther, Bernie Madoff, Dwight L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Edwin Sutherland Greek/Hebrew words:
hamartia, hupokrités, logia, ouai, oy Cross references:
Exodus 20:17; Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 12:6; Psalm 51:17; Matthew 1:21; 6:33; Luke 19:10; John 1:29; Romans 3:23; James 4:17; 1 John 1:8, 9
Keywords: sin, hypocrisy, hamartiology, confrontation, tithe, repentance