Sin Sermon Illustrations

Sin Sermon Illustrations

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A young student once asked the discoverer of the anesthetic property of chloroform, Sir James Simpson, what he considered his greatest discovery. The man of science and the man of God answered, "The greatest discovery I ever made was when I discovered that I was a great sinner and that Jesus Christ is my Saviour."


So great is the power of forgiveness that even past sin can become a minister for Christ. There is an old legend that sometimes when Peter was preaching he would hear the crowing of a cock, and for a moment he would be overcome with embarrassment and confusion. Then he would recover himself and preach with a new and more burning zeal and earnestness and tenderness.


In the year 1602 there appeared in Europe at Leyden a pamphlet telling of a Jew who had taunted and struck Jesus as he passed on his way to the cross, shouting at him, "Go quicker!" Jesus paused and answered "I go. But thou shalt wait till I return."

This story of the eternal, or the wandering Jew, met quick and popular acceptance everywhere, and in scores of works of fiction and poetry, and in paintings, the story has been told of the Jew who struck Jesus and was condemned to wander homeless, a fugitive on the face of the earth, until Christ shall come again.

This legend, which took so powerful a hold upon the thought and fancy of mankind, sets forth the solemn truth of the loneliness of sin. We read that when Cain slew his brother Abel he "went on from the presence of the Lord" ((Gen. 4:16). Sin always drives a man out......out from his friends, out from his better self, and out from his God.


One hour before his fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, sitting in his library at Richmond Hill in New York, wrote to his beloved daughter Theodosia, "Some very wise man has said, 'O fools, who think it solitude to be alone.' This is but poetry. Let us therefore drop the subject, lest it lead on to another on which I have imposed silence on myself." Already, even before the fatal shot was fired and the bloody deed was done, he felt the loneliness of his sin. In a few hours he was a fugitive from the sudden and deep abhorrence of his fellow citizens, his political career was over forever, and his great ambitions wrecked. Henceforth, like Cain, he was a fugitive and a vagabond on the face of the earth. For the rest of his life, until he died in poverty and obscurity and utter loneliness in the very city where he had risen to so great renown, Aaron Burr was a man without a country—almost without a friend. It was the bitter truth he uttered, when, informed of the death of his beautiful daughter Theodosia, he said, "I am severed from mankind." There are lonely people in this city tonight, and thousands who carry heavy and difficult burdens of grief, anxiety, pain, and disappointment. But the loneliest soul of all is the man whose transgression has raised up a wall, not of brick or mortar or stone, but nevertheless terribly real and solid, between him and his fellow men. Yes, sin separates us from our friends.


An eminent judge once appeared at the gate of heaven and, having been a fair and honorable judge on earth, expected easy admittance. But to his surprise Peter held him up and began to question him. He finally said to the judge that he was sorry he could not admit him. "Your record in most respects is admirable," Peter said, "but there is this against you. You pretended you were deaf."

"When?" asked the judge.

"Continually," said Peter, "in court. You told witnesses you could not hear them when you could."

"Is that fatal?" said the judge.

"Yes," said Peter, "it is fatal here. You knew how unhappy they were and you did not help them. That is the charge against you. You pretended to be deaf."


In his "Gold Hair" Robert Browning relates the story of the beautiful maiden so esteemed for purity of heart and heavenly conversation that she was buried inviolate, her wonderful hair coiled about her head in the very space by the altar. Years afterward, when the pavement was being repaired, workers came upon the crumbling coffin, and lo, all about the head lay pieces of gold! She who had been thought so stainless loved gold so eagerly that she took it down to the grave with her, hidden in the tresses of her luxuriant hair. And then Browning concludes:

The candid incline to surmise of late
That the Christian faith proves false, I find.
I still, to suppose it true, for my part,
See reasons and reasons; this, to begin:
'T is the faith that launched point-blank her dart
At the head of a lie—taught Original Sin,
The Corruption of Man's Heart.

Thus we see that the condemnation of the Cross is in keeping with the facts of human nature.


Just as some loathed disease is less tolerable when seen in another than in ourselves, so sin looks worse in my neighbor than it does in me. Men are like Swift's Yahoos who hated one another more than they did any different species of animals; "and the reason usually assigned was the odiousness of their own shapes, which all could see in the rest, but not in themselves." As Jesus put it, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matt. 7:5.)


When Marcus Whitman, the pioneer whose missionary work in Oregon was commemorated by a centennial celebration, preached to the Indians the Cross with its true implications, they would often protest and ask him to give them instead "good talk." "Tell us that we are good men, brave men." The untutored Indians' resentment of the condemnation of the Cross is common to the human heart, whether he be an Indian in the Oregon forest or a professor in one of our modern universities.


One of the scholarly old commentators made painstaking search through all available records to discover in actual history something comparable to the damage wrought by the army of locusts described in the book of Joel. Finally he came to the conclusion that to find a parallel to what is described there he needed to go no farther afield than his own heart. "Joel's locusts, I see now and am assured," he writes, "are not so far away as Arabia or Palestine. For all Joel's locusts in all their kinds and in all their devastation are in my own heart." Thus the best commentary on the book of Joel is our own heart.


Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote of himself: "A cloudy veil stretches across the abyss of my nature. I have, however, no love of secrecy and darkness; I am glad to think that God sees through my heart, and if any angel has power to penetrate into it, he is welcome to know everything that is there."

That must have been written in one of those serene moments which come upon the soul. Even so, we rather wonder at his confession.

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