Life’s Healing Choices, Admitting the Need (Gen. 3:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17)
Video from Igniter media
Here’s some good news: if you’re like most people, you’re way above average—at almost everything. Psychologists call this the state of “illusory superiority.” (It’s also called “The Lake Wobegone Effect,” from Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town where “all the children are above average.”) It simply means that we tend to inflate our positive qualities and abilities, especially in comparison to other people.
Numerous research studies have revealed this tendency to overestimate ourselves. For instance, when researchers asked a million high school students how well they got along with their peers, none of the students rated themselves below average. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of students believed they were in the top 10 percent; 25 percent rated themselves in the top one percent. You’d think college professors might have more self-insight, but they were just as biased about their abilities. Two percent rated themselves below average; 10 percent were average and 63 were above average; while 25 percent rated themselves as truly exceptional.
Of course this is statistically impossible. One researcher summarized the data this way: “It’s the great contradiction: the average person believes he is a better person than the average person.” Christian psychologist Mark McMinn contends that the “Lake Wobegone Effect” reveals our pride. He writes, “One of the clearest conclusions of social science research is that we are proud. We think better of ourselves than we really are, we see our faults in faint black and white rather than in vivid color, and we assume the worst in others while assuming the best in ourselves.”
Today, I begin a new sermon series Life’s Healing Choices, Freedom from Your Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups. I will be taking the sermon titles and chapter titles from the book by that name. We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups, don’t we?
Have you ever eaten too much?
Have you ever lost your temper?
Have you been anxious?
Have you dealt with greed?
Are you secure in anyone or anything other than Christ?
Are you addicted to a substance?
Do you drive faster than the speed limit?
Jesus said if people thought they were okay keeping the law, you can sin in your thought life (see Matthew 5:22 and 28). What about your thought life? Are you depressed? Please note, some of these hurts, habits and hang-ups are sin issues, others, such as depression, are not sinful at all. Most all of us have hurts, habits and hang-ups and God wants us to turn them over to him. But, how do you do that? That is what this series will be about.
I want to encourage you to turn your hurts, habits and hang-ups over to Christ. First you must recognize them. Some of you think that your hurt, habit or hang-up is just part of being human. That is NOT true. Listen, your hurt, habit or hang-up is part of your sin nature and if you are unwilling to turn it over to Christ then it is pride, which is another sin.
So, today, my theme is.
We are NOT God, we need help.
Some sermons are expository, walking through a passage. Today, and through most of this series, will be making a case from Scripture.
- Genesis 3:1-10 teaches us about our nature from the beginning.
- We have a nature that has fallen from grace, but this is not originally what it means to be human.
- Let’s read Genesis 3:1-7: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make onewise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
- Notice from this passage, God had already created man and woman. That was in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. God created. We did not create, God did. Now they are in paradise and the serpent is there. The serpent is possessed by the devil.
- In verse 1, the devil makes Eve question what God had said. The serpent questioned the Word of God. Take note: The devil has been asking us to question God’s Word since the beginning of time.
- In verses 3-4 Eve answers the serpent/devil. Notice in Eve’s answer she stretches the truth, but not in a bad way. Eve says they cannot eat from the tree in the middle of the garden (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), or touch it or they will die. God never said they could not touch it.
- The serpent/devil tells her a lie: The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- Eve eats and then gives to her husband.
- From this account we get the idea of a sin nature.
- If you look at the next few verses we see they begin to blame one another and so sin entered the world.
- Now, many people will say, “I am only human” as they excuse sin. However, Adam and Eve were fully human before sin entered. We were not created to sin.
- In Genesis 9:6 it shows even after the fall we are still in God’s image.
- In Romans 3:9-23 we see that no one is good. Let’s read Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
- Let’s read Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Because of this nature we see it still affects us today. Romans 7:14-25 shows that even for the Christian we have a battle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit. We will come back to that passage another Sunday.
- Pastor Timothy Keller paraphrases an analogy originally used by C.S. Lewis (in his bookMere Christianity) to demonstrate the nature of sin in our hearts.
- Now if you want to know if there are rats in your basement, you don’t walk to your basement door, clear your throat, and say, “I think I’ll go down and see if there are rats in my basement,” then jiggle the knob, open the door and in a very leisurely way turn on the light, clear your throat, and walk down the steps loudly and slowly. When you get to the bottom you look around and say, “Well, what do you know: I have no rats in my basement.”
- If you want to know if you have rats in your basement, you sneak up to the door, silently open the door, flick on the switch, jump to the bottom of the steps, and look around and they’ll all be scurrying away. And then you’ll know if you have rats.
- Based on this analogy, Lewis wrote:
- The excuse [for most of my sinful moments] that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard [like a rat who didn’t get enough warning] … Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
- The Times once sent out an inquiry to famous authors, asking the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” and Chesterton responded simply, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”
- We play God and we must not do this.
- We see in the passage listed above that we have a war going on within us. This war comes from our very nature. It is called the sin-nature. It started in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned and then they felt shame. They immediately blamed for the sin. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. Some 4000 years later Jesus came, lived, was crucified for our sin and then was resurrected. He then sent us the Holy Spirit. Since we have the Holy Spirit we do not have to sin. But our sin nature still makes us play God.
- We try to control our image to make us look better. This is thinking we are God.
- We try to control other people to cover up our sin and make us look better.
- We try to control our problems.
- We try to control our pain. We are playing God.
- There are consequences of playing God
- Fear (Gen 3:10). Are you living in fear? You are always afraid someone will find out about your hurt, habit or hang-up.
- John Baker Jr. writes: Trying to run the universe is frustrating: Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese’s? They have this game called Whac-A-Mole. You use a big mallet to beat down these little moles that keep popping up. But when you whack one, three more pop up. You whack those, and five more pop up. That machine is a parable of life. We whack down one relational conflict and another pops up. We whack down one addiction or compulsion and another one pops up. It’s frustrating because we can’t get them all knocked down at the same time. We walk around pretending we’re God: “I’m powerful; I can handle it.” But if we’re really in control, why don’t we just unplug the machine?
- We cannot handle it. We need to admit we need help.
- There are at least two other consequences: Fatigue and failure.
- There is a cure, the cure.
- We need to admit weakness and accept God’s help. In 2 Cor. 12:1-10 Paul talks about a thorn in his side and God says that in weakness he is stronger because he is forced to depend upon the Lord.
- Admit that you need help.
- What does that mean? Right now it just means admitting there is a problem. Your anxiety is something God wants to help you with. Your anger is something God wants to help you with. Your fear is something God wants to help you with. Your abuse of alcohol is something God wants to help you with. Your abuse of drugs is something God wants to help you with. Your addiction to food, or tv, or video games or whatever it may be is something God wants to help you with.
- God does not want you to have to live in fear, or worry, or defeat. He wants to help you. But you have to admit it. You have to admit it and you must recognize it is not part of being human. It is not the way God wants you to live.
- We are new creations in Christ. What does it mean to be new? 2 Cor. 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he isa new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
- John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have itabundantly.
- Jesus wants to give you life.
- We are new in Christ. Let God transform you.
- The first step is to pray about it. Admit you need God’s help and pray to Him about it.
- Write: Next write about it in a prayer journal.
- Share: Next share with a close friend about it. Ecc. 3:12 tells us we need each other.
There is help.
I know that some of you are dealing with major addictions and you are to the point of admitting the need. Awesome, let’s get you help.
I know that some of you do not consider your anger, or anxiety, or worry a problem, but you don’t need to live this way. In John 14:27 Jesus says He gives us peace. In Phil 4:6-8 we are told when we pray about something we can have the peace of God. Over the next several weeks I am going to preach about how to turn something over to God, but the first step is to admit you need help.
A while back I was on vacation and attended another church. The pastor shared about hearing the news of his wife’s cancer and he said he had peace through the whole process. How did he have peace? It came from his spiritual walk.
Maybe you don’t want to wait through this 8 week series to hear the other step. Then call me, email me or talk to me and we will get you help now. You can talk with me in total confidentiality, unless you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.
 Matt Woodley, managing editor, PreachingToday.com; sources: “Study: Self-Images Often Erroneously Inflate,” ABC News (11-9-05); Mark McMinn, Why Sin Matters (Tyndale, 2004), pp. 69-71
 Timothy Keller, Sermon, “The Two Great Tests” (1-23-2005); Submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky
 Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 18-19). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.