Sin Sermon Illustrations

Sin Sermon Illustrations

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(I Kings 22:31). They knew that when Ahab was killed or driven from the field the victory would be won, for he was the heart and center of the confederacy against Syria. Knowing that he would be the object of special attack, Ahab had disguised himself in the garb of a common soldier. But he could not avoid the shaft of judgment and retribution. A certain man drew a bow at a venture and smote the king of Israel between the joints of his harness. Mortally stricken, Ahab turned his chariot out of the battle and died at the going down of the sun. His death was soon followed by the defeat and rout of his army. The fallen king meant a fallen cause.

There is a parable for the warfare of life! Make war on the besetting sin! "Fight neither with small nor great," save only against your besetting sin; and when you do that, you make war against all the evil that is in your life. When that besetting sin is conquered, then you are on the road to victory.

The Arabian chieftain Ben Achmet, in the confines of a desert, amid sterile and almost inaccessible rocks, led a life of austerity and devotion. Roots and fruits, and the fountain at the foot of the cliff, supplied all his needs. Formerly he had been a priest in the mosque, but disgusted with hypocrisy and injustice, he took himself to the desert, where he lived as an anchorite. As the years passed by, the fame of his sanctity spread abroad. Akaba, an Arabian robber, who had lawless men under his command, many slaves, and a treasure house filled with his ill-gotten gains, smitten in conscience and arrested by the sanctity of Ben Achmet, went to visit him. He said to him, "I have five hundred cimeters ready to obey me, numerous slaves, and a treasure house full of riches. Tell me how to add to these the hope of a happy immortality."

Ben Achmet led him to a neighboring cliff that was steep, rugged, and high, and, pointing to three large stones, told him to lift them from the ground and follow him up the cliff. Laden with the three stones, Akaba was unable to move. "I cannot follow thee," he said, "with these burdens."

"Then cast one of them down and hasten after me!"

He dropped one stone, but still was unable to proceed. "I tell thee it is impossible. Thou thyself couldst not proceed a step with such a stone." "Let go another stone, then." Akaba dropped another stone, and with great difficulty clambered the cliff for a while till, exhausted with the effort, he again cried out that he could go no further. Ben Achmet directed him to drop the last stone, and no sooner had he done this than he mounted with ease and stood with his conductor on the summit of the cliff.

"Son," said Ben Achmet, "thou hast three burdens which hinder thee in the way of the better world. Disband thy troop of lawless plunderers, set thy captive slaves at liberty, and restore thy ill-gotten wealth to its owners. It is easier for Akaba to ascend this cliff with the stones that lie at its foot, than for him to journey onward to a better world with power, pleasure, and riches in his possession."

The sea, which has been the path of empire, is also the path of sorrow. Again there is sorrow on the sea as great nations struggle for its dominion.

One of the most famous naval battles of history was the Battle of Actium, fought September 2, 31 B.C., between the fleets of Mark Antony and Cleopatra on one side, and the fleet of Octavian, afterward Augustus Caesar, on the other. In the midst of the engagement I lie war galley of Cleopatra withdrew from the battle, and the infatuated Antony deserted his fleet to follow the Queen of the Nile. Thus the empire of the sea and of the world passed to Octavian. There is a tradition that in the midst of the battle Mark Antony's war galley unaccountably slackened its speed, and then, in defiance of hundreds of slaves bending at the oars and of a strong wind in its sails, the ship came to a standstill. A diver went down to examine the hull, and brought up a little fish, which, according to the belief of even the scientists of that day, such as Pliny the Elder, had the power to bring a great ship to a standstill merely by adhering to it. To us this idea is an idle and foolish superstition. But, however it may be with ships and marine life, it is a true parable of the moral life. One single besetting sin, adhering to the life of a man, can arrest his spiritual development and bring his soul to disaster.

"It is not a matter of mere theorizing or intellectual assent to certain facts. It is the struggle of a soul that sinned specifically, and reaches out for Christ as a drowning man does for a life preserver."

This was the message which came to me from one who had to say with the psalmist, "My sin is ever before me" (Ps. 51:3). Writing on the fact of sin, Emerson says somewhere, "The less we have to do with our sins the better." Commenting on this, John Morley says, "Emerson has little to say of that horrid burden and impediment on the soul which the churches call sin, and which, by whatever name we call it, is a very real catastrophe in the moral nature of man."

If you have had some encounter with a besetting sin, or evil habit, don't be content to let it go with compromise. God told Saul to destroy the Amalekites. Saul thought he was wiser than God and let some of them escape. Years passed by, and Saul, lying self-wounded on the field of Gilboa, called to a man, "Stand . . . upon me, and slay me." "So I stood upon him, and slew him, . . . and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm" (II Sam. 1: 10). And that man was an Amalekite. That is the natural history of sin when we spare it, and treat it lightly. One day it comes back to find us weak, and it stands upon us and takes the crown of manhood from our dishonored brow.

At the close of his eventful life Father Matthew, the apostle of temperance, went to reside at Queenstown, where he was often seen loitering about the town. A friend calling to see him one day found him at his devotions. The friend offered some apology for disturbing him at such a time; but the eloquent priest answered, "You must join me in my prayers to God; pray for me."

"For you, sir?"

"Yes, I was praying that God would prepare me to leave this world and would forgive me for the sins I have committed."

"But what necessity is there for my praying for you, Father Matthew? You who have done so much good for mankind?"

"No. I have done nothing, and no one can be pure in the eyes of God. Oh, who can be pure in the sight of God? Kneel with me and pray with me to the Father of mercy."

Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria was buried in the gloomy crypt of the Church of the Capuchin in Vienna, where sleep all his fathers of the house of Hapsburg. At the entrance to the vault the procession was halted by a voice from within: "Who is there?"

The reply was: "His most serene majesty, the Emperor Francis Joseph."

The challenger then said, "I know him not. Who is there?"

A second reply was made: "The Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary is outside."

Again the challenger answered, "I know him not. Who is there?"

This time the voice without replied, "A sinful man, our brother Francis Joseph."

Then the portal was opened and the king was laid to rest among his fathers.

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