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Sample Sermon

Those Ugly Shoes

Biblical Text: Romans 5:19

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

When I was a young child, I had a pair of hand-me-down shoes. My aunt gave them to my mother, and I got stuck with them. They were almost new, but they were ugly, the leather was scuffed, the heels were big and clunky, and they had an outdated square toe. My mother politely thanked my aunt for thinking of us, and informed me that they would be my church shoes. I was numb. "Wear THOSE to church? You're kidding, right mom?" She wasn't kidding!

I knew my friends would tease me, so every Sunday I ran interference for my ugly shoes. I kept my feet tucked under the pew during Sunday School. When we dismissed, I hung out in the bathroom until the start of worship. For every idle moment before and after church, I had a diversion...a crazy story, a silly joke, a tricky riddle; anything to keep them from noticing my ugly shoes. Those shoes became a symbol of my shame. And I prayed night and day that God would change those ugly shoes.

Isn't it funny how we worry so much about our outward appearance? Men wear Steve Harvey suits to make a fashion statement. Women spend hours at the beauty salon getting their hair and nails done. If Christian parents raised us, we lay our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes out on Saturday night, and make sure our Sunday shoes are polished. All this fussing so we can look good on the outside.

But what preparation do we make for the inside...that part of us that may have cussed all week, been short-tempered with our spouse, had a bit too much to drink, spewed out a ton of gossip, flirted with that cute thing at work, and found fault with everyone around us? What about our polluted desires, our corrupt hearts and our defiled hands? We may look good on the outside, but on the inside we are diseased...diseased with the cancer of lust, the malaria of gossip, the frostbite of hatred, the gangrene of envy, the cough of carnality, the blisters of bitterness, the acne of shame, the goiter of greed, the tumor of jealousy, the plague of pride, the ulcer of self-righteousness. And we bring it all with us to the House of Worship, covered up by the falseness of our exterior perfection.

In Romans 5:19, Paul acknowledges that our sin nature was passed down from Adam. He says, "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." Too many Christians use that bit of biblical truth to conveniently place the blame for their sin on Adam, as though they are not in any way complicit. But here's the truth. Adam may have caused us to be BORN in sin, but sin continues in our lives because of disobedience. We are overpowered by our sin nature. Paul says in the Living Word translation of Romans 7:15-17, I dont understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I cant. I do what I don't want to...what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can't help myself because I'm no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.

Paul helps us to see the great need for a solution. So what do we do about this continuing sin in our lives? Paul has the answer for that in the same verse of our text. He says, "by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." And that ONE is JESUS. Jesus...born into sin that I MAY LIVE AGAIN; the precious Lamb of God. Christ came to earth, obedient to His Father's plan for the salvation of man, took upon Himself the sins of the world, and nailed them to the cross, so that in spite of our sin, we may live eternally with God.

This was good news for a troubled teenager who decided to challenge me one day in a counseling session set up by his frustrated mother. He told me, "Doesn't the bible say that Jesus Christ paid for my sins so I dont have to. I can do whatever I want. It doesn't matter because Jesus Christ has it covered for everybody. That's what the bible says!" And he was partly right. Christ DID pay the price for all sin. But one ingredient was missing...the young man's repentant heart. Romans 10:10 says, For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A repentant heart is proof of our connection with Christ. You can't be cleansed of the penalty for sin until your repentant heart accepts Christ as your Savior and Deliverer. And just as Christ's forgiveness is ongoing throughout your life, your repentance is too.

Your repentant heart is a valuable possession. It's your tie to all that the Word promises. Lets look at it.

First, our repentant spirit certifies our connection with Christ. Jesus said, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9). You see, we are tied TO Christ by our confession of faith IN Christ.

But what is confession? Is it enough for me to say that Jesus is Lord...or the Son of God? The answer is NO. Even Satan can make that statement. Your confession must be that you are a sinner in need of Christ's offer of salvation. Your repentant heart confesses that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When you confess Christ before men, it means that you confess your NEED for Christ's forgiveness for your sins.

Our prison system is filled with those who have committed crimes. Rehabilitation is the key to turning repeat offenders into productive citizens. But to be rehabilitated, they must first admit their guilt. There's no confession if your story is that you are not guilty...that you are a victim of your circumstances...that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That may be true of some, but it's certainly not true of all. Yet the vast majority of inmates profess their innocence. They refuse to confess.

But when it comes to salvation, you can't refuse to confess your sins and be connected to Christ. Try it and you'll remain imprisoned by your sins. Christ can only rehabilitate a contrite heart. That's why John the Baptist preached a one-word sermon to everyone who would listen...REPENT! Only those who repent of their sins can be connected to Christ.

Second, our repentant spirit perpetually cleanses us of sin. We commit sins every day so we need cleansing every day. Otherwise, our deeds may become a bit devilish; our eyes a bit envious, our conversations a bit corrupt, our desires more than a bit detestable. This sin sickness needs a daily dose of God's healing balm.

A few years ago there was a plea on local television in Mississippi by parents who were trying to find their son. He had run away with his girlfriend because her family did not approve of their relationship. The boy's parents were desperately trying to find him because a dog that bit him died of rabies. There was an all out hunt for the couple, but they kept running and hiding.

It reminded me that we sometimes try to hide from God because of our sinfulness. When that happens, our guilt motivates us to skip church or prayer meeting. But we need to remind ourselves that God will pursue us, not to condemn us, but to heal us.

So what does the confession of a repentant heart sound like? I can tell you that it's not just words. It's a heart thing. We confess with our mouth, BUT we believe in our heart. 1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So a truly repentant heart is willing to confess his sins. He doesn't try to cover them up with a false exterior. He exposes his sins to the Lord and asks for forgiveness.

My bible readers will remember that the Apostle Paul sought healing from Jesus three times for an infirmity that plagued him. Jesus finally replied, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness." What Jesus was saying to Paul and us is that the confession of our weakness and our propensity to sin opens the door for Christ to forgive and strengthen us. We are empowered by Christ when, through a sincere, repentant heart we continually confess our sins. It takes effort to remain in a state of perpetual repentance, but the result is that we grow strong through our weakness.

Finally, our repentant spirit encourages others. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Apostle James says, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16 (KJV). That sounds like an ongoing confession to me. In other words, James is acknowledging that we will continue to sin in spite of our conversion.

But something else deserves our attention about James statement. He says we should confess to EACH OTHER. You see...when we confess to each other, we are acknowledging our bond together as sinners saved by the grace of God. We don't necessarily have to confess the details of our sins to each other; but we should at the very least confess that we are sinners and we have faults. We must be willing to admit that the only way we are made perfect is through the blood of Christ.

David said in Psalm 24:4-5, "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully; He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." But that was the Old Covenant, and that's all David had. We have a New agreement made with God through the shed blood of His Son...and that is the bond we have, not only with God, but also with each other.
· It's not that our lives reflect no's that we confess it as a fault, and we strive to correct it. That's a repentant heart!
· It's not that our lips repeat no's that we confess and ask for forgiveness. That's a repentant heart!
· It's not that our hasty decisions leave no's that we confess our failure and ask the Lord for strength. That's a repentant heart!

Remember those ugly shoes my mother made me wear? Many years later, I surrendered my life to Christ. My pastor quoted 2 Corinthians 5:22: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." At that moment I remembered those ugly shoes...the symbol of my shame; the shame of vanity, pride, and ingratitude. I remembered how I had prayed for God to change those shoes and somehow make them new. And I now realize that God had answered my prayer. He didn't change my shoes; He changed me! And oh, how beautiful my feet look now!

And He's still changing me. I'm a work in progress. Are you? I know I'm not the only one with ugly shoes. Moses had ugly shoes...God ordered him to take those sinful shoes off because they defiled God's holy ground. We all need to take off those ugly shoes...the shoes of sin.

So my confession of faith is this: I give Christ my sins. He gives me His righteousness; not once, but daily. He washes me, from head to toe, with His sin free countenance...and I begin every day anew...justified and regenerated, because I give my repentant heart to an all-sufficient Savior.

Will you kick off your ugly shoes with me?
Will you join me and let God transform your walk, your work and your witness?
God doesn't want to see your modest appearance, your charming influence, and your honest intentions.
He wants us to kick off those ugly shoes and be transformed.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of selfishness and put on the supernatural.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of guilt and put on His Glory.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of foolishness and put on His forgiveness.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of pride and put on His purity.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of weakness and put on His strength.
He needs us to take off those ugly shoes of discord and put on His harmony.
Let's get rid of those ugly shoes!

Sermons by (Dr. L. Ronald Durham)

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