Exodus 32:1-20 Sin

100626 sermon notes: SIN

Chapter 32 Exodus – Moses had been up the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, meeting with God.  He had heard God’s law and God had written it down on 2 tablets of stone.  He had received the plans for the construction of the tabernacle, and we can only imagine Moses’ joy unspeakable as he anticipated making his way down the mountain to deliver by hand God’s law for the people.

However, down in the valley, all was not well.  The people had become impatient.  READ v1-6. Unholy cow.

7-10 the LORD tells Moses what has been happening, and says that this will result in destruction of Israel as a nation.

11-14 Moses intercedes for the people, and he prevails – God hears Moses’ prayer: 14 “The LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

15-18 Moses descends down the mountain, with Joshua.  They hear people shouting.  Joshua, as a military man thinks it may be the sound of war.  But Moses knows it is the sound of singing and revelry.

19-35 Moses tries to deal with this terrible sin. He:

  • Destroys the tablets
  • Destroys the golden calf
  • Confronts Aaron with his sin
  • Destroys 3000 responsible ringleaders
  • Tries to make atonement for the sin

This chapter is about sin and it’s about dealing with sin.

First thing to ask, Is this passage written 1000’s years ago, which is about sin, really relevant in the 21st century?  Haven’t we progressed beyond these primitive ideas about sin?

There has been progress in recent centuries and decades – scientific and technological progress.  But in regard to sinful nature of human beings just a cursory glance at this week’s news, show that human beings still sinful.

Read and comment on 2Timothy 3:1 (esp LB)

Also, last 30-40 years decline in moral standards in UK and West; we have become more sinful, see this especially in family breakdown.

A few years ago my brother was diagnosed with cancer.  It was terrible news, but immediately the doctor said, ‘but we can cure you.’  This is like the gospel.  Sin is the negative side of the gospel, but it’s really good news, because God wants to make us better. Jesus, “Repent and believe the good news.”

Not only a message relevant for today, but it’s relevant for all.  Sin is a universal condition.  White – Black – Red – Yellow. Men – Women.  French – English – Chinese – Americans.

Rom 3:9  What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Gentiles, are [all] under sin.

Must understand sin, because it’s only when understand the diagnosis really accept the prescription.   Even though talking about sin might makes feel uncomfortable, it’s essential we have a grasp of the Christian doctrine of sin.

2 questions: What is sin? What are the consequences of sin? Will use this story of the golden calf as an illustration.

Main Points

1.       What is sin?

a.       Sin is an inward inclination

Sin is not merely wrong things we do, but it is an inner inclination that inclines us to wrong acts.  Our inner thoughts and attitudes matter as much as the outward acts.  Israelites had come out of Egypt, which was saturated with idolatry.  Even though they were God’s people and had the promises of God, they were affected by this idolatry in Egypt.

v8, the LORD says to Moses, “They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol in the form of a calf.”

BUT, v1, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down the mountain, they said to Aaron, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.”

Moses was only on the mountain for 40 days and nights.  The inner inclination towards sin took over very quickly, even though they thought Moses long time.

Genesis story, fall, shows that this inner inclination towards sin is something passed on from the sin A+E.  In NT this weakness towards sin is called “sinful nature” or “the flesh”.

Doesn’t mean that we can’t help ourselves, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible, but it means we have an inner inclination.  We sin because we are sinners.

b.      Sin is rebelliousness and disobedience

1John 4:3 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is transgression of the law of God.”

V8 the LORD says, “the have made for themselves an idol.”

2nd commandment he said, “You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

They transgressed God’s law – sin.  Even worse because they did it knowingly.  God reminded them, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.”  But they quickly forgot this.  This sin an act of disobedience, the same kind of disobedience we see in the A+E story.

c.       Sin is falling short of God’s standards

God had given his people his standards in the 10 commandments, his law, and immediately they fall short of his standards of righteousness.  I’ve been reading Ps 119 this week, the Psalmist says, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.”  He recognises that the blessing of God comes when we live to his standards.  But then a few verses later he says, “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees.”  In other words, he recognises in his own experience he has fallen short of God’s standards.

d.      Sin is displacement of God

The Israelites put a visual representation of God before their eyes instead glory of the invisible LORD. Paul: Rom 1:23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.


Rom 1:25  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

This displacement of God for other gods – idolatry heart of our condition as sinners.

This idolatry leads to wild partying, revelry.  Sexual immorality is implied in the text.  Whatever exactly they were doing it was very much like what happens most Friday and Saturday nights in our cities up and down this country.

In Rom 1, Paul shows that this displacement of God leads to precisely these sort of things.  The root cause of greed and materialism is idolatry and the root cause of sexual immorality is idolatry.

2.       What are the consequences of sin?

This chapter – sin is a very serious matter and has very serious consequences.  An emphasis in OT / NT.  The effects of sin are individual and corporate.

a.       Sin brings death

The most obvious effect of sin is death. A+E were forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” [Gen 2:17]  There are different aspects of this death. Paul: the wages of sin is death.  One of the reasons Moses took such drastic action to deal with sin in the camp was because he knew it was a real threat to the existence of the fledgling nation – it would bring death / the end to the nation.

  1. Physical death – in the Bible the existence of death is attributed to the original sin of Adam.  Death came into the world through Adam’s sin.
  2. Spiritual death – this is the separation of a person from their relationship with God.

Isa 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  As sinners we are separated from God.  it breaks our relationship with God.  As a perfectly holy Being, God cannot look upon son or tolerate it’s presence.

3. Eternal death – if we come to death sill spiritually dead in our transgressions and our sins, separated from God, then that condition becomes permanent and everlasting.  We will all stand before the judgment seat and “God will give to each person according to what he has done.”

When Paul says, the wages of sin is death, he means physically, spiritually and eternally.

b.      Sin effects the sinner

We are forgiven immediately, but there are still consequences of sin.

1. Sin alters our inner spiritual character – the image of God in which we were created becomes distorted and twisted.  Paul says in Romans 1 that they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.

v7 “go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have been become corrupt.”  See this corruption in Aaron in the way he made excuses about his sin.

The sin of pornography may seem harmless, but it’s not. It’s desperately damaging.

It’s only through the renewal of the mind by God that we can be restored.

2. Sin enslaves us – if we give ourselves to sin we find there’s an enslaving power.  But Christ has come to set us free.

3. Denial – one of the effects of sin is to try and shift the blame.  Adam said, “It’s the woman’s fault.”  She said, “The serpent made me do it.”  [But the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on!]

It’s not me.  Denial – alcoholism.

Aaron tried to shift the blame onto the people – they made me do it.  Shifting responsibility is common place and usually is an attempt to hide a sense of guilt.  We even try to blame God.

4. Insensitivity – if we sin the red warning light of our conscience will start flashing.  But the more we sin and ignore God’s warnings, the less responsive we become to our conscience.  Seared as with a hot iron.  We come to a place where we are completely insensitive to God’s truth and the prompting of the Spirit.  Unforgiveable sin.

5. Selfishness – when we turn away from God we turn in on ourselves and think life is all about me.

6. Restlessness – the sinner has no inner peace.  J.D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?  He replied, “Just a little bit more.””

7. Human relationships – competitive, conflict, war, reject authority, inability to really love.

Sin is a serious matter and it has far-reaching effects on our relationship with God, with ourselves, with other people, and this is the reason why the cure is/was so drastic.


Want to continue with this next time.

Jesus Christ died for our sins that we might be forgiven, set free, renewed, sanctified, that we might serve him in newness of life. This is the good news of the gospel.


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