A federal judge has ruled that for-profit businesses when they operate on sincerely held religious beliefs are protected from liability for claims of discrimination by those who choose the LGBT lifestyles.
The company that filed the action, Braidwood, “has established Title VII places a substantial burden on its religious exercise, and defendants fail to meet the burden to show a compelling interest,” wrote the judge. “But even if their broad formulation of their interest in ‘preventing all forms of discrimination’ were sufficient, defendants have not selected the least restrictive means.
“Forcing a religious employer to hire, retain, and accommodate employees who conduct themselves contrary to the employer’s views regarding homosexuality and gender identity is not the least restrictive means of promoting that interest, especially when defendants are willing to make exceptions to Title VII for secular purposes.”
Bloomberglaw reported the case was decided just days ago by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Forth Worth.
The report explained the judge’s decision starts the process of resolving multiple questions left unaddressed by the Supreme Court’s decision in its Bostock case, where the justices granted anti-bias protections for sexual orientations and gender identity.
That decision was reached based on the belief that decades ago, when Congress was writing nondiscrimination law, the members, when they cited “sex,” intended that word to be understood to include transgenderism, gender identity and such.
The case was brought by Braidwood Management Inc., which operates Christian health-care businesses controlled by Dr. Stephen Hotze.
The ruling found the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment protect the company from the newly minted discrimination concepts the Supreme Court assigned to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Also, the judge said Bear Creek Bible Church and other religious nonprofits can escape liability for firing, refusing to hire, or taking other adverse job actions against LGBT workers under Title VII’s religious exemptions.
The judge explained, “In 2020, the Supreme Court that Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition forbids employers from firing employees based on homosexuality or transgender status, because to do so is a form of discrimination based on sex. “
But he said the opinion “left open the implications for religious liberties…”
The business owner and church then sued the Equal Employment Commission seeking declarations that the First Amendment and the RFRA “give plaintiffs the right to operate their churches and businesses in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexual behavior is immoral, and … any federal statute, executive order, or agency rule, policy, or regulatory guidance that infringes or burdens that right is unenforceable.”
LGBT activists have attempted to use anti-bias laws in recent years to attack faith organizations and faith-based companies, but the Supreme Court decided in its Hobby Lobby case that companies can operate based on faith principles.
O’Connor’s ruling found that workplace policies regarding sexual conduct, dress codes, and restrooms don’t violate Title VII. But he said the federal law can cover policies regarding bisexual conduct, “sex-reassignment surgery,” and hormone treatment.
The Washington Examiner explained the judge ordered, “The court holds that the Religious Business-Type Employer Class, and All Opposing Employer Class, are permitted to create and maintain codes of conduct that regulate the sexual conduct of their employees, to the extent that those policies do not target solely homosexual or transgender activities.”
As you know, we are in a study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the member of the Trinity that often gets overlooked by some, and by others, things are attributed to Him which He would have nothing to do with. We started out kind of talking about contemporary blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, grieving of the Holy Spirit, quenching of the Holy Spirit, and even showing disdain toward the Holy Spirit just to kind of give you the picture of what’s out there so that we know how important it is for us to have a true and correct understanding of the Holy Spirit.
I want to continue our study, and we are going to continue in Romans chapter 8& nbsp;– that’s kind of our anchor passage for this – but I’m doing more than just expositing Romans 8. We’ve done that through the years. I’m trying to draw out of this those things that are important for us to understand about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Why is that important? Why is that critical? Because you are, as a believer, the temple of the Holy Spirit. You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, placed into the body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit has subsequently taken up residence in you, lives in you. You are commanded to be filled with the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to manifest faithfully the gifts of the Spirit, to give honor to the Holy Spirit. It would be true to say that the very power of your spiritual life is the Holy Spirit, and so for us to understand the true ministry of the Holy Spirit over against those things that are falsely attributed to Him is very, very important.
And as I was thinking about a way that we can kind of come to grips with the full ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, I was drawn to the fact that the best way to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus Christ, in the life of our Lord and our Savior. And that’s what I want to do this morning, and we’re going to end up in the next little section in Romans 8 verses 12 and 13 but not for a while.
The Holy Spirit was Christ’s inseparable companion – inseparable companion. One writer put it this way: “From womb, to tomb, to throne.” All activities in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, all activities in His life from His birth through His death, through His resurrection, until His ascension occurred in the full presence and by the full power of the Holy Spirit.
We often talk about the fact that Christ is our model. He is the one that is our example. Paul says, “Be followers of me as I am of Christ, that in understanding of the person of Christ and the life of Christ sets for us the course as to how to live.” But I don’t hear that discussed very often in the light of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that is the best way to understand the Christian life, to understand that Christ lived the life that He lived because of the ministry of the Spirit of God, and then to understand that you having the Spirit in you can follow the pattern that is demonstrated in Christ. He’s the model of the Spirit-controlled life. He’s the model of the Spirit-filled life. He’s the model of the Spirit-empowered life. He shows us what that is in its perfection. In its perfection.
We have to start at the beginning. Let’s look at Luke chapter 1 – Luke chapter 1 verse 26. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel comes to earth from the presence of God in heaven and arrives in Galilee at a town called Nazareth, and he comes to a young virgin, probably around 12 or 13 years of age, and he wants to make an announcement. She is engaged to a man named Joseph. They are both descendants of David. Her name is Mary. He comes to this young girl and says, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you. A visitor from heaven.” This never happened. This is shocking. She is perplexed. She’s trying to figure out what’s going on. The angel says in verse 30: Don’t be afraid, you’ve found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. You’re going to be the mother of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
Now, this whole thing is staggering beyond comprehension, but the first problem is the one that hits her immediately. “How am I going to be pregnant? I don’t yet have a husband and I’m a virgin.” She’s a pretty practical girl. It all sounds wonderful but “I’m a virgin.” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Those are synonymous statements. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The power of the Most High is the same thing as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s power in motion, the ruach of God, remember that? The violent force and energy and power of God. When the Holy Spirit comes on you, it is in His person the arrival of the power of the Most High. It will overshadow you. It will hover over you. Does that sound like a familiar scene? If you go back to the creation, you have the Holy Spirit hovering over the formless void of the material elements that God was going to create from, and the Holy Spirit hovers and moves over the face of the waters and brings it into specific creation as identified in the six actual days of divine creation.
In the same way, in the same kind of a creative act and expression of power, supernatural power, the Holy Spirit will come, and divine power will hover over you. And for that reason, for the reason of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High God, the holy child shall be called the Son of God. You’re going to have a child by the creative power of the Holy Spirit while you’re still a virgin with no man involved. This is a divine, creative act, and that child will be the Son of God. That child will be a holy child. The very incarnation, the initial creation of the incarnate Son of God is a work of the Holy Spirit. A work of the Holy Spirit. The birth of Jesus Christ, an act of the Holy Spirit. Even more importantly, the conception of Christ, the Son of God, the God-man in the womb of Mary, a creative act by the Holy Spirit. And from that moment, the Holy Spirit never left the presence of that life. Through nine months in the womb and through the rest of his life to the ascension, the Holy Spirit is the constant, inseparable companion to the incarnate One, the Son of God. He is born holy. He is born holy.
Then you look at His youth and you ask, “What about those 30 years between His childhood, His infancy, and the beginning of His ministry? What’s going on in His life?” Well, we get a glimpse of that. We only have one incident and it is at the age, as you remember, of 12 when He goes with His parents to the temple. But although it is only one incident, if you look at the next chapter of Luke, you will find that it describes an entire period of His life, an entire process of His life. In the second chapter of Luke and verse 40, we read this, referring to Christ: “The child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.” And then you read in verse – later in verse 49: “He has an awareness that God is His Father. His theology is now clear in His mind and He has to be in His Father’s house, doing His Father’s business. And in verse 52, “He kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” Although that is one occasion in His life at the age of 12, it describes His entire life, the entire period of His development and His growth. And just mark the words: He becomes strong, increasing in wisdom, grace is upon Him, knowledge increases as He becomes aware of His Father’s business and gives Himself to it. He increases in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man.
What is the power that is producing that? If you go back into the Old Testament, you find the answer to that question. In the 11th chapter of Isaiah, there is a wonderful prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah writes in chapter 11 verse 1 that a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, Jesse being the father of David, and the far son of David, the Messiah, would come out of the line of Jesse, a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And this is a messianic prophecy. And notice what it says. Without regard to some period of time or some events in the life of Jesus, this is a definitive statement about Him. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.” And if I may add what exactly the Spirit of God Himself has Isaiah write, it is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of the knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
The growth of Jesus, His development, His strength, His wisdom, His knowledge, the grace of God being upon Him is a direct result of the fact that from the beginning of His conception on through all the years of His life, the Spirit of the Lord was resting on Him. The Spirit was resting on Him.
In the 42nd chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, in another messianic prophecy, it says this: “Behold My servant whom I uphold,” again referring to the suffering servant, the Messiah. “My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him.”
Do we understand that any kind of spiritual growth in any of us is the product of the work of the Holy Spirit? Then we have to understand that in the incarnation, Jesus sets aside the independent exercise of His own attributes and fully submits Himself, becomes a slave of God, empties Himself of all those prerogatives and comes all the way down to a servant, all the way down to submit completely to the plan of the Father, through the power of the Spirit. And everything that happens in His life is a product of the working of the Spirit in the God-man, the increase in wisdom, the increase in knowledge, the increase in grace, the increase in comprehension of the Father’s plan, all of that is the work of the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge and strength and power that rests on Him.
So at the point of His conception, through His birth, through His life, the Spirit of God is the resource that develops Him into the one that God has ordained that He would be. You could say it this way: The Spirit is shaping Him because He is obedient to the Spirit’s power in setting aside His own attributes and allowing the Spirit to mold Him and make Him according to the plan of the Father. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that produces in Him the spiritual development and maturity that we read of in Luke 2.
After those years of preparation are complete, the first event that we need to note in His public ministry as it begins is in the first chapter of Mark. Mark chapter 1, a very significant event, Mark chapter 1 and verse 10, coming up out of the water at His baptism, John the Baptist has baptized Him, coming up out of the water He saw the heavens opening and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him. The Spirit is not a dove. There was no dove there. It’s okay if you have a dove somewhere in your house to symbolize the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit has never been a dove, never appeared in dove form. He came down and lit on Jesus in some visible form, the way a dove might come down and gently settle on a man’s shoulder. That’s the idea, like a dove might come out of the sky and rest. It’s just an analogy or a metaphor. But what you see here is the Spirit descending upon Him.
The Spirit has already been with Him. The Spirit has been there since His conception. He goes on in His life in progress because of the shaping work of the Holy Spirit in Him. And yet here, the Holy Spirit comes down. What does this signify? First of all, it signifies the approval of heaven. Verse 11: “A voice out of heaven, the voice of the Father, ‘You’re My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.’” This is the official announcement that this man Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Son of God.
Another official announcement comes in verse 15. “The time is fulfilled.” The long time of waiting for the arrival of the Messiah has come to pass. “The kingdom of God is at hand” because the King is here. “Repent and believe in the gospel.” So what you have here, then, is the Holy Spirit affirming His deity. The Father declaring His deity, He is identified as the long-awaited Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is the suffering servant. And He is anointed in a special way for specific service. He is the anointed one. Again, it’s “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel.” “The Spirit is on Me, He’s anointed Me to preach the gospel,” that’s Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” Isaiah 42. “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me” – Isaiah 61 – “to preach the gospel.”
So He has the Holy Spirit as a constant companion, an inseparable companion, and yet in addition to that, there is an official declaration, affirmation, visible indication that He is being granted a ministry and a special anointing. We would understand that from the Old Testament when David prays, “Take not Your Holy Spirit from Me,” as we saw in Psalm 51. He’s not saying, “Don’t take the Holy Spirit away from Me,” in My spiritual life because He couldn’t survive. Even Old Testament saints were sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit. He’s saying, “Don’t take the Holy Spirit away” in the sense of “My anointing, My special calling for special service.”
So the Holy Spirit is the one who hovers over the body of Mary and by a divine miracle creates an embryo in her womb and He follows the development of that embryo with His presence in the womb and at the birth and through His life and becomes the one who shapes Jesus into the perfect Messiah, the perfect Savior, the perfect servant of God, the manifest Son of God, fully realized holiness – fully realized holiness, shaped on the submissive Son by the perfect Holy Spirit. And then there is this anointing as the Holy Spirit sets Him apart in addition to His work on the inside for a particular ministry that He needs to do on behalf of the world.
The next event in the ministry of our Lord comes in the next verse, verse 12 of Mark 1. This is a very important thing. Immediately after His baptism and after the Father had declared Him His beloved Son, the Spirit drove Him – the verb is to drive – drove Him into the wilderness. And when He went into the wilderness 40 days, tempted He was by Satan. The Holy Spirit is there in His temptation. The Holy Spirit is not only there in His temptation, the Holy Spirit is not there to pick up the pieces of the temptation, the Holy Spirit is the one who drove Him into the conflict, okay? Everything Jesus did in His life was driven by the Holy Spirit. Remember the ruach Elohim? The violent force of God is operating in the person of Jesus Christ, driving Him into conflict with Satan. At the end of that conflict, Matthew 4:10 says that Jesus dismissed Satan. He had vanquished him. The Holy Spirit is the one who drove Jesus into the conflict. The Holy Spirit, in a sense, is the battle planner. He’s the strategist who maps out the battle terrain and directs the warrior king, Jesus Christ, into the holy war.
Why does He do this? To demonstrate the invulnerability of Jesus Christ, to declare His triumphant conflict with Satan. The conflict didn’t end there. He waged war with the kingdom of darkness throughout His whole ministry, didn’t He? Casting demons out, day after day after day for the period of three years of His ministry, but always He was triumphant. There’s a sense in which what the Holy Spirit is doing here is driving Him into conflict with Satan so that He can give evidence of His power to take over all enemy territory. And He’s going to take over all the enemy’s territory for His own kingdom one day and bind Satan with a chain at first, and then cast him forever into the Lake of Fire. The Holy Spirit literally drives Him into conflict so He can overcome the enemy and be triumphant and claim territory for His own kingdom that belonged to Satan.
After that temptation, He began His ministry. How did He begin His ministry? He began His ministry, Luke tells us, the same way everything else had occurred in His life. Luke 4:14, the devil had finished every temptation he could throw at Jesus unsuccessfully and then immediately after that, in Luke 4:14, Jesus returned to Galilee – here’s the key – He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit – in the power of the Spirit. It was in the power of the Spirit – verse 15 – that He began teaching in the synagogues. His whole ministry was in the power of the Spirit. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. That power was demonstrated in His ability to do miracles, cast out demons, dismiss disease, overcome death, do physical miracles. It was all the power of the Holy Spirit – all the power of the Holy Spirit.
The testimony to that is given by Peter. Peter was there for all those three years. Listen to what Peter says in Acts 10:38 – Peter is preaching to Gentiles and he’s talking about Jesus Christ – and he says, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power.” Okay? “God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and that meant that God was with Him because that’s the Spirit of God.
All these passages remind us the essence of the incarnation is such a total self-emptying that Jesus is completely submissive to the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who is shaping Him in every sense into the holy one that God has designed Him to be. Whatever He did, whether He was teaching, He was teaching under the power of the One He called the Spirit of truth. He referred to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth many times. Or He was healing. It was in the power of the Holy Spirit. Or He was casting out demons in the power of the Holy Spirit, or calming storms in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is why when the Jews said, “You do what You do by the power of Satan,” in Matthew 12, He said, “You blaspheme not Me, but You blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” He is the sinless one. He is the holy one. He is the incarnation of fully realized holiness. He walks perfectly in the Spirit. He displays all the fruit of the Spirit. He uses all the gifting of the Spirit. It is all the power of the Spirit coming through Him. This is His life. This is His ministry.
Even when He comes to His death, if you look at Hebrews chapter 9, and He faces the cross, and all that’s involved, this amazing statement, Hebrews 9:14, says that the blood of Christ was offered without blemish to God. Christ offered His blood as a sacrifice, a blameless, without-blemish sacrifice to God – verse 14 – through the eternal Spirit. Even the power that took Him through the Garden, even the power that caused Him to endure the cross was the power of the Holy Spirit – was the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was the Holy Spirit that gave Him the power to say, “Not My will be Yours be done.” It was the Holy Spirit who gave Him power to say, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they do.” It was the power of the Holy Spirit that allowed Him to stay there until He could say it is finished. It was in the power of the Holy Spirit that He said, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.”
What about His resurrection? Well, if you go back to Romans 1, we are introduced in Romans 1 verse 3 to the Son of God, born of a descendant of David according to the flesh. Mary was a descendant of David. But please notice verse 4, Romans 1:4: “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness.” Who raised Him? The Spirit. The Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.
First Timothy chapter 3 gives us that wonderful hymn at the end of the chapter, an early church hymn, no doubt, because of the structure in the Greek. The mystery of godliness that is the amazing mystery of God in Christ, the God-man, fully man, fully God. And then it looks at His resurrection. This is a hymn on the resurrection. He was revealed in the flesh. He had a bodily resurrection. And this bodily resurrection was a vindication in the Spirit. Here again, testimony to the fact that it is the Holy Spirit who was the power that raises Jesus from the dead. It is His power.
You say, “Well, after His resurrection, did He take over? Did He say, ‘That’s good enough, Holy Spirit, You’ve certainly done Your share. I can handle it from here’?” Turn to Acts chapter 1. After His resurrection, 40 days went by and then He ascended into heaven. Forty days went by, and you can see what He did for 40 days in chapter 1 verse 3. Chapter 1 verse 3: “For a period of 40 days He was speaking of things concerning the kingdom of God.” He was preaching and teaching His own. For 40 days, He was preaching and teaching. Back to verse 2: “Until the day when He was taken up to heaven after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.” Who was the power of the 40 days’ teaching? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continued to empower Him for 40 days, it says that. He was giving orders to the apostles, which is another way of saying He was speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God, and it was all by the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know if you ever looked at the ministry of Christ and the life of Christ in this way, but it’s a stunning thing, it really is. And can you imagine this? They’re used to this. They’re used to this – they know He attributes all of this to the Holy Spirit. They know the Jews have attributed it to Satan and He said, “You blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” They were there. Do you remember when in the Upper Room discourse, Jesus said to them, “He has been with you,” speaking of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit of truth, “He has been with you”? Chapter 14 verse 17: “He shall be” – where? – “in you.” You remember when He said that? There’s something there that maybe you haven’t thought about. “He has been with you” is a very special statement. How had the Holy Spirit particularly been with them? In Christ. “Has been with you.” “I’ve been with you, He’s been with you.” “He’s been with you” and it’s been wonderful – it’s been wonderful. You’ve seen it all, you’ve heard it all. What an incredible experience. “He has been with you.” But He also said, “He shall be” – where? – “in you.” That’s better. “You’ve seen Him in Me and He’s going to be in You.” “You’ve seen His power in Me; the same power is going to be in you.”
I mean this is a stunning promise. That’s why in John 16:7, He says to them, “It’s better for you if I go away because if I don’t go away, that’s not going to happen. But if I go away, I will send the Holy Spirit and He will be in you.” If I had been standing there when He was talking like that, I’d have been overwhelmed with expectations. Right here in Acts 1, Jesus says in verse 5, “You’re going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” “A few days, it’s going to happen.”
Earlier, in John 20, after His resurrection, during that 40 days, He said to them in verse 22, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and breathed on them, like power is coming Your way. Earlier than that, back in the seventh chapter of John and verse 37, “If any is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me as the Scripture says from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” Again, this is power. This is a force. “This He spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.” That’s the same idea. “You’re going to have a powerful rushing river inside of you and you haven’t received that, you’ve seen it in Me. I’ve been with you and He’s been with you, but when I am glorified I will send the Holy Spirit and He will be in you.”
Back to Acts 1. What’s going to happen when that happens? Verse 8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” “You will receive power.” What did we learn in Romans 8? “That if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He’s none of His.” That’s kind of where we were last time. So if you’re a believer, you have the Holy Spirit, right? Haven’t we been saying that? Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in you. That’s what happened on the day of Pentecost. It’s incredible. It happened just a few days. Chapter 2 verse 1, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place; suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind.” We know who that is, don’t we now? The ruach Elohim, the violent rushing wind, symbol of the Holy Spirit.
And not only that, not only is there a violent rushing wind, there are little pieces of fire that look like dancing tongues of fire on top of people. Another symbol of the force and power of the Holy Spirit. And verse 4: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And the promise that Jesus gave had come to pass. And every single believer since that day has received the Holy Spirit, and with the Holy Spirit, the power comes.
Now, let’s use Jesus as our model because the same things that Jesus saw the Spirit of God do in His life are the very things the Spirit does in your life. Let’s start at the beginning. He gave life to the incarnate Christ and He gives us life. “You must be born of the Spirit.” He’s the one who regenerates. It is the Holy Spirit who grew Jesus in wisdom and knowledge. It is the Holy Spirit who grows us. Second Corinthians 3:18: As we gaze at the glory of the Lord, as we gaze at the glory of Christ, we’re moved from one level of glory to the next “by the Lord who is the Spirit.” The Spirit is the one growing you up. The Spirit is the one teaching you, He’s the anointing from God. The Spirit is the one who grows you in grace and wisdom and knowledge. Not only does He give you the resource in the Word, but He’s the internal teacher that illuminates you. He’s the force of growth in your life.
It was the Spirit who came down at Jesus’ baptism, and it is, according to 1 Corinthians 12, the Holy Spirit who is the means by which Christ places us into the body of Christ. We’re baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion into the body of Christ. And we become especially a part of the body of Christ, and we bear the anointing that falls on Him, and we take up His responsibility in the world. We are Christ in the world. He’s our head. We’re His body. We are sort of the church, the second incarnation of Christ. We’ve been set apart for special service in the world as Christ to the world by the baptizing of Christ through the means of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit, by the way, who provides the path of victory in the midst of conflict with Satan, right? It is the Holy Spirit who gives us power. We defeat all of the wiles of the devil, all of the tactics of the enemy by the sword of the Spirit. Not only by the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, but by the power of the Spirit within us. He gives us the victory in our temptation. He is the one who helps us overcome. The promise of Scripture is this: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”
When Jesus went to the cross, it was the Holy Spirit who gave Him power over the pain, power over the suffering, to endure the cross. And He is the same Spirit who gives us power in our suffering for the sake of the cross. That’s why Peter said in 1 Peter that if you suffer for the sake of Christ – listen – the Spirit of grace and glory rests on you. The reason you can endure suffering and pain, all the difficulties of life that come, is because the Holy Spirit gives you strength. He is the Spirit of grace and glory that rests on you. And when Christ came out of the grave, it was the Holy Spirit that raised Him from the grave, and so it is with us, and that’ll get us to Romans 8.
Romans 8 verse 11: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.” Do you see that? “Through His Spirit who dwells in you.” He gave you life, He grows you into Christ’s likeness, He baptizes you, He provides victory in the face of temptation, power to defeat Satan, He gives you power to go through suffering, and one day He will raise you immortal from the grave.
In the meantime, there’s one other thing that He does and that’s Acts 1:8: “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be” – what’s the next word? – “witnesses.” He empowered Christ to preach. He empowered Christ to proclaim. And He does the same with us. He empowers us to proclaim. And if you question that, look at Acts chapter 2 and see what happens. This is kind of the end product. What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit giving us life? What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit growing us into Christ’s likeness? Placing us into the body? Providing victory over sin and Satan? What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in making us mature through sufferings, through victory and suffering? What is His purpose in all of that? His purpose is to make us effective witnesses so that – listen – so that the great commission can be fulfilled. You know when Jesus said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel to everyone”? That was to fulfill an Old Testament promise that He would be a light to the Gentiles, that God – Psalm 2 – listen to me – would give Him the nations as His inheritance. Give Him the nations as His inheritance.
What the Holy Spirit wants to do in the end is to make you a powerful witness to the glory of Christ and the transforming power of the gospel. And you get a preview of it on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit comes down and what happened? What happened was there were – verse 5 – people there from every nation under heaven. People there from every nation under heaven. And what happened, the sound occurred, the mighty rushing wind, the crowd came together, and every one of them was hearing the 120 believers speak in His own language. You know what this demonstrates? That the purpose for which the Spirit does His work in Christ and in you is to fulfill the great commission to take the message of salvation to the ends of the earth, and the preview of that is at the very moment the Spirit first comes.
And all of a sudden, people start hearing. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, districts of Libya, around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, Jews, proselytes, Cretans, Arabs, and they’re all hearing in their own language the mighty deeds of God, the great redemptive story, the salvation story, empowered by the Holy Spirit. And you get a preview there of the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
When the Father promised the Son, “I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,” do you think He’ll keep that promise? Go to Revelation and get a glimpse of people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation gathered around the throne. And the means by which that prophecy will be fulfilled and the Father will give the nations as an inheritance to His Son is the work of the Holy Spirit through believers like you and me. A staggering thing. It’s a staggering thing.
Talk about important. You just happen to be the greatest force in the world for the fulfillment of the plan of the Creator and Redeemer of men. What does the Holy Spirit want to do in your life? He wants to shape you into the very image of Christ. Now, He’s got a whole lot less to work with than He had with Jesus. When you were born, no one said, “Oh, another holy one.” This is what He desires to do, is to take you from one level of glory to the next, to the next, increasing in the image of Christ. One day He will raise you and make you exactly like Christ. In the meantime, He’s working on it.
Now, with that in mind, look at Romans 8. Just a comment. You say, “Oh, this is great. I know what to do, I’ll just relax and let Him do His work.” Oh yeah, that’s the old – let go and let God. That was a whole movement, you know, Keswick movement, deeper life, Quaker quietist movement. No. Verse 12, with all this incredible work the Holy Spirit is doing with us, brethren, we’re under obligation. You have an obligation. You have a debt – that’s the word for debt. What’s your debt? Certainly not to live according to the flesh, right? You don’t owe the flesh anything. What did the flesh ever do for you? If you’re living according to the flesh, you’re going to die, that’s describing a non-believer. But you don’t have any obligation to your flesh. What that means is there are no excuses now because the power of the flesh has been broken. It is not a dominating force. There are no excuses.
You live by the Spirit, and if you live by the Spirit, you are putting to death the deeds of the body. You will live. Another way to say it, you have life. What do believers do? They kill the remaining deeds of the body. This is what we call remaining sin. You know, you’re not like Christ who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, the Holy One. We have to battle sin. But in the same way that the Lord Jesus triumphed over Satan, we have the power of the same Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who will fight the battle in us, but you can’t let go and let God, that’s not in the New Testament. You don’t find that attitude anywhere. That idea of surrender is not in the Bible.
What the Bible says is beat your body into submission so you don’t become a cast-out. What the Bible says, Paul says, is: I run, I run a race; I box, I fight with all my might. I work to the point of sweat and exhaustion. I labor hard, he says. Over and over again he says things like that. The language here, “Put to death the deeds of the body,” you have to kill these things. This isn’t a matter of floating around. The Holy Spirit is at work in this mighty way, and your responsibility is to use all the powers that you have in His strength to kill remaining sin in your life. That’s what people who live do. That’s what people in the power of the Spirit do.
Father, we thank You that we’ve been able to consider some of these things, just some ways. Lightly, compared to all the richness that these things contain. But I ask that You’ll help these dear folks to grasp, maybe in a new way, in a fresh way, the reality of Your wonderful ministry in us as believers. May we love You more, thank You more consistently, pray for Your grace and filling and empowering. May we, as Christ did, manifest the fruit of the Spirit. May we, as Christ did, use the gifts of the Spirit that have been given to us. May we be faithful to the calling that is given to us as He was faithful to the calling that was given to Him by Your Spirit.
O Holy Spirit, we ask that we would bring honor to the Son. That’s Your desire as You shape us into His image, as You show us Christ and we gaze at His glory. May we increasingly be like Him that the world may see Him on display and be drawn to Him.
Thank You for all the work that You do in us, and we are so unworthy of it all but so grateful. May we be faithful to kill the remaining sin that is in us so that we can be everything that would please You and the Son and the Father. Amen.
Things happen so quickly, we have to be ready to face success or tragedy at an instant’s notice.
– Tornado in Cheyenne. Storm here 2 days ago.
– Blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes happening today………
– My car mishap, March, 2013
– I stressed!
– I went over and over in my mind how I’d like to go back and have that instant over…..
It didn’t help for my Associate Pastor, Larry Classen, to keep saying, “I’m 65 years old and I’ve never been in a wreck before! This is the 1st traffic mishap I’ve ever experienced!”
Even though I wasn’t prepared for the emotional turmoil of a wreck, I’d made preparation in the event something like that might happen.
– I had car insurance………….
That’s a lot like life.- Some things that’ll happen to us this coming year might nearly “swamp ourboat,” but we can have the strength and means to face the rough situations.
A right relationship with Christ is the “insurance” we need for every circumstance that’ll come along in 2021.
– Even death can’t destroy us when we have Christ in our heart.
An elderly lady walked slowly into a life insurance office in Minneapolis during the worst part of the Great Depression.
– She wanted to know if she could stop paying the premiums on her husband’s life insurance policy.
“He’s been dead sometime now,” she said, “and I don’t believe I can afford to keep making the payments anymore.”
The clerk looked up her husband’s policy and discovered it was worth several hundred thousand dollars.
– This poor lady was wealthy, but she had no idea.
– No one had explained to her how life insurance works.
Perhaps no one has explained to you that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you too are rich.
Have you considered the possibility that Christ may come to Rapture His Church in 2021?
– The tabloids are asking, “Could this be the final year?……..”
– It could be, but if you have a close relationship with Christ it won’t matter.
Philippians 1:21 — “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Because we know Christ and realize we have a home in Heaven, wouldn’t it be selfish and sinful not to share that realization with others?
You say, “It scares me to death to witness! Certainly there’s some other way to let people know about Jesus. Besides, isn’t that why we pay the preacher to do that for us?”
– There are people you could reach that the Pastor could never build a bridge to……….
Lady at Deer Valley wanting me to wait for her son in his apartment……….
She said her son got home from work at 5 and she wanted to give me a key to his apartment so I could go in and wait for him to come home! She wanted me to win him to the Lord!
Of course I turned this wonderful opportunity down because I couldn’t think of a quicker way to get shot and get to Heaven prematurely.
Besides, how would I explain I didn’t break and enter his house?
Then there was this busy old lady, Mrs. Bain, providing me with names of people to call on in the hospital.
– At first I didn’t know where she was getting these names.
– I thought they were her friends.
I found she was checking the newspaper and copying names of sick people who were in the (she didn’t know them either!) and then she would give them to me saying, “this person is in the hospital will you call on this person.”
How embarrassing to go to the room and find their real pastor there!
An insurance agent learned that he’d receive his company’s award for having sold more life insurance policies than anyone else in the state.
The problem: — He had to make a speech at the time he got the award.
– He was supposed to tell the other insurance agents how he did it.
– Joe had a phobia about public speaking, but he was still expected to give the speech.
So he nervously went to work on this speech.
– He wrote it and rewrote it.
– He practiced it on his wife.
Finally, he got it just right. He typed it on cards and taped the cards on his shaving mirror.
– Every morning while shaving, he memorized that speech.
Finally, Joe had it imprinted into the grooves of his brain cells like a laser disk.
He was ready.
The big evening came.
– The huge auditorium was filled with insurance salespeople from all over the state wanting to learn his secret..
He was called forward to receive the award.
His knees turned to Jello!
Pressing a plaque into Joe’s hand, the President of the company patted him on the back and said, “Now Joe, tell us how did you do it?”
Joe turned to the great sea of eyes, waiting expectantly for him to say something profound.
– Suddenly his mind went blank — he couldn’t think of the first line!
– Groping for it, he said, “Ah, uh, ah…”
He couldn’t remember the first line but he finally thought of a line from down in the middle.
– (If you’re in that kind of situation, you’re willing to start anyplace.)
– So he said, “Ah, uh – See the people….”
But Joe was so frightened he couldn’t remember what came after that.
So he started again, “Ah, uh – See the people, ah, uh. See the people!” And he sat down completely mortified.
Most of the insurance agents in the auditorium thought Joe said exactly what he intended to say.
– They heard it as a dramatic speech and gave him a standing ovation.
We mustn’t equate selling insurance with influencing people to accept Jesus Christ.
– These two endeavors have different goals, and they have different results.
In visiting people for Christ, we plant seeds that help people move toward the most important decision they’ll ever make: — Who is going to be the Lord of my life?
Do you want to help people move in that direction through your influence?
– If so, see the people.
Also, if you want to win people learn to use a little bit of tact!
There was a barber that accepted Christ while he was at Church one Sunday. He was so thrilled with his new-found freedom that he wanted to share this wonderful experience with others.
On Wednesday, he decided it was time to share his new found faith.
One of his customers was in the barber chair waiting for a shave.
The barber stropped the razor until it was sharp enough to shave the man.
The customer was sitting there with his face all lathered waiting for the barber to start. The barber said to himself, “Well, here goes!”
He walked over to the guy in the chair, got his blade ready to attack the whiskers and smilingly asked the man, “Are you prepared to die?”
For some unknown reason the customer bolted out of the chair and ran through the door with the lather still on his face and the barber’s cape flying in the wind!
When I pastored Grand Coulee Church of the Nazarene I decided to take one of the members calling with me.
We went to a house where the man was an avid hunter. He had animal heads all over his walls.
I was having a cordial conversation with this man trying to “break the ice” and make him comfortable enough with me that I could tell him about his need of a Savior.
A Christian needs to earn the trust of the person to have the privilege of talking with them about matters so personal as his sins. – Win them to yourself so you can win them to Jesus.
The church member blurted out, “I see all these heads of dead animals! Do you know that you’re going to die too? You’ll probably go to Hell!”
CONVERSATION OVER! SUDDENLY WE FOUND AN OPEN DOOR SET BEFORE US!
I’ve heard Christians say, “I don’t need to say anything to witness, I’ll just live it before them!”
Not good enough! A lot of people who aren’t Christians live good, decent, moral lives!
You need to tell them why you’re living such an exemplary life. Give God Glory!
I read about a couple driving along a road and seeing a blank sign. Nothing on it!
It was yellow and diamond shaped like an informational sign, but had no information to tell them if it was a warning sign or what it was.
It was completely useless!
A lot of Christians are just like that blank sign.
They should be giving information about the Kingdom of God, but they are just useless!
You know, Jesus might come back for His Church in 2021.
– If He does you want to be ready and you want your family and friends ready too.
I started this message talking about insurance.
If you get insurance you want it to cover your needs if disaster strikes.
You won’t be satisfied with a company that tries to renege on their promises.
Too many companies try to find a loop hole to back out on the policy you hold.
When I was in college, one of the fellows in my dorm had a freak accident.
The radiator fan on the motor in his car broke loose and was thrown through the hood of his car leaving a gash about six inches long and three inches wide.
He reported it to insurance agent and was told his insurance would not pay for the damage because he was not insured for flying objects.
Let me tell you there is a policy to guard against Eternal Fire damage. Hell is no laughing matter it’s fire and brimstone (burning sulfur) that will last forever!
This policy is provided through the Blood of Jesus Christ Who took your sins to the Cross and died as your substitute!
We know Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
THAT’S WHY JESUS WENT TO THE CROSS TO PAY YOUR PENALTY! HE HAD NO SINS OF HIS OWN THAT HAD TO BE PAID FOR!
THE PREMIUM IS ALREADY PAID AND THAT COMPANY IS TRUSTWORTHY!
GOD WILL NOT RENEGE ON HIS PROMISE TO YOU!
1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I LIKE TO MAKE IT A PERSONAL POLICY!
1 JOHN 1:9:
“IF YOU CONFESS YOUR SINS HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE YOU YOUR SINS AND CLEANSE YOU FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS!”
I THINK YOU’D BE FOOLISH NOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE INSURANCE DEAL!
I KNOW YOU WILL BE ETERNALLY SORRY IF YOU MISS IT!
Exclusive: Scott Lively on how blood-guilt and perversity have driven America to judgment
June 28, 2021
“Oh, Lord GOD, when You pour out Your wrath on Jerusalem, will You destroy the entire remnant of Israel?” He replied, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of bloodshed, and the city is full of perversity. … I will not look on them with pity, nor will I spare them. I will bring their deeds down upon their own heads” (Ezekiel 9:9).
Throughout the Bible we see evidence of a fundamental law that governs God’s Creation regarding the cumulative effect of human sin, especially upon the Holy Land, but the entire earth as well, and, indeed all of Creation (Romans 8:22). America is not exempt.
Cumulative Sin governs the two categories of sin in Exekiel 9:9 that Yeshua also highlighted in the Sermon on the Mount, stating, “You have heard it said … But I say. …”: murder and adultery. The category of “bloodshed” or murder is recognized in the Bible’s treatment of and teaching on “blood-guilt.” The category of “perversity” or adultery (synonymous with idolatry) includes all forms of Canaanite sexual perversion held to be capital crimes under the Mosaic law, most particularly incest, homosexuality and bestiality per Leviticus 18.
There is nothing new under the sun, and it is not accidental that America’s “culture war” has always boiled down to abortion and homosexuality. All the other “fiscal” and “secular-seeming” issues the leftists push – including immigration, racism, statism and gun-grabbing – are (largely unrecognized) byproducts of the “sexual revolution,” which empowered the wicked to convert them into powerful weapons of cultural subversion by weakening our societal immune-system – weapons which would never have been effective against us in the God-fearing, natural-family centered society we enjoyed through the 1950s.
Blood-guilt: The spilling of innocent blood (the very definition of abortion) is the first category of sin that accumulates in the land until it is full, triggering wrath. Under the Torah, any unsolved murder that occurred near the border of two towns required an investigation to determine which town bore the blood-guilt, and thus the responsibility to atone for it (Deuteronomy 21:1), and known murderers were required under the law to be hunted down per Numbers 35:19: “The avenger of blood is to put the murderer to death; when he finds him, he is to kill him.”
Blood-guilt was featured in Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial: “Fondly do we hope ~ fervently do we pray ~ that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue … until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”
Sexual perversion: This category is best summarized in Leviticus 18:28, which passage also shows it as a trigger for wrath. “You must not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife and thus defile yourself with her. You must not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. You must not lie with a man as with a woman; that is an abomination. You must not lie carnally with any animal, thus defiling yourself with it; a woman must not stand before an animal to mate with it; that is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves by any of these practices, for by all these things the nations I am driving out before you have defiled themselves. Even the land has become defiled, so I am punishing it for its sin, and the land will vomit out its inhabitants. … So if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it spewed out the nations before you.”
Remember what God told Abraham when He bequeathed the Holy Land to him: “[Only] in the fourth generation will your descendants return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites (Canaanites) is not yet complete.” The sins had not fully accumulated to justify their desolation from the land.
There are only two remedies for the problem of accumulating sin. The first is Sabbath-keeping, which serves a sort-of spiritual pressure-release valve. As one of the original laws of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3), the Law of Sabbath pre-dates but is an essential tenet of the Mosaic Code in Leviticus 23:3 and 25:1-12, which chapters establish God’s worship-based time and order-keeping system of Feasts and Shemitahs (cycles of sevens) for what would eventually become known as Judeo-Christian civilization.
Leviticus 26 is entirely devoted to the issue of punishment for Sabbath-breaking, detailing a series of escalating punishments that grow more severe at each level, culminating in desolation from the land followed by rejection/destruction by God.
The only other remedy for accumulated sin is total, sincere repentance. But, importantly, if repentance comes only after the final punishment of desolation from the land, it will not spare the guilty of their consequences in this life, but only spare them from eternal separation from God. “But if they will confess their iniquity … then I will remember My covenant [but] the land will [remain] abandoned by them, and it will enjoy its Sabbaths by lying desolate without them. And they will pay the penalty for their iniquity, [but while] they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject or despise them so as to destroy them.”
Thus, the true sin of Sabbath-breaking was in failing to relieve the land of the accumulation of sin. And, importantly, the two remedies of the Old Testament merged in Yeshua HaMashich (Jesus), Our Peace, per Ephesians 2:28, who IS the SABBATH for those who surrender to Him, per Matthew 11:28-30, by REPENTING of their unbelief, per John 3:18, robbing sin of its power, 1 Corinthians 15:56.
So under the New Covenant, Christ alone is the solution to the crisis of cumulative sin, while the rejection of Him by American society is the sole reason both blood-guilt and perversity have escalated seven-fold, per Leviticus 26: 23-25, since the 1950s, leading us to the judgment of 2020 and 21: “Though you withdraw into your cities [lockdowns], I will send a plague among you [the Plandemic], and you will be delivered into the hand of the enemy [election fraud].”
If this does not turn the nation back to Christ, the next step will be worse, because Cumulative Sin is still at work.
Note: This article is based upon teachings in Scott Lively’s book “The Prodigal Son Prophecy,” which may be freely accessed here.
I know in the bulletin it says that I’m going talk about authority and preaching. But as I thought about that, Clayton already didn’t follow the script anyway. So as I thought about that message, I decided to give it Friday night to the pastors. It seemed more appropriate to them, which should have been obvious to me in the first place. So that means that that’s in history now and we can go back to the Gospel of John. Go back to the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John.
For those that are visiting with us, we’re going through the Gospel of John. The purpose of the Gospel of John, these things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you might life in His name, that’s John chapter 20, verse 31 and John gives purpose, this gospel is written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, is the Son of God, God in human flesh and that by believing that you might have eternal life in His name. So everything in the Gospel of John focuses on believing who He is and believing in Him, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now this morning we find ourselves in the eighth chapter, verse 21. That’s where we left off and that’s where we will begin. John chapter 8, verse 21 and I will actually read down through verse 25. “Then He again said to them, ‘I go away, and you will seek me and will die in your sin; where I’m going, you cannot come.” So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since he says where I’m going you cannot come.” And he was saying to them, “You are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?”
I wonder how many times you have said to someone, “You will die in your sins.” Probably not very many. That’s what Jesus said three times to people who believed they were the representatives of God, that they were the agents of His kingdom, that they were privileged with the hope of heaven. “You will die in your sins.” And He said it three times. Now what led up this? Well, by the time this dialogue occurred, everybody in Israel was aware of Jesus. It’s about three years of ministry. We’re only six months from the cross at this time. The miracles of Jesus are common conversation because they’ve literally gone from the south to the north and then back to the south. Ministry, for the first year in Judea, ministry for the second longer than a year in Galilea, back down to Judea for the final months. Everybody’s talking about Jesus. They’ve been talking about Jesus since the ministry of John the Baptist because John was talking about Jesus and all Jerusalem and Judea was coming out to John. He was common conversation. Obviously no one ever lived like Him. No one ever taught like Him. No one ever did what He did.
Amazing, unheard of miracles were going on on a daily basis through the duration of His ministry, unparalleled teaching, sufficient evidence to prove that He was who He claimed to be, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God. Now, by the way, John in his purpose of giving us evidence, only gives us samples, only samples of the ministry of Jesus. In chapter 20 verse 30, we read this, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.”
The ones that John uses are just illustrations of the countless miracles Jesus did. In fact, there’s so many of them, chapter 21:25 says, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Massive evidence supporting His claim to be the Son of God. So in light of the overwhelming evidence, unbelief in Jesus is inexcusable. Inexcusable. And that’s why he says, “You will die in your sins because you believe not on me.” It wasn’t that they didn’t have evidence. They never denied the evidence. They could not.
Perhaps John chapter 5, verse 40 gives us the best explanation. “And you are unwilling to come to me so that you may have life.” “You are unwilling to come to me so that you may have life.” Human will, human volition required to be activated toward Christ for salvation. It is that parallel truth to divine sovereignty which to us is incomprehensible. But is as true as is the sovereignty of God in salvation.
And by the way, even those who have never heard the gospel are without excuse. Romans 1 says that the creation itself so clearly reveals God that men who do not therefore acknowledge God and pursue God are without excuse. If those who’ve never heard the gospel are without excuse, then all the more inexcusable is the unbelief of those who have heard the gospel. That’s why Hebrews chapter 10 gives such a fierce warning, such a frightening warning. Let me read it to you chapter 10 and starting at verse 26, “For if we go on sinning willfully, that is by rejecting, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” If you go on rejecting after you’ve heard the truth, there’s no hope. There’s no other salvation, only judgment.
It was bad enough violating the Law of Moses. Anyone without set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy. How much severe a punishment do you think he will deserve who’s trampled underfoot the Son of God? The whole human race is without excuse because the reality of God has manifest into creation so that we can know something of His nature and power. The reality of God is also delivered to us through conscience, the law of God written in the heart. Man is without excuse. He is even further inexcusable in his unbelief if he has heard the gospel.
Well, in the case of these people who lived in the land of Israel during the ministry of Jesus, there was no excuse. We’ve heard the expression, he has nobody to blame but himself, that applies here. That’s a biblical expression. Jesus said, “You will not come to me that you might have eternal life.” And back in John 3 in that most familiar of all passages, verse 16, we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already.” And I would just remind you of that, that if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, there’s not a future judgment for you, there’s a past judgment.
People think, well, I’m going to live my life and God’s going to rack up all the good things I did and the bad things and the good will outweigh the bad and I’ll be fine in the end. And then God will render His judgment on the basis of the accumulated good in my life. No, the judgment has been made on you already. The judgment isn’t future. You’re under that judgment now because you do not believe. You’ve been judged already. There’s not going to be a difference in the future in that judgment unless you believe in Jesus Christ and come out from that judgment to salvation.
This is the judgment that the light has come into the world, men love the darkness rather than the light where the deeds are evil. Did the light shine brightly in Israel for three years? Of course. Was the light manifest? Of course. But men love the darkness like insects scrambling back under a rock. As we come to chapter 8, the previous chapters in this incredible story of Jesus, this history, have detailed the manifestations of our Lord, which he gave to Israel. And they are more than sufficient to produce the necessary evidence of His claims being true. And he says in chapter 7, verse 17, this is an important brief verse, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God of whether I speak from myself.” The word willing appears again in 5:40, you’re not willing. In 7:17, “If you are willing, you will know the truth.”
Comes back to human will. We can’t set that aside. I know we love the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and salvation and it is clearly taught in Scripture. And parallel to that, and as I said, inscrutable to us is the reality that the sinner is responsible for his own will. Anyone seeing, hearing, experiencing the reality of Christ the way they had and not believing bears alone the guilt of that unbelief. In the face of more than sufficient evidence making unbelief inexcusable. In Galilee you remember, as we started through the Gospel of John, his ministry in Galilee was a large part of our focus. He proposed spiritual blessings. He proposed salvation on a spiritual level to the poor prisoners blind and oppressed and they’re identified in Luke 4.
They wanted physical. Their messianic expectation was not satisfied in Him. They wanted an earthly leader, a temporal leader, an earthly king, an earthly provider, a warrior king, a defender of Israel and an executioner of their enemies. But they would accept Him if He healed the sick, cast out demons and created food for the masses who were always hungry. He certainly was king material and they wanted to make Him a king. They tried by force to make Him a king ‘cause that would have been an ultimate welfare state. But when He demanded spiritual cleansing, confronted their sin, confronted the bankruptcy of their religion and spoke only of spiritual blessings and heavenly things, they left Him. They started fading away.
And then, when He started to talk about His own death, and them having to swallow His own death in the sense you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood, even His disciples, many of them, John 6:66, left Him permanently. We would conclude that over a year of ministry in Galilee drove the mobs away and even many of His own disciples ultimately left. In Jerusalem the pattern was the same, demonstrating His power He drew crowds wherever He went. They also were willing to make Him king, but then He there began to sift the mobs by presenting spiritual truth, demanding a recognition of sin, condemning their false religion, condemning their hypocrisy and the crowds began to melt away and they became indifferent and the leaders became angry and murderous. And six months from the occasion of John 8, they’re going to get their wish and the Romans are going to crucify Him.
This literally fulfills the comment of John at the beginning of his story. “He came into His own and His own people received Him not.” But they were responsible for what they heard. The offer of salvation was clear, the evidence was compelling, they made their choice. Most reject it. Some, along the way, believed. Back in chapter 6 and verse 14, “When the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said,” this being the feeding of that crowd that was probably between 20,000 and 25,000 people, when some of the people saw this, they said, “This is truly the prophet who is to come into the world.” In other words, this is the Messiah. And they took that from Deuteronomy 18 which was the prophecy of Messiah in which He would be identified as a prophet. Some believed, certainly.
If you go to the end of the chapter in verse 69, you hear the words of Peter for himself and the apostles and other followers of Jesus who had remained, “We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Chapter 7, verse 40, “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words were saying, ‘This certainly is the prophet.’” Again, identifying the messianic prophecy of Deuteronomy 18. “And others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ ‘This is the Messiah.’” So along the way there were people who were believing, not many because on the day of Pentecost how many were gathered in the upper room? A hundred and twenty. That shows you how many people rejected the clear evidence.
So in the eight chapters that we’ve looked up to now, John shows how first Galilee and then Judea, Jerusalem rejected their Messiah. What began as hopeful ended up in hostility. It is this trend in rejection, this escalating animosity towards Jesus that drives Him to say what He says in what we read starting in verse 21.
Let’s go back to verse 21. He said again to them, “I go away and you will seek me and will die in your sin. Where I’m going you cannot come.” That’s as blunt as you can get with unbelievers, right? “You will die in your sin.” But you noticed it said again. Could it be that this is a very routine thing for Him to say? Certainly. But specifically, if you go back to chapter 7, verse 34, there he said, “You will seek me and will not find me and where I am, you cannot come.” Verse 36, they respond, “What is this statement that he said, ‘You will seek me and will not find me and where I am you cannot come?’” We have at least that specific indication that He had said this kind of thing frequently, maybe very frequently.
His ministry was to talk about the kingdom and talk about salvation, but it was not absent a warning component. This is about as stern and direct as a warning gets. “You will die,” that’s enough. Just to say to someone, “You will die,” is the wakeup call. “You will die in your sins,” that is you will die unforgiven. You will die unforgiven.
“And where I am going you cannot come.” Oh, he had said where he was going. He said, “I came down from heaven.” Chapter 6, “I am the bread of heaven, came down from heaven.” He said this over and over and over. “I came from the Father. I came from the Father.” He even said, “I go back to the Father. I return to the Father.” But where He was going they would never go. He would die, but where he would go when he would die would be a place they would never see. “I go away. You will seek me.” We talked about that, didn’t we, a few weeks ago? That part of the horror of hell, and there are a lot of components to this suffering of hell, the fact that you’re still sinful and still wretched, only your sin is totally unabated and therefore hell is forever because you still are sinful and so you’re always painful and so you’re always paying for a continuing sinful life.
Hell is also bitterness. Hell is also a completely exploding conscience without relief. But hell is also seeking for what you can’t find. That’s why there’s weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. “You will seek me.” Do you think people in hell are seeking salvation? Do you think people in hell would want to be delivered? Listen to the language of a man in hell. “Send someone to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue for I’m tormented in this flame.” All the seeking is useless. “You will die in your sins. And where I go you will never come.” You’re going to hell, I’m going to heaven.
How do you die in your sins? How does this happen? In verse 22 to through 25, our Lord shows four realities that guarantee you’ll die in your sin. This is really a potent portion of Scripture. And so serious that it’s as serious as it gets. We’re talking about eternity in heaven or hell. If I had put a title in the grace today, it would have been How to Die in Your Sins.
So here’s how. First, be self-righteous, be self-righteous. Go to verse 22. So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He? Since He says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” You say, well, what is there in that about self-righteousness? That entire statement demonstrates the self-righteousness of the Jews. Primarily when you see the word Jew in the Gospel of John it’s referring to the leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees, but it embraces all the people who followed in their pattern, in their religious system. Their scorn is palpable here. Their mockery is obvious here. They didn’t need a redeemer. They didn’t need a savior. They resented His attacks on their hypocrisy. They resented His indictment of them as sinners in need of a savior. This is the essence of self-righteousness. It looks at a savior and mocks the whole idea.
So they say with scorn and sarcasm, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will he?” And why would they say that? Well, I’ll tell you why. Josephus tells us, the Jewish historian, that among the Jews the worst sin was suicide. Suicide. According to Josephus a person who committed suicide didn’t just go to Hades, the place of the dead who didn’t know God, but went to the lowest, darkest point of Hades most remotely removed from what they called Abraham’s bosom, the place where Abraham went, where the people who knew God went. And that person who committed suicide would go to the place the farthest away from Abraham’s bosom, Abraham’s presence and the presence of righteous people. Far away. And the person would be assigned to be in the darkest corner of Hades forever.
So Jesus gives them a warning. “You’re going to die in your sins.” They are offended because they don’t see themselves as what? Sinners. They see themselves as righteous. Jesus had said, “Look, I didn’t come to call the righteous. I can’t deal with you, but sinners to repentance.” That was always the issue with these religious leaders. They refused to recognize their true condition so they mock Jesus and say, “Oh, He’s going to kill Himself and He’s going to go to the farthest, deepest, darkest corner of Hades completely and forever removed from where we’re going to go, the presence of Abraham where all the righteous people are.”
Amazing how deaf to this warning self-righteous people are, that they mock the Son of God. Mock the Son of God. Just really frightening. Ignorant mocking. They laughed when they should have cried. And they laughed until they died and then they cried. And they’re still crying. So confidentially self-righteous they mock the idea of a savior and they mock the idea of sin. Ha, are you kidding? Die in our sins? Self-righteousness is so deadly. It is a guarantee that you will die in your sins and go to hell forever.
What do I mean by self-righteous? The idea that you’re good enough for heaven. That you’re trusting in your own religion, your own rituals, ceremonies, morality, goodness. You know, the apostles got this message. And when they started writing the New Testament, boy, they were very strong on this message. If there’s one thing you find when you begin to listen to the sermons of the apostles in the Book of Acts and you begin to read the letters the apostles and those with them wrote throughout the rest of the New Testament, they understood that nobody would be saved by works. That salvation was a matter of faith alone and that God in grace and mercy granted His own righteousness to the believer as a covering. By the deeds of the law, Paul writes, no one will be justified. In fact, Paul says to the Galatians, “If you break one law one time, you’ve destroyed the whole law and you’re cursed. And your only hope is Jesus Christ who became a curse for us.”
Romans 10, Paul says, “The Jews go about to establish their own righteousness.” That’s what the gospel does. Every religion, I don’t care what name it is, what title it is, what form it comes in, all religions are the same, they are the religion of human achievement to one degree or another. Your works contribute to your salvation, to your heaven, to your relationship to God. And that is the devil’s lie. “For by grace are you saved through faith that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.” Not of works. Not of works. Jews, they not only believe they could earn their salvation, they believed they had. They had. At the end of His ministry during the Passion Week, Jesus called them tombs painted white full of dead men’s bones. Don’t trust in your good deeds. Don’t trust in your religion. Don’t trust in your morality. You will die in your sins. And where our Lord went into the glory of heaven you will never go.
I read a very sad letter to the editor from a Melbourne, Australia newspaper some years ago. This is someone who wrote the newspaper after Billy Graham had preached in Melbourne. And this is what a letter to the editor said. This is quoting the man who wrote it, “After hearing Billy Graham and viewing him on television and seeing reports and letters concerning his mission here, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul and everyone else’s need saving, whatever that means. I have never felt that I was lost nor do I feel that I daily wallow in the mire of sin although repetitious preaching insists that I do. Give me a practical religion that teaches gentleness and tolerance that acknowledges no barriers of color or creed, that remembers the aged and teaches children goodness and not sin. If in order to save my soul, I must accept such a philosophy as I have recently heard preach, I prefer to remain forever damned.” And he signed his name. And he got his wish.
It’s just a frightening reality. You will die in your sins. Then in verse 23, he says to them, “You are from below. I am from above.” Let me just make it real simple. Self-righteous religion is from the pit. It’s what he’s saying. What an irony, what a blow. They’ve just said, “You’re going to Hades, to hell, to the darkest place.” He says, “That’s where you’re from. Your unbelief, your hypocrisy, your religion are right from hell.” Over in verse 44, he says, “You’re of your father, the devil. And you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning. He doesn’t stand in the truth. There’s no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature. He’s a liar and the father of lies. And because I speak the truth, you do not believe me.” You’re from below. You’re under the power of Satan. Ephesians 2, right? You’re under the power of the prince of the air. You buy his lies and his deception.
1 John 5:19 says, “The whole world lies in the lies in the power of the evil one.” Any unbeliever, anyone who does not believe in Christ is trusting in his own efforts, works, goodness, morality, religion is a dupe of Satan and he’s headed forever to the very hell from which his religion has come. On the other hand, Jesus says, “I’m from above.” That’s the distinguishing mark between Christians and nonbelievers. We’re from above. Our home is heaven, right? We’re citizens of heaven, aliens in this world. We’re blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly in Christ, Jesus.
Apart from Christ, you’re from below. That’s the origin of your worldview and religion. So if you want to die in your sin, just trust yourself. Trust your good works, your morality, your religion. Be self-righteous. Secondly, be worldly. Verse 23, in the middle of the verse, “You are of this world.” I’m not of this world.
Here’s another guarantee that a person will die in sin. “Consumed by the world, living in the world, loving the world, embracing the world, drawing satisfaction out of the world,” what do you mean by the world? What do you mean? The word is Kosmos, it’s the opposite of chaos. Chaos is disorder, confusion. Kosmos is order, structure. It’s not talking about the planet physically, geographically, geologically. It’s talking about the system, the ideologies, the world system, the thought patterns, attitudes. It is the invisible intelligent system that runs the human fallen race right into hell. Invisible, spiritual system of evil. It is oppose to God.
As we heard from Al Moller on Thursday night, it suppresses the truth constantly. Constantly, Romans 1, suppressing the truth, suppressing the truth, exchanging the truth for a lie. This is what it does. Spiritual system of evil. We use the term world that way. We talk about the world of sports and the world of politics and the world of education and we mean the complex of it, the ideologies of it, the structure of it, the system itself.
All unconverted people are in that system. It is hostile to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, Christians. It is hostile to godliness and it promotes materialism, humanism, illicit sex, carnal ambition, pride, greed, self-pleasure, self-desires. Its opinions are wrong, its aims are selfish, its pleasures are sinful, its influence is demoralizing, its politics corrupt, its honor’s empty, its smiles fake and its love fickle. That’s the system. And it will be destroyed.
Look at 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the kosmos nor the things in the kosmos.” We’re not talking about Yosemite. We’re not talking about Niagara Falls. We’re not talking about a sunset or a sunrise. My wife had me on the back porch taking a picture of the sunrise today. We’re not talking about that. We’re not talking about a delicious meal and happy friendship. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the complex, the corruption orchestrated by Satan and his minions. Don’t love that. If anyone loves the kosmos, the love of the Father is not in him. That it’s mutually exclusive from being a Christian.
James 4 says, “Friendship with the world,” is what, “enemy with God.” All that is in the kosmos, here’s how what the kosmos boils down to: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. And it’s not from the Father, but it’s from the kosmos and the kosmos is passing away and also it’s lust. But the one that does the will of God lives forever.
So if you’re part of the kosmos, if you’re clinging to the world, if you’re hearing the gospel like Matthew 13:22 and you’re that soil – remember that soil where the thorns come up and choke out the word and it says what are the thorns? The thorns are the love of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. It’s going to choke it out. Sinful, selfish, worldly souls live under the prince of the power of the air, the prince of this world, this system. They are separated from Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God by an infinite gulf. This is the kingdom of Satan, this is the kingdom of darkness. What happens to someone who comes to Christ, you’re not of this world, you’ve been delivered from this present world?
In fact, in his wonderful prayer in John 17, Jesus makes it very obvious that we have been transformed and drawn out of the horrors of the world. Verse 14, “I’ve given them your word and the world, the system, the kosmos hates them because they’re not of the kosmos even as I am not of the kosmos.” Verse 16, “They’re not of the kosmos,” again, even as I’m not of the kosmos.
So want to die in your sins? Be worldly. Cling with all your might to the system with all its evil. Run your life by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Be dominated by your corrupt desires. There’s a third reality that guarantees you will die in your sin. Be faithless. Be faithless. Verse 24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Isn’t that amazing? There’s only one thing, one thing, that prevents you from dying and going to hell forever in an unforgiven condition. Only one thing. That is faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not an accumulated morality or religion. One thing rescues you from hell. This is the key. You will die in your sins. You will die in your sins. You will die in your sins. Three times. Unless you believe that I am – open-ended. That I am who I claim to be. That I am who I am.
Eternal destiny comes down to a decision about one person. Isn’t that amazing? Why do we preach Christ? Why do we preach Christ? Because he’s the one person. No man comes to the Father but by me. There’s no salvation in any other. I am the way, the truth and the life. You must believe that I am.
And that’s Jesus identifying himself with a tetragrammaton, the Old Testament name for God, the I that I am. And all through the Gospel of John he applies I am to himself. I am the way, the truth, the life. I am the bread. I am the resurrection. I am the life. I am. This again is a claim to deity. The sin question leads to the Son question.
There’s only way to escape judgment and that’s to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is John’s message again and again. Some people call this the gospel of belief. And at the very beginning we talked about how many times the Greek word for believe in verb form or in noun form or infinity form, participial form just used all through this and that it culminates in 20:31. These things are written that you may believe salvation’s by grace alone on God’s part through faith alone on our part.
So just be unbelieving, just don’t believe. Like the man in Australia who would rather be damned forever than believe. Just reject Christ, that’s all it takes. That’s pretty simple to understand. You think about that against the backdrop of the almost incomprehensible complexity of multiple religions across the world, all these people doing all these kind of crazy things trying to get to heaven or to get to wherever they think they’re going to go that’s going to be the good place, the happy hunting ground, nirvana, whatever. And it all comes down to one person. One person. You want to die in your sins? Refuse to believe in Jesus Christ. Refuse to believe that He is who He said He was. Came to do what He did. Refused to believe it. Savingly believe it. Fully believe it. Secondly, just hang onto the world with a tight grip. Just love your lusts and pride and the system that appeals to them. And trust your own goodness. You’ll end up in hell. And then there’s a last note and it’s obvious. Be obstinate. Just keep up the rejection. This is really pretty amazing, verse 25, so they were saying to him, “Who are you?” And you just want to say, “Are you kidding?” “Who are you?” What they mean by that, who in the world do you think you are? You just told us we’re sinners. You just told us we’re going to die and we’re going to go to hell. Who do you think you are? I can understand them saying that. They thought they were the citizens of heaven, the kingdom of God, the representatives of God himself. They were the most proud religionist on the planet. You just told us that we’re going to hell. Who in the world do you think you are? I mean the hubris here is stunning to them. It’s little wonder that they wanted to kill Him. They should have known. What a ridiculous thing to say, “Who are you?” with all the evidence that was in.
Go to chapter 9. I love this, these leaders always tracking Jesus. And in chapter 9 Jesus heals a man born blind. And so the leaders, the Pharisees go after the man who can now see, the Pharisees. And the Pharisees talk to this man who’s now in some kind of incalculable euphoria ‘cause he can see and he never has. So they come and they revile him in verse 28. They reviled him. And they said, “You’re His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” How many times had He told them where He was from?
I love this guy’s answer. This is my kind of guy. He said, “Well, here is an amazing thing that you do not know where He is from and He opened my eyes.” Well, we know that God doesn’t hear sinners. They had concluded Jesus was the sinner and they were the righteous.
Do you think they know their own hearts? Hypocrites always know their own hearts. They know that they’re white on the outside and full of dead man’s bones on the inside. They know that. They know they’re living a lie. They know their corruption. But they wouldn’t admit it. They called Jesus a sinner. Back to conclude in chapter 8. So they say, “Who are you?” And Jesus said to them, just this, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? Are you deaf? What have I been saying to you from the beginning? Haven’t you been listening? I’ve been telling you again and again and again who I am.” Remember the conversation in John 5 where he claims to work the way the Father works, to be one in nature with the Father, one in work with the Father, one in will with the Father, one in truth with the Father, one in honor with the Father? “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?”
So what are we dealing with here? Stubbornness? Being obstinate? Just plain hardhearted. This is dangerous. Go to chapter 12 and I’ll close there. Verse 36. Well, verse 35. So Jesus said to them – this is another conversation. And this conversation is right near the end of His life months later. “A little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light so that darkness will not overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” Just another pleading appeal. Believe in the light while you have the light. Now watch how fast this happens. “These things Jesus spoke and He went away and hid Himself from them.” From the time that He said, “Believe while you have the light,” it may have been hours, may have been days and He was gone. He was gone.
He never commits himself to unbelief. They wouldn’t believe. They wouldn’t believe. Stubborn, stubborn, refuse to believe, refuse to believe. And now, guess what? They can’t. Verse 37. “Though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.” This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the Prophet which he spoke, “Lord who has believed our report and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed.” For this reason they what? Could not believe. Would not believe. Could not believe. The light was there. They refused the light. The light is hidden. Goes dark. They couldn’t believe for Isaiah said again, and it quotes Isaiah 6, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts so that they wouldn’t see with their eyes and perceive with their heart and be converted and I heal them.”
Is that not interesting to you? The light became blinding. These things Isaiah said because he saw his glory and he spoke of him. When Isaiah said that, he was speaking of Christ and how He would render judgment on unbelieving Israel. Good news is verse 42 he say, “Oh, many of the rulers believe.” Not so good. Because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him for fear they’d be put out of the synagogue for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. Those Pharisees not only were stubborn unbelievers themselves, but they laid that influence on so many others.
He really turned out the light. Not long even after this situation in chapter 8, just months, and after the comment in chapter 12, hours, maybe days. So how do you die in your sins? Be self-righteous, be worldly, be faithless, be obstinate. But to do this, you will be required – if you’ve been here – to stumble over the cross and stumble over the resurrection heartlessly trampling under feet the Son of God and counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.
There is another alternative put down in verse 30, “As he spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. To them He says, ‘If you continue in my word, you’re truly disciples of mine.’” Can’t tell at the moment, right? ‘Cause so many fall away. If you continue you’re a real believer. Well, there were 120 that were faithful. It’s a warning message and it’s as serious as serious gets. Can’t convey how urgent it is for us to hear this and to pass this message on. I know it’s hard to say to someone, “You will die in your sins,” but that’s exactly what Jesus says. Now you can trust Him for the results, can’t we? Do we have to convey to sinners the urgency of this? It’s not about Jesus fixing your life and making you feel better about yourself and your world you live in. It’s much more urgent than that.
I don’t know where you are before the Lord. Many of you I do, of course, but there are some of you here I have no idea what your spiritual situation is. I just warn you because that’s what I’ve been called to do, to discharge the message as faithfully as I can and leave it to your heart and you will be held responsible for what you do with regard to Jesus Christ.
One of the imageries that Jesus uses to describe Teachers of the Law and Pharisees is ‘whitewashed tombs’ (Matthew 23:27) which ‘look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean’ (v27). Jesus continues to explain that, ‘In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness’ (v28). In ancient days, a tomb marked status and distinguished those who were highly esteemed. For instance, when Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died while they lived among the Hittites, he asked the locals to ‘Sell me some property for a burial site here so that I can bury my dead’ (Genesis 23:3).
Instead of selling to Abraham the property, the Hittites replied, ‘Hear us, my lord. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead’ (v6). Since Abraham was esteemed, he was given a choice tomb to bury his wife. When Jesus lay dead on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea ‘a rich man’ (Matthew 27:57), a ‘prominent member of the Council’ (Mark 15:43), and a secret ‘disciple of Jesus’ (John 19:38) asked ‘Pilate for the body of Jesus’ (v38). He then laid Jesus’s body, ‘At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one has ever been laid’ (v41). Joseph highly esteemed Jesus and so gave Him a befitting burial, and in a new tomb.
Likewise, kings, royal households, prophets, and righteous men were highly esteemed, and so were given befitting burials. This meant a lot for the Jewish community because burials not only showed status, but also signified legacy. When King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, greatly displeased God, Nathan the Prophet tells Ahab that, ‘dogs will lick your blood – yes yours!’ (1 Kings 21:19) and to his wife, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel’ (v23). As punishment for their wickedness, they would not die a natural death, or get a befitting burial, even though they served as Israel’s royalty. Same goes for King Saul who continually displeased God, and eventually took his own life and was buried ‘under a tamarisk tree’ (1 Samuel 31:13). It is in this context whereby death and burial signified much to the Jews that Jesus spoke. In fact, Jesus tells the Teachers of the Law, ‘You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous’ (Matthew 23:29). One of the ways that they probably decorated the tombs was by applying whitewash to make them look beautiful on the outside, even though decay was occurring to the dead body laid inside.
By using a reality that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law knew well, Jesus did so to ensure that the metaphor He used on them hit home. He tells them that they not only whitewash tombs of significant deceased people, but that they also whitewash their dead self. Jesus says, ‘You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee!First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean’ (Matthew 23:25-26). The religious leaders saw that grooming their exterior made them appear attractive and worthy, but to Jesus, that act only made them blind because it redirected their focus from the rot happening inside to its lovely exterior, just like a whitewashed tomb housing a corpse.
Jesus passes across the message that exterior grooming, acts of righteousness, and all other good deeds done by the flesh without the Spirit is a sure way to blindness. Although many may look and see that such a person indeed does good, speaks well, and looks the part, a decay is actually happening in their inside. They are merely whitewashed; it is a mere cover-up. And so Jesus admonishes us to, ‘Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement’ (John 7:24).
God also uses the whitewash imagery not just for the religious, but also for false prophets. God puts false prophets in the same category because ‘when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall’ (Ezekiel 13:10). In other words, they apply whitewash on the error of others instead of strengthening their foundation, faith in Jesus. So God says that when He sends torrents of rain, hailstorm and wind, and the wall collapses, ‘Will people not ask you, ‘Where is the whitewash you covered it with?’’ (v12).
This shows that God is zealous of scattering and exposing false doctrines. When He eventually exposes them, the first thing people will notice is the missing whitewash, so that the false prophets will be exposed for who they truly are. God says, ‘I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare’ (v14). The deceived and the deceiver will both also bear the consequences, for God says, ‘So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, ‘The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it’ (v15).
Gone. That is the fate of the religious who ‘have a form of godliness but deny its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5); the fate of those who cover-up with whitewash and deceive themselves that they do not need the power of the Holy Spirit to work from within; the fate of those who use God’s Word as a means to cover up their deceit; the fate of those who wear masks of religion, piety, and offer lip service but harbour unbelief inwardly. They do not consider that God says, ‘Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah’ (Jeremiah 3:11) because ‘unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretence’ (v10).
Those who apply whitewash on themselves and on others by urging them on in their wrong ways and wicked doctrines, only operate in pretence. Such are said to build their house on the sand, and when the wind blew and beat against that house, ‘it fell with a great crash’ (Matthew 7:27). It was gone! Meanwhile, God watches them as they apply whitewash and build their façade, ‘like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly,in an instant’ (Isaiah 30:13). Gone! Both the cover-up and the one being covered.
Sometimes we get in a rut in marriage where we actually hurt our spouses because we enable sin. Sometimes we need to learn how to stop being a doormat. Let me begin with a story.
I know of a woman whose husband had been involved with porn heavily for years. They had gone to counselors and he had said he would stop but he hadn’t. They had talked about it for years but nothing changed.
Finally, she decided to stop being a doormat and told a few select people in her small group and the elders at her church, and the elders confronted her husband about this and told him that they were supporting the separation. The small group helped the wife to pack her things and helped her to get into another place to live. They are not divorced; they are separated. But she has tried everything else and it hasn’t worked, and now her church is backing her as she puts her husband in a situation where he has to choose: will I do the right thing and follow God? Or will I turn away?
This, I believe, is the biblical model. I have had other women on this site comment, saying something like:
MY HUSBAND USES PORN BUT HE SAYS THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. I WANT TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE AT CHURCH, BUT I DON’T KNOW WHO TO GO TO, AND MY HUSBAND SAYS THAT HE IS THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE AND I MUST SUBMIT. I’M LOST.
Headship should never be used as an excuse to continue in sin, or to give you a cover so that you can lead a “second life.”
There are times, I believe, when a spouse is so endangering his or her relationship with the family and with God that something must be done. And if nothing is done, then that spouse is giving cover to the sin. In my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage I talked about this at length. God wants marriages where both spouses chase after Him, not marriages where one spouse uses the relationship as a cover for sin. And sometimes we need some intervention, it’s part of what it means to stop being a doormat.
3 Areas Where You Should Stop Being a Doormat
I am not going to talk about affairs or abuse or substance issues because we all already talk about those widely in our culture and in our churches, and I hope there’s agreement that in these cases steps must be taken. But too many people think, “because my problem doesn’t fit into those categories I have to live with it and there’s nothing I can do.” Here they are:
1. Porn Use
A man (or woman) who uses porn is not only participating in a sin; he is wandering down a road that will destroy intimacy both with his wife and with God, and will ruin him as a father. It cannot be tolerated. It’s one place to stop being a doormat.
2. Withdrawal from Sex Altogether
In too many marriages sex has become almost non-existent. Usually when it’s the man who withholds sex sex porn is involved. Sometimes, though, it’s simply major pscyhological and emotional damage. Maybe there are homosexual tendencies, or maybe the man has so pushed down his sexuality because it’s threatening to him in some way that he becomes passive and asexual. Maybe she has so much psychological woundedness or anger that she withdraws.
Churches have sympathy for the wife who comes in and says “my husband uses porn”. They often don’t know what to do with a spouse who comes in and says, “my husband (or my wife) never has sex.” It doesn’t seem like as valid a complaint. In fact, if it’s the man who is going in to ask for help, often the problem will be turned against him: “what did you do to chase your wife away?” Yet in my experience when a spouse completely withdraws from sex it is often not primarily that other spouse’s fault. It is often something psychological or spiritual going on inside the spouse who has withdrawn.
We were created for intimacy with another person. We are not meant to be lone rangers. If a spouse rejects sex, they are specifically rejecting community. And they are rejecting a huge part of themselves. Do you realize how huge this is? How big a deal this is spiritually and emotionally as well? This can’t be ignored, and a person who has become asexual must be confronted and told, “you need to get counseling”.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having psychological trauma; there is something wrong with refusing to deal with it. You can stop being a doormat by insisting on counseling.
3. Financially Endangering the Family
I received an email from a wife recently who said this:
FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS MY HUSBAND HAS REFUSED TO WORK. WHEN HE DID WORK HE OFTEN CALLED IN SICK, AND WAS ALWAYS SEARCHING OUT WAYS TO APPLY FOR DISABILITY. NOW HE JUST SITS AT HOME AND WATCHES TV AND PLAYS VIDEO GAMES ALL DAY. HE’S JUST A BIG SLOB. WE LOST OUR HOUSE AND I’M WORKING TWO PART-TIME JOBS TO TRY TO PAY THE BILLS, PLUS KEEPING THE HOUSE CLEAN AND DOING HIS LAUNDRY. HE WON’T WORK! WHAT DO I DO?
A man who refuses to provide for his family, and who has become this lazy, also needs Christians to come alongside him and say, “put up or shut up”. This isn’t acceptable. I would say that the same would be true for a spouse who is consistently getting the family deep into debt with spending.
If your spouse is acting in such a way that they are denying a vital part of themselves and a vital part of the Christian life–like responsibility or intimacy or community–then doing nothing about it enables that spouse to avoid any impetus for spiritual growth.
And yet all too often that is what we’ve done–we hate divorce so much that we ignore the other side: God does not want an army of wounded, damaged people. He wants wholeness. And so we must deal with people who are refusing to confront huge issues.
Note that I’m not talking about a difference in sex drives, or problems when one spouse won’t do any housework. I’m not talking about disagreements over child rearing or over the role of TV in the house. I’m talking about things that go to the very heart of who we are as people and what is our relationship before God. And these are issues which, if not dealt with, will continue to drive someone further away from God and further into darkness.
In the old days, brothers would come to support their sister and would give the husband a pounding. That doesn’t happen anymore. But now churches need to fulfill that role.
In my book I use an example of a church intervention. A woman was married to a man who was consistently driving his family into deeper and deeper debt. She was working hard to try to keep the family afloat but she couldn’t manage it anymore because of his spending.
The elders came to the guy and sat him down and said, “we are going to help you make a budget. Then you are going to stick to it. You’ll report to one of us every week until this is all sorted out. And if you continue to overspend, we all will show up at the house with a moving van and we will help your wife get established with the kids in a house of her own until you come to your senses.”
They weren’t talking about a divorce; they were saying, “what you are doing is so unacceptable that you must stop. And if you won’t, you alone will bear the consequences because we will help your wife through this.”
Churches Can Help Us Stop Being a Doormat
Now, elders should never do anything this drastic until they hear both sides of the story; but once that story is clear, if one spouse is consistently damaging the family and damaging his or her own spiritual life, then action simply must be taken. And just because they’re married is no reason to avoid taking that action.
I know most of my readers are women, and so let me talk to the women for a moment. Many of you leave heartbreaking messages on this blog about men who have turned their backs on the marriage, but won’t move out. They like someone taking care of the housework and taking care of the kids, and they like the benefits that marriage brings, even though they have rejected the intimacy and responsibility. Ladies, if you put up with this, you are enabling him to move farther and farther away from God. God did not create marriage so that we would have an excuse to not work on our issues.
If your husband is addicted to porn, deal with the internet and get him accountability. If he has substance abuse issues, get him into rehab, luxurybeachrehab.com, is an addiction treatment center website with a lot of useful information on a variety of treatment programs. If he’s cheating on you, tell someone. If he’s not working, do something.
Go to your church and find someone who will help you; who will sit down and talk to your husband, whether he likes it or not, to hear his side of the story. Someone who will walk you through an intervention process, if it is necessary (and in some cases it definitely is). And someone who will stand alongside your husband and give him the tools and help he needs to rediscover who he was made to be.
I know this is scary. Those times are rare, and please, don’t take these words as an excuse to leave your husband because he plays video games too much or won’t put stuff in the dishwasher. I’m not talking about normal marital disagreements. I’m talking about things where men (or women) have completely forsaken key elements of who they were designed to be. And in that case, your children need to witness health and wholeness and healing. So don’t stop until you find someone to help you!
You don’t need to grow up in church to know that murder is a wicked offense. Murder is treated nearly universally as a heinous crime. And it ought to be. God makes plain his hatred of murder the moment it appears in Cain’s slaying of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). God legislates death as the appropriate punishment for those who unlawfully put others to death (Genesis 9:6).
Yet for all of our hatred of the murder out there, we can fail to hate the murder in here. But Scripture, and the words of Jesus in particular, will not allow us to hate murder at a safe distance. The sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” exposes a universal problem and a universal need for forgiveness.
Different Kinds of Killing
The word used for “murder” in Exodus 20:13, Hebrew rasah, denotes the unlawful, premeditated, or immoral killing of another human, while also covering the unintentional causing of human death through carelessness or negligence. Of its forty-seven uses in the Old Testament, this verb is never used to describe killing in war, nor is it thought to apply to slaughtering animals or defending one’s home from invasion.
God’s law differentiated between willful and involuntary killing. Exodus 21:12–14 clearly states that the premeditated murder of another person was deemed worthy of capital punishment (see also Numbers 35:17–21).
“Seek to reconcile quickly with others. Replace hate and anger with words that give life and bless others.”
The accidental or involuntary causing of another person’s death, however, carried a slightly lighter penalty. Though it was not grounds for the sentence of death, the guilty party was banished to an appointed place (which later God would reveal as cities of refuge, Deuteronomy 19:1–13). This place offered sanctuary from the vengeful relatives of the deceased, but it was also away from home. The banishment often lasted for life because the guilty party would not be released until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:25, 28).
So while discerning between consequences for different killings can be difficult, we all know it is a great evil to unlawfully take another’s life.
Why God Hates Murder
God shows his hatred for murder the moment it appears in Cain (Genesis 4:8). But why does God hate the act of murder so much? Two reasons stand out in Scripture.
1. The act of murder is an assault on God himself.
After God made a covenant with Noah never to destroy mankind by a flood, he set up a system to protect human life. Any man who unlawfully took the life of another would have his own life taken, “for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). Here we see how precious and valuable human life is to God. To murder another human being is to murder what is most like God in creation. It is tantamount to an attack on the Creator of all life. This is why abortion is so grievous to God and Christians.
The Bible is clear that human life begins in the womb and not at birth. David declares that we were fearfully and wonderfully made in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). All human life is precious in the sight of God, and it is evil to think of any human life as disposable — whether the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, or the sick.
2. Murder assumes the authority and right reserved for God alone.
Only God has the right to give life and to take away life (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). Job declared that life belongs to the Lord to give and to take away (Job 1:21). Consequently, the one who murders another human being is guilty of assuming the right and privilege that is God’s alone. He is guilty of rebellion against God and attempting to put himself in the place of God. In this way, murder is the offspring of the very first sin and breaks the first commandment by having a god (self) before the Lord.
A Sin Not So Easily Escaped
Now, one may say, “Well, I have never — nor will I ever — commit murder!” But two considerations give strong reason to take heed to this command and see it as relevant to all of us.
Carelessness or Neglect
As stated earlier, the Hebrew word employed in the sixth commandment would include causing someone’s death from carelessness or neglect. This command would have instigated a holy fear in the community to strive for caution and prudence in the affairs of life so that no one would be guilty of unintentionally taking someone’s life through recklessness.
There is a reason harsh penalties are given to people who drive under the influence of alcohol. Or consider a carelessness closer to home: texting while driving. We may put others’ lives in danger more often than we assume.
And then there is the issue of negligence. The principle of the watchman of Ezekiel 33 comes to mind. The Lord painted a picture through the prophet Ezekiel of a watchman who was put in position to warn the city of the coming sword against it. If the watchman failed to blow the trumpet and was negligent in his duty, then the blood of the people would be on his hands (Ezekiel 33:7–9).
We can be negligent in failing to warn others of danger or to speak up on behalf of those who are vulnerable and powerless. It is easy to condemn the silence of so many in Germany who did not speak out against the murderous atrocities of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. But are we equally vocal against the murdering of so many unborn here in our own country? Are we willing to speak up for the marginalized and the oppressed in our own culture?
Anger as Murder
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his disciples to live according to the standards of the kingdom of God and not the standards of the world or even of the religious establishment around them. He tells them that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20), who sought merely outward conformity to the law instead of inward transformation of the heart.
Jesus displays this exceeding righteousness by using the refrain, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you . . .” He is not saying that what was written in the Old Testament is not true. Rather, he is correcting what they heard the Old Testament saying and giving them the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, especially in the light of his coming.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22)
The world understands that murder is a crime. The religious establishment focused on this outward nature of not murdering anyone. But the standard of the kingdom of God is not merely to avoid the shedding of blood. To be focused on the mere act of murder is to miss the heart of the command.
“It is not enough to not murder; you must eradicate hatred from your heart.”
Jesus insists that it is not enough to not murder someone; we must eradicate hatred from our hearts. Murder is not merely an action without any reference to the character of the murderer. Something more fundamental is at stake here. The sinful anger and wrath that lurked behind the deed itself is blameworthy and will be subject to judgment. John writes, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). The stakes could not be higher.
Repenting of Heart Murder
Do you feel the weight of this? Jesus is saying you are not safe from punishment just because you have not shed blood. If you have harbored anger, contempt, or malice toward someone else, you are guilty. Have you ever wished someone harm or, even worse, wished they were dead? Have you ever rejoiced over someone’s misfortune? Have you ever put someone down in your heart? Then your heart has known murder.
Again, the radical righteousness that Jesus demands is not merely a refraining from outward sin but a transformation of the heart by his love and grace. Our only hope is Christ, who fulfilled all righteousness and offers it to us as a free gift to be received by faith. So what must we do?
Turn to God and confess the sin of anger. Make no excuses for it. The story of Jonah is instructive.
In Jonah 4, Jonah is angry with God because God didn’t destroy Nineveh. The Lord asks him, “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4). In other words, God is calling Jonah to look at his own life and his own heart. Is his anger justified? Does he not depend on the same mercy from God that God has given to the Ninevites? Does he have the right to decide who receives mercy and who doesn’t?
We too rarely look at our own hearts to see the root of the problem. But it starts here with a confession: I am sinfully angry.
2. Receive the gift of God’s grace in Jesus.
Abel’s blood cried out to God for justice. But Hebrews 12:24 tells us that Jesus’s blood speaks a better word. The blood of Abel speaks a word of condemnation: the murderer deserves death. And we are guilty as charged. We break the sixth commandment with the anger in our heart.
This is why Jesus came. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose so that we could have life in him, now and after death. For those who believe in him, the blood of Christ speaks a word of forgiveness and acceptance. By faith, receive this gift of grace!
3. Reconcile specifically.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23–24)
Jesus calls for a specific action here toward a specific brother. And notice that it isn’t someone that you are angry with. No, this is someone who is offended by you. You have done something to offend him, and God brings it to your mind. The first act of worship is for you to make it right with him.
God calls us to sensitivity in our relationships with others — not a vague sensitivity to imagined offenses, but rather dealing with real offenses that the Holy Spirit brings to mind against specific people. Seek to reconcile quickly with others. Replace hate and anger with words that give life and bless others.
And when we reconcile, we can go forth and resolve, God helping us, to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
Afshin Ziafat (@afshinziafat) is lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. His passion is to teach the word of God as the authority and guide for life, to preach Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Redeemer of mankind, and to proclaim the love of Christ as the greatest treasure and hope in life. He and his wife, Meredith, currently reside in Frisco with their three children.
Romans chapter 6, and let’s turn in our Bibles back to that chapter and see if we can’t finish our study of this great chapter, at least for this series. And, hopefully, we’ll pursue a personal study for many years yet to come. Now, we’re looking at Romans 6:15-23. Let me read it to you.
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid! Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that whereas ye were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In the first three chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he presented the utter sinfulness of sin. He painted a picture that’s horrifying, to put it mildly. And men must understand their sin. They must understand the sinfulness of sin, else they will never be able to understand God’s forgiving grace. Now, when one becomes a Christian, the power of sin is broken. Sin’s tyranny is ended. And we’ve been seeing that here in the sixth chapter of Romans. When Paul presents the great doctrine of justification by faith in chapters 3 and 4, he then launches into an explanation of its results in chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8.
One of those results is the breaking of the power of sin, the breaking of the tyranny of sin, the breaking of the bondage of sin. When you become a Christian, sin’s bondage is broken. And that’s why we see twice in this passage the statement “free from sin.” Free from sin. The good news there in verse 18 and there in verse 22 is that we’ve been made free from sin. Now, the only way that has any meaning to us is to know what it was to be a slave to sin, which he spoke of in verse 17 and again in verse 20.
Let me just remind you. Sin, of course, is the most devastating, the most debilitating, the most degenerating power that ever entered into the human stream. It kills everyone and, ultimately, except by the intervening grace of God, would send everyone to an eternal hell. The Bible calls it “the accursed thing,” Joshua 7:13. It is compared in Scripture to the venom of snakes and the stench of death. It is defined for us in 1 John 3:4 as “transgression of God’s law.” Now, the Scripture characterizes sin in many ways. And I don’t want to go back over some of the ground we’ve covered. But just as a reminder, let me state a few of the ways in which the Bible describes sin.
First of all, it says sin is defiling. It is a pollution of the soul. You might see it as this. It is to the soul what rust is to gold. It is to the soul what scars are to a beautiful face. It is to the soul what a stain is to silk, what smog is to an azure sky. It is a pollution. It makes the soul black with guilt. It is a bloody cloth in Isaiah 30. It is sores from a deadly plague in 1 Kings chapter 8. It is filthy garments in Zechariah chapter 3. And even God, according to Zechariah 11:8, loathes the sinner. Paul calls it, in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” So, sin is defiling.
Secondly, the Bible tells us that sin is rebellion. It tramples God’s Word. It rebels against God’s law. Sin is, as one man said, “God’s would-be murderer.” If sin had its way, it would eliminate God. God would cease to be if the sinner had his choice.
Thirdly, sin is ingratitude. Romans 1 says, “Neither were they thankful.” Like Absalom, who as the son of David, his father the king had kissed him and taken him to his heart, then went out and plotted treason against his own father. Having been the recipient of all of his father’s treasures, he then turned to be a traitor. So the sinner indulges in God’s goodness, indulges in God’s treasures, indulges in God’s blessings in the world around him, and then betrays God by serving Satan, God’s archenemy. The sinner then lives in abuse of all God’s gifts.
Fourthly, the Bible says that sin is incurable. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can the leopard change his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to evil.” In other words, you have more – no more chance of changing your nature than a leopard does his spots or an Ethiopian his skin.
Paul wrote to Titus in chapter 1 verse 15 and says, “Their conscience” – that is the inward part of them, even that which triggers their right behavior – “is defiled.” John Flavel said years ago, “All the tears of a penitent sinner, should he shed as many as there have fallen drops of rain since the creation, cannot wash away sin. The everlasting burnings in hell cannot purify the flaming conscience from the least sin.” Sin is so utterly devastating, it is so utterly destroying, it is so incurable that even the eternity in hell cannot take it away.
The Bible also says that sin is hated by God. In Jeremiah 44, God says, “O do not this abominable thing which I hate.” Sin is also overpowering. It hangs like blackness hangs to night. It dominates the mind, it says in Romans 1:21. It dominates the will, it says in Jeremiah 44:15 to 17. It dominates the affection it says in John 3:19 to 21. And then sin brings Satanic control. Ephesians 2 says that one who is a sinner walks “according to the prince of the power of the air.” He is a child of disobedience. Jesus said in John 8:44, a child of the devil himself.
And then sin brings misery to life. In Job 5:7 it says, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” In Romans 8, it says the creature is subject to emptiness, uselessness. It takes away man’s honor, it takes away his peace, it takes away the meaning of his life. Then finally, sin damns the soul to hell. Revelation 20 talks about all those who know not God and Christ being cast into the lake of fire.
Now all of that is just to remind you of what it means to be a slave to sin, a horrible existence. And yet, true of every creature that comes into the world because of the curse, as we saw in the fourth chapter – or rather in the third chapter – in Adam. Now when you understand sin and its sinfulness, then you have an appreciation for what it means to be free from sin. And what a glorious deliverance that is. And that’s Paul’s message in verses 15 to 23. And I don’t want to go back and review all that we’ve seen in chapter 6, but you need to know the whole chapter. So, if you haven’t been here, get those tapes and study the Word of God through this marvelous chapter.
Just remember this. That Paul’s discussion is triggered by an antagonistic question in verse 15 and we said that this was the question of the antagonist. Paul has heard this question before. He’s preaching grace so somebody inevitably comes along and says, “Oh, grace. In other words, we should sin because we’re not under the law but under grace. Is that right? We’re free now. We’re under grace. God forgives our sin so we can just go out and sin all we want.”
And this is always the antagonist’s criticism of the message of grace, that grace leads to lawlessness, grace leads to antinomianism, grace leads to unbounded liberty, grace leads to abuse. And so people say, “You can’t just preach grace. You can’t turn people loose. You’ve got to preach the law and the rules,” and so forth. And so, the question comes shall we sin because we’re not under the law, but under grace? Do people who are under grace just go wild on their sin? The answer is, “God forbid. No, no, no.”
And that’s the second point, the answer. And Paul’s answer is no, absolutely not. Grace is not an excuse for sin. Grace never transforms someone into a free-wheeling sinner. Quite the contrary. And that leads us to the axiom of verse 16. And here is a – a self-evident principle. It’s just a very basic principle. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey.” And you can stop there for a moment. All he’s saying is that look, if you’ve yielded yourself as a servant to God in Christ, then the very definition of that servitude is that you have come to obey Him, not disobey Him. You didn’t willingly yield yourself to Christ to disobedience, you willingly yielded yourself to Him to obedience.
So, we have a new master and it is self-evident in that axiom, in that obvious principle, that when you yielded yourself to Christ, you became obedient unto righteousness, verse 16 says. Now, whether you yielded yourself to sin as in your former life, which resulted in death, or whether you yield yourself to obedience which results in righteousness, it is a self-evident fact when you yield yourself as a slave to someone, you commit yourself to obey.
So, when you become a Christian, you’re not committing yourself to a life of disobedience, you’re committing yourself to a life of obedience. That’s basic to the very definition of terms. And no longer then, according to verse 16, is our master sin. Our new master is obedience. And we are subject to the Lord who produces in us obedience unto righteousness.
Now, listen again. There was something I said last week and I want to reemphasize it. Not only is this an ethical bond, it is a creative miracle. In other words, when you become a Christian, you are not only ethically bound to obedience, you are creatively made into an obedient person. So it is not only an ought that is an imperative, it is a fact. A Christian is characterized by obedience. Jesus said it, “If you love Me, you will” – What? – “keep My commandments.”
And the question comes up in the New Testament, if you don’t do that then, no matter what you say, you don’t know Him, because when you come to Christ you are affirming your identification with the new master and you are creatively transformed into one who obeys. So it is not only an ethical bond, it is a creative miracle. You not only are supposed to obey, you will obey. It is a state.
Now if we were under the bondage to sin before we came to Christ, we are now under the bondage to obedience. Grace, then, gives us a new master. Now, in order to help us understand this, we move to the axiom of verse 16 to the argument of verses 17 to 22. We got into this a little last time, let’s see if we can’t run through it. Here’s his argument. Here’s how he explains the thing that he said in verse 16. It is an extended contrast between the two slaveries. You’re either a slave to sin or a slave to God. You’re either disobedient to God, or obedient. You either do what sin tells you, or you do what God tells you. And we’ll expand on that as we go.
But let’s look at all – look first of all at the position. The contrast flows from position, to practice, to promise. Look at the position of the two people, that is their state. Verse 17, “But God be thanked, that whereas you were the slaves of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered, being then made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.” Now, what he’s saying here is there are basically two positions. You can either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. That’s the position. There are only two families. Every person is in one of these two families. It is either the mark of your life that you obey sin or it is the mark of your life that you obey righteousness. This is identity.
Now notice again, verse 17, what we saw last time. You have been poured into a mold, that form of teaching, form being the idea of a mold. When you became a Christian, you – your old self was melted down and you were re-poured into a new mold, the mold that is constituted by the doctrines of the gospel. And so you were poured into a gospel mold and you were popped out as a new creation. And your lifestyle now will manifest that created miracle and you will then respond no longer as one who is under the lordship of Satan but you will respond as one who is under the lordship of God.
That’s what it means in Ephesians 2:10 when it says you were created unto good works. You’ve been poured into a new mold. The old thing is melted down. It’s gone. And you’ve been redone. Now it doesn’t mean that we admire righteousness. It doesn’t mean that we desire righteousness. It doesn’t mean that we’re attempting to be righteous. It doesn’t mean that we’re trying to practice righteousness in our daily life. It means that we’ve come under the power, and control, and influence of righteousness. We’ve been transformed.
And you have to understand this. People get very confused in this passage if they don’t. Once you were tyrannized by, you were ruled by, you were governed by sin. And now you are tyrannized by, and governed by, and ruled by righteousness. God plants in us the incorruptible seed of righteousness. It becomes our master. And 1 John 3:9-10 says we can’t go on any longer sinning the way we did, so that the question is silly. Shall we continue in sin because we’re under grace? Of course not.
The fact that we’re under grace precludes that as even a possibility. There’s going to have to be a break in our sin. Bless God for our family, because when we came into the family of obedience and righteousness, the family of the Lord, we were made free from sin’s tyranny. That’s very important because what it means, practically, is that you don’t have to sin. That’s what it means. Sin no longer is your master. Did you get that? You don’t have to sin anymore. And that’s what makes it so stupid when we do. We don’t have to do that.
Now before you were a Christian you had to sin because sin was your master and you had no other option. And so, all you did, even your best, was filthy rags. You just sin, sin, sin, sin. And even when you did a good deed, you had a bad motive because it wasn’t to glorify God, it was probably to feel better about yourself or to conform to some ethical standard. And anything short of the glory of God is a sin. So it was sin, sin, sin, sin. When you became a Christian, no longer did sin have the tyranny over you, as we’ve been seeing. Great thought. Now we are slaves of God. Now we are servants of righteousness. Now we are called to obedience.
Are we going to continue in sin and lawlessness? Ridiculous. Listen to this. Before you were a Christian you weren’t free. People say, “Oh, I don’t want to give up my freedom. Boy, I’m not going to become a Christian and get constricted and all that.” You weren’t free. You know what your – you are an absolute bond slave to sin. It’s all you ever do. People think they’re free. They’re not free. That isn’t freedom. When you became a Christian you became free. You’re free for the first time in your life.
Not free to do wrong. But free to do what? Right, for the first time. Get that? Write that one down somewhere. That’s very important, very basic. When you become a Christian you say, “Oh, I have liberty in Christ. Now I can do whatever I want.” No, no. No, you’re not free to sin now, you’re just free for the first time in your life to do what’s right. And that’s a nice freedom. What it means is that before you were saved you had no choice, now you have a choice. And because sin is not your master, you can choose what is right. Isn’t that great?
So, Christians aren’t people who are free to do wrong, they’re people who are free for the first time to do right. Now that – does that give you a different perspective on Christian liberty? People say, “Boy, you know, now you’re a Christian, you’re under grace. We don’t have to worry about this, and we don’t have to worry about that, we can do whatever.” That isn’t the point. In fact, if you live like that, I question whether you’re under grace at all. The great freedom of being a Christian is the freedom to do right for the first time.
So, two slaveries. And we saw their position. One begins at birth and one begins at new birth and you’re either under the bondage to sin or under the bondage to righteousness. And if you’re a Christian, you’ve been freed from sin, you no longer belong to that old master. Righteousness is your master, obedience is your master, the Lord is your master and you’ve been creatively made to obey, and are also ethically bound to obey. You can obey and you should.
Now, let’s look from the position to the practice, verse 19. And this is kind of an interesting beginning. He says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” That’s a most interesting statement. He says I want you to realize that I’m using an analogy here about masters and slaves as an accommodation to your humanness. In other words, folks, it’s hard to put supernatural, eternal, incomprehensible miraculous data into these little puny heads. And Paul says, “I’m trying to accommodate you the best I can. So I’m speaking after the manner of men.”
In other words, “I’m bringing it down to a human analogy of a slave and a master so that I can accommodate the infirmity of your humanness.” And I think it’s important that Paul says that, because in any analogy that you ever find, there always is a breakdown in a human analogy, isn’t there? And some people will be listening to this slave/master deal and they’d be trying to follow that analogy all the way out and they’d get kind of confused. And so he says, “Look, this is an accommodation made necessary by our fallenness. We’re just trying to understand it the best way we can.”
Just as a note, he says, “I speak in this manner because of the infirmity of your flesh.” Now that is a very important word. We’re going to see it again as we go through Romans, very key word. It means “our mortality.” It is a parallel term to the term we saw over in verse 12, “your mortal body,” your mortal body. And that’s where sin finds its bridgehead. And so, he says it’s because of your mortality, your body of sin, your humanness, where sin resides.
Not the new you, the sanctified you that we talked about, not the new resurrected you walking in newness of life, not the new creation fit for eternity, but sin that’s in your mortal body, that’s in your humanness, that’s in your flesh. The flesh is the faculty of man influenced by sin. And even though we’re Christians, as long as we possess humanness, as long as we are wrapped in these bodies that are fallen, we are going to have a struggle with sin. Not sin in the new creation, but sin in the flesh, which encases the new creation until we are glorified. And we saw that earlier in our study. And we’re weak in our understanding. We are weak because of our fallenness. And so Paul is accommodating us with a human analogy.
Now, he moves on in verse 19. “for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” This is a great, great truth. Now he’s not talking about our position anymore, he’s talking about our practice. He has stated already that we have a new master, verse 18, we’ve been freed from sin and become the servants of righteousness. That’s our position. We are the servants of righteousness, we do respond to righteousness, we do respond to obedience, we do respond to God.
And now, most interestingly, he says in verse 19, “As you yielded your members servants to uncleanness in the past, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness.” In other words, he says, “This is who you are,” in verse 18, and now in verse 19 he says, “Now act like it.” Now act like it. Get your practice lined up with your position. He’s not talking about nature, the nature of an individual in verse 19. He was talking about that in verses 17 and 18. You’re either by nature a servant of sin or by the new nature a servant of God.
But he’s now talking about your lifestyle and he is saying your lifestyle must accommodate your nature. Now that you don’t have to be a slave to sin, now that you are a servant of righteousness, act like it. And, of course, the flesh wants to get in the way and we’ll find out when we get to chapter 8 how you deal with the flesh. Paul basically says “kill it.” And we’ll find out how to kill the flesh when we get to chapter 8. But he is saying here since you don’t have to sin, don’t sin. And the picture is very clear.
First of all, “as you yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity;” In the past, that describes the first family, the family of those who are in sin positionally. Their practice is to continually yield their members – again, having to do with your physical faculties, your humanness – to sin. That was their life style. That’s all they can do. They yield their members slaves to uncleanness. That’s basic. That’s life for them.
The word “members” again, remember it means “bodily parts, the flesh, the mortal body.” You see, the person in the state of sin has no choice. He has to yield, and that word means “to present” or “offer.” He gives his body to sin. It even uses the word “uncleanness.” That’s the word of inward pollution. And then, he uses the word “iniquity.” That’s the word of outward lawlessness. So, he says that before you became a Christian, when you were in the family of sin, you were polluted on the inside and you were evil on the outside.
You just continually yielded yourself to that, internally and externally. There’s no choice involved, absolutely no choice. The body of sin in an unregenerate person – listen now – is in complete harmony with the nature of man. The nature of man is sin. And the body of man is sinful. So his nature and his body are in total harmony. His soul and his body are in agreement on sin as his master, and so he just sins, doing evil continually, continually. Now, notice the progression. You yield your bodily parts servants to sin, to uncleanness and iniquity. And then it says, “unto iniquity,” most interesting. Guess what sin leads to? What? Sin. More sin. Sin begets sin. It is cancer, folks, it is cancer. It reproduces itself. It is a cruel master.
Oscar Wilde, great writer, brilliant mind, very esteemed man, secretly was involved in homosexual relationships and other deviant behavior, and he was discovered. And he wrote, “I forgot that what a man is in secret, he will someday shout aloud from the housetop.” Sin begets sin. It’s discovered. There’s no way to stop it.
I always think about Sinclair Lewis, who was the toast of the literary world. And he wanted to mock Christianity so he wrote Elmer Gantry. And Elmer Gantry was a blast at Christian preachers and evangelism, making the featured character a Bible-pounding, Jesus-preaching, alcoholic, fornicator and thief, everything bad. The literary world toasted Sinclair Lewis and few people know that he died an alcoholic in a third-rate clinic somewhere outside the city of Rome, totally devastated. You don’t get away with sin, it just begets itself.
And that’s what he’s saying. You used to be under sin, and as your position was under the bondage of sin, your practice was there as well and sin begat sin, begat sin, begat sin, begat sin, begat sin. And as we’ll see in a moment, there’s an ultimate end to all of that. But he says this, “Now you’ve been translated to a new master.” As you did that in the past – look back at verse 19 – even so now, present, offer, yield your bodily parts servants to righteousness which produces what? Holiness. As your members were 100 percent yielded to sin before Christ, so they should now be 100 percent yielded to righteousness since Christ.
Now remember, the new creation soul is sinless. It’s not I, it’s sin that’s in me, in my humanness. The bodily parts, our mortality, our fallenness, our corruptible humanness must be yielded. And as I said earlier, for the first time we have a choice. That’s our freedom. And so, we come to chapter 12 of Romans as a preview and we hear these familiar words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your” – what? – “bodies.” Where is the problem? It’s the body, isn’t it?
And that’s why he doesn’t say “present your – your soul.” Your soul is a new creation. He doesn’t say “present your inner man.” That’s been transformed. Present your what? Your body. Because that’s where the battleground lies, in your fallenness, in your humanness. And that’s why Paul says also to the Corinthians, “I beat my body to bring it into subjection.” You have to really control it. Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and see how the body tends to drag us into evil.
And so, he says you did yield yourselves that way, “Oh now yield your bodily parts as slaves to righteousness.” You will do this because you’re new, but do it always because you can. You understand that? You will do it, but do it all the time. You will do it sometime. You will do it because you’re new, but do it all the time. In other words – listen now carefully – when you came into salvation in Jesus Christ, God’s grace was not given to you to allow you to do sin and get away with it, but to make it so you would never have to sin. You understand that? Big difference. I don’t think very many people understand that. So, the whole idea of being a Christian isn’t impunity from sin, the whole idea of being a Christian is that you just don’t sin.
You say, “Now wait a minute. Can we do that?” Technically, yes. Practically, no. Because our fallenness gets in the way. But we want to do it more and more. And look at the progression here. “Yield your members servants to righteousness unto” – what? – “holiness.” “Righteousness” means “do right.” Righteousness is doing right. Holiness is a state of perfection. As iniquity leads to iniquity, doing right leads to spiritual perfection, spiritual completion, to being utterly separated from sin. That’s what holiness means.
Martyn Lloyd Jones, who so often captures thoughts in such a graphic way, says this, “As you go on living the righteous life and practicing it with all your might and energy and all your time and everything else, you will find that the process that went on before in which you went from bad to worse and became viler and viler is entirely reversed. You will become cleaner and cleaner and purer and purer and holier and holier, and more and more conformed to the image of the Son of God.” End quote.
Now, see, that’s the difference, isn’t it? That’s the difference of the outworking of that new nature as over against the outworking of the old nature. That’s the difference in the second half of Romans 6 in being under the Master, the Lord, under the master, sin. So we progress to greater and greater purity, greater and greater holiness as sinners go down, down, down, down. Let me add a footnote. Nobody stands still. And Christians who allow themselves sin under the wrong understanding of grace or because they give into the flesh, will find at work in them the same principle that’s at work in an unbeliever. Sin will lead to sin, to sin, to sin, to sin. So each slavery is a developing slavery. Neither stand still.
When Israel was in Egypt – to borrow an analogy if I might – God gave Pharaoh a command. Most people know the command, “Let My people” – what? – “go.” Do you know the rest of it? That wasn’t the whole thing. Listen to what God said. “Let My people go that they may serve Me.” You don’t understand the command if you don’t understand that part. “Let My people go that they may serve Me.” Nobody was ever delivered from bondage to do what they wanted. When we were delivered from bondage, we were to do what God wants. He didn’t say, “Let My people go so they can roam around the rest of their life.”
It was not to let them go to wander at their own whim and do as they please. God’s plan for them was that they might be delivered from the bondage of their cruel masters in Egypt in order to become committed to a new master and serve Him. By the way, it took a whole generation to learn that. So, we haven’t been freed from sin to do what we want, we’ve been freed from sin to do what He wants. So, the question asked in verse 15 is a ridiculous question.
Now, finally, Paul’s contrast goes one more step, and he talks about the promise. Where do these two slaveries end up because they definitely end up in two different places? Look at verse 20. First of all, where does sin end up? “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which you’re now ashamed? For the end of those things is” – what? – “death.”
Notice these two verses. They’re very simple and yet they’re very profound. He says, “When you were the servants or slaves of sin” – in your former life, in that position, yielded to that life – “you were free from righteousness.” You were totally cut loose from righteousness. You had no cause to respond to righteousness. You had no need. Righteousness made no demands on you because you had no capacity. Well, what an incredible statement. You can’t respond to the demands of righteousness. They’re not bound on you.
We’re not to go up and down the street and say, “Now all of you people, you need to abide by God’s laws.” They have no cause for that. They have no need for that. You want to know something else? It won’t do them any good either. They’re free from righteousness. They have no responsibility to righteousness. They’re controlled by, ruled by sin and all they can do is sin. They have one master. Righteousness has no pressure to apply to them, because they have nothing in their nature that can cause them to respond to it. Do you understand that?
That is a tremendous statement. Because there are people who don’t know Christ who think they’re good people. The truth is they’re slaves to sin and they’re totally free from righteousness. Righteousness has no cause to which they must respond. Boy, what a statement. The world is full of people who think they’re good people. They think they do right things and good things and honorable things. And on a human level, they do. But when God starts talking about the standards that are His standards, they are totally free from righteousness. They’re not bound to obey righteousness, they’re not bound to keep the righteous law. There’s no need for that because they have no capacity for that.
In fact, you know, Paul has a good word for self- righteousness, for man doing his best apart from God. Do you know what he called it? Dung. Interesting, isn’t it? If you wonder where that is, it’s Philippians 3:7-8. And so, that – to me, that verse 20 is just a shocking, shocking statement. People without Jesus Christ have no obligation to righteousness at all because they couldn’t – they couldn’t fulfill it. Whoa! So when I say you’re either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness, boy, that is exactly what Paul is saying here. And nobody’s in the middle.
And look what he says in verse 21. “And when you were a slave to sin and totally free from righteousness, what fruit did you have of the things of which you are now ashamed?” What fruit did you have? Well, the answer to that is none. The only fruit you had when you were unregenerate was fruit that you’re now what? Ashamed of. Oh, you know, you see a guy who is without Christ and, boy, he’s talking up a big game. “Boy, you should have heard what I did, man, I did this deal.”
He talks about all of his sin and boasts about all the things. “Boy, I conned so-and-so. I got this little deal here. And I did this to this person.” And he boasts in his sin and, boy, when he comes to Jesus Christ, all of the results and the product of his sin is cause for what? For shame. So, Paul says, “Look, don’t ask such a stupid question as, ‘Now that we’re under grace, do we continue in sin?’” We look back to that period of time and we look at all the fruit of our sin and the only thing it brings to us is what? Shame.”
I always appreciate when somebody’s going to give their testimony and they’ve come to Jesus Christ, and they may have come out of some sinful, horrible, sordid background. And when someone really comes to Jesus Christ, that’s the last thing in the world they want to talk about. Oh, they may want to tell you how the Lord delivered them from drugs, or from crime, or from some evil sin and so forth. But they don’t relish in that sin anymore. It’s a shame to them. So, if that’s true, why would we want to come to Christ and then go on sinning when the only fruit of that is something we were utterly ashamed of?
John Calvin said, “As soon as the godly begin to be enlightened by the Spirit of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, they freely acknowledge that their whole past life, which they lived without Christ, is worthy of condemnation. So far from trying to excuse themselves, they are, in fact, ashamed of themselves. Indeed, they go farther and continually bear their disgrace in mind so that the shame of it may make them more truly and willingly humble before God.” Well, that’s a beautiful statement. The fruit of sin does nothing but fill them with shame.
You’ve had that reaction in your life. You can look back on your life before Jesus Christ and you can see a lot to be ashamed of. You wouldn’t want to talk about that. You don’t glory in that. But the people who don’t know Christ, you see, they glory in the thing you’re ashamed of. And where does it all lead? Verse 21, “The end of those things is death.” Why in the world would a Christian, justified by grace through faith, brought to Jesus Christ and given the choice to do right, ever choose to sin when sin only begets sin and death and shame, from which he was delivered?
You know, Paul was really making a case here, folks. If we sin, we are really stupid. And so, the way the devil tries to get us to sin is to get us not to be what? Thinking. It leads to death. What death is this? Second death, spiritual death and hell, the death of the soul. That’s where sin leads. That’s its fruit. Now if all you can produce with sin is fruit that brings shame and spiritual and eternal death, if sin is a shameful killer of the soul, then what reason to ever offer your body to sin? No reason. No reason.
But what about the second master? Look at verse 22. “But now being made free from sin.” I can’t tell you how I’ve grown to love that statement. I’ve read it many times. I taught Romans – some of you may remember – in 1969 here. We whisked through it at a chapter a whack. Those were in the days when I was young and foolish. I exhausted all my knowledge at that speed. But as I’ve gone over this and over this, “being made free from sin,” oh, that just brings joy to my heart.
And I was thinking back – look with me at chapter 4 verse 6. And Paul says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness apart from works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’” That’s the first part. Oh how blessed that God doesn’t hold our sin against us. That’s one thing. But here in chapter 6, how doubly blessed that not only does God not hold our sin against us, but He frees us from its tyranny. Just to know that I don’t have to sin, I’m no longer a subject, it’s so great.
So, verse 22, “But now being made free from sin” – doesn’t mean you’re free from ever sinning; It just means you’re free from its tyranny; you don’t have to – “and you’ve “become slaves to God.” – there’s that bond slave word again – “Ye have your fruit” – a whole different fruit; fruit means product, fruit means result, and what is our fruit? What is it? – “Holiness.” Now again, that is not only an ought – that is, this is what you ought to do – it is a fact. I believe if you’re truly saved and the divine life is in you and you’re a new creation, holiness is manifest. I believe that, all that. I believe you cannot have a Christian with no fruit at all. Well, you might have to look a long time and find a shriveled grape here and there, but there’s got to be some. Got to be some. Your fruit unto holiness.
I don’t know how you feel about the word “holiness.” It’s a beautiful word. I guess I love it because it’s God’s most glorious attribute. In Isaiah 6 God is said to be holy, holy, holy, and to think that we could be like God, marvelous. We can’t be God, but we can be like Him when we walk in holiness. So we have been made free from sin. It has no claim on us. And we have become bond slaves to God and we have a new product, a new end, and that’s holiness. And to what does that lead? The end, everlasting life. The end in verse 21, what? The end of these things is what? Death, verse 21. The end in verse 22, everlasting life.
This I call the promises. Start with the position, you’re either in slavery to sin or slavery to God. The practice, your life is either progressing viler and viler and viler, or holier and holier and holier. And then the promise, the end over here is death, the end over here is everlasting life. Now, may I just point out here that everlasting life is not so much a quantity of life as a quality of life? It isn’t so much that it means you’re just going to live forever, because it wouldn’t mean anything to live forever unless the quality of life was worth living forever, right? And so it’s a quality of life. We enter into an everlasting kind of life. What it means is a supernatural kind of life, an eternal kind of life that belongs to God. God’s life in us, abundant life. And so, that’s how Paul draws the contrast.
So, he moves through the antagonist, the answer. Then he establishes the axiom in verse 16, then comes the argument in verses 17 to 22. And finally, the absolute. The absolute. And you know this verse, perhaps from a child. Verse 23. Now listen. This is to say there’s a reason why sin as a principle in a person’s life mastering him, leads him to be viler and viler and viler, and ultimately eternal death. And there’s a reason why righteousness in a life leads one to be holier and holier and holier, and entering into the fullness of everlasting life.
And the reason is because there is an absolute law and that law inexorably works. And here it is. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” – and then the coup de grace of the whole chapter – “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That is the inexorable, divine absolute. There is no possibility of a violation. That is how the thing works. And nobody gets around the absolute law. The reason sin adds to sin, adds to sin, ends in death is because the wages of sin is death.
Now what does that mean? The word “wages” is a very interesting word. It is just what it appears. It means something you’ve earned. In fact, the word is used, commonly, of the rations that were given to soldiers for their military service in exchange for their duty. It was just compensation for service rendered. Wages, just like you pick up your check. The idea is this. You earn death. That’s right, you earn it. When God brings to bear on a life eternal death, hell forever, it’s because the person earned that.
It is just, it is fair, it is proper compensation for their sin because there is an inexorable law in the universe that says the pay for sin is death. It’s like any other law. The law of gravity. The law of gravity says you jump off something, you go down. That’s a law. That’s the way the universe is made. And if God made laws in a physical dimension, there can be laws as well in the spiritual. And here’s one of them. The wages of sin is death. The payoff for sin is death, eternal death, spiritual death. It’s what you earned.
In fact, let me say it another way. Justice is obligated to pay it or it would be defrauding the worker of his wages. When God gives eternal death to a soul, He is giving him what he’s worked for, what he’s earned, what he deserves, what is the defined compensation for his life. Let me put it another way. If God didn’t give him eternal hell, it would be unjust. And God can’t be unjust. You earn death by your sin, you’ll get it. And those who hope for pardon and those who hope for deliverance without Christ are hoping that God would be unjust. And God would not be unjust.
There’s another side to the absolute, bless God. It says this, “But the gift of God is eternal life.” Eternal life is not a wage. Did you notice the change? It is a what? A gift. Can you earn eternal life? No, it’s a gift. In fact, literally, it’s a free gift. You could write that there. It says, “The free gift of God.” Just so that nobody gets confused, it is a free gift.
You can’t earn it by your works. You can’t earn it by your religiosity. You can’t earn it, period. And that’s right back to Ephesians 2:8 and 9. “For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is a” – what? – “gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” No merit, no earning, no worthiness. It’s a gift. So if you want what you deserve, God will give it to you. But if you want what you don’t deserve, God will give that to you as well.
You say, “How do I get that? Boy, what a chapter. I don’t want to be a slave to sin. I don’t want to be free from ever being able to do what’s right. I don’t want to go from sin, to sin, to sin, from being vile to being viler and viler, ultimately ending in eternal death. I don’t want to do that. I want the gift of eternal life. How do I get it? Well, how does the chapter end? What does it say? “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It’s the great climax to the chapter. I mean, the chapter is so powerful, you know that at the end you just need a reminder of how you get this. “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Any other place? No other place. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. No other name. No other name. Jesus said, “I am the door, the only way to enter is through Me.” Jesus said, “No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” The most narrow-minded statement ever made. It also happens to be true. You can be narrow minded if you’re right. Jesus said, “I am the way. I’m the only way.” Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I can’t – I just – I wouldn’t know what else to say to the world to offer them the gift of salvation than to just tell them what’s in this chapter. It’s astounding to me, to be made free from sin, to inherit eternal life, to be delivered from the bondage of sin and guilt and all those things, and free to do what’s right and to glorify God. And instead of looking at a life with things to be ashamed, you look at a life filled with things to be thankful for. Instead of anticipating death, eternal death, you anticipate life, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So the sixth chapter has taught us in the first 14 verses that we are one with Christ because we died with Him, we rose with Him, and as new creations with resurrection life, we walk in newness of life. Therefore, we should yield to that new life principle, yielding our fallenness, our humanness, our mortal bodies to that new life power.
And then in the second half, he uses a different analogy to say the same thing. We were slaves to sin, now we have become slaves to righteousness. So, in one sense we’ve died to walk in newness of life. In another sense, we have a new master. Both saying the same thing; salvation doesn’t free you to sin, it frees you from sin for the first time in your life to do what’s right. Salvation takes unholy men and makes them holy. Salvation is a call from sin to holiness.
And no evangelism can stand without this kind of affirmation. Anything other than this kind of presentation of evangelism, I believe, is cheap grace. I believe we have to say to people, “Look, count the cost. When you come to Jesus Christ, He’s calling you from sin to holiness. And if you’re not willing to come on those terms, there are no other terms available.” Jesus is not looking for people who want to add Him to their sin. He’s not looking for people who want to add Him to their lifestyle. He is calling men who want to die and rise again. He’s calling men and women who want to say no to the present master and yes to a new master. Grace covers sin. That’s right. But it never condones it. And further, it transforms the sinner.
Let me close with this. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, thinker, sometimes was a little far afield, sometimes right on target, wrote this. “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. Costly grace is the grace of Christ Himself now prevailing upon the disciple to leave all and follow Him.”
When he spoke of grace, Luther always implied as a corollary that it cost him his own life, the life which was for the first time subjected to the absolute obedience of Christ. Happy are they who knowing that grace can live in the world without being of it, who by following Jesus Christ are so assured of their heavenly citizenship that they are truly free to live their lives in this world. That’s the kind of grace God calls us to in Christ. What does it mean to be a Christian? Chapter 5 said it meant to be secure. Chapter 6 says it means to be free from sin. Chapter 7 will tell us there’s still a battle. And chapter 8 will tell us how to win it. Let’s pray together.
Lord, we’re so thankful tonight for Your Word. How rich. We are thankful that we’ve been made free from sin. And if we’re indifferent to that tonight, forgive us. Oh, what a glorious gift. And how tritely do we treat priceless treasure, how easily do we allow the flesh its own way and mock our liberty.
Thank You for reminding us, Lord, that we are slaves of obedience, as Paul says in one verse, slaves of righteousness, as he says in another, slaves of God, as he says in another. One and the same, and free from the tyranny of sin. Bless You for that. And may we live out in practice what we are in position and never return to the things that produced shame and death but always those things that produce righteousness, holiness and life.
With your head bowed for just a moment, if you have never come to Jesus Christ, received Him as your Savior and Lord, you are not free from sin and it will kill you. But Jesus offers His freedom to you if you will give Him your life, if you will believe that He, God in human flesh, died and rose again for you. Open your heart right now to Him. Say “I want to be free from sin, and I want to be a slave to righteousness, possessor of eternal life.”
Christian, reaffirm to God your thanks for the freedom He’s given you. Tell Him you’re thankful that you do not have to sin, that you’ve been delivered from the bondage and the tyranny of that old master. And then ask His forgiveness for the times that you obeyed a master who has no claim on you, and in your humanness, you sinned. And then ask Him to lead you in the way of holiness that you might fulfill in your life all that He desires of purity and obedience.
Father, we ask that You’ll do Your work in every heart, that we might come truly to understand what it means to be free, to rejoice in that freedom, that some might even be set free tonight is our prayer. For Christ’s sake. Amen.