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Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Christian's Incompatibility With Sin


1 John 3:4-10

Throughout it's history, the true Church has always maintained that there are certain core beliefs that are necessary marks of saving faith...

Acceptance of the Biblical gospel...
Living a life that is characterized by a worthy walk...

These have historically been seen as good indicators of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life... and when these are missing... a person's profession of faith is called into question.

However, in the last few decades, the Church has seen some changes... some of which aren't for the good...

More and more “evangelicals” have begun to downplay the importance of Biblical doctrine... even crucial doctrines such as the deity of Christ and justification by faith

Some are even arguing that a lost person can be “saved” without any knowledge of the gospel at all... that pagans will go to heaven just like Christians... if they simply live up to whatever belief system they have.

John, and all other Apostles, would have been appalled that any Christian could believe and teach such things...

Matter-of-fact, he would have called them by their proper titles... false prophets!

He, along with the rest of the NT writers agree that certain beliefs are critical to Christianity, which include...
Trinity
Substitutionary work of Christ on the cross
Repentance from sin
Obedience to the Word
Desire to walk as Christ walked (or, to live righteously)
Love for the brethren
Hatred for the evils of this world and the flesh

John, and all of the NT writers agree that unless a person believes and practices these truths... they simply aren't saved... regardless of what they may proclaim or confess.

Bad theology damns... bad behavior reveals bad theology.

What John is teaching us in his letter is the difference between saving faith... and a non-saving one.

And his meaning in this particular passage isn't difficult to understand if we get an accurate understanding of his use of the Greek tenses of the verbs related to sin... they are all in the present tense.

What this means is that they indicate a continuous, habitual action. In other words... John is referring to “established” and “continual” patterns of sinful behavior... NOT “occasional” acts.

Believer's will sometimes sin... (Rom 7:14-25) – even willfully sometimes – but they cannot and will not sin habitually, persistently, and as a way of life Rom 6:4-14; Gal 5:24; Eph 2:10)

The Holy Spirit draws sinners to God. He regenerates them and gives them eternal life through their faith in Jesus.

They are recreated to obey the Word of God... follow Jesus... reject worldly temptations... and display the fruits of righteousness in their lives.

Any other practice or belief is simply counter to what the Bible teaches.

In the first verse of our passage, v.4... we see our first point...


I. Sin Is Incompatible With The Law Of God (3:4)

Two biblical definitions of sin are:
“Missing the mark” – hamartia
“Without righteousness” – adikia

Integral to both definitions is that sin is a transgression of God's law.

John, probably learned this principle years earlier when he heard Jesus say in Mat 7:21-23...

So, this description just doesn't allow for any exceptions or double standards... Anyone who habitually practices sin is living in sin... which is an ongoing condition of lawlessness...

Believer's, however, are no longer marked by a life of “lawlessness”. We've obeyed the command to “deny ourselves”, and to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus.

We've repented and have resolved to follow God's law as best we can... deny fleshly lusts... resist the devil and the world's enticements... and to submit to the authority and sovereignty of God.

Those who've done these things have been transformed from a life of slavery to sin... to slavery to God


II. Sin Is Incompatible With The Work Of Christ (3:5-8)

The main reason Jesus gave up everything and came to earth was so that He could take away our sins...

That being the case, it is therefore inconceivable for anyone who truly loves Christ and has been redeemed by His blood... to continue living in sin.

It's contradictory, because “light” can't have communion with “darkness” (2 Cor 6:14-16)

And ignores the fact that believer's have been “set apart” from sin, for righteousness... (1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:7-9)

Jesus came, not only to pay our penalty for sin and provide forgiveness... but He also came to “take away our sins” altogether!

The word for “away” means to “remove by lifting away”... Just as the hardened film on top of a cup of hot chocolate can be lifted up and removed from the drink... so also our sins have been lifted and removed from us who have believed.

What remains has been “set apart” unto holiness.

Therefore, to continue to live sinfully is completely contrary to what Christ has done in breaking sins hold on us...

And this is not only a future hope, but a present reality, because at salvation, the believer undergoes a real cleansing of and separation from sin.

In v.6 where he writes, “whosoever sinneth”, he is again using the present tense... in other words... an habitual action of defiance and rebellion...

No one who is like this has either “seen Him” or “known Him”.

v.7 – Though Christians will sin... they don't practice sin, or live in sin... but they still “in the flesh”, and therefore, not yet perfect...

So, anyone who practices righteousness is righteous! Kind of a “duh” thing there, isn't it?! And as we saw from previous weeks, those who practice righteousness can easily recognize it in others.

v.8 – He links the one who practices sinful behavior, with the originator of sin... the devil

It's inconceivable that true believer's would continue in devil-like behavior, which includes things such as...
    • Instigating sin and rebellion
    • Tempting believer's
    • Inspiring unbiblical ideologies and false religions
    • Persecuting and accusing believer's
    • Instigating the work of false teachers
    • Wielding the power of death


III. Sin Is Incompatible With The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit (3:9-10)

The new birth epitomizes the work of the Holy Spirit... Jesus said in... (Joh 3:3-8)

When a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit implants within that person the principles of His divine life, which John pictures as “seed”.

In the same manner that human life begins from an implanted seed... which grows and develops into new physical life...

So also, spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit regenerates the new believer and implants the divine seed within us... (1 Pet 1:23-25)

Now this new birth is from seed that's imperishable, and it secures the believer's salvation for eternity...

We're born-again with seed that's imperishable... that imperishable seed is the living and abiding Word of God... giving us a salvation that's imperishable...

For that which is imperishable will not bear fruit that's perishable.

This new birth gives the believer the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2;16) so they can understand the thoughts of God.

Unregenerate people are spiritually dead and are therefore unable to respond to divine truth... So... until they are drawn by the Holy Spirit and accept Christ... they are the children of the devil (Joh 6:44, 65) ...and will continue doing the deeds of the devil. (Joh 8:44)



Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Wrath of God

The Wrath of God
Romans 1:18

Introduction: The very idea of a wrathful God, goes against the wishful thinking of our fallen human natures.

No one likes to think that God could ever be angry with anyone... for any reason...

We like to visualize some sort of Santa Claus figure who exhibits only love toward mankind.

We prefer to believe that we can continue doing whatever it is that we want, and that we'll suffer no real consequences for our actions because... "God is too loving to ever send anyone to hell."

So, the thought of a "wrathful God" is distasteful... it's hateful and can be a stumbling block... even to many Christians.

Modern evangelism talks only about the "abundant life" in Christ... it tells people about the "joys" and "blessings" of salvation... it talks about the "peace" that comes through faith in Jesus.

And though all these things are taught in the Scriptures and become evident within the believer's life as he turns more and more of his life over to God...

They are not valid arguments for motivating the unbeliever to repent and come to faith in Jesus.

In other words, "peace", "joy", and "love" to the unbeliever are just words... they think they already have peace... they believe they experience "joy" and "love" every time they have "relations" with their boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.

They love the bar-hopping... and the parties... life is just great as far as they're concerned.

So...if they already experience these things... or at least, think they do... where is the incentive to turn to Christ?

Folks, without repentance, there can be no salvation... (Mk 1:15; 2:17; Lk 24:47; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 17:30) And, why would anyone want to repent if they've never been faced with their own sinfulness?

This is the dilemma of modern evangelism...

The lack of real repentance... which means there is no real conversion... therefore, no real salvation. Instead, what's been produced is a false convert... one who may look like a Christian... talk like a Christian... live or act like a Christian... but is NOT a Christian!

For Paul, however, the fear of eternal condemnation was the first motivation he offered for coming to Christ... the first pressure he applied to evil men.

He wanted them to fully understand the terribleness of being under God's wrath before he offered them the way to escape that wrath.

This, is Biblical evangelism... this is the method that both OT and NT saints have used for millennia... it's the method Jesus Himself used!

A person just can't appreciate how amazing God's grace truly is without being faced with just how horrible they truly are.

He can't appreciate the fullness of God's love toward him without knowing something about the fierceness of God's anger toward his sin... which is his failure to obey God's perfect law

1Jn 3:4 KJV Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Rom 3:23 KJV For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 6:23a KJV For the wages of sin is death...

Sin, like a disease, has to be recognized and identified before seeking a cure means anything...

A person has no reason to seek salvation from sin if he doesn't know that he's condemned by that sin

In our verse this morning... we're presented with some features of God's wrath that I'd like to explore... and the first feature is...


I. The Quality of God's Wrath

Rom 1:18 KJV For the wrath of God...

The first thing we see... the first feature... is that it is God's wrath!

It's His and no one else's... and because it's God's wrath, it's like nothing we have ever seen, or known in this present world.

Most of the time, when we speak of an attribute of God, we give that attribute a human description, with human qualities, and we think of it in human terms

But God isn't human. So, when we speak of God's hands... we realize that He doesn't really have hands... when the Bible speaks of God "drawing His bow", and "shooting His arrows"... we realize that God isn't actually shooting a real bow and arrow...

In the same way, when we speak of God's wrath, we have to realize that it is not like our own human anger... and the reason for this is because human anger is always tainted by sin... whereas God's wrath is always righteous... it is always just!

We tend to try to measure God by our own standards of what's right and what's wrong... but, since we can only see things through eyes of sin... it's the height of foolishness to think that we can get an accurate picture of God this way!

When we think of God's wrath, we visualize Him being angry... similar to how we get angry.

But human anger is always flawed by sin... God's anger isn't flawed by anything...

It's not arbitrary... He doesn't explode irrationally... But it is the only possible response that a holy God could have toward unholiness... (Hab 1:13)

The second feature I'd like to point out is...


II. The Source of God's Wrath

Rom 1:18 KJV ...is revealed from heaven...

Some commentators say that a better rendering of this is “constantly revealed from heaven”... God's wrath is continually being revealed... it's perpetually being manifested, or made known.

Throughout the history of fallen mankind, God's wrath has been repeatedly displayed for all to see...

From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden... through the Flood... Sodom and Gomorrah... the drowning of Pharaoh’s army... the rise and fall of empires... the rise of the diseases and sicknesses that plague us...

All these, and many more... are examples of God's wrath, or His judgment against sin... which is continually being revealed to fallen mankind

But the ultimate revelation of God's wrath against sin was revealed us in the Cross of His only begotten Son...

Because on the Cross, Jesus Christ bore the full force of God's judgment against sin for us...

Through the Cross... He redeemed us from the curse of sin... and we became His purchased possession (Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 1:18-19)

This wrath of God's is constantly being revealed to mankind from heaven

Though Satan at the present time, may be the prince of the air and of this world... this earth... the whole universe... is dominated by heaven

Isa 66:1 KJV Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool...

Everything that goes on in this mortal plane... originates in the throne room of the Most High God, and if you've got a question about that, reread the first chapter of the book of Job...

And at the creation, God set into place certain moral and physical laws that govern everything...

So that if a man jumps from a cliff... he will fall to the ground...

In the same manner, if a man turns away from God's moral law... that man will fall into God's judgment (Heb 10:31)

Now, the third feature of God's wrath is...


III. The Nature of God's Wrath

Rom 1:18 KJV ...against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men....

God's wrath is universal... it's against all who deserve it ... it crosses all boundaries and reaches out to all nations, peoples and tongues (Rom 3:23)

Now, someone may think... “Well, I'm not that bad.”, or, “I'm basically a good person”... and you know what? They may be right.

Because anytime you compare yourself to another person, it's entirely possible that you'll come out looking pretty good... by man's standards

And that's the problem with thinking you're “basically good”, or that you're “not that bad”... you're looking at yourself through “sin tainted” eyes... evaluating yourself by your own “sin tainted” and “selfish” standards, rather than by God's holy and perfect standards.

When God's standard is used... even the most moral and upright person you know will fall short of God's righteousness

Think of it this way... If you were standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon... the side you're standing on representing your righteousness... and the other side representing God's perfect standard of righteousness...

If you were to attempt to jump across to the other side... would you make it?

No, of course not. Even the most athletic person in the world... the greatest broad jumper in history... would fall far short

And the end result would always be the same... a fall to your death

You know, even Evil Knievel couldn't get across the Grand Canyon on a rocket propelled motorcycle!

And... as we've already established... God's wrath isn't like our own “sin tainted” anger... and it never lashes out in indiscriminately...

It is always directed at sin... at the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men

These two are synonyms, with ungodliness referring to a faulty personal relationship with God... and unrighteousness being the results of that faulty relationship

In other words... the ungodliness of men will inevitably lead men into unrighteousness.

Now, I know you've all heard... and have even used the phrase, “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin”, you've got to realize that though this is true... God doesn't hate men... He hates sin...

It's the sinner however, or the man (or woman) who sins... who is unrighteous... who will suffer the punishment, the just judgment, for the sin. (Eze 18:4)

The fourth, and final feature of God's wrath is...


IV. The Cause of God's Wrath

Rom 1:18 KJV ...who hold the truth in unrighteousness...

According to John MacArthur, this could be rendered, “who are constantly attempting to suppress the truth by steadfastly holding onto their sin.”

You know, because of our unrighteousness... we have this innate, or this built-in and compelling desire to “hold” or “suppress” and oppose God's truth.

The Bible tells us that “men loved darkness rather than the light”, and that “everyone who does evil hates the light” (Joh 3:19-20)

Sinful man opposes God and God's people. We see this more and more in the world... and it's even becoming worse in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”

Everywhere, we see or hear of more and more assaults against God and the people of God...

We can no longer pray in the classroom... Bibles being burned by the American military... the 10 Commandments are being taken away from courthouses (whose very laws they uphold are founded upon those same commandments)... You can even be arrested in America today for witnessing for Christ in public!

Sinful man opposes the idea of a holy and a just God because they know that such a God would one day have to hold them accountable...

He wouldn't be holy or just, otherwise...

And the knowledge of that... of a coming judgment... that there will be a payday—someday... is written on their hearts...

Rom 2:15 KJV Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness...


Conclusion: The truth is... every person stands guilty before God...

Every one of us deserves to suffer the full extent of God's wrath, because every one of us has sinned against God

We've broken His law... we've turned our backs on Him... we've tried to justify ourselves...

We have fallen SO short of His righteousness... and we stand before the Judge of the living and the dead... guilty... fully deserving the wages we have worked so hard for...

Rom 6:23 KJV For the wages of sin is death....

But Jesus paid our debt for us... Jesus took the judgment that hung over my head upon Himself... Jesus died in my place...

My understanding of that... my acceptance of that... that Jesus died for my sins... is the first step toward the forgiveness of my sins and the salvation of my soul...

Invitation: