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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday Sermon: All Roads Lead to God

Romans 3:19-20

Now here we are at the end point of what Paul has been saying and what he has shown us about human nature, about mankind and our lack of purity, as a race and as individuals, and he has shown us that the Old Testament scriptures back him up. Creation, conscience, and the example of God’s called out people all show us our guilt. No one is exempt: the failures of the greatest men and the greatest peoples who ever lived should point out the need for a savior.

The Law was written to a specific people, the Jews, but their failure in that points something out to the whole world. We are not God, we are guilty, and we are all accountable to Him. No one can perfectly keep the Law, that is the point, the fact that the Law points out our deep depravity, our terminal heart condition. That is what we need to understand before we can understand the gospel. We need the Law to see that we need grace. In our churches and in our witnessing today we preach life enhancement instead of Law and grace. Parachute example.

19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

The Jews were the “test case”, the object lesson about man and his ability to truly worship, serve, and love God, as He requires. They failed, miserably. People think they could do it, they think they wouldn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit, that they would obey if they had those miracles and so forth, but that is pure nonsense. Plenty of people would say they aren’t guilty but compared to what? That is why we have the Law and that is why Jesus gave the spirit of the Law. Looking at the Law we can see that we have not kept it either, and besides, Jesus shows us the spirit of the Law (Matthew 5) and there is no way we are doing that. We see that there is no way we compare to Him and He says we must be perfect. We must be like the Father and like Jesus; we must be perfect.

No one is doing good enough anyway, read the paper, look at TV, the Internet, or you can walk outside, or just look in the mirror and know that the world is a sinful place. Why do we have suffering, because of sin, and suffering doesn’t prove there is no God it proves that we all need God; the problem isn’t God the problem is you. See how we have distorted it all now? The Jews had the rules and they couldn’t do them either. After all Paul has shown us and seeing all we see around us, what will it take before you realize that you are sinful?

The test case failed showing representatively that no one can get the job done. Even the privileged people couldn’t make it. Their priesthood became tarnished with the very first high priest and these people kept on rebelling even though they saw many mighty miracles. From start to finish the flaws of man were obvious, and so they, and by extension we, have nothing to say.

Every mouth everywhere is present tense. Just because you are not under the Law doesn’t mean you are above the Law. We are guilty and we are responsible before God for that guilt. Your works cannot justify you. Paul has already stopped the mouths of the Jews as we saw repeatedly and especially in our last two sermons, and he has shown us all that we are guilty. Paul has said that there are no excuses before God.

Still we hear the excuses being made. “This preacher one time did this and that or that church did so and so”. Well that just means they are like everyone else on the planet, a flawed sinful human being. They aren’t good enough. Besides we aren’t asking you to trust religious people or a religious system we are asking you to trust the one priest on this earth who never strayed and the only one who can say anything to God on your behalf (1 Timothy 2:5). There is no hope in anyone or anything else. Why would you stand before God and claim your own righteousness?

The mouths that raise objections against God now will one day be silenced. Every mouth will be stopped. O how self-assured are the declarations of defiant men these days. "Where is God?" they say. Where is yours, I say? How is he doing, how is humanity doing, where is the power, where is the purity? Your man made god has no righteousness; your man made god cannot save you. Man can never climb his way out of his own heart. "Where is God?" they may say, but only for a short season. Then they die, and then they meet Him (Hebrews 9:27), and their mouth is stopped. All boasting will be silenced (Isaiah 2:17). People can trash talk now but really when they look at the Law what have they got to say? Nothing except to explain it away or dumb it down, which we will look at now.

20aFor by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight

The Jews tried to keep it but they couldn’t and so they tried to reinterpret the standard so that it could be met. But the righteous requirements of the Law only awaken resistance not responsiveness, it doesn’t bring justification, it brings condemnation (Galatians 2:16, 21). The Law keeps us in chains so that we may be set free in Christ (Galatians 3:21-22).

Now people want to say they are more good than bad, but no one will be justified by their own good works, their works are not enough (Isaiah 64:6). For those that would try and say that they have followed the Law, Jesus showed up and shows us the true standard and interpreted the spirit of the Law as He did for the rich young ruler. Jesus said unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, and be ye perfect. The question is not are you as good as the next guy but are you as good as Jesus? You have got to keep it all (Galatians 3:10 / James 2:10).

The Ten Commandments are not some ten-step stairway to heaven they are proof positive that no one could climb up to God even if it were only one step. The Ten Commandments are just the preamble to the Law and no one can even do them and Jesus gave us the true sense of the Law which upped the spiritual ante so high that no one dare lay claim to a perfect righteousness.

But no one else seems to think you have to be perfect. All the other religions of the world say you can do it if you do this or that but God says no matter what you do it isn’t good enough because you aren’t Me. Romans 3:23 – the question is are you God, not are you good. Most of us realize we aren’t good compared to someone else we know, we are not the best person we have ever known. What then is the median point between good and bad? Who determines this, who decides this? If you are hoping your good outweighs your bad and that this will justify you, how do you know you are better than half or whatever standard you set for yourself?

God doesn’t leave us to guess He gives us His Law and then He gave us Jesus and we all realize that none of us are good compared to God, and we are not even close to being the kind of person Jesus Christ was in morality, in character, and in power. We cannot be justified by our own deeds they will never be enough.

We must be justified to God not justified by men, not justified by your parents or your wife or your husband or your family or your peers or your priest or your guru or your whoever else. God is the one to whom we are responsible, it is God to whom we have to answer to, and it is God whom justifies us, and here through the Apostle Paul and throughout scripture God tells us that no man can be justified in His sight by things that they can do.

Man cannot even keep one law, Adam and Eve proved that even without a sinful nature, and the Law magnifies that. It is like seeing a “do not open” sign. It isn’t that the words are evil but that they reveal what is in our hearts. If the sign weren’t there we wouldn’t have seen our desire to do what we ought not to do. The Law is a signpost folks, a signpost to sin, not a signpost to salvation, and you can replace the Law with any man made religious system that tries to earn its way to heaven or merit the mercy of whatever god it might serve.

20b since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Romans 7:7-8 – The law brings the knowledge of sin – mailbox letter example. It reveals the rebellion and it stirs up resistance. It doesn’t show how to be righteous it shows that we haven’t been righteous and we cannot in our own power be righteous. The Law stirs up resistance wherever the Holy Spirit is not ruling the heart.

Now here are some incredibly important things to consider. As Paul said earlier in our study of Romans, we know instinctively that we aren’t justified that is why we have such a guilty conscience, and so some try everything they can in the religious world to appease it, and then since they can’t they say that sincerity is enough, and that all roads lead to God. Well sincerity is no substitute for truth, and the truth is, all roads do lead to God, but only one road will lead to God justifying us, all the other roads lead to God condemning us.

People are trying to justify themselves any way they can. “Be all you can be and God will accept you based on that.” No way. People try and justify themselves in their own eyes or the eyes of their parents or their peers and the eyes of the world, as if that were enough, the praise of others quiets their fears. That is why they chase fame, fortune, and even faithfulness to some cause. But they are looking to be justified by the wrong person. They may achieve their dreams but they won’t achieve justification, and they know it. Now many don’t even achieve their dreams, and so they sear their conscience by medicating it with their favorite drug of choice be it sex, drugs, rock and roll, or whatever.

Hearing the truth reminds us that we are guilty that is why before you were saved you didn’t want to hear bible preaching. You didn’t want to hear the good news because it meant that you had to come face to face with the bad news. The Law points out your sin and everyone knows it is ugly, they just want to avoid it and say “not me”, but then they look at all that is in the world and talk about how bad it all is. Well friends it is all of us, and it is obvious.

Acts 13:38-39 – no religious system will make you righteous before God
Hebrews 9:9 – the law and the priesthood was a symbol of righteousness not the substance
Hebrews 10:1 – no sacrifice you can do make will make you perfect
Hebrews 12:23 – God does it He justifies you He makes you perfect in His sight
Romans 10:3-4 – Jesus is the end of man made religion
Hebrews 7:24-26 – A shadow to show our sinfulness we could stay religiously busy our entire lives and it would not be enough but Christ is a perfect high priest for us
Hebrews 10:10 – once for all. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
1 Timothy 2:5 – there is only one thing that God will accept

People don’t want to believe that man cannot save himself. They want to believe that men can warrant eternal life, that they can come to deserve the kingdom of heaven, but they question is why, why would that be so, why should God justify you? Personal righteousness is not enough. Practicing religion cannot offer you a full free pardon from sin. How are you going to justify yourself before God, the bible just told you that your works cannot do it. Who are you following, who is leading you, Oprah; is she going to save you? It is time to stop trying to justify yourself and time to just-deny yourself, and follow Christ. Get on that gospel road.

Yes, all the other roads lead to God too. However, the road Jesus is on leads to justification by God and a place in heaven. All other roads lead to damnation from God and a place in hell. When you can say that you aren’t good enough and that Jesus is, that is how you get on Redemption Road. I am not good enough so I can’t trust me but Jesus is and so I’ll trust Him. Everyone is trusting in something; what are you trusting in, your sacrifice or God’s sacrifice? Your road will get you to God, but what road are you on, the road to heaven or the road to hell?

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4 Comments:

At 1:00 AM, Blogger Even So... said...

Provocative title, eh?

 
At 1:03 AM, Blogger Sista Cala said...

Great post. I've added you to my favorites. I'll be back as time permits.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger jazzycat said...

J.D.,
That is a good take on the ole all roads lead to the mountain top thinking. When I was an agnostic years ago, I used to think that, even if there were a God of the Bible, I would be O.K. because I was so good. Then when I was given eyes to see, I realized that I was really bad to the core.
W.H.

 
At 11:27 PM, Anonymous stevehall said...

JD,

Looks like it will take me through Sunday to digest the Sat. sermon, but then again, I imagine it will be a Sunday sermon for you as well.

 

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