Classic Christianity – Thanksgiving Part 4 (11-28-19)
Turn to Romans and read along as Bob explains its meaning. The book of Romans is a book of contrast between law and grace. The purpose of the law is for man to recognize his sinfulness, his condition of spiritual death, that he might seek a Savior in Jesus Christ. There is so much that the apostle Paul explains concerning the law; its purpose, it’s inability to make one righteous before God, it’s ministry of death to make man realize his sinful state. The law is like a mirror. A mirror can show dirt on the face but it has no power to remove the dirt. So too is the law to show man he is a sinner but there is no power in the law to make anyone righteous before God.
The law demands perfect obedience, which no man in his weakened sinful state could ever completely obey. As James said, if a man obeyed all of the law but failed at just one point, then he is guilty of breaking all of the law. A law without a penalty is no law at all. The law would have no meaning. God’s penalty for sin is spiritual death.
If one understands that the root of all sin is unbelief, or lack of faith, in a God who created you to be in relationship with Him. Anything that does not come from faith is sin. Sin is rooted in an attitude of independence and rebellion, an attitude that says I can decide for myself what is right and what is wrong and sees no need for God. That attitude is what the first created man, Adam, chose and whom God had warned that the day he chose for himself, he would die. Adam chose to disobey God, and he died to what vacated him, and that was the Spirit of God. All men since have been born in the image of Adam, in a dead state, without the Spirit of God.
God, in his desire for man to be restored to a right relationship to Himself, as He intended in creation, sent His own Son to do what man could never do for himself. Man cannot obey the law, was enslaved to sin, was in bondage to the law, without hope of ever obeying the law. God sent His Son to completely obey the law for man, not by the letter but by living in love, to show man His righteousness, and by so doing, showing man his unrighteousness. He also was sent to lay down his life to pay the price for sin the law demands only to take it up again. Jesus shed his blood on the cross to take upon himself the sins of the entire world.
Now sin is the cause of death, and without the penalty being paid, man has no hope of eternal life. But since Jesus paid the price in full for man, when he shed his blood on a cross, sin is no longer the issue. Man’s more serious problem is death. His problem of death can only be solved by the giving of life as a gift. Man certainly cannot earn it. All he has is self righteousness, which is really nothing at all but man’s attempt at obeying a law that he keeps failing to obey. So until Jesus rose from the dead, the righteousness of God, the life of God, could not be offered. Jesus, being God in the flesh, being an eternal being, with life in Himself, and with no sin of His own, death has no hold on him. God raised him from the dead so that the life that raised Jesus from the dead can raise you and me from the dead. But this life must be received by faith. Man must want the life of God and ask God to receive this life. He must believe in the work of Jesus Christ alone, through what his death, burial and resurrection accomplished for you. This is the grace of God, by which man must be saved. Salvation is the receiving of new life, God’s resurrected life. This is the message of good news, the gospel that the apostle Paul preached.
Consider now what the apostle Paul shares on how a person who is born again, who received the life of God, is to live. He is being led internally by the Spirit of God, who has taken residence within him. The child of God, and that is what we are, is to live by faith. When a man walks by faith, being led into all truth, and who allows himself to be led by God, then the attitude of thankfulness is evident. That life bears fruit that the living Christ produces in you and through you. You could not love before but now you can choose to let the love of God be produced through you into the lives of others. Yes, as believers we are instructed to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, and to even love those who persecute us. It is God’s job for revenge. But we are instructed to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. We are told to share with the Lord’s people who are in need and to practice hospitality. The fruit of the Spirit is at work in you to Be Thankful in Everything and through us as we allow Him to.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Be devoted to one another. There is not anything that irritates me more than hearing people say, “I do not like what you are doing. I will not come here any more.” I will like to say, “Good.” Is that brotherly love? No. If there are things that are done that you do not like, discuss it with people, but do not come up with that stuff. “I do not like that any more because I do not like that.” That is not brotherly love. You are not practicing brotherly love. If you decide from brotherly love to decide that then that is one thing. But if that is an ego deal that I just do not like the way you do things. Well, talk to us about it. You might find out you are wrong or maybe you are right. Maybe so? I do not think so but you may.
Honor one another above yourselves. What does that say? It says what it says later on. Do not be conceited. Do not sit around thinking that you are a know it all. There are some people that have never made a mistake in their lives. They are now tall. How many of you have ever known a know it all. How many of you have ever been a know it all. But you know there are people that, I do not care what it is, who say “I know the answer to it.“ Such a person is not honoring one another above himself. He does not even want to listen to the opinions others. Why? He believes he already knows the answer. That is not of God, according to these passages of scripture. It is not an attitude of love, that we should honor one another above ourselves. In other words, listen to the opinions of others. Have a willingness to do so without having to shed your own opinion on everything, dogmatically. So we have to say is, is the attitude that I have of God or is this of Satan?
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord
Do not ever get tired of serving the Lord.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
This group shared joyfully in the project that we had for the soldiers. I personally want to thank those of you that are involved in it, both with your money and your time. I have been in service. I have been overseas at Christmas time and it is lonely. I wasn’t in combat, thank God. That saved me from going AWOL (absent without intent to leave). But I know many of you that were in combat and you will testify to the fact that it is not fun. These guys and gals need all the encouragement that they can get from us. I am just grateful to be able to use our time and treasure and talent in order to help those guys to put a smile on their face at Christmas time. I want to thank each and every one of you for participating in that. It was a blessing to me. I think it unifies the assembly to be real honest with you.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
How many of you have had somebody in your life who persecuted you? That was not kind to you? Or did something to you that you really didn’t like? How many of you experienced that type of thing? Do you know what He says to do? He says to bless them. Bless them! Why? I want to crucify them. He says bless and do not curse. God says, “Revenge is mine. It is not yours. It is my business to take care of these people.” If somebody has done something to hurt you, He says get off of trying to get even and recognize the fact that if there is justice to be done, God says, “Believe Me. I will do it.” So we do not have to. Is that good news? Does that enable you to walk with a thankful spirit, to be thankful? What am I thankful for? I am thankful that God is going to take care of this and I do not have to. What does the flesh say? I am going to get even. I am going to get my revenge. Don’t we? Is that what our flesh says? God says, “No. Get out of it and let me take care of it.”
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Be happy when people are joyful. When someone is sad, be sad with them.
16 Live in harmony with one another.
Where is the best place to test this one? To live in harmony with one another? The best arena I know for testing this one is marriage, to be in a situation where you are living in harmony with one another. What keeps us from living in harmony with one another?
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Each one of us wants to do our own thing. I want to be right. I want to do what I want to do because what I want to do is the right way. There is a right and a wrong. There is my way and a wrong way. Am I right? Now you are not going to live in harmony with one another like that.
If we realize that because I am a man and Amy is a woman, which is quite frankly, which is the way God intended marriages to be. He did not make Adam and Steve. He made Adam and Eve. That is the way God made it to be. If people think that is not politically correct, then get a life. Just get a life and start seeing what the bible has to say. You hate what is evil and grab a hold of what is good. Homosexuality is not good. In the bible, and even if you do not know anything about the bible, you know it is not good. In your own heart you know it is not good. So do not call it good. That does not mean you hate a person who is involved in that any more than you hate a person who is involved in lust. If you did then you would have to hate everybody. Just hate all the guys. Get rid of them.
I am not talking about that. I am talking about the activity. Stealing is not good. Lying is not good. It is not just a little white one. Lying is not good. Are we right or wrong? So we must look at what the bible says what is right and wrong and grab a hold of it. I am not condemning those people. We have no right to condemn. But I am condemning the practice because it is a perversion. There are a lot of perversions. That is not the only one. I am sick and tired of the world trying to call that good and then trying to get marriages around it when it is really hard to propagate. In case you have not figured that out that is a tough job. Nothing angers me any more than seeing in the world people calling bad good and good bad. Does it say in scripture, “woe to the man who calls bad good and good bad.” Yet that is the world we live in today and it is acceptable.
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
When you live in marriage, you have a guy and a gal. When it talks about one from Mars and the other from Venus, that is true. We think of things totally differently. We are like looking at the moon. I am looking one side of it and Amy is looking on the other side. Both of us are looking at the moon. I am saying it is bright and she is saying it is dark or vice versus. “No it isn’t? It is bright. I am looking at the moon. What do you think I am looking at.” “Well, I am looking at the moon, too.“
It is true that opposites attract? How many of you in your marriage, one of you likes to get up early and get to bed early and the other one wants to get up late and go to bed late? Opposites attract don’t they? God says, “I want to create unity in that.” You say, “God, you may be able to split the sea but I do not think you will be able to accomplish that one.” “Yes, I will. If you let me, I will show you how. I can get unity in the midst of this unbelievable diversity of man and woman living under the same roof together. But you cannot do it if you both want your own way.”
That is why I have to forget about this as just a man thing and Amy has to forget about that this is just a woman thing. What we have to do is say, “What does Jesus have to say about it?” It is not what I as a man say about it or what does a woman say about it. The issue is, “What does Jesus say about it?” If you will center your life in Him, instead of hanging on tenaciously to your own desires to be in control, and to be controlling everything. Let go of that. God didn’t call you to control. He called Him to control you, not you to control the world. Let go of that and say what I want to know is what does God want me to do? You are going to have a successful marriage.
You will have some problem because you are man and woman, but God said if you let me alone and let me control this thing, I will show you how I can bring unity in the midst of this unbelievable diversity. Can you think of anything more diverse than a man and a woman in the same house together. With Amy and I, we have been together for 50 years. We will have our anniversary not too long from now. For 50 years, arguing, wanting our own way, for 50 years. You talk about tenacious. That is true. So he says in these passages here that He wants us to live in harmony with one another. Now, how do you do that? Take a look at these verses.
Do not be proud,
You will not live in harmony being proud. These are attitudes of pride: “I think I know more than they do.” “I know how to accomplish things better than they do.”
but be willing to associate with people of low position.
That is such an important thing.
Do not be conceited.
I have seen churches operate in a conceited way. How do you become a deacon? Check your financial records, especially if you are tithing. People associating with people of high financial status, ad that is all you want to associate with? God says do not be that way. You will not experience love when you are just associating with people in your financial status. Learn to love people of all status. Learn to love the rich. Learn to love the poor. Learn to love the white. Learn to love the black. Learn that from God’s standpoint, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Learn to love one another. Is that not great when you can just love each other and not be wondering what your financial record is? Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
What is that saying? In the eyes of everybody? Well, everybody is not saying the same things is right. But be careful to do what is right before the eyes of everybody. In other words, do not be a stumbling block to somebody. Some people, for example, think it is a sin to eat meat. He said people whose faith are weak because that is really true. But the issue is, if that is the case, do not go out and try to share with Christ with him chowing down on a pork chop. If somebody thinks that it is total sin to have a glass of wine, do not go to share Christ with him and drink a glass of wine. In other words, it is do not give an appearance of evil. It may not be evil to you, but if you know that it gives an appearance of evil to someone else, do not do it.
20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV)
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I remember Amy and I, one time met a couple. There was a couple who was very active in Christian work. A lady came up to us one time. Her eyes were as big as dollars. She said “Oh, I saw so and so in a restaurant the other day and they were having a glass of wine. And we are supposed to say “Eww”. You felt like saying, “Have you heard the passage of scripture that says to lead a quiet life and tend to your own business?” Have you ever read that scripture? Why do you care whether someone had a glass of wine? I particularly do not like it and it is not important to me any more. Besides that when I learned that alcohol killed brain cells I figured I had none to spare. I had enough wine in my life. That is not the reason I do not drink. I do not drink because I do not want to. Do I look down on you because you do? If you have a problem with it because you became an alcoholic in your life and it is a brother, then do not touch it. But I am not going to look down on you because somebody has a glass of wine? Are you? I am not going to sit around with you at dinner if I did like wine and then get drunk and then talk about Jesus. There are things to think about. You are being a stumbling block. Do not do that. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
If it is possible. Note the “if”. What is it saying here? You may desire to live at peace with someone else but that does not mean that they are going to live at peace with you. Are we together on that? Do not think this scripture is saying that if I am going to live in peace with you, then it is automatic they will want to live at peace with me. It does not say that. As far as you are concerned, live at peace with all people. But that does not mean all people are wanting to live at peace with you? Are we together on that?
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
Give him all the spinach he wants.
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
In other words, by being good to someone who has treated you in an ill way, it burns. It is like burning coals on their head.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So folks, these instructions are all given to us. We look at those. I do not know about you, but I look at those and say it is condemning in some ways. It is convicting in some ways. I look at my own attitudes in some of those and say I am sure not that way in all ways. I am sure you are the same. But this is what God’s righteousness is. This is what God’s truth is. This is a goal. This is saying I know that I may not be sincere all the time, but I say to the Lord Jesus, “I want You to be sincere through me. I want to have a sincere love for people. I want to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. I want to be devoted to people in brotherly love. I do not want to be fearful any more. I want to put that dumb fear away and that block that I have got around me.” I cannot over-emphasize that enough, folks, because I have counseled enough in this world to know what happens. People put walls around themselves. They really do. Take them down because it just destroys relationships. You cannot live in fear of being hurt or rejected. If you do, then you will never learn to love with a sincere heart.
I wonder what would happen if we treated our bible like we treat our cell phone? What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? What if we flipped through it several times a day? What if we turned around to go get it when we forgot it? What if we use it to receive messages from the text? What if we treated it like we could not live without it? What if we gave it to our children as gifts? What if we used it when we traveled? What if we used it in case of an emergency? One more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we do not have to worry about the bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill. This is something to make you say “Umm”. Where is my bible? That is pretty good isn’t it?
Let us turn together back again to the book of Romans. Guys, I think that where the difficulty comes in, many times, in biblical understanding, is we forget, as an example, this whole book of Romans is dealing with the contrast between the law and grace. It is showing us the purpose of the law and how we have misused it’s purpose, making it as a means of righteousness instead of a means of showing you your sinfulness. All through the scriptures is this concept explained of the contrast between law and grace. In the 2nd chapter of Romans, I outlined some of these things. If you do like I do, I circle things. In this passage in chapter 2, you might turn to that, beginning in verse 12. I just circle the word “law”.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
So he is talking about the law.
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God;
This is a definition of people, like the Jews, who have never escaped from the law. Whether you are in grace land over here or law land over there, if you are truly born again, as we described last week, you have been taken out of this realm over here altogether. You have been transferred over here into the kingdom of His Son that we love, and in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sin.
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
You have been removed from the demands of the law. Folks, if you are in law land, you are miserable. Like Paul said, the things you want to do you do not do. The things you do not want to do, you do them any way.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
It is a miserable existence. You are in slavery. It says you are absolutely enslaved by the demands of the law. If you are under the law, then you are under the penalty of the law, which is spiritual death. It is not a desirable condition to be in. Yet people will hang on to what kills them, tenaciously. Just like our cell phones, hang on tenaciously to what kills you. Come over here in grace land and people say you are nuts. They say, “It is too good to be true.” The issue is that you are in bondage. You are miserable. You make people around you miserable because you are in bondage. That is what it says about the law.
What is interesting about these kind of people is they like to make people think they are under the law and are doing good under it, otherwise why would you call on the air? As I have heard for over 20 years, people say, “You mean to tell me that you are not under the law.” I have to say: “You must believe that you are obedient to it. Why would you be calling? Why would you be calling to defend the law unless you thought that you were doing good under it? You are dead. You are lost because if you are saved you would not be under that law.” But that is how people act.
You who call yourself a Jew, if you rely upon the law, do you brag about your relationship with God? And that is what people do. A person says: “I am under the law and I am one holy dude. You tell me God loves me. No wonder. I love me too. I am so good.” I would say to him: “Let me interview your wife.”
18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?
The person under law says: “We are going to tell everybody what to do. We are going to tell everybody how to obey the law because we are law-abiding.” Anybody here law-abiding? Anybody here want to stand before God with absolutely no sin in your life, because that is what it takes? If you are under the law, Paul says, you are under all of it. James says, “if you kept the whole law in your life and just violated it at just one point, you violated all of it. Do you want to stand before God like that? That is His requirement, not yours, because you got self-righteous requirements, bragging of how good you are.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?
What is he doing here, guys? He is just burying us, if you are able to be buried.
You who preach against stealing, do you steal?
Do you steal people’s time. If you show up late all the time, then you are a time stealer. Anybody here, are you a time stealer?
22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?
Do you ever lust, in your whole life? No reason to hold up hands. If you lust, then you committed adultery, in God’s sight. We are talking about this the way God looks at it, not how we washed it and watered it down. We are looking at it how God looks at it. Are you free from guilt? I do not think so.
You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
If you are going to uphold something, and brag on it, then, brother, you better keep it; otherwise, what are we called? Hypocrites. And that is what most Christians are called. Do you know why they are hypocrites? Because they are saying they are under the law. They are saying they are obeying it and they are not. You are merely preaching the grace of God. Nobody is ever going to call you a hypocrite, for you are not teaching that you are good any way. You are teaching He is God.
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.
He is talking about circumcision. It could be baptism, church attendance, tithing records, or all those kinds of things. Instead of circumcision, the cutting off of the foreskin, the legalistic person could also say, to those in the world today: “You have not been baptized, or you have not been a church goer, or whatever it might be.” But those things, like circumcision of the flesh, do not make anyone right before God. It talks about the fact a man is not a Jew if he is one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward or physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and circumcision is a circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
That is just one passage in there about the law. We go into chapter 5. We talk about the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. It talks about how we have been justified when we were God’s enemies, lost. It talks about being saved by his life. Let us pray together.
“Father, we want to thank you for the truth of the word of God. We read these things and really it is a definition of your attitude toward us. God is saying, ‘If I live in you, I can produce those same attitudes in you.’ To that we say, ‘Thank you’. So Lord help us to become loving people. Put bitterness away. Forgive one another just as you forgave us. Many times we had almost a lifestyle, and many times in our marriages, of being angry and bitter. Put that away. It does not do any good. Lord Jesus, I am tired of trying to protect myself. I am tired of having this wall around me. I want to be able to love with your love just like you did. You were not fearful of loving us. You knew full well that in so doing some would accept and others would reject, but you loved us any way. Father, free us from the fears that keep us away from the perfect love of God. Let us learn to walk in that newness of life, refreshed by God’s word. In Christ name we pray and for His sake. Amen.”