Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P38 (07-14-20)
Many people think God grades on a curve, for they reason, that after all nobody is perfect, so you just do the best you can. Others believe that you have to keep short accounts with God to keep in fellowship or in relationship with God, and others go to a confession booth to get their sins forgiven. But all of this is people relying on their own understanding, not acknowledging God, so that He can make their paths straight. So people who do not know God, what do they do? They form a religion. They develop a system that they think will take care of their sins since they know they cannot keep the demands of the law. It makes no difference whether you say you are Protestant, Catholic or something else.
So let us rely not on our understanding but look at what God has to say on the matter. Certainly God knows what we need. Why would he go through the trouble of sending His Son from heaven to come here to earth to die on a cross? God wanted to provide something for us we could never do for ourselves. Can we, by our best efforts, ever make ourselves acceptable to God, that we could so impress God by what we do, that He would welcome us into His kingdom of heaven? If we could, then it would make no sense for Jesus Christ to come and do what he did.
So then, why was the law even given? If the law could not make us righteous before God, why even have it? We have to see the law for what it was. It is like a mirror. A mirror cannot remove dirt from your face, but it can certainly be used to show you what your problem is. You have dirt on your face. The law tells you what sin is and that you are a sinner. The law cannot remove that sin. The law was given so that man may recognize his utter sinfulness, and thereby, like the apostle Paul recognize his problem so he might seek a Savior.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21] 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
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.
So as you read and ponder over the scriptures, you come to realize something about the law, and in the process, you discover your need of grace that is offered in Christ Jesus.
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!
All of this new thinking comes about as the Spirit of God draws all men to Himself, out of His great love for you. We respond to that love. No longer are these just words on a page, as if just a history book, but words of life. When we read these scriptures, we grab a hold of truth revealed to us. Truth becomes a firm conviction, a policy, a change in attitude, as we put our faith in that truth. We read about a person and we get to know the divine author, who is Christ our Lord. Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of Christ Jesus.
We read about Jesus dying on a cross, but no longer is that just an historical event or something on our calendars. We realize that the death he died, he died to take away the sins of the entire world. My sins, before I was even born, were placed on Him. What love is this, that while I was still a sinner, He died for me! It becomes more than a belief now, but an attitude of heart change. I may or may not have tears, but whatever emotion I have is not that important. What is important is that there is an expression of gratitude in my heart for what God did for me. I am beginning to respond to His initiation of love toward me.
But then you realize you are struggling in how to live. You know you cannot obey the law. And you are deeply grateful for Christ ’ s death on the cross for you. So as you keep reading, you read all about these things Jesus said in the gospels. He would say things like, “I am the living water”, “I am the resurrection and the life.”, “Come to me for life”, and “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Then you read more in the epistles of Paul. You discover there are two ministries, one of death and one of life, one of law and one of Spirit. The ministry of law brings death. The ministry of Spirit brings life. Which one do you think is the most glorious? The law is a ministry that condemns me. If it is glorious, how much more is the ministry that brings righteousness.
The law cannot make you righteous. The law cannot justify you. The law cannot bring life because the law is an instrument of death. Everything we thought the law could do, we realize that it cannot. We realize that Christ Jesus is the answer to my most basic need. Man’s most basic need is that he is dead and in need of life. We come to realize that God did everything to provide that for us, in Christ Jesus. He took away my cause of death by shedding his blood on a cross. Then he rose from the dead, so that the same life that raised him from the dead is placed in me, the moment I put my faith in Him.
We put aside the law because God also did, when the work was completed in Christ Jesus for us. He set aside the old covenant of law for a new covenant of grace. We read about that in Hebrews. We grab a hold of grace, and make that our conviction, firmly holding onto that truth of grace in Christ Jesus. How much glorious is the resurrected life of Christ in you, who will never leave you or forsake you, who has given you everything you need for life and godliness, who has imputed His righteousness to you. Are you convinced, are you persuaded, of His love for you, that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Perfect love casts out fear so I have no need to worry about today or tomorrow.
What a marvelous gift! What a blessed hope! You are not not simply believing now, as if just some fact of history, but you see the reality of the totality of the cross and of being made complete in Christ Jesus. This is a new attitude in your heart. This is a deep conviction. This is a new policy. I died to the law and have been made alive in Christ Jesus!
You discover that Jesus is life. Jesus is grace. Christ is my life. Christ is my only hope of glory. The life I live, I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave Himself for me. Life is to be lived out by total dependence upon Him. Life just jumps off the page!
This change in attitude in you is revealed. It is observed by others when you go through trials and tribulations of life. Your son or daughter died suddenly in a car accident. Yes, you are deeply saddened by such a loss, but there is something supernatural observed in you. There is this peace and hope that you have, that one day I will see him again. There is that promised day when Jesus will come again and we will see Him in glory and all those who have gone on before us.
So, knowing this blessed hope, we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. We encourage one another. We testify of this hope we have when people ask you why you have such hope. You do so with gentleness and respect, so that those who falsely accuse you are ashamed of their slander. Our hearts’s desire is that they too may come to accept this grace and become a part of the body of Christ, and experience all that God wants for us.
We long to meet together, because we cannot contain this expression of Christ in us, where this fruit is born out through us, for the benefit of others. So we are mutually encouraged by one another’s faith. We meet for fellowship, to pray, and to the breaking of bread, in the honor of the one who made all this possible, new life in Christ Jesus.
Do I want to remain under a curse? Or is there a way to get out from under the curse of the law? Did God provide a way for that? Or, does this just mean I am a goner? Or does this mean I try my best and see if God grades on a curve? Or, do I realize I cannot keep the law, but we will develop a system where we can get our sins forgiven? We have gone to the confession booth, to 1 John 1:9, to the altar calls, to keep short accounts with God. I cannot keep this. I cannot rely on observing law all the time. I am doing my best. I am trying. I am sorry, but trying is not good enough. If you violated the least of these, you violated all of them. Trying is not good enough. It is like trying to leap over the Grand Canyon. It is not good enough. Self effort is not the issue. If a person is in that mindset, that I am going to be able to accomplish this, but I cannot accomplish this. But he says I have to accomplish it, then I have to come up with a system to take care of it when I mess up.
So we have this obsession with confession mentality. Why do we have this obsession with confession mentality? Because we cannot do what the bible says, and that is to keep the law, but we are too stupid to get out from under it. So we stay under what is killing us, voluntarily, by our own actions, by our own desires, by our own intuition, and misinterpretation of scripture. That law, I am under it, but I cannot keep it. But I have got my 1 John 1:9 and my confession booth. So we live in this delusion. This is not Christianity. This is insanity.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Why do I say it is insanity? If that is the way you live the Christian life, why in the world then did Jesus come? What did Jesus have to come for? There is already a system to keep your sins forgiven under the law. He came to do something far greater than this. He is talking about the ten commandments. Those are the letters engraved on stone, not ceremony laws, but the ten commandments. There is no question what he is talking about there. You are talking about the ten commandments from Mt. Sinai.
2 Corinthians 3:9-11
9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Remember when Moses came down from the mountain, his glory was such that the people could not look at him, even though it was fading.
There are two ministries, one of death and one of life, one of Spirit and one of law. The ministry of law brings death. The ministry of Spirit brings life. Which one do you think is the most glorious? The law is a ministry that condemns me. If it is glorious, how much more is the ministry that brings righteousness.
Can anyone be declared righteous in the sight of God under the law? No. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:21.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[a]
So if the ministry of the law is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness. The law could never bring righteousness. We just read that if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing. We all know what it says, but have you put your faith in that. That also is an object of our faith. That is truth. I am going to put my faith in something, that I will never be declared righteous in the sight of God by observing the law.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God ’ s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
I want that to go down into my heart because if I do not form that attitude then every time I mess up I am going to wonder if I am under a curse, out of fellowship or whatever else it might be, instead of walking by faith, that righteousness will be obtained only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God, the ministry of grace that is given to us in Christ Jesus. That is an attitude, and I am going to live with that attitude. Why? It is biblical. It is in scripture. It says it. I am going to put my faith in that. I am going to let that go into me and form a conviction in regard to that.
What was glorious has no glory now. None. He is talking about the law. What was glorious, the law, has no glory at all in comparison with the surpassing glory. In comparison to Jesus, the law has no glory at all. It had glory prior to Jesus. But now it has no glory compared to the surpassing glory. If what was fading, the law, came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts? How long? Forever.
2 Corinthians 3:12
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
Therefore, and when you see that, ask what is it there for? Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. How do you get such a hope? With the therefore. You get your hope by putting your faith in the fact that the law has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. When something is surpassing, it means you leave the old behind and something has surpassed it. That is Jesus and the ministry of the Spirit that gives life, which replaced the demands of the law that brought death.
Are you still under the law? If you are, you are under a curse. If you are under a curse, there is no way to get out from that curse on your own. Jesus has provided that way, but as long as you refuse to receive Him and His grace fully, then you will remain under the law and under the curse of it. God gave us two ministries, the ministry of death through the law, and the ministry of life, through the Spirit. The issue is, which one are you under? If under the law, you are under the ministry of death and you are under a curse. You have placed yourself there because God has provided a way for you to be out from underneath that. If you are under grace, you have been freed from the demands of the law and the punishment that comes with the law, namely death.
If a ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:21 about what the law could not do.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
So folks, we are talking about a very simple thing here. If there could have been a law that could have brought life, and imputed righteousness, then Christ died for nothing, and there would be no need for the replacement of it.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
No man will ever be justified because of the law.
16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
The law cannot make you righteous. The law cannot justify you. The law cannot bring life because the law is an instrument of death. So, we realize what Paul says in Romans 8.
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Have you put your faith in that truth? If your faith is placed in truth, then you are going to have to conclude in your heart that you are no longer under the law, but you now are in Christ, under grace. Titus 2 tells us this.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
Who is the grace that brought salvation? Jesus. The grace of God is another way of calling Jesus. Who brought salvation? Jesus. He has appeared to how many men? All men.
12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
What is our blessed hope? It is that what we are waiting for, the glorious appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. How can we be waiting in great expectation with the great hope of this glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, if we were under a law and under a curse? That would be like saying, “I cannot wait to solidify that I am a goner”. There is no hope in that. The hope we have is the grace of God, who came to me through Jesus Christ, freed me from the demands of the law so I could walk in the new way of life. That is life. No longer under the curse of the law, death, but now under the provision of life through grace. Folks, people who want to demand under the law, do you have hope? Of course you do not. What do you have faith in? Your reliance upon your ability to do good enough in life for God to be pleased with you and take you to heaven? That is a doomsday understanding of scripture.
It is the grace of God that teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness. What are people doing who are trying to live under the law? Trying to live godly. Trying to escape worldly passions. What did Paul discover in this matter? “The good things I want to do, I do not do, and the things I do not want to do, I do anyway”. That is under the law.
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.
How come? The power of sin is in the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
It is clear as a bell what it tells us in scripture, that if we are under the law, sin is our master. It tells us that. Sin is your master because you are under the law. If sin is my master because I am under the law, or I have been freed from sin as my master because I am under grace, then it means while I am under the law sin is my master. How are you going to escape worldly passions when you are under the law and sin is your master? How are you going to escape worldly passions when the power of sin is the law? How are you going to live a self-controlled, upright life in this present age under the law when sin is your master and is keeping you from being self-controlled and keeping you being Satan-controlled? The answer to that is you cannot. The law does not provide for that. The law cannot teach you to say “no” to ungodliness. The law can tell you what ungodliness is and it can damn you to death in the midst of your ungodliness.
Once again, we have developed our system to keep forgiven, to keep short accounts with God, our 1 John 1:9, or go back to the confession booth. It makes no difference whether protestant or Catholic, we are all doing the same thing. We have developed a religious system because we cannot do what the bible says, that we cannot do under the law, and get into grace. We insist upon staying under the law and trying to be living a godly life. But when I don’t I can get forgiven. What a pitiful religion. So he says that it is the grace of God, Jesus who brought the grace of God, who appeared to all men, and He and His grace is what teaches us to say “no” to unrighteousness, worldly passions, and live self-controlled upright lives, waiting for this blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Now, let us look at Hebrews 10:23-25.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
Again, what is that? It is a conviction. Hold onto this thing.
for he who promised is faithful.
Why can we hold onto the hope that we profess? Because he is faithful. We are not, but He is. Hold onto that truth, that in the midst of our unfaithfulness, He is faithful. Does that mean, ’Hey, let us go out and be more unfaithful so He can show us His faithfulness more”. Paul answered this question when he was asked that question.
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
God forbid. That is not the issue. You have missed the whole point. You have to realize something. When you turn your body over to Satan, he is going to control you. But you do not have to anymore. So let us hold onto unswervingly onto something. He who promised is faithful. So let us consider something.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
What is that? Paul said this in another place.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Is there any encouragement in these kinds of things? Then show it. Spur one another on in love and good deeds. Encourage one another. Create an enthusiasm we have for this blessed hope that is in us.
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Folks, we have for years looked at this as, “Hey, that is going to church”. Certainly if there is something at a church building or Sunday morning, that could be the case. But how are you going to spur one another in love and good deeds, looking at the back of someone’s head for an hour and then turning around and going home. There is some at the beginning will say let us be friendly, so you turn your head and shake each other’s hands. That is kind of embarrassing a little bit and just kind of mundane stuff. You just sit right back down. You do not remember who shook your hands, do not remember their names and still turn around and walk out. That is not what it is talking about in meeting together. When you are meeting together, you are meeting together for interaction.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Recall in the early church, they met daily for the apostles’ teaching, for fellowship and for prayer. There is no fellowship staring at the back of someone’s head. Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing that, getting together, but not meeting together. Some are in the habit of getting together, but not meeting together. There is no meeting of the mind or meeting of the spirit. It is just getting together. So let us encourage one another. Let us encourage one another about what? Love, good deeds, fellowship toward each other, being responsible as born again believers, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
Well, we never know when that day is going to be, when Christ is going to come back. It says we are looking forward to that, that blessed hope. Every day of our lives we look forward to the blessed appearing of our great God and Savior, Jsus Christ. We do not know if that is going to come today, tomorrow or a thousand years from now. But one thing we do know, He is coming back. That should be motivation to us to look forward to that great day. Meanwhile, whenever that occurs and until that occurs, we have the privilege of meeting together, interacting with other believers, encouraging one another, spurring one another toward love, spurring one another on toward good deeds. That should be our mindset, a policy. It should be a part of our hope and it should be a part of our hearts. That in our heart is a desire put there by God, that says, “I want to be an encourager. I want to be a lover. I want to not be engaged in bad deeds. I want to be engaged in good deeds honoring the Lord”. That is all a mindset that comes from God Himself.
1 Peter 3:13-15
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[or fear what they fear]; do not be frightened.”[Isaiah 8:12] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Again, this is dealing with your hearts. In all your attitudes of your heart, in all of those things, set apart Christ as Lord. Paramount, foundational to your heart, foundational to your life, is Jesus is Lord, not you, but Him.
1 Peter 3:15
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
I wonder how much hope we are giving out to people, that we have a blessed hope. I see time and time again, especially when it relates to the Christian’s attitude toward death and toward trials and tribulations, I see coming out of people who have come to understand the grace of God, with the attitude of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me
We are dealing with a marvelous thing there, that regardless of what happens, Gods grace is sufficient. I said, so many times, that none of us know what is going to happen in the future except what is told us in the scriptures. I do not know what will happen to me tomorrow, but one thing I do know is that my Jesus, who is in my today, is already there. If that is the case, what do I have to fear about tomorrow any more than I have to fear about today. Satan would love for me to be fearing what is going to happen tomorrow or what is going to happen today. But we learn that perfect loves is what casts out all fear.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We rest in that truth, in the perfect love of God, and rest in the fact I have a reason for this marvelous hope, that whatever happens, God will cause it to work together for good. That becomes a testimony to people. “How can you survive in this problem you are going through? How do you keep going? That is amazing to me.” “My hope is in Jesus, not in you and not in me, but it is in Jesus”. How do we deal with these things when a loved one dies? You see a Christian responding to that almost with what you would think of us as mixed emotions. There is the one as of a sadness of the loss and another of peace and joy because of a knowledge that that person is in the presence of Jesus Christ for eternity, never having to look upon this junk we all have to deal with the rest of our lives, and to be able to know that is where they are.
We had a lady who testified the other day, a dear sister in Christ, who two years ago lost a son in an accident, killed instantaneously. Sure, her heart was broken. But she had this joy. A neighbor called the other day. “You really make me mad”. “How come?” “How can you be so joyful?” She could not understand. What did that do? It gave her an opportunity to anyone who asked you for the reason for the hope you have. She answered the woman, who was angry at God and angry at the response, and said, “My son is with Jesus and I am going to see him some day. When a person looks at that, first of all she looks at your reaction. “I do not understand this reaction. There is something supernatural about this. How can you do that?” You do not have to beat somebody on the head with a witnessing tract. They have seen something. So now what are you doing? Just what the scripture said.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have
This life in which we live, we have a lot of opportunities for people to see the hope we have in Jesus. The trials and tribulations we turn into an opportunity to give people a chance to look at your reactions. Your reactions are going to be totally proportionate to the hope that is within you, from the attitude that has been formed, and from a policy and the conviction you have. That conviction is going to come out in trials and tribulations. So, to me it speaks of the attitude we do this in.
1 Peter 3:15-16
But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Again, your response to this thing, a person who is mad at you, is to respond with gentleness and respect, so that those who are speaking maliciously against you and your response, will be ashamed of their slander. If they are saying, “You are hard-hearted. You did not love your child because I do not see you wailing. You are shallow.” All of those things. All of a sudden they asked you, and you have given the reason for your hope. And they say, “I have been speaking maliciously against you, but I am ashamed of my slander because I know where you are coming from now”. That is a beautiful way to live.
Order the Bible Study; “A Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love” book today!