Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P18 (12-04-19)
In the struggles of life, with its trials and tribulations, we are to hold onto faith. Faith is not a blind faith. Faith is in an object, in the one who has fulfilled all his promises, and who will fulfill all the promises he has made, and the only one who has the authority and power to do so. This person is Jesus, God in the flesh. He died, was buried and rose again. He reconciled us to himself by his death on a cross and justified us by his life. He is the creator of all that is, with the power to raise the dead, you and me, to life again. So in Him, we are more than conquerors.
Yet, at times, we lose focus on Christ. We look at our circumstances, no matter hard they may be. We get angry at God or want to die or turn to the ungodly for advice, the psychologists or drugs or alcohol or any number of things to ease the pain. But that is not God’s way to live. God gives us peace that surpasses understanding. He told us to persevere under trial, for suffering produces character and character produces hope, and hope never disappoints.
Remember, these are only light and momentary trials, and are not unusual in a fallen world, common to all men. Turn to God and His word. Hold onto his promises. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. You are His child. He said He will cause all things to happen for the good to those who love Him and are called to His purposes. Live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and trust Him. Jesus is our life. Keep your mind and heart on Him. Trials shall pass. This present world will not last forever. Remember our purpose to which we are called, a light to a fallen world, and who we are, saints by calling.
The law did its work. What was the purpose of the law? To show your sinfulness in order to lead you to Christ. The law is a mirror. What is the purpose of a mirror? To wash your face? No, to show you it is dirty. But a mirror does not wash your face. Is a mirror necessary? If you want to see if dirt is on your face it is. But if you do not care, it has no meaning to it. But if you suddenly come to the point wondering if your face is dirty or not, you look in the mirror and see that it is. But the mirror cannot wash your face. So that is when you hear a tap on your shoulder and turn around and see Jesus. “Did you see what was revealed in the mirror?” “Yes.” “Do you want me to cleanse you?” “Yes, I do.” So we turn and are saved, cleansed of all unrighteousness and indwelt by the Spirit of God. That is salvation. We enter into that by faith and faith alone. You do not enter that by an ounce of works. You enter into that by faith and faith alone.
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.”
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
You are going to see the triplicate of faith, hope and love. I once thought a teaching on love would be easy to write. I could not write it. God would not let me complete the book on love. I finally realized that you cannot take love by itself. It is a triplicate, faith hope and love. Paul always commended you on faith, hope and love. You really cannot have one without the other. You can separate one from the other but you cannot have one without the other. They are different but they form one thing.
In this passage, he will be talking about faith. Then you will be talking about hope and then love. So, he is saying here that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have gained access by our faith into this grace we stand. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. But we rejoice in our sufferings.
Now, I want to deal with this for just a moment, in regard to rejoicing in our sufferings. How many of you have ever had sufferings, of any kind? If you escaped it, just give it time. Jesus said that in this world you are going to have tribulation.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Now that is a promise if you have not had it yet, you just wait. You will have it. In this world you will have suffering. You may lose a loved one. You may lose a romance. You may lose the love of your husband or of your wife. You may have a child that rejects you and goes off in a wrong direction. You may lose your job or work. You may lose your health. You may lose your mobility, as some people do. You may lose your voice, your eyesight or your hearing. There are all kinds of things in this world where we have tribulation. I have told people if you are married in this room, look at your mate. Unless you die together in an accident, you will be looking at one or the other in a casket some day. It is just that simple. One of you is going to look at the other one in a casket, that will be killed in tribulation, trials or hardships. Jesus said in this world you will have them.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
When sin entered this world, death entered this world. Trials entered. Tribulation entered. Even all of nature groans for its redemption. The whole world is fallen and we are a part of that fallen race into which we are born again into the newness of life. Living in that fallen race but as a light to the fallen race. So you will have suffering.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
I came to Christ in the 60s and thinking everything is going to be wonderful. That does not last long, does it? But he said something about suffering. When I enter into something that causes me to suffer, if I begin to look at that circumstance from God’s perspective, I begin to think in my own life to say, “Why am I going through this suffering? Is there a purpose for this?” So we grab a hold of scripture that says this.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Do you see, friends? It is only when we look back, after we have watched God’s faithfulness, do we look back and say, “I now see why I went through that. I now see it. I did not see it when I was going through it, but I see it now.” You will never see that when you are not looking at things from God’s perspective. If you will hang in there, trusting God and trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to do precisely what he would do in your life: “I will cause all things to work together for your good if you love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.”
We have attitudes that we can approach suffering. I can approach suffering with an attitude of God and His promises and God in his faithfulness. I can approach this regardless of what I am going through. I know because of what God promised. In His time, He will cause this to work together for my good. Or we can say “woe is me”.
I have had people who are Christians who say, “How could God allow this to happen to me?” In essence he is saying, “How could God allow this to happen to wonderful me? I know God loves me. I love me too. How can this happen?” What is wrong with you? Did you see what happened to His Son, to the apostle Paul, and to the apostles, who were the ones who carried this gospel to you and me? All of them died a horrible death except John, who died in exile. Why would we think that we are going to escape trials and tribulations when Jesus did not? Nor did his early church or early apostles?
That is a mindset that escapes me sometimes. Why do people want to blame God mainly for our own stupid decisions we have made? Yet we blame God. How can God do that? Very easy. He gave man a free will. How could God allow all the Jews to be killed? Because He gave free will to man. God is so deserving. Yes, and in his sovereignty, he gave free will to man. So a part of sovereignty is that He is not going to make a robot out of you.
I want to create a man who can choose. I want a man who chooses to love me. I do not want to marry a woman who has to love me. I want to marry a woman who chooses to love me. Didn’t you? God, in His sovereignty created a man with a choice. Man has been making choices ever since. Adam and Eve made a choice in the garden of Eden.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
God did not force them to do that. If He did, He would be a sadistic God, forcing them to choose for them to fall so this world gets messed up for over a thousand years. He created them to live in dependency on God, which they did until the day they decided to add to what God told them. Eve decided to believe what Satan said instead of God. Adam chose to disobey and man fell. So we have been in that fallen state ever since.
You can read the account of the fall of man in Genesis 3.
So we have to understand the truth that God gave us a choice. The problems in the world today are a result of choices that man makes. I decide I do not need God to determine right from wrong. The one single choice, the one tree in the garden of Eden, was this tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve, do not even try to eat from that one, for the day you do you are going to die. The day you decide you do not need God to determine right from wrong, good from evil, you will die. Any other choice you want to make, go ahead. But if you eat of that one, you have had it.
2 Timothy 3:1
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days
The condition of this world is getting worse and worse. This country is going down faster than you can imagine as people bring in tolerance of everything. You have the homosexual community, as an example, with inserts into the Dallas Times. Did you see that? Pages of it to get people to have an acceptance of perverted behavior. What is that? That is man standing at the tree saying, “God you do not know what is right and wrong. You just do not understand?” The issue is this. God is saying, “Yes, I do understand. I understand that when I say something is sin that means it is sin. If I call something sin, do not call it something to be tolerated.” That is man standing at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man is saying, “I do not need you, God. I have situational ethics. If you will just get it accepted. If we just get everybody accepting then nobody will be criticizing me.” The last place of a movement, regardless of the movement, a movement to discredit what God is calling sin, is the church of Jesus Christ, and that is the next battleground. It is taking place in history right now, where bring in ministers and leaders and everything who are out of a background of sin.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
How many of us have sinned? All of us have sinned. I am not zeroing in on one sin. But if I ever came down and said, “Fornication is okay, adultery is okay and stealing isn’t bad either. Lying is okay. Cheating is okay. Worshiping idols is okay.” If you ever get down to that, you have had it. You may not be able to live up to what God says is good, but you never want to deny that good is good. Whenever we start denying truth, we are on the road to destruction. I have worked with people out of different backgrounds. Anyone who comes in and says “that is not sin, that is an alternative lifestyle”, I say the conversation is over. When a person comes in and says “I am involved in an illicit relationship with another woman and it is eating my lunch, and I want help. You sit and work with that person until hell freezes over.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
But another person who comes in and says that is an alternative lifestyle, then you have to say “I am sorry. We do not have anything to talk about. I cannot communicate with you because you are refusing truth. The only way you are going to be free is to know truth and let truth set you free.” That is why we have tribulation in this day. It is man denying what truth is.
In this world we are going to have suffering. We can take the self pity attitude. Some people take suicide. They let despair come to the point where they commit suicide. The attitude of that is “they hurt me so bad that I will show them. I will just kill myself.”
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope
Why me? How come God allowed this to happen? We get angry at God. What are all these signs of? They are signs of having no character. That is what it says. Suffering produce perseverance. Perseverance produces character. Under suffering you are going to have perseverance. What it means is persevering with God. It does not mean I am going to man to find the solution to my problems. It mean I am going to turn to God in the midst of what I am going through because God has said He will cause all things to work together for my good, whatever it is. I will trust God to work together for my good. I will persevere and hang with God regardless.
Has any of you been through these things? I have. I am sure you have as well. I can remember some times in my life I was in such discouragement and despair and when I had a tough time this thought popped into my mind, I think I need Prosaic. God zapped me in the head and in that moment I said, “I do not care if I die in this hurt and pain. I am not going to compromise coming to you for a pill from Eli Lilly.” And it broke like that.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
It is whether you are going to trust God with your heartaches and pain or you are going to trust Eli Lilly. I know this is not popular with some people who are especially engaged with Eli Lilly, but I also know you have two options. I can either trust God with the normal trials and tribulations we go through, to calm my heart and bring peace to my soul or I can go trust an outside source, but I cannot trust them both.
1 Peter 4:12-13
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
The issue to me comes to this. How are we going to observe suffering in our life? How are we going to do it? The last song we sang was about how you handle suffering. How do you handle that? The way you handle that is, “Lord Jesus, I know I am going through trials and tribulations and sometimes I brought it on myself. I would like to beat myself up from what I did but I cannot. It is over and done. So I am going to a higher calling in Christ Jesus. As tough as they are, I am going to trust that you will do exactly as you promised, that you will cause them to happen for my good.”
I recall Dr. Criswell. I am grateful to him what he taught me one day. Anything that causes you to fall flat on your face before God, turns out to be a blessing. When you are flat on your face before God, you have given up. You say, “I can’t” and He says, “I know and I can.” Do you want character, that hangs in there in the midst of all circumstances, like Job?
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[a] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Job said, “Though the whole world curse me, I will bless God”. Or do we want to give up on God and act like he is not there? Those are choices that we make. But God says if you use suffering God has prepared for you, it will produce in you if you respond in faith and perseverance. You will have peace with God. Recall truth from God’s word. “I am justified with God. I am a child of the living God. My destiny is secured. I know where I am going and I know whose I am. Therefore these trials and tribulations I am going through, I am going to trust you, Lord.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
There are many times I have asked people, “Who are you trusting for your eternal life? One of these days, you are going to die. And if you have not figured that out, that is a very serious problem. Who are you trusting for that?” “Jesus. Oh, Absolutely.” “If you can trust God with such a huge thing as where you are going to spend eternity when you fall dead, do you not think you might be able to trust Him with this problem you are going through right now? The answer to that is ‘Yes, I can.’ Then why don’t you trust him? What will it do? It will build character.”
I am going to persevere with God. I am not going to turn my back on Him and turn to someone else. I am going to trust God. Do not seek the counsel of the ungodly.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
When are Christians going to get a hold of that? Many times we run into a problem, we run out to some secular psychologist who does not know the Lord from an apple tree, and try to get advice from someone who has no wisdom. And we do it in the name of God. God sent me. No he didn’t. You sent you. Do not seek the counsel of the ungodly.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Where are you going to find godly counsel. The best place to find it is in the bible. You will get the best advice you will ever find out from this bible, when you trust Him to reveal the meaning of it to you.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Suffering. When you hang in there with God, it produces perseverance. I am persevering with God. What does that perseverance produce? Christian character. It is the kind of thing that makes you say, “That person has character. They are strong in the Lord. They trust Jesus and they are strong in the Lord.” Then it says, that kind of character produces hope. This kind of hope does not disappoint us.
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
What are we told here? God is saying, “I have given you my Holy Spirit. I have poured out my love into your hearts. The love I gave you is in your hearts. And it will not disappoint you.” You have faith in Christ. You have hope. You have love. The hope does not disappoint us because of the love of God.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[Psalm 44:22]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Why do I have hope in God? Because I have His love living in me. That is why I have hope. I live convinced of something and so do you. What are we convinced of? I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God. Trials can’t. Tribulation can’t. Death can’t. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself for us. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God.
When we come to the point in our hearts, by faith, we understand something. I am not talking about blind faith. Faith has no meaning unless you have faith in Jesus. Faith is like swallowing. People say you have to swallow to live. No, it is not true because I could also swallow poison and die. Swallowing does not enable me to live. Swallowing food enables me to live.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
By swallowing poison, I will die. Faith is like swallowing. Swallowing is not the issue. The issue is, what are you swallowing? When you put faith in the one who loved you and gave himself for you, we have faith worthy for our life. It will not disappoint us because we become convinced that nothing can separate us from love of God.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Christ did not come to die for good people, for there are none. Recall what Jesus said. “Why do you call me good? Only God is good and if you are not going to call me God do not call me good.”
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
We are not born into this world as good people. We say so and so is a good person. You can say they are a nice person, a good-hearted person but Jesus said there are no good people. Jesus did not come to die for good people. He came to die for the ungodly.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
When we were lost, Christ died for us. That is love isn’t it, folks?
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood,
What does that mean? In Leviticus 17:11, the life of the creature is in the blood. So this is just another way of saying that now we have been justified by his life. Remember, we are reconciled by his death, justified by his life.
11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
What is the wages of sin from God’s vantage point? It is not a paddling. It is not going to the woodshed. It is not being out of fellowship. The wages of sin is death, period. We have been freed from the consequences of sin, which is death, by the gift of God, which is life in Christ Jesus.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.