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Sovereign King Church

Declaration of (in) Dependence Part 6

        Last week at Sovereign King, we read Paul’s declaration that before God, there is none that are righteous; no not one. 

  • Paul’s point is that each person is sinful and the only hope anyone has of attaining a righteousness that will stand before God is if Christ gifts that righteousness. 
  • Now that is an incredible statement:  No one is good enough.  What makes that statement most incredible is that none of you believe it. 
  • Don’t be so shocked.  There is someone somewhere who you look at and go, “God is way more impressed with me than that dude.”  
    • I’m not talking about Osama bin laden or Hitler either.  There is someone somewhere, probably a neighbor or relative who you just flat out think you are better than. 
    • Somehow you’re convinced that you have attained enough righteousness of your own to look down on someone else. 
    • That is sort of like saying, “I only have a mild case of swine flu.  Yours is much worse.”
    • The problem with sin is one of perception.  We don’t see the reality of our hearts and minds.  Distinguishing the difference between perception and reality are often difficult for most folks anyway.  Let me give you an example. 
      • There was a recent study attempting to gauge the way women view their appearance versus the reality of the way women really look. 
      • Women were asked to pick out from a set of pictures what they thought the average women’s size was in America. 
      • The majority of the women picked as their perceived average a size 8 woman. 
      • The problem is the average women in America is a size 16.
      • Our perception of our sin is similar but works in the opposite reality. 
        • We don’t think we are too big of sinners. 
        • We think we don’t sin that much. 
        • We think we are size 8 sinners when we really are size 16…or size 1 million if you will.
        • The practical problem with believing the statement that there is none who are righteous is the same problem every one has with believing the Bible.  You think if you believe and obey the Bible, you’ll be miserable.  You think:
          • “If I give my tithe, I’ll run out of money.”
          • “If I’m humble, people will run over me.”
          • “If I make a commitment to the church, someone will tell me what to do.”
          • “If I quit looking at porn, my wife won’t satisfy me.”
          • “If I quit talking disrespectfully to my spouse, he or she will be take advantage of me.”
          • “If I truly forgive this person, they will think it is okay to do what they did again.”
          • “If I think that none are righteous, then I can’t make myself feel better by insulting folks anymore.  What fun is that?”
          • Most if not all believe that obeying and believing the Bible ultimately leads to misery instead of leading to joy. 
          • Last week, we spent a great deal of time talking about humility before God as the pathway to seeing His beauty, worshipping Him vibrantly, enjoying great depths of joy, and being motivated to tell others of Jesus Christ.  Just wondering, did any one get humbled this week?
            • Did that humility cause you to cry out and declare dependence on God?
            • Or did it make you bitter and cause you to pursue sins of lust, jealousy, anger, or fill in the blank for whatever is the sin that calms you down?
            • Don’t forget.  Be encouraged.  Humility adjusts our perspective.  The difference between perception and reality becomes clearer when we are humbled.  We finally see God clearly when we lose whatever it is we worship other than God.  Humility destroys our idols. 
              • There is a sister action to pursuing humility that produces a similar love of God. 
              • Honestly, humility isn’t humility without this companion discipline.  I’m talking about pursuing righteousness. 
              • Now before you make any assumptions about what I mean by that, let me make one clarification.  Pursuing righteousness does not start by pursing discipline or even repentance.  Those things play a part in pursuing righteousness, but they are not the starting point. 
                • Pursuing righteousness starts with a desire to give God the glory and therefore pursuing His righteousness as your only hope for righteousness. 
                • Pursuing righteousness is about zealously proclaiming Christ as alone righteous and no one else. 
                • Pursuing righteousness is about proclaiming that there is no one righteous, no not one.
                • Then and only then can you understand how to pursue righteousness in your own life.  With that in mind, this week we are going to ask this big picture question. 

 

Big Picture Question:  How deeply are you willing to pursue righteousness in order that God will be glorified?

3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • Verse 21 begins with the good news.   Since none are righteous and the law (and your inability to obey it) is God’s way of shutting everyone’s mouth, Paul tells us that what is necessary has been given.  He says the very righteousness of God has been revealed apart from any righteous attempt on our part.
  • Think about that for a minute.  The very righteousness of God has been revealed, and it isn’t a big secret or mystery.  The entire OT Law and Prophets knew about it and spoke about it. 
    • This is different from when the righteousness of God was revealed in the OT.  Do you rmember when that was? 
    • Moses comes down from the Mount after having met with God.  He brought down the righteousness of God as revealed in the 10 commandments.  But the problem was, Moses found all of God’s people worshiping a golden calf. 
    • So what happened with God’s righteousness as revealed in the 10 commandments?  Moses shattered them on the ground.
    • God’s righteousness was revealed but it didn’t transform or make the bad people good.
    • If you want righteousness, if you thirst for goodness and the cure to your sin problem, then it is only going to come about one way:  by faith in Jesus Christ.
      • God gives His righteousness to those who have sinned who have faith in Jesus, the righteous one.
      • And in case you didn’t get it in chapter 2, Paul reminds us in chapter 3 that everyone has sinned.  Everyone has fallen short of the glory of God.
      • Now when you read verses 21-26, there is so much to take in.  So much in the same manner as last week, I would like to list all the benefits from God to you through Jesus Christ in this passage.  In these verses, we see Jesus’ work doing 5 things:  Jesus’ work…
        • Takes Jesus’ goodness and gives it to you.
        • Takes Jesus’ status and gives it to you. 
        • Takes God’s anger and gives it to Jesus.
        • Takes God’s patience and applies it to you
        • Takes your perspective and fixes it.
        • First, the work of Jesus takes His goodness and gives it to you when you have faith in Him.
          • Verse 22 - The righteousness of God is given to you not by any cost of your own.  It comes to you by faith.
          • Think about that for a minute.  Think about anything that you have ever strived for.  There is a probably a list of things accomplished and a list of things that you missed on. 
          • Most of us have at least interviewed for a job and not gotten it. 
          • There is something in which you came in second or maybe even last.
          • But in the realm of our relationship with God, we have not just come in second.  We haven’t just come in last. 
          • What we are missing, what we have fallen short in, is not getting a job, not coming in last in 100 yard dash.  We have fallen short of the glory of God.
          • But Jesus gives you His goodness. 
          • Jesus just doesn’t tell you what goodness is.  He reveals in Himself and by faith, He gifts you, imputes you with His goodness.  A righteousness that will endure and persevere.
          • Through Jesus, all that is necessary in terms of holiness, righteousness, goodness, and all of those other “esses” is gifted to you by faith.
          • Now, as if that was not enough, look at the second benefit of Christ’s work.
          • The work of Jesus takes His status and gives it to you.
            • Verse 24 - You are justified or your relationship is made right by the redemption of Jesus Christ.
            • To be justified before God is to be declared good and innocent.  Through Jesus Christ those that have faith walk before God as justified and innocent.
            • How does this happen?  It is not by any effort of your own.  His grace, His love is poured out to you without you earning.  It is given to you as a gift by the redemption of Jesus Christ
            • You are redeemed.
            • The word redemption here has it etymology in the Passover celebration of the OT.  You are redeemed or purchased out of your slavery to sin by the death of Jesus just as the children of Israel were purchased out of their slavery to Pharaoh.  That is good language for you to keep in mind. 
            • You were a slave to sin worshiping it and absolutely subject to it.  Christ redeems you out of that slavery and gives you a new status.
            • You are no longer a slave to sin.  If you have faith in Christ, you have been redeemed, and not just set free, not just no longer a slave, but you are a child of God.
            • For that to have happened, something must have been done to God’s wrath.  We have spent the last few weeks seeing that God justly pours out His wrath on sin.  We see that in the 3rd benefit of Christ’s work.
            • The work of Christ takes God’s anger and pours it out on Jesus. 
              • Verse 25 says that God put Jesus forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
              • The word propitiation is probably my favorite word in the entire Bible.  It was one of the first theological terms I ever learned and I hope by now some of you are learning it as well.
                • Propitiation is a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin that removes the wrath of God.
                • It doesn’t just pay for sin.  It brings in God’s pleasure.
  • Think about that for a moment.  It is quite possible that God could have not held your sin against you while choosing not to bring you into His favor. 
  • God could have just said, okay, I’m not holding sin against you, but I do not want to be anywhere near you folks. 
  • But the character of God wouldn’t allow Him to act in such a way.  For Him to forgive means that you are brought into His pleasure.  The approval and pleasure of God rest on you through Jesus Christ by faith. 
    • God is no longer angry at you.
  • Folks get this in some sense, but they miss the proper emphasis, and I see the roots of this error here at SK.  For example, I know that some of you think God is well-pleased with you but you think that approval comes from your own goodness, your own since of obedience, and your own since telling others that they are wrong.
  • The only approval you have is the approval of God to Jesus Christ. 
  • God approves of Him and if you have faith in Jesus, the approval of God to Jesus rests on you.
  • But it is not because you have earned it. 
  • It is not because you spent some time in prayer last week.
  • It is not because you had ecstatic experience one time.
  • God’s approval falls on you because of Christ alone.
  • Properly align that in your life, and watch new affection for God arise.
  • I promise you that you can love God more if you focus on the work Christ in stead of your efforts.
  • But the benefits of Christ don’t stop there.
  • The work of Christ takes God’s patience and applies it to you.
    • Verse 25 says that in God’s divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.
    • Now God’s forbearance, or His patience if you will, needs to be understood in two ways.
      • All the people who God gifted with faith in the OT, there sins had not yet been paid for by Jesus.  So in God’s patience, He waited and poured out the wrath for those sins until Jesus was on the cross.
      • Also for you, God has patience with your sins both prior to your having faith and even now.
      • We have this impression of God striking us with lightning whenever we sin, and though our sins deserve even greater than that, God does no do that. 
        • Well, He has killed some people on the spot, but apparently none of us have ever experienced that.
        • Even for those who do not believe, He patiently waits to punish their sin.  You can reject Jesus and live a semi-happy life with a family and children by God’s common grace.  Ultimately though, without Christ, you are going to pay for your sin.
          • God is patient about the punishment of sin with everyone.
          • If you do believe, all of the wrath for God is poured out on Jesus and God patiently calls you to repentance for your sin.
            • Folks, I promise you, you need God’s patience, and fortunately, part of His divine nature is to be patient with you.
            • Now, here is a caution:  God’s patience is not a license to sin.  It is a motivation founded in gratitude that God would love you and be patient with you.
            • That is the temptation though.  You think, “Oh, I got away with that.  Nothing bad happened after I lusted or was angry or was jealousy or was hateful in my heart, so I guess so I guess I can just keep on sinning.
  • Well, when you take all those benefits of Christ into light
    • Jesus’ goodness
    • Jesus’ status
    • God’s pleasure
    • God’s patience
  • It leads you to the final benefit of Christ’s work listed in verse 26
  • The work of Christ takes your perspective and fixes it, realigns it.  Look at verse 26
    • 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
    • You see, what is at stake in all of this is the character of God.  If you think you can achieve enough goodness to earn something before God, you impugn God’s character. 
    • Verse 26 says that God grants you all of the aforementioned benefits from Christ for one reason:  so that God and God alone is seen as the one who is just and the one the one who justifies.
    • God so zealously guards the true worship of Himself that He wants no one else is to be seen as Savior except Christ sent from the Father.
    • So every time you get self-righteous, you’re not only full of yourself, you are impugning the character of God. 
    • Every time you guilt yourself for sin committed years ago that God has already forgiven you for, you impugn the character of God.
    • But to really hammer that point home, just to make sure you get the point,  Paul moves you towards application in verse 27.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

  • So you are saying that I don’t get to boast about anything?  Nope you don’t
    • If you can recite the books of the Bible, you don’t get to boast.
    • If you quit drinking 20 years ago, you don’t get to boast.
    • If you out duel or out argue someone in areas of theology, politics, sports, or anything else, you don’t get to boast.
    • If you’ve got 3 months worth of operating expenses in the bank, you don’t get to boast.
    • Paul asks, “By what law are you going to try to boast anyway?  Obedience?  Gimme a break.  I’m glad you obey, but boasting about it?  Quit impugning character of God.”
  • If you want to boast, boast about the law of faith because the law of works is killing you.
    • The only thing to boast about is that you are saved by faith apart from anything you have ever done.  And I mean the only thing.
    • You don’t get to take pride because God is God of Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Whites, Blacks, and on and on.
    • God is one.  He makes His people one.  He doesn’t make them His own so they can boast about themselves.  He makes them one.  Doesn’t matter if you were religious all your life or a pagan all your life.  There is no room for boasting. 
      • You know what the people of God are supposed to boast about?  Jesus.  That’s it.
      • So when you here that, you might ask, well what about the law?  What about obedience?  Do we throw it out? 
        • No, we uphold the law and the commands of God because they represent His character.  If you want to know God, pursue obedience to things that represent Him. 
        • Get your Bible out, actually read it, and ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to obey it
        • You know where this picture of love from God to those who don’t deserve it and their proper response is best found?  The book of Hosea
          • In Hosea, the people of God continue to worship other God’s and trust their own efforts instead of God’s.  They keep sinning; God keeps bringing them back, and then they run off again.
          • But in Hosea we get a picture of what redemption really looks like.
          • God tells Hosea to go purchase a prostitute.  Her name is Gomer. 
          • And you know what Gomer keeps doing even after find true, honest love and affection from Hosea? 
            • She keeps running back to whore herself to other men.
            • And Hosea keeps going back and redeeming over and over again.
  • In Hosea, God says to His people, “You are like Gomer.  I have loved you and redeemed, yet you continue in your sin.  But I will not forsake you.  I love you, and I find you beautiful.”
  • The only goodness or righteousness that Gomer or you will ever have is if you are redeemed and made righteous by Jesus Christ.
  • Now folks that is real love.  That is redemption.  That is grace.  In an earthly sense, hardly any of us could imagine forgiving a spouse that continually ran back to prostitution because they like it. 
  • But that is depth to which God loves you.
  • Hosea ends in this way
    • They begin with honest confession of sin and asking for redemption:
      • 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.  2 Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity.”
  • Then they admit everything they trust in other than God.  They confess that they trust other more than God.  They say
    • Assyria shall not save us;
  • Then they confess that they trust material things more than God.  They say
    • We will not ride on horses;
  • Then they confess that they trust themselves more than God.  They say
    • We will say no more, ‘Our God,’to the work of our hands.
  • They admit who they are apart from God.  They say
    • In you the orphan finds mercy.”
  • And what is God’s response?
    • I will heal their apostasy;
    • I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.
    • I will be like the dew to them and they will blossom.
    • God promises to bring them back and says “7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
      • They shall flourish like the grain;
      • They shall blossom like the vine;
      • Their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
      • The final admonition of Hosea is the perfect encouragement to all of us here.  Hosea 14:9 says.
        • 9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
        • Whoever is discerning, let him know them;
        • For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
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