- Sermon Notes
We Need More Faith
Paul has been building a case for why we need God. God has made himself known, for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.
God expects a response. He knows the condition we were born in; as I’ve mentioned before, every one of us is born selfish and self-centered and the result is every imaginable ungodly and unrighteous thing. What’s a sinner to do?
That’s why Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, it is the power of God to save people out of the condition they were born in to bring them into a relationship with the living God.
The gospel can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse, “He made him who knew no sin to become sin in our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
But a sinner is made righteous when he owns the fact that he is a sinner and takes God at His word by faith. A sinner is made righteous by faith and faith alone. It’s God’s amazing grace. The words of that famous hymn capture that truth very powerfully; “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!”
Then last week Paul told us that some can’t receive the grace of God because they are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Being born selfish and self-centered like everyone else, they think more highly of themselves than they ought and because they’re a few steps higher in the mud than some others, they pass judgment and looked down on others.
In other words, they think too lightly of the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads to repentance. If they could see how much they themselves need God’s grace and God’s kindness and patience, they would have more grace toward others.
Then, leaving no one out, Paul confronted the person who thinks they are made right before God simply because they were born Jewish. When I was serving tables at a hotel in Portland, I started a conversation with another server in the break room and asked him if he thought he would go to heaven when you died. He responded, “Yes, of course.” I asked him why God would allow him to heaven and he responded, “Because I’m a Jew and Jews are God’s chosen people.” I responded, “But your father Abraham was a man of faith and it is only those who believe in their hearts who are the true children of Abraham.” The conversation then ended abruptly.
Paul is taking apart every argument so that we’re left with one inescapable conclusion, sinners are hopelessly lost unless they take God at His word and receive God’s offer to forgive their sin and receive the righteousness that God will give them as a gift; all by grace.
When Paul comes to chapter 3, he compels us to understand how much we need faith, how much we need to believe that any standing we have before God is God’s doing.
“Where then is boasting?” Paul asks, “It is excluded.” God’s promises are sure even if someone doesn’t believe. God is faithful, even if we’re unfaithful.
If someone just turns to God and believes with their heart, that’s all God is asking. It’s simple, humble faith.
I. Think Highly of God’s Kindness
- In the last chapter, Paul said that we must not think lightly of the kindness and forbearance and patience of God.
- He then confronted the person who believes they are just before God because of their Judaism. Paul said that a Jew is the person who is one inwardly,
circumcised of heart, by the Spirit, so that his praise is from God.
- It’s always been about the heart. And, by the way, the same is true for a Christian. The Christian is one who is one inwardly, of the heart, and his
relationship is with God.
- But since he has brought up Israel, there’s a lot to learn from them about the kindness and patience of God, because by their unfaithfulness the vastness
of God’s kindness and patience was revealed.
A. In His kindness God is always faithful
- There have always been those who would not believe, but their unbelief does not nullify the faithfulness of God. He is always true to His word. He
is always faithful to His promises.
2 Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Hebrews 10:23, Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
- When you think about how good is the good news of the gospel, you would think that everyone would be glad and quick to receive it.
Illus - I remember a couple of summers ago Fred Meyer had an amazing sale on pineapples. I immediately texted my daughter so she could buy some for her family. I had good news and had to share it and she was glad to hear it.
- So why is it that so many will not believe? It’s because of the condition of the heart we were born into. Paul describes it powerfully in this chapter.
- Verses 10-18 gives one of the best descriptions of the condition of man’s heart that you’ll ever read.
B. It’s honesty that turns the heart
- Verse 4 is powerful; “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”
- Then Paul quotes from Psalm 51 where David is confessing his sin with Bathsheba before the Lord.
Psalm 51:1-4, Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
- When David gets honest with himself and with God, his heart turns. When he’s ready to say, “You’re right, Lord,” he’s ready to get right with God.
Illus - The same is true in parenting. One of the most important keys is to turn a child’s heart so they understand what’s right and they own what they’ve done and can say, “You’re right, mom and dad.”
Amos 3:3, Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
- The same is true for us, it’s that point of honesty that turns the heart. God’s word is true; what God says about us is true, we’re the ones who need
to change course and agree with God.
- In fact, there will come a day when everyone will agree with God, whether they want to or not.
Philippians 2:10-11, At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
C. Some people will say anything to sin
- In verses 5-8 Paul corrects those who try to stretch the idea of God’s faithfulness and patience and kindness to justify their sin.
- Some people say, “Hey, if my sin makes God demonstrate His kindness and patience and forgiveness and grace, then my sin has done something good; so
why not sin some more so that God’s kindness and forgiveness and grace will abound all the more?”
- It’s crazy how people come up with all kinds of ways to justify themselves in their own minds. The problem is that it’s God who will be justified when
he calls that kind of stuff for what it is.
Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
- It’s a dangerous proposition to say, “Don’t worry about it, God forgives. I mean, since all our sins forgiven, what does it matter?”
- While it’s true that God forgives our sins, He also disciplines us as any good father should.
Hebrews 12:5-6, Have you forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
Illus – We loved our girls so much we even let them choose their own consequences. Interesting that they were always harder on themselves than we were.
II. By Faith You are Justified
- When we get to this last section in this chapter, we come to some of the greatest truths of our faith.
- This is one of the great advantages of going through God’s Word verse by verse, chapter by chapter, we gain a deeper understanding of our faith.
- For example, in verse 23 we get a great definition of sin –anything that falls short of the glory of God. In other words, a lot of things are sin.
- But God gives the answer…
A. We are justified as a gift
- Verse 24 is loaded with powerful spiritual truths that we really need to understand because it has so much to do with our relationship to God.
- We are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…
- What does it mean that we are justified? Some teachers explain it by saying, it’s “Just as if I’d” never sinned. That’s saying a lot, but that’s not
quite saying enough.
Illus - Part of being justified means that I’m so forgiven that my sin has been blotted out. When I was 16 I got in trouble with the police, when I turned 18, my record was expunged.
Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, and the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Illus - There is a story about a man who bought a Rolls-Royce in England but wanted to drive it through the hills of France…
- We have something more, we have the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself given to us as a gift.
2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him will who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- God takes a sinner and makes him righteous in that one verse. Just how righteous does God makes us?
- Righteousness has two parts; it’s not doing sin, not lying, not stealing, not coveting, etc., but it’s also being completely obedient to God’s heart.
Philippians 2:8, Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.
- God gave all of Christ’s righteousness to you and me as a gift. God forgave all the lies you’ve ever told and then gave Christ’s truth telling in its
Illus – One way to illustrate this great truth is with a checking account. God forgives the fact that your checking account is hopelessly overdrawn and then adds to your account the infinite righteousness of Christ. What an amazing gift!
- Here is a great word for a Christian to know; Jesus is the propitiation for our sin. It means that the demands of God’s righteousness are satisfied.
- There is a debt that comes from our sin and that debt is paid by Jesus on the cross. He took the wrath of God that we deserved. He died the death we
deserved to die so that our sin is paid in full.
- This is the same word used for the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The cover of the Ark of the Covenant was sprinkled
with the blood of a bull on the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur.
- The sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a picture of the blood of Christ. That he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Romans 3:1-31 NASB