- 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 place.
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.
Title: We Need More Faith
Text: Romans 3:1-31
Date: October 18-19 2014
All right. We're continuing through the book of Romans. One of the most important books we have in the entire New Testament because it gives us such as an incredibly rich and deep understanding of our faith and who we are with God. Remember that Paul has been building a case for why we need God. It goes all the way back to creation. He said that since creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood to us though what has been made.
In other words, God has revealed Himself, open your eyes. Look around. You can see God has revealed His nature to all of us, but then God expects a response to that. He looks at a condition, He sees all of us born into this dark world, and He knows that we were all born basically selfish and self-centered. All of us were born into that condition and the result of that is every imaginable, sinful, and ungodly thing in our lives. What's a sinner to do? That's why Paul says, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel. Why should I be ashamed of the Gospel?" It is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
The Gospel is the power of God. It can take a sinner and make that sinner righteous in one verse. You look at the condition we were born in and we ask a question, “What's a sinner to do?” That's why the Gospel is so important because it can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him, who knew no sin”, that's Christ, “to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. Here's the understanding, a sinner is made righteous when he owns the fact that he's a sinner and then takes God at his Word by faith.
In other words, a sinner is made righteous by faith and faith alone. It's all by God's amazing grace, which is why we love that song so much, “Amazing Grace”. According to some of the words, "Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound." In other words, I love the sound of that phrase, God's amazing grace. How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. There was actually some discussion about whether the word wretch should be in that song. Actually, I love the word wretch in that song, because it's accurate and true. ". . . that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind but now I see. T’was grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed."
We love God's grace. Last week Paul then told us there are some who cannot receive God's grace because they're blinded by their own self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is just as offensive to God. See here's the thing, being born selfish and self-centered like everyone else, they think more highly of themselves than they are. Because they are a few steps higher in the mud, just stay that way on purpose, oh, they're still in the mud. They pull themselves up to a few steps higher and that makes them look down on the others with judgment in their eyes or in their heart.
In other words, Paul said, "They think too lightly of the riches of God's kindness and forbearance and patience. Not knowing that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance." If they would think of it more highly, if they would think of it in the vastness and the riches of His forgiveness and grace, then they would have more grace towards others. That's the point. Then leaving no one out, Paul confronted the person who thinks that they're right before God. They're made just before God simply because they're born Jewish and there are people who believe that. Absolutely!
I was working at a hotel restaurant when I was going to Bible College, and one day I was having lunch with this other guy and so I decided to strike up a conversation with him. Here's a conversation starter, “I’ve got a question for you. When you die, are you going to heaven?” That's a great conversation starter. It's like, "Hey, do you like your hamburger? And by the way are you going to go to heaven when you die?" His response was, "Yes. Of course." “Of course?” I said, "Why do you say it that way? Why is God going to let you into heaven?" He said, "Because I'm Jewish." He said, "Do you know that Jews are God's chosen people and I'm Jewish. Therefore, I'm going to heaven." I said, "You know that's interesting because your father Abraham was a man of faith and the Scripture says that it is only the people who have faith in their hearts and who believe as Abraham who are the true children of Abraham." You'd be surprised how quickly a conversation can end, because that one ended immediately.
Here's the point, Paul is taking apart every argument, so that we are left with one inescapable conclusion. Sinners are hopelessly lost and we're all sinners. They're hopelessly lost unless they will take God at His word, by faith, and receive that offer of forgiveness of their sin which is a gift. Receive the grace of God, the righteousness that He gives by faith.
It's all a gift. Then all of that's introduction to bring us to chapter three, and in chapter three he compels us to understand how much we need faith. It's always been about faith. This is important. How much do we need to understand that any standing we have before God, it's all God's doing? He does it, we receive it by faith. Where then is the boasting Paul's going to ask in this chapter? It's excluded. God's promises are sure, even to someone who doesn't believe. God's faithful even if we're unfaithful, but if someone would turn to God and believe with their heart, that's all that God is asking. Simple, humble faith.
Romans 3:1 “What advantage has the Jew?” Actually you know, let's start in verse 29 of the previous chapter because it really leads into it well. He says, “He is a Jew who is one inwardly and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter and his praise is not from men but from God.” Isn't that what I was just telling the Jewish fellow? It's of the heart of man. It's faith. “What advantage then has the Jew? What benefit of circumcision which of course is the mark of a Jew. Great in every respect.”
“First of all, they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” Oh, that's true. The word of God, the law of God was given, the prophecy of God's Son coming to earth came through the oracles, the word that God gave the Jewish people is absolutely true. God said to Abraham, "All the nations of the earth are going to be blessed through you." That's right, Jesus is the fulfillment because the hope for all of us is coming from the Jewish people. It's true, but it goes on then. “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be, rather let God be found true though every man be found a liar.”
Now we're going to get to know Paul through this, but you’ve got to admit Paul is straightforwardly honest. He is straight up and that's one of those verses right there.” Let God be found true though every man be found a liar.” Then he quotes from David, “that you might be justified in your words and might prevail when you are judged”. If our unrighteousness, demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous is he?” He says “(I'm speaking in human terms), may it never be! For otherwise how will God judge the world? But if through my lie, the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?” He's taking up the argument that some say and he goes on. “Why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say) ‘Let's do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just.” Okay. Paul's going strong here and giving some tremendous insights. This is why Romans is so important, very, very deep in its understanding. Let's go back and understand -- we're going to look at more verses but I want to look at these because really it's the perspective that Paul is trying to help us to see.
I. Think Highly of God’s Kindness
Think highly of God's kindness. Don’t think lightly, think greatly, think highly of His kindness. See, he's confronting the person who believes that they are made right before God because of their Judaism or their Jewishness.
Paul said that the Jews, the one who is one inwardly, it's always about the heart by faith, by the spirit. His phrase is from God, not men. By the way, we mentioned this last week, the same is true for a Christian. What is a Christian? A Christian is not one who does outwardly Christian things or takes on the appearance or outwardly looks like one. It's always of the heart inwardly, that's why faith is so important. It's always about faith. Believing. Now he brings up Israel and I'm glad he brings up Israel because there's a lot to learn about God's kindness and forbearance and grace. Because you look at the kindness and patience of God towards Israel, and you realize how vast is that patience and grace and how the promises of God are sure even through their unbelief.
A. In His kindness God is always faithful
Remember the story -- go back when they came out of Egypt. There was some two million that came out. Do you know that every one of those adults that came out of Egypt died in the desert because of their unbelief? Every one, well, except for two, Joshua and Caleb. Well why did Joshua and Caleb enter into the promises of God? Because they believed! Faith is the whole thing. They believed. The others did not believe, and in their unbelief, they died in the desert. Did their unbelief nullify God's promises? Not at all. Israel, as He promised and He is faithful, entered into the Promised Land.
Then you look at the Kings and the Chronicles and how, yet again, they turned their heart away in unbelief. Their nation was destroyed. Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple laid waste. Was God not true to His promises? Oh, He was true. It was them that turned their back on Him because they were restored, the city rebuilt, the temple again restored. God was faithful. Then Jesus comes and He declared to them, because you did not know the time of your visitation, the Messiah hour was here. Behold your city is laid desolate and it was destroyed, 70 AD. Were God's promises null and void? Oh, no, they were true. May 14th, 1948, they were brought again from amongst the nations and brought again into the land of Israel.
Even today, many in Israel do not believe. Are God's promises null and void? Oh, no, His promises for them are sure, even though they do not believe. His promises are sure. You know what's interesting? There will come a day they will believe. The Scripture says, that at the end of the age the Messiah Himself will return. Jesus will return and be sent forth in Jerusalem and they will receive their Messiah. They will believe. The Scripture says however, "They will look on Him and they will mourn, as one mourns for an only son." Why will they mourn? Because they will look on Him whom they have pierced and realize that it was Him that we have missed, but they will receive grace because the heart of the Lord is sure.
Here's my point, in His kindness, God is always faithful. There have always been those who don’t believe, but their unbelief doesn't nullify the faithfulness of God. He is always true to His Word; He is always faithful to His promises. Let me give you some Scriptures. 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself." Hebrews 10:23, "Let us hold fast, the profession of our hope without wavering." Faith holds fast. Don't waver, “for He who promised is faithful.” When you step back and you see how good is the goodness of the Gospel? I mean think about how good is the Gospel. I mean it's not hard to become a Christian. You don't have to work your way up step by step, climbing up the bloody stairs and some kind of penance before God. He makes a sinner righteous in one verse. That's glorious!
All that He does, all the promises, the fervor, everything God does is so amazingly good, you would think that everyone would receive that with a quick and glad heart. It's so good because that's what we do when we hear good news. Right? I remember when Fred Meyer a couple of years ago had a sale on pineapples. It was the sale of all sales. It was like the mother of sales of pineapples, and I walked in the door and I saw this sign, you know about pineapples on sale for whatever, and I thought, Wow! I was so excited, I started calling my friends. You're not going to believe this sale on pineapples. I called my daughter and said, "You've got to come buy some pineapples for your family." She said, "Really? Well how many -- do they have a lot?" "Oh, they’ve got carts of it. Come on down and …" See, here's the thing, that's just pineapples. How much greater is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that God gives the world?
Why don’t some believe then? Answer, because of the condition of their heart. You look at Romans 3 and Paul is going to give us a description of the depths of men's darkness and depravity. I don’t think you're going to read a more powerful version of it. Look at it, verse nine, “What then? Are we better than them? Not at all, we've already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin”, and then he's going to quote a bunch of verses and just bring in a strong argument. “There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together they have become useless. There is none who does good, there is not even one.” By the way, it's an interesting statement there, “there was none who seeks for God”. We have a relationship to God because He sought us, He pursued us, He came knocking on the door of our heart. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” God is coming after you with His love. That's why this is such a powerful statement, there is none who seeks after God. All have turned aside, together they've become useless.
B. It’s honesty that turns the heart
“There is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That's powerful but here's what we’ve got to see; it's the honesty, it's honesty that turns the heart. Verse four, verse four is powerful, "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." Then he quotes from Psalm 51.
Psalm 51 is where David confesses his sin with Bathsheba, you might remember the story, David's terrible fall. He got into a wrongful, terrible relationship with this woman Bathsheba. At first he hid it and as the anguish to his soul, when you get to Psalm 51, he's owned it. He's honest and he owns it and this is so important to see. It's honesty that turns the heart. Know this, Psalm 51, verses one to four, "Be gracious to me, oh God, according to Your lovingkindness." David does know His heart, David knows God's heart, he's appealing to it. “Be gracious to me oh God, according to Your lovingkindness, according to the greatness of Your compassion, block out my sin. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” What a perspective! Wash me. He's so honest now, God I need you to wash me, cleanse me.
If you've ever done anything so dumb and fallen into a sinful place, you'll know the feeling. Many people will tell me. I just -- I had to get in the shower and I just stayed in the shower; I just feel so dirty. Wash me. Cleanse me, but see, he's honest. He's so honest, “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You and You only I've sinned and done what's evil in Your sight.” Then here's the quote in Romans, "so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge." See, it's when you get honest.
When David got honest with himself and we get honest with God. His heart is turning and he's being restored. When we get honest, when we're honest with the Lord and we own it, “You're right Lord. You're right. You're absolutely right Lord. I agree with you completely. I need Your grace. I need Your forgiveness. I need Your kindness because You're right. I blew it. I totally agree with You." That's when the heart is turning. This important because many people, they have this inward struggle, they have this inward resistance to the truth and to God. This is like, "Oh, I don’t want to. I don’t like this. You're trying to bring some conviction in me. I don’t like this. I don’t want to have to be honest. Can you move on to the next thing because I don’t like this thing?"
You can just feel the resistance. Know it's when we come to that place of peace, "You're right Lord. You're so right. I agree with you." Your heart's turning. It's the same with parenting. I teach this parenting class and it's a great principle in parenting. Because if you can turn the heart of a child, so that they see it and they own it and they say you're right, I get it. I see what you're saying. I was disrespectful or I was irresponsible. You're right. It is a beautiful point of honesty and that's the key to transforming your child's life, same as with us. It's that point when they say, "You're right mom. You're right dad." That's a beautiful point. "You're right mom. You're right dad. Your wisdom is high. I cannot attain to it." It's a glorious thing. Okay. That's a bit of a stretch, but you get my point.
It's right when they own it, you're right. Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” That's when fellowship happens. David is restored. In his honesty, he's restored. You're right God. Ah, now there's peace. Restoring. That's a good thing, 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 that need to change course and say, “You’re right Lord”. 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
Every tongue confess, every knee will bow. Might as well bow now with a willing and gracious heart. You're right Lord, You're Lord, You're Savior, You're right. I need your grace. I need Your kindness, and then we're going to see this. Some people will say anything to sin. Verses five to eight, Paul is correcting those who are going to take this idea of God's kindness and His faithfulness and His patience and they're going to twist it to justify their own sin. Really? How is that possible? Oh, yeah. Some people say it like this, "Hey, if my sin makes God demonstrate His kindness and patience and forgiveness and grace, then my sin has done something good. Why not sin some more, then God's kindness and forgiveness and grace might abound all the more?"
Crazy, how some people will come up with all kinds of ways to justify themselves and their own minds. The problem is that it's God who's going to be justified when He calls that stuff for what it is. Can I give you a straight up, powerful, in your face verse, if you don’t mind? Sometimes we just need a good splash of cold water in the face, spiritually speaking. Amen. Oh, here's one of those verses, Galatians 6:7-8, "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked." How's that for an opener? Don't deceive yourself, that's what he's saying. Hey, don't deceive yourself. God's not mocked. Don’t try it.
Then he goes on to give a principle. “For whatever a man sows, 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 his spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” It's a great principle because some people will twist and turn anything. Here's my point. It's a dangerous proposition to say, "You know what? Don't worry about it. God forgives. I mean since all our sins are forgiven, what does that matter? God's forgiving, might as well go ahead and do it. You know God's going to forgive you.” That's a dangerous proposition. It's sure that God forgives but it's also true that He disciplines as a good father should. That's an important principle to remember.
Let me give you verse. Hebrews 12:5-6, “Have you forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons?” I love that. Did you forget the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons and then he quotes, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those who the Lord loves, He disciplines and scourges every son whom He receives." Now that's an interesting thing, interesting phrase, because you know in chapter two he said, "Do not think lightly of the richness of His kindness." Here he says, "Do not regard lightly the disciple of the Lord." You might say, well, which one is it? Is He kind or does He bring disciple?
Oh, wait a minute, who said that discipline isn't kind? Actually discipline is very kind, because if you live in His great kindness and the vastness of His love, He wants to help us not destroy our lives with these really dumb decisions. Things that the world is in to, God's not into because He knows that they are harmful to the soul and are poison. He wants to stop us. Hey, I love our kids. I love them so much that I would stand in their way before they would make an irresponsible dumb decision with their life. I love them that much. I love my kids so much that I even let them choose their own discipline, choose their own consequences. That's love my friends.
You know what's interesting? Because this is true, because I think it's part of the owning it, you know, what we would do to turn the heart, this is so important -- turn the heart. I want their heart turned so that they say, "You're right. I see it. That was rude. That was disrespectful. That was irresponsible." Whatever it is, I want them to own it, to see it in peace. In peace and in agreement, you're right. Having owned it, having seen it, then I'll say, great. Now let's lock that in, let's lock that lesson in with a discipline. You know the consequence -- you pick it. Invariably, they would always choose something harder than we would choose for them.
It's really an interesting thing, so this is what we would do. Okay. You pick it. They would pick -- you know choose a consequence. I would always bring that back one notch. Whatever they pick, I just bring it back one notch, mercy. I just want them to know that in the kindness of my love, there's also mercy. Actually there's a verse, it's a great verse. In your wrath oh, God, remember mercy. Mercy is a good thing. He says, be merciful -- we read it last week. Be merciful. God is merciful, be merciful.
II. By Faith You are Justified
Now going back to Romans 3, here's what we need to see in this next section. “By faith you are justified.” He's talking about the kind of relationship we have with God. You're justified by faith. Let's read it, verse 21, “But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God is manifested. It's not exclusive to the law, what he's saying in verse 22, "Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe." There's no distinction -- everyone, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”
A. We are justified as a gift
But here's God's answer, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”. That is a big verse. Verse 25 is also big, “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood, through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God, He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of this righteousness at the present time, through Christ, that He might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since indeed God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith, is one.” It's all about faith. “Do we nullify the law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish it.”
Let's look at these verses because they're so powerful. This is one of the reasons why we love the book of Romans, it is so rich in understanding of who we are in Christ. For example, verse 23 we get a great definition of sin, like what is sin? A great definition, it says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Anything that falls short of the glory of God is sin. In other words, there's a lot of sin because there's a lot of stuff that falls short of the glory of God.
Great definition. But then we see the Gospel gives the answer. We are justified as a gift. Verse 24 is loaded with spiritual truths. We’ve got to understand it because when we understand it, it makes us appreciate what we have. If we could open our eyes to the depth of this gift of grace, our response would be, "Wow Lord! This is amazing, what You've done for me in Christ. Wow! It is amazing!" Justified? What does that mean though, we're justified? It's a big word. Some teachers get a handle on it by saying it this way; we are justified, it's “just as if I'd never sinned”. It's a very clever way to handle it that's pretty close. Just as if I'd never sinned. That is true, but there's even more to it than that.
Just starting with that, “just as if I'd never sinned”. There's a big difference between saying, “I forgive you, but I am really going to have to try hard to forget that”, versus, “It's been blotted out. It's as if you never did it at all. There's no record of that.” Wow! Your sin has been expunged. I love that word. The reason I love that word is because it was very relevant to me. When I was 16 years old, I got in trouble with the police. I'm not going to tell you what it was. I got in trouble and the police officer was very gracious to me because all he did was give me a ticket for being out after curfew. It could have been a lot worse than that, but he said, "When you turn 18 this can be expunged." I go, "What does that mean?" "It means there will be no record of you having done the wrong."
Yes, because you could have gone down to the courthouse and you could see I got in trouble with the police. When I was 18, I went down to make sure that my record was expunged. I love that word. You would never have known had I not just now told you that I was in trouble with the police. After this service, you will forget it. It's as though I had never done it. Isaiah 43, verse 25, "I, even I, am the One who wipes out your transgressions for My sake, and I will not remember your sin."
Many pastors give this illustration because it's so accurate. It's like this, there was a wealthy man in England and he bought a Rolls Royce and he wanted to drive the Rolls Royce to the hills of France. So being a wealthy guy, he put it on the ship and sends it to France and he followed. He got the Rolls Royce and he's driving to the hills of France. One morning he gets up from the hotel and he goes out and it won't start. Something's broken. So he calls the Rolls Royce factory and he says, “You know I'm here in France, in the hills of France and it's broken”. They said, "Stay right where you are."
They got a mechanic on a plane with some tools, sent him over to France, drove him up to the hotel and he fixes the car right on the spot and says you're absolutely good to go and flew back to England. The guy is thinking, “Can you imagine what this bill's going to look like”. They put him on the plane -- this thing's going to be expensive! But he finished his vacation and got back to England and he waited for the bill. No bill. A few weeks went by and no bill. A couple of months went by and no bill. I want this paid, you know, so he called the Rolls Royce factory and he explained, I was in France and I broke down. You guys sent a mechanic and there was no bill. I want to pay you. I want to pay what I owe.
Then the guy said, "I don’t see a record of that." He said, "Surely." "I'll tell you what? Let me give you a supervisor." He puts him through to a supervisor and he's explaining, "Hey, I didn’t get the bill. I was over in France. You guys put a guy on the plane and sent him over there, and I need the bill." He said, "There's no record of that." He said, "No, look it up. I was there. I was in France. You guys sent him there, surely." He says, "Sir. Listen. There is no record anywhere of any Rolls Royce ever breaking down. Okay? There will be no bill."
I love that illustration, because that is . . . well, can you imagine that? Can you imagine that was me? There is no record. That is amazing! You think about the completeness of forgiveness to that degree but something yet more. He not only forgives to that degree, but then He adds, gives to you the very righteousness of God. When you're standing before God, not only has your sin been so forgiven, there's no record, but you're standing in the righteousness of God as if you had done it. It's amazing. Let me you give you a verse, 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin -- our sin, on our behalf, so that we might become -- and here it is -- the righteousness of God.” That we might become the righteousness of God.
God can take a sinner and make him righteous in that one verse. How righteous? Righteous. You have become the righteousness of God. That's amazing. Remember that righteousness has two parts. There's a part of righteousness which is not doing of sin. You're not lying, not stealing, not coveting; but there's another part of righteousness, obedience, honoring God, living before Him, obeying. The righteousness of God through Christ Jesus is the complete honoring and faithfulness and obeying of Christ. Let me give you a great Scripture, Philippians 2:8, showing the degree, the amount, the vastness, “being found in appearance as a man and He humbled Himself by becoming obedient, even 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 that much righteousness to you and me as a gift. In other words, imagine it this way, God forgave all of your sin. God forgave all of your lying. Has anybody in here ever told a lie? Show of hands, anybody ever told a lie? If you didn’t raise your hand, you're lying. We've all lied, but here's the thing, He takes your lies, He takes all the lies and forgives it to the point as if you had never done it and then He gives all of the truth telling of Christ to you. All of the truth telling of Christ, yes, He spoke the truth. Not only did He not lie, He spoke the truth. He is the truth and He gave all truth telling to you as a gift. I've used this illustration before. Perhaps it's one of the best ones I know to describe it.
Imagine that your sin is like a checking account, overdrawn, and it is so overdrawn; it's hopelessly overdrawn. It's millions of dollars overdrawn; mostly because of the bank fees. But you're way overdrawn, hopelessly overdrawn and then God comes along and pays the entirety of the debt. All of it. You are completely forgiven. All the whole mess has been forgiven, all of that. Now that right there is so amazing that you would be shouting if that were so. I mean literally, if you were millions of dollars overdrawn and then God came and paid the entire thing, you would be shouting for joy.
You would be so excited you'd be calling everybody you know. You'd call your mom, you'd call the neighbors, you'd call -- you won't believe it. I was millions of dollars – it was the bank fees -- but I was millions dollars over and this is what happened, He paid it all! You'd be excited, but here's the question. What would be the balance on your account? Zero? Now that's way better than the millions overdrawn that you were, but it's still zero. Then He comes and He says, "Oh, I'm not done. I'm not done." The kindness of God's grace is so vast. “I'm not done. I'm going to add now. You know what I'm going to add? I'm going to add the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is added to your account, infinite in nature.”
B. Jesus is the propitiation for our sin
Can you imagine that? It's captured in this phrase, “Jesus is the propitiation for our sin”. To a pastor: “Do I need to know that word as a Christian? It seems like it's got a lot of soul attached to it. Do I need to know that word?” Well it's helpful. He is the propitiation for our sin. Whether you can spell it, say it or understand it, it's helpful. You know why? Because the more you understand of what He’s done, the more you want to worship Him. The more you want to just thank Him. God, you're opening my eyes to the vast -- the riches of your grace. I didn’t see it before. Really? Your forgiveness is that complete and then you add to me that? It's amazing. What does it mean “is the propitiation”? It means that death has been paid. It means the wrath that we deserve in our sin -- see sin deserves wrath.
There's a righteous requirement, it's satisfied in Jesus Christ, that’s what it means, He's our propitiation. All that we deserve, the wrath, the judgment, all of it that we deserve, Christ took it in our place. That's glorious! In fact that word, propitiation, is used to describe or define the mercy seat which is over the top of the Ark of Covenant in the temple in the Holy of Holies. The mercy seat; that’s where they would sprinkle the blood of the bull on the Day of Atonement, the day of forgiveness, Yom Kippur which they celebrate about this time of year. Every year, they would celebrate the day of forgiveness by taking the blood of a bull and sprinkling it on the mercy seat. The mercy seat was where the glory of God dwelt.
Why would you sprinkle blood on the glory of God? Because that blood of a bull pictures for us the blood of Jesus Christ, His blood, the mercy of God, sprinkled, covering all of us. He is our propitiation. Every year, Day of Atonement, start fresh and new. I love that. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things passed away, behold, new things have come”. You're being made new. If you're in Christ, if you have received that offer of life, that gift of forgiveness and grace abounding to righteousness, you are being made new.
He's restoring your soul. He's transforming your life. He is building in you the life of God Himself in your life. You are a new creature, and you're growing. You're growing in faith. You're growing in the knowledge of what He's done for you. You're growing in love for Him. You're growing in admiration for His grace. You're growing. He's transforming you, even now. Let's Pray.
Romans 3:1-31 NASB