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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Sep 15, 2016

Have you ever gone to a revival and seen all the shouting and running the aisles and felt empty? Have you ever gone to church, all the activities, and felt empty when you left? "Am I missing something?" People will come to the Superbowl party, but they will not seek truth. With all the pomp and procession, what is wrong with the church today?

Here are the notes for this episode:

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  1. Introduction
    1. There is a plague spreading throughout the world in the name of Jesus Christ. To give an illustration let’s consider Hans Christian Anderson’s story of the Emperor’s new clothes:
      1. There was a very vain emperor who cared for nothing but about how he dressed and appeared to others. Two swindlers came to town, feigning themselves to be weavers, and convinced everyone, including the emperor, that they had such cloth as appeared invisible to those who were unfit for their positions or were unusually stupid. The emperor commissioned an outfit to be made of this fine cloth. He sends more than one minister to examine the garments themselves and tell him about them. Everyone he sends gives an excellent report. He goes to see the outfit himself, but doesn’t see anything. Nevertheless, so as not to appear as unfit for his position or as a fool he puts on the new garment. He heads out into the city as part of a major procession. All the townspeople shout praises and high accolades to the emperor for his new garments. "But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said. "Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on." "But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last. The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.
    2. It is interesting to consider, isn’t it? A man so proud that he refused to acknowledge that he was naked. It took the simplicity of a child to point out the obvious, because he had no concern for being considered a fool.
    3. The “church” has so much activity, so much money, so much influence, and so much “life”. All it does is keep people busy.
    4. In the United States, in the Bible-belt, I’ve stood on one corner and seen four different churches less than one-hundred yards away. Yet our country is more biblically illiterate than ever in its history.
    5. If you were to ask “Christians” about things, they’ll tell you about their church: how wonderful, kind, nice, and welcoming it is. They preach the Bible, some say. Though the only difference in most church-people’s lives is that they go to a building a couple times a week, talk about what they ought to do and how terrible the world is, and how Jesus loves them.
    6. How do we reconcile all the activity today in the name of Jesus with the manifest lack of separation, holy fear, and power? I believe that if we consider some things from scripture we will have the answer.
  2. The Majority
    1. Many people hear a “gospel” sermon and then join a church, spend the rest of their lives revolving around the church house. They were promised peace, joy, happiness, and that they would know God. When deep down many don’t feel that they know God at all: they know church. They praise the church, and they are grateful for the church.
    2. It is clear from statistics today that sin is just as rampant in church houses as it is outside them. Divorce, abortion, worldliness: there is no end to the inconsistencies with what the scripture tells us a Christian is supposed to be.
    3. That’s not what I want to consider though. I want to consider something else entirely. The plague in Christianity today is a cancer of the “professing” body of Christ. A tumor. Tumors are abnormal masses of cells that grow in a body. They have no beneficial purpose and can kill the body by the damage they inflict. Christianity has a tumor. An abnormal mass of individuals who profess to know Christ, but in their hearts show that something is wrong. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Tim. 3:5) These are the “nice” people. They are the most faithful attendees at church.
    4. Though there are many enemies attacking the truth of Christ’s gospel today, His sheep still know His voice. To the sheep, the things that we’ll go over from scripture today will seem like water to a thirsty soul. To anyone else it will seem contentious, unloving, and divisive. According as the apostle said, “To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.” (2 Cor. 2:16)
  3. Without the Camp
    1. I remember when I was young in the Lord and I was growing mightily. Over time I started to feel like something was “off” at my home church. It was a big Baptist church. We had 500 people on Sunday morning a lot of times. There were over a hundred “ministries” the church was involved in. The choir was really good. There was preaching, revivals, conferences, etc. I began to get involved with the college group, the adult bible study, even the Bible Institute our church started. Eventually one thing stood out to me: no one wanted to talk about Jesus Christ. I mean Him, the person, and not the subject matter of “Jesus”. No one wanted to go “do” for Jesus Christ. There was no personal relationship with Him. You can talk about the Bible, prophecy, doctrine, and any number of things and still be absolutely void of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I had asked the associate pastor to start a prayer meeting for the college group and he responded, “That’s asking too much of people when they’re so busy.” I went twice to try to start doing door-to-door visitation and no one else in the entire church showed up! I started getting very discouraged about all this.
    2. At this time I began questioning and really seeking the Lord for answers. Was I the un-spiritual one? Was I wrong? Was I asking too much of people? I began looking at other churches and found the same thing at the next one. Only this time people would get involved, but nothing was for the Lord. Everything was for the church in the name of the Lord. Church was the end that justified the means now. We can’t come together for prayer, but by-golly we’ll have a Superbowl party or a UFC get together! You could go do the same worldly things as the lost as long as it was with church people and it somehow made it holy. Ice cream socials, quartets and concerts: anything in the name of Jesus that had nothing to do with Him personally. I would be so vexed and think about verses such as Psalm 29:9 which says, “…in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” But in the church today it’s volume without virtue, praise without practice, shouting and running the aisles without any actual seeking of God or substance.
    3. It was at this time that I was driving down the avenue toward my house one evening. I was weeping I was so confused. I was asking the Lord, “What’s wrong with every one?” The Lord answered and impressed upon me, “They aren’t going without the camp.” This was a reference to Hebrews 13:13 which says, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” You see, Christ was crucified outside the city gates of Jerusalem. We are told that like as He was taken without the camp (outside the city/apart by Himself) Christians are told to go out unto Him. There are too many that stand at the city gate and they see Christ afar off, and they esteem Him. They esteem His holiness, righteousness, power, and life…but they will not bear His reproach. They will not go out unto Him.
    4. This not-going-without-the-camp takes different forms today. Let’s look at some scriptures that will shed light on this.
  4. The Religious
    1. It used to be said by people when you got saved that you “got religious.” Well, the most religious people of Christ’s day were the Pharisees. But Christ had this to say about them, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 5:20)
    2. Unless your righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the most religious people of Christ’s days on earth then it’s impossible for you enter the kingdom of heaven.
    3. What were the Pharisees like?
      1. They fasted often. (Mat. 9:14)
      2. They held the highest position in Israel of religious authority. (Mat. 23:2)
      3. They had long times of prayer. (Mat. 23:14)
      4. They had extreme zeal for proselytizing. (Mat. 23:15)
      5. They were very faithful in tithing. (Mat. 23:23)
      6. They revered the prophets of God. (Mat. 23:29)
      7. They knew what the Law of Moses said very well.
    4. Most pastors would be grateful to have such faithful attendees at their church!
    5. The Pharisees were more zealous than most people who profess to be Christians today. How is it then that these zealous Jews were the staunchest opponents of Jesus Christ? They wanted to kill the Son of God in the name of God. How could they so easily, and majorly, miss the entire point of the Law of Moses? It was to bring men unto the knowledge of the messiah.
    6. In John 6:28 we have an interesting question posed by the Pharisees to Christ: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”
    7. Isn’t that the heart of the matter? What can I do to curry favor with God? To make Him bless me, fill me, and do mighty works through me. What can I do?
    8. It seems to be an honest question asked in sincerity doesn’t it? I’ve been asked this question myself by people. There are multitudes of people who understand that the Bible is right, they believe in God, they understand that you need to “live right”, and they understand that church is supposed to be a place where you can find out the answer to this question. But the overwhelming majority of church-goers have completely missed the point of the gospel. “High morals” doesn’t mean you’re a Christian.
    9. Christ said to the Pharisees, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Mat. 23:28)
    10. Understand that the Pharisees did all that a man can “do” to curry favor with God. Jesus even told His disciples, “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works:” (Mat. 23:2-3) How can Jesus say “but do not ye after their works”? They tithed, they made long prayers, the fasted, and they were extremely zealous to teach others. Why then were they to not do after their works?
    11. The answer is seen as Christ continues:
      1. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men.” (Mat. 23:5) A man is only as holy and spiritual as he is when no one is there to witness it.
      2. They made long prayers for a pretence. (Mat. 23:14)
      3. They valued the gold of the temple and altar more than the God whose altar and temple it was. (Mat. 23:16)
      4. “…for they say and do not.” (Mat. 23:3)
    12. The essence of Christ’s entirely earthly ministry revolved around one concept:
      1. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29)
      2. “…for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
    13. Outwardly the Pharisees were “doing” a lot, but God was not pleased with them. Jesus Christ said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) There was something lacking in them. It was not enough to outwardly “do” things. In order to better understand this let’s consider a different passage of scripture.
  5. Circumcision of the Heart
    1. In Romans 2 Paul explains that God’s judgment of the gentiles is righteous. He then continues by showing that the Jews are condemned in God’s sight also because they do not keep the law. Paul then explains a very important truth, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom 2:28-29)
    2. Physical circumcision is the cutting away of the foreskin of the male genital. It was given to Abraham as an outward sign of the faith which he already possessed. (Rom. 4:9-12)
    3. What Paul tells us though is that it is not physical circumcision that justifies a man before God. Those who are circumcised in their flesh are not the children of God, or Jews, as Paul says. But those who are circumcised in heart are Jews in God’s sight.
    4. To illustrate why this is an important distinction, think of our original question from the Pharisees: “What can we do that we might work the works of God?” Or, think of it this way, “Why should God accept you?” Abraham and the Pharisees would have had two different answers:
      1. Abraham would say, “I believed God, and it was counted unto me for righteousness in His sight.” (Gen. 15:6)
      2. The Pharisees would say, “I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” (Luke 18:11-12) Or, because they were the physical descendants of Abraham. (John 8:33)
    5. There is a contrast set forth in this passage in Romans 2:27-29:

“transgress the law” (v.27)

“fulfill the law” (v.27)

A Jew outwardly (v.28)

A Jew inwardly (v. 29)

Circumcision in the flesh (v.28)

Circumcision in the heart (v.29)

In the letter (v.29)

In the spirit (v.29)

Praise of men (v.29)

Praise of God (v.29)

 

    1. When this contrast is set forth you begin to understand very clearly the problem. The Pharisees believed that because of their works they were accepted in God’s sight. Anytime someone says, “Because I did this-and-this I am good,” they have the same mindset as the Pharisees. You think it’s only that which you do that matters to God. You never stop to consider the motive and disposition of your heart before God.
    2. God looks on the heart of man and not only at the outward appearance. (1 Sam. 16:7) The majority of Christ’s rebukes in the gospels deal with this issue. For example, God considers it adultery when a man looks with lust in his heart, and not only when a man actually does the act. (Mat. 5:28) God looks at the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
    3. This is why Paul says it is not that which is outward that you makes you a child of God, but that which is inward. Not in the letter (the external “checklist”), but in the spirit (a right heart and disposition). What are the old hymns we sing, “Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word…” or “Search me O God, and know my heart today, try me O Savior, know my thoughts I pray…” Where do you think they got it? People say, “Well God knows my heart.” Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I can tell you what’s in your heart because it’s going to spill out into your daily life.
    4. The error of the Pharisees is that they thought they were good people. When Jesus Christ said that there is none good but God. (Luke 18:19)
  1. The End of the Law for Righteousness
    1. The Pharisees missed the entire point of the Law of Moses.
    2. This is what Paul references when he speaks in Romans 2:27. He says that the uncircumcised (the gentiles) can “keep the righteousness of the law” (v.26) without being circumcised in their flesh, but in their heart. “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness [the outward keeping of the law], have attained to righteousness [the fulfillment of the law], even the righteousness which is of faith [the purpose of the law]. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness [outward checklist], hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone.” (Rom. 9:30-32) The apostle makes clear that the stumblingstone was Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:11-12)
    3. Remember that physical circumcision was given as an outward sign of the faith that Abraham had. It was his faith that was counted as righteousness in God’s sight. Romans 4:11-12 says, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised [before the outward was done]: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also [the righteousness of faith]: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.”
    4. Galatians 3:6-9 says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Those who seek to be accepted with God only attain it by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
    5. It is faith that makes a man a child of God and accepted with Him. It is faith that is the circumcision of the heart. But in what sense?
    6. Romans 10:3-4 says, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
    7. Jesus Christ is the END of the Law for righteousness to every one that believes on Him for salvation. He is their righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). We are accepted before God the Father only because of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6). We have to submit to the righteousness of God, because we are not good. This means casting yourself entirely upon Jesus Christ, and having no confidence in the flesh.
    8. If we think that we are good people, or that we have good works ourselves apart from Jesus Christ, then we are going about to establish our own righteousness. A righteous man needs no salvation. Only those who are unrighteous need a Savior.
    9. We are told in Galatians 3:24 that the purpose of the Law was to bring us to the acknowledging of our need for Jesus Christ: that we might be justified by faith.
    10. If you think that your good works are anything in the sight of God to cause you to be accepted with Him then you are living under the Law and not under grace. You have denied the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Law and Grace
    1. So let me ask you a question: Do you try to obey God’s commandments to earn His favor or because you have committed your life to Christ? Take a moment to examine your own heart. This is extremely important because it is the difference between being under the law or under grace.
    2. Let’s consider another passage of scripture, turn to 2 Corinthians 3:3-9.
      1. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” (2Co 3:3-9)
    3. If you will notice there is the same contrasting as done in Romans 2:28-29 being done here. It also revolves around the concept of “letter versus spirit” living. Let’s consider the contrast:

Written with ink (v.3)

Written with the Spirit of the living God (v.3)

In tables of stone (v.3)

In tables of the heart (v.3)

Sufficiency of ourselves (v.5)

Sufficiency is of God (v.5)

Ministers of the letter (v.6)

Ministers of the Spirit of God (v.6)

That which kills (v.6)

That which gives life (v.6)

Ministration of death (v.7-8)

Ministration of the spirit (v.7-8)

Ministration of condemnation (v.9)

Ministration of righteousness (v.9)

 

    1. That is quite a stark contrast. This passage repeats what we saw in Romans 2: When man relies on himself all that it is going to get from God is death and condemnation. Men going about to establish their own righteousness that have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
    2. The difference between doing things by faith and reliance in Jesus Christ or doing them in your own sufficiency and means is the difference between living under the law or under grace. The difference between the Old covenant and the New covenant in Christ’s blood. In Jeremiah we read, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33) This verse is quoted in the book of Hebrews 8:10 to show us that this is NT salvation.
    3. The law is a “checklist salvation” mindset. If I do X-Y-Z then I am right with God. “What can we do…?” A Pharisee in heart. Make a list of God’s commandments and ordinances and do them and surely God will accept you. Wrong.
    4. From the lips of Jesus Christ Himself we know that there is none good in all creation by their own power but God the Father. He is righteous, and man is not.
    5. We read in Romans 14:23 that “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” When man goes about to do good works he is building upon the sand. Christ gave the illustration of the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built upon the sand for this purpose. You do things in your own strength when you don’t do them by faith in Jesus Christ. It is self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and self-righteousness: it is the oldness of the letter, and not the newness of the Spirit. It is law, and not grace.
    6. Grace is explained after this manner: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” (Rom. 4:13-16)
    7. It saved by faith that it might be by grace. For the purpose that the promise might be sure. God made His promise to Abraham because of the faith that Abraham had 430 years before the Law was given. There was no Sabbath, no temple, etc. There was God. It is this promise given to Abraham that we are told was the coming of Christ to redeem the world:
      1. We read in Galatians 3: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith [Hab. 2:4]. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal. 3:11-16)
    8. The promise was made to Abraham’s seed, which is Christ. We are partakers of the promise of the spirit through faith in Christ.
    9. The Law, which is earning God’s favor by external obedience, is not of faith. You cannot mix saved by works and saved by grace through faith. Paul the apostle said, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Rom. 11:6)
    10. If you are counting on your good deeds to get you to heaven then you are walking in rebellion to the grace of God. All you earn is God’s wrath, because the law works wrath (Rom. 4:15). But God has made salvation to be by faith, that it might be by grace (Rom. 4:16). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal. 3:22)
    11. It is in the wisdom of God that he has condemned all of man’s selfish works; because it is only after this manner that God has made the promise sure to whosoever will come. (Rom. 4:16) To those who walk in the same steps of faith as faithful Abraham (Rom. 4:12). This brings us to a very important point: If it’s not that which is outward that justifies us before God, then do we have to keep the commandments at all?
  1. Does the outward matter?
    1. With all this talk of outward versus inward do we then make void outward obedience? Does there have to be any external works, or obedience to God’s commandments, since we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ through grace?
    2. First off, I will say that this is a common question. It usually takes the form of this argument: “If you do nothing to earn salvation, then how can you do anything to lose it?” I will state bluntly that the only reason this question is usually brought up is because the person who asks it is looking for a loophole. They don’t want to obey God because they don’t want to submit to God.
    3. But some people have some idea that that which is Spirit does not require obedience to God’s commandments. They have equated the idea of God commanding something and requiring obedience of people to the idea of Law. If you try to tell them God requires some obedience from them then you are called a “legalist”.
    4. This mindset comes from the foolish notion that faith has nothing to do with works. Some will then say, “But you said you cannot mix grace and works!” I didn’t say that, the scriptures do in Romans 11:6. The point that the apostle Paul makes is that you cannot say that your good works count for anything in the sight of God and say at the same time that Jesus is your Savior. You cannot mix saying, “I am saved by Jesus Christ” with saying, “I am a good person.” That is what Paul rebuked.
    5. But faith is clearly laid out in scripture as having something to do with works. Let’s take a look at some scriptures:
      1. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jas. 2:14-26)
      2. You see the point that James makes is that faith does, but altogether for a different purpose. It is faith wrought with works. Faith obeys God because it believes God’s Word. Abraham believed God’s promise regarding Isaac and obeyed God’s commandment to sacrifice him BECAUSE he believed God’s promise.
      3. The same can be said regarding the NT commandments to Christians. God has said certain things such as “in the day when men shall give an account for every idle word that they speak” (Mat. 12:36) If a man has submitted himself to the righteousness of God and has given himself to God’s Lordship over him then when he reads that commandment he will be careful what he speaks. Not to earn favor with God and call himself a good person, but he will obey it because it is his Lord’s commandment. His will is to do the will of God. He glories in Christ, and not in himself. (1 Cor. 1:31). A servant who does all his master’s will at the end of the day did only that which was his duty to do Christ said (Luke 17:10).
      4. The Bible refers to “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26), or being obedient to “the faith” (Rom. 1:5). This can be summed up in Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” The life has been given to God that we could say as the apostle Paul, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:20-21)
      5. This is why the notion of someone being born of the Spirit of God without there being an outward show of obedience to Christ is foreign to the scriptures. The spirit of God is that which led Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry, and it was the spirit of God that led the apostles through the acts of the early church. Literally ALL of the scriptures were written under the direction of the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:21) Therefore, whatsoever is written in them as commandments was not contrary to the Spirit of God. So walking in the Spirit would by nature be obedient to all the commandments written in the scriptures.
      6. They that are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14), and the apostle John said that the children of God were made manifest in the sight of men by their obedience in doing what is righteous. (1 John 3:10)
      7. So when a man submits himself to the righteousness of God and believes the gospel, he is born of the spirit (John 3:5-6). The Spirit of God then begins to lead him as the believer yields to him. God works in him both to will and to do of God’s good pleasure (Php. 2:13). Our part is to believe on Christ, and walk by that faith, and God’s part is to work these things in us. The work of God is that we believe on him whom he hath sent.
    6. Christ’s own words contradict the notion that the outward does not matter:
      1. “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. “(Mat. 7:17-20)
      2. The nature of the tree causes it to bring forth fruit. It is every good tree that brings forth good fruit. Believers are partakers of the divine nature by faith in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:3-4). It is as we abide in Christ that we bring forth fruit (John 15:5).
      3. It is because the inward is right in the sight of God that the outward evidence will follow. But it will be wholly done for the glory of Jesus Christ and not for the man himself. (1 Cor. 1:31)
    7. When Christ rebuked the Pharisees he told them that they tithed and did all sorts of things outwardly but left out the weightier things in God’s sight such as judgment, mercy, and faith. These are inward things of the heart. Christ said, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Mat. 23:23) He told them, “You ought to do the weightier matters of the heart, but not to the excluding of the outward things.”
    8. Considering all these things it is clear that a child of God will act like a child of God. You may be young, and growing, but your growth is in grace and holiness unto the glory of Jesus Christ. You are growing to be more like Him upon whom your eyes are firmly fixed.
  2. Man’s Inability
    1. At this point, I’m reminded of something I’ve heard argued before. If a lost man does outwardly the things that God commands aren’t they still good things?
    2. For instance, God hates lying. So if a lost man sees that God says not to lie, and he of his own volition starts doing all things honestly, doesn’t that mean he’s doing a righteous thing? I mean, because God said not to do something he stopped doing it?
    3. There are two problems with this line of reasoning:
      1. First, man must first be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ before he can even begin to obey God. Otherwise, his past sin still separates him from fellowship with God. He might not even be sorry for his past sins.
      2. Secondly, there has never been a single person in existence who has ever heard the commandments of God and actually completely obeyed them just because he esteemed them to be good. There is always a knowledge of God in the obedient man’s heart, because apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
    4. Why is that the case? Why can’t a man just do a checklist? Paul the apostle shows the problem clearly in Romans 7.
    5. Paul, being a Pharisee before his conversion to Christ, sought to live by the straightest sect of Judaism. He sought to live completely by the law.
    6. But the problem was that Paul esteemed the law to be good (7:22), but by his own strength he had no ability to do what God had commanded (7:18).
    7. The problem came when Paul realized “that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (7:14)
    8. Paul, left to himself, could only fail. An outward checklist of commandments could not fix man’s flesh to make it spiritual. That which is carnal minds the things that are carnal and does the things that are carnal. Only that which is spirit is spiritual. Christ taught the same thing in reference to the new birth in John 3:5-6. That which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit. Man is flesh and he cannot do that which is spiritual without a radical change from God who is a living Spirit.
    9. We read in Romans 8:3-4, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
    10. So Paul concludes his testimony as to the problem saying, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:24-25)
    11. It was only through Jesus Christ that Paul could be delivered from the bondage of his own flesh and carnality to the liberty of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2).
  3. Dead with Christ
    1. In this we begin to understand what is referred to as “dying to self”.
    2. A man who has no will of his own is dead. Paul explained it this way, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
    3. Paul was dead, but Christ lived in him. He lived, but not unto himself (2 Cor. 5:15). He lived by the faith of Jesus Christ. He lived to do the will of God. His independence and self-will was gone. He had given it to God.
    4. This is what is meant in Romans 7:4-6: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
    5. To be “in the flesh” is self-will and self-dependency. The result of trying to please God in this way will be the same as Paul found. You will try but you will fail. You will sin. It is unavoidable. It is unavoidable but that you should exercise your own self-seeking will contrary to God’s. That is the definition of sin. But, if you were to die to yourself, and reckon your own will to be given unto God, then God can take you and deliver you Himself.
    6. Romans 6 talks a lot about this.
      1. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4) Christ died physically on the cross and rose again by the spirit of God never to die again. We are told that after this manner when we identify with Christ, we are accepting the death of our own will. To the end that we should walk in a completely new way afterwards.
      2. “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:” (Rom. 6:8) If we die to ourselves to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, then we are assured of God that as Christ was raised from the dead so shall we be raised.
      3. “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:7) Sin is the result of man walking in his own strength apart from God. If the man dies, that is, he stops seeking to walk in his own will and strength, then sin ceases. He is free from the law to walk in the Spirit: which is wholly to glorify Jesus Christ. The man is free from the bondage of his own flesh.
      4. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14) If you are under the law, walking in your own strength to please God, then you are under the dominion of sin. But if you are living under grace, completely depending on Jesus Christ, then you are not under the dominion of sin. Paul says it this way in Galatians: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:16-18) If you want to be free from sin: cast yourself wholly on Jesus Christ and stop relying on yourself.
    7. An important thing to consider is mentioned in Romans 6: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16)
      1. If you yield yourself to sin you become its servant again. Christ said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34)
      2. Also, be careful not to slip back to self-sufficiency and self-will. Paul warned us, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” (Gal. 2:17-19)
  4. Alive through Christ
    1. Remember that the law could only work wrath (Rom. 4:15), and it is considered the ministration of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9).
    2. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 10:4) When a man comes to the end of himself by realizing his inability to please God himself he looks for a savior. That savior is Jesus Christ.
    3. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1-2)
      1. All the condemnation of the law is done away with in Christ. The believer in Christ is not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Therefore he is not under the law, but under grace (Gal. 5:18).
    4. A question that has been asked before is, “Can a man be of the Spirit of God and continue in a state of carnality?” The answer is a resounding no. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:5) Those that are born of the Spirit of God mind, or have a disposition to, the things of the Spirit of God.
    5. Likewise we are told, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:8)
    6. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) It is only those led by the Spirit of God that are Christians.
    7. A wonderful illustration given to us in scripture of how we can expect to be judged of God is in 1 Corinthians 3:
      1. It says, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
    8. One thing to take away from this passage is that the only foundation that lasts is Jesus Christ. All that build, and are saved, are building on this one foundation. Some may err in how they build upon that foundation, but they have the correct foundation.
    9. This shows the simplicity of the matter: continue to walk by faith in Jesus Christ.
    10. Christ Himself told his disciples, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
      1. He gives the promise that if you abide (continue/remain) in Him then you will bring forth fruit unto God.
    11. “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” (1Jn 2:24) Keep the knowledge of Jesus Christ at forefront of your heart and mind, walk by faith in it, and you will continue in Him.
  5. The Emperor
    1. Now, I’ve gone over a LOT of scripture to come to this. Remember the story of the Emperor’s new clothes? I’m going to ask you now: Who is the emperor in our illustration? I’ll tell you, it’s the visible church today.
      1. The majority of churches teach a “checklist salvation”: “come to an altar, say a prayer, be sincere, ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll be saved for all eternity!” Or, they miss the point of the gospel which is abandoning yourself to Jesus Christ: “I go to church, I read my bible sometimes, live a moral life, what more must I do?” Or, “Yeah, I’m a really good person.” They show that they don’t even understand the gospel of Christ. Inwardly they still want Hollywood, friendship with the world, and they care only about the things of the world. Nothing has changed.
      2. The majority of churches teach that the outward state of their life doesn’t matter. They may say that a Christian will not continue in sin, but they certainly don’t expect anything less. “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” Whatever happened to perfecting holiness in the fear of God? Just a “carnal Christian”, right? What a contradiction, a carnally-minded spirit-led Christ-follower! May I remind you that Christ said that which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit is spirit (John 3:5-6)? And they that are of the spirit do mind the things of the spirit (Romans 8:5-6)? It is only those that are led by the spirit that are the sons of God (Romans 8:14).
      3. The majority of churches today teach that man is generally good; if not in word, then certainly in action. Lots of nice people doing nice things, talking about nice things, and no one upsetting the status quo of “church”. A little sin you say? Don’t worry, Jesus loves you.
      4. The majority of churches today expect nothing spiritual of professing believers. Come to an altar, say a prayer, be paraded in front of a church with the pastor saying, “welcome so-and-so into the family of God!” They’ll come to church faithfully: the ice cream socials, the movie nights, and the superbowl parties. They’ll hear sermons about how wonderful heaven is, “don’t you doubt your salvation because you said a prayer,” and the ever more vague and subjective “moving of the Holy Spirit.” Shout, run the aisles, be moved by the pretty music: leave the church saying “what a wonderful service.” Behold: world-changers for Jesus Christ. Come and get you some community: but don’t you dare ask us to seek God.
      5. The majority of churches today are filled with people living their own lives, their own ways, for their own purposes. They are dead to nothing but God. If you even insinuate that God has commanded them differently than how they live all you will receive is excuses, “I don’t agree with that”, accusations of being a legalist, or “don’t you judge me”. All the while Jesus Christ says, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:20) They don’t care what God said. They’ve got their lives to live.
      6. The majority of churches don’t really do anything for Jesus Christ. They do everything for His professing church. They abide in nothing but the church house. Do nothing for Him, but everything for a building. I’m tired of hearing people say, “If it wasn’t for the church I’d be drunk in a ditch somewhere.” God forbid such a person should ever be cast into prison for their faith. For most people church is their god. They praise it, thank it, obey it, and reverence it. Not so with God’s church. God’s church only has eyes for Jesus Christ. “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” (Psalm 29:9)
    2. Behold the Emperor, how great is its pomp, its influence, and its social networking. It is rich, increased with goods, and has need of nothing.
    3. This is the Emperor, the modern church. Listen now to what the only Begotten Son of God says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev 3:17-18)
    4. My final question is: will the church just shiver and suspect the truth, but continue and say, “The procession has got go on?” Will the pastors just hold up the train that isn’t really there? Shout a little, run the aisles: maybe we can convince ourselves that God is in the midst.
    5. Fine linen is the righteousness of saints, and you are naked. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19)
    6. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph. 5:14)