Faithlife Sermons

Removing offences

Notes & Transcripts

Removing Offences.

When I was a kid it seemed every summer holiday we went to a camp out at Woodend – a beach just north of Christchurch. My dad used to speak at the camp, mum would be a leader; us kids would go as campers and as we got older we would be cabin leaders. There was a hall with a kitchen behind, and just across the driveway was a large shed, walled in on three sides where there were table-tennis tables. My dad and I used to quite enjoy a game of table-tennis, we had a table at home in the garage. It was the only sport I could play with any kind of ability. I well remember one camp we were at. There had been a series of full camps and the drainage system was under a bit of stress – being out of town they ran on a septic tank, and it was not coping. Well there was dad and I playing a game of table-tennis, when a couple of blokes turned up in a ute, they pulled up behind the kitchen just opposite us and lifted a slab of concrete – they had come to inspect the problem with the septic tank. Well, I have never experienced such a stench in my life! [OHP] The pong was so powerful that dad and I were literally doubled up. We couldn’t stand up so overpowering was the smell! I never knew that a smell could physically weaken you. Meanwhile these two blokes were calmly standing right over the opening discussing the problem. The putrid smell was what you would call OFFENSIVE! If something is offensive it turns your stomach, it is repulsive! It’s not just that you don’t like it or object to it; there is a gut reaction of revulsion – you cannot stand it. It is a powerful and involuntary reaction. What do we do when we encounter something offensive? – we do all that is within our ability to remove it, or remove ourself from it. You cannot tolerate to be in the same place as that which is offensive to you. The OFFENSE MUST BE REMOVED. It is intolerable! A stink can be offensive but so too can be behaviour. For instance we find nakedness offensive; that is why we are all here wearing clothes – covering the shame of our nakedness. When someone streaks across the pitch at a cricket match, he is arrested because it is behaviour that is deemed offensive by society. The Bible talks about the shame of nakedness: [Revelation 3:17-20 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. ] Do you hear what it is saying? Here were these people who thought that they had it all together – they were wealthy, they didn’t need anything but they actually poor, blind and naked. It is not talking about literal nudity but the fact that they were shameful before God, offensive to Him. They needed to repent, turn from their offensive behaviour. And that is pretty much how we are! We think that we are OK, but we are an offensive to God. [OHP] We offend God, fail to match His standard, go our own way, not His – we commit offenses against Him. And our offenses are offensive to God: [Isaiah 59:12 For our offenses are many in Your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities.] God says: [Isaiah 43:24 You have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.] The way we have gone is offensive – a stench in His nostrils – just like that open septic tank. We may think that we are impressing God by coming along to a church meeting, but we are an offense in His sight. [Proverbs 13:5 The wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.] And it is not just our wickedness, it is can be our fine religious show: [Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to Me.] You may not be aware of it but we are all offensive to God, He detests what we do [Deuteronomy 25:16 For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.] Jesus said: [Luke 16:15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, (claim to be good, to be OK) but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.] [Proverbs 15:26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked.] But it is not just the bad things we do, and we all know that we have failed to make the grade; it is also what we value highly, the very best that we do – our righteousness is offensive to God [Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags] Now the Bible translators themselves are seeking to avoid causing offense – it actually says that our righteous deeds, the very best we do, are like a menstrual cloth, something disgusting. In Jewish culture that bleeding made you ceremonially unclean, you could not come before God. It is not only our evil that separates us from God, so too does our righteousness! We are in deep shtuck! The offensive must be dealt with, that which offends must be removed – it is repulsive to a Holy God whose [Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.] He cannot tolerate that which is offensive to Him, He removes Himself from it. Our offenses separate us from God: [Ezekiel 39:24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.] [Isaiah 59:1-2 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.] The offensive must be removed – and that is done by judgement. [OHP] You may be in this fine institution because you committed an offense that was deemed to be offensive to society. A judge sat in sentence, the verdict was delivered and you were separated from society. That is what God will do – He has set a day for judgement when He will separate the righteous from the wicked – the wicked will be separated and burned in everlasting fire. That is one way that offense can be removed, by judgement. In fact it really is the only way – the judgement must be executed on the offense. But God says in [Isaiah 44:22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.] How does He sweep away our offenses? The solution is that the judgement falls upon another. [1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”] The solution is in the cross! [OHP] Jesus, who had done no wrong, suffered a criminal’s death. Wasn’t that unjust? The only innocent One receiving capital punishment? No, it was perfect justice! Because He was bearing the sin of the world in His body. John the Baptist said that He was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. All that which was offensive to God! Why do you think Jesus when He was on the cross said: [Matthew 27:46 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”]? Because He was bearing the sin of the world and His Father had to forsake Him because that sin made Him offensive to God! [2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.] God’s righteousness! Perfect, faultless! No longer offensive but a delight in God’s sight! My sin was placed on Him, then the judgement on my sin was executed on Jesus, in His body on the cross. Jesus suffered what we should have suffered – took the rap in our place [Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:10-12 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, (a sacrifice that removes sin). After He has suffered, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; (Jesus didn’t remain dead but God raised Him to life, vindicating His righteousness) by His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify many, (make them righteous) and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.] Jesus bore the offense – it has been removed! Hallelujah! [Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.] The LORD declares: [Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”] All those offensive offences were nailed to the cross – we die with Him and just as He rose from the dead, so too we are raised to NEW LIFE! [Colossians 2:13-14 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.] If our offences made us offensive; now that they have been removed, we are no longer offensive, we can be reconciled to God. No longer enemies, hateful; but friends. [Romans 5:8-11 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified (that is made righteous) by His blood (His death on the cross), how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.] The old person who is offensive to God is gone; now we have new life, Christ’s perfect life! [2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.] Once the offence is removed at the cross we are turned from enemies of God into friends. The topic I have been given to speak on is removing offences – and the only places offences are removed is at the cross of Jesus: [Colossians 1:20-22 It was the Father’s good pleasure to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— ] Our ways are offensive to God but He has provided the means for the offences to be removed – it is through the death of His Son on the cross. You can avail yourself of that – the way is through faith and repentance – turning from your own way that is offensive to God and relying upon Jesus the only righteous One who died in your place. That is the only way to life. Our offenses weigh us down, they need to be removed. I will close with a verse from: [Ezekiel 33:10-11 “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!]

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