God's righteousness demends judment
God’s righteousness demands judgment
Escape impossible through own efforts
“As the eyes of servants are fixed on the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of the maid is fixed on the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are fixed to the Lord our God until He has mercy upon us.” (Ps 123:2)
Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was and who is to come. In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Call to worship
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:15-16)
Doxology: Hymn no 14 : “O Praise the Lord”
Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer
O, holy and righteous God in heaven, before You the only God we have gathered. We thank you for your invitation to appear in your courts, in your very presence. We cannot stand before You unless You show us your mercy; we cannot see your face and live. But, covered in the righteousness of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers and supplications, and accept our worship.
We now join in collective prayer, using the words You taught your disciple to pray, saying:
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn: No 70: “Praise my soul, the King of heaven”
Hymn: No 450: “Yield not to temptation”
Scripture Reading: Old Testament: Psalm 130
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Declaration of pardoning
“Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Ps 32:1-2)
Hymn: No 497: “How blest is he”
Offering and Dedication
Scripture Reading: New Testament: Rom 5:12-21; Phil 3:4b-11
How did God create man? In what state was man when God created him? We know what man looked like when God created him, but were they a bit something like the Flintstones? A bit barbaric and uncivilised with in inclination to destroy about everything they saw because they were so dumb?
The Bible tells us that God looked upon His creation and declared that it was good, very good indeed (Gen 1:31). He created Adam and Eve after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. He endued them with living, reasonable and immortal souls. They were given dominion over all creatures God had made. They didn’t need the Bible or a written law then, because God made them having the law written in their hearts. More than that, they had the power to fulfil that law, yet they were subject to fall.
So, Adam and Eve was the pinnacle of Gods’ creation. The most perfect example of human life. They started out in the presence of the very God who created them. There were not Flintstone characters; rather, after Adam and Eve, decay and corruption set in, dragging down everything beautiful in man and creation.
The fall from innocence
Adam and Eve had the power to fulfil God’s law, yet they were subject to fall. Although they had direct communication with God, and although they were brought into a covenant of life with Him with the condition of personal, perfect and continuous obedience, our first parents abused the freedom of their own will. Enticed through the temptation of Satan, they disobeyed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the status of innocence as they were created. They became sinners, and with them, all of their descendants – that’s you and me! All mankind descending from Adam by normal birth, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression. This truth is given in Rom 5:12 and 14:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned — Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:12, 14)
Let’s just sum it up: Adam and Eve were the first people God created: “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth” (Acts 17:26). So, when Adam fell, all of us fell into sin. Adam and Eve were endued a free will and they could choose to do the right thing, but we can’t. Our free will is destroyed. We have no choice to sin or not to sin, we ARE sinners. Because of that we stand condemned before God and are worthy of his judgment. His judgment upon sin is death, which includes bodily death, but also spiritual death. Instead of this world being good, indeed a very good place, it became miserable. We know pain, hunger, famine and lost-ness. We see people warring and killing one another. Every day is filled with it. We are Adam’s race.
What is sin? Sin is to try do be your own God, or trying to be like God, determining yourself what is right and what not. God entered into a covenant with Adam and set the standard. Adam chose to make his own rules, rebelling against the set standard and authority. That’s sin.
We must try to understand what it means. Let’s put it this way: we are under God’s wrath not because we have sinned, but because we are sinners.
The peach tree bears peaches because it is a peach tree. It has no choice. That’s its nature. Every year in season it will have peaces on it until it dies. It is a peach tree even if it doesn’t bring forth peaches at all. It’s then just a peachless peach tree, but it doesn’t make it less peach tree. The fruit only underscores its nature.
Every human being born of Adam (and that includes all of us) is like a fruit tree: we bear fruit according to our nature. That means we stand condemned before God even before we commit one single sin. The new born baby is sinful in God’s sight. David said:
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
He doesn’t say, “I have sinned since I was born”; he says, “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” There is never a moment in our lives without sin.
That will bring us before the argument: “That’s unfair! If the “innocent” newborn baby can’t stand before the righteousness of God, who then can be saved?” That brings us to the heart of the sermon this morning.
Some argue, “I am not too bad. I am actually a good bloke. I try my hardest, what more can one do? Let’s hope for the best!” This argument is full of flaws. Firstly, it argues that God might save who are good. The Pharisees thought so too, but Jesus corrected them:
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)
Secondly, we can try as hard as we possibly can, we won’t make it. We are spiritually incapacitated to any salvational good to ourselves.
Thirdly, God will not judge us on a scale of one to ten. It’s not like school were you can still pass if you scored 6 or 7 out of the ten. Paul says in Gal 3:10-11:
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:10-11)
To fail in one aspect of the law is to fail in every respect.
God put a curse on Adam and drove him out of the Garden of Eden. God condemned him to death – and we share in that condemnation. We lack the righteousness of his original nature, but we share the corruption of his falle nature, which leaves us completely unwilling, and disabled. Spurgeon said:
“I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of divine grace.”
Reality is this: we cannot pick ourselves up using our boot laces. Even if we want to be saved, even if we wanted to go to heaven, there is nothing we can do to achieve it. The apostle Paul says:
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Philippians 3:4-6)
He means this: I was circumcised into the covenant people of God. Today we can say, “I am baptised and a member of the church.” Paul was from the privileged tribe of Benjamin. We can paraphrase and say we are members of the first church in Townsville, the biggest in Queensland. This church has its roots in Scotland, where Covenanters were willing to give their lives for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says he was a Pharisee, those religious people who tried really hard to conform to the law in every minor detail. We can say, “I read my Bible, I pray, I come to church very regularly, and tithe and give offerings. Besides, my life is an example; I don’t drink, I don’t beat my wife, I don’t cheat, I don’t steal, I don’t swear.”
These are admirable and commendable things. But it doesn’t meet God righteousness. In fact, I am still condemned and worthy of judgment.
Do you still complain, “It is unfair.”? Do you see the gaping chasm of eternal condemnation, incapable and helplessly on your way to hell? My brother and sister, may I say salvation is near to you? It is only when we realise the extent of our lostness, that we can see the vastness of God’s grace and mercy.
The Bible was never meant to be a do-it-yourself book of salvation. The Word that I am privileged to preach this morning tells about God’s answer to our dilemma. Paul say in Philippians 3:7-9:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)
The Law is “an eye for an eye”. The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament is built on this principle. Transgression calls for atonement. But if we cannot atone before God for our transgression, then we are lost! Listen to Hebrews 9:22:
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
The only perfect redemption comes from God. He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, the second Adam, to redeem a new race for God. And on the cross of Calvary He bore the judgment which was ours upon Him. The blood of Christ, who offered himself unblemished to God thought the eternal Spirit, cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
So, the price is paid. Jesus did it. God’s wrath upon sin was upon Him, because God’s righteousness demands judgment.
Brother and sister, you can only be saved if you put your trust in Jesus Christ. Don’t trust your own righteousness, it will take you nowhere. Repent before God and accept the righteousness brought about by Jesus Christ. Confess your sins and turn away from what is wrong and start living a holy life before God. Have you done that? If not, if you try to enter heaven through your own righteousness you still stand condemned before God. Cling to the righteousness of Jesus and you will be saved. Amen.