Video Transcript: Religion Without Relationship

We're going to continue studying God's word from the Book of Romans and hearing what God  says to us. And we're going to focus today on a section of that great book which describes  religion without relationship. When you read the book of Romans, the great theme of it is, the  gospel is God's power for the salvation of everyone who has faith. And then after stating that  theme, the apostle goes on, to talk about various people who need that salvation. And after  speaking, who needs it, he speaks of God offering Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement through  faith in his blood. The gospel is God's righteousness given through the sacrifice of Jesus and  His blood. And that obviously, would raise the question of well then who needs Jesus blood.  And the first part says, Well, if you're a rotten rebel, if you just reject all religion, all revelation, all morals, you just want to do your own thing. You need Jesus blood. If you're someone who  has moral principles, and you're kind of distressed at how bad society is getting, and you  wish, people would behave better. But haven't looked in the mirror lately. You need Jesus  blood, because you may stress conscience, you may stress the consequences of not doing  what's right. But the difficulty is that you may still be doing wrong yourself. And then related  to that, but even more hard to reach in some cases, are the people who are the champions of  religion. Not only do they want society to be better, and people to follow conscience, and do  the right thing, but they have religion, they even you might say, have true religion. They  aren't just one of the religions of the world, they are the chosen people of God. They are the  people who have given the special revelation and truth of God, they are the people with  whom God made a solemn covenant to be their God, and they would be His people. They  have this special rituals and practices that were revealed by God Himself. And so for them,  they were tempted to boast of having God's law of having a great family and national  heritage. And to think that this made them right with God and the apostles point here is that,  even if you're in that position, you need Jesus' blood. If you are a member of the chosen  nation of Israel, you need to be saved, and you need the gospel just as much as anybody else does. This is an old technique used by another of the prophets. If you read the prophet Amos,  you find that he gives his prophecy. And he starts out by talking to one of the pagan nations  quite aways from Israel, and tells them how bad they are, and they're gonna face God's  judgment. And then he picks another pagan nation, and they're gonna face God's judgment,  and then he picks another one, and they're gonna face God's judgment, but the whole time,  those nations are getting closer and closer and closer. And finally, he points to the 10 tribes of Israel and says, You're gonna face God's judgment. And then he hits right between the eyes,  the tribe of Judah, and Jerusalem, and says, You're sinners, and you're going to be judged, too. So there's this circling effect. And all of a sudden, just when you were starting to cheer the  prophet or the apostle on, you find that there's that little red dot of the rifle on your chest,  and suddenly you're very, very nervous. So the question here, who needs Jesus' blood is that  even the great champions of religion, and the people who consider themselves members of  the chosen people may perish without the gospel. And so today, we're going to look at that  section of the book of Romans. And look at it in kind of three chunks, as the apostle describes  a Jewish people apart from salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the things that go badly  wrong. When you have religion without relationship. One of those is that you become  hypocritical. You talk a good game, but it's talk without walk. It's words without actions. A  second problem is that you become ritualistic. You learn certain practices and ceremonies,  and you follow them, but the inner reality that those things are supposed to be a picture of,  are missing. And in addition to that, a problem with people who have religion without  relationship is that they are experts in arguing. They accumulate knowledge and they can get  into arguments with people and they can bicker with the best of them. And even when they're hearing God's truth, and when they're hearing the Gospel itself, they can come up with  objections, but their objections without objectivity. They, they're objecting because it doesn't  serve their purposes, to accept the truth. So they're they're argumentative, there's griping,  without grounds. And we'll look at each of these. And we will unfortunately find that it is not a  problem for Jewish people of 2000 years ago, with whom the Apostle Paul talked, it was a  problem for some of them. He knew those problems firsthand, because he was one of them,  and had been just this sort of person, before he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to  Damascus. So he knew the difficulties of being a religious person and how he had made him 

even more angry and forceful in his opposition to Christ. So we'll take a look at each of these.  First of all, talk without walk, but you if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast  in God, and know His will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the  law. And you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in  

darkness an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children having in the law, the embodiment  of knowledge and truth. You then who teach others? Do you not teach yourself while you  preach against stealing? Do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery? Do  you commit adultery? You who abhor idols? Do you rob temples? You who boast in the law  dishonor God by breaking the law, for as it is written, the name of God is blasphemed among  the Gentiles because of you. The Jews had a lot of which to boast, and in a sense, rightly so  they could boast in God, because God had chosen Abraham, he really had. This wasn't just a  fantasy in their minds, God had chosen Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and he had chosen  them and their descendants for a purpose. He had chosen them, to be a light to the nations,  to be a people who displayed what it is like to know God, and who God is, and the blessings of belonging to him. So they were correct, that they were chosen to be a people who would be a  light to the nations, they were correct, that in the law of God, they had an embodiment of  knowledge and truth. It was not false, to say many of these things, at least this is who they  were called to be, and supposed to be, and who they actually turned out to be through the  Messiah. It was in the Messiah, that they truly became a light to the nations. And if you read  the prophecies of Isaiah, carefully, for instance, it says, You are the light to the nations, but  it's speaking to the servant of the Lord. And in particular, that servant of the Lord is Israel's  Promised Messiah, and not just an achievement of Israel itself as a nation. But they they knew that there was something very special about being called by their God, and by being given  the torah, the God's revelation through Moses, and later revelation through the prophets. If  there was no light in Israel, there was no light. As Jesus himself put it, salvation is from the  Jews. Jesus said that it wasn't just an obnoxious, self righteous, self satisfied Jew who said that it was Jesus Christ Himself who said, salvation is from the Jews, because after Adam and Eve  fell into sin, after the great disaster at the Tower of Babel, God's project for the world was  focused on the children of Abraham. And through them, he would bless all other nations. So  they were to be a light to the nations no doubt about it. And all of those things said of Israel,  are said of the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus says to us, His disciples, You are the light of the  world. He says, You are a holy nation. He says that he's given us the revelation of the word of  God. So in one sense, the talk is accurate. If you're a part of of the Church of God, and you  believe the Bible is the Word of God, and you believe these things are true, and you believe  God's commands are to be obeyed. Well, congratulations, you have something of the true  religion. But to have something of the true religion is really quite different than to have a  living relationship with the God who revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So you  could call yourself these things and be glad that you belong to God, or at least boast in God,  at how well instructed you are and what your purpose is to be a light to everybody else an  instructor to the foolish the kiddos are going to learn truth from you, all that good stuff. One  little difficulty now you who teach others do you not teach yourself. If you read the gospels,  you read the Lord Jesus Christ giving some advice to the people of Israel of his time, he says,  now there's these teachers of the law. And I want you to do what they say. And please, please, please don't do what they do. He says, You obey the scribes and experts in the law, when they tell you what's right. A lot of times they're right about that. The trouble is, they're not doing it. And here, the apostle Paul makes the same charge to have the great law of Moses is one  thing to obey it. Well, that's another thing. Thou shalt not steal, says the man with the mask  on and the holdup gun, you know, there might be something a little wrong with that picture.  Thou shalt not commit adultery, says the man with a series of lies and a few mistresses and a  porn habit that doesn't quite compute. You should not worship idols. But there were actually  some people who had such contempt for idols on the one hand, who would actually sneak into idol temples and steal some of the treasures because hey, they're idols anyway, and it's bad.  So they would go and desecrate themselves by going into idol temples, and show that they  valued the very same things that the idol worshipers did by stealing their stuff. So those were  just a few examples that the apostle gave of people who talked a good game, but weren't 

living up to it. And he says, you boast in God's law, but you dishonor God, by breaking the  law. And I don't need to go into a lot of details about the problems that this still causes today,  folks who are champions of what is good and right in society, and then they themselves go  down in a scandal and a disgrace. because of bad things they've said or done. And so this,  this is a great challenge if you're facing religion, without relationship and, and the fact is that  all of us are going to not be fully consistent with what we teach. I hate to say it, but if I  perfectly practice what I preach, I'm probably not preaching the full truth. Because I can't live  up to everything God's word says all the time. So for all of us, there's going to be this problem that we know better than we do. And if we try to fool ourselves into saying, Well, we have the  law that makes us right, we have God's commands, I'm keeping them perfectly or well, almost perfectly, or well, probably at least good enough. If he grades on a curve, you know, that this  is where we get those difficulties. As it is written, the name of God is blasphemed, among the  Gentiles because of you, if you call yourself a light to the nations, and the outsiders are  saying, Wow, religions stinks, because they talk this way, and then look at them, see what  they're like. And that's what happens. The this, this sort of thing happened, as described by  the prophet Isaiah by the prophet Ezekiel, God's name was getting dragged through the mud,  not by all those bad Gentiles. First of all, but because of his own chosen people, and the  wickedness they had fallen into. And then when God exiled them, then people say, Well, look  there God couldn't even protect them. Their God couldn't make them holy, and he couldn't  protect them. What kind of God is that? And so when we have a religion, a form of godliness  without its power and life, all it does is make God look bad. We're busy. You know, we're  feeling kind of superior. And meanwhile, other people are saying that God and Jesus stuff is  kind of a waste of time, isn't it? So, again, that's one of the great things to beware of when we have the form of religion and not a living. walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, not a transformed  heart and salvation through him. And well here you can, I could print one of these up for if you aren't certificate of hypocrisy, this award certifies that the following named Person is a  hypocrite of the first order for saying one thing and doing just the opposite. It's probably fair  to say that just about everybody sitting here has richly earned this award at some time or  another. But I, you know, you can email me later if you'd like your own certificate of hypocrisy. I'll just leave it on the screen for now. Jesus said Woe to you scribes and Pharisees Hypocrites.  For your like whitewashed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead  people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but  within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. We look good when we dress up for church,  and what's going on on the inside the tombs Jesus says there's these beautiful tombs, oh,  man, they're splendid. Some of the greatest wonders of the world are tombs. What is it the  pyramids, the Taj Mahal, All That Beauty, all that impressiveness to house something that  stinks. So Jesus is saying that's when you get all these grand tombs and stinking, rotting  corpses inside, don't brag about how good the tomb looks, it's dead. And that's what happens when there is religion without the living relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. The second  problem, then, besides this hypocritical talk, without walk, is that such religion tends to get  more and more ritualistic, and to focus on the various ceremonies and patterns without  having the reality that those ceremonies and patterns are meant to represent. And the great  picture of that, for the Jewish people was circumcision. Circumcision was a cutting off of flesh,  and it was a mark on the body. And it was very important to Jewish men. So the apostle  begins to talk about the emphasis they put on that particular ceremony. The Rabbis said, all  the circumcised has a part in the world to come. They also had another saying, the  circumcised shall not descend into Gahanna. If you were circumcised, you had it made you  were in for the future, in the world to come, you were in and you were immune from hell,  because you had the mark. What does the apostle say for circumcision indeed, is of value if,  kind of a big IF, if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes  uncircumcision. So if a man who was uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision, then he who is physically uncircumcised, and  keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code, and circumcision, but break the  law, for no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and  physical. But a Jew is one inwardly. And circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not

by the letter. His praise is not from man, but from God. So there could be this emphasis that I  have the sign, and the sign proves that I'm good to go. And the Apostle says, a sign without  the reality does no good at all. And on the other hand, if you have the reality and lacked the  sign, you'd still be okay. If you were a perfect Lawkeeper, it really wouldn't matter that much  if you were circumcised or not. If you're a law breaker, who gives a hoot what got cut. So he's  saying, what matters really is what you are inwardly. It's a matter of the heart by the spirit  here he's pointing ahead to things he's going to elaborate on a lot in the latter part of the  book of Romans, the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming people's lives, and really helping  them to become more and more people who live up to the Word of God and live by the law of  God. And people who aren't just trying to impress others by their ceremonies, but whose  praise whose approval comes from God. And he said, wow, that's revolutionary. This is  something that was never seen before. And the Apostle Paul is showing us well, that's not  quite true. If you go back to the book of Deuteronomy, and the words of God through Moses,  God says, circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiffnecked any longer. And later  on God makes a promise, and God at this point has said, now I'm setting before you death  and life, you've got to choose life. If you choose the wrong path, here are curses, curses and  more curses that are going to get heaped upon you. If you choose the path of life, here are  the blessings and blessings and more blessings. And he says, and I already know how it's  gonna turn out, you are going to blow it. And all these curses are going to come upon you,  and you are going to be scattered throughout the lands. And this covenant I've made with you is going to be one that you break disastrously. And yet, I'm going to take action anyway, the  Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring so that you will love  the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul that you may live God after you  have ruined it and blown everything and not been a light to the nations and have failed, God  himself is going to come and he's going to change things on the inside, so that you truly do  love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. As it says in the Shema You  shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. So God is going to  do something in the heart, that is going to make people able to love the Lord. And this is why  the Apostle Paul says hey, a circumcision was never just a matter of cutting, or of a mark in  the body. even think about that, you know, it's a little bit delicate to talk about circumcision,  because it's made on a part of the body, that you don't parade around in public. Even if you  were circumcised, it's largely a matter of a hidden reality, because you got clothes on. And it's even more so when it comes to this matter of the heart. It's not just a matter of how you  appear to others, but what's been done to you secretly. And it's all about what God does in  the heart. Now, when we when we think about these things, and ritual, without reality, we can say, well, yeah, you know, we don't worry about things like circumcision too much. I mean,  some people are, some people aren't, and it doesn't have a lot of religious significance for  those who are Gentiles and, and who are Christians. But the principle still holds true. There  are still signs, there are still rituals. And some of them are legit signs that God has given. The  Lord has commanded that followers of Jesus be baptized. The Lord Himself has given us the  Lord's Supper as a way of revealing himself and sealing on our hearts the reality of His Body  and Blood given for us. And wouldn't you know it, the church has figured out ways to change  these pointers to Christ into some sort of almost magic rituals that in themselves have the  power to make you okay, hey, that kid got baptized 40 years ago, they haven't darken the  door of a church. They don't walk with God at all, but whew, it's good to know they were  baptized. Or you put in your biannual appearance at Christmas and Easter and you take a  little bit of mass and you say, I guess I'm good for another year. Oh, come on. And, and the  church came up with other other rituals besides those required in the Bible as well, so that it  almost became a matter of the church dispensing salvation. And the church needed a great  Reformation when it had gotten too wrapped up in thinking its rituals, and its ceremonies and  the actions of its priests. Were what we're saving people rather than the work of God, and  what Jesus did on the cross, and what the Holy Spirit does in the heart. And I wish we could  just say, Yeah, and that's true of those branches of the Christian Church, where they really  emphasize smells and bells and vestments, and ceremonies. But everybody can come up with their own ceremonies and rituals and badges of belonging, we don't smoke, and we don't 

chew and we don't go go with girls who do you know, and, you know, if you if that's your  badge of holiness, then that's what puts you into the kingdom of God, or, yeah, we read the  Bible pretty often at home. And we make sure that we memorize the Bible. And these are the  things that are going to make us right with God. Or, you know, my grandpa, he was such a  good man. And my parents, they're faithful and I agree with just about everything. They  taught. I'm just not doing it, but man, they were good people. And so you can you can come  up with various ceremonies, and practices and behaviors and rituals that become part of your system of doing things and not have that heart transformation. You wind up with just being a  hollow shell without the reality of it. And so the apostle says this is an matter of what the  Spirit does in the heart, not just of what you're doing outwardly. So if you don't have the  ceremonies, let's say you did smoke, and you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, well, then you  would be saved. If, if you do one of these other things, or let's say, you actually skipped your  Bible reading two times in a week, but you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of  God was working in you, well, then you're a lot better off than the person who's reading the  Bible 15 times a week, and still hasn't come to know the Lord in a living way. The point of it  all, the point of having the Bible itself is to come to know God, and the work of the Holy Spirit, and to accept Jesus Christ and to live from it. Otherwise, the Bible itself doesn't do you very  much good. Otherwise, the Lord's Supper doesn't do you much good. Otherwise, baptism  doesn't do you much good. Or to put it even worse, not only does it not do much good, it  hurts you. Because when you start counting on these things, as something in themselves, it's  just deadly. And this is a painful thing for us sometimes to face about ourselves. It's a painful  thing, when we think about people whom we love. Because some of them have had these  advantages. They've had the Bible, they read the Bible with us. They grew up with that Bible.  They were baptized, they went through all these practices. And you look at them now? And is  there any evidence that God's got ahold of their heart? Are they trusting the Lord Jesus for  salvation? Are they walking in the Spirit? If not, then I say with great sadness, but great  earnestness, that person does not know God. They don't belong to him, and they're not going  to somehow be made right by whatever ceremony ritual or other past practice, that you  might hope will still do them some good, it's going to take a work of God in the heart to bring  that about. So when it comes even to these precious signs of baptism, the Lord's Supper, we  need to realize that there's signs of Jesus in His sacrifice. And they're applied by the working  of the Holy Spirit, and they are not magic. And they're not just rituals that have the power to  save us in and of themselves. Charles Spurgeon, the pastor from the 1800s said, if now with  eyes defiled and dim, we see the signs, but see, not him. Oh, may his love the scales displace and bid us see Him face to face, the purpose of all these things, is to see Christ, the purpose  of all of these things is to draw us into that realm of the spirit. And to take that new covenant  promise, where God's like, I know you're going to blow it, I know you're going to bring these  curses upon yourself. But I'm going to circumcise your heart. He said, that the prophet  Jeremiah, I'm going to write my law on their hearts, He said, to the prophet Ezekiel, I'm going  to take out of them the heart of stone, and put in them a heart of flesh, and I'm going to make my spirit live in them. This is what living religion is, not ritual without relationship, but the life  and the Spirit of God Himself, living in you, and working in you. And this is what the Apostle  Paul is trying to bring to people. But first, he's got to persuade them, that your rituals and all  that stuff you've been counting on, is not going to help you. Religion without relationship is  hypocritical talk without walk. It's ritualistic ritual and ceremony without the reality. And it's  argumentative, that's the third thing that we find in the book of Romans in these first eight  verses of chapter three. As I said before, one of the hazards of growing up in a Christian  family or a religious or church background, is you learn to argue, and I'm not just talking  about the fact that churches may bicker over the color of the carpet or, you know, over this or that absolutely minor, inconsequential thing. But you get a certain stock of knowledge and  knowledge is a very dangerous thing. If you're not humbled by the Holy Spirit, if the Holy  Spirit isn't working, and you constantly, because then knowledge becomes a way of defending yourself, and defending yourself and making yourself look better than others or maybe even  attacking others, or you just you use whatever you know, or think, you know, to ward off any  claims that you don't like. And the Apostle Paul had seen this as a missionary so many times 

with his fellow Jewish people as well as with Gentiles, who would have their set of arguments  from their religions. But here he's talking to Jewish people. And one of the first objections that  he runs into is if well, if it's not a matter of circumcision, and if it's not a matter of having the  law of Moses, then hey, what is the use of being a member of the nation of Israel at all? That's a big objection. Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  That's the first objection. Hey, if it doesn't save you, what's the good of it? Well, the apostle  says, what's the advantage, much in every way, it's great to be a Jew, and to have this  heritage, and this Bible, and these ceremonies which point to the work of God to begin with  the Jews were entrusted with the oricles of God. Later on in Romans, he'll go on to give a  whole bunch of other advantages that the Jewish people were given. So he says, if you think  there's no use in being Jewish, or to bring it a little bit more up to date for us, if you think  there's no use in being brought up in the church, or learning in a Christian family, or learning  certain practices, if you think that's all just a waste, well, it's not, it gives you tremendous  advantages, but it doesn't give you the advantage of being automatically saved. Without  Jesus Christ, and without a saving work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. That's not one of the  advantages that it gives you. So one objection is Hey, are you saying there's no use in any of  this? No, it's a lot of value. But it's meant to point to Christ and to Israel's Messiah and not to  replace it. Another objection. Well, what if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness  nullify the faithfulness of God? Paul knew that some of his fellow Jews, all the apostles were  Christians, and many other, many other Jewish people had become Christians. But there were  a great number of Jewish people who had rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if that's  God's way of saving people is through Jesus the Messiah. And many Jews don't accept Jesus  the Messiah, and then God judges them for rejecting their Messiah. Does that mean that  they're faithlessness makes God unfaithful Because he's not faithful to His people anymore?  By no means? No way in the world. Let God be true, though. Everyone, were a liar, says Paul.  That great statement. He says, even if everybody in the whole world rejected God's Messiah,  if everybody despised Jesus and God, therefore cast them all the way would that make God a  faithless, unfaithful, untrustworthy God, no, God is faithful and true, even if everybody else is  a liar, even if everybody rejected Him, as it is written, that you may be justified in your words  and prevail when you are judged. Where's that quote come from? Now, it's a quote from  Psalm 51. If you know your numbers in your psalm, Psalm 51, is what it is a prayer of David,  King David, the man after God's own heart, the Anointed King of the people of Israel, the king  whom everybody else was compared. It's the prayer he wrote after his adultery with  Bathsheba and his murder of her husband. That's where the quote comes from. The greatest  of all the Israelites that champion, the representative of the nation, the picture of what it  should be, to be ruled by a man of God is the one who commits adultery and murder. And so  he says in his prayer, that God will be against you, you only have I sinned and he says, God is  justified in his words, and God is right when he judges. God was right when he condemned  and judged, David, for that act of adultery, and murder. And it did not make God unfaithful,  because his anointed king got punished for what he did. He was forgiven, but he still suffered  serious consequences. So the Apostle says, if, if you can just borrow a few words from King  David, God is always right. God when He judges is always right. So if you're objecting that  God would be faithless to punish somebody from his chosen people. Hey, if he could punish  David, he could punish you too. So let's not gripe at God, as though we're in such a privileged  position that God's either got to make everything nice for us or God has blown it. You can see  how the arguments are getting worse. First, they're asking, Well, is there any advantage in  being Jewish? And they're starting to hint well? Yeah, but God's almost got to come through  for us, no matter what doesn't mean because otherwise he'd be unfaithful. Oh, he's absolutely faithful to his covenant. And what is the covenant? If you reject me, here are the curses that  come on you. If you walk with me and choose life, here are the blessings that come on you so  he's gonna be faithful to that covenant he's not gonna be faithful to just some automatic all's  well with you, no matter what you believe, do or relate to him. Here comes another objection.  But if our unrighteousness serves To show the righteousness of God, what shall we say that  God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? I speak in a human way, by no means for then, how  could God judge the world? So Paul has run into various kinds of arguments during his 

evangelism among Jewish people. And he presents his gospel and part of his gospel is all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace, God gives this wonderful righteousness to people. And when you receive that righteousness by faith, you're  right with him. Isn't it wonderful? And people say, Yeah, you know what? My sinning is sure  making God look good. Man, I, the worse I get, the better he looks. He ought to be patting me  on the back for making him look so good. And the Apostle says What! Me tipota is the Greek for, no way, Jose. That's a loose translation. But, you know, is God unrighteous to inflict  wrath on us, you know, that that's the kind of the person who starts out being very pious and  religious, after a few more steps. And the argument is saying, You know what, when I'm bad,  I'm still good. And when God judges, he's bad, because I was making him look good when I  was being bad. And by that point, you know, you're starting to scratch your head and say, I  don't think that's the world's most rational argument. But that's what happens when you're  religious. And you say, you get a little hint of how a particular idea of theology goes. And it is  true. I mean, there's one sense in which the truth of Christian theology says that the worse  we get, the better God looks because we fell so far. And he did such a great thing in Christ to  save us that we know things about His mercy and His love that we would never have known if we weren't such a bunch of rotters. So do you think it's time for the prodigal son to break his  arm? You know, Pat himself on the back ans say, boy, I sure made dad look good, by going to  the far country wasting everything he had coming back smelling like pig slop, and he gave me a hug. And now look, the whole world can see what a great dad he is aren't I a wonderful son  for showing that. What? You know that. But that's you. That's how our stupid minds can  sometimes work. Because it's all about the Father's love and His goodness, that son, whatever he did was was rotten. It was bad. He did stink like pigs, he did waste all the money. He was  bad. And his badness Yeah, that you see even more how loving the father is. But that's all to  the Father's credit. The son should not be chalking up another on the blackboard and saying,  Boy, made dad look good today, didn't I? So that's the that's the kind of argument that some  people were using against Paul's teaching of salvation by grace. And a similar argument then  is if through my lie, God's truth, abounds to His glory, why am I still being condemned as a  sinner? Man, if I lie, like a rug, it just makes God look so honest. Why would he condemn me  as a sinner, I'm just doing my job I'm sinning, He's forgiving, you know, we're both doing our  job. And why not do evil that good may come, hey, the apostle is going to say later in  Romans, all things in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him. God can take  anything, and bring good out of it. So that means anything I do is actually a wonderful thing.  Because I am achieving great things for God, no matter how bad I am, because God always  takes everything bad, and brings something good out of it. Aren't I Wonderful? Well, you  know, you can see why the Apostle Paul says, I'm arguing in a human way here, you know, he said, This is nuts. But I've heard it, you know, he's heard those kinds of arguments. And we,  we, when we're cornered, that this is how religious people behave. We find arguments that  suit our own little agenda, and we bring them out, so that at some point, we can even say my  lies make God look very truthful. My wickedness makes God look very holy. My evil makes God look very gracious. I am doing great things for God. And the Apostle Paul says, Some people  slander, slanderously charge us with teaching that kind of a gospel. Well, their condemnation  is just there. There's a point at which he just stops arguing and the previous objection, he  says, Are you trying to say God can't judge the world? He is God by definition. That's who he  is. And what he does, he gets to evaluate. He gets to set things right. If you've got a  theological argument that says God can't judge the world, your theology is way off the tracks. If You're saying that let's go out and do more evil so that God can spin some more good out of it. You are way off the tracks. That's just a sign that your heart isn't right with God and you  don't understand the first thing about salvation. So again, religion without relationship, I wish  that this was something that was true only of other people. But talk without walk ritual  without reality, griping without grounds being an expert in marshaling Bible ideas for our own  purposes. These are things that that go in the territory, of being people of a religious  background of a Christian upbringing, who have exposure to the Bible, but not a transformed  heart. And so the point of the apostle Paul, doing all of this is, again, to get us to search our  own hearts, to fight back against our own hypocrisies. And for those who are without a living 

relationship with Christ, and a trust in His blood, and the work of His Holy Spirit in your heart,  that's the that's the first thing that needs to happen. And even for those who do know Christ,  and who do have the Holy Spirit, we need to realize that it is all too easy to fall into these old  habits. And we need to repent of them and be rescued from them. Again and again. And  

again, to have a right relationship with God, at least two things are necessary. First of all, you  need to satisfy God's righteousness, his standard, by keeping his law perfectly. And, or by  paying the penalty, those are kind of the two options. You either keep the law perfectly, or  you get punished for breaking it. And the final punishment for breaking God's law is hell. And  so those are the only ways that God's righteousness can be expressed, is either in having his  law perfectly obeyed or in being punished for breaking it. And the righteousness of God is  revealed in Jesus perfectly obeying the father's law, and also in Jesus paying the penalty of  the law in full by giving his blood. And so the key to the beginning of righteousness and a  right relationship with God is simply to trust in Jesus as the one who has been and is perfectly  obedient. And as the one who's taken the punishment away from us, so we don't have to  suffer it. And the second requirement for a right relationship is to have a heart that is alive  with love for God and for people. And to put it in Jesus words, that means you must be born  again, you must be born from above, you must have the Holy Spirit, not just things that  happened in your flesh, or that happen in rituals, but a change on the inside, and only God's  Holy Spirit can give you such a heart. And that means that if you want to be put right with  God, you trust in the Lord Jesus as your Savior. And you ask God, the Holy Spirit to live in you,  and to do on the inside, what needs doing not to take confidence in the things that you  happen to be doing on the outside. We've spent quite a bit of time on this in the book of  Romans, and you may be tiring of it. The Bible is very thorough, and very penetrating.  Because it knows how hard we are, and how good we are at making excuses. And how we are  looking for an exit wherever we can to avoid just coming face to face with ourselves. We want a quick solution. But the the core of biblical teaching is that you've got to repent. Before you  can receive you've got to face the reality of your need for the Gospel before you can receive  the gospel. And so all of this that we learned from the book of Romans is to face the dangers,  even of being religious people of not looking at society and say, oh, man, they need to shape  up. Now looking in the mirror and saying, I have had so many advantages. I have had the  word of God, I have had a family of God, I have had one advantage after another. And here I  am, I need the blood of Christ. I need the Spirit of Christ or I am lost forever. And thank God  we have the blood of Christ and the Spirit of Christ. So to all the gospel invitation again is this. Jesus says Whoever comes to me, I will never cast away. We pray Lord Jesus, that you will  indeed penetrate to the depths of our heart help us Lord to see the areas in our own life that  that still need to be transformed. Lord, some of us who've been counting on various religious  practices and rituals and behaviors or certain hollow arguments or rituals We pray that you  will help us to rely completely and totally on you as our Savior and master that you will  circumcise our hearts by your Holy Spirit and help us Lord, to find life and to walk with you.  And we know Lord, that even after we're saved, there are so many ways in which we still need to continually be changed and rescued from the folly of sin and from the hypocrisy and the  ritualism and argumentativeness that, that comes with being fallen people relying on our own selves. We pray, Father that you will do this in us. let us help us too Lord as fellow believers to be able to gently correct each other when we get off the tracks to gently encourage each  other too when we see ways that we've fallen into hypocrisy help us learn not to judge and  completely cast and condemn one another but instead to set each other back on the path of  faith of reliance on the Spirit and of holiness. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2021, 10:22 AM