Tags: Baton Rouge, Ecclesiastes 7, Flood of 2016, Louisiana Flood, mainstream media, Romans 3, The Great Flood of 2016, The Louisiana Flood of 2016, Titus 1, total depravity
In July, 2016, a Baton Rouge police officer shot and killed a man named Alton Sterling, prompting protests and national media attention. Later on that month, a gunman shot six Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, killing three, and critically wounding another. On August 12-13, 2016, the banks of the Amite, Comite, and Tickfaw Rivers disappeared beneath raging torrents of rain and runoff. The water began to rise at an alarming rate. Houses – and whole subdivisions – located on property which hadn’t experienced flooding since time immemorial began to fill up with water. The main shopping districts in downtown cities disappeared beneath newly formed lakes. Vehicles sank or floated off the sides of highways. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be one of those events that earn the adjective “catastrophic,” like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis. The national media won’t admit it, but they love these things. They are great for ratings. Reporters rush to the scene and report live in their “rough-weather” gear, often holding onto something for support in the storm, and speaking of doom and gloom into a shaky camera.
Here in southeastern Louisiana it was going to be our turn in the spotlight… except it wasn’t. At least not at first. By and large, the national media, fascinated with the spectacle of a shameful pick-your-poison fiasco of a presidential campaign, and a weird scandal involving Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, gave short-shrift to our noble struggle to stay afloat down in Bayou Country. The difference was glaringly obvious. Social unrest and violence caused by alleged prejudice and bigotry? Alert the media. A common-cause weather disaster prompting us to set aside our differences and work to help each other? Yawn.
And the locals didn’t like it one bit. Social media gives everyone a voice and many people used it to express their disapproval. Why did Louisiana get big-time coverage for our problems, while getting ignored for our resiliency and unity in a desperate time? And, to be fair, the complainants had a point. Conceivably, faster and greater media attention could have resulted in faster and greater aid from around the country. Also, the perception that the Yankee media thinks that us Southern rubes make for better entertainment when we’re getting up to criminal hi-jinks, than when we’re nobly helping our our neighbors, is not without support.
I was one of the few that did not wish for more national media attention during the flood and its immediate aftermath. One reason is that, with the prevalence of social media, people are already overly-enthusiastic about seeking attention. There were plenty of people out doing heroic things during the flood… and posting about it on Facebook. Most of the so-called do-gooders were quickly hashtagged, shared, liked, retweeted, and instagrammed. When a boatful of Cajun good ‘ol boys ferries you from the roof of your house to a National Guard staging area, everybody logged in at home gets a nice case of the feels. When you click on a cell phone camera photo of some kid’s soggy rescue-pet puppy wagging his tongue over the gun-rack in the back windshield of a jacked-up high-water-defying pickup truck, how can you not get the warm fuzzies about your community and humanity in general? The national media would have only reinforced and emphasized a wrong view of ourselves and our true motivations, and that is the last thing we need.
Within a few days after the flood, the harsh reality started to set in. This was not going to be about heroism, bravery, and daring in an air boat, or about sandbag-delivering Samaritans, or about ice chests filled with bottled water instead of Bud Light for once. It was going to be about the cleanup, and, for Christians, it was going to be about opportunities to share the good news about Jesus. No one delights in viewing a Facebook photo of some old dude down on his knees in the back of a dark closet four days after a flood, trying to scrape out the last crumbles of moldy drywall so that it’s safe to put the new stuff up later when it arrives (plus my butt crack was probably showing from that angle and NO ONE wants to see that!). No one hashtags #LouisianaStrong or #BatonRougeProud over a picture of Grandma’s water-warped antique dresser lying smashed in a pile of debris out by the road. So, after the opportunity for glamour, comes the opportunity for ministry.
Wait a minute though, says the objection, shouldn’t we celebrate the spirit of resilience and golden rule reciprocity that comes when people put aside their differences and band together to help, while it is going on? Maybe we should. As Christians, though, we need to be very careful about what we celebrate and, especially, what we label as good. If the Cajun Navy restored your faith in humanity, or if seeing people with different skin colors sitting in the same rescue boat sharing a blanket made you think that people are basically good deep down, then you need to remember what the Bible says about our inherent “goodness” and self-righteousness.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Apart from Christ, every person, regardless of whatever “kindness” or “goodness” or “righteousness” he seeks to perform or demonstrate, is condemned before God. Unless they are born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel, every admiral, midshipman, and ensign in the Cajun Navy, every “good” neighbor and “good” ol’ boy, every rescue and relief worker, will go to the lake of fire for all eternity. And the mainstream media will not change that truth whether they show up or not.
Tags: evangelism, first use of the Law, Jeremiah 17, Law of God, mirrors, Old Testament Law, pedagogical use of the law, Romans 3, sin
We have seen:
Now we will look at:
3. The Reflective Purpose of the Ten Commandments
Under the revelatory purpose I said that the Ten Commandments in a sense reveal (or reflect) the character of God. However, they reflect the other way, too, and I believe this is the main purpose of the Ten Commandments: The Commandments are God’s mirror to show us what we really look like.
Do you look in the mirror in the morning? I don’t like it, but I do it, because it tells me the truth about me – what’s on my face, what’s between my teeth, whether I accidentally grabbed a purple tie and green socks. The mirror does nothing to help me look better – except to show me the truth.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
No one can look at the Ten Commandments honestly or even with partial honesty, and deny that he is guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
That’s why we use the Ten Commandments in evangelism. They let us hold up a mirror to lost sinners without us acting as their judge ourselves.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
When the Bible says that all have sinned, most people will see this as an excuse instead of an accusation. “Okay, I’m a sinner, but so is everyone else.” It’s not an excuse. We are people of unclean lips, but the fact that we are part of a group doesn’t excuse us. It makes things worse. We are not just sinners. We are part of a sinful race of people.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
“The” heart is a universal subject. It means that everyone’s heart, apart from Christ, is like this. The Ten Commandments do not let us get away with those kinds of rationalizations. They are universally applicable, but they are also pointedly personal: thou shalt; thou shalt not.
God does not grade on a curve when it comes to sin, but even if He did, Jesus is the ultimate curve-breaker. He scored a perfect 100 on the “do not sin” test. The reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show us our need for that perfect Savior, and to destroy any hope we might have in ourselves or in our own works.
Teach your children the Ten Commandments, but don’t teach them like a rule book. Teach them like a mirror. And make sure that you yourself have really looked into that mirror, as well. There’s no such thing as a “good person.” There are only wicked vile wretched worthless useless sinners, some of whom have been saved by the grace and mercy and love and blood and death and burial and resurrection of a good and a great Savior.
Tags: 2 Peter 1, Acts 17, Bible study, hermeneutics, John 3, Psalm 119, Revelation 20, Romans 3, The Bible, Word of God
Previously I discussed some of the exciting things about reading the Bible. Be patient with the Bible. Some sections are like a torrid novel (there are even some scandalous passages!), but some parts are more like the terse outline in a study guide for a history exam. Other sections are beautiful poetry. Take some time to figure out what genre you are reading. The Bible has an unlimited depth. The more you learn, the more you will want to know. And the more you want to know, the more fascinated you will be. Here are some practical tips for getting more out of your Bible-reading:
1. Remember the truthfulness of it.
Thy word [is] true [from] the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments [endureth] for ever.
The Bible is unique in this respect. It is absolutely true in every circumstance and situation. It is the Word of God, and God cannot lie, and He cannot change. Therefore, His Word cannot be wrong, and it does not become outdated. Everything else you hear is susceptible to being (and often is) a lie. The Bible is the “verily verily” of God – the “true truth.” You can depend on it and rely on it, even when everything around you and “common sense” seems to indicate otherwise.
… yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
2. Reacquaint yourself with God in it.
Some people only have a second-hand knowledge of God. You know Him through your parents. You know Him through sermons. Your main experience of Him is through praise and worship. It’s time you get to know Him better – in the Bible.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
II Peter 1:3
We know that God is loving, just, merciful, gracious, wise, and powerful, because He tells us these things about Himself, and He has recorded Himself demonstrating these things in the Bible. Can you imagine your spouse, child, or favorite person in the world giving you a letter telling you their most important thoughts, and telling you what they are truly like, and you don’t bother to read it? God has demonstrated His love and His care for us in the highest way conceivable. How can we not want to find out as much as we can about Him?
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
3. Recognize yourself in it.
The seeker-sensitive cliche’ “it’s not about you” is true, in a sense. But in another sense, it is about you. The Bible is where we learn how we got here and what our reason for existing is. A good hermeneutic principle to follow is to picture yourself as the sinner in every Bible story you read.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:11-15 (emphasis added)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 (emphasis added)
You are in the Bible in one of those two verses. If you are truly a Christian, then you are a “whosoever” in John 3:16. If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, then you remain one of the “whosoevers” in Revelation 20:15, and I plead with you to ask the Lord to change your status today.
Tags: America, deserve, Ephesians 5, getting what you deserve, grace, Jermiah 16, mercy, Mitt Romney, Romans 3, undeserved love
Recently a candidate for political office responded to his party’s nomination with an acceptance speech. A key theme of this speech was the idea of entitlement. Or, to put it another way, “getting what you deserve.” In this relatively short speech, the words “deserved” and “deserve” were used nine times.
-“hope and change…is what Americans deserved”
-“You deserved it because you worked harder…”
-“You deserved it because… [you] put in longer hours”
-“You deserve it because your family depended on you.”
-“We deserve better.”
-“my children deserve better”
-“my family deserves better”
-“my country deserves better”
-“Our children deserve it [a better future].”
Now, I realize that not everyone who reads this will be a Christian, or even believe the Bible. But if you are truly a Christian nothing should horrify you more than the idea of “getting what you deserve.” Christians are supposed to understand that what each and every person born into this world “deserves” is the wrath of the holy God. I know we like to pretend that we’re basically good people, but we’re not. We are all sinners.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
When some politician stands up and starts telling you that you “deserve” hope, or change for the better, or a fair chance, or even a second chance, you had better reject that message as vain deceit.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
You do not “deserve” good things – no matter how hard, or how many hours, you work. Neither our families, nor our country, nor the children that God has entrusted to our care deserve any blessing whatsoever. Our culture, our government, our schools, our homes, and, sadly, even our churches are not “worthy” of any sort of a better future. We are corrupt, wicked, and wretchedly sinful. That is Bible theology 101 – whether we like it or not!
As a Christian, I want absolutely no part of what I “deserve.” What I want is grace and mercy. If you ever hear someone even hinting that God’s blessings, His love, and His mercy and grace are things that you deserve, flashing red lights and loud blaring warning sirens should immediately be exploding behind your eyeballs. Grace and mercy – by definition – happen when God gives us what we DO NOT deserve and withholds from us what we DO deserve.
The same speech referenced above contained this sentence: “You deserved it because you worked harder than ever before during these years.” How un- (if not anti-) Christian! Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, and all sorts of other denominations and false religions believe that you can “earn” your way into God’s favor, but Biblical Christianity deals in truth. We had better start proclaiming the truth of what is going to happen to those to whom God gives a “recompense” (what they deserve) rather than grace and mercy.
For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.
Jeremiah 16:17-18 (emphasis added)
Tags: effects of sin, Kool-aid, manna, Numbers 21, poison, Romans 3, Romans 6, sin, venom, venomous snakes
Snakes Among the People
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Numbers 21:6 (emphasis added)
These snakes were the result of the people’s sin. The Israelites didn’t want God’s way, and they didn’t want God’s Word.
And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Numbers 21:4-5 (emphasis added)
They showed their contempt for the manna God provided by calling it “this light bread.” I grew up drinking Kool-Aid. Good old-fashioned green Kool-Aid with lots of sugar in it.
My wife prefers Crystal Light. When she makes Crystal Light I say that “my soul loatheth this light Kool-Aid.” But the fact is, for God’s people in the wilderness, the manna was exactly what they needed – especially for traveling. They were remembering the heavy, spicy food they had gotten used to in Egypt, but were forgetting their bondage. Isn’t that what happens when God’s Word doesn’t suit our taste? When God’s way isn’t comfortable enough? We begin to grumble and complain and dispute – and the snakes of sin are released among the people.
Snakes Among the People: Snakes Produce Poison
These were fiery serpents. They were poisonous. Sin is like a poisonous snake. Everything is fine and fun, until you find one hiding where you least expect it. Satan chose the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden because the serpent is subtle. It’s sneaky. It knows how to hide and wait, and how to ambush. Then the poison goes in its prey, and it affects the body and the mind.
The venom of most poisonous snakes attacks the central nervous system. It causes the brain to stop telling the heart to beat. It’s the same with sin. That old wood pile looks fun – like a good place to play. That stand of trees with trails and streams looks inviting – but it’s outside our boundaries.
Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay
It will teach you more than you wanted to know
And it will take you farther than you ever wanted to go
The first day of sin is the best day of sin. It’s all downhill after that. Trouble is easy to get into, but hard to get out of. The poisonous venom of the snakes among the people – these “snakes on a plain” – was deadly venom. There was no antivenin. It’s the same with sin.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is a payment due for sin, and the payment is death.
So the people went to Moses and said, “We’ve got snakes on a plain, snakes among the people – what can we do!”
Moses prayed to God…
…and he prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
God said the remedy – the only remedy – for snakes on a plain, for snakes among the people is…
The Snake on a Pole – which we will look at next time.
Tags: cleansing, commentary on Psalms, confession, David's confession, Psalm 51, repentance, Romans 3, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, washing clothes
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Psalm 51:9 (emphasis added)
When David pleaded for a “blotting out” he was asking the Lord for a miracle, because the Old Testament Law did not provide a sacrifice for the types of deliberate sins of which David was guilty. David appealed to God’s mercy and grace.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7 (emphasis added)
Under the Old Covenant, ceremonial cleansing would make a sinner safe for society and give others protection from the sinner’s defilement. “Wash me,” David prayed. I am the one in my household who does the laundry, so I know a couple of things about washing clothes. In fact, all that is required of the other members of my family is that they bring their dirty clothes to the hamper or the laundry room. There are certain kinds of stains that are tough to remove from garments – even for today’s high-tech washing machines. They require hot water, harsh detergent, and an agitation cycle. When we seek to be cleansed from our iniquities before the face of God, we need to be willing to submit to His chastening. For Christians, God is more than willing to wash our clothes, but we’ve got to be willing to bring them to laundry room.
David’s sins were against his family, his people, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but he also recognized that all sin is ultimately against God.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
The Holy Spirit used the poetry of Psalm 51 to inspire the revelation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul.
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
When God truly cleanses, He also restores.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
A renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out iniquity, re-contaminating the whole body. David wanted to be cleansed and he wanted to be restored – so he could be used. He wanted to be an effective witness.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
David also wanted to be an effective worshiper.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
He wanted to be an effective builder.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Those who have been broken and rebuilt by God can be used very effectively by God to help rebuild others.
Tags: baptism of Jesus, imputation, imputed righteousness, John 1, John the Baptist, Lamb of God, Matthew 3, obedience of Christ, Romans 3
John the Baptist got his moniker because he was in the business of baptizing, but he was extremely leery of baptizing Jesus, the Lamb of God.
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
The reason Jesus gave to John for insisting that he baptize Him is very interesting.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Jesus wanted to be baptized because it was God’s will, but also because it served as a part of one of His greatest incarnate accomplishments: the fulfillment of all righteousness. You and I can hardly grasp this. As unredeemed sinners we were utterly incapable of any righteousness at all – and certainly unable to “fulfill” any righteous demands of God. Even as regenerate and redeemed children of God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we find it very difficult to truly initiate any righteous behavior because of the ongoing battle waged against us by our sinful flesh and the constant temptations of our enemy, Satan.
Christ the Lord, on the other hand, never knew the taint of sin, and yet consider to what extent He went to fulfill the righteousness spoken of in Matthew 3:15. Not only did He keep the Old Testament Law perfectly, in every jot and tittle, not only did He endure – and overcome – every temptation known to man and devil, not only did He bear the weight of our sins on cruel Golgotha’s hill, but He also fulfilled all righteousness by: going into the wilderness, in a state of physical starvation, to be tempted by the master tempter himself; healing multitudes of sick, blind, deaf, crippled, and otherwise afflicted folks; teaching the greatest truths ever taught; and other examples too numerous to be contained in all the books in all the world. Christ fulfilled all righteousness by ever-increasing acts of righteousness and obedience, even though He could never turn from His Own sin (because He didn’t have any) as an act of righteousness.
If you will believe the truth about Christ, and what He has accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection, you may receive not only the forgiveness of sins, but
[e]ven the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
This imputed righteousness comes from a built-up account of righteousness earned and bought by the only One Who could have earned it. Such righteousness is as glorious to a fallen sinner as any treasure to be found in His riches in glory. (Ephesians 1:18)
Tags: commentary on Romans, power of God, Romans 1, Romans 11, Romans 12, Romans 3, Sunday School lessons on Romans, the Gospel, the Gospel and Israel, the Gospel of Christ
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
All have sinned and come short (Romans 3:23). All are included so that “all” can be saved. Everyone is included in those to whom we should preach the Gospel. If we say that there is no use in giving the Gospel message to some, we are denying our faith in God. It’s just as wrong to exclude the highly esteemed as it is the pariahs of society. To whom should you preach the Gospel?
-hard-working “honest” folks?
-your mom and dad?
-your brother and sister?
-Sunday School teachers?
No one can be excluded. Don’t deny the power of the Gospel. Don’t be ashamed.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.)
Romans Chapter 11 ends with a praise song.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Romans Chapter 12 begins with a “therefore.”
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:1 (emphasis added)
I was taught that when you see a “therefore” in the Bible, you should always look and see what it’s “there for.” What has come before Chapter 12 in Romans:
1. Gentiles are sinners.
2. Jewish people are sinners.
3. Salvation is through faith.
4. God has not forgotten Israel.
5. Concern for Israel has practical applications for our lives.
a. Christians are to provoke non-Christians to jealousy.
b. Christians should be concerned for their “kinsmen.”
c. Christians should not be proud because God has chosen to save them.
6. Christians can be victorious in the battle of the flesh and sin against the Spirit.
The “therefore” in Romans 12:1 is “there for” showing us that, now, taking into account all that we have learned in Chapters 1-11 (how to “get right” with God, and how to be concerned that others “get right” with God), we must practically apply these things, and “live right.”
Tags: 2 Peter 3, Abraham, circumcision, Psalm 14, Psalm 32, Romans 3, Romans 4, Romans 6, Romans commentary, Sunday School lessons on Romans
Some people were already arguing against the doctrine that Jesus had given to Paul. They were saying, “Look, if he’s teaching that God’s Law was given to point out that it could not be kept, then why should we even do good? Let us do more evil to bring about more good.” But the Holy Spirit through Paul says that God is righteous. He is not slack concerning His promise. He requires faithfulness, because He is faithful. He can judge our unrighteousness, because He is righteous. How do the just live? Or what do they live by? Faith.
The Holy Spirit sums up this part of the argument by declaring everyone guilty.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
He is quoting, opening, and alleging Psalm 14:1-3: “[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
They were not “seeking” God. By saying, “No God,” they were also saying no “to” God.
The way people try to justify sin would make you think sin was actually good for you.
I need to get more focused on how I feel. If I feel good doing something, then it must be right. If somebody tells me something, I hope it is “confirmed in my spirit,” so that I don’t have check the Bible – that’s too confusing, that’s too much hard work.
Satan wants you to believe that the best law to follow is: “Do what feels right – that’s the best thing for you.” But even if we did have some excuse to sin, the sin still wouldn’t be good for us.
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
That’s not only the misery and destruction of the people I sin against, the people I hurt with my sin. No, that’s my own misery and destruction, too. By way of illustration, every time a doctor tells a smoker that he’s dying of lung cancer, he must be secretly thinking, “Does that surprise you?” People who smoke cigarettes may honestly enjoy it, but they can’t honestly say that they thought it was going to be good for their health. If I know the first thing about the Bible, why would I be surprised when sin causes me to get hurt, to get sick, to cause division among my friends and neighbors?
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
These are easy-to-understand verses that can be used to show an unbeliever the way to salvation.
Romans Chapters 3-6 are also key to understanding the doctrine of justification.
When you read the Bible, pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding the Scriptures. If I had a book about electrical wiring, and I wanted to know what something in the book meant, I would like to be able to call and ask the electrician/author what he meant. The Holy Ghost is the Author of the Bible. He explains how we can be “justified” before God – how we can be counted as “righteous” before God, beginning in Romans 3:23 and on into Romans Chapter 4.
What does “righteousness” mean? It means being “right” with God.
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Because everyone has sinned, no one can be right with God because of what he or she does. How, then, can we be right with God? We can be right with God if He forgives us. The Bible says He forgives us if we believe and trust in Jesus. Then He views us as being right with Him.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Then, what does God expect from us when He sees us as justified or “right” with Him? He expects us to do good things.
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Romans Chapter 4 addresses the misconception the Jews had about their ancestral father, Abraham.
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Abraham was “counted as righteous.” We might say he was “saved” by his “belief” – by “faith.” Not only Abraham in Genesis, but David, in the Psalms, knew that their works couldn’t outweigh their sin.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
It is not the man who hasn’t transgressed or the man who hasn’t sinned who is right with God. It is the man to whom the Lord has not imputed iniquity. David understood that the truly blessed man of God had his sins covered, and his transgressions forgiven, and his iniquity was not imputed to him or counted against him.
Will the flood waters call us to repentance, to seek forgiveness? For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
The Holy Spirit knew that the Jews would point to Abraham’s circumcision and say, “Wait a minute, Paul, you told us that outward circumcision didn’t count as righteousness. Abraham is the one who received the sign of circumcision.”
So the Holy Spirit has Paul say, “Yes, but look at when he was circumcised.”
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 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.
Abraham was counted as righteous first because of faith, then the circumcision was received as a sign and an outward seal. That’s how the ordinance of baptism is supposed to work for New Testament Christians. It does not save us, but it is a sign that marks us as believers.
What is the specific example of Abraham’s faith? When did he believe God, and not hold to belief in the natural?
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
We have a common expression whereby we say someone is “as good as dead.” That’s how Abraham was when Sara got pregnant.
Who are you going to believe? The television anchorman on the evening news or God? The “scientist” who tells you the earth is billions of years old or God? We all have faith in something. And we really don’t struggle with faith in the natural. Most people will plop down in a chair they’ve never sat in before without a second thought.
Romans 4:21 says Abraham was fully persuaded. Are you fully persuaded? Or are you like King Agrippa: “almost persuaded?” 90% persuaded is not really persuaded at all.
Tags: 2 Peter 3, Abraham, commentary on Romans, justification by faith, religious rituals, Romans 2, Romans 3, Romans 4, Sunday School lessons on Romans
Romans Chapter 2 tells us that we are guilty before God, and that we can’t use our heritage, our religious rituals, or the outward evidence of our behavior to achieve righteousness before God. Chapter 3 starts off by countering the arguments that could come up after the Holy Spirit has already proven that everyone, including the Jewish people, are guilty before God.
The first argument is, “What good is it even being Jewish, then?”
It turns out that, according to God, there are many advantages to being Jewish. God gave His Law to the Jewish people and made a Covenant with them and gave special blessings to them, not the least of which is that the Messiah would come through their heritage.
Some people were already making another argument against the doctrine that the Holy Spirit was teaching through Paul, saying, “Look, if God’s Law was given to point out that it could not be kept, then why should we even do good? Let us do more evil, to bring about more good.” But the Holy Spirit through Paul says God is righteous. He is not slack concerning His promise. He requires faithfulness, because He is faithful. He can judge our unrighteousness, because He is righteous. How do the just live? Or what do they live by? By faith!
Chapter 4 uses the specific example of Abraham, the ancestral father of the Jewish people, to show how Jewish people in the Old Testament times were justified by faith, before the Law, and before circumcision.