This is part 3 in the Bible study series: Let Us Keep the Feasts. What does the Word of God say about sin? This study will focus on several aspects of sin. Yet, as sinners, how are we made right with God? What can we do to be just in God’s eyes? We’ll explore these areas and also delve into the ultimate solution to sin.
[Steve Myers] Of course we’re continuing our series in ‘Let Us Keep The Feast.’ That’s the title to our overall studies that we’ve been doing for the last several weeks. We’re going to continue on for the next several weeks as well.
This particular study, we’re going to look at some of the background to the festivals. As we’re instructed in the Bible to keep God’s Feast, we’re shown that they’re symbolic and they represent several steps in the plan of God.
Now, one of the biggest obstacles that we as human beings face is the obstacle of sin. What does God have to say about sin? Well in this particular study we’re going to focus on this topic of sin, look at several different aspects of it and maybe even more importantly than that, how are we made right with God? We are sinners and yet how can there be a solution to the problem? To the problem of sin. In fact, what can we do? What can we do about it? How can we be right in God’s eyes? Is there a way that we can be justified? Is there a way that we can look at life in a way that God wants us to? So I thought it might be helpful to take some time and explore these various aspects and ultimately delve into the solution to sin. That’s our topic for the night, the solution to sin. But before we get into the solution, I think we’ve got to first deal with the problem.
The problem of sin of course is the fact that sometimes it’s not always that discernible. It’s not always that easy to see it and to grasp it, to understand it and recognize it. I think an important example is the example of Adam and Eve. You remember what God told Adam and Eve after they took from the wrong tree? Remember he told them that on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die. Well did they die that very day? No, they didn’t. In fact it wasn’t a year later or 5 years later or 10 years later, or 50 years. It was hundreds and hundreds of years later that ultimately they died.
I think that makes an interesting point for all of us, that there is a connection between cause and effect. We certainly have that. Sin is the cause, death is the effect. And because sometimes there’s a space between the cause and effect, that we can get taken in by that. We can get fooled by that very aspect of sin. So as we begin to consider that, we need to think about the formidable features of sin. I have two formidable features of sin that I would like to begin with tonight.
One of the things that is a formidable feature when it comes to sin is the fact that it’s universal. What do I mean by that? Sin is all-inclusive. It is everywhere. We know probably that passage in the Bible, maybe even some of us have memorized it, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Remember where that particular passage is? Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Not a few, but it’s universal. It’s all-encompassing, all-inclusive.
In fact, if you want to turn with me over to Romans 5, we’re going to spend just a few minutes in the book of Romans. Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×. It harkens back to that example that I began with, with Adam and Eve, and recognizes where that sin began in the human race and speaks to this very point, that sin is all-encompassing, it is all-inclusive, it is universal. Notice Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×. Says, ‘Therefore, just as through one man, sin entered the world and death through sin, thus death spread to all men because all sin.’
Sometimes we may think of sin kind of like a disease. But is sin really like a disease when you consider it? Like a disease it seems like well, how about the flu? In winter time it seems like a lot of people get the flu. But then there seems to be quite a few that don’t. So is sin sort of like that? Like a disease that some people get it and some people don’t?
Well not according to what Paul wrote here in the book of Romans. Death spread it says to all men. That’s comprehensive, that’s wholesale sell out to sin by humanity. Complete, full, all-inclusive. Nobody is left out here. In fact, if you were to read this in a couple of different translations, the Good News Translation says the whole human race, it will spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.
There’s an interesting translation in the voice version of the Bible. It says this. Look at verse 12, says ‘Consider this, sin entered our world through one man, Adam, and through sin death followed in hot pursuit.’ Imagine that imagery. Sin is on the prowl. It is in hot pursuit after everyone. In fact it goes on. ‘Death spread rapidly to infect all people on Earth as they engaged in sin.’
So the whole human race is infected. That’s a word that really stands out, isn’t it? It’s infected the entire human race. So that’s all-encompassing. I was watching a nature program the other day and it was on the giant squid. Anyone ever seen that program? I think it was on Discovery and they were searching for the giant squad, they found it. One of scenes that they showed were the tentacles on these gigantic squid. And as it’s grasping onto this big fish, the tentacles were just curling and wrapping all around this thing until it just engulfed this giant fish and just consumed it. Pretty soon the fish was just gone and these tentacles were just wrapped around every…yeah, it’s kind of disgusting I guess. But isn’t that kind of reminiscent of what Paul is describing here what sin is like? It’s got its tentacles everywhere, everywhere, and once it has a hold on us, it isn’t about to let go. It’s going to bind us, encompass us, surround us and take us in. And not just us, everyone. Anything, any type of food that’s going to get in the way, it’s going to be food to the squid.
In fact, I saw another nature program, it was about the anaconda. Anaconda works a little bit differently than a squid. But it showed these anacondas as they were hunting capybaras. A kind of a rodent looking thing. If you’ve ever been to or live in Louisiana you know the nutria. Kind of like a gigantic rat looking thing. These capybaras are even bigger. They can get up to 150 pounds or so.
So they were showing how the anaconda would hunt these things in South America. And once they grabbed one of those things, they immediately started wrapping their long body around the capybara. And one of the interesting things about it is once it’s got it, it’s not that it just grabs it and wraps around it that kills the animal. What it does is every time that animal tried to take a breath, that’s when the anaconda would tighten up. And then it would try to take a breath again and then as it exhaled it would tighten up even more and more until really what it did is it just squeezed the life right out of that rodent. And I think sin is also like that. It wraps itself around us and it wants to squeeze the life right out of us.
So whether you want to think of it like a giant squid with tentacles that just go everywhere, or once it gets a hold of us it’s going to wrap around us and it is not going to let go until, like the story of Adam, until death, it wants to squeeze life right out of us. And it is a universal thing. It infects the whole human race. Now I’d mentioned two formidable features. I’ll put features up here.
The second feature is how sin dominates. Sin has dominion, and this is a little bit different aspect than just this idea of being everywhere, but sin’s dominant. It takes control of its territory and doesn’t want to relinquish it. Just like that anaconda prowled its territory, sin is no different than that. Sin is after us, and because we’re human beings we’re in its territory.
In fact, if you flip over a couple of pages to Romans 6, Romans 6:12 Romans 6:12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
American King James Version×, we find an example that Paul uses as he describes this dominance of sin over the human race. In fact he describes it in an interesting way. Now he doesn’t use anaconda or doesn’t use a giant squid, or what was that big thing in the movie, the Kraken, giant’s tentacles and all that sort of thing. Paul personifies sin in this section. Kind of makes it seem like he’s talking about a being. And he shows how it’s holding power and how it has influence and control. Let’s notice it, Romans 6:12 Romans 6:12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
American King James Version×. “He says therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lust. Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace.”
You see, Paul is making this point by personifying sin after us. It’s trying to get us to obey it and bow down to it and be taken in by it, present ourselves to sin. And he says that it uses us. It can use us if we don’t recognize the way that sin works, how sin wants dominion over us. It wants to dominate us, and it can take us in if we’re not careful and understand the way that it works.
Skip down to chapter 7. Look at what it says in 7:17. This isn’t just a minor little thing. When we talk about dominion and dominance, we are talking about the trait of sin that wants to take control over us. So just try to visualize this. Maybe think of it in terms of that capybara that’s getting squeezed to death by that anaconda or by that giant squid and that fish. The tentacles can get around us and it is a serious matter. Romans 7:17 Romans 7:17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
American King James Version×, it says “But now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Here’s this personification of sin. Now it’s in me, it’s infected me is what Paul is saying. He says ‘I know that in me, that is in my flesh nothing good dwells. For to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I do not find’.
Here is sin exerting its dominance over us. He says, ‘The good that I will to do, I don’t do, but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.’ Now, if I do what I will not to do, that is no longer I who do it but sin dwells in me. You see sin’s taken over, it’s dominating us. It’s dwelling now in us. Verse 21: “I find a law that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.”
So here in a way Paul is describing sin taking over our bodies, taking us over, exercising its authority over us. And in a sense he’s using an example to help us to recognize the way that sin works. He’s trying to help us to visualize how it can be enticing, how it can seem, well not that bad. It seems like its mesmerizing.
It’s amazing when you watch that anaconda at work, that little capybara doesn’t know anything is wrong, doesn’t have a clue that that snake is right under the water ready to pounce on him. Doesn’t even have a clue of it. And right at that time, because it’s so deceiving. Because it’s so deceitful and devious, it can take over. And here we kind of get that impression as Paul describes sin and in a way almost visualizing Satan himself at work. Certainly sin has that satanic origin I suppose you could say. And here we’re shown how sin wants to dominate us in a way and extending its dominance to every part of our life. It’s ready to tie us up. It’s ready to wrap its tentacles all around and pile more and more and more on us. It’s how one lie leads to another lie, this sin leads to another sin, another issue, another problem. And that’s the way sin is, it wants to pile on.
So in a way Paul’s talking about two different mindsets. This mindset of sin, this mindset of physical outlook, versus godly character, godly nature, the divine nature versus the sinful nature. And boy, are they opposite of each other. They’re adamantly opposed to each other. As human beings, members of God’s way, we’ve got to choose between these things, and which will it be for us? This malicious power that wants to dominate us, or are we going to reject that? Because we know it can infect everyone if we allow it to. It doesn’t matter what our race is, our status is. It doesn’t matter if we claim to be a church member, we claim to be converted. It doesn’t matter. We are in a battle, we are in a war, and we can’t be taken as POW. We have to resist. We have to resist because there are no prisoners.
Sin kills. Sin leads to death. Imagine without the resistance, without God’s Holy Spirit, we will be taken in. We will be brainwashed, because sin’s grip is so basic, so strong, it is so inescapable is what Paul is saying. It’s not just something that’s on the outside ready to grab us, even though those images of the anaconda and the squid kind of bring things to life a little bit. It’s not just something that’s out there trying to get us, but he’s also saying that this has gotten into us already.
Look back at Romans 6:6 Romans 6:6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
American King James Version×. Romans 6:6 Romans 6:6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
American King James Version×kind of points to something that’s interesting when you consider this dominance of sin. It’s saying here in the book of Romans, Romans 6:6 Romans 6:6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
American King James Version×he says, “Knowing this, our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away with. That we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
So it’s not just that sin is out there, trying to get us, we can be enslaved to it and that’s something that comes from within. Because sin is persistent and its appeal is so subtle, it’s almost as if we could be brainwashed. And when we don’t consciously stand up against it, we don’t fight it, we can become good at it. We can become masters at sinning. Pros, professionals at sinning because it becomes a way of life.
Paul talks about that as well, how the human race can fall prey to what’s not only on the outside, but like Paul is implying here, sin dwelling in me. It’s in there, and we’ve got to consciously stop it somehow. How in the world can we do that? How is it even possible to be able to do that? Paul deals with that a little bit. In fact, if you turn over to Jeremiah 4:22 Jeremiah 4:22For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are silly children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
American King James Version×, in Jeremiah 4:22 Jeremiah 4:22For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are silly children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
American King James Version×it shows this not only universal aspect of sin but how it dominates us and in fact, Jeremiah prophesies about the fact that God’s people became good at it, became good at sin. Jeremiah 4:22 Jeremiah 4:22For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are silly children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
American King James Version×, it says, “For my people are foolish, they have not known me. They are silly children and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil but to do good, they have no knowledge.”
Kind of a scary passage when you think about it. We don’t want to be in that position. Even the apostle Paul talked about the battles that he fought because sin was dwelling in him. So if we’re going to fight this, we’ve got to know our adversaries. We got to know what it’s about. We’ve got to have a complete understanding of how it works in us, how it works against us so we can begin to have a better understanding on how to wage the kind of war that God would have us wage.
So let’s think about that for a minute. How would you describe it? Certainly it has these features that it’s everywhere and it wants to dominate us. Those are general characteristics of what sin is like. That describes the kind of formidable enemy that we face. But if you had to describe this is what sin is, how would you describe that? If you had to say this is what my definition of sin is, is there anything that comes to mind?
One of the passages that we often will think about is over in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×. And when we look at 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×, it kind of gives us a little bit of a definition of sin. Here’s what it says, “Whoever commits sin, also commits lawlessness.” Sin is lawlessness. So I think we could put that down as part of our description. If I can get it all in here, oh, I just can squeeze it. You probably saw that little cartoon about the guy writing on the board, and he wrote ‘think ahea.’ It’s supposed to be ‘ahead’ and he didn’t have room to put the ‘d.’ I’m going to think ahead when I’m writing on the board here.
Well here we’re shown, sin is lawlessness. That is from the Greek word ‘ anomos ’ without law. In other words, not following the law of God. We commit sin, we are not following law. In fact we’re shown a little bit of bigger description in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×. We skip down just a couple of verses, look at verse 8. 1 John 3:8 1 John 3:8He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
American King James Version×, it also tells us that sin is of the devil. He who sins is of the devil for the devil has sinned from the beginning. So we could say of the devil. This 8 we know, anomos, the devil was certainly not following God’s law. Before the fall he disobeyed God, that took care of that. Sin is of the devil. There is part of the origination. He sinned from the beginning it says. In fact, we know of Satan there’s no light in him, there’s no truth in him. His behavior is opposite of God, opposite of righteousness. In fact if we keep going here, just maybe flip the page or so, to 1 John 5:17 1 John 5:17All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not to death.
American King James Version×. We see a little bit more of this description of the lawlessness of sin as it’s described here as unrighteousness. Not only is sin of the devil, but here in 1 John 5:17 1 John 5:17All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not to death.
American King James Version×it says all unrighteousness is sin.
Then it goes on, and there is a sin not leading to death, a sin that could be repented of. But unrighteousness, a lack of following the law of God is certainly unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is sin. And so even here in 1 John we can round out our definition of what lawlessness is. What anomos, the absence of law, certainly of the devil. Unrighteousness, opposite of the character of God is sin. And yet, this concept of lawlessness could even be expanded a little bit further.
If you want to write down or maybe turn over with me to Proverbs 10:19 Proverbs 10:19In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise.
American King James Version×. In Proverbs 10:19 Proverbs 10:19In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise.
American King James Version×we’re shown another aspect of how this can play out in our lives if we’re not careful. Proverbs, did I say 19:10? Proverbs 10:19 Proverbs 10:19In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise.
American King James Version×, kind of adds to this. Puts it in an interesting way here in Proverbs 10:19 Proverbs 10:19In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise.
American King James Version×. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Almost reminiscent of that passage in James, where James 3 says if we don’t stumble in our words, if we don’t offend in our words, if you don’t stumble in word, it says you’re a perfect man.
So multitudes of words can get us in trouble. And where do those words come from? Well they come from inside us, they come from our thinking and our actions. Then they follow our thinking and that can also be things that work against God. They’re lawless, they’re outside the realm of the law of God. And so that’s certainly another aspect of how sin can be recognized as a lawless kind of thing.
In fact, Paul even expands that a little bit further. We were over in Romans before, if you want to flip back to Romans. Romans 14:23 Romans 14:23And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not of faith: for whatever is not of faith is sin.
American King James Version×, here he puts it a little bit differently. He says, Romans 14:23 Romans 14:23And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not of faith: for whatever is not of faith is sin.
American King James Version×“He who doubts is condemned if he eats because he doesn’t eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin.” Here they were dealing with meat that was offered to idols. It was meat that could be eaten and yet some did not have the faith to be able to eat it.
So whatever is not of faith, he says, is sin. Because he contrasts the difference between what is godly and what is not. Doubt, fear, worry, those things are opposite of what God stands for. There’s confidence and there’s faith and so here he contrasts that. Kind of rounds out this definition for us of what lawlessness can begin to entail. Now we could probably keep going on and on and on in a number of different ways to round out this concept of lawlessness, but it seems to be all over the place. In fact, there’s quite a few different words both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that describe sin. And they all seem to point to deviance. I like that word, deviance. We deviate from God’s…when we get off the path, when we deviate from Gods way, when we fail to follow His law, when we are lawless, we fail to live up to the standards and all these words seem to point in that direction. Whatever word we focus on.
In fact, I’m going to look at two other ones, just to kind of round out, not only lawlessness but a couple of other aspects of what sin is. And these two are found over in Ephesians 2 right at the very beginning of that chapter. Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:1And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
American King James Version×.
Let’s notice what it says here in Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:1And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
American King James Version×, it says, “And you he has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” So he lists these two things, trespasses and sins. Now we read before in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×that sin is lawlessness. Now these are different words than anomos . This is not absence of law. The first one as we see here is trespasses. Let’s take a look at that for just a second.
This trespass is not only used here in Ephesians, it’s used in many many places throughout the New Testament. It’s the Greek word ‘ paraptoma .’ I won’t write it down. We can just try to spell out loud. Paraptoma, and it means to get off the path. To get off the path, to fall aside or to slip on the side. To deviate from the right path, and so that’s our deviation here. So we get off the path. We slip off, or we can wander, we can wander off.
So this trespass seems to entail that aspect. Now that’s quite a little bit different than an absence of law, than not following a law at all. Well we’re trying to walk the path but now I wandered off. I got off the beaten path and now I am lost. I am out in the woods and I don’t know how to find the home office, like some of our girls that were walking through the woods tonight. You deviate from the path, you can get lost, and this trespass, I’m not trying to use the girls as an example here because they did find their way and they did have their GPS so they knew all along they were right.
But this idea of trespass carries that kind of an intent, that we’ve gotten off the path, and this is not a good thing. Galatians 6:1 Galatians 6:1Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.
American King James Version×is another example. I’ll just write that one down, Galatians 6 at the beginning of the chapter, if you want to flip over to Galatians 6, maybe we’d fill this in. Because here’s one of the passages that use the same word for trespass, let’s notice it. It says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you with your spiritual restore such a one with a spirit of meekness considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Guess which word is the word trespass there, the word paraptoma. It’s fault. It’s the one that was overtaken in a fault, in a trespass. One that has wandered off the path.
In fact, in the book of James, it talks about confessing your faults one to another. That’s that same word, paraptoma . Confessing that I’ve wondered off, I’ve deviated from the right way and I’ve got to get back on God’s path. He uses this to help us to visualize what sin can be like. Oftentimes we’re on a different path and we don’t even recognize we’ve gotten off God’s path. That’s the challenge here. When you recognize what God’s talking about, we’re overtaken in the fault. We didn’t even recognize that that’s the way that we were going. So this concept of sin is described here in that way as well.
Now, if you remember back in Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:1And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
American King James Version×, it also used a second description, it said trespasses and sins. You who he made alive were dead in trespasses and sins. Now, that’s not the word for lawless there either. So we had paraptoma here for trespasses. This word for sins is ‘ hamartia .’ Hamartia , that’s the Greek there and hamartia is an interesting word. It’s used most often in the Greek in a military sense. So they would use it in the military, especially when it would be looking at people who missed the mark. They were aiming but they were off. They were shooting at the target but they missed the bull’s eye, and literally that’s what hamartia can mean, to miss the bull’s eye.
So sins could be we’re shooting for the goal, we’re shooting for the bull’s eye, but we miss and we’re off target; to go wrong. It can also entail trying to live to the standard but not meeting the standard. It’s a failure to be what we ought to be, to live the way we ought to live, to be what we should be, to miss the mark in the way that we live. And so that’s what hamartia literally means, to miss the mark, miss that bull’s eye. If we were still over there in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×, where I talked about sin is lawlessness. It’s also interesting there. The beginning of that very same letter where Paul described this hamartia says, ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’ That word for sin is missing the mark. If we say we don’t miss the mark it says we’re deceiving ourselves, and there’s no truth in us. The truth is not there. And so we do miss the mark.
So when you put these things together, whether it’s the lawless, the trespasses, the deviation, the hamartia , or missing the mark and missing the bull’s eye, boy, it really makes it so obvious that we come face to face with the reality of sin. The reality of sin. We have missed the mark, we have failed, and it’s not just something that’s out there trying to wrap its tentacles around us, it’s something that’s in us, in our thinking. Just like Christianity is supposed to be a way of life, we recognize that sin can get into our lives and try to be in every single facet of it because it’s in us. Jeremiah said our heart is deceitful, it buries itself even in our heart and it conceals itself and it can become a way of life.
Remember what Christ said, he said that’s it’s not what’s on the outside that defiles a man, he said it’s what comes from the inside that defiles a man. Within the heart of a man is where evil thoughts are perceived; where adultery is perceived, murders, that kind of thinking. So when we recognize these aspects of sin, we begin to see that it reaches right into our relationships. It reaches right into the things that we do. It reaches into the things that we wear, our clothes. It reaches into how hospitable we are. It reaches into every aspect of our life, with our relationships, with our marriages, with our child rearing. It deals with our discouragement, it deals with jealously, greed, hatred, and bitterness. It can get its fingers all in that entire range of human attitudes and emotions and thinking. And we can become prideful if we’re not careful. So when we recognize these trespasses and sins and you put that together with the lawlessness in 1 John 34, it starts to become evident. Sins that we might think are kind of minor maybe not that big a deal, not that important, they’re kind of lesser things. But you know they tie right back to the law of God.
We have to come up to the standard and that standard we fall short of is the standard of Jesus Christ. It’s described over in Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version×. And we take a look there. Here’s the standard. In Ephesians 4, look at verse 13. It talks about coming to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the son of God to a perfect man. To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. There’s the goal. There’s the standard. That’s the mark. That’s what we’re shooting for. There’s the bull’s eye.
Yet we find ourselves falling short of that bull’s eye. We’ve all been involved in sin. We’ve all had sin’s tentacles wrapped around us. And we’ve all had sin coming out from within us. Because I think we kid ourselves if we don’t think sin is right there. Paul said when I want to do good it’s right there at the door. Here’s the apostle, the man who wrote most of the New Testament saying it is right there. Sin is something that guides this world. In fact, more than guides this world I think it’s a driving force behind this world. And so that’s the battle that we’re fighting. That’s a battle that’s a spiritual battle. Battle that is one that we’re fighting spiritual wickedness in high places and it motivates and it tries to involve us with concepts that are directly opposed to God.
So that is the challenge. That is the problem. Well what about the solution to these things? How can we begin to deal…is there any way that we can begin to overcome, since it is universal, it has dominance and it seems to be everywhere. What can we do? What can we do to battle this evil force?
Well, let’s think about that for a minute. The apostle Paul wrote something interesting about that very concept. It’s back in the book of Romans. Flip over to Romans 3:21 Romans 3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
American King James Version×, because it comes down to these things certainly separate me from God when I deviate from the path, when I miss the mark, when I am anomos , when I am living without the law of God. How can I be made right? How can I be justified before God’s sight? How can I have status with God that I’m acceptable to him? Well, Paul wrote about that in Romans 3:21 Romans 3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
American King James Version×. He says “Now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed. Being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” So the Old Testament has a lot to say about this as well is what he’s saying.
He says “Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe.” He says “There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sounds like where we started. Started at the universal nature of sin. So all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but verse 24, “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at this present time his righteousness that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
So through this section Paul begins to demonstrate what can we do to be justified in the sight of God? Is it that I’m without law so that if I perfectly keep the law of God, then I have to be right with God? Is that what it is? Paul says no, that’s not it. God gives His grace, God gives His favor to us and it comes through His son, Jesus Christ. So there’s no amount of law keeping that can earn us salvation. Not going to happen. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t keep the law. The law doesn’t make us right in God’s eye, but the law does have a purpose. The law reveals what sin is. The purpose of the law is that the law of God exposes and reveals and condemns sin. Its purpose is not to forgive sin, it’s not the solution to sin. The law is not going to save us and that point is made over and over and over again throughout the book of Romans. Over and over and over again, maybe one of the best is over here if we just flip over to chapter 7. Look at verse 7. Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×, it’s certainly a reminder that that’s not a function of the law. Romans 7, what shall we say is the law sin, he says certainly not. I would not have known sin except through the law. I would not have known covetousness, unless the law had said you shall not covet.
So the law shows sin. The law exposes what sin is, but then all right, if that doesn’t make me right in God’s eyes, then what does? How can I be right, how can I be righteous before God? Well, Paul was indicating back here in Romans 3, I’m back there again. where he says we’re justified, which literally means were lined up with God. We are declared righteous, we are made righteous in God’s eyes. Sometimes it can even entail a legal sense, that we are legally acquitted. That we were sinners, we are guilty as charged, but God acquits us. God releases us from that sin, He counts us as just. Now, how has that happened though? How are we declared righteous? How are we right before God?
Let’s turn over to Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×, it expounds a little bit on what Romans 3 talked about. Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×, let’s notice what it says here in Galatians 2. He makes a similar point as he did in Romans 3. He says, ‘A man is not justified by the works of law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.’ That’s not my purpose to tear apart this scripture in great detail, but it’s not only God’s law, any law. Any system that tries to earn you favor in God’s sight to make you just isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter how much you keep the Sabbath, it doesn’t matter how much pork you don’t eat, none of that is going to earn you the Kingdom of God. Not going to happen.
He says ‘but by faith in Jesus Christ. Even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law. For by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.’ So no law, whether it’s God’s law or any other law that exists could possibly earn us the Kingdom God, could possibly declare us righteous in God’s eyes. There’s none of those things that can acquit us from the guilt that all of this sin brings. So we don’t earn righteousness, it is given to us because we have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I’ll just write down Romans 5:9 Romans 5:9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
American King James Version×a couple of pages over, it talks about that very thing. Justified by his blood, by his sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ and us accepting that sacrifice, having full faith and confidence in his sacrifice lines us up with God. God grants us justification we could say. He acquits us from sin and we are right before God.
That’s ultimately the solution to sin. It’s found in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and so in a way there’s kind of an order of things, maybe a sequence of things you might say. The first one, the step here is that we’ve got to believe. We’ve got to come to believe and I think that’s critical. Without belief, it’s not going to happen. In fact, all the way back in the book of Acts when the New Testament church was beginning, it was critical. When someone was going to come to God, they had to repent and believe. That belief is synonymous with faith.
To have the confidence and believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. So it starts by having full faith in the true God. In fact, when you look back at this whole section of 1 John 3, it discusses that very thing as well. It’s through that faith in God that starts this whole process going. When we believe, we begin to recognize that there are certain things that we have to do, that that belief then begins to motivate us to obey God. And we begin to grow in faith. So as we come to believe, as God calls us and works with us, we begin to grow. We see the need to change. We see the need to repent and we do something about it. God drives us as He works with us and He calls us to repent of our sins and be baptized. We respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember what He did when he first began preaching and teaching? In Mark 1, He said himself, remember how he started? As He began he told people repent and believe the gospel. And of course, the ultimate meaning of the gospel is that sacrifice of sin that Christ would give of his own self so that eternal life would be possible.
So we come before God and we repent and we express our faith and our confidence in Him and He justifies us by giving us the favor of His grace and applying that sacrifice to us. So we don’t earn it, God gives us His grace. We are forgiven. We are finding favor in His eyes and we are lined up with Him and He declares us righteous and He acquits us from sin. Sometimes it’s equated with unmerited pardon. We don’t deserve that pardon but we are justified because God is good. And He is a graceful God. So He gives us that repentance so we can change, and He forgives us and lines us up with His way of thinking and acquits us from the sin that has its tentacles wrapped around us.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there though. That’s where so many lose track of things. Here we have to continue then, we have to continue to remain faithful. Continue to remain faithful. Oftentimes I think Christians get in a bind, because they’ll say well Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×says I’m saved by grace through faith, and that’s the end of the story. Well there is no doubt we are saved by grace through faith. Faith is the key, it has to start there. God gives us His grace and justifies us, removes our sins when we repent.
Now what do you do? Now what? Is that the end? Is that the end of the story, done? Finished, over? Now I can do whatever I want because I’ve taken Jesus into my heart and I have God’s grace and I’m finished. But see, that’s not the case, that’s not the case at all. In fact, I think 2 Corinthians 6:1 2 Corinthians 6:1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
American King James Version×comes into play there. I won’t turn over there, you’ll probably recognize it, because the apostle Paul says, “I do not take the grace of God in vain.” You see there is a useless grace, a grace that doesn’t go anywhere, but because God does show us His favor, because we fully believe and have faith and confidence in God and His promises, that grace moves us to obey. It moves us to want to please the one who has shown us favor, who has given us His grace, who has justified us and forgiven our sins. And that justification also ties in with having a right relationship with God so that we can have a relationship. That grace then that God has given us should move us to continue that process to remain faithful, to strive to hit that mark more fully in our lives.
So no wonder James put it a little bit differently. In James 2:24 James 2:24You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
American King James Version×, I will turn over there, because this is the passage that sometimes confuses many people. Those that don’t understand the implication of what grace is about when we receive God’s favor and we are given that pardon and got lined up with God and acquitted from sin and forgiven and coming to a right relationship with God is something that we need to continue. James saw that so clearly, so he put it in an interesting way. James 2:24 James 2:24You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
American King James Version×, he says, “You see then a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” Some Christians’ mantra is by faith alone. That’s not biblical. That is not biblical. You see, this grace that we’ve been given, it justifies us, acquits us from sin, brings us into a right relationship with God and then it motivates us so that we don’t have the grace of God in vain, it motivates us into action. James is not saying oh, these works are going to save us. That’s not what he’s saying here at all, but he’s showing how they go hand in hand. How once we’re forgiven and once we’re justified, and once we’ve accepted the sacrifice of Christ, we’ve repented, we’ve come before God. That faith is confirmed in what we do.
Now what do we do, what do we do next? Well, we remain faithful. We strive. We also know it says we’re to grow in grace and knowledge. Because we have been given grace we’re going to grow and become more Christ like, like Philippians 2, we’re going to put on the mind of Christ. So we set our course on His way, we strive to follow him. We are given God’s spirit that makes it possible to obey. So we submit to God’s spirit, and it enables us then as we submit to His spirit to remain faithful and continue to strive to overcome that way that works against us, that works away from God and His way.
So we put it into practice, and we exercise that faith; and if we slip and when we slip we get lined up, we come to repentance immediately, we go before God and we get lined up all over again with God’s law. And so what an amazing process that God has put in place, that He’s given us a solution to sin.
Now the way this all ties in then with the theme of our Bible studies, “Let Us Keep The Feast” is that this is all based in the understanding of our savior Jesus Christ. When God calls us, He’s given us the sacrifice and God’s festivals and Holy Days are intertwined in what that meaning is all about. The symbolism behind these days, the Passover. That there is a sacrifice for sin. There is a solution. In fact, if you think of the Holy Days in general, they are a solution. They are symbolic of God’s solution to sin. That we do have a Savior. We have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So we can be justified, we can come out of sin as the Days of Unleavened Bread represent, and we can remain faithful because we’ve been given God’s spirit and we have the power to overcome, like Pentecost talks about. With the Spirit of God. It is possible and it’s not just something for you and I, but it’s for everyone.
And so as we move to the fall Holy Days, they are continually focused on Jesus Christ as well, and what He does. So He will return and Satan will be cast aside, and we will be responsible for our own sins and ultimately God’s going to set up His Kingdom on Earth, where sin will be recognized. And it can be rooted out as the whole world begins to understand the infectious nature of sin, and how to deal with it so that all can come to receive the grace of God and make the choice of whether they will follow God or whether they won’t. Ultimately, everyone will have that opportunity. Everyone who ever lived and died will have an opportunity to understand the sacrifice of Christ to be able to implement that solution for sin in their lives as well.
So it’s a big story and there’s a lot to it. God has given us His wonderful days. The festivals and the Holy Days exemplify God’s purpose and His plan. Ultimately His purpose to root out sin and establish His Kingdom and its all, all of it, every bit of it is made possible through the sacrifice of His son, our savior, Jesus Christ. So every year we rehearse these days that remind us that there is a solution to sin.
All right, well that will do it for out study tonight. We’re going to begin it together once again in two weeks. So we look forward to seeing you back on the Web and right back here in the room again as we continue our studies on “Let Us Keep The Feast.”f Have a good evening, be safe and stay warm too.