28 Jun Romans #6 – Crazy Grace Bad News For “Good” People (Romans 3:1-20)
– Well, are you having a good day?
– [Audience] Yes.
– I’m about to ruin it. We’re in Romans 3. We’re going through a great book of the Bible. We’re in Romans 3 and in Romans 1 and 2, Paul tells us that God’s evaluation of the human condition is that we are sinners that we’re fallen, that we’re the problem, and we’re not the solution. It’s a bit like going to your doctor and your doctor being really honest with you. I’ll give you an example from my own life. Some years ago, I wasn’t doing well physically, I had allergies and I was getting bloody noses and I couldn’t sleep, and I had heartburn and I was just not well, I had a nervous eye twitch because I was stressed, everybody in the church thought I was flirting with them. I wasn’t, I was just a little freaked out. And what happened then was, one of my kids, looked at grace who was in the third trimester with one of our soon to be born children and looked at me and said, “Daddy, are you having a baby too?” And I was like, “No, I’m having an ice cream baby. I need to make some lifestyle changes.” So I go to the doctor and the doctor says “Okay, you need a heartburn medicine, you need sleep medicine. You need anxiety meds, all of these medicines. And so then you do the terrifying thing where you look at the potential side effects. And you’re like, “It’s worse than what I have. The side effects are worse than what I have.” So I go to another doctor who was kind of rude, a bit direct. It reminded me of myself. So now I know what you feel like, this doctor said, “Well, you know what your problem is?” I said, “What is that?” “You are your problem.” I didn’t pay for this, I can get this for free. So the doctor said, “No, no, you are wrong in the way you think and in the way you live and you are your biggest problem.” He said, “So you need to change. You need to accept reality and change.” I was like, “Oh boy.” So now I’ve got two doctors. So I’ve got two choices. The first doctor was we’ll give you a bunch of medications to mask the problems. The other doctor was you need to make some drastic changes. So I got a burrito and prayed about it. And then I thought, you know what? I’m gonna go with doctor number two. So I did everything that doctor number two said, I started changing my diet. I started eating well, taking my vitamins, doing all the things I was supposed to do and guess what the diagnosis was correct. But I needed to accept that before I could receive the remedy. And I’m happy to report years later I just had a big annual checkup, perfect health, everything is good and fine. The point is at first what that doctor said, seemed very unloving and a bit harsh but it was his way of bringing me to reality because there was hope for me and things could be improved if I was willing to accept reality. Similarly, the God of the Bible is called the great physician. And what we see in Romans 1 and 2, it’s the human checkup. It’s the human condition, knowing that we’re not gonna like the diagnosis that we’re sinners, that we’re fallen, that we’re rebels that we’re the problem, not the solution. Then the apostle Paul here in Romans 3, he answers four common objections. In the same way that I argued with my doctor. My doctor was telling me, “You need to do this.” “I don’t know.” “You need to do that.” I’m not sure I agree. And then I had an excuse for everything. He answered my objections. Here, Paul is answering our objections. And so we’re gonna look at objection number one, In Romans 3:1-2. And this is people who are outside of the church, peering in on those of us who are in the church coming to this conclusion. There’s no benefit to church involvement. And the basic argument is okay, “I should go to church. I should read the Bible, I should pray.” But I’ve met some of those people, They’re are no better than me. If it doesn’t work for them, why would I try something that isn’t working? What advantage has the Jew? He’s talking there about the person who grows up in faith, grows up in church, grows up in prayer, grows up in scripture. There’s a familiarity with the God of the Bible or what is the value of circumcision? This was their external demonstration of an internal transformation for us. It would be our equivalent today of something like baptism. It’s publicly recognizing who your God is, much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. And what he’s talking about here are Jews and Gentiles. These were racial cultural groupings in that day that had conflict. Much like there are racial cultural conflicts in our day. One group thought we’re the good people, and they’re the bad people. The other group thought, “No, no, we’re the good people.” They’re the bad people. God says, “You’re all the bad people. Jesus is the good person.” And so that’s how God sees history and humanity. And what he’s saying is this that ultimately they did get a blessing and the blessing was the word of God. And the word of God is what God blesses. God doesn’t bless people or races or nations or cultures. God blesses His word. And if you come under his word, you’re in the place that He blesses. And if you leave the place of blessing, blessing does not follow you. Consider it this way, the Bible says that God is a father. I’ve got five kids. If my kids are trying to do the right thing I’m going to help them. If my kids are trying to do the wrong thing I’m not going to help them. God is a father. For those who seek to obey Him, He will bless and help them. For those who rebel, He will not. And the point of the Bible is twofold. It’s to improve your life and to grant you eternal life. And so if you believe the Bible and you obey the Bible, it actually makes a difference in your life. And the point of the Bible is to introduce you to Jesus Christ, to be your savior as a sinner so that you can receive eternal life. Whether or not you meet Jesus and go to heaven. If you obey the Bible, there still are benefits for this life, not the ultimate benefits but there are benefits in this life. I’ll give you one example. When I was growing up, I grew up Catholic and my mom knew the Lord. I did not. I didn’t have really much interest in God, but even sitting in church, they would read from the old and the new Testament. And just hearing scripture gave me some guard rails that really did improve my life even though I did not yet know Jesus, “okay, don’t get drunk. Don’t have a kid out of wedlock, certain things, don’t steal, don’t kill anybody, some real basic guard rails that kept me out of a lot of trouble. So there are benefits to knowing God’s word. And there was a study that was recently done by a group called Back to the Bible, they did a national survey of 400,000 people, looking at their Bible reading habits. And they came up with something called the power of four effect. And that is if you read the Bible, one two, three days a week, minimal change in your life. Four days a week, radical change in your life. As soon as God’s word becomes the majority of your week, your week begins to change. They saw that those who have God’s word on the majority of their days during the week their emotional life improved, their depression went down, their anxiety lifted, their addictive tendencies and self-destructive decisions decreased, their hope for the future increased. Literally it was a radical transformation. And when Paul here is talking about the Oracles of God, he’s talking about ultimately the word of God. And so you being here is a real blessing. I love you. It’s good to see you. And I want God’s word to be a blessing to you. And when it comes to God’s word there are really only three ways to view God’s word. I could just briefly summarize a lot of scholarship. Some people think that this is perfect and it’s ultimately from God. That’s what I believe. That’s what we believe, amen. That’s what we believe at the Trinity church. The other view is that this is not from God, this is about God from us as a result, it’s not perfect, it’s imperfect. It’s a bunch of myth, fable, folklore stories. It may be moral examples but it doesn’t really reveal to us the truth of God. The third category is a combination of the first two, parts are from God, part’s are from us. Parts are perfect, parts are imperfect. It used to be that the role of “Scholarship,” was to determine what was true and false. And today we’ve all appointed ourselves as scholars. And so we read it well, is that true or not true? And usually we pick out the things we like, “God loves me,” of course He does. “Look how awesome I am, good job. God good pickup. Okay, what else does it say here? Heaven, I like heaven. Yay, Heaven, heaven yay. Hell, hell no, I like that at all. I don’t like that at all. Not going to do that. Oh no, God’s telling me what to do with my pants. Yeah, that’s probably not what it meant in the original Hebrew. That’s probably not what it meant.” And so what we do is we pick and choose. And what ultimately he is saying is that God’s word is true and will be judged according to God’s word. And the more that we obey God’s word, the more we live in God’s blessing. The more we live in God’s blessing. The second objection is there’s lots of hypocritical believers. I know people who go to church and they pray, and they read the Bible but I don’t see any real change in their life, they’re no better than I am. He says this in Romans 3:3 through 4, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God, by no means let God be true that every one of you were a liar?” And immediately, some of you are like, “I’m not a liar.” You just did. You just did ’cause he said we’re all liars. As it is written he quotes the old Testament that you may be justified in your words and prevail when you are judged. And the point is this, there are people who are not faithful to God. Maybe they start, but then they don’t continue. Maybe they’re raised in a believing home but they don’t continue that legacy of faith. And what he’s saying is if people are faithless and or unfaithful, does that mean that God has failed? No, how many of you have seen God be faithful to you? Even when you were unfaithful to Him, have you experienced that? If you’re a Christian at some point this is all our story. That ultimately God is faithful to His word that is exactly what the apostle Paul is saying. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, God is faithful to you, even when you’re not faithful to Him. Paul says elsewhere that “Even when we’re faithless, God is faithful.” If you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, then God is still faithful to His word, and His word says that He will judge you. So either way whether you’re a believer or an unbeliever, God is faithful to His word to either bless you or judge you. That’s what He says, and He’s driving all of human history toward a final judgment. You need to know that the most important day of your life is the last day. And you will close your eyes and you will open them and you will give an account, not to a mirror, but to God. And ultimately when we stand before God, it will be for judgment. If we belong to the Lord, Jesus, it will be a judgment of works for eternal rewards and blessings. If we do not belong to the Lord, Jesus, it will be an eternal judgment in hell where the punishment literally fits the crime. And so he is driving all of us to this very incredibly important decision. Who do you think Jesus is? What do you think Jesus does? Have you received Jesus so that you can avoid judgment? Because if you have good news, God is faithful to you. Point number three or objection number three, it is unloving and unrighteous for God to punish people. This is more of the emotional response and objection, Romans 3:5 through 6. “But if our unrighteousness, our faults flaws and failures serves to show the righteousness of God. What shall we say? The God is unrighteous to inflict wrath consequence punishment on us. I speak in a human way by no means for then how could God judge the world?” Now, here’s what happens, we want God to judge the world, we set up little thrones on social media. We’re our own little judges. We don’t even wait for God to judge. I got my little Twitter throne guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. We judge the world. We’re in a world that is filled with constant judgment. And we like to judge everyone else but we don’t like anyone to judge us. This is the human problem and condition. It’s become very popular today to talk about everybody else’s sin, but not our own their failures but not mine, to blame them for things that I’ve done. And what he’s saying here ultimately is that this issue of judgment is absolutely right. That if we feel that we have a right to render verdicts about behaviors, then why does God not have that same right? And ultimately where he is driving, all of his argument in Romans is that God will judge everyone. And one of two ways. So let me tell you it’s either Jesus or hell, I could just be really clear. I hope I was clear, Jesus or hell, what are your options? Store number one, Jesus, door number two, kindling. Those are your options. Jesus Christ was judged in our place and He endured the wrath of God for us. The story of God is this, we are bad, God is good, God came down to save us. His name is Jesus Christ. He was good, we were bad. We thought He was bad that’s how bad we’re, so we murdered God. Jesus did something extraordinary in comprehensible, truly on the cross. And that is that He took our place and He put us in His place. That He took all of the judgment and gave us all of the forgiveness. But He took all of the unrighteousness and gave us His righteousness that He took our death and gave us His life. He took our separation from God and gave us reconciliation to God. The Jesus Christ on the cross was judged in your place for your sin, paid your price to God and endured the wrath of God so that you could receive the love of God. If you know this, this is why you love Jesus, amen.
– [Congregation] Amen And what this means is you don’t worry about dying and being judged, and the wrath of God. You sleep better. Your burden is lifted and you don’t worry about this life ending. In fact, if you’re honest, you’re looking forward it because this planet stinks, this planet totally stinks. This is why people keep moving like, “It stinks where I’m at.” They move and they’re like, “It stinks here too.” That’s because we need a new planet and we need a King Jesus to make it all right and better. And He’s in the process of doing so. So if you received Jesus, He’s judged, you’re not. He’s condemned, you’re not. He experiences the wrath of God, you don’t. He dies, you live. If you reject Jesus, the only other judgment is the judgment of Jesus. If you reject Jesus, the only judgment left is the judgment of Jesus. And let me just say this you don’t need to face the judgment of Jesus and the wrath of God in hell. Right now, you can make the most important decision that you will ever make. And that is to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. To thank him for what he did for you and to follow Him, because He knows where to lead you. I love you with all my heart. I don’t wanna see any of you in hell. I wanna see you all in heaven. I wanna see you forever. If you’re in hell, I’m not coming to visit. So I’m inviting you to join the rest of us in heaven. And what I would tell you is this, people make a lot of decisions that they regret. I have never met anyone who has regretted receiving Jesus Christ. I’ve never been anywhere like, “Yeah, my burdens were lifted, my sin was forgiven, my relationship with God was reconciled, my conscience was cleared, my attorney was secure. Worst decision I ever made.” How many of you have received Jesus as Lord and savior, and you’re really, really glad for who He is and what He does, amen Objection number four, if God works it all out in the end, He should not be angry with me. The point is we’ve made a mess, but God fixes the mess. And if he fixes the mass, why should he be upset with us? That’s the basic objection in Romans 3:7 through 8. “But if through my life God’s truth abound to His glory, if my lying makes His truth all the better, if my darkness makes His light shine brighter why am I still being condemned as a sinner? Why not do evil that good may come? As some people slender asleep charge us with saying their condemnation is just” This is the old argument that the ends justify the means. At the ends justify the means. And what it is that we do bad, God does good, and that we take credit for God’s good. This is how bad we’re. We’ve all done this, you do something bad, it works out. You’re like, “You’re welcome.” But no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’ll give you an example. Some years ago I had met a Pastor, great Pastor, loves the Lord, teaches a Bible. Dynamic ministry. Didn’t know who their dad was, never met their father. Their father was married and then had a girlfriend. Didn’t tell the girlfriend that he was married. Is this good or bad? Or you’re being judgy, being very judging. Thank you for being judgy. And so what happens then is, he gets his girlfriend pregnant. Doesn’t want his wife to know. So he abandons his pregnant girlfriend, never meets or does anything to contribute to the wellbeing and upbringing of his son. Years later, the son becomes a Christian husband father, pastor, and says, “I wanna meet my dad.” So he looks up his dad and he goes to meet his dad. And he meets his dad. And he tells him, “Dad I met Jesus, I’m teaching the Bible, I’m married, I’ve got kids. God’s been very good to me.” Tells his story. The dad literally says something like this. He says, “Well, I guess it was a good thing. I slept with your mom.” “Oh yeah, we have a prize for you. You’re amazing,” so, what? “Well, you know, if my adultery brought you into the world and you’re here and you’re blessing people then I’m blessing people.” We should drug test that guy. He’s not dealing with How many of you wives clearly see that he didn’t do a good thing, amen. All the wives have or all the husbands are like, “I could go either way.” The wives are clear. The wives are real clear, “No, no, it’s naughty. And I’m gonna shoot you.” But what he’s saying is this, “If I do bad and God does good, then why don’t I get credit for the good?” Because God gets credit for the good, we get credit for the bad, amen, amen. Again, it’s Genesis 50:20. This is the story of Joseph. What he says to his brothers who did horrific evil against him. What you did was evil, but God used it for good. That doesn’t mean that we’re good. It means that He’s good. And He gets credit for the good. And so what He’s trying to do, He’s trying to get us all to this conclusion that we’re sinners and we need a savior. There we are a problem and we need a solution. How many of you are feeling a little judged, a little discouraged right now, you’re like, “It a little harsh.” Don’t worry, it’s gonna get worse. Romans 3:9 through 17. That was the warmup. This is something that the theologians will call total depravity or pervasive depravity. And what it means is this, it means that all of a person is infected and affected by sin. I’ll start with a simple analogy. So here’s my nice clean water. God made us like this clean, pure, holy. He said we were very good, very good. Sin then enters into the human condition. We all inherited Romans 5 from our first father, Adam. And if I were to drop poison or pollution into this water how much of it would be infected and affected?
– [Audience] All of it.
– All of it. There wouldn’t be a portion that would be preserved. So it is with the human condition. Your mind is infected and affected by sin. Your heart is infected and affected by sin. Your will is in fact that in affected by sin and those who don’t believe in the Bible think that a part of them is good. Well, I just follow the science. Why do you trust your mind? Well, because it makes sense to me. Well, you’ve had some crazy thoughts. I’ve known you a while. And then sometimes we’ll just say, “Follow your heart.” Every hangover started with that assumption, every hangover started without assumption. The point is that all of us is infected and affected by sin. So I wanna break it down and look at all the components of the human being and how it’s infect and affected, it talks about our nature. We’ll unpack these. “What then are we Jews? Those who grew up in church with the Bible any better off? Not at all for we’ve already charged that all Jews and Greeks, everybody are under sin.” That means rule dominated controlled by, as it is written. He quotes the old Testament. “No one is righteous, no, not one.” It’s very negative, very binary, very judgy, very accurate. What about our mind? “Well, I went to college. I have more degrees in Fahrenheit. I’m very, very smart.” No one understands they have a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of wisdom. We call that college. “Also motive, no one seeks for God. We’ll talk about that. How about your we’ll all have turned aside, together they have become worthless. Deed, no one does good, not even one. Word, their throat is an open grave. They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” What about the body? “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” Emotion “In their paths are ruin and misery and the soul and the way of peace they have not known.” When you go to the doctor they literally give you a checkup from head to toe. This is God’s checkup of humanity from head to toe. He literally starts with stick your tongue out, let me look down your throat. That’s literally where He starts. He starts with nature. This is something that you will only learn in the Bible. You will not hear in any other educational format that you are not just a sinner in your behavior. You are a sinner by nature. It’s not just what you do, it’s who you are. Therefore you can’t just have behavior modification. God needs to give you nature regeneration, that God needs to under mentally change you at the level of being. That’s how bad we’re, and that’s how great the need is. And so how many of you have raised a kid, and you’ve seen that they come, it’s like a group on. You buy one, you get one. You get a kid and they throw in a free sin nature. Have you notice that? And if he raised the kid, did you need to teach him to lie or steal? You know what the difference is between an angry selfish child and a terrorist? Size, that’s it. They all are gonna do the same thing. And so even if you’re parenting a kid, you’re like, “Why do they do this?” Because they need a new nature. We need a new nature. And so much of our world is trying to control behavior. And what God wants to do is change nature. Until things change in here, things can’t change out there. There needs to be the change in the want to before there can be the change in the how to. So he talks about nature. In addition he talks about our mind and he says, “No one understands God.” We have plenty of conjecture and speculation and philosophy, but we don’t have wisdom or revelation. That we even take the mind that God gave us and we use it to argue against God, rather than agree with God. This happens in politics. This happens in philosophy. This happens in spirituality and religion of all sorts and kinds. That God says something, and we use the mind that He gave us to argue against Him or even to reverse course and to judge Him. How about motive? It says that no one seeks God. Now, immediately we’re offended by this. “No, no, no, no, no no. I’m seeking God.” We don’t seek God, we seek the gifts that God gives. God is a giver who gives gifts. We don’t seek the giver, we seek the gifts. “God, I would like it if you healed me, God, if I pray, please answer my prayer. Oh God, I need a job, so please give me one. God, my spouse is driving me crazy, fix them, amen.” We want God to answer our prayers and provide for our needs, but we don’t want God to tell us what to do. We just wanna tell God what to do. It got really quiet in here. And some of you say, “But what about seeking?” Well, the good news is this, that God is the one who seeks us.
– [Congregation] Amen See in Genesis 3, when our first parents sinned they ran and hid from God and God came seeking them. It’s been that way in human history ever since. Jesus Christ comes and he says, “I came to seek and to save the lost.” The point is God has not lost, and we’re looking for Him. We’re lost and He’s looking for us. How many of you, you weren’t looking for God, but He was looking for you? How many of you, you weren’t looking for God, but He found you? So if you seek God, it’s because he sought you first. And this is the wonder of God that God is pursuing people who are running from Him. And so the hope is not that we’re seeking God, but the God is seeking us. And this is even the story of the apostle Paul who writes this. His story was that he was absolutely religious. He had no relationship with God. He was not seeking God, but Jesus came down and found Him. And he talks about the will. He says that we’ve turned aside, that ultimately Jesus Christ says that He is the way. Early Christians before we were called Christians were also called people of the way. Meaning there is a way and that’s God’s way. And we’ve turned aside that we now desire to wander off the path, we desire to rebel against God. Our will is to not obey God but to disobey God. What that means ultimately, you could see where this goes. We need a new nature. We need a new mind. We need God to restore our motives. We need God to change our will. And the result is deeds. He says, “No one does good.” That’s very negative. At some of you you’re offended, I can see it. And I’m so glad to offend you ’cause I believe in equality. So I believe in offending everyone. So let me just do this for you. You have been lied to since you were little, “You’re a good person.” No, you’re not, ask your spouse. They’ll tell you the truth. “You have a good heart.” No, you don’t. “You’re special.” Oh, you are. You are. You’re a special kind of naughty, that’s what you are. And what he says is that, no one does good. Like I do a lot of good things. Here’s the difference. The Bible says that man looks at the outward, God looks at the heart. Have you ever done a good thing with a bad motive? We call this dating, right I brought you flowers, ’cause I want you to trust me so I can take advantage of you. Right, we do nice things with naughty motives, true? It’s true. Well, I’m gonna give them a gift so that they’re obligated to me. I’m gonna be nice to them so that they align with me in the fight. I’m going to do really great things out here so that people think really well of me. For something to be a truly good deed, the motive of the heart, as well as the actions of the hands or the words of the mouth need to all be done out of pure love for God without mixed motive Therefore you could say, yeah, yeah, there’s always something in it for me. And it’s not always for God and others, there’s always something in it for me. And what he wants us to do is not look at bad people and compare ourselves to them, but to look to Jesus and compare ourselves to Him. Because God’s categories are not good and bad people but bad people and Jesus who is perfect. In addition, He talks a bit about our words and the words that we speak. And He says that are our words come from a place of death within us. And it’s like the stench of death, Jesus says something similar when He says, “Religious people outwardly, they look great, like whitewashed tombs, but inwardly it’s the stench of death.” Religion is the opposite of relationship with Jesus, religion is all about performing outwardly for people and not being transformed inwardly by God. This is where Jesus says of religious people with their lips, they honor me, but their hearts are far from me. And what He’s talking about here is how people speak to one another. And can we just say that has been a brutal year that we are a divided country, we are a conflicted country but now technology has afforded us the opportunity to communicate more than ever, and what we communicate is death and not life. And it is just as the apostle Paul prophesied, it is bitterness and cursing. Bitterness, I hate you, you said this, you did this, I judge you, I condemn you, I shame you. I publicly, you know, scorn you and then curse. Literally, I’m putting a curse over you, you’ll never change, this is who you are, this is your identity, there’s no hope for you, there’s no future for you. We live in a culture of death, that’s what He’s saying. And He says that the words that come out of us, they literally kill people. An asp was a deadly reptile, it was believed that Cleopatra died by suicide through an asp. That’s what he says here, as an asp, there are certain things that we say, and they literally poison and destroy people. And see, there’s this little line that we tell kids sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me, that’s not true, that’s not true. How many of you something has been said? And it was deadly, it was lethal, it was devastating. And He says that as long as there is death in here, it’s out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks, Jesus says, that if there is death in here, there will be death out there, and it is the stench of death. I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled a dead body, a decomposing body. There is nothing quite like it, it is horrifying. Some years ago when crisis and tragedy hit in Haiti, I was part of a small medical mission that brought relief supplies, we landed and we were delivering them on the ground. Churches collapsed, people dead, horrific trauma, and there was no governmental services to pick up the dead and decomposing bodies. So they literally just left them on the street corners over days, people are literally just blowing up and filling up until they explode. It was the most apocalyptic thing I’d ever seen. And as we were pulling bodies out of rubble and trying to save people’s lives, and deliver medical supplies, the stench after a few days of these decomposing bodies in the streets was so overwhelming, that I literally had to take the peels of oranges and shove them in my nose, just so that I could smell something other than that, ’cause I was on the verge of throwing up all day every day. Here’s what God says, “When I hear everything that everyone is saying, I feel like I’m a throw up.” See, we live in a day now with social media that we get more information and news than at any time in history. And it makes us sick and unhealthy, imagine being God, He hears everything, He sees everything, He knows everything. And He never gets to quote unquote, “turn His phone off.” He’s constantly aware You and I need to, I have a little empathy and compassion, meaning we look at things from God’s perspective. You consider how frustrated we are with this planet. Imagine being the perfect God who made it perfect and made us perfect, and then seeing what we have done with what He has made. He then talks about the body, and He talks about feet that are Swift to shed innocent blood. There was a historian will Durant, He recorded 3241 years of human history, and he said that there was only 268 total years that he could not find a war. These people kill these people, and then these people killed these people it his feet that are constantly heading to shed blood. And we will hear that, and we will say, thankfully, I’ve never killed anyone. Let me say this, the leading cause of death in our country is still abortion. We keep getting this count, I wish they would have the other count, that the most dangerous place to be is still a mother’s womb. That should be the safest place to be, the greatest threat to human life is hands of a physician, it took an oath to preserve life. And even during our recent crazy year, churches were closed and clinics were opened because death is essential and God is not. Now if you’re here and you’ve participated in the murder of abortion, because that’s what it is. Jesus did die for you, there is forgiveness for you, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ but we cannot as a culture and a nation think that we have evolved beyond some sort of barbarous act, where we take innocent human life. We take the most innocent human life, and I hear it all the time. Well, what about justice for the marginalized and the outcast? What about those who haven’t gotten out to vote yet? Who’s gonna vote for them. See Paul’s condemnation of humanity is essential and it is just, he additionally says that our emotional life is ruin and misery it’s ruined and misery, that there is ruined in here, so we bring misery out there. We tend to be burdened givers, not burdened lifters. We tend to harm people, not help people, that emotionally we are unwell until God remakes our emotional life, we are emotionally unwell. And then he summarizes all of this with a soul. He says that they do not know the peace of God. Until you have peace with God, you can not have the peace of God. And until you have the peace of God, you cannot bring the peace of God, that the soul is troubled, and it is unhealthy unwell. That was, we read all of this, something called total depravity or pervasive. And what Paul is articulating is that all of a human person is infected enough affected by sin. Now, as I was preparing this section, it was very curious a song came on and it was by Luke Bryan. How many of you like Luke Bryan? Okay, okay, I’m gonna fix that, I’m gonna fix that, okay. So Luke Bryan has a song comes on, let’s tell me, if somebody have you heard the lyrics? I believe most people are good, and I laughed out loud. Luke, if you’re watching, you’re a heretic, you need Jesus, okay? You’re a heretic, you need Jesus. We’re not gonna sing that as a worship song, because it’s not true. You can’t read Romans 3 and say, ♪ I believe most people are good. ♪ And you’re like, nope, they’re not, they’re not, they’re not, okay. And that means even Santa is a heretic, because he has two lists. What are the two lists? Naughty and nice. If Santa was honest, it would be Jesus, and very everybody, those would be the two list, that we tend to think that God grades on a curve and what he sees is perfect and imperfect. That’s why Jesus said to be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Now, now let me say this, that he quotes seven old Testament texts here and he’s trying to get us all to agree that we are sinners and we need a savior. We have a problem, He is the solution. Now what happens is it is easier for us to see this in those people, amen. Some of you read this, you’re like, this is such a good sermon, I’m gonna send it to all my horrible friends and my ex-wife, they’re gonna really benefit from this. Okay, it’s all of us, that’s why He uses words. Like all non, no one, everyone and no human being, total our pervasive depravity is that all of a person and all people are infected and affected by sin. Now immediately, the little attorney that lives in you is gonna wanna defend you. We’ve all got a little attorney, he was like, Oh, I’ll speak up for you. Okay, and so he comes out and what he says, there’s all this you’re not, there’s people worse than you. This is what we always do, we find someone worse than us and we become friends with them, so we look better. And if you’re like, I don’t have a friend like that, I hate to tell you you’re that friend, I hate to tell ya, you’re that friend. And when we do something really bad, we always just last resort pull out the Hitler card, at least I’m not Hitler. Well, congratulations. Yeah, you get a gold star on the moral chart, you’re better than Hitler. Gosh, you know, that’s like a high jump, that’s this high. And I’m like, oh, I made it. Okay, so there is a difference between total depravity and utter depravity. Utter depravity is you’re as bad as you could possibly be, okay. And what God does, He puts some restraints to keep us from descending utter depravity. Paul told us in Romans 2, one’s a conscience. Even if you don’t know God, you know that somethings are wrong, right? It’s interesting, where people taking to the streets and looting and protesting, and rioting and demanding, and they’re like there is no God, there is no law, there’s no right and wrong, I’m very upset and appealing to a standard that I deny exists Because they have a conscience, and even if they don’t know God, they know that some things are wrong. In addition He’s gonna tell us in Romans 5, that there is death. That some people stop because they die, that’s how God stops him. And for the rest of us, there are certain things that we would do, but we might die, and that gives us restraint, in Romans 13, he’s gonna tell us that in addition, God gives government, and law, and law. And some of you would do things here, like I would do it but there’s police, and we’re in Arizona. So after I get shot, they’re going to call the police, and if you’re new, that’s how we roll, write that down, that’s helpful information, okay. Or I’m gonna get arrested, I’m gonna need to get an attorney, this is gonna be a legal battle. Okay, I would do it, but there is law that constraints and restraints me. People who don’t believe in human depravity, what do they wanna do? Let’s get rid of the cops, oh yeah, that’ll fix it. Then people can be free to their full potential. Oh my gosh, let’s hope that doesn’t happen. If they are evil, all they do is maximize their evil, they bring hell up, they don’t bring hell down. Well, let’s get rid of government, let’s get rid of rule of law, let’s get rid of parents, let’s get rid of authority. Oh, Satan said that, and it’s been a real problem ever since, it’s demonic, and it’s the heart of the demonic. This is why certain places and even certain cities in our own nation today, that don’t believe in human sinfulness. You know what we need to do, we need to get rid of law, we need to get rid of parents, we need to get rid of police we need to get rid of military, we need to get rid of first responders. And then we need to let people do what they want, and then we wonder why the whole thing collapses, and everybody gets in their car and drives to Arizona. So welcome. We’re the fastest growing city and County in America. And you’re like, those people are crazy, I’m going to Arizona. Okay, so welcome, but understand that there is a problem, and that is that we don’t understand the human condition, okay? Now in hearing this, a couple of things, some of you will immediately defend yourself. So let me, let me ask you a question. What if all of these restraints and constraints the God provides to keep us from slipping from total to utter were removed and eradicated. So imagine you couldn’t die, you’re immortal like God originally created us, no doubt. So nothing you could do would take your life, no fear of death. Now imagine that there was no law, no police, no soldiers, no courts, no judges, no lawyers, no prisons, no consequences. Now imagine you could have unlimited power and money, you could do whatever you want. Question, would you do some bad things? God, everybody’s like, I don’t know, yeah, you do. Yeah, you too. How many of you, if you could kill a few people. Oh, pastor Mark, I never thought about that. Yeah, wow, Lord. Oh, that’s Nope, okay see. Even if you have a name or a face, you’re guilty. Okay, I’m just telling you, how many of you, if you could get revenge on them, oh, you’re like, I would watch Liam Neeson movies and do it, that’s what I do to them, I torture them. How many of you would do some horrible things? See, we’ve all got a shadow side. And even if we know Jesus, there’s still some lingering lash in us. And if it weren’t for the constraints and restraints of God, we would be worse than we are, that doesn’t mean that we’re good, it means that we’re bad in that God is good, and that God’s goodness, restraints our badness. Therefore we don’t take credit for it, we give God glory for it.
– [Audience] Amen
– So let me compare, it’s really the word versus the world, and this is always the same old battle. So to summarize the world says, “I am good.” The word says, “God alone is perfect.” The world says, “I decide right and wrong.” The word says, “God defines right and wrong.” The world says, “I blame external systems.” The word says, “God blames my internal sin.” The world says, “I rebel against authority.” The word says, “God rules with all authority.” The world says, “I deserve tolerance.” The word says, “God deserves repentance.” The world says, “I am a victim.” The word says, “God and others are my victims.” The world says, “I accept myself.” The word says, “God forgives me.” The world says, “I love myself.” The word says, “God loves me.” The world says, “I make myself better, self-help, self-improvement, self-esteem self-actualization.” The word says, “God makes me new.” Not just better, but new. You’ve got a decision to make between what the world says and what the word says. So where Paul talked about at the beginning, the Oracles of God coming back the scripture, because the truth is, you don’t know who you are until you know who God is. The two most important things you can learn is who God is, and who you are, until you know who God is, you don’t even know who you are, because you have no one to compare yourself to until you meet God. And so in hearing this, let me say a couple of things. Number one, fall the sin, the human condition of rebellion, it alone explains life on our planet. How many of you think that earth sucks right now? Have you been to 2020? It’s horrible, right? You’re looking at like, it’s horrible, why is it horrible? Now some of you believe in evolution, which is adorable, it’s adorable, it’s so cute. You’re like, just give it time. We have, it’s not going well. Like I don’t know about you, it doesn’t, I don’t believe in evolution, I believe in devolution, I don’t believe we were monkeys, but we’re getting there, I think we should turn the evolutionary chart around, you know, like if I wake up with a slope floor and I’m dragging my knuckles, I’m not shocked, right? Time is not gonna fix our problem. Number two, it gives us our dignity back. Some people say all about pastor Mark, this low view of humanity, it’s very negative, no, it’s actually very positive because what it says is you were made for more. You’re not an animal, you’re an image bear.
– [Audience] Amen.
– That you were made here, you fell to here, Jesus resurrects you to here. And so this is not what you were made for, you were made for more, it gives you your dignity back. It gives you your dignity back. Number three, it gives us the basis for the human desire for equality. There’s everybody right now, everybody should be equal, everybody should be equal. You know what we are? We’re equally fallen, we’re equally sinful, we’re equally rebellious, we equally need Jesus. So you know what? Black and white need Jesus, Republican and Democrat need Jesus, men and women need Jesus, young and old need Jesus, poor and rich need Jesus, we’re all equal, we messed it up, He’s our only hope, that’s our equality, that’s our equality. In addition, this allows us to be honest, if I’m a good person and I’m struggling, I probably shouldn’t tell you. And if I can fix my own problems, then I should probably hide what they are. If I’m a sinner totally depressed, a hot mess minus the hot. I just tell you, I’m not doing so good, and I need help. You can just come clean and be honest, amen?
– [Audience] Amen.
– And we call that Christianity, the difference between Christianity and religion is this, religious people are bad and sneaky, and hide it, and Christians just are honest about it. Like I am really a mess and I really need help, great. His name is Jesus, and we love Him, and He loves you and He loves us, and we’re here to help. If you’re a good person, you’ve got to hide your bad, and if you fix your own problems, you can’t ask help when you need it the most. That’s why the Bible uses these words like rebellion, folly, self-abuse madness, treason, hatred death, spiritual adultery, missing the mark, wandering from the path, idolatry and sanity, irrationality, pride, selfishness, blindness, deafness, a hard heart, a stiff neck delusion, unreasonableness, and self worship. Sin includes not just commission, the bad things we do, omission, the things we don’t do. Some people says, “Oh, they’re like, I don’t know why you’re upset, I didn’t do anything.” That’s the problem. The husband who doesn’t provide for his family, it’s a sin of omission. The parents who don’t raise their child, it’s a sin of omission, the citizen who expects the government to take responsibility for the things that God assigns them responsibility for, it’s a sin of omission. Rod is walking around, like I didn’t do anything, somebody take care of me. God’s like you have responsibilities, and your sins are sometimes commission where you do something you shouldn’t do, but oftentimes it’s all omission, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do. That’s where indifference and apathy and cowardice are horrendous sins. It also includes our thoughts, our words, our deeds, our motives. And some people will say, “Well, we’re just living, and we’re sleeping together, we’re doing this, we’re doing that, it’s not like we’re breaking the law, like we’re doing bad.” Here’s what I would tell you, it’s worse than that, it’s a cosmic crime. Well, nobody got hurt, God was hurt. Well, we didn’t break the law, you broke God’s law. Well, we didn’t do anything wrong. Actually, God says you did. God says you did. And this is a very poignant personal point for me. I grew up in a neighborhood with the Green River Killer and Ted Bundy. I grew up in a neighborhood with two serial killers. They actually found a dead body at my little league field, a prostitute that was murdered, that’s where I grew up. And part of what the teaching of the Bible gives us, is the freedom to have a category of people who are evil. If you are a parent and all you tell your children is, people are good, give them the benefit of the doubt, everybody’s got a good heart, you are placing them in harm’s way.
– [Audience] That’s right.
– I have a particular heart for women and children, and I’ve been criticized over there, so like Mark yells only at men, I don’t yell at women and children. I give children Bibles and suckers. I don’t know. But I believe that, and I know that there are such thing as evil women. Okay, but I’m not gonna talk about that. But what I’m going to talk about is ’cause I could see them and I’m scared. So what am I talking about, I’m talking about evil men. How many of you men know that there are some men who have, they have run through those restraints and constraints that God has given, and they are sliding from total depravity to utter depravity and they’re evil and they’re dangerous. Okay, there are people like that. Now, most people are just foolish, that’s most of us, but some people slide from foolish to evil because sin is like gravity, okay? If you don’t pursue wisdom eventually foolishness pulls you toward evil. This is why, when evil happens, someone needs to do what Jesus did, and get in the middle to protect the innocent. This is love, and some people say, “How could a loving God judge people? How could a loving God send people to hell?” How could a loving God not? I’ve got a door on my home, and if you kick it down, I will get between you and my family because I love them. God has a family and he has a home, and if you wanna be part of the family, you’re welcome in the home, but if you want to harm the family, you will deal with the father. I need you parents to have this category. If somebody says, “Hey, can your kids come stay the night at our house?” You better get to know the family. This used to happen all the time to us, we have five little kids. People come up in church and be like “Hey, could your kids come stay the night at our house?” Nope. Why? I don’t know you? Oh, what do you think? It’s a dangerous place? That’s what I assume until I know otherwise, when it comes to a little kid. People in places I believe are unsafe until I confirm they are safe, because if I’m going to air with the child, I’m going to err on the side of safety and caution.
– [Audience] Amen.
– You need to keep this category, that some people are evil, that some people are dangerous. They’re not beyond God’s help, but they may be beyond your help. I’ll give you two examples, and I wanna drive this home and I wanna encourage all of you, but especially you men to have a heart for women and children. I was a brand new pastor, I’ve been a senior pastor, half my adult life, 25 years. And I was a young pastor, and there was somebody in our church that a relative of theirs got convicted as a predatory sex offender, pedophile, child abuser, molester. And they wanted me to talk to them as they were headed to their prison sentence. So I went to meet with him, and I sat down with this person and I asked him, I said, “Are you guilty?” And they actually smiled, and it was more like bragging, they said, “Yes,” there was no guilt. And I said, “Well, did something happen to you when you were little, did someone abuse you, did something happen to you that caused this? They said, “Not that I know of.” So I looked at this man, and it was like looking into the face of the devil. I asked him, I said, “Then why do you hurt children?” He smiled, and he said, “I like to break them.” I looked at him, I said, “Sir, I’m glad you’re going to prison, and if you don’t meet Jesus, you’re going to hell, and I don’t feel bad about that, because I don’t want you to be with kids forever until there’s a nature change, a mind change, a heart change. The old you needs to die.” Most horrifying moment that I can remember in pastoral ministry, I was preaching six sermons a Sunday. And by the last one, I don’t even know what I was talking about. People call up and be like, I don’t agree with what you said, was like, I don’t agree with what I say, I don’t even know what I’m talking about. It’s the sixth one, men . I had a young woman, she just turned 18, I think she was a college student, she came up to me. I was literally in the front row, band is playing, and she comes up to me, she said, “Pastor Mark turned 18.” Oh congratulations, she was a new Christian. I bought her first Bible, she was part of our church family. And she said, “My whole life, I wanted to meet my dad, I never met my dad, my mom always said, you can’t meet your dad, your dad’s a bad guy.” And she said, “So when I turned 18, I found my dad.” I said really? She said “Yeah.” She said,” I flew out and met him.” Now the band is playing, I got to go up and preach. I said, “What happened?” She said, “He raped me.” I literally started to throw up, I’m a dad, I got little girls. And I just started weeping, I just broke. I just said, “Sweetheart, I am so sorry, that is not the father heart of God, I am so sorry.” This world is not a safe place, and it is not filled with all good people. Okay? And I need you to have that category. you hear that? What is that? That’s a baby, it got born, and needs to be protected.
– [Audience] Amen
– Amen, amen. Here’s the conclusion, bad news for good people, if you’re good, you don’t need God. You’re good, you don’t need Jesus, if you’re good, you don’t need to change, that’s bad news for you. Romans 3:18 through 20. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” What about God? I judge God, I ignore the Bible, I’m a good person, this doesn’t apply to me. Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law. Just so you know, there is a law and there is a law-giver, so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable. This is a day of judgment to whom? To God. Or by works of the law, what we do, our social justice, our work-ism, our cause-ism our religious self-righteousness, nothing. By works, no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. If you read this book accurately it shows you how bad you are, and how good God is. And it gives you a diagnosis that should create in you a crisis that should send you running to Jesus for forgiveness. And what we live in is this day where everyone is talking about, what about justice? What about justice? What about justice? Great, how about God’s justice? Before we have our justice, how about he gets His justice? Think of it in this way, everyone is so aware of all the ways that I’ve been aired against, or sinned again, so look what they said, or look what they did, or look at how much has been done to me. Look at God. God has never done anything wrong to anyone, and everyone has only done wrong to God, that God has experienced injustice at a level that is greater than all of human history combined offending one another. And ultimately, if we believe in justice we believe that God has a right to His justice. And I’m just sick of people are walking around and saying I’m a victim. And not first saying, I’m a villain. I have a problem with people saying, here’s all the things they’ve done wrong, without starting with the things that they have done wrong. It is repentance of our sin, not their sin, it is His judgment, not our judgment that we should concern ourselves with. And he says that there is no fear of God, there is no recognition of God, there is no awareness of God. And you’re stupid until you meet God, you are stupid until you… you may be educated, but you are not wise. And the result is the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, what it says is start with God, who God is, what God says, what God does, that’s how you get wise. And what he’s saying here is that there is an external authority, and you will be judged by that law, and that law does not change. Furthermore, there is a day of judgment. And when that day of judgment comes, no one will be defending themselves, all mouths will be silenced. You can’t stand before God say, “Well, it was a genetic disposition, my parents were bad. I grew up in an unjust culture, it was systemic, and not my fault. Somebody hurt me when I was little,” there will be no excuse when we stand before God, all mouths will be silent, guilty. Think of it in this way, sin, rebellion is so horrific, just look at what God does. Satan and demons sin first, they get cast out of God’s presence, Jesus doesn’t come for them, Jesus doesn’t die for them, Jesus doesn’t rise for them, there is no hope for them, there is no grace for them, there is no salvation for them, there’s only hell for them. We should get what they got, that’s justice, instead, we get Jesus, and that is grace. And it’s crazy grace, we then sin against God, and the result is death. When someone does something bad, we give them a death sentence, God looked at humanity and gave humanity a death sentence. The only way that God could stop us from sinning is to stop us from living. And then the whole planet is cursed, every inch of creation is infected and affected by our sin, and then Jesus Christ comes to the earth and God has to die to fix the problem we have made. If you’re a good person, then why did Jesus die? If you can fix your problem, then why did Jesus die? Furthermore, hell will be built, it’s a narrow path and a narrow door, few, enter it and pass through it. And then God is going to set this planet on fire and start over. So one of two things are true, God is overreacting or we are under-reacting. I’m gonna bring the band up. And I know you’re thinking, what song are we gonna sing now? I believe most people are good. That was an hour of bad news, now I got two minutes of good news. The next word we’re going to get into it next week, come back. The next word is, but oh, okay, good, good, good. And then He says, “But Jesus Christ.”
– [Audience] Whew.
– Whew. Okay, so, oh finally some good news. All right, I need a low keys, come on, give little keys, little drum load, tatala tatata, these people have put up with a lot, they’ve been yelled at by a crazy middle-aged man for an hour, they needed any low little groove, give me a little groove. Okay, here we go. I have good news for all you bad people, number one, I am all wrong, but Jesus Christ, He made it all right. Amen?
– [Audience] Amen. I am unrighteous, see you agree with me on that point, don’t you? Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ made me righteous. Thank you Jesus, okay. I am worse than I can imagine, but Jesus Christ is better than I can fathom. Amen?
– [Audience] Amen. Hey, this is not golf, we don’t do golf claps for Jesus. All right, I know you’re in Scottsdale but you gotta graduate to college football. I am my problem, but Jesus Christ is my solution, I am God’s enemy, but Jesus Christ made me family. I am a child of the devil but Jesus Christ made me a child of God. Amen? I am under the wrath of God but Jesus Christ put me under the grace of God.
– [Audience] Amen. I am a sinner, Jesus Christ is my savior. I am dead, Jesus Christ makes me alive and I was headed to hell but Jesus is taking me to heaven, amen?
– [Audience] Amen