Our debt is great enough to sink us but God loves us too much to leave us buried in it. Christ lived a perfect life and took our debt to the cross. There is now no condemnation and our debt has been erased.
Speaker(s): Pastor John Love
Sermon # 11646
11:00 AM on 3/17/2019
I almost took the offer to do the translating! I thought to myself I speak French, merci! And Russian, spasiba! But I’m afraid that’s all the people would get, those two words. Every country I go to, I always know one word and if I say it with a fairly good accent they say, you speak! No, just one word. Please, go home!
Rom. 7, in the latter half of this seventh chapter, Paul speaks in a language we can all understand and identify with. He’s talking about the spiritual dilemma, the spiritual warfare he experienced in his life. One brother said we are walking civil wars, the Spirit warring against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit.
vs. 15. Have you ever done something you hated and hated to do it and knew you shouldn’t but did it anyway? I get a kick out of these people that talk about the willful sin found in the book of Hebrews. It says if we sin willfully. They say all the other sins are covered but not the willful sin. I think every sin we commit is willful. All of them. Paul said I don’t want to do that which I hate.
vs. 16-18. No good thing means nothing that constitutes righteousness in the sight of God. Relatively speaking it may be good. You could hold the door open for someone who needs the door held. There’s no good thing in me, so I’ll let the door go. No! Bless someone. Help someone.
Gal 6:10. What Paul is talking about is nothing good that would gain us merit in the sight of a holy God. It doesn’t matter how many brownies you bake or how many elderly you help cross the street.
vs. 19-25 that builds up to this great crescendo.
Rom 8:1 there is now no condemnation to anyone in Christ Jesus. What a promise from God. What a deliverance God has given us just through that one promise.
We were in D.C. last night and someone asked me, Washington, D.C. we were in it and Boston and New York. Which one of those three cities do you enjoy the most? I would have to say New York. There is so much to see and do. It’s so big. You could eat at a different restaurant 365 days a year and never go to the same one twice. You know what I say? Let’s try it! New York City. What a place. If you want a view of the skyline, go to the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want some form of entertainment, go to Broadway. If you want to be inspired, go out to the Statue of Liberty. The cheapest way is the Staten Island ferry. Once back to Manhattan, all your money will be gone! If you want to go shopping, go to Fifth Avenue but bring your credit cards. If you want to be shocked, overwhelmed, depressed, I know some of you are saying go watch the Knicks! I’m not saying that because we have the worst record in the MBA. P. Cooper is covering it right now, but I’d rather be with you. If you want to be discouraged or depressed, this is where you need to go, the corner of 6th Avenue and 43rd Street. You will spend a few minutes looking up at the U.S. debt clock. It’s a 25 foot long sign. It weighs 1,500 pounds and uses 300 light bulbs and declares the U.S. debt and every family’s share of it. It’s horrible. It’s our debt. It’s in the trillions. Which is why I hope we had a good offering! They are talking about taking that sign down because we need to build a bigger one. If debt was a title wave, we would all be sucked out to sea. Why bring out the debt clock? What if heaven had one? Think about it.
Jesus in Mt. 6 said pray, Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Oftentimes, sin and debt are used interchangeably. Every time we fail or sin, imagine the counter in heaven clicking after each infraction. We lie. Click. We steal. Click. We gossip. Click. We lust. Click. We demand our own way. Click. How many years have I been alive and how many times has that debt clock clicked in the presence of heaven? We know the serious consequences of sin.
Isaiah 59:2 your sins and iniquity have separated you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. The map in heaven is simple. Heaven is a perfect place for perfect people. The problem is you and I are a perfect mess. Every day brings more sin. It brings more questions much like the Apostle Paul had. Who shall deliver me? How am I going to get out of this mess? It’s like every day you wake up and if you could hear heaven’s debt clock, you would hear another click and another click and be overly concerned, the kind you lose sleep over and can’t find rest. It’s a moral debt people experience. It sends them into a frenzy of good works. I’ve got to make sure I pay that debt down. There has got to be something that can reverse that debt clock. We know people like this or maybe we were like this. We sensed our debt before God. We went to church.
Last night we were in Washington and I covered for the chaplain for the Washington Wizards. I walked into the building and the coach used to play for the Knicks. He saw me and goes, Pastor Love, what are you doing where? Are we playing the Knicks tonight? I said no, I got a promotion! I’m just kidding. Your chaplain couldn’t be here. I had a great chapel service with two teams I didn’t care about. This woman sitting beside us with two children and I said I’m covering. I work with a team up in New York. What do you do? I said I’m a chaplain. Oh! She kept drinking a particular beverage and by the end of the night, she as a Catholic gave me confession. She said bless me father for I have sinned! I said honey, me too! I don’t know if I can help you out. I can tell you the good news about Jesus. This is not a confessional booth. By the time she left, she was hugging and saying thank you.
Good works! She said to me a couple times, I’m trying to be a good person. She may be one of those people who has turned herself into a frenzy of doing good things for God with the hope to pay down her moral debt. I hear heaven’s debt clock ticking against me. These people caught up in this good works system becomes an unending pursuit to do enough. Within each of their hearts lie this nagging question. Have I done enough? Have I reversed the direction of that debt in the sight of God? Other people, there are two categories. Those who throw themselves into good works but others respond with unbelief. It’s just impossible. You can’t please the God you speak about. You could never do enough. So they say there is no God and embrace atheism. The other group embraces legalism.
One time we were in New York having a chapel service and Rachel Canino our secretary at that time came with us. She sits at the table with other members of the media. They say who are you with? She said the chaplain program. One of them, a curious member of the media, said can I ask you a couple questions? Isn’t it hard to be a Christian? She said, no. It’s impossible! We can’t do it but Christ does it for us. …it is impossible.
Those that move into that group called the unbelievers, they say forget about it. You can’t satisfy this God you speak about so clearly. He must not exist. You have the legalistic and the atheist. The workers who are so desperate to impress God and the unbelievers who are convinced there isn’t a God. We know the weariness that comes from legalism and the loneliness that comes from atheism.
Are despair and unbelief the only options? Praise God there is an answer. Rom 8:1 the declaration of what Christ finished on the cross. It’s right to the heart of the matter. No condemnation! No condemnation! How can God say such a thing? Doesn’t he understand the great debt we are faced with? Paul does to. He cries out in the seventh chapter.
Everything changed on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. We are not told when Paul realized the meaning of grace, but at some point Paul got grace or better still, grace got Paul. It’s so much better when grace gets ahold of you and changes the way you see yourself or others. (Good teaching!). Praise the Lord. I’ll get you that coffee afterwards! Paul said our debt is great enough to sink us. God loves us to much to sink us. Leave it to God to find a way to save us. God steps forward and sets the standard for the world. When you see that standard and know we don’t meet it, you recognize the true nature of sin. The world doesn’t set the standard. God does. This is God’s world. Sinful people say this is how we can approach God. Where did you come to that conclusion? It’s God’s house and he determines what the rules are. This is God’s world. He sets the standard when it comes to salvation and for meeting the requirement, God sets the standard. The world wants to change the standard. It’s all about moral relativism. As long as you are better than this guy over here you are good. Hang around as many bad people as you can and you will come out smelling like a rose! We have failed to meet the standard. So has every other human being that ever lived. Christ succeeded in a way you and I can’t identify. He never sinned.
2 Cor 5:21, can you imagine, no sin? None. We can’t even identify with that. All we have known is sin. Even growing up in his home, what was that like for his own brothers and sisters? If he worked in his father’s carpenter shop, everything he made must have been perfect. In my family of eight children, if someone was having a bad day, – give me that, pass that. Do you think you’re God? I AM that I AM! Can’t even imagine never sinning in his thought life. Never sinning in his relationship with other human beings. Incredible. The standard God sets is found only in the person of Christ. Christ is God’s standard. Compared to Christ, we hear the clock ticking in heaven. He is perfect and we are a perfect mess. He is holy and we know we are not. His character is flawless and we are flawed. He can’t overlook it because he is a God of justice. What can be done here? If you read the Scriptures carefully, that’s why God sent his Son. That perfect life Christ lived is a substitute for our imperfect life. At the moment we exercise faith in the person of Christ…
Abraham believed God and it was credit unto him for righteousness. What did you do? Nothing. I believed God. When you believe God, you realize you haven’t done anything. You could say that’s Abraham. He heard the debt clock ticking away just like we have. Every time he cursed his camel or flirted with his handmaid or said where are you taking me? She’s not my wife; she’s my sister. Click, Click, click. He was not. The father of our faith was sinful and flawed and could hear heaven’s debt clock clicking away. He believed God. At that moment, his debt clock went to zero.
The moment you and I believe God, our debt clock goes to zero. We didn’t do anything. We didn’t step into the group of legalism working harder and looking for God’s approval or this group that gave up and said no God would set such a high standard. I’m not going into legalism or atheism. God finds a way to take my debt clock all the way back to zero. He’s too just to overlook our sin and too loving to dismiss it. He took our sin and placed it on his own Son and punished our sin on him. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? You are now bearing the sins of the entire human race. My sins and your sins. Everyone’s sins. God set the standard. God determined the ground rules. It’s God’s house and his world. You got to do it his way and believe that message that it is finished. No condemnation. You think about it.
Mt 15 at the moment of Christ’s death so much occurred. One miracle in particular it says Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last breath and the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This veil in the temple was not cheap curtains bought at Kmart. It’s not something you could tear apart. This veil separated the people from the most holy place, the presence of God. It had been there for centuries. It was 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. This was a wall of fabric. God placed his own hands on that veil and from top which tell us he is above us to all the way to the bottom, he made a way for sinful people to live before him. No more veil. No more veil which for you and I means no more division, no more separation, no more sacrifices, no more condemnation, no more condemnation.
Whatever barrier has separated you from God, it’s gone. Gone is the fear of falling short of this great and glorious God. Gone is the anxious quest to do more and become right in our behavior. Gone is the “have I done enough before God?” We can go to the legalist and rest now. You can glory in the cross and what Christ has done in our behalf. You can find rest. To the atheist, we say there is hope for you. One group finds rest and the other finds hope. Everyone can find salvation. Our God is not a God of burdens. He is a God of rest. The next time you lose your temper, you can hear Christ say I paid for that. Or you look at something you shouldn’t and he said I died for that. You tell a lie and the Savior says my debt covered my sin. Salvation from beginning to end is a work of the Father. God doesn’t speak from that mountain and say do the best you can but with every effort try to climb up here. He comes down into our valley and tries to find us. Just hop on my back. I’ll get us to that mountain, to where you need to be. I’ll get you through that hump, that trial and that test.
Thank God he doesn’t offer to pay off all the debts. Imagine if he said I‘ll pay off all the debt except a dollar. He pays every single penny. He doesn’t say you start it. I’ll finish it. I’ll start the work, I’ll undertake the work and finish the work. I know all you are able to do is believe me and that will make you the righteousness of God in Christ. When God gives righteousness, it’s the gift of righteousness. He doesn’t tell us to clean up our lives. He washes our sins without our help. That’s the kind of God we serve.
I love a question posed to an elderly woman. A cynical man said can you be sure of your eternal salvation? How can you be so certain? You lived a good life and dedicated your whole life all these years. How can you be sure God won’t let you sink into hell? He would lose so much more than I would lose. I would lose my own soul, but he would lose his good name.
God’s whole name, nature, and essence he has put out there for the whole world to see. If he cannot make us righteousness and perfect us and reverse the direction of the debt clock, he loses his reputation. God is not about to let that happen. When it comes to his good name, he will uphold it. He will make sure the world understands he makes a covenant and doesn’t break it. That grace will be sufficient for every need in life. What a gift he has given us.
We can live with the understanding our souls are secure and our salvation guaranteed. What we could never do, God has already done. Don’t let guilt simmer in your soul like a toxin. Internalize God’s promise which says right now no condemnation. Not now. Not at any point in the future. Internalize that promise and take it to your debt clock and celebrate it. The debt I owed and could never paid is gone forever.
How great it would be for us to walk to the corner of 6th Avenue and 43 Street and see it down to zero. That probably won’t happen but our debt clock is at zero today. Just because we believed God and took this one promise with our name on it. I’ll wrap my soul with every fabric of my being and put this promise on like a parachute. It will carry me through the rest of my life. I’ll follow it with goodness and mercy and make sure they trail you all the days of your life.
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