Monday, October 21, 2013


Jer.17: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

This is a verse that informs us of a fact that all who have been redeemed should know not only because we believe God’s Word, but also we know it by personal experience. If we are honest we can give testimony as to just how wicked our hearts are in the natural. In fact, our hearts are so very wicked that it only elevates the miraculous power of God’s Spirit who changed us and gave us a new heart. And that new heart is not of our own making or by turning over a new leaf. No, it is an eternal miracle which will redound to the glory of God forever!

But without a complete understanding of our sinfulness we can never even approach a rich understanding of our “so great salvation”. Let us be clear here. In the natural we are fallen and there is “no good thing” that dwells within us. That includes any and all our so called good works which when done in the flesh are poisoned by our self righteousness and our fallen motives. This doctrine of our fallen natures is very difficult for many to understand and embrace. We are so given to minimize our sin and elevate our good intentions. It is sometimes difficult to see someone giving to the poor and have it be worthless in God’s sight while someone else can give to the poor and have it glorify God. The difference is in Jesus’ name.

But only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us which is which. I suggest all of us who have been born again have done worthless good works because of mixed motives and yet we have done good works in Jesus’ name and by His Spirit and with humility which redound to His eternal glory. It is not an easy proposition and it requires an awareness of how our flesh seeks to appear religious and force its way into every area of our lives. I am not suggesting it is impossible, but I am suggesting that truly serving Jesus must have a foundation of self denial, self sacrifice, much prayer, and a humility which seeks absolutely no publication or glory for ourselves. The greatest works a believer can do for Jesus are usually unpublished and without one sliver of light shined upon us.

There are three main reasons why people are prone to gloss over this truth. One is because we are colossally ignorant of the holiness of God. In fact just ask the average believer about the definition of holiness and you may well hear all kinds of works definitions. Since we have no holiness of our own we are blind to the essence of holiness. Only the Spirit can illuminate us as to the holiness, and even then much of what we know is accentuated because we realize how much we do not know. What am I saying? I am strongly saying that when the Spirit opens our hearts and minds to God’s holiness not only do we understand much more than we once realized, but we also see just how limited our knowledge is this side of eternity. That is quite a sacred and liberating awakening.

Another reason is that we fail to fully comprehend the depth of what sin actually is. We have imprisoned sin in an earthly box and made it a set of do’s and don’ts. But sin is a profound evil which is far greater in its evil than just a breaking of some moral rule. Sin is the cause of all the evil on earth and it began with one seemingly small act of disobedience. Why would God curse the earth and why would spiritual death be transferred to every human soul just because Adam took a bite of one piece of fruit? Does that not seem a little harsh and extreme? But if we are only satisfied with the surface answer then we have completely missed the point which is that even the “smallest” sin is a monstrous affront to the holiness of God Almighty.

A man robs a bank when he fifty years old and when arrested he wonders why he is being persecuted since for fifty years he did not commit any crimes. A bride is undone because a spot of black ink the size of a quarter was spilled on her wedding dress. You see, even a little sin can ruin an entire life or event. And magnify that a million times over and you may get a small glimpse into how sin affects eternally the relationship between the Creator and us His creation. And since we have no holiness of our own we cannot help but minimize sin because we tend to evaluate it by earthly comparisons. So I am not as bad as Charles Manson because his sin is worse than mine. That is fallen thinking.

And lastly we fail to see accurately our own situation as it pertains to sin. And in that we understand redemption and the price that was paid in a surface and incomplete and human way. What did it take to redeem your own soul? If it was just you would Christ only have to have shed a few drops of blood? Again, that is carnal and even self serving thinking. If you were the only sinner for which Christ died nothing would have changed. The gospel narratives of the death and resurrection of Christ would remain exactly the same. You see, when we are limited in our view of our own redemption through the grace of God we almost always are blind to the profound and diabolical essence of sin and especially our own sin.

It is one thing to have your sin theologically orthodox, but it is quite another to have a divine revelation of your sin completely affect the way you see redemption and the way you see other sinners. It does not mean we condone sin, but it does mean that it tempers the way in which we reach out to lost sinners and also how we approach our Heavenly Father in prayer. God hates pride which seems to be the one constant in almost every sin. But make no mistake, only one of your own sins would have plunged the world into spiritual death. Yes, when you are driving a few miles over the speed limit you are committing a sin that is equal to what Adam committed.

But this teaching is not so we can feel defeated. This is so we can see how great is our God and how majestic is our Redeemer. This business of eternal salvation is much greater than the human mind can comprehend. The cross was not just some example of how someone can die for a cause. No, millions of animals in the Old Testament were sent twitching into a painful and bloody death as a covering for sin. But in Christ that sin was vanquished and paid in full for whosoever would believe. And if we understand just a fraction of how criminal our sin is, then we can understand just a fraction of what Jesus suffered.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, this is a fantastic reminder to us. I've met several unbelievers who adamantly, persistently, and repetitively insist that they've never every done anything wrong in their life. They are unbelievers, yet I see this attitude seeping and creeping into the mindset of those who call themselves christians. The big question they like to throw out is "what's wrong with that???" The real point is "what's right about that". To the left is our own utter depravity, to the right is God's ultimate perfection, but many of the 'churched' refuse to see that. They only read the blessings and prosperity snippets in their bible.

Cherie c said...

Thank you Pastor Rick for preaching Law and Grace. You dare to go where others do not for fear of offending.

We so need to hear this. May God continue to use you in His Good work.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Romans 3:10 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE;

Psams 143:1 A Psalm of David. Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness.
:2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
:3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those who have long been dead.
:4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed.
:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.
:6 I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
:7 Answer me speedily, O LORD; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
:8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.
:9 Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; In You I take shelter.
:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
:11 Revive me, O LORD, for Your name's sake! For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
:12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict my soul; For I am Your servant.

Luk 5:36 Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.
Luk 5:37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.
Luk 5:38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
Luk 5:39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.' "

I do not want to go back to my old ways.


Chris Baumgart said...

The Bible teaches us that holy creatures can sin and sinful creatures can become holy. The biggest mistake for the believer is that they are in a bondage to sin. That there is no escape. Christ is our Redeemer, Jesus is our sanctification. Through faith, abiding in Him, His Holiness, is key to overcoming that temptive moment. This is not stressed enough in the pulpits.... Who did Jesus abide in? God the Father, completely. Jesus says in the Word if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. He also says there is no one good, not even Him, but only God the Father. It may take sometime in ones walk to get a solid grasp of this revealed truth because of having to undo the poor doctrines taught by others, but once you do, you will have a better understanding of how the Holy Spirit brings this to bear, in a real sense to living this out day to day. Pride is crushed, humility thrives and you are on your way. Paul says, you have not been tempted onto blood, all of us can say we fail, but be encouraged that the Person and work of Jesus Christ is here for us to truly overcome sin and enjoy the fruits of a clean heart. Keep your eyes on the prize, run to win... Love Him and do.

Annette said...

Thank-You Pastor Rick for this reminder of what we truly are without our LORD Jesus Christ.

Sinful and depraved with no hope....until the Blood of the Lamb was shed for thee. Oh, how Jesus loves us so.