You may know a sheep from a swine, when both have fallen into the same mire, and are, in fact, so bemired, that neither by coat nor color can the one be distinguished from the other.
How then distinguish them? Nothing more easy!
The sheep, a type of the godly, strives and struggles to get out of the muck.
But the swine, in circumstances agreeable to its nature, wallows in the filth.
What the true proverb says has happened to them: The dog returns to its own vomit, and the swine, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire. – 2 Peter 2:22
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:22- 25
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells. – Romans 7:18
The depravity of our fallen nature is, and will be, universally and always felt during our present earthly state. It insinuates into, and mixes with all our thoughts, and all our actions. It is inseparable from us, as the shadow from our bodies when the sun shines upon us.
The holiness of a Christian does not consist in a deliverance from our sin nature, but in being sensible of it, striving against it, and being humbled under it; and taking occasion from thence to admire our Savior, and rejoice in Him as our complete righteousness and sanctification.
The grace of God puts a great deal into the heart, but it takes nothing out. Nature and grace, flesh and spirit, will antagonize each other to the end of life. Therefore the life of a believer, while in the body, is a continual state of warfare.
The apostle felt a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. He would do good, but evil was present with him. He groaned, being burdened.
When we first set out, we hope to be spiritually rich–but the Lord’s purpose is to make us sensible of our extreme poverty. We wish to be something–but He is teaching us that we are nothing.
When indeed we are willing to be nothing, that He may be all in all, in us and for us–then I think we reach the very acme of holiness. Then, while we feel that we have no sufficiency of ourselves, we shall be enabled to do all things that occur in the line of duty, through Him strengthening us.
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. -Romans 8:33-34 (ESV)
This Easter, Bethel Grace Baptist Church celebrated the truth that Jesus Christ saves sinners. Furthermore, He is uniquely qualified, and more than competent, to defend their case against satanic opposition (Rev. 12:10). Jesus is the one who died, who was raised, and who was exalted to His Father’s right hand in Messianic glory. Christ saves, preserves, and defends his people on the basis of His crucifixion, resurrection, and coronation.
To close the sermon, I posed five questions hoping to drive home the point that we are secure in Christ. Each question has the same glorious answer. I pray these five questions, by drawing attention to the one recurring answer, will fortify and encourage every believing heart.
When you’re on Satan’s hit list, and that time of spiritual warfare is at hand, who is the one that can be your sure defense? Christ Jesus is the One.
When you’re walking through the shadowed valley, and the storm clouds of the curse gather and life becomes dim, and you feel the heaviness of it all, and unseen spiritual enemies perceive your weakened state and unite to do you harm, who is the one at your side, who can guide you with His staff and protect you with His rod? Christ Jesus is the One.
When that hour of temptation comes when sin entices you, and your flesh wants to give in, who is the one who can provide for you a clear way of escape, giving you the clarity and the perspective that you need to say, “No” to sin and stay on the path of obedience and blessing? Christ Jesus is the One.
When you let your sin get the best of you, and you stumble into transgression, and you, as a Christian, do what your soul hates, and you are discouraged and downtrodden asking yourself “Why have I done that again?” When you despise yourself under this oppression of sin, who is the one who loves you still, who will scatter your accusers, who will lift you back up to your feet, and hold on to you, and prop you up, and see you through, and restore you to that path of blessing and holiness and joy in the Lord? Christ Jesus is the One.
When the time comes, and your body expires, and your soul departs, and you go before the awesome throne of the Living God and find your soul quaking before the majesty and the glory and the immensity of appearing before the pristine purity of God Almighty, who is the one who can present you faultless, sinless, perfect, and righteous in the midst of the sound of mighty shouts of joy? Christ Jesus is the One!
-Pastor Jeff Saltzmann, Bethel Grace Baptist Church
His mom had laid out the situation. The room was to be clean by 4:00 p.m. If he completed the job on time, his mom would buy him movie tickets so he could go out with his friends. If he did not finish on time, he would be grounded for a week. At 4:00 p.m. he had not even started to clean the room, and he was grounded. What was astonishing was what he did when he finished serving his time. He walked up to his mother and said, “my punishment has been paid, now give me my movie tickets.” The request was absurd. Even though the penalty had been paid, he never fulfilled what was required to receive the reward.
We have all come into this world under certain requirements. We are called to live a righteous life. If we accomplish it, there is blessing, and if not, there is cursing. The problem is that Adam was unsuccessful, along with everyone who came after him. You and I have failed to inherit eternal life and have merited nothing but wrath. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
No one had been successful until Jesus took on flesh and walked among us. He came, lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law. Then he went and died for our sins. He took our sins upon himself on the cross, becoming a curse for us. He bore the wrath that we deserved, but bearing our sins is not all he did. If it were, we would be like the young man asking for the reward after our punishment had been paid but having no claim to it. This shortcoming is why it is so important to understand that our justification involves two imputations: for those who have faith, our sins are imputed to Christ, and his righteousness is imputed to us.
Righteousness is more than guiltlessness. As our representative, Jesus not only bore our punishment and forgives us of our sins, but he also earned the reward by fulfilling what needed to be done. His righteousness is counted as ours. Because of this, we are not simply sinners who can no longer be punished. Instead, we are counted as those who had fulfilled the law, and we become co-heirs with Christ. Even now there is an inheritance being kept for us: one that can never perish, spoil, or fade.
When we stand before the Lord one day, we will have no merit of our own. We will stand and say, “it is because of what the Lord Jesus did in my place that I am declared righteous.” It is true that we will grow in righteousness as believers here and now, but the righteousness we attain in this life will never be the basis upon which we have a right standing before the Lord. Like Abraham, it is through faith that we are declared righteous, and it will always be Christ’s righteousness.
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.-Romans 5:19