Romans chapter 7, basically what I’d like to share with you as I’ve been working on this the last three weeks is what I call the backbone of all the scriptures. In fact, the law of God for some people has become like people that goes through the store, how they look at labels and they go, I don’t want it if it has any of that in it. Too much salt, too much trans-fat, or whatever. There are some people that think the law is something that you shouldn’t consume because it’s not good for you. That’s actually not what the scriptures say. What I’d like to show you is a comprehensive look at where the law fits in the whole revelation of God in that book we’re holding.
Our God, the infinite God of the universe has revealed Himself to us. Remember, God is a spirit. He is not made of material. He is an infinite spirit that is everywhere present. He said, no one can see Him or shall see Him physically. Now in Heaven, we will see Him and become like Him for we’ll see Him as He is, but you cannot with physical means; telescopes, microscopes, cyclotrons, or eyes see Him. He has revealed Himself to us through His attributes. The attributes are the revelation of God’s character, His moral character through the scriptures. We can see some of His attributes reflected in the universe, orderliness. The infinite God is greater than all of this universe and all of its power collectively, He’s greater than all of it together, and all that. But specifically, through His attributes, the 20 some of them that are in the scriptures. Here’s the important thing, God is revealed in His attributes, but He is reflected in His law.
What is the law? The word law in the Old Testament, the first time it shows up it’s the word, and you’ve all heard this word, Torah. A lot of people think Torah is a Jewish word for something they do. It’s actually a Hebrew word for what God does. Torah is the divine teaching of a teacher. God steps forward in the Bible through Moses in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, introducing His attributes and showing how His eternal character is reflected for humans to understand through His law. Torah is the teachings of a teacher. The more elevated the teacher is, the more important what he’s taught is. Can there be anybody’s teaching above the infinite God of the universe? No.
God has revealed Himself in His attributes.
He’s reflected Himself in the law.
He’s illustrated through all of these ceremonies and rules that we read about in the Old Testament.
He’s illustrated Himself in a lot of ways. For example, what the incarnated God in human flesh would look like. We’ll see that, that’s in the tabernacle. What the sacrifice on the cross would look like. We see that in all of those Levitical sacrifices. What He wants from our lives, we see that in all the ceremonies of the Sabbath observance. All of those judicial and ceremonial laws are just illustrations. All of the moral laws are just a reflection of His attributes.
So the question, what is our response? When the divine teacher speaks, when the God of the universe says, this is what I want, what should be our response?
Basically, it tells us the simple answer to any question we would have, especially what’s right and wrong.
There was a monumental book written by a professor at Harvard University. He’s not a believer, he’s a pagan, he’s probably an atheist, et cetera. But about 11 years ago, he wrote a monumental book in the realm of the law. What he said his premise was, 10 years ago, that all of Western culture is eroding at the same rate, that religion is receding. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but more than global warming is religious recession. They’re all talking about the glaciers receding. Do you know what’s receding faster than the glaciers? I’m talking about Western Judeo Christian biblically based laws reflecting the scriptures. They’re just evaporating like water in California, extinct almost. What his premise was, he says we’re going to see a dissolution of Western society. I thought, yeah, I’ve read Revelation, I know it’s going to dissolve. He said, it’s like this; it says the Judeo-Christian laws were like control rods in the reactor and the more societal engineers have withdrawn the old fashioned God stuff out of everything, out of business, out of education, out of entertainment, out of media, the more you pull the control rods out an uncontrolled reaction starts. That is defined by God as sin, because all unrighteousness, all transgressions of the law is sin. If you don’t let people know what God’s law is, they will multiply like a reactor out of control. That’s what his premise was.
How do you determine what is right and what is wrong? Basically, God tells us He’s a simple answer to everything. The absolute way to determine right and wrong is one way. God’s word is revealed that conformity to the moral character of God, as the creator and owner of everything, makes things right. So, you want to know what’s right in any realm? What’s right in any realm, does it conform to the moral character of God? How do you know what that is? That’s His law, it reflects it and all that God says. The law of the Lord is perfect. That means it never rots, it doesn’t wear out, it doesn’t get old, it has infinite shelf life. That’s how you know, what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s wrong? Any lack of conformity to God’s moral character makes things wrong. It’s just that simple.
Basically, conformity to God’s moral character equals what’s right. In any setting, in any question of whether something is right or wrong, the first answer will flow from; does it conform to the revealed moral character of God. Therefore, God has shown us how to find out what is right and what is wrong, first of all, through His attributes. That is the explanation of His moral character. God is love. God is holy. God is good. God is kind. God is merciful. God is just. We could go through all of those attributes of His moral perfections. Anything is good if it conforms to the expression of His moral goodness, His justice, His mercy, et cetera.
What is His law? It’s the application. Now notice this, the attributes explain the moral character, but the law applies the moral character. It’s almost like you start at the top. This is the character of God, the law flows from that character. You see? It’s tied together. That’s why those that think that God’s law was for some past time, it’s gone now we’re in this new time, that is absolutely foreign to the scriptures. Why? You go to the end, almost the very last chapter of the Bible is Revelation 21, do you know what God says? He says, those who have their part in the lake of fire, and He lists off all the expressions of His moral law, and it says they did not ever respond to my moral law. They became… and it’s this listing of liars, and murderers, and fornicators, and adulterers, and the effeminate, and abusers, and that’s how the Bible ends. God hasn’t forgotten His law. He hasn’t set it aside. He hasn’t said it’s irrelevant. He said, that’s my character. Do you think my character is going to change? My character is applied in my law.
What is all this stuff He gave to Israel? All those ceremonies, like break the pot, put the pigeon in, kill the pigeon, get the blood, put it on a little stick, and let the bird go when there’s two birds, and one’s alive. What is all that it’s to illustrate? God’s character in that one particularly, it’s showing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the law of cleansing the leper. All of those sacrifices, putting the hand on the head, finding a young male with no blemish and killing it, and completely burning it on the altar. What is all that? It is illustrations of God’s character of the cost of sin, of the separation that sin causes, and everything else. God is the source of right and wrong.
How has God revealed Himself? How do we know all this stuff?
God has told us in His word there’s only one living infinite, eternal God. He eternally exists as Father, Son, and Spirit. That’s Trinitarianism. We know that from everything we’ve ever learned, but God revealed Himself in two special ways. First of all, all around us, the orderliness, the laws. The fact that, as I told you three weeks, aphids. How did aphids evolve? If any ultraviolet light fries them and kills them, how many billions of generations of aphids went out in the light and got fried? How could they evolve into something else if they kept dying in ultraviolet light? How did they develop these hypersensitive eyes that can detect ultraviolet light? National geographic can’t even figure it out. That was the last month’s article about the amazing evolution of eyes, that all these creatures have eyes that exactly keep them alive. This man is an evolutionary ophthalmological student. All he studies are eyes of everything. He says, it’s unbelievable how their eyes have evolved. I thought, yeah, their eyes are a reflection in the general revelation of God, of His orderly, creative power showing itself in so many different ways.
But the greatest revelation is the special revelation. What is that? It’s the scriptures. And that’s where God has explained Himself in the scriptures by telling who He is, His attributes, and how He wants us to behave; His laws. When we can’t behave the way He wants us to, we flee to the one, the only one that can behave right, and that’s Christ. That’s why Paul, how did Paul sum up his life? Not I, but Christ. It’s not me, but Christ living in me. Every time he was aware of his sinfulness, he says, I can’t live your love, I can’t live your joy, I can’t live your kindness, I can’t but You in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory. That’s how God has revealed Himself.
God has revealed Himself. His attributes explain His character. His law applies it into our lives. All those ceremonies and rules that are filling the Old Testament are merely illustrating His changeless moral character.
Remember, the ceremonies and rules were given to Israel in the Exodus, coming out of Egypt, standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, that was dumped on them as a nation. What we can learn from them is all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction. We’re not under the ceremonies, we’re not under the rules, but God’s law never changes. I will illustrate that in a moment as we get a little further, but we have to get to Romans 7.
Let’s turn to Roman 7, we’re going to start in verse 12. We’re going to start reading and you follow along in your Bibles. As soon as you got it lets stand up. And as you stand with me, please listen to what God’s law reflects of His eternal character. Starting in verse 12, Romans 7 and verse 12.
This is Paul’s testimony. This is after Paul has ministered expansively and Paul saying, this is what a new Christian, New Testament, mature believer looks like. “Therefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Skip down to verse 14. “For we know the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Keep going down to verse 16. “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.” Verse 22, keep going down a little. “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” Verse 23. “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.” Verse 24. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The answer in the next verse. “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Now the ending. “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” That’s Paul’s definition of how he went through life. A new operating system. A mind with God’s law written on it, knowing what he was doing was not pleasing to God because he has His law written. His flesh wants to rebel. What does that do to him? He says, “O wretched man that I am.” What do I do? Look what it says in verse 25. “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Christ in me is my hope of glory.
Let’s bow for word of prayer.
Father, I pray that this amazing portion of your word would help us begin to glimpse the wonder of your attributes that are revealed in your word of your law, which just gives us a beautiful application of what your infinite character looks like in our lives, what you desire us to be. When we find it impossible we cling to Christ and say, I need you to live through me. Your love, your joy, your peace. I need the fruit of your Spirit prompting me to respond the way that pleases you. When I do it, you’re faithful and just ready to have forgiven me and to keep cleansing me. Teach us those wonders today. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
You may be seated. As you’re seated. Romans 7 says God’s law is forever good and holy. If you look back through 12, and 14, and 16, and 22, all the way through, God’s law is good and holy. Paul said, I delight in it, but my flesh doesn’t. There’s this constant conflict.
When he talks about law, remember I told you about looking at the back of the box and people say there’s something bad that we’re not supposed to have in the law, yeah look what it is. The 10 commandments are never said to be bad, they’re God’s law. Jesus said that. He says, the laws, the 10 commandments. The Pentateuch, Jesus calls God’s law, that’s all the first five books. All that stuff is the law of God, that it is perfect, it is true, it is right, it is never going away, either it’s a reflection or an illustration, but it’s still God’s character that is changeless. The entire Old Testament, by the time we get to Luke 24 just before Christ ascension, He says the whole Old Testament is God’s law, it’s the holy scripture. Which Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, all scripture is given by inspiration of God and all scripture, including Leviticus, and Ezekiel, and Hosea, and Amos is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, and righteousness.
What part is bad? It’s right here. Jesus spends an entire time, in multiple occasions but especially the first nine verses of Matthew 15 saying, the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees are not God’s law.
Why is that? Because those things are all about self-righteousness. That I write a law code I can keep, I keep it and I want you to keep it too. I become a policeman to say, hey, you shouldn’t be doing that. I don’t do that. You shouldn’t do that. There’s no writing of the law of God by God on our hearts, it is me making up rules that you’re supposed to keep to be self-righteous.
That’s where this term legalism comes from. Do you know what legalism means? Legalism has nothing to do with the way you dress or where you shop. It’s believing, in the biblical context, that if you get circumcised, you’ll go to Heaven. Wow, that’s amazing. How did they think that? They thought, if they had an external, visible sign of something, that it made a reality. They believed that offering sacrifices, or being circumcised, or following all the Sabbath day rules, and they thought righteousness was attained to external conformity. Jesus, remember last week, he said, no. It’s not the outside I’m concerned about, as much as the inside. I want you to have a new heart. I don’t want you to learn a set of rules and operate on this set of rules. Just like a minefield, you walk from rule to rule, and you keep them. You make sure Ba’al stays on the tiles with you. I want you to, from your heart, love me so much that you say; God, your holy word, your law reveals that’s wrong, I don’t want to do it. Not because anybody else is going to see, but because you’re watching and in my heart. I no longer want to do that.
What was wrong with the Pharisees is, that they had made the law keepable. God wanted the law unkeepable so it would lead people to Christ, so it would make us realize that apart from Him we can do nothing. What Jesus offers is this, as lost sinners we’re confronted with God’s law. It’s perfect. As soon as we run into something perfect, we fall short. If we’re honest. We’re all painfully aware, if we are honest, of our fallenness, our sinfulness, our weakness, our inability to keep God’s perfection. As lost sinners, we hate the light of His law exposing our sins. We hide from it, we cover our sins, and we find rules we can keep. We proudly keep them, but God’s law keeps declaring nothing we do apart from Christ could ever please God. So, what happens? We start being smitten by all of the awareness of the law of God that we break. We finally say, God, I can’t do anything and He points us to Christ, and we cling, and hold to Christ. Paul said this, he said, it’s not I but Christ living in me. Anytime that I’m not behaving correctly, it’s because it’s Paul doing it but anytime my life reflects God’s righteousness, it’s Christ living.
Do you know what Martin Luther said? Martin Luther was so practical, the great reformer. He said, what I do when I hear Satan knocking at the door is either I go and answer the door and I fail, or I tell Jesus to go answer the door and He always wins. That’s what Romans 7 is all about, inviting Christ to answer the door. God’s standard never changes. It’s just our response does. Before salvation, the law condemned us and killed us. After salvation, the law’s a delightful reminder God is perfect. God expects perfection, we are imperfect. Only when we cling to Christ as the perfection of God, do we find the hope of Christ righteousness and Christ in us, the hope of glory. Every time we sin we confess, agreeing that God’s law is truth and we failed again.
By the way, the whole grammar. This is one of the first lessons when you go to biblical Greek. I wish I would have known that because I took five years of the stuff, you learn it all the first day. 1 John 1:9 says this, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Greek, 1 John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us. You have actually three wonderful tenses of verbs that you can learn from.
Confess is what’s called present, active, indicative. I am constantly to be characterized by confessing.
Cleansing is also the same. I am constantly to be enjoying the shower of Christ cleansing.
Christ forgiving me is a past event that happened once, an aorist tense.
Jesus died once for all on the cross. He, in that moment, forgave. He offers the payment of forgiveness, never to be repeated. If I come to Him and say, I by faith, identify with your death on the cross for me, that you on that cross saw my life past, present, and future and you by one sacrifice forever completely paid the price for every sin. From 1956 through 2015, till the last day I breathe. Jesus paid it all once. Every time I sin the law of God reminds me that I don’t conform to the perfection of Christ. So I say, I agree with you God. Once again, I responded in an un-Christ-like way. I thought an un-Christ-like thought, I said an un-Christ-like word and Jesus said, I’ve already forgiven you of that. You don’t have to beg me, and you don’t have to flail yourself, and you’ll have to go through penance and mope around for quite a while, you don’t have to merit my forgiveness, I freely given it to you. What you do need to do, remember what Jesus said to Peter? He says, if you’ve taken a bath, you only need your feet washed. You only need the daily constant cleansing. It’s like when one of those big fat bugs by the swamps hits my windshield, I do not need to pull off, get in the lake, and wash the whole car. I just go swish with the windshield wipers. The cleansing is constantly needed. The forgiveness is once. The confession is ongoing. That’s how God’s law leads us to Christ.
Therefore, God’s law is a reflection, always around us, of His eternal attributes. Let me show you what I mean.
Here are the attributes, some of the attributes of God. In fact, we just spent five years as elders and deacons going through a systematic theology and these are attributes number 5, 6, and 7 and I’ll give you 8, 9, 10, 11, just to show you this is what God is. God is truthful and anytime I am not truthful in my life, I am reminded by God’s law that He hates falsehood. That’s the camp commandment, don’t bear false witness. We’re not supposed to ever be around false witnesses. Lying lips are always an abomination to God, Proverbs 12 says. By the way, all liars are going to go to the Lake of Fire. How do you know what’s lying? God defined it. God’s definition of anything is law because it’s absolute, it’s the final word. If God says I’m truthful. Anytime we’re not, what do I do? I say, I want your truthfulness. I surrender to you like the psalmist says. I set a watch at the door of my mouth; that I sin not against you with my tongue. And as Paul said, that we should be those who have graceful lips, that they’re controlled by the grace of God. So, this is the absolute, this is the explanation, the law. I say, whenever I’m not truthful, God, I have not been responding your way, cleanse me of that. This is what I want, I want Christ to live truthfulness out of me.
How about goodness? These are just some of the places God is good. The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100, you know that. Anything that God says is not good, is badness; if that’s a word, but you get the idea. All attitudes and actions that are evil, and filthy, and corrupt according to God are always sin. Even under grace God’s character does not change. He demands conformity to His goodness. Therefore, whenever I am not conformed to His goodness, I confess that I’ve crossed the line, that I have become like I’m not any longer to be, because I’m a new creation in Christ. I return with His cleansing, back instantly. Remember this, no matter how many steps away from God I take, it’s only one step back. Every time. One step back. If I confess He’s already forgiven, and He cleanses, and I’m right back at the starting point of His goodness. Christ in me, His truthfulness.
How about His love? God is love, so any selfishness, any harshness, any hatefulness is always sin. Whether I’m saved or lost, it’s always sin because it falls short of His perfection. For the unsaved person, they just keep racking it up. In fact, Ezekiel says that unsaved people are under an avalanche of sin. It’s a very graphic picture. It says their sins are pushing them down the hill toward Hell. For me, every time I do not allow Christ’s love to be flowing out through me, His law in my heart reminds me of that. That attitude, that look, that word, that response is not Christ-like. It makes me run back and cling to Him. To His love, to His goodness, his truthfulness.
It doesn’t end there, the 8th attribute that we studied in the systematic theology is gracefulness. mercifulness, and patience. That’s what it says in Exodus 34:6. The law says the explanation, see the law is explaining the attribute, so what does the law say? Gracelessness, because God is graceful when I’m graceless, it’s sin. When I’m merciless, it’s sin. When I am impatient, some people think that’s a virtue. It is not a virtue; it does not conform to God’s moral character. Every time I am impatient, every time I am merciless in my treatment of someone, or graceless in my response then I have to confess that I have come from God’s righteous standard. He says, I’ve already forgiven you of that in my great love where with I loved you. I say, cleanse me from that. I want nothing to grieve your gracefulness flowing through me, your mercifulness flowing through me, and your patience flowing through me. God is holy, Leviticus 19:2 says. Only those who follow after holiness are going to get to see God.
In fact, what did Jesus say when everyone is standing before Him at the judgment in Matthew 7? He portrays Himself sitting on the judgment seat and all of them are before Him. They say, we tried really hard to do all the law keeping we could do. He says, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness. Did you know, the final judgment is going to be based on whether or not we had God’s law written on our heart and we responded to it. Or whether we operated without it and are lawless. God is holy, always will be throughout all eternity, always was, God hasn’t changed. He didn’t make Himself this way for us, He didn’t write all these rules for us. He just told us what He always has been and we came on the scene. We have the opportunity to either have His law written on our hearts or not.
God is peaceful. One of His attributes is peacefulness or orderliness. Remember it says, in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that the churches are supposed to be decent in order because that’s how God is. Did you know confusion is not a reflection of God’s character? Disorderliness is not. Some people think, hey, freewheeling. God is not freewheeling, He’s orderly. God is peaceful. Ordered. How would you like it if He dealt the seasons out, we’ll go from summer to winter, to spring to fall, and then we’ll go to winter without a spring and a summer? It would disrupt everything if He did not have order. In everything God has symmetry, orderliness, which leads to peacefulness. Do you know what peace means, shalom? It means to be complete. Orderliness, completeness, and peacefulness. So, confusion, disorder, and unrest are godless. The unrighteous are like the raging seas, restless, foaming up their own shame. But the work of righteousness is peace and the effects of righteousness, quietness, and assurance. God is peaceful. So, whenever I am confused, or disorderly, or unrestful in my life and it gets out of kilter, I have to confess I am not like God, flee back to Christ who has become my peace. Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165. It’s just beautiful.
Righteousness and justice. God is righteous and just. God says this is what’s right and wrong, I’m the authority God says. Whatever conforms to my moral character is right and whatever doesn’t is wrong. It’s not public opinion. It’s not the politics of the day. It’s not the evolving of society. As the control rods of God’s law are removed it’s going to be what we see in Revelation 9. Murder, demon worship, drug abuse, and gross immorality permeate the world. Law removed.
So basically, if we can get to the next slide, the Old Testament law had three parts when God gave it. His moral law, which is above, and then flowing from the moral law, the judicial law for Israel. That’s where people say, wait a minute. What about this, stoning rebels? What about stoning adulterers? Aren’t we supposed to be doing that nowadays? That’s where people get all mixed up. They’re trying to do like the Puritan society in New England and they’re not resting until we can get the whole country that way, they are just going to burn the witches. Really? God said only while He was ruling over Israel, as there was called a theocracy. God was ruling through His prophets, and through His priests, and through His king. And he told them if you keep my law, this. If you don’t keep my law, that. Every time the pendulum swung back and forth, depending on whether they were keeping or not keeping His law. His judicial law reflects His moral character but was only to Israel.
Now you say, aren’t we supposed to… what is Romans 13 about? It’s okay to reflect God’s character. Genesis 9 says capital punishment is probably one of the clearest, but capital punishment was only for one thing in Genesis 9, murder. Down here in Israel, kidnapping capital punishment. Rebellion to your parents, capital punishment. Occult, capital punishment. Premarital sex, capital punishment. They killed for everything under the judicial law. That’s not for today. The eternal standard for society was only murderers. The rest was for Israel.
How about all the ceremonial stuff? How about the Sabbath, and all the holidays, and everything? All of that reflects God’s moral law, as we’ll see later, but we’re not under that because that too was given to Israel.
What do we do then with both parts? God’s moral law applies His character, His desires, reflects His holiness, and shows us how sinful we are. All those ceremonies and judicial law illustrated good behavior. By the way, if God says that fornicators should be killed, they all will be. Every couple living together without being married will die for that, eternally, if they never repent. Every person practicing witchcraft will die for that, eternally, if they don’t repent. Every person who transforms their sexual orientation because they don’t like how God made them will die for that if they don’t repent. God’s moral law will never change, it’s eternal. It illustrates the best way to live is follow it. If you don’t there’ll be problems.
It illustrates, especially the Old Testament ceremonies, illustrate the incarnation of Christ. Jesus would be a perfect male substitute, like the lamb, innocent, harmless. It illustrated the incarnation. The tabernacle, you talk about the ceremonial law at the tabernacle, that tent in that building, that showed the pathway to God. You came in only one door. There was only one door into that place. One door into the tabernacle, it was wide, but only one. You had to come in that door and you bumped right into a big altar, you couldn’t go any further until you dealt with sin, once and for all, a substitute. Then you went to the laver, you got cleansed. Then you went to the holy place and inside the holy place you found the illumination of the candles. You found the feeding of the bread of the face, the showbread. Then you saw that incense altar of the intercession, that Christ opens the way for us. The only way was through that intercession, you could get into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was. All of those ceremonies illustrated the pathway to God. Illustrated the incarnation of Christ. But they illustrated the price of sin. Sin is sin and every sin offends God eternally. He’s going to be eternally offended at every sin, except for those who come through His pathway, through the incarnation of the substitute and allow Christ to pay the price of their sin.
Real quickly, before we go, what about the 10 commandments?
How do you pull the 4th one out? You don’t have to pull the 4th one out. You have to see that all of them reflect the moral law of God. It’s just, the ceremony of the Sabbath observance was clearly not instituted for us. Let me show you what I mean. Basically, the 10 commandments were like two tablets. Four on one side, six on the other. The first four is about loving God supremely. Don’t have any other gods before Him. What does that mean? If we love God, we surrender to Him. If you love Him supremely, He’s in charge. There’s no other god.
Don’t make yourself any carved image. Love follows the true and living God. We are His sheep, following Him. If you love God nothing else can take His place, you don’t follow others.
How about not taking the name of the Lord your God in vain. Love honors. If you love God supremely, you honor His name. It’s really hard for us. We’re called Christians. We’re supposed to be little representatives of Christ. We’re supposed to honor the name of Christ. I remember once, many years ago, a man was nominated to be a deacon in a church, in another state where I pastored. Everyone was aghast. They came to me, they said, do you know this guy? I said, oh he’s everywhere; he works, he mows, he cleans, he paints. They said, have you ever seen him between Monday and Friday from 8am to 5pm? I said no, I never have. They said you need to. He is the least representation of Christ. They said, he will snooker anybody on any deal. He is the most dishonest businessman in town. But boy, he loves to work at the church. He doesn’t honor God’s name, in the building maybe, but not outside.
Remember the Sabbath day, what is that about? Love is intimate. If you love God supremely, you want to spend time deeper in your relationship with Him. It’s like marriage. Marriage is because you find one person, in the whole world, you want to spend all your time with. You’re just drawn, irresistibly toward them. That’s what the Sabbath is about. Only God says, don’t just be drawn to me one day a week, be drawn to me every day. You can find and seek me any day because love is intimate.
Now, the other side of the 10 commandments are the six about how we’re supposed to love our neighbors, ourselves, honor your father and mother. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you’d never dishonor anybody. Don’t murder. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you wouldn’t harm anybody. Don’t commit adultery. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you wouldn’t defile them, their wife, their husband, or even their kids. Don’t steal. If you love your neighbor, you don’t take what’s theirs. Don’t bear false witness. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you would never lie to or about. God’s character hasn’t changed. God’s character is that He is truthful, and loving, and honest, and all that. It’s applied to us, showing us how we live out a reflective life. Don’t covet. If you love your neighbor, you never want to have what’s theirs, it’s theirs. God gave it to them. He’ll give you what’s for you.
How does this come to us, in the New Testament? Let’s close with this. Turn your Bibles from Romans to Hebrews. I want you to actually see this in your Bible. Hebrews 10:16 is a quotation in the New Testament of the Old Testament. You probably have a footnote saying that this is quoted from Jeremiah 31:33. In Jeremiah 31:33 God is talking about the new covenant. The old covenant at Sinai, the new covenant through the blood of Christ. In Jeremiah’s prophesying about what we partake of on this side of the cross, that’s why at the communion service, the first one, Jesus said this cup is the new covenant that’s in my blood. What is a New Testament or new covenant Christian like? Hebrews 10, quoting Jeremiah 600 years before Christ. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days…” What days? Hebrews 11 ends with a verse that says that this side of the cross, we without them, we partake of what they are now getting to partake in. Because the new covenant was ratified by Christ on the cross. All of the Old Testament saints could not be perfected until Christ’s death on the cross. Then, that sacrifice was applied toward them, to them, and in them.
What does the new covenant do? Look at this, this is what happens. This is how you know if someone’s really been saved. When someone gets saved it’s not, if they repeat after me this set of words, it’s whether God puts His laws into their hearts. That’s what a saved person is. They get a whole new operating system. I’m doing some work, getting ready for the conference and the only way I can communicate with this server that I need to communicate with is with a PC, it rejects Macintosh; it’s dumb, but it does.
So, I have to drive all the way over here because we don’t have one of those PCs in our house. I have to drive all the way over here to communicate with the server because it will only listen to a PC and not an iOS system, but a DOS-based system. It will only listen to that, why? Its operating system refuses anything else? God says, I am going to give you a new operating system and your operating system from now on rejects everything except my law. God’s laws are written on your heart and in your mind. So, you and I, wherever we go, know right and wrong because we look at a situation and say that does not conform to God’s moral character, that does conform to God’s moral character. That is what the new covenant is all about. Not me trying real hard, and give me a list and I’m going to do it, and I’m going to try my hardest. God has given me a new heart and His Spirit gets grieved and quenched when I don’t obey and agree with Him. When that happens, I confess. I say, once again, I confess I was not truthful. I was not loving, I was not graceful, I was not patient, I was not orderly, I was not loving. You’ve already forgiven me, cleanse me. I want to have it. I want to live Christ in this world.
That’s why forever, you know what we’re going to be singing about? Our God who is holy, and how we were forgiven, and how Christ died in our place.