I would like each of us to take a few minutes to look at our lives. The question is, are you known by the world for what you stand for or for what you will not stand for?
Do you have a whole list of things that you object to? Is that what you are known for? Your strong stance on abortion, your insistence upon the 10 Commandments being allowed to stay in the public domain, your objections to the Homosexual agenda, your dislike and distrust of Liberals or Democrats, your dislike of present day immorality. If the world could comment on you, would it be that you are strong on all these points? Is that what your co-workers, friends and family know about you, that you stand against all of these social and moral issues? Do you count yourself as one who lives under Gods law and is guided by it?
In Luke 10:27 it says ""You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." This is a lawyer that says this to Jesus and Jesus says that if you do this you shall live. The obvious question is asked, "who then is my neighbor?."
Heb 7:19 For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw near to God. Heb 7:22 by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant. Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been without fault, then no place would have been sought for the second. Heb 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My Laws into their mind and write them in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Heb 8:13 In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first one old. Now that which decays and becomes old is ready to vanish away.
Heb 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by so much He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which was built upon better promises.
Mat 22:37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
If you know the 10 Commandments, you will know that what Jesus just said is not the first and second commandments of the "Decalogue," or the ten commandments.
So let me ask you, are you under the Law, do you "live by the Law?" Romans 5:20 states that "Moreover the Law entered that the offense might abound." So we see that purpose of the Law was to expose sin, to magnify it, to point us towards Jesus , so that when Jesus came, He fulfilled the Law. So, if the Law brings condemnation, how can we live by it or be under it? If Jesus did not come to condemn but to seek and to save what is lost, then why do we , as Christians, spend so much our time trying to expose the sin of the world, were we called to that? When we stand up and are counted today, when we let the world know, in no uncertain terms what we will not stand for, is this the role we were called to? Are we called to be the ten commandments to the world? If the Law exposes and magnifies sin, if sin takes advantage of the Law and magnifies itself, then should we promote the Law to the world? Or should we seek to seek and to save the lost, should we love the world and cover its sin by our love?
When we love the world, when we seek to be an advocate of mercy, then as a by-product their sin is exposed by themselves. When sin encounters love it is defeated, when sin encounters judgment it is increased. By the very rebellious nature of humanity, when it is told not to do something or that it should not do something, then that is exactly what it wants to do all the more, anyone with children will easily appreciate this principal. So we see how dangerous the rise of self-righteousness would be because of this principal, then society would suffer even more sin as it is condemned. So those who seek to condemn the world and expose the worlds sin are not operating in the "Royal Law," the law of Jesus ,for He called us to love God with all of our hearts and love the world with the same love.
Many of you know about and have been praying for my son Christopher. He is twenty two years old and , to say the least, has been a rebellious child for the better part of ten years. He has caused his mother and I great heartache and grief over those years, not to mention anger. Looking back I see three landmarks from the Lord, instructions to me. The first was when Christopher was about sixteen. The Lord asked me this question and never answered the question What would have happened if the prodigal father had not allowed the prodigal son to leave? The next instruction came when he was about eighteen after a few years of me telling my son exactly what he was, and what his actions would bring about(and every one of my predictions, came to pass) The Lord commanded me to stop telling Christopher how wrong he was and how bad his actions were, He summed it up by saying this to me Speak life into your son. Then several months ago He laid it on my heart to apologize to Christopher for the way I raised him. I smarted at this instruction , my argument to the Lord was but Lord, reminding the Lord of all the things Christopher had done wrong, but the Lord remained silent and the Holy Spirit continued to lay on my heart to apologize to him. As I looked over my fatherhood, I realized that if I had to defend myself that I could make a compelling argument to anyone, what I could not defend was the contempt that I had had for my son. I had not been Christ like towards him. Yes, I had stood upon the rules, but where had the mercy been? Do not get me wrong, Christopher saw moments of mercy(otherwise he would not have made it out of his teenage yearsJ) but the overall context of my relationship with Christopher was one of conflict and contempt.
I began to read the first book for our Mighty Mens , class. In the first few chapters the author mentioned something that intrigued me. He talked about apologizing to his son for the mistakes he had made. He talked about how that if he did not apologize, he would be binding his son, imprisoning his son to his own sin. I had never thought about it that way. As I realized that I could be playing a part in my own sons captivity, then there was now no question, I would have to apologize. I found this tremendously difficult to even contemplate. I shared with a good brother two Mondays ago and asked him to ask me the following Monday if I had apologized. Well the following week turned out to be the week from hell. There was a spiritual battle going on and by the following Sunday I still had not apologized. At 9.20 on Sunday evening I took my son aside and asked him to sit down. I told him that I was deeply sorry for the way I had raised him and asked for his forgiveness. Before I could even finish what I was saying he interrupted me and told me how good a father I had been and that it was him that had caused the trouble and the anger. This was the first time in my sons life that he had taken responsibility for his actions. These are the words that I had tried to make him say for ten years with angry accusations and telling him the truth, about him. And here it all came out because the Lord had humbled me and had made me look at my role, not his. Just this week my son has been going through things he has to do and getting them done, a remarkable turnaround. We have spoken on the phone, just to speak, not because he was in trouble, or needed bailing out or needed money. This principal of humility , of love, of focusing on ourselves rather than on the sins of others is of course a powerful principals of Christianity.
Many Christians understand this principal and it is operating in their homes. Yet how does it convey itself to the world. In an obvious paraphrase of my own, Jesus says So you love those who love you ?, Big deal, even the sinners do this, but how much do you love those who hate you and would treat you badly?
So many Christians believe , rightly, that we are Justified, saved, by Grace through faith. But so many Christians believe that we are sanctified (set apart, made Holy) by keeping the rules, following the Ten Commandments, by what we do not do. Paul says in Galatians 3
O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified?
Gal 3:2 This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?
Gal 3:4 Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it is even in vain?
If indeed our own Christianity is not measured by how well we keep the Ten Commandments, and it is not measured by what we do not do, if indeed it is measured by our love for the world (Homosexuals, people who agree with abortion, Democrats, Liberals , the vilest sinners ect) then how do you measure up? Do you stand up and condemn the world, tell it how bad it is, shrink from it, fear it , demonize it for political advantage, have bitterness towards it. If Love for the world was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Do you throw your lot in with those who hate and fear the world, with those who use their position to condemn the world ? Do you find yourself on the Pharisee side with rocks in your hands? As the world looks on, does it see you as part of a baying crowd ready to condemn and destroy?
So I ask you brothers and sisters, does your Christianity consist of the fact that you are not like them. When you stand up to be counted in the world, the workplace, are you standing up for love, is that how they know you? Or do they know you by the rocks in your hands ? Are you a part of the Pharisee crowd or the lonely Jesus? Will Jesus have to ask you the question Are you without sin? Before we throw our rocks at the world (urged on by politicians seeking re-election) let us look to ourselves so that we may humble ourselves and not have to be humbled by a loving God