sin

The Heart of Grumbling

The New Covenant ministry is full of joy. The joy of seeing the image of Christ formed in God’s people; the joy of learning God’s truth; the joy of your own heart and mind being renewed. However, the New Covenant ministry is also full of deep sadness as well. It was said of the Messiah that He would be “…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Yet, it was for joy that He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). His grief mingled with joy in the Father is THE pattern for His people in a peculiar way (Hebrews 12:3). It is not God’s plan that His servants lose heart or grow weary in their work (Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:3). And yet, that is so often the knee-jerk reaction while in the throws of ministry. The heartache of seeing the ravages of sin in the lives of an unbelieving world. The grief over professing believers who refuse the Lord’s instructions. The depth of frustration over personal sin. The zeal aroused at the dishonor of God’s holy name. All of these things fill the heart and mind of God’s men as they seek to simply be faithful the Word of God.

However, there is a particular sin that often generates grief in ministry and it is as common as the sunlight. It is the sin of complaining. Complaining is that behavior that characterizes a man or woman who 1) loves himself/herself more than others, 2) thinks very little of the Word from God, the Bible, 3) simply wants to complain for the shear thrill of complaining. The fruit of complaining is division, broken hearts, fleshly strife, and devastated relationships. It was complaining that:

  • Caused God to judge Israel numerous times after the Exodus, including being confined in the desert instead of entering the land promised to Abraham:

    Numbers 14:26–29

    26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

    27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.

    28 “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you;

    29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me

Led others into the same sin:

Numbers 11:1–3

1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

2 The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out.

3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them.

 

Complainers are those who despise the Lord’s purposes for themselves. For Israel, they rejected YHWH’s commands, and since they could not approach God, they grumbled against Him by grumbling against His servant, Moses. These people were not only limited to Israel, however. People are people. Sinners are sinners. Grumblers are grumblers.  The tendency to grumble is the same for all-self-righteousness.

In John 6, Jesus is speaking to the multitudes, but especially the leaders of the multitudes, the Pharisees. These men were the target of the Lord’s ministry in a peculiar way. Because of their leadership, and since leaders will be in greater accountability by the Lord, Jesus initiated that judgment often with them (see Matthew 23, for example. That chapter reads like a judicial sentence). Jesus has been healing, feeding, and teaching the multitudes. The power of Christ and the grace of God was upon all of them. However, what was the response by those who should have rejoiced at the goodness of God? Grumbling. Their grumbling was not directed at the teaching. Their grumbling was directed at the Person of Jesus Christ because of His teaching (John 6:41). It would be one thing to complain about a teaching. However, that simply is never the case. When a person complains, the doctrine is simply the ruse. A complainer is actually assaulting the person doing the teaching, not the instruction itself.

However, it is greater than this, and more serious. Moses said it well:

Exodus 16:8

8 Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

Any complaining, any, is not simply directed at the leader, it is always directed at the Lord behind the leader. This is why complaining is so very serious. It is an assault upon God. And, for that reason, when a complainer is spotted in the church of Jesus Christ, stay away from them. Confront them with the understanding that they are doing the very thing that brings the wrath of God down upon them. These people infect like a disease. They are exploitative, mean, and hypocritical. They are not interested in joy, righteousness, nor the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is too high for them, they cannot attain to it, so they replace it with their own. And, unfortunately, since this behavior is so common, they often gather followers and influence them to do the same.

The complaints of Israel were fueled by the “rabble” who attached themselves to Israel as they left Egypt. They infected the people by bringing out of their hearts what was already there, but they gave it boldness.

Numbers 11:4–6

4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?

5 “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,

6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

The church of Jesus Christ must refuse grumbling, and grumblers.

 

1 Corinthians 10:9–12

9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Philippians 2:14–16

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

1 Peter 4:9

9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

 

And, saints, remember, your grumbling and complaining is a weight that bears upon the hearts of pastors so very heavily that they are prone to growing weary and losing heart. This would be unprofitable for you (Hebrew 13:17). Therefore, obey the Lord’s instructions and stop complaining and start rejoicing!

How To Identify False Leaders, and What To Do About It.

The leadership in the church is to be selfless (Titus 1:7b), men under authority. They are not men who establish their own authority, will, in God’s church. How audacious it is to think that the flock of God could become the flock of elders. Men who lead by a heavy hand, self-promotion, and sinful selfish ambition do not belong in the leadership but in the world. These men must be reproved by the church or other elders who hear of these antics.

What do you look for in men who are selfish and in leadership? What are the signs that may point to ulterior motives? How will you know? As the Lord said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). Then, once identified, what should a child of God do about it? Consider:

 

1) THEY CHANGE THE MEANING OF SCRIPTURE IN ORDER TO SELL (PEDDLE) IT:

2 Corinthians 2:17

17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

2) THEY PROMOTE SINFUL LIVING BY PRECEPT AND LIFESTYLE:

2 Corinthians 4:2

2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

3) THEY DEMAND ALLEGIANCE TO THEIR WAYS, OFTEN MASKING THAT DEMAND WITH FLATTERY:

Luke 6:26

26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

1 Thessalonians 2:5

5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—

4) THEY DO WHAT THEY DO OFTEN TO PLEASE OTHERS WHO ARE JUST LIKE THEM:

1 Thessalonians 2:6a

6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others

5) THEY BOAST IN THEIR SUPERIOR WISDOM WHILE PARADING A SELF-ABASED LIFESTYLE THAT APPEARS TO EXUDE WISDOM TO THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE UNSUSPECTING. THEY EXALT THEIR FALSE HUMILITY AS RIGHTEOUSNESS:

Colossians 2:18

18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

Colossians 2:23

23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

6) THEY DO NOT LOVE:

John 5:41–42

41 “I do not receive glory from men;

42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.

7) THEY REJECT THE SHAME OF THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. THAT IS TO SAY, THEY REFUSE TO BELIEVE, OR TEACH, THAT THIS LIFE, THIS WORLD, HAS NOTHING TO OFFER YOU AND THAT YOU MUST BE CRUCIFIED TO IT. THEY WOULD RATHER TELL YOU HOW TO ASCEND THE LADDERS OF THIS WORLD IN ORDER TO GET MORE OUT OF IT:

Galatians 6:12–13

12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.

8) THEY ARE SNEAKY:

Jude 4

4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…

Galatians 2:4

4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.

9) THEY PREY UPON WEAK WOMEN (AND WEAK MEN). THEY ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY, THE TEACHERS, ARE ACTUALLY THE RIGHT ONES AND THE APPROVED LEADERS ARE THE WRONG ONES:

2 Timothy 3:6–7

6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,

7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

10) THEY OFTEN ARE THE MOST VOCAL, BOASTING OF THEIR SIN, UNWORTHINESS, AND, CONSEQUENTLY, THEIR GREAT LOVE FOR GOD AND HIS LAW:

Romans 2:23

23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

 

In this day, especially with the advent of social media, it seems that these kind of men, and women, are coming out of the woodwork. The beloved ones of God often are not vigilant enough to identify these kinds of people and need to be told what to look for. So, the hope is that this list will at least generate some level of discernment among God’s people so that they are strengthened and maturing into those strong in the "once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints-faith" (Jude 3).

If you identify a leader who has these characteristics, here is what you should do:

 

1) IF YOU ARE UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP, BE SUBMISSIVE. THAT IS, BE SUBMISSIVE TO GOD, RECOGNIZE THE "CHAIR" OF AUTHORITY GIVEN TO THAT MAN BY GOD AND STICK CLOSE TO THE WORD OF GOD:

Matthew 23:1–3

1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,

2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;

3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

2) PRAYERFULLY, AFTER SINCERE SELF-EXAMINATION, SEEK OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF HUMBLY GOING TO HIM WITH YOUR VERIFIABLE CONCERNS:

Luke 17:3

3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Galatians 6:1

1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

3) IF THERE IS NO REPENTANCE, PRIVATELY, FIND OTHER WITNESSES OF THIS MAN’S SINS, AND BRING THEM TO THE MAN, OR, IF NECESSARY, OTHERS IN LEADERSHIP:

1 Timothy 5:19

19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

4) PROMOTE PEACE IN THE CHURCH:

Matthew 5:9

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Romans 12:18

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

5) WAIT FOR GOD’S WORKING IN THE CHURCH TO EITHER REMOVE THAT LEADER, OR GRANT REPENTANCE:

Revelation 2:20–21

20 ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

21 ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.

Revelation 2:24–27

24 ‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.

25 ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.

26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;

27 AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father;

6) AT THE LAST, VERY LAST STRAW, LEAVE THAT CHURCH, AFTER TIME HAS VERIFIED A REFUSAL TO REPENT, REFUSAL TO LOVE, A REFUSAL TO LISTEN. IDENTIFY ANOTHER CHURCH IN THE AREA THAT HAS GODLY MEN IN LEADERSHIP AND GO THERE AND STAY THERE. COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD IN THAT BODY AND SERVE THERE. MOVE IF NECESSARY. DO NOT CONSIDER NOT ATTENDING A CHURCH AN OPTION:

Acts 19:8–10

8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

 

1 Timothy 5:24–25

24 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.

25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

How Do They Do It?

When a person reads the epistle of Jude, or Second Peter, you begin to wonder, “How is it that a person can be so contrary to what the Bible says in their teaching and their lives, and yet “creep in unnoticed”?” How is it that the church does not spot them immediately? Consider the description of apostate teachers:

· They are deceptive-v.3
· They resist greater authorities, including church leadership-vv.4, 8, 11, 16.
· They are fleshly-vv. 4, 8,
· They prey on the saints-vv.12,16.
· They don’t care for doctrine-vv. 4,10, 16.
· They complain and criticize-v.16.
· They are a law unto themselves-v.18.

Peter has even more to say concerning their lifestyle, including fleshly indulgence, adultery, and slavery to corruption. The question then becomes, “How can they be ‘unnoticed’?” Jude, along with Peter, tell us how they do it and this modus operandi is very important for the church to consider if it is going to be successful in contending for the truth.

Jude wrote,

         3      Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
         4      For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

The brother of the Lord, Jude, had the desire to write to the the churches of the dispersion concerning the glories of their salvation. But, he had learned that apostates had entered the fellowship of the saints and with that reality, he was compelled to write to the church to appeal to them to fight hard against the error that would emanate from these men. How he had heard about them, who they were, how he identified them, and were they known in other churches as leading them astray, is impossible to tell. However, Jude is not writing to name the imposters, but to describe them. This is far better so that they, and their kind, can be identified and removed. Further, it serves us better because we can also identify their kind and take steps to deal with it.

The Lord Jesus Christ taught about this. In the Old Testament, if a false prophet would arise, according to Deuteronomy 13:1-11, and counseled rebellion within the context of signs and wonders (which came true or actually happened, by the way) he would be killed. The death penalty was the result for the man who would come in and define God in a way that was not according to the Law of Moses. The death penalty would have the affect of curbing others from following suit.

Yet, we are not under those regulations. So, what are we to do with those who counsel rebellion? The big picture is found in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. This parable, told by the Lord Himself, teaches us how to handle the “sons of the evil one.”

   24      Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
         25      “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
         26      “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
         27      “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
         28      “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
         29      “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
         30      ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

This is a parable meant to teach of the character and economy of the kingdom of heaven. The difficulty of understanding these things demands that Jesus teach in a parable. This parable covers a lot of ground in teaching us how the kingdom of heaven will exist and does now exist. The entire parable is the comparison. In summary, a man sowed good seed in his field, another man, an enemy, came along undercover (unnoticed), and sowed bad seed in the man’s good field. This is a very evil and malicious thing to do. As the crop bore grain, the workers of the field saw the tares alongside of it and went and told the owner that the field has both weeds and wheat. The loyal workers were willing to enter the field and begin pulling up the tares amidst the wheat. The owner, concerned for his wheat, said, “No. You can’t do that without affecting the wheat also. When harvest comes, we will gather the tares and burn them at that time.”

Later, in private, Jesus explains the parable:

         36      Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
         37      And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
         38      and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
         39      and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
         40      “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
         41      “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
         42      and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
         43      “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

The Son of Man sows the seed of the sons of the kingdom of heaven in the field of the world. The tares, planted by the devil, are the sons of the evil one. The enemy has placed evil alongside righteousness. Both are allowed to co-exist for a time in the kingdom of heaven. However, at the end of this age, the reapers (the angels of God) will be called to separate the wheat from the tares. The evil ones will the judged by eternal fire, and the righteous children of God will enter into the “kingdom of their Father” and will reign in brilliance forever.

Those evil workers are allowed to exist alongside the righteous. We are not called to kill them or anything of the sort. We are only called to wait until harvest and let the Lord separate them out and fulfill that instruction. In the church, we are to identify them, call attention to their teaching, and warn the saints. Pastors are tasked with the burden of protecting the flock of God from these deceptive workers and their leavenous teaching. The saints are to build themselves up on the their holy faith and not spend their days identifying error. There is much more to learning of Christ than there is to learning of Satan. The influence will be felt in the world, and that can, and does, bleed into the church.

But, the question remains, “How?” The brilliance of Satan becomes clear at this point. Notice Jude 4,

…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Here is their tactic. They are ungodly persons. They are immoral, irreverent, and opposing to God. Their craft is found in the skills of deception. Jude says that these ungodly persons creep in unnoticed by the church because they change the meaning of grace into its antithesis. That is, apostates are skilled at changing definitions of key truths.

The word that Jude uses for “turn” is the Greek word, μετατιθέντες . This word is a very descriptive and clear word. It means, in the temporal or spatial sense, to place and object from one location to another location. In the ideological sense, it means to change, pervert, or transfer meaning from one thing to another. It is the idea of transformation of ideas or truth into something other than its actual meaning. Putting this into the verse, we see that these teachers come in and change/alter the meaning of ‘grace’ from the accomplished righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15-21) given to those who believe in Jesus Christ which leads to righteous living (Titus 2:11-14), to then mean the freedom to indulge in licentiousness and pleasure. You see, if they can convince the church that true Christian living is self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking, then their sensual lives will blend right in with the things they assert. If a person can call grace “freedom,” then their so-called freedoms will define grace and thus they sneak in unnoticed. Brilliant!

Consider this, grace reigns in righteousness and leads to eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21). Grace is given by God and is necessary for justification (Ephesians 2:8-10). Grace is from the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11). Grace allows God to forgive trespasses (Ephesians 1:7). Grace defines the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16). Finally, grace, the provision of the righteousness that satisfies the holiness of God which sinners have offended (Matthew 5:48), instructs us

…to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, –Titus 2:12

Nowhere do we find that grace provides for our indulgences, desires, and dreams. Grace, in fact, does not allow for that. Rather, it comes at the expense of denying ourselves. The Lord Jesus told the crowd of disciples on a number of occasions that if they want to have life, they must deny themselves, take their cross, and follow Him (Matthew 10:37-39; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23; 14:27f.). To follow Jesus Christ is a life of the denial of the flesh, not an exercise of the flesh. The cost is more than most want to consider, but that does not change the demand. Grace is grace precisely because it is the provision of the righteousness that we could never generate, but is required in order to approach God. Thus, true grace leads to the practice of this righteousness…through Christ.

So, the next time someone wants to come to you and redefine grace as freedom from rules, laws, and the burden of righteous living, consider the possibility that they might be attempting to redefine grace to provide for their own licentiousness.

The Initial Components of the Father’s Plan are Inaugurated.

The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is that sinners are made into sons. That may sound simple enough, however it most certainly is not a simple matter. This is not because God somehow has to work extra hard to do this. It is not because Satan is such an enemy that God is being outwitted by him. It is not because we are already so acceptable to God that He has a hard time choosing whom to redeem. To make sinners into sons demands the satisfaction of a reality that is insurmountable…at least by mankind.

God’s justice, motivated by His holy nature, is no small thing. God must punish sins and those who perpetrate them. He must destroy all that offends Him, not because He is Himself sinfully proud for then He would have to punish Himself. He has to destroy all that offends Him because of His purity, righteousness, and holiness. These things coupled with His sovereignty require the vanquishing of all that does not respond to Him in like manner. In fact, to do this is right for God alone.

Therefore, in order for God’s plan to make sinners into sons to take place, God has to do something with the sins of the eventual sons. He cannot overlook them, pardon them, nor can He punish the sinners He has elected because once a sinner dies, there awaits judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, the elect cannot die in their sins, yet they cannot atone for their own sins either. God must remedy the problem, and He most certainly did.

In order to initiate the remedy, the sinner needs to comprehend his illness. It does no good to present the remedy to someone who cannot accept that he is ill. That is more than an illustration, it is true. Jesus said, “

         29      And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.
         30      The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
         31      And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
         32      “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29–32).

People who are sick know their need. They need to be made well, so they trek to the local doctor and submit to his suggestions. The main point is that the healthy usually do not endure the examinations and suggestions of the physician. In the same way, unless a person sees the illness of his offense toward holy God, he will not seek a cure. He must know he is ill. He must understand that he is in a very precarious condition and is at death’s door. Therefore, God will, without exception, demonstrate to the sinner his illness. How does He do that? He shows mankind the picture of the perfect man. He demonstrates to the sinner, via the Law, his illness as compared to the holy, righteous, and good nature of the Law of God (Romans 7:12). Unless a sinner agrees that he has broken God’s holy Law, he will not be convinced that he is ill.

Romans is a profound book in so many respects. But, one way in which its profundity is demonstrated is Paul’s comments in chapter 7 concerning the Law and its role in his life. Whether this chapter is dealing with Paul and his pre-conversion days, or Paul and his immediately post-conversion days, the truth is the same, Paul would not have seen his sin if it were not for the external Law of God, the Ten Commandments, and their objective standards, which contradicted his nature. In short, Paul states that he would not have seen the impulse to covet as wrong and offensive to God had he not read in the Law the holy prohibition of God to not covet. In verses 7-13 Paul relates this action of the Law in him in a very candid way. He says that he would not have come to know sin except through the Law (v.7). Why not? Because, unless there is a standard, a law from God, we will compare ourselves to ourselves and think that we are not sick. If we are all sneezing and coughing, then my sneezing and coughing won’t seem so bad. However, when someone comes along and tells you, “Sneezing and coughing is abnormal,” I will see the truth of my condition. Paul read in the Law that coveting is sin against the God of Israel (Exodus 20:17). However, his condition is so severe (and so is yours), that his covetousness did not die down simply because it was revealed. It increased. Sin, being the condition that it is, was exacerbated by the commandment of God. It is so contrary to God’s nature that to tell it what God loves is to cause it to rail against that very thing. This is why Paul says that “through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful” (v.13). In a condition like that, you can see that we are worse off than we imagined. It is like being allergic to antivenom.

But, this is the plan of God. Our utterly sinful condition, for which there is no human cure, is profound and desperate. We could not, nor do we want to, cure ourselves. We love our illness. It is sweet to our palate. We love its impulses and what it provides. We love its allurements. And when we are punished for it, we complain against a God who is ruining our fun. Again, our illness is worse than we imagined. God must demonstrate all this to us, and He does so in the Law.

Many years after Romans, Paul wrote to Timothy, “

    8       But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

1 Timothy 1:8

The use of the Law is like a sword, you must use it the way it is meant to be used. What is the use of the Law? It is to reveal sin. It is made for

   9     …those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 
   10      and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

1 Timothy 1:9–10.

 

The Law is the sounding board against which every person is measured. It is holy, righteous, and good, not simply to reveal sins, but their root cause-our own hearts.

Thus, God has to show us our condition. After all, when Christ said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance, He was most certainly speaking about the entire world. Once the condition is believed, by God’s grace, the remedy may be taken and applied. That remedy being Jesus Christ, who never sinned, never wavered in His love for the Father, and maintained perfect obedience to the Law of God. What is more, He died so that He might satisfy that insurmountable reality-God’s justice.

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