The Law of God
in Our Salvation
by L. R. Shelton, Jr.
These messages were delivered over
THE WORD OF TRUTH RADIO NETWORK
It has been laid upon my heart to begin a series of messages on the general theme, THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION. I desire to show you - the Holy Spirit giving me utterance - what the Word of God says about the Holy Law of God and its place in the salvation of a sinner and how God uses the Law as a SCHOOLMASTER to bring sinners to Christ.
I understand that this is not a popular doctrine or teaching today since it is promulgated everywhere that we are not in the age of law but the age of grace. But, my friend, whenever has any doctrine or teaching of God’s Word been popular if that teaching lays bare the human heart and exposes sinful man to himself?
No doctrine or teaching of God’s Word has ever been popular with the natural man. The doctrine of SIN has never been popular! The doctrine of the CROSS has never been popular! The doctrine of the TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF THE HUMAN HEART has never been popular! The doctrine of CROSSBEARING and DISCIPLESHIP has never been popular! The doctrine of HELL has never been popular! The doctrine of the SOVEREIGNITY OF GOD has never been popular! The doctrine of THE JUDGMENT has never been popular! The doctrine of THE SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH OF CHRIST has never been popular! All of these are Biblical doctrines, but they have never been popular because they are against the pride, self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and the independence of man.
So when we come to this series of messages on THE WORK OF THE LAW IN OUR SALVATION, I do not expect the natural man to love them nor appreciate them, but as a messenger of God, called to preach the whole counsel of God, I find necessity laid upon me to bring before you this teaching of God’s Word. So let us lay the foundation for this series of messages by appealing to the Word of God itself, “to the law and to the testimony”(Isa. 8:20) is our aim.
In Rom. 3:19-20 we read: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
What do these verses teach us? FIRST, that every man born of woman is under the Law of God and must answer to God for his disobedience to the perfect Law and will of God. SECOND, the Law as given that man might know his sin, “BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.” Hear it again! The Law was given that a man might know his sin and therefore his sinner-ship before God. THIRD, the Law cannot justify a sinner before God, for it was never given to save but to condemn, to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin. This last thought is also brought out in Rom. 5:20 in these words: “the law entered, that the offence might abound”; in II Cor.3:7, “the law is the ministration of death” and II Cor. 3:9, the” law is the condemnation to death.”
Hear it again! The Law was never given to save us, but to show us the exceeding sinfulness of sin and our far distance from a thrice Holy God. Rom. 3:23 tells us the truth:” all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have come short of God’s glory as revealed in Christ, short of His holiness, short of all that He is in His perfection and therefore abide beneath the curse of His Law. For we read in Gal. 3:10:”Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” And what says the whole law of God? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and will all thy mind and with all thy strength and to love thy neighbor as thyself”. (Mark 12:30-31).
When we look then at this requirement of our Holy God, we must declare that we have sinned and come short of the glory of God, for we have never-do not now, nor will ever-love God and our neighbor in every thought, word and deed. Therefore we have come short of the glory of God and stand beneath the curse of His broken Law.
Our text Rom. 3:20 reads: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” That was the reason then that God gave us the Law through Moses: to give us “the knowledge of sin,” not to deliver us from sin, but to give us the knowledge of its terrible character, and without this knowledge we will never flee to Christ as our only refuge, we will never be joined to Him by faith.
All through this Book of Romans the apostle comes back to this same theme. In Rom. 5:20 he declares: “Moreover the law entered” - why did it come? “that the offense might abound.” The Law did not come in to deal with the offence, but to make it abound that we might know the awfulness of sin. But he adds: “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”
In Rom. 7:7 we read again, “What shall we say then? is the law sin?” and the apostle replies, “God forbid.” No it is not sin, but as the 5th verse tells us, the Law stirs up sin in us, sin is energized by the Law as it recalled sin to us and thereby makes us sin more as our hearts and minds run after sin. Listen to vs.5! “When we were in the flesh, the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.(170 The apostle is saying that we are in such a terrible state of depravity, that the very Law that has been given to us to warn us against sin makes us sin all the more. What a commentary on the human heart!
That is the reason the apostle asked the question in verse 7: “is the law sin” because it makes us sin? Oh no, it is holy and just and good (v.12), but the Law of God is the only thing that can reveal our sin to us as the apostle confesses in that same verse. “I had not know sin, but by the law: for I had not know lust, except the law said, Thou shalt not covet.” What we are taught here then is this: unless the Holy Law of God works in us by the Holy Spirit to show us sin, we would never flee to Christ for salvation.
This then is the function of the Law: to define sin, to reveal its nature; and this is why we are without any excuse at all. The Law is in our hearts, but that is not clear enough, so God made it explicit. He has defined it; He has underlined it; He has shown it plainly in the written Law given upon the pages of Holy Writ, so that by its work in us we might have the knowledge of sin.
But there is another function of the Law. This is brought out in Rom. 7:13, “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good: that sin by the commandment might become EXCEEDING SINFUL.” This is what the Law has done and does in the life of every one who know and feels their need of salvation by Christ. The Law has come to pinpoint sin, to define it, to bring it out of its hiding place and to show its exceeding sinful character. You see, my friend, sin in man is as deep as this: that the very Law of God which should have helped him, makes him worse, drives him into sin, turns it into a means of death. Nothing so shows the exceeding sinfulness of sin as the Law itself does; and once a man has seen the real meaning of the Law, he sees the foulness and vileness of his own nature. He sees that he has “an evil heart of unbelief”, a heart that covets, a heart that is vile and foul.
You see the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit shows a man the sinfulness of his nature. Sin is not merely a matter of actions and deeds; it is something within the heart that leads to the action. Our Lord said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” He does not say, “as long as you do not do the act, all is well.” No! He said, “that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
I say it again, sin is not merely a matter of actions and of deeds; it is something within the heart that leads to the action and that something is our depraved heart and will. Our Lord said, “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mk.7:21-23).
It is the function of the Law then, in the hands of the Holy Spirit to show us the nature of sin and its exceeding sinfulness before God. Like the apostle Paul, we will never seek Christ, desire Christ, His blood and righteousness until we know the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Like the hymn writer we cry: “Vile and full of sin I am,” and again, “What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus” Christ the crucified, buried and risen Lord.
So this brings us to the last thought for today: the Law was never given to save man, but it was given as a “schoolmaster” to bring him to the Saviour. The whole object and purpose of the Law of God is to show man that he can never save himself. Once he has understood the Law and its spiritual meaning and content, he know that he cannot keep it. He is convinced that he is undone, that he stand guilty before God, that he is a sinner and deserves hell.
Our Lord has show us that the teaching of the Law is not just that you must not drink or that you must not smoke or that you must not commit adultery or this or that, but that we must love God supremely. Listen to the summary of the Law! It is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself “ (Mark 12:30-32).
Has any one of us done that and so kept the Law? No! “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This is what the Law says. It shows us our utter helplessness and hopelessness, and thereby it becomes our “schoolmaster to lead us to Christ” (Gal.3:24), the only One who by the grace of God can save us, and deliver us, and reconcile us to God, forgiving us our sins and making us safe for all eternity.
Therefore today we glory in God’s Law that it was given for the express reason that we might see our need of Christ and hear the glorious news of the gospel, “the just shall live by faith” in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
We began a series of messages last week on the general theme, THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION. We want to continue this series today, showing from the Word of God, the need of the preaching of the Law, for “the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith “ according to Gal. 3:24.
When we look at the Word of God concerning the need of the Law of God and its work in our hearts before the Chief Corner Stone, the Lord Jesus Christ, is laid in the heart, then we become amazed at the lack of the preaching of the Law today. Practically every where you turn today to seek out God’s way of salvation you find nothing but the preaching of the love of God at the expense of His justice. You find His grace preached at the expense of His Law, and me do not know that they are sinners. We are told that the Law of God has nothing to do with us today, therefore it need not be preached or obeyed.
But let met ask each one of you a few questions today as we go into God’s message. What need do you have of a SAVIOUR if you do not know you are LOST? What need do you have of a DIVINE DELIVERER if you do not know that you ABIDE UNDER THE AWFUL JUDGMENT of a Holy and righteous God who hates sin? What need do you have of a PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS in Christ if you do not know that God REQUIRES SINLESSNESS AND PERFECTION before you can go to heaven? What need do you have of the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST if you do not know that you are wretched, vile, filthy, and HAVE NEED OF CLEANSING? What need do you have of a PERFECT SUBSTITUTE in Christ if you do not know that you have BROKEN GOD’S HOLY LAW AND STAND JUSTLY CONDEMNED before a thrice Holy God? What need do you have of ONE TO UNDERTAKE FOR your never-dying soul if you do not know your HELPLESSNESS and HOPELESSNESS because of your far distance from God?
This is the reason for preaching these messages on the NEED OF THE LAW OF GOD that we might lay before your heart, your sinful condition before God and your need for repentance toward God, your need of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, your need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit before the God against whom you have sinned.
“By the law is the knowledge of sin”(Rom. 3:20), therefore “sin is the transgression of the law.”(I Jn.3:4). And again to use the apostle Paul’s words in Rom. 7:17, “I had not know sin but by the law.” He said, “I had not know sin and its heart nature apart from the Law showing me that I was a sinner by nature and practice. I could say like the rich young ruler ‘all of this I have kept from my youth up(39 until the 10th Commandment which said, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ showed me that sin was of the heart, and in the heart and that I was in rebellion against God.”
So we see that it is God’s Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. You see, my friend, until the Law’s condemnation of particular evils is forcefully pressed upon a sinner, he will not flee to Christ for mercy. A soul only flees to Christ as his last resort. He only flees to Christ when all of his hope is gone in everything and everybody else. He only flees to Christ as his Divine Refuge through the agony of soul. As Gal. 3:24 tells us: the Law of God shuts up every avenue of hope and escape except in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me give it to you again, “THE LAW IS THE SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US TO CHRIST.” For what reason? that we might be JUSTIFIED BY FAITH - not by works, not by baptism, not by our church membership, not by our keeping the Law if we could, not by our crying, pleading, giving or any other work that we might perform - BUT BY FAITH IN THE CRUCIFIED BURIED AND RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST who is God’s only way of salvation. “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph.2:8).
Now, by the grace of God, let us show you that the using of the Law was our Lord’s way of dealing with sinners, for He knew that it was by the Law that we have the knowledge of sin and that sin is the transgression of the Law (I John 3:4).
In Mat. 19:16-22 we have the story of the rich young ruler coming to Christ in the right way; he came running. He asked the right question; he asked about eternal life. But he was suddenly stopped by our Lord’s bringing before him the holy requirements of a Holy God in His moral Law given at Sinai and upon the pages of Holy Writ.
The rich young ruler when told that if he would enter into life eternal, he must keep the Commandments, he asked, “ Which?”
Our Lord laid before him the second table of the Law having to do with our relationship with our neighbor. He said, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt no commit adultery, Thou shalt not seal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, honor thy father and thy mother: and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.” To this the young man replied, “all these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”
To this answer and question our blessed Lord laid before him the searching requirements of the tenth Commandment which reads, “Thou shalt not covet” by saying, “Go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”
Not until then did the rich young ruler know the searching of the Law of God, it spiritual nature and his far distance from God whom he thought he was so close to. The Scripture says in verse 22, “When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possession.”
Yes, he had for the first time seen himself a sinner before God. His covetous heart was laid bare before God and he did not like what he saw. God’s law had found him out and had exposed himself to himself. Therefore “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The Holy Spirit when he convinces a man of sin puts his finger upon the Commandment that brings out the darling sin of the life. As we showed you in our last series of messages, this must come. The Holy Spirit must convince us of sin if we are ever saved. Our Lord here put his finger upon the darling sin of his life, which was his COVETOUSNESS.
In dealing with the adulterous Samaritan woman in John 4, our Lord did the same thing. He put His finger upon her sin of lust: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and thereby showed her, her heart, that it was a sink of iniquity. This is always the Lord’s way in salvation. By His Spirit He brings forth the darling lust of the heart by bringing to bare His Law upon our hearts.
Let us look at the 10th Commandment of the moral Law of God and see why it was so searching to the heart of this young man, and why the apostle Paul said he was alive - so he thought spiritually - until this Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet” came home with such power to his heart.
Covetousness means and “inordinate love of the world” and “an insatiable desire of getting the world.” Now we are commanded in I John 2:15-17 to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, and world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
The world spoken of here is the world order of things: like the religious world order, the economical world order, the educational world order, the financial world order, the social world order, the scientific world order, the governmental world order, and all of these could be called the Satanic world order because Satan is the god of this world, the world orders.
What goes to make up these world orders? Three things: the lust of the flesh, which is THE DESIRE TO INDULGE; the lust of the eyes, which is THE DESIRE TO POSSESS; and the pride of life, which is THE DESIRE TO ATTRACT TO ONE’S SELF. And these three things define the word, “covetousness”. How? As I said, covetousness means an “inordinate love of the word” and “an insatiable desire of getting the world.” In the expression, “the lust of the flesh” which is THE DESIRE TO INDULGE, one’s heart covets after that which will give pleasure to his flesh, that which will give let him spend all his hours away from God and His Christ and God’s Commandment to love the Lord will all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
In the expression “the lust of the eyes” which is the DESIRE TO POSSESS, one’s heart covets after the things of this world with a desire only to have them for their own pleasure, comfort and satisfaction instead of the glory of God. The eyes cast themselves upon these things which God has forbidden us to have and therefore sins against Him. You see, the Law is spiritual, and therefore convicts a man even for his covetous thoughts.
COVETOUSNESS IS A SUBTLE SIN. Therefore it lays in the mind and springs upon a man to cause him to begin to meditate upon and lay plans to get that which does not belong to him, and which God forbids. Through the eye and the mind comes the desire to possess and thereby we are led to break all of God’s Commandments: “Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt have no other gods before thee,” therefore by coming under the wrath of God.
Also in the expression “the pride of life” which is THE DESIRE TO ATTRACT TO ONE’S SELF, we have covetousness in its most subtle form; for one’s heart is really desiring to put self on the throne and not God. Self desires to be worshipped and desires that all men would bow down to his superior knowledge, talent, ability, and accomplishments. Pride is a heart-sin that manifests itself in all kinds of ways, but chiefly in desiring to be worshipped and thereby rob God of His glory. A man by nature is covetous and must be shown what he is by the Holy Spirit.
How can we DETECT this sin of covetousness? Listen while I try to show you! You are possessed with this sin of covetousness: 1) when your thoughts are wholly taken up with the world. A man who has been born again and saved by the grace of God has his thoughts in heaven and is thinking about Christ’s love and His precious Person, but a covetous man’s thoughts are in the world; his mind is wholly taken up with it, he can think of nothing else but his shop, his farm or whatever give him pleasure. He is always plotting and projecting about the things of this life; he has no thought of heaven, God’s glory, nor his never-dying soul. Such a man is said to break the 10th Commandment.
2) A man is said to be given to covetousness when he takes more pains for getting the things of this life which will pass away at death, than for the things of heaven which will last eternally. A covetous man will turn every stone, break his sleep, take many a weary step for the things of this world, but will take no pains for seeking Christ or heaven. He HUNTS for the things of this world which will satisfy his fleshly desire, but he will only WISH for heaven and the things which are made for his eternal happiness.
3) A man may be said to be given to covetousness when all his talk is about the world. “He that is of the earth, speaketh of the earth”(John 3:3). It is a sign of godliness to be speaking of heaven, of Christ, the Substitute for sinners; and to show forth from the heart the graciousness and preciousness of the things of the Lord to your heart. So it is a sign of a man given to covetousness when he is always speaking of the things of this life: his pleasures, his joys, his riches, his job, his family or his church. A covetous man’s breath, like a dying man’s smells strong of the earth. As it was said to Peter, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” so a covetous man’s speech betrays him.
4) A man is given to covetousness when he sets his heart upon worldly things, that for the love of them, he will part with heaven, like the rich young man in our text today, he would rather part with Christ than with all his earthly possessions. When it comes to the critical point that you would rather part with Christ, the Saviour of your never-dying soul, rather than let go father, mother, wife, children husband, bank account, stock and bonds or the pleasures of this world; then you can say that you are possessed with the demon of covetousness.
5) A man is given to covetousness when he overloads himself with worldly business and therefore has no time to serve God; a little time to eat and sleep, but no time to pray and meditate upon God’s Word. The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the Word.
Thus when the Law of God exposes us to ourselves and the covetousness of our hearts, we find that the only CURE is the BLOOD of Christ, the only HOPE is the POWER of Christ, and the only REMEDY lies in the power of the cross of Christ whereby we are crucified unto the world, an the world unto us. Then by the preaching of the Law we are made to see our need of Christ. Yes, the Law as our schoolmaster brings us to the PERSON OF CHRIST and when we come to Him, it is by faith that we yield up the WHOLE MAN to the WHOLE CHRIST, to rest in and upon Him for time and eternity.
We have been endeavoring by the grace of God to set before you in this series of messages the place the Word of God puts upon the work of THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION.
We have set before you these Scriptures: Rom. 3:20, “by the LAW is the knowledge of sin”, Rom.7:7, “I had not know sin, but by the LAW”, Gal. 3:24, “the LAW is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” And for what purpose? that we might be justified by faith in Christ.
Now in our messages we have clearly stated to you that the Scriptures teach this: that the salvation that God gives in Christ and has provided for poor sinners is wholly and completely of grace apart from the works of man (Eph. 2:8-9). The justification and acquittal before God of poor hell-deserving sinners can only be by divine grace (Gal.2:16). This salvation in Christ which is wholly of God’s grace, is based upon His complete satisfaction to the Law of God: His paying in full the sin-debt of His people, by becoming their SUBSTITUTE, dying in their place , the just for the unjust. It is by the shedding of His precious blood upon the cross, the dying beneath their sins, the being cut off from God in hell, and His coming forth from the grace in glorious triumph in the morning of the resurrection, that God can and does have mercy upon any sinner.
The Scripture teach, if they teach anything, that by the Law of God shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God. For, you see, this is not what the Law of God was given for, that is, to justify poor sinners. No, it was given that we might know that we are sinners and stand in need of a DIVINE SUBSTITUTE. It was given that we might know the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It was given that we might know the divine requirements of a thrice Holy God and that we might see our far distance from Him. It was given to show us His hatred of sin, both in thought, word, and deed. It was given that we might be brought guilty before God so that God in infinite love and mercy might set us free in Christ (Rom. 3:24-25). Yes, this is what Gal. 3:24 tells us, that “ the law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
We showed you in our last message that it was our Lord’s method in dealing with sinners to open up the Law to them that THEY MIGHT KNOW THEIR NEED OF HIM. Let us read again today the story of our Lord’s dealing with the rich young ruler as recorded in Mat.19. “Behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if that wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do not murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions”(vv.16-22).
Our Lord used the second table of the Law to convince this young man of sin and his need of a divine Saviour. Like the apostle Paul, he could say, “I an innocent in all of these. I have not murdered, I have stole nothing, I have not borne false witness against anyone, I have honored my father and mother and have surely loved my neighbors as myself; what lack I yet?” Then came the 10th Commandment which as in the case of the apostle Paul. showed him the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It was when this Commandment: “Thou shalt not cove” came home to his heart, that he saw the Law of God to be spiritual, a thing he could not keep, did not keep and would never keep, because it required truth in the inward man; and he saw the heart to be exceedingly full of covetousness and he was not inclined to give up his riches, apart from the grace of God working in his heart by the Holy Spirit.
Here as elsewhere we see that the Law shows us our helplessness to keep from sinning, or hopelessness in ourselves to bring anything to God for our salvation; for we are shut up to the depravity of our own hearts that produce nothing but sin. You see, “in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing”(Rom.7:18) In me, there is nothing but sin. In me there is absolutely nothing that would commend me to God: for before God’s Law I stand guilty with my mouth stopped. I can only say, “guilty, guilty, guilty, because I have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
In presenting to this rich young ruler the Law of God in Mat. 19, our Lord wanted to show him the spiritual intent of the Law that it reaches into the heart and convicts of sin at its roots, as it is found in the depraved heart, in the depraved nature. Our Lord shows this in the Sermon on the Mount by saying in Mat. 5:21-22, “that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Also in I John 3:15 goes from anger to hatred and declares, “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Anger, hatred, envy, this is where it all beings; IN THE HEART, as anger burns against another, as hatred makes one seek revenge, as envy boils in the inward man and finally breaks out into the deed. This is the reason our Lord says that the Law is broken every by the anger and hatred and envy in the heart. You see, you stand guilty before God if you hate a man or woman a thousand miles from you, for it is a heart matter. Therefore the Law burns against you and cries for revenge; it cries for justice; it says “cursed is every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). Cursed for one thought of murder; Cursed for one thought of lust; cursed for one thought of covetousness; cursed for one thought of pride; cursed for one thought of stealing. Yes, the Law is spiritual and reaches into the heart of a man to condemn him before God.
Also James tells us “for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10), guilty before God for one sin. For one sin you are shut out from God forever. For ONE sin-think of that-Adam and Eve were turned out of the garden of Eden. For ONE sin Moses could not enter that promised land. For ONE sin Elisha’s servant and his seed suffered with leprosy all their lives. For ONE sin Achaan was cut off from among the people. For ONE sin, the sin of unbelief, the whole nation of Israel over 21 years of age, except Caleb and Joshua, was shut out from the land of promise.
You see, my friend, sin is no light thing in the eyes of God. He hates all sin; all sin must be punished. All sin must be put out of His sight, for God is of purer eyes than to behold ONE sin.
Now, where do you and I stand today before God’s Law? Has the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit ever brought you guilty before God? Has the Law ever followed you around, ringing in your heart and mind, Sinner, you are condemned? Sinner, you stand guilty before God! Sinner, I have marked you for death, for the soul that sinneth it shall die! Sinner, I have your name, I have your number, for God requires your blood at your hands! Sinner, get ready to die, or close in with Jesus Christ by faith! Sinner, hell is moved to meet you at your coming!
You ask, “How do I stand guilty before God in this way seeing I have lived the best life I know?” With your MIND you have killed another. “Whoso hateth his brother is murderer.” With your TONGUE you have prejudiced someone against another and cause him to be put to death. With your PEN you have set in motion a chain of events that has shed innocent blood. With your FEET you have been swift to shed blood. With your HANDS you have killed. With your CONSENT you have robbed the unborn of their lives while they were yet in the womb. With your CONSENT to another’s death, when you could have prevented it, you are an accessory to the fact. By your UNMERCIFULNESS you have committed murder, by closing your compassion to another, by taking away that which is necessary for the support of life.
A judge, by not executing the law upon capital offenders, stands guilty before God for murder. When a man who has been guilty of murder is let loose upon society again and again by the judge, then that judge is just as guilty of that murder as the murderer himself. You see, God is not going to count him guiltless.
Ministers are murderers who either starve, poison or infect the souls of men. Ministers are told to “feed the flock of God which is among you” (I Pet.5:2). Therefore, those who starve their people of guilty of murder. Those that poison the souls of their hearers with error are guilty of murder; those who infect souls by their scandalous lives are murderers of souls.
On and on could we go with the spiritual intent of this 6th Commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not kill,” but this is enough today to show that is reaches into the heart and affections of man cries within the convinced sinner, “Thou art the man; cursed, cursed, you are before God.”
It is in this way then that the Law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, yea to drive us to Christ, crying, “I am an unclean man; I have an unclean heart, and nothing can come forth but sin.” In this way the sinner is shut up to faith as his only way out. He is shut up to Christ as his only Deliverer and salvation. He is hopelessly doomed and lost in himself The sinner cries like David in Psm. 51, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgression: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou speakest, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me...Create in me a clean heart, O God... “
Yes, the soul who has been convicted by the Law and being shown by the Holy Spirit that he stands guilty before God, now knows he can only be saved by the blood of Christ and His work for him in satisfying the broken Law.
In this way does the Law magnify the grace of God: in bringing the sinner to Christ.
We have been endeavoring by the grace of God to set before you in this series of messages, the place the Word of God puts upon the work of THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION.
We continue to set before you the Scriptures dealing with this great truth. In Rom. 3:20 where we find that “by the law is the knowledge of sin” it is the plumbline by which we measure ourselves before the thrice Holy God, and therefore we are made to shut our mouths and stand guilty before God, for by the Law we are convinced that we “ have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Also in Rom.7:7 we find the greatest of all moralists, the Apostle Paul, confessing that he had not known sin, but by the Law. Again in Gal. 3:24 we find that the moral Law of God, His ten Words from Sinai, is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now in our messages we have clearly stated to you that the Scriptures teach that the salvation that God gives in Christ and has provided for the poor sinners is wholly and completely of God’s grace apart from the works of man. The justification and acquittal before God of any poor hell-deserving sinner can only be by divine grace. This salvation in Christ which is wholly of God’s grace, is based upon Christ’s complete satisfaction to the Law of God and the justice of God, by paying in full the sin-debt of His people.
Therefore the Scriptures teach, if they teach anything, that by the Law of God shall no man be justified in the sight of God. But this is not why the Law of God was given, that is, to justify poor sinners. No, the Law entered (Rom.5:20) that the offence might abound. It was given that we might know that we are sinners and stand in need of a divine substitute. Yes, the Law was given that we might know the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It was given that we might know the divine requirements of a thrice Holy God, and that we might see our far distance from Him. It was given to show God’s hatred for sin both in thought, word and deed. The Law of God was given that we might know our fallen condition because of sin, the desperate wickedness of our hearts, and our helpless, hopeless condition apart from the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and the wonderful condescending grace of God manifested toward us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
These past weeks we have been considering together the method our Blessed Lord used in dealing with sinners in His day, and how the Holy Spirit deals with sinners today, by looking into His dealings with the rich young ruler as recorded in Mat. 19. Listen as we read this portion again today! “Behold, one came and said unto him, Good Maser, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? and he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus saith unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, to and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
Our Lord used the second table of the Law to convince this young man of sin and his need of a divine Saviour, and as our Lord worked then, so He works today by His Spirit.
We looked last week at the 6th Commandment: “Thou shalt do no murder.” Let us look today at the 7th Commandment which our Lord brought before this sinner and it was, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
That this is a sin, an awful sin before God is everywhere shown on the pages of Holy Writ. Against the breach of this Commandment is written, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them”(Gal.3:10). Against the breach of this 7th Commandment is written, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge”(Heb.13:4). Again we are warned in I Cor.6:9, “Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers...shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Also under the civil law of Israel, adultery brought the death penalty as we read in Lev.20:10, “The adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”
Our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount shows us that this is a heart-sin, therefore comes under the judgment of God. He said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Oh what a searching thing then is the Law of God! Oh what a spiritual thing it is, to search out the man who not only commits the act of fornication or adultery, but who also commits it in the heart, in the affections. My friend, who can stand before the searching Law of God and say that lust has not been in your heart when that Law reaches into the heart to condemn you? Who can stand and say that unclean thoughts, desires and ideas of committing the sin of adultery have not been in your heart and mind? No man or woman because God’s Law can look upon the heart of man and say, “Thou are the man” and condemn you, for from the heart proceeds evil thoughts of fornication and adultery (Mat.15:19).
Listen as we set before you the sins forbidden in this seventh Commandment and see how we have broken this Holy Law of God and stand unclean and guilty before Him! ADULTERY and FORNICATION is spoken of in Heb.13:4 and Gal. 5:19 as forbidden and coming under the judgment of God. “Whore-mongers and adulterers, God will judge.” His wrath is kindled against these sins.
RAPE and INCEST are also spoken of in II Sam. 13:4 and I Cor. 5:1 as sins that God will punish. What detestable sins are rape and incest to us, therefore how much more are they in the sight of our Holy God.
Against SODOMY and all UNNATURAL lusts, as spoken of in Rom. 1 and Lev.20 and Deut.23:17-18 come under this Commandment and surely are an abomination in the sight of God. You see, God’s Word plainly calls Sodomy, that is, homosexuality and lesbianism, sin. It is not a sickness nor a disease, but a sin in the sight of God, and those who commit such sins are under the judgment and wrath of God.
Listen now if you never listened before! The Word of God plainly declares that all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes and affections are sin in His sight. Even though it has not reached the very act, yet if it is cherished in the heart, it is sin in the sight of God. The thought of lust, or adultery or fornication is sin (Mat.5:28). Evil thoughts, no matter what they are, are sin (Mat.15:19). The evil purpose, the evil affection, even though it has not broken out into the act is yet sin in the eyes of God (Col.3:5-6). We read in Mat 15:19, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries...” But I hear you say, “Pastor, who can shut these things off? It is impossible to prevent the desire for what we admire.” Very true, no one knows more it any more than I do, but it is in this very thing that we see THAT SIN IS A HEART MATTER and that we have an evil, wicked heart of sin and cannot keep from sinning. Therefore God uses His Law to teach us our exceeding sinfulness and our far distance from Him. It is in this way that we are shown by the Law our utter helplessness against sin, our utter hopelessness to cope with sin apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of a Sovereign Lord working in us. It is in this way that we are kept under the Law until faith can be revealed (Gal. 3:23). It is in this way that the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, to shut us up to Christ as our only Deliverer. It is in this way that the Law is our teacher to teach us of our sinfulness, our need of a Divine Saviour, and to teach us that God has provided a Saviour in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hear it again! The man who honestly faces the Law of God and its spiritual requirements, that IT REQUIRES TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS, must be convicted of his sinfulness and brought to realize his helplessness and hopelessness apart from the grace of God in Christ. This is the reason a poor, convicted sinner cries unto God for mercy, for his only hope is in Christ.
Again, the Scriptures show us that ALL CORRUPT AND FILTHY COMMUNICATIONS are sin in God’s sight and come under the curse of this broken Commandment. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints: neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks”(Eph.5:3-4).
Also under this Commandment comes immodest apparel, immodest dress (Prov.7:10). In I Tim. 2:9 we read, “Let the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, which becometh women professing godliness.” You see, dear friend, God hold every man, woman, and child responsible to dress modestly so as not to attract the opposite sex to themselves, to so dress as not to invite wanton looks and to stir up the passion of lust and the fire of hell in another’s heart and affections. Oh, how can any one of us plead anything but guilty to the charge of breaking this 7th Commandment: Thou shalt not lust, thou shalt not commit adultery!
Also this Commandment forbids and is against this PROMISCUOUS SOCIETY in which we are living. Oh listen to me! You and I are not free to live as we please; we must live according to God’s Commandments or suffer the consequence of eternal death in hell. Our God has given us the blessed state of marriage in which to enjoy the companionship of the opposite sex, and this Commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is set as a hedge to keep out uncleanness, for this is a heinous sin, a heinous crime against God and our neighbor.
The greatness of this sin is in the fact that is DISHONORS GOD. The adulterer sets his will above God’s Law, tramples under God’s commandment and spits in the face of the Almighty. Also understand that this sin of adultery without repentance damns the soul. “Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate shall enter into the kingdom of God” (I Cor.6:9). The fire of lust brings to the fire of hell, for Hebrews 13:4 tells us “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Yes, while the adulterer feeds on strange flesh, the sword of God’s justice hangs over his head.
May the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit bring you guilty before God, working true repentance in your heart toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. May there be a hatred in your heart for this sin. By God’s grace may the fear of God be in your heart for “by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil”(Prov.16:6).
Know also that there is forgiveness of the breach of this Commandment when it is confessed and turned from and forsaken, for our Lord Jesus Christ offered His lifeblood that we might be washed from this sin, cleansed for this sin, in that precious blood. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”(Prov.28:13). Like David, let us cry unto Him for a clean heart, a heart purged from this sin of uncleanness. Let our prayer be like the songwriters:
Oh, for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
So freely shed for me.
A heart in every thought renewed
And filled with love divine;
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine.
“THE SPIRIT ITSELF MAKETH INTERCESSION FOR US”
When some sweet promise warms our heart,
And cheers us under every care,
It is the Spirit’s gracious part
To take that word and fix it there.
Twas he that turned our hearts away
From love of sin and hateful strife;
His all-creating beams display
The dawn of everlasting life.
Tis he that brings us comfort down,
When we complain and mourn for sin;
And, while he shows our heavenly crown,
Assures us sin no more shall reign.
Our great High Priest, before the throne,
Presents the merits of his blood;
For our acceptance pleads his own,
And proves our cause good.
When prayer or praise attempt to rise,
And fain would reach Jehovah’s ear,
His all-prevailing sacrifice
Perfumes, and makes it welcome there.
We have been endeavoring by the grace of God to set before you in this series of messages how the Word of God reveals unto us the work of THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION.
That this is a truth, a teaching, of God’s Word, is everywhere set forth in Holy Scripture. Rom. 3:20 plainly declares that “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Gal. 3:24 plainly declares that the Law is a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Not only does the Scriptures set before us this eternal fact, but it clearly gives a picture of this in operation in the life of the apostle Paul, when the Holy Spirit came to convince him of his need of a divine Savior. Listen as he explains in Rom. 7:7-14 how the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit worked experientially in his heart and life! “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But, sin taking occasion by the commandment, worked in me all manner of evil. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
In this working of the Law of God in the Apostle’s heart and life by the Holy Spirit we have set before us in plain speech, the way the Holy Spirit works in the heart and life of every sinner whom God saves. You say, “How do we know this?” This is plainly set forth in I Tim. 1:15-16 by this same apostle to his son in the faith, Brother Timothy, in these words: Listen! “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
We see here then that the apostle Paul said that he was a pattern. You ask, “to believe on Christ to the saving of their soul. Now a pattern is to make things by; so the Lord showed forth in the apostle Paul’s salvation, the pattern that the Holy Spirit would follow in the salvation of sinners. “In what way?” you ask. I answer, “In the way we have been describing in these messages.” Why? that they might know sin! that it is the transgression of God’s holy Law and for the least deviation from this Law, you, the sinner, lie under the curse that the law sends forth and it is eternal punishment form the presence of a holy God abiding under His eternal wrath in hell.
Now I desire that you think with me as I ask you a few questions. Were you saved like the apostle Paul was saved? He said that sin became to him exceeding sinful. So I ask, “Has sin ever been exceeding sinful or bitter to you?” He said that when sin revived he died, that is, he found himself helpless to its reigning power. I ask, “Have you ever felt sin it its overpowering dominion, where you were helpless to its onslaughts?” The apostle said he came to see that sin had deceived him into thinking all was well with his never-dying soul, but now he saw that sin had sold him into hell. I ask, “Have you ever had your eyes opened to see the deceiving sinfulness of sin and that your depraved heart has deceived you into thinking all is well when all the time you swell upon sinking sand?” He came to see that the Law was God’s holy requirement and that he had come short of all of it, therefore he was under the curse of the Law and the wrath of God. I ask, “Have you ever seen this?”
This same apostle could say in Phil. 3:5-9 that if any man had occasion to boast in his fleshly righteousness, he had more. For he said, “I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews: as touching the law, a pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” I ask, “Has God by His Holy Spirit thus swept away your false religious foundation and left you with Christ as your only hope of salvation?”
Yes, the Law showed him that his own righteousness had deceived him and that he stood naked before a Holy God who knew all about him. I ask again, “Has the Holy Spirit, thus dealt with your heart?” For you see, dear friend, this is the way He deals with every soul whom He saves, for the apostle Paul was a pattern.
I know that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operations and that all whom He saves will not have the same intensity of Holy Spirit conviction as others. I know that in some cases it is the gentle opening of the heart like Lydia (Acts 16:14), knowing the Scriptures from a child like Timothy (II Tim. 3:15), the sudden conviction like the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:28), the long conviction of John Bunyan, the deep conviction of John Newton, but in all cases the Law of God must work in the heart or the Word of God is not true, that “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20) and “before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which would afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:23-24).
Therefore I believe and preach and have witnessed in my own salvation, that the work of the Law in the hands of the Holy spirit is God’s method in dealing with sinners to convince them of sin and their need of Christ. This work of the Law He uses, whether it be the sudden conversion like the jailor, or the gentle opening of the hear like Lydia. At some time, in some place, the Law of God in the hands of the Holy Spirit must work in the sinner’s heart, for there can be no knowledge of sin apart from this work (Rom. 3:20) and neither can there be salvation (Gal. 3:23-24).
Now I have laid the foundation for our message today by showing you that this is the way the Holy Spirit works in the heart and life of those whom He saves in Christ.
Today, let us look at the things the Law of God as a School master teaches us; for what is a schoolmaster but one to teach us? FIRST, without the knowledge of the Law there can be not TRUE HUMILITY. This, my friend, is of the utmost importance! For what is humility? (1) It is not a mere sense of our weakness as creatures, nor a general acknowledgment that we are sinners; but a deep and abiding consciousness of our guilty and undone state without God and His Christ. (2) It is a consciousness, that darkness itself is not more opposite to light, than we are to the pure and holy Law of God. (3) It is a sense of our utter alienation from God, yes, and of our enmity against Him, and that “every imagination of the thoughts of our heart is only evil continually.” (4) It is a sense of this: what we are in the sight of a Holy God, that makes us really “lothe and abhor ourselves and to repent before God in dust and ashes.” This is that: “broken and contrite heart which God will not despise.” This, you see, is the true work of the Law! And I ask, “For what reason? That every mouth may be stopped and you become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19).
You see, my friend, when thus the true knowledge of the Law is known in us, then we know our undone, sinful condition before God, and our mouth is stopped, shut; there is no argument with God, for He knows all about us and we lay at His feet in true humility; for His eyes see right through us and we know that we are known of Him. Therefore we are ashamed. But where do we find persons today penetrated with this condition, and smiting themselves on their breasts, and crying for mercy as sinners deserving of God’s wrath and indignation? You don’t find much of it today because of the ignorance of God’s Law and its spirituality in requiring truth in the inward parts. And this, dear friend, calls for the work of the Holy Spirit.
SECOND, without the knowledge of the Law there can be no TRUE GRATITUDE. You may ask, “What is true gratitude?” IT IS A THANKFUL SENSE OF MERCIES RECEIVED. Listen! a truly enlightened Christian will view himself as a poor bondslave, redeemed from sin and Satan, death and hell. He will also view himself as a redeemed one, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, the incarnate Son of God. He will be in his own apprehension, “a branch plucked out of the burning,” a monument of the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God. He will live out his days using the language of Psm. 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” “What benefits?” you ask. Listen! “He forgiveth all my iniquities, healeth all my diseases, he redeemeth my life from destruction, days on end. He crowneth my life with lovingkindness and tender mercies and satisfieth my mouth with good thing.”
Yes, the gratitude, the thankfulness of the redeemed soul at times, has no bounds as he dwells upon the goodness of the Lord toward his never-dying soul. He lays at the feet of His precious Lord, giving thanks unto Him for ever having elected him to salvation in Christ, calling him to this salvation by His Spirit, granting him repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth, giving him the precious gift of faith to lay hold of Christ, for the breaking of the power of sin in his life, giving him a new heart and a new nature, and the daily grace needed to keep him till he gets to glory.
Now what has brought all of this thankfulness to the surface? The knowledge of the Law, for the Law has shown him the depths of the iniquity and wickedness of his heart and has shut him up to faith in Christ as his only deliverance form the wrath of God. Therefore he cries, “Oh, that God would ever do so much for me. It is the wonder of my heart and life that He ever looked upon such as dead dog as I am.”
THIRD, without the knowledge of the Law there can be no HOLY ZEAL TO FOLLOW CHRIST. We are represented in Scripture as being “bought with a price” and therefore are called upon to “glorify God with our body and our spirit, which are God’s.” You see, my friend, when a man is sensible of his obligations, that is, all that God has done for him in Christ, no service under heaven would appear too great. So the redeemed soul who has been brought by the schoolmaster, the Law, to Christ and knows the awful price that was paid for his never-dying soul, feels and knows his obligation to “glorify God with his whole body, soul and spirit.” All that he can do for the Lord is nothing in his eyes; and all that he can suffer for the Lord is accounted very light: his time, his talents, his property, his influence, his whole life, has no value, but as they may be used to the advancement of the Divine glory. Call him religious, preacher, deacon, fanatic, beside himself; this makes no difference because he has by the Law been made to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin. He has been made to see his far distance from a holy God, the wrath of God hanging over his head, and eternal death in hell, separated from God which he deserves. Also, he has seen the awful price that was paid for his never-dying soul to be snatched as a branch from the burning, by the shedding of the precious blood of Christ in his behalf. Yes, all of this brings out holy zeal in his heart and life for Christ.
Do you know why you see so little zeal today in the lives of professed Christians? It is because they have had no view of themselves in the light of God’s holy Law, the standard by which He judges every man. Therefore, since they have not this view of themselves and a holy God against whom they have sinned, THEY HOLD NOT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS BEING PRECIOUS TO THEIR SOULS. Since sin therefore is not exceeding sinful to them, they could care less about holy zeal and a holy life lived in the Spirit. Having embraced some truth, the truth of God’s forgiveness, they go on living in sin believing all is well with their never-dying souls until they wake up in hell and then it will be too late. My friend, are you in this fix?
FOURTH, without the knowledge of the Law which shows us our sinfulness, there can be NO TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOSPEL. You see the gospel is a revelation of mercy through the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God; and that mercy is freely offered to all who believe in Christ. But, who is going to know this savingly? who is going to embrace this good news as his only hope until he hears the Law thundering in his hear: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them”?
You see, the Law makes known to us the true extent of our duty, it shows us that we are bound to love God with all our hearts, and all our minds, and all our souls, and all our strength: and to love our neighbors in all respects as ourselves. Nothing-I mean nothing-short of this is required of us from the cradle to the gave.
It is when we see the holy requirements of God’s Holy law and that we are tried by this Law, that we find ourselves guilty, exceedingly guilty, for all have sinned, broken this law, and therefore have come short of the glory of God. As far as our being saved by this Law which we have broken, we see that we cannot, it is impossible; but praise the Lord, the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested toward us, event he righteousness of God which is by faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. We understand by the gospel that God made Christ to be sin for us who knew no sin. We understand that by His death, burial, and resurrection, God can be just and justify before His holy Law, all who know themselves to be sinners, who have laid down their arms of rebellion, who have bowed before God in humility and repentance, and who have trusted their souls to Christ by faith. This God does freely in setting the repenting, believing sinner free from all his sins in Christ.
Yes, God can and will have mercy upon every soul that comes to Him, by the work of the Law as a schoolmaster in his heart, the Holy Spirit giving saving faith to know Him who freely forgives that sinner in the name, sacrifice, sufferings, death and resurrection of His eternal, incarnate son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know Christ? Are you in Him?
We have been endeavoring by the grace of God, to set before you in this series of messages, how the Word of god reveals unto us the work of the LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION.
Let us open our message today in this way. The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the Law; and it is because the Law has not been preached that we have so much superficial evangelism. Go through the ministry of our Lord Himself and you cannot but get the impression that at times, instead of pressing people to follow Him and to decide for Him, He put great obstacles in their way. He said, “Do you realize what you are doing? have you counted the cost? do you realize where it may lead you? do you know that it means denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following me?” (Luke 14:25-33)
You see, my friend, true evangelism-because of the doctrine of sin-must always start by preaching the Law. This means that we, as God’s messenger, must explain to you, as we have been doing in these messages, that you are confronted by the holiness of God, by His righteous demands and by His holy Law. You must face the consequences of sin, which is death in a never-ending hell of woe and misery if you stay in your present course of rebellion and self-will.
I know that when we mention hell, many fight back at us. But, my friend, it is not what I say about hell, but what the Son of God Himself speaks about hell, that you fight against. If you do not like the doctrine of hell, you are disagreeing with the Lord Jesus Christ. He, the Son of God, believed in hell; and it is in His exposure of the true nature of sin that He teaches that sin ultimately leads men to hell.
So true evangelism must start with the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the demands of the Law, the punishment meted out by the Law and the eternal consequences of evil and wrong-doing. It is only the man who is brought to see his guilt in this way who flees to Christ for deliverance and redemption. Any belief in the Lord Jesus Christ which is not based on that, is not a true belief in Him. You can have mental concept and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, but a true belief sees in Him One who delivers us from the curse of the Law. Therefore true evangelism starts with the Law showing God’s holy requirements and thereby showing us the true nature of sin.
It is the true purpose of the Law then, to give us the knowledge of sin and our need of a divine Savior. It is stated like this in Rom. 7:13: “Sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good,” which is the Holy Law of God. For what reason? “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”
Let us then today show you the sinner’s intolerance of God’s Law because of the very NATURE OF SIN which is in him. Listen! There is in man an instinct of revolt, an enemy of all Law, a rebel which will stoop to no yoke, not even to reason, duty or wisdom. This element in us is the root of all sin, it is called in Scripture THE NATURE OF SIN. That is the reason the Law was given that it might bring out into the open the awful rebellion of the human heart against God when the Just and Holy God tells the sinner by His Commandment, “Thou shalt not.” Listen to it again! BY OUR FALL IN ADAM WE DWELL IN A STATE OF SIN, HAVE A VERY NATURE OF SIN, and therefore STAND OPPOSED TO GOD AND HIS HOLINESS.
Now it is in this way that the Law shows us the exceeding sinfulness of sin so that under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are made to fall at the feet of our Holy God in repentance and we are shut up by the Holy Law of God to only ONE WAY of salvation and that is by the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. And not only are we shut up to Him and Him alone fore acceptance with God, but we must come to Him by the way of that MOST HUMBLING GRACE CALLED FAITH.
The next question to ask and answer is: what is sin? Let us look at the answer together. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our eyes to see the very nature of sin and why God hates it. FIRST, SIN is described in Scripture as THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW, for we read in I John 3:4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Whose Law? God’s Law, as stated in Exodus 20 and brought down to two tables, or statements in Luke 10:27 in these words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself.” Just the statement of these Commandments in these two tables makes me cry “guilty Lord, I stand guilty of transgressing that Law, for I have broken it even this day.” The thought of covetousness is sin, therefore I am a breaker or transgressor of God’s Law and stand beneath its curse unless I stand beneath the blood-tree of Calvary in Christ in confession, repentance and faith.
You see, transgression is a crossing over a line between good and evil. It is to step over the line between God’s will and ours. This is the sum of all that is wrong, for it is to step out of all possibility of happiness into certain misery, because you have gone contrary to God’s divine will, which is extreme love to Him and your neighbor.
SECOND, the Scriptures declare SIN to be WAR ON GOD, for we read in Rom. 8:7: “the carnal mind in enmity”; that is in active rebellion against God, “for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” In Col. 1:21 we are told that we are by nature alienated from God and enemies in our mind by wicked works, therefore the soul has set itself to war against God. What an awful thing sin is by nature in its very attitude of hatred toward the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, to rebel against light and love. You see, dear friend, we cannot win fighting against God: Pharaoh tried it and lost; Korah tried it and the earth opened up and he went down alive into hell; Nebuchadnezzer tried it and was sent out to eat grass like a beast for seven years. Oh what an awful thing, but it is true, that hell is full of those who have tried to make war against God and failed.
The only wise course for you and I to take is to fall at God’s feet in repentance, confessing our sinnership, and plead for mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ on the basis of His shed blood. Sin then is declared in Scripture to be war against god. Remember you can not win, for “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
THIRD, the Scriptures declare SIN to be ANARCHY. Psm. 14:1 declares the fool to be saying, “no God for me.” Therefore, the sinner is an anarchist, and the Law of god in the hands of the Holy Spirit BRINGS ALL OF THIS TO LIGHT IN CONVICTION. The anarchist under a human government says, “no ruler for me.” The sinner says, “no God for me.” This is the attitude, not only of the infidel and the atheist, who try to make themselves believe there is no god, but also of every UNREGENERATE SINNER. these stubborn will and deliberate choice of the heart of each sinner has shut God out of as much of His universe as the sinner controls, and the absence of God from the heart is as real and complete as if there were no God in existence.
What a state to be in! But, dear friend, this is what sin is and has done to us. Therefore, our condition must be revealed to us by the power of the Holy Spirit; and only then are we made willing in the day of His power to see ourselves as the Law reveals us, as an ANARCHIST.
This anarchy is a hellish crime against the god of the universe. It is the crime of the will of a helpless creature opposing the will of the all-powerful Creator, thereby setting up a condition which, if it should work itself out unhindered, would destroy the welfare and happiness of the whole moral universe. Such a crime of anarchy against God and His government demands a penalty, and this is what the Law says shall be brought forth. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). It comes down to this: it is either your will or God’s will, and my bible tells me that it shall be God’s will, for “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). But, dear sinner friend, it is only in this life that you may bow to the will of God and be saved in God’s substitute for sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ. But remember, bow you must to God’s will at the Great Judgment.
Oh what a great blessing it is then, for us to learn of our sinnership, of the nature of sin and come by God’s grace in repentance before the very God which we hate and cry for mercy in the name of the Son of God who died in the place of sinners. Oh how precious is that blood that was shed by the innocent One for a sinner like me! That’s why every born again child of God who has been accepted in Christ sings of the blood of the crucified One. There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins: And sinners, plunged beneath that flood Lose all their guilty stain. The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day: That fountain in his day; And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.
As another son-writer puts it, in describing the plea of a poor, repenting sinner crying unto God for mercy, we hear:
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul: Break down every idol, cast out every foe; Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Lord Jesus, for this I must humbly entreat, I wait, Blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet: By faith, for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow, Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait, Come now, and within me a new heart create: To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst no, Now wash me-in thy precious blood-and I shall be whiter than snow.
Yes, when once we see our sinful nature and condition before God, then we know from THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD that there is mercy for the vilest of sinners in the Lord Jesus Christ.
FOURTH, the Scriptures declare sin to be THE INTOLERANCE OF GOD HIMSELF. You see, sin is THE INTOLERANCE of the will of God over the life; and for proof that this is true with all who are under the control of sin, we need but to present to you today who are under that control, a call to surrender to the will of God, and it will instantly bring to the surface your spirit of intolerance and your hatred for God. You may react to such a call in sullen silence, or with sarcastic insults, or with courteous refusal, but no matter what your manner may be, it is all the same spirit of INTOLERANCE, that is, hatred, for you can not stand God’s will apart from His conquering grace. There is in man an instinct of revolt and will always show itself when the will is crossed. Think honestly with me, is not this so? Sure it is; we revolt against law, and authority, all of us: children, wives and husbands.
Then as we close this message, we can say that the Law in the hands of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, shows us the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that sin is a lie; sin is a delusion; sin is a thing of darkness; sin is a crooked, perverse, distorted thing; it is rottenness in the soul.
Therefore we are taught by the Law under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, as the Law brings us to Christ, that sin must be confessed before God. sin must be mourned over; sin must be hated; sin must be abhorred; sin must be departed form; sin must be striven against; sin must be mortified; and this can only be done as you lay at the feet of a holy God in repentance, seeking by faith, mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was manifested to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That’s the reason the Word goes forth, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
We have been endeavoring by the grace of God to set before you in this series of messages, how the Word of God reveals unto us the work of the Word of God reveals unto us the work of THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION. In this message today, which will conclude this series, I would like to set before you from the Scripture, the Law of God bringing the sinner to Christ for salvation and this in confession and repentance.
In Gal. 3:21-24 we read these words: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
We see here then that the Law was given to shut us up to one avenue of escape from the wrath of God and the penalty of sin which is everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and form the glory of His power, and that through the Lord Jesus Christ and all of this to be received by faith.
Our message today is upon confession of sin. When the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit convinces you of sin and your need of Christ as the only Way, Truth, and Life-the one Way, the one name by which a Holy and a Just God saves sinners-then you are shown by the Holy Spirit your need of confession and the laying bare of your heart before God in repentance.
In Proverbs 28:13 we read: “He that covereth this sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Here we find that to have a covering for our sins in the blood of Christ, there must be a confession of them and a forsaking them, with a hatred of them our whole life through. I John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us form all unrighteousness”-all wrong-doing. We see then that God can and will cover our sins in Christ if we confess them, but if we try to cover them ourselves, we do it to the shame and undoing of our never-dying souls.
All through the Scriptures we are invited to come back to God, to lay down our arms of rebellion, to seek His face and to turn from our wicked ways. He beseeches us in Isa. 1:18 in these words: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Every sin which we bring to Him, confessing before Him, He shall wash away in His precious blood. Again He said, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-67).
He therefore invites us to come, to seek His face but in coming to expect that He requires a forsaking of sin, and a confessing of sin and repentance for sin. Repentance is an attitude of hatred and abhorrence of sin because it cause the death of the Eternal Son of God to put it away. It is an attitude of hatred and abhorrence of sin because sin is against the Holy and Righteous God who sits up on the throne of grace.
Repentance also includes an earnest turning to God for help and deliverance from sin, seeking pardon for guilt and aid to escape its presence. It is also accompanied by godly sorrow (II Cor. 7:10) because of the sin committed in the past, and by determination with god’s help to avoid sin and live IN HOLINESS from this day forward. The heart which was against God and for sin is now against sin and for god. It is now on God’s side against sin, self and the world (I John 2:15-17).
In our test for today, we find in Pro. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The contrast here is not between great sins and small sins, but between sins covered and sins confessed and forsaken. Whoso covereth the smallest sin, shall not prosper. Who confesseth and forsaketh the greatest sin, shall find mercy.
You might ask, “What keeps sinners from this confession box, this place of humiliation, sorrow and true mourning?” I will answer you, “Pride does!” The proud sinner naturally wishes to be thought of better than he is. His sin must have some cover; but it will never be the covering of the blood of Christ until there is a coming clean and clear before God, a naming of sin, putting the finger upon it and crying before God, “thus and thus have I done.”
But the proud sinner tries first to cover it form himself if possible, trying to put it out of his mind, perhaps banishing all serious thoughts, stifling conviction and then trying to persuade himself that he is happy. but he is fooling nobody but himself.
You might try to lie about it as Cain and Joseph’s brethren did, but it is to no avail, be sure your sin will find you out. For one lie will only lead to another, and the truth will be faced either now or at the Great White Throne Judgment.
Then if the facts are too plain to be denied, then you will try to pass it off by saying that it is not as bad as it sounds, or you know it is not as bad as it sounds, or you know it is not as great a sin as my neighbor’s. but, my sinner fiend, these excuses will not stand before God. He demands and gets, before He covers those sins by the blood of Christ, a complete confessing of them and a forsaking them.
Sometimes the excuses will go like this: I was ignorant of what I was doing, or at least my intentions were good. But these will go like this: I was ignorant of what I was doing, or at least my intentions were good. But these will not stand up at the bar of God’s justice, for the Scripture says, “We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Someone may say, “But it is the custom to live in open sin, open adultery, open lying and stealing,” but this excuse will not cover your sin, but only condemn you more because you know it is wrong to live with another man’s wife or another woman’s husband. You know it is wrong to lie and steal and covet, but you go along with it because it is the custom and you do not want to buck the tide of the day. But this is not excuse, “He that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Someone may say, “But the temptation was too strong and you know how weak I am.” Another may say, “My constitutional infirmity caused me to do it, I could not help myself.” But these are no excuses! Instead of finding excuses for your sins, humble yourselves before God and bring them to Him and plead His only Son’s precious blood for cleansing. This is your only hope: come clean and come clear with the Lord.
Others of you will try to hide your sins by blaming them on others, but his, God will not accept. Adam tried to shift the blame to Eve and God, but it did not work, he yet died in and for his sin. Eve did not prosper by putting blame upon the serpent. King Saul did not people by putting the blame upon the people for not obeying the Commandment of the Lord. Pilate got nowhere by washing his hands of the death of Christ and putting the blame upon the Jews.
Others will put the blame on Satan, but he can only tempt, for it is your own depraved nature that loves sin and causes you to commit it.
Others try to cover their sins by supposed good deeds. Others by trying to balance their good deeds against their evil ones, hoping thereby to have peace with God. But, my friend, your fig-leaf coverings only show more the nakedness of your sin-cursed soul before God . It only shows that the pride of your heart has deceived you. For you seemingly would rather hide sin from God than submit, to receive free mercy as a self-condemned sinner.
I want you to be warned today, my sinner friend, all of these attempts to cover your sin shall not prosper! The voice of an offended God summoned Adam from his hiding place to receive sentence. And one day this same God will summon you to give an account and receive sentence of judgments. The voice of Abel’s blood cried from the ground, and the murderer became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. Conscience lashed Joseph’s brethren with the sin of 22 years; and I tell you “be sure your sin will find you out.”
Remember, the Word of God is plain in Job 34:22, “There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Also remember your darkest and blackest deed is done in the open face of an all-seeing God, and set in the light of His countenance to be proclaimed upon the house-tops before the assembled world at the Great White Throne Judgment.
I must say here, that unless sovereign mercy interposes for you, your life must end in the sting of the never-dying worm, for you see, my friend, the covering of your sins in any of these ways shuts out the possibility of the cure. Remember, only the penitent sinner can be the pardoned sinner.
I have put forth all of these excuses to show that man left to himself would never come to Christ (John 5:40), but would rather be damned in hell than to admit his complete ruin as a sinner. But praise the Lord this is where the work of the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit is shown to be our schoolmaster to shut us up to a sin-hating God on one had, and a merciful Savior and redeemer on the other. The Law so works in our understanding, in our minds, that we are forever convinced that we are sinners and therefore are made willing in the day of God’s power to pour out our hearts before God in confession, with a desire to turn from sin, forsaking it by the grace of God all the days of our lives.
When this takes place in the sinner’s heart, he sees and know that God requires not, “we are all sinners...”, but I am a sinner and thus and thus have I done. I am full of pride, unbelief, lust, wickedness, covetousness, love of the world, blasphemy, hatred, bitterness, and an evil tongue. I have wronged my neighbor, my wife, children and husband. I have brought shame and reproach upon the name of God, and His Christ. Behold, I am vile, wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked before God. I lay my hand upon my mouth and cry “unclean”; my lips and heart are unclean before God. This is what God wants and require: a confessing of all sin, a blaming of nobody, a looking at nobody else, but a breaking of the proud and sullen heart before Him.
Praise the Lord, when the Law shuts us up to Christ and the faith-way of salvation, and we return to the Lord like the lost son in Luke 15; them we find Him ready to receive us in forgiveness and mercy. I say praise the Lord, for when confession thus proceeds from my heart, I have not time to see anybody else’s faults or sins, it is me and me only that stands guilty before God.
Listen to me now! God needs not our confession for His own information, because He knows all about us, but He demands it for our good. It brings no claim on His mercy, but it is suitable for the reception of mercy. Christ has freely satisfied the claims of justice, but the claims must be acknowledged in the humble acceptance of the benefit given by the shedding of His own precious blood.
Listen again! The mercy of God is available in Christ, but the sinner must seek it, ask for it, long for it; only acknowledge your sin and you shall receive it.
When we confess, He stands ready to forgive. Then we shall hear, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psm. 32:1-2). Yes indeed, blessed is the man whose sin is covered by the blood of Christ.
How precious was those words of Isa. 44:22 to my heart when heavenly light broke into my soul as I lay at His feet in confession and repentance; “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.”
Therefore let me cry unto you today, dear sinner friend, “seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon his name” in confession and repentance, and by faith believe the Word of God as it is revealed unto us in Christ, that “Christ was made sin for us who know no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor. 5:21). Look away by faith unto the Lamb of God, who will take away your sin (John 1:29).
So, in closing these messages on the work of THE LAW OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION, I want to praise the Lord for His good ness in giving me His Holy Law and using it in my own heart to give me this knowledge of sin and the knowledge of God’s precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and shutting me up to Him and the way of faith as His Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit worked in my heart.
Praise the Lord for His goodness that leads us to repentance. Praise the Lord for His goodness in sending His Holy Spirit to convict and convince us of the sin of unbelief, the need of God’s righteousness in Christ, and the awful wrath and judgment of God that hung over our heads because of our sins.
Praise the Lord our God for His unspeakable gift of the Lord Jesus Christ who willingly gave Himself up to the death of the cross as our Substitute, Redeemer and Deliverer.
Praise the Lord for His keeping grace that is given unto us daily so that having started in the Christ life of faith, we will end it in glory.
Obtained from Mt. Zion Bible Church (www.mountzion.org). Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.
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