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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
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Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
Title:Looking in the Mirror of God's Law
Text:LD 2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Law is Good

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Scripture Reading: I John 2:3-11

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 2

Brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,

            We are daily bombarded with an unbelieving worldview from our whole society. To speak of the sinfulness and depravity of man is politically incorrect. The only time you can speak of moral wickedness is to mention people like Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, etc. Those are really bad people. Are those really bad people? What makes them bad?

            If you asked your unbelieving neighbour that question, they would likely be surprised at your question. Well, of course you know they are bad, they killed thousands and millions. But why? Why did they orchestrate mass murders? Were their hearts so very different than everyone else’s? No, they weren’t. They were possibly successful because they were extremely intelligent in their wickedness and they had the power to carry out what they did. However, Hitler is not much different than your unbelieving neighbour. That might startle you, but that is what the scriptures teach us and that is what Lord’s Day 2 is laying out for us.

            The problem we face today is that these lies that our society continues to push off on us, some Christians end up believing them. In fact, we are in danger of losing a Reformed and biblical life and worldview and of taking up the worldview, which is a lie, of the secular, unbelieving world. This morning, we are going to look at I John 2 and L.D. 2 to respond to 4 lies the world tells us. Our theme is: The law of God reveals the sinfulness of our hearts.

I.                    I can love God and live how I want.

II.                  Jesus has fulfilled the law, so I don’t have to keep it

III.                I’m not really that bad.

IV.                All the answers to our questions can be found in this world

I. I can love God and live how I want

            I am often times asked questions essentially about worldliness by young people. They have friends and contacts who do not observe the Lord’s Day, or who do not think it is important to keep oneself chaste and away from pre-marital sex. There are many questions that sound quite a bit like this one that we are faced with. To phrase this lie in a modern way, is I don’t need my parents, my friends or the Bible to cramp my style. I love God, but I don’t really think he cares if I ____________fill in the blank.

            The response, yes he does care if you _____whatever you filled in the blank. In I John 1 and 2 we have one of the most common and comforting assurance of pardons in the scriptures. Read vs. 1:9-2:2. Then we come to verse 3 and we read “Now by this we know that we know, if we keep his commandments.” There is a wordplay on the work “know “ there. To translate it another way, “by this we will be sure that we love Him, if we keep His commandments.” This verse itself should be enough to respond to this lie. If someone persists in this lie, read him the next verse. Ouch, that should convict the one who is disobedient to God’s law.

            Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The whole sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7 is direction given to believers. Can believers keep God’s law perfectly? No, their whole inclination and motivation and desire is to please God.

            When we come across people who believe that they do not have to live according to God’s word, this likely is just an excuse to be selfish and fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This is how some people try to justify their sin. But who are they trying to fool. Who are they trying to convince? I guess those around them, their friends or peers, for there is no fooling the almighty God. He knows all and see all. There is no hiding from him.

            All human beings are going to have to face their sin. Lord’s Day 2 speaks about our misery, which is a word that is even broader than sin, for it also includes our guilt, which is a consequence of sin. King David understood this well. For someone who feeds us this lie, we can tell them the solution that David came up with, “Repent of your sins.” In Psalm 32:3-5 David says, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Here David is even describing the physical and psychological results of believing the lie that we need not repent of our sins. His life was being quenched, his vitality was gone. Then in verse 5, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. And you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

            God will punish those in his anger those who live according to the lie, “I can love God and live however I want.” Ps. 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord mercy shall surround him.” The person who lives according to this lie is like the spouse who says to their husband/wife, “I love you” and then an hour later they have an affair.

II. Jesus has fulfilled the law, so I don’t have to keep it.

            Wrong! The first half is correct if you are a child of God. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law. This is part of the gospel. Realize that we are in the first section of the catechism dealing with our sin and misery. In the first part of the catechism we see the first use of the law in play.

            The law is a mirror in order to measure ourselves. My brother is three years younger than I am and so I was always taller than he was. However, once he reached about the age of 15-16 he caught up, or so he thought. So, we stood back to back and he measured with his hand to see who was taller. However, that can be very misleading. You need someone else to tell you who is taller or, you need a mirror. You stand back to back in the mirror and you can see who is taller. The law of God works like a mirror to see how we measure up to God’s standard. God’s standard never changes. The first use of God’s law is to expose our sinfulness. As we measure ourselves with God’s perfect law, we see our failure and sinfulness.

            For the children of God, Jesus has fulfilled the law, he has not abolished the law. The law for us is to guide us in our whole lives. It guides us in raising our families, it guides us in determining how our children are to be educated, it guides us in determining how to spend our holidays, etc. One thing that changes now that Christ has come, is that as we are united to Him in true faith, we are no longer under the demand of the law. We certainly do not keep the law in order to earn or gain the favour of God. We have the favour of God and that is sure and lasting. The covenant of grace is upheld by His providence.

            The law of God for us shows our thankfulness, our gratitude. Look at verse 5 of I John 2, and verse 6 (read). We have a calling to love. This is what the summary of the law reminds us, to love God and our neighbour. You cannot love your neighbour if you do not love God.

            This lie that we are looking at is not new. So-called Christians have been promoting this view for centuries, they are called antinomians. That word literally means, against or contrary to the law. What law? God’s law. This is a misunderstanding of the grace of God. The work of Jesus Christ is liberating. This does not mean that it is a license to live in all kinds of wickedness, but rather it liberates us so that we can live our lives for the glory of our Almighty God.

            So, the response to this lie is that Jesus has fulfilled the law, but because he has done so, now we can walk according to it in gratitude. It is not a weight, but it is light as a feather for the true child of God.

III. I’m not really that bad

            Wrong, yes we are, for this is our nature. I John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” Okay, all will likely admit that they have made mistakes in their life. They have done things they shouldn’t have. They will agree to breaking some of the commandments of the second table of the law. But, people are far worse than that. This is the modern mentality. In giftedness and ability I read that Americans have a higher view of themselves but lower test scores than the Chinese who have a lower view of themselves. That is for ability, etc.

            Take this in terms of sin, and nearly everyone thinks they are better than they actually are. This is because society knows nothing about total depravity because of total depravity. Let me explain that. Our confession says that we “have a natural tendency to hate God and our neighbour.” Sin has affected our whole beings. It has effect our actions, our will and desire, even our emotions. The reason why the wicked do not recognize their wickedness is because they are blinded to it. Isn’t this the argument the Apostle John is making. Look at verse 11. Unbelievers are walking around in the dark. They do not even recognize their own depravity. Romans 2:15-16 says that they are a law unto themselves. Romans 1 says that they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Ephesisans 2 says, this is what we were like, satisfying the cravings of our sinful nature, by nature we are objects of wrath.

            The good news congregation, is that we are no longer “by nature.” We are by super-nature. God has worked supernaturally in our hearts. The invisible work of the Holy Spirit becomes visible in our lives. Our whole being is transformed, our will, emotions, motives and actions. Are we still sinful? Yes. Are we as sinful as before? No. Can our righteousness merit the favour of God? No, only trusting in Jesus Christ can do so. When we admit our depravity and sinfulness, and turn unto God in faith, we are embraced as his children, heirs of everlasting life, members of the covenant of grace.

            A proper understanding of sin is under attack today. Roman Catholics deny the full fall into sin, Arminians deny that our will has become completely depraved, but is still free, able to choose to follow God or able to reject him. Arminians also do not believe that sin has caused spiritual death, but rather just a spiritual sickness. However, scriptures says, “you were dead in trespasses and sins.” Or, “there is no one who seeks after God.” Our catechism says, we by nature hate God and neighbour.

            Anyone today who teaches that natural man can rightly understand and interpret the world around them, including the law written on their mind or conscience, is not recognizing the far-reaching effects of the fall into sin.

            When we speak with people who say, “I am not really that bad.” We must be willing to point them to the truth, in wisdom, and show them, from their own live, the utter depravity and the vital need for an Advocate with the Father which they do not have. Jesus has come to save sinners, not the righteous.

IV. All the answers to our questions can be found in this world.

            Wrong again. All of the answers to our questions, the ultimate questions must come from God. In one way, we could respond and say that the answer to all of our questions must come from the Holy Scriptures, for this is how God teaches us, but more accurately we could say that the answers to our questions come from the scriptures through the work or operation of the Holy Spirit. This world is full of questions and so oftentimes the answers some are pedalling are even worse than the questions being asked.

            Take for instance the theory of evolution. This isn’t just an answer to the questions of how old is the world, or why do birds have wings, etc. This is a whole belief system and worldview. This is at odds with God’s word, and God himself. The world doesn’t recognize this as clearly as we do. This whole evolutionary, atheistic worldview is being publicly funded by your tax dollars in public schools. I hope you didn’t think public schools were neutral in terms of its relationship to God. No, that is impossible. Isn’t this clear from our confession no one or nothing is ever neutral. You are either for God or against God.

            This filth that they call science had educated generations of Canadians, both Christians and non-Christians. Do you think it has any influence in the church? Of course it does, which is another reason we need to stand firm on our conviction to promote only Christ-centered education.

            Only Christ-centered education will find answers to the questions people ask, for only Christ centered education is looking to the book that leads us to the truth, the very Word of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

            Brothers and sisters, our world is continually telling us lies. Our world denies their own wickedness and depravity. God word reminds us of our sinfulness to point us to the solution. I John 2:1 says, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The law shows us our unrighteousness, and the gospel tells us about Christ righteousness. The perfect righteousness of Christ’s is ours, by faith. Repent and believe in Him. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2011, Rev. Steven Swets

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