Sunday, October 17, 2004

Maybe I Can Be Good Enough

INTRO: I was a perfect child. I never lied my parents. I never disobeyed my parents, I always did what I was told. But then neither did any of you. 1.On the other hand, my kids, our kids ... well I really don't want to talk about my kids. I might be embarrassed. 2.And I know you well enough to say without question, that you did not obey your parents either. 3.And, and this is the hard part, I can remember a few times that I disobeyed mine – but I will never admit it. And I sometimes still tell lies. 4.There is something about human beings that makes us want to appear better than we are. 5.We have all sorts of explanations, or excuses for why what we are doing is not wrong. 6.And though we might do a pretty good job of fooling most people, there are two people that know where truth ends and the coverup begins – those two people are yourself and God. And for some, they may even have it confused about yourself. 7.No matter how well we try to cover up our sin, we can never hide it from ourselves and from God. 8.And that is the issue that Paul addresses in today's passage. Read Romans 2:1-11 Pray Tran. Paul has just started discussing the issue of sin. Though man started out as God's creation, he began to ignore God. And through a series of significant steps he began to progress along a path that led further and further from Him. But lest the readers think they are off the hook because Paul did not mention their sin, he ends with a list of sins. But, I suppose that I could be left feeling pretty good about myself if Paul had not mentioned any of my failings. I. No excuses allowed A. I know that I am pretty good. I mean I know people with problems far greater than mine. I mean, my sins are just so minimal. I am a pretty good guy. B. I suppose I could make myself feel pretty good by reading the last few verses of chapter one – and skipping the rest of the book of Romans. C. But, and it is a big but, the minute I begin reading chapter 2, I am in trouble. D. I cannot even begin to compare myself to others without starting to feel the heat of Romans 2. E. It is this that distingquishes us from Christ. (Ill.) Philip Schaff, church historian - A catalog of virtues and graces, however complete, would merely give us a mechanical view. It’s the spotless purity and the sinlessness of Jesus as acknowledged by friend and foe that raises His character high above the reach of all others. In Him we see the even harmony and symmetry of all graces: His love for God and man, His dignity and humility, His strength and tenderness, His greatness and simplicity, and His self-control and submission. It’s the absolute perfection of Christ’s character that makes Him a moral miracle in History. It’s futile to compare Him with saints and sages, ancient or modern. Even the skeptic Jean Jacques Rousseau was compelled to remark, “If Socrates lived and died like a sage, Jesus lived and died like a God.” F. We are without excuse. We are guilty. We cannot hide behind those who we identify as more guilty than we are. G. And that leads us to the second point ... II. No favorites (Ill.) My favorite color is tourquoise. My favorite fruit is the orange. My favorite movie is Contact. And, as I have remineded Sandra on numerous occasions, my favorite wife is Sandra. A. We have our favorites – it is part of what makes us different. B. We also live with our favorites – our favorite vacation spot, our favorite co-workers, our favorite child (I know we aren't supposed to have favorites, but at any given time, there is a favorite.). C. The Jews thought that they were God's favorites. There was Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. There was Moses and David and the prophets. They thought they were God's special people – and they were. But that did not let them off the hook. D. Look at Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law. E. The Jews in Rome, and elsewhere, thought that by obeying the OT law found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy they could spend eternity in God's presence. And God was going to judge them by that law (Ill.) OT law in some ways was very similar to the laws found in other ancient cultures of the middle east. Yet there were some major distinctions. The OT law was given by God – it was not a human law, but a law rooted in God's character and holiness. The law established a theocracy – a nation under God. This was in contrast to the other nations in the area which were ruled by kings. You'll remember that Israel argued with God about the need for a king. God began by giving them Saul and David. F. The Jews also thought that Gentiles could not receive God's blessing. And though Paul does not respond to that here, he does make it clear that they to will be judged. G. The point that Paul wants to make is this – God will not show favorites. His love, his grace, and his justice is equal for all. (Appl.) Here, in the 21st century the distinction may very well be between Christian and non-Christian religions. Or maybe between denominations – Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Mennonite, Catholic. God will hold us to the same standard. Conclusion: But that standard is no longer the law. 1.We cannot live up to the law, we will fail. Whether it be God's law or our own. We will fall short. 2.The standard is what have you done with Jesus Christ. 3.What have you done with Jesus Christ?

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