Fairmont First Baptist Church
21st Century Theology: You're Not As Good As You Think You Are
- I Need Thee Every Hour
- Big Idea of the Message:While people may feel they have a natural goodness that earns them favor with God, the Bible teaches that all people are by nature sinful and in need of a perfect Savior.Application Point:As believers, we should help the moralist understand that the standard of goodness is not subjective.IntroSecond week in a series in a four part series about how we see the worldAs we talked about last week, we all have a way that we see the world, something that we might call a worldview.As followers of Jesus it is important to make sure that our worldview is put together and completePuzzleIf you are a nonbeliever I hope that you’ll stick with us through all of this, because I think that you are going to see that there is a solid unified way that Christians see the worldA way that makes senseIn fact, THE way that makes sense.It’s hard for me to make sense of the world any other way, and I’ve triedOne of the things that we talked about last week, was that as we are constructing this worldview and putting all the pieces together, we must turn to the bible and let it be our main guide in all of this.The confession of faith that this congregation holds to states that scripture is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried”So let’s start with scripture.Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For there is no favoritism with God. For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified. So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.The ProblemThe view that we get from the world about human nature is pretty confusing.On the one hand we often operate from the view point that people are innately good and even perfectible.An idea that humanity is on an inevitable march of progress.“Imagine that happening in the year 2020!”Yet at the same time, we can see more clearly than ever the capacity of humanity for great evil.The meat grinder of WWIThe horrors of the HolocaustThe Stalinist purgesPolPot9/11ISISWe too often choose to ignore evil because it doesn’t fit the worldview that says that people are good, and then when confronted with evil, we are surprised and react poorly.But in turning to the individual, to you and me, it can be difficult for people to admit their lack of goodness.Most people want to believe they have a moderate level of goodness.This goodness can be anything from being true to themselves to not committing egregious sins such as murder or adultery.While this may appear to be a reasonable standard of goodness to many, this particular standard is merely a gauge against other humans.Not against an impartial and universal standard.This may even satisfy the individual conscience, but it’ll never satisfy a holy and righteous God.These people are often called moralists, and that’s who Paul is referring to in Romans 2.Don’t misunderstand, there are some really great people in this world.People who live entire lives selflessly for the sake of others and who are very generous with their resources.There are many people out there treating their spouses with respect and their children with dignity.The point is ,however, that our own innate goodness is not enough to earn a place in heaven because our goodness is not the standard.The TextHere in Romans 2, Paul is writing in what’s called a diatribe—that means that he’s carrying on an imaginary conversation with the reader in order to better engage the reader to see his position.This type of literary genre was often used by Stoics and philosophers in the first century and was absent the snarky and sarcastic connotation we often associate with the word (diatribe) today.Paul gives us some helpful ways to deal with the moralist.First, in verses 1–5, Paul shows that the moralist has a misconstrued reality.The moralist does not feel he is guilty, but verses 1 and 2 help us understand that he is in fact guilty.When the moralist judges another, stating that he is not in the same category because he has not done things as wicked as the others, he has recognized that there is a standard.A standard that they themselves have broken.Thus, they are not the less guilty.Also, in verse 3, the moralist seems to think that God won’t judge them.They think things like, “Even though I am guilty, God won’t judge me. My sin certainly does not deserve hell. God really could not, would not judge me,” when in reality, God will judge them.In verses 4 and 5, the moralist wagers that God is too good to judge. In reality, God judges because he is good.Second, in verses 6–11, Paul shows that the moralist will in fact be judged by their works.In essence, Paul is saying, “Okay, you want judgment by works? God will judge you by your works.”The outcome for the wicked is condemnation.In verse 8, Paul uses the word “fury.” It comes from a stem which means to breath violently.This idea of breathing heavily in rage can be illustrated by thinking of a cartoon character (perhaps Yosemite Sam) who gets really angry and begins to release smoke out of their ears.the character Anger from Inside OutEven a child can understand that the character is really upset!It talks about somebody in the heat of passion. It is the same word used in Hebrews 11:27 where Pharaoh was so angry that he wanted to kill Moses.Third, in verses 12–16, Paul shows that the moralist will be judged based on revelation.Paul speaks of two kinds of revelation.The first revelation speaks of the moral law, which is a reference to the innate sense of right and wrong that everybody has.The second kind of revelation is the conscience.The conscience is that part of our humanness which tells us whether or not we have kept the moral law. Hamlet said, “Conscience does make cowards of us all” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, scene 1).The word “conscience” in verse 15 is an extremely rich term in Greek literature.Sometimes it refers to a court, sometimes a witness, or sometimes an accuser.In the courtroom, the conscience plays every part: recorder, prosecutor, jury, and judge.In fact, the conscience is but a flash of future judgment.Paul conjures up this courtroom scene in verse 15 that paints a perfect picture of what is to come for the moralist.Verse 16 talks about how God will judge “the secrets of men.”Remember, Paul has been talking about the moral law and the conscience—invisible parts of our humanity—that which we cannot see.The moralist could be thinking, “Well, nobody sees my conscience.”Paul is stating that though others can’t see their conscience, God can, and one day will judge them.What to Do?Three things to realize.When dealing with a moralist, it’s important not to engage in an argument, but rather engage in a conversation that will build a relationship of trust.The gospel is by nature offensive, but especially to the moralist who thinks they are okay with God because of their goodness.One apologist illustrates this idea by saying we should desire to leave a stone in their shoe (Gregory Kaul, Tactics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009], 39).Something they can’t stop thinking about and can’t help but feel after your conversation with them is through.As believers, we should strive to (a) leave moralism behind and (b) help moralists understand that the standard of goodness is not subjective.
- I Gave My Life for Thee
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