When thinking of Christ we can quickly place him in the box of history past. This is a limited view on his faithfulness to us; excluding what he has yet to do. As we walk with him we continue to see his faithfulness as a loving Father. "Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard." Proverbs 13:15
Redemption: The Message of Reconciliation
Trusting God in Temptation
The Greatness of Christ: Christ's Humility
Good morning! Fort Worth, hello! Dallas, hello! It is good to be here and good to be talking about The Character of Christ. It is my favorite topic to talk about Jesus because of what he has done for me, what he is doing in me, and what he is going to do for us. I say that because too many times when we think about Jesus, the character in history, we act like all about Jesus that we need to know is all about that which has happened.
I'm going to tell you this morning if all you focus on is the Jesus of history past and not the Jesus of history full, you have a very weak Jesus and one that does not fill you with all the hope it should, one that does not answer all the problems you face, and one that ultimately is weak. My Jesus isn't weak. He is not just the Lamb of God; he is the Lion of Judah, and I want to introduce him to you today.
When I tell you I'm going to teach you about Jesus, where do you expect me to go in the Bible? The Gospels, right? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Well guess what? We're not going to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and I'm going to teach you all about Jesus this morning. I'm going to show you the Jesus of history. Let me just start by reminding you of this: the Bible is God's revelation of what is happening in history.
History, it's been well said, is "his story." The Bible is not there to tell us everything. It is there to reveal to us everything we need to know: who we are, why we're here, why there are problems while we're here, what we should do about those problems, what God thinks about those problems, and what God is going to do to eradicate those problems one day.
The Bible introduces us to God's interaction with man and God's solution with man's decision to not want to interact with him. This is not God's world we're in. This world is under God's sovereignty, but this world has been given to another. That other is the Prince of Darkness. He is a liar. He has been a liar from the beginning, and he wants to suck you into a constant life of trouble, death, sadness, depression, and hopelessness because that's where he is, and misery loves company.
He has rebelled against God. He believed he didn't need God, that glory could be his, that he was greater than God. He called others to follow him, and God cast him out of his presence, placed him in a place of darkness that was filled with chaos, formlessness, and void. Because when you're away from God, you're away from beauty, order, and all that is right and true.
Into that domain that cast-out one lived God created order and beauty. He placed you and me in it. Now why did God do this? The Bible tells us God does everything for his glory. Not to establish his glory but to reveal his glory. God was going to show not only was he sovereign and powerful and could cast people out of his presence who rebelled against him. God was going to show he is good, and he is going to reveal his mercy and his kindness.
I don't want to burst your bubble, but this isn't about you. This world is not about you. You are not here for your own glory. If you want to be here for your own glory, you can make your own way. Your glory will be fleeting, and you will be constantly confused. You will live like Tyler Briggs (see your Watermark News), and you will try and find life in all the ways men always try and find life: money, pleasure, success, fame.
No matter how much of it you get, you will always be bitter because it's not enough, because you weren't made for those things. Those things were made for you because God is good. God wants you to have glory. The way you get glory is by following the character of Jesus. The way you can be restored to glory is through the character of Jesus. All real glory exists only in the person of Jesus.
Let me take you back to the beginning of the story. Into that beauty God created, he placed you and me. He is the perfect Father, so he put us in a perfect place. When you get a new kid, what do you do? Your wife basically does this to you. She says, "Honey, I'm pregnant." Then she disappears. She goes off, and she buys paint, a crib, bumpers, and all kinds of stuff. She starts making this nursery perfect.
Long before that kid is there, there is a room in your house… It used to be your study. It used to be your man den. I don't what it was, but it is now a nursery. It is perfect for that baby because your wife is good and loving, and she wants to create an environment that would be wonderful for that child.
That's exactly what God did. He created a perfect environment. He placed us in it, but he also warned us, "Listen, you have to walk with me because the day you don't walk with me (the source of all beauty and perfection), this place will no longer be beautiful and perfect." There was an enemy there, and that enemy lied to us about from where beauty and perfection came. He told us you could even be more beautiful and more perfect if you decided on your own what beautiful perfection was, and that began all our troubles.
Immediately after that event happened, there was another event that happened. You'll find we hid from God because we knew we were not welcomed in his presence anymore. Sadness and division came, and then mercy showed up. You see God seeking man. Man doesn't seek God. Religion is the invention of man. Religion is man still working in a way that seems right to him to earn favor with God.
The Bible rejects religion. The Bible talks about a relationship God wants with you, so he seeks you in the person of Jesus Christ. There is a little section of Scripture that happens right after Adam is hiding, and God says, "Where are you, Adam?" It wasn't because Adam had hidden really well. It was because God wanted Adam to confess where he was. "I am alone. I am afraid. I'm at enmity with the woman you gave me, which was a gift. I'm insecure, I'm exposed, and I'm ashamed."
What would a loving Father do with a child that was all those things? Answer: everything we talked about last week. He would deal with your guilt and shame. He would cover you in your sin. He would draw you out, and he would seek to restore you. That's what Jesus did when he came as the Lamb of God.
I want to show you this little section. God starts to announce a consequence to the man, a consequence to the woman, and he announces a consequence to the Enemy. You find it right here in Genesis, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15. "The Lord God said to the serpent…"
Evil is always disguised. It never shows up and says, "Hey, man! How are you doing? Come hang out with me" with fangs, horrible appearances, and steep cliffs. No, it's a gradual slide, and it's disguised as an angel of light. It always looks like it's life-giving. That's why we date it. That's why we give ourselves to it.
Evil was disguised as something we could rule over: an animal. Remember Adam knew he was sovereign over all of creation. God said, "I want you to be sovereign over creation; I don't want you to take orders from creation," but because Adam had this arrogant understanding that he could always on his own, I guess, overcome anything he had been given dominion over, he just engaged with this animal, and this animal led him to a place of death.
Now watch. God says, specifically to Satan, who was disguised as something Adam thought he could control… Does that sound familiar? Is anybody here an addict? Don't raise your hand. All right. We're all addicts to something. I am. You always get into this thing you become addicted to thinking you'll never be the guy who is addicted to it. It's disguised as something you will control.
That is what it means in the Scripture when it says, "But encourage one another day after day…so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Sin is deceitful because we think it will give us life. Sin is deceitful because we think we can manage this thing, and we can never manage this thing. It owns us and takes us places we never thought we'd go.
So God is pronouncing judgment on this evil. He says, "Because you have done this [because you have stolen the heart of my people, because you have lied to them] , cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life." You can make a case that the entity that was the snake wasn't always to slither on its belly. It was willing to, if you will, take in this enemy. Because it was, God cursed that particular expression of his creation that way.
Now watch this. Genesis 3:15 is a very famous verse. It's a verse that is often talked about as the protoevangelion. In other words, the first gospel. It tells you what Jesus is going to do, but let me just repeat what I said at the very beginning. If all you do when you think about the gospel is focus on the cross of Jesus Christ, you are telling half the story.
The character in your mind of who Jesus is is distorted and perverted. It is too puny. It is not appropriate. Because of that, you probably don't have the full expectation, hope, and longing for him that you should, and you probably don't even have the respect for him and fear of him you should.
I want to correct that this morning, because I want to tell you, it is wonderful that last week we rightly told you Jesus is kind. He is merciful. He doesn't want you to be burdened by guilt and shame. Come to Jesus. I want you to see who you're coming to and what amazing grace is. The protoevangelion is this: There is going to be a provision made for you. There's going to be enmity between the seed of the Serpent and the seed of the woman. There's going to be a constant battle between deceit and the descendants of Adam and Eve.
It says your seed and her seed will be at war. "He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." This is not just the protoevangelion. This is the protoeschatology, which means it's the proto (the first) eschatology. Eschatology is something we study when we're talking about last things.
It's like we want to always try and figure out, "Well, is this the end times? Is the battle of Armageddon coming up? Is the conflict going on between Israel and Gaza going to move to a broader conflict (the battle of Gog and Magog) and eventually the battle that will be there in the valley of Megiddo? Is that what's going on right here?"
We act like it's just some aspect of the biblical story. Listen to me. You need to know from the very beginning of the Bible, God showed you everything he was going to do. He was going to allow himself to be struck on the heel. In other words, walk with a limp. There was going to be a time it looked like the Serpent won, but that is not the story.
Jesus crucified, dead, and buried is not the gospel. It's Jesus crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected. I'm going to add "to return." This is the beginning of the full story right here, and it takes you all the way to the end. One of the great problems all of us have about the character of God in general is the problem of evil.
Is God good? Is he just? It's called theodicy; God (theos) and justice (dikē). "Where is just God? If God is all good, he would get rid of evil. If God was all God, he could get rid of evil. Evil is not eradicated. Therefore, God is either not all good, or he is not all God." That's how the little syllogism works.
What I want to show you is from the very beginning, God said, "I am all good, and I am all God. I am all good because I will allow myself to take sin's penalty. It will look like I was struck by the Serpent and his venom of death took me out, but the truth is he didn't take me out, and I'm going to crush his head. I'm going to take away what he thinks he can bring, which is sin and death."
God would say, "In doing so, I'm going to reveal myself to you as not only sovereign but as merciful, gracious, kind, compassionate, and good." What is the one thing you always want your God to be? What do you always cry for in the face of evil? Justice.
Gang, let me ask you a question. Where is justice right now? Where is justice when kids get cancer? Where is justice when spouses who have been faithful have been betrayed? Where is justice when evil men capture, kidnap, and sexually exploit children? Where is justice when ruling rich elite manipulate the system to continue and further their wealth while others live in abject poverty? Where is justice?
Well, I'm going to tell you. When you know Jesus, you'll see justice. Watch this. Remember what I said? "If God is all good, he would destroy evil. If God was all God, he could destroy evil. Evil is not destroyed. Therefore, there is no all-good, all-powerful God." That's the way the syllogism works. Let me just show you something. Let me take you to the Scripture, because this morning I want to tell you your God is faithful, he is true, and he is just. You can trust him.
Revelation 19 is one of my favorite sections in all of Scripture because it is about Jesus. It says, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True…" Revelation 19, verse 11. That's what his name is. Jesus is faithful. That's what I want to teach you this morning. He is faithful to eradicate sin. That's what Jesus does. He is a sin eradicator. He is here to eliminate sin. He hates sin. I'm going to tell you why he hates sin. I'm going to give you very vivid pictures of why he hates sin.
Revelation 19:11 says this about your Jesus. "He…is called Faithful and True…" He judges. He wages war. "His eyes are a flame of fire…" They consume you in judgment. "…and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."
Let me just tell you something. This is the Jesus to which all of Scripture is pointing. If your vision of Jesus is a guy with a silk robe, a Kenny Loggins beard, and a lisp who just skips, picks flowers, sings songs, recites poetry, and gives powerful messages, you have a very weak picture of Jesus. This is Jesus.
It says, "And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen…were following Him on white horses." White horses are what you ride after battles. When Jesus is involved, there's never an after-battle. He always wins. He has already won. "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'"
That, my friends, is an entrance into a ring. That's the way he comes. That's your Jesus. This is what is described when he comes at the battle of Armageddon. That's the way he is showing up. It goes on to describe from there what happens. Let me just tell you something. This is what happens: He is faithful to eradicate sin forever. He comes, and he does what we want him to do now.
I'm going to tell you today why he hasn't done it yet, and I'm going to tell you what your job is until he does it completely. I want to say not, "If God is all good, he would destroy evil. If God is all good, he could destroy evil. Evil is not eradicated. Therefore, he is not God, or he is not good." I'm going to change it.
Here's what I would tell you. "If God is all good, he will defeat evil. If God is all God, he can defeat evil. Evil is not yet defeated. It's not eradicated. Therefore, there will be a day he will." This is the character of Jesus I want you to see this morning. I want you to see God is going to eradicate evil completely.
Romans says he will soon crush Satan underneath your feet. When you think of Jesus and his faithfulness, you have to think of the whole story, not just of what he did. Listen. He has already defeated evil in terms of its sting and its victory. We know he has overcome death, but he is not done. He has not just walked away and told you just to wait, and he'll drift to heaven.
He is going to come, and you guys know this. Heaven is not a place to which we're going to go. Heaven is where God is. Let me just tell you this again. Heaven is not just some cloud up there far out that one day God might let us live in. Heaven is wherever he is. Jesus, though he is here right now, is here very humbly and in a very muted way. Heaven exists in his people because God dwells in the midst of his people.
That's why we are here to bring peace, grace, hope, love, and kindness (all attributes of God). It only exists on this earth in that God exists in his people. But there's going to be a day when God gets rid of all sin and death and he perfects his people and he allows us to fully abide with him so we don't have good moments and bad moments.
We don't go to church and sing songs then bark at our wife. We just walk with him. That's our destiny. For now (and this is why God is so concerned we abide with him), we are testaments that there is a God who is good. So in the midst of darkness, we bring light. In the midst of hate, we bring love. In the midst of unforgiveness, we bring forgiveness. In the midst of hopelessness, we offer hope. If you don't offer it, it's not going to come.
This is a fact: God is not dead. This is a fact: Jesus is not finished. This is a fact: sin is finished. This is a fact: sin's debt is paid. But he will soon and very soon come. Heaven is going to be right here. Do you know that? There's going to be a new heaven and a new earth. The new heaven in that sense is the new stars, planets, and all that's around us. The new earth is here. That will be heaven. God is going to recreate paradise lost, and it will be better than it was. That's what your Bible teaches. Now watch this.
There's one more thing I'm going to show you about Jesus, because you have to get a good view of him. In Revelation, chapter 1, when this whole book starts, at the very end… Do you remember we've talked about how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were around for a while? Then a couple of decades later, Jesus had John write the gospel of John to make sure and emphasize not just the fact that Jesus was fully human and died for sin but that he was fully God.
He was with God in the beginning. He was God in the flesh. We beheld all of God's glory when we beheld Jesus. After that, he had him write Revelation. "I want you to tell them, John, everything I'm doing now that I have shown I have victory over sin and death." So the book of Revelation is Jesus saying, "Don't let them think the gospel is over. The gospel is continuing to be worked out in them, but I do hate sin. I'm going to fully eradicate sin."
This is the way the book of Revelation starts. This is Revelation, chapter 1, verses 9 and following. "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom…" Did you see that? It's the tribulation we're in and the kingdom of God being expressed through believers.
"…and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, 'Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches…'" It mentions them there.
Then in verse 12, it says, "Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands…" Right there in the middle. The lampstands, you're going to find out, are churches. Jesus says right there in direct relationship with his church. He is always in direct relationship with his church. That's how his church can be a peace and a fulfillment of what God intends.
"I saw one like a son of man…" **In other words, you're going to see there's one. He looked like a man, but we're going to find out he is not just a man. There is this perfect blend without compromising either his divinity or his humanity. It still is maintained."I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet…"** Only royal people wear a robe all the way to their feet.
"…and girded across His chest with a golden sash." He was a judge, a righteous judge. "His head and His hair were white like white wool…" What kind of guy has white hair? Okay. It says in the book of Daniel when Daniel is watching the prophetic unfolding of God's program, he was upset because he couldn't move forward in his dream. Then it says one came forward like the Ancient of Days. It was Jesus in Daniel!
This is what Jesus is right here. He has this white wool hair, and he is the Ancient of Days. "…like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire." They will consume you. "His feet were like burnished bronze…" It's a symbol of judgment and righteousness. "…when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters."
Have you ever been around waters? I was just recently near a big waterfall. It's just this roar. Defenseless against the power that was coming. "In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength." Man! Can you imagine that? Can you look at the sun?
This is Jesus. This is the one who is faithful and true, who hates sin. This is Jesus. That's who he is. Let me just remind you. At the very beginning, do you remember when we talked about this whole character of Christ thing? When you think of Jesus, if you don't think of a lion (and I mean a terrifying lion), you don't think of him correctly. I think we have that picture from the very beginning of that all-consuming, terrifying lion. Okay?
I love what C.S. Lewis did in his book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He talks about Aslan. That's just the Turkish name for lion and is where he got Aslan, if you never knew. Aslan (this lion, which is the Christ figure)… At one point when the kids hear his name, there's something about the name that makes them kind of go, "What's he like?" Then Lucy, the little girl, said, "Is he quite safe?" This wise couple was telling them about Aslan. Mr. Beaver said, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."
Let me ask you a question. How do you treat Jesus? Are you condescending toward Jesus? "Hey, come on, Jesus. Come on. Come along, baby. Yeah, it's all right." Do you treat Jesus like a lamb at a petting zoo, where you put up with him and every now and then you just appease him because he is just so stinkin' annoying? He follows you around so you go ahead and put the little milk bottle to him. He drinks, and eventually you kind of kick him off because you're bored with him and you want to go to something else that's cuter.
Is that the way you treat Jesus? I mean, honestly. If you're sitting there at a petting zoo and all of a sudden you feel this little lick on your hand… Your bottle is down there, and there's this little lick on your hand. You kind of turn around and see it's the lamb, and you want to kick it. Right?
All right. Well imagine you're at a petting zoo, and there are people going, "Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!" You go, "What? What?" You all of a sudden feel a lick, and you turn around to kick it. There's a lion there. It just licks your hand. Then it just sits down next to you. Which lick are you more grateful for: the lick of the lamb or the lick of the lion?
Let me just tell you something. You have to get this little, puny Jesus out of your mind. He is not to be trifled with. He is not just the Lamb of God. He is the Lion of God. He hates sin, and he is humble enough to give himself in his perfection so a perfect God's demands could be satisfied. Let me just throw one more quick thing at you on this.
The very first way we started talking about Jesus was talking about his humility. It says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…" Watch this. "…and to give His life a ransom for many." I'm just going to give you a little theology right here. For whom did Jesus pay the ransom? You and me. To whom did Jesus pay the ransom?
See, if you think it was Satan, you don't understand your Bible. Jesus did not owe Satan anything. We gave ourselves to sin and death. God was not obligated to Satan. Satan had no power. God gave the decree, "You leave me, and sin and death are what happens. I am a just God, and I will never, ever compromise who I am. You are a sinner. Therefore, you are dead." The ransom Jesus paid was paid to God.
See, there are not two equal and opposite forces of the universe that are working, this good and this evil. The evil has grabbed us, and now we're over there, "Rescue us! Rescue us!" The Father goes over there, whips out his wallet, and pays evil Jesus so we get to come back. That is not your Bible story. The story is God is holy, righteous, and true. We rebel against God, so we were given to sin and death because God is just.
God, because he is a justifier and lover of those who seek him, paid our penalty as he humbled himself to become like a man as a lamb, unblemished, gave himself so the righteousness of God would be satisfied. The debt was paid to God, and Satan, who thought he had struck him and wounded him, found out it was just a limp. There was a perfect antidote to our rebellion. That was the perfect provision of God.
That antidote resulted in our being able to be free if we recognize our need, we give glory to our God, and we see him in all his goodness and glory. He is not just some weak lamb who was obligated by our sin. Our sin was an instrument he used to describe and to reveal his perfection. He is not a lamb; he is a lion, and he wants to show you how humble he was to lay himself down.
Let me just remind and encourage you with just some amazing truths. This is what's going on right here. Let me tell you what's going on today. I could write these exact same words. This is 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 12 through 17. Paul says this. I could say this. "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief."
"I didn't know what I was doing. God had to show me my sin, show me his righteousness, show me his goodness." "And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world [to eradicate sin] to save sinners…" from being captive to sin. That's the character of my God. It's the character of Jesus. Paul said, "…among whom I am foremost of all."
I want to tell you guys, the longer I walk with God, the more I see the depths of my need for deliverance. Now in the public's eye, my sin has become exceedingly smaller, but in the eye of somebody who is growing in his understanding of the glory of God, my sin to me has gotten exceedingly greater. I think of myself as a greater sinner today than I ever did before I trusted Christ.
The same guy who wrote the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe wrote another book called Mere Christianity. In it, he said something absolutely incredible. C.S. Lewis said something like, "Before I came to know Jesus, I was confused how believers could be so strict at one minute and so free and easy at another. They talk about mere sins of thought as if they were immensely important. Then they talk about the most frightful murders and treacheries as if you had only to repent, and all would be forgiven."
Lewis goes, "I don't get that. I don't know how Christians could be so anal about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, to flee immorality, to pursue righteousness, love, faith, and peace with those who are called after God, and how they go, 'What? You did what, bro? You killed your baby? You did what? You had how many affairs? You did what? You stole from people? You did what to poor people? You did what to a child? Bro, you need Jesus. Just repent, and it's all forgiven.'"
The reason is the longer you see the goodness of God, you see all of us are nothing like what God intended. Some of us have greater opportunity and scope to do harm on others, but all of us have the exact same problem. When you come to know God, you know the solution for all of our sin is the exact same thing. The ground is very level at the foot of the cross. Once you start to see the holiness of God, it's all those little things (those sins of thought and that constant rebellion against God) that make you go, "What in the world?"
It's just a constant, "I run away from you, God." My flesh is always wanting to seek itself and becomes increasingly disgusting. Let me show you that contrast right here. Let me show you both of these things, that we can come boldly before the throne of grace, and we ought to just live horribly in fear of the smallest sin.
Watch this. This is the book of Hebrews. Guess what the book of Hebrews does? We're going to go to Hebrews 4. In the book of Hebrews, it elevates the ministry, person, priesthood, and work of Jesus Christ. You're going to see two equal and opposite responses when you see Jesus. You're going to see this obsession with the smallest sin, and you're going to see this boldness no matter what your sin is.
Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 11: "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…" In other words, come. "…so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience." We don't want to do that. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow…" It goes on to say all these different things. It says in verse 14…
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence…"
Just boldly walk into the very presence of God. "…so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." I mean, I don't care what you've done. Jesus has paid for it. Just come on! It's all good.
Now watch this. This is Hebrews, chapter 10. "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…" In other words, do you see what he has done for you to make access? "…by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh…" There used to be a veil that separated the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. No one could go in there except the high priest once a year.
It says in the book of Matthew, after Jesus was crucified, that veil (which was so thick that a team of horses on both sides could be "mushed," and they couldn't separate it) was ripped. But it wasn't ripped like this. It was ripped like this, from the top down. Heaven made access. That access was through his flesh, verse 20 of Hebrews 10 says.
"…and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
That's why we're here this morning: to encourage each other and to help each other with all of this. Watch this. Look at verse 26. "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth…" Of what the Lamb of God, who is the Lion of God, who is the holiness of God, who is God in the flesh making provision for you in your lostness, paying the ransom you needed…
Without that ransom, there is no way you could ever be rescued from despair, death, and darkness. If you scoff at that and just keep on sinning, there's no hope left for you. Now notice what it doesn't say there. It doesn't say, "If you keep being a homosexual, if you keep being an adulterer, if you keep being an oppressor of the poor, if you keep being a child pornographer, there is no hope for you."
It doesn't say that. It says if you go on sinning, if you go on thinking in your mind, "I'll give you some time a little bit later, God. I'll maybe work you in. Okay, God, maybe I think I need you," that's sinning, man.
If you go on speaking poorly of others and gossiping, if you go on being disobedient to parents, if you go on living in anger, and if you go on taking little peeks at pictures that objectify women instead of seeking your wife, bro, that's not what people who know who God is do. That's people who have this petting zoo mentality of Jesus, that every now and then they'll stick a bottle in his mouth and are annoyed by his lick.
Hebrews 4: "Come on, man! I don't care what you've done. Get on in here." Hebrews 10: "If we keep on sinning, oh man. I don't think you know him." Now look. None of us are perfect. This is just as the practice of your life is to just be flippant about sin and not because the Spirit of Jesus… What did I tell you about Jesus? He hates sin. He eradicates sin. He didn't just die so you could keep on sinning. He died so sin would not be your master.
If you have this flippant attitude about sin, you don't have a faithful and full relationship with the King of Kings. That's what Hebrews is saying. You don't just toy with him. You go, "You are my Lord and Master. Your character is holy, and your feet are burning bronze. Your mouth has a sword of judgment; it's a roar of waves. Your hair is glorious because you're the Ancient of Days. Your eyes are consuming, and you are a holy Judge. When I see you, I fall at your feet, and I have no hope except that you say, 'I am gracious.'"
He picks you up, and he licks you if you'll just acknowledge the terror and desperation of the character of God. This is what Hebrews goes on to say right here. It says in verse 31, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
That was a very famous text for a very famous message (which when I was in high school, believe it or not, we studied as part of English literature) by a guy named Jonathan Edwards called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God because it was such a masterful written work describing the holiness of God. So they weren't really teaching us the theology. They were just showing us this incredible work. That work happened to teach an incredible truth.
Gang, here's what I want to tell you. The character of Jesus is that he hates sin. If you are a follower of Jesus, you should hate sin. If you don't hate sin, it suggests to me that you don't know Jesus. If you continue to just date it, flaunt it, hang around, tell God what you'll be concerned with and what you won't, that is not the character of Jesus. That is the spirit of one who thinks they know good and evil. That is the spirit of one who thinks they are God, and they don't take seriously the holiness of God.
What you need to know is Jesus is faithful, and he has faithfully dealt with sin's penalty. That is called justification. Jesus is faithful. He is able to faithfully deal with sin's power in your life if you will ask him. That is called sanctification. Jesus is faithful to one day deal with sin's presence. That is called glorification.
Let me just explain to you some things. Let me talk to you about the difference between what we talked about last week (which is justification) and what I'm spurring you toward this week (which is sanctification). The reason Jesus justified you is he hates sin. He doesn't want you to be a slave and indebted to it. The reason Jesus is concerned about sanctification is he hates sin, and he doesn't want you to be known for it because you're his people.
If you say, "That's okay. I've been justified, but I'm going to continually be known for my arrogance, my gossip, my insecurity, my infatuation with body image, my lust for pleasure, my addiction to pornography, my inauthenticity because I won't tell people about my addictions, my love of ease," he says, "That's not a person who knows me. You need to not just know I've delivered you. You need to live in the power of that deliverance."
Now watch this. Justification is free. Sanctification is costly. It is a continual acknowledgement. This is Jesus died for us. This is us dying daily. Do you think it was easy for Jesus to die? Oh my gosh! Do you think it's easy for me to die to the lusts of my flesh? Oh my gosh! Justification is instant. It happens immediately when you go and acknowledge your need for that. Sanctification is a long process. Justification is by faith. Sanctification is by faithfulness as we abide with him.
Justification is not by works so that no man should boast. Sanctification is us working out our salvation faithfully. Justification is about God's love for us. Sanctification is our evidencing our love for God because of his love for us. Beloved, we love the Lion of Judah because he first became the Lamb of God for us. Are you tracking with me?
Beloved, if you don't love him, if you still think he is some lamb who annoys you, and you just jerk your milk bottle out, kick him, and put it in your own mouth, I don't think you know what you're dealing with and you need to read what I'm reading to you this morning. Justification is all about our position. That's where we are in Christ as we come to him. Sanctification is all about our practice.
Next week, I'm going to get you back in the book of James, and you're going to hear somebody say this: faith without works is no faith at all. Isn't that what I'm saying today? Beloved, if we keep on sinning, we have no hope in light of all we've already been told in this revelation of the character of Christ.
Let me just do this quickly in closing. Jesus hates sin. The reason he hates sin is he loves you. He doesn't want us to be stuck in a life apart from him. That's what sin is. There's only one sin that causes judgment to come. It's not sexual indulgence. It's not materialism. It's not anything other than disbelief in the goodness and holiness of God.
It's because we don't believe in the goodness and holiness of God that we try and find life in something else that makes us whole and satisfied. It's the original sin. "God is not enough. His Word is not true. You need to figure out what's true yourself." Let me just show you. Verses I probably quote to myself more than any other are in Proverbs, chapter 13, verses 13 through 15. Let me read you these proverbs, and then I'm going to show you some pictures.
Proverbs 13:13 says, "The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death." Now watch this. "Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous [the sinner, the rebel] is hard."
God is a loving Father, and he doesn't want you to live a hard life. He wants you to come because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Look at the picture of this sweet (I think) girl who is going to be up there. I found her picture. You know, that's a mugshot of this dear little girl. She was arrested for just some things she was trying to use to start to help her deal with some of her addictions. Then they let her out. Then she was arrested again. This was her second picture.
Let me just go forward rather quickly here. This is a young lady who was arrested to deal with some addictions. They let her get out, and she came back. That was her second picture. She was let out, and then she continued in the way of treachery. That was her third mugshot. Here's a young man, arrested, let go, arrested, let go. Here's another shot. Sweet little girl. Here's another shot. A young guy. Here's another shot of the way of the treacherous. Here's another shot. Sweet little girl (somebody's daughter). Boom.
Do you see why God hates sin? I mean, do you see why he hates it? He doesn't want that to be our destiny, man. Now can I just tell you what's so amazing is when God's people show up. They take the same kind of little girls who were on that trajectory, and they do things like we did last Monday. Let me show you some other pictures.
Here's one of a little girl who came to us last Monday. She walked in to Watermark. She has been arrested and let go, and she came to us. Then she spent some time with some sweet servants who put makeup on her, painted her nails, dyed her hair, and made her all up. That was when she walked in; that's when she walked out.
Look at this other one. Here's a sweet little gal who walked in. One more. I love this. These girls are working through a rehab program that's Christ-centered. You just go the other way. I mean, look it. That's makeup. That's hair color. But I want to tell you something. I have seen physical change in people.
How are you doing, Freddy? Have y'all ever seen Freddy? For three decades, he was strung out on black tar heroin. Do you see him now? He brings joy every time I see him, man. Light is on his face, see, because God reversed that trajectory of sin. That's why he hates sin. Let me just close with one last thing. Jesus hates sin because he loves us. I want to tell you we should hate sin because we love Jesus.
I'm not a big fan of doing weddings anymore. I don't like to do them because they take so much stinkin' time. I've done I don't know how many weddings in my life. If you're getting married here, I'm not going to marry you. I've done my time. Between the rehearsal dinner and then the day of the wedding, I mean, there are other things I'm doing right now to be with my family. I want to tell you something. I love doing weddings because I love where I get to stand in a wedding. Every wedding I do, I have the best seat in the house.
I always tell the wedding coordinator, "Listen. Here's the deal. When I nod at the mother of the bride, she'll stand. Then everybody else will stand. I want everybody to be looking back there at that door at the bride of this young man who is coming. I want you to leave those doors closed, and I want the anticipation to build. I want everybody to be like, 'Open the doors, man. We want to see the bride!'"
She is going to be ready. This is the bridegroom. This is the beloved one who has given his life and offered to sacrifice himself for her. I love standing there. Every time, I do. I get choked up every time when I watch this moment where consummation is about to happen. They're about to come, be celebrated, and make a sovereign oath to give themselves to each other and enjoy forever together.
I've had a thought in my mind because this is the analogy God uses about his coming to us (this Revelation 19 coming). We're his bride. So look. He loves us not because we're glorious but because he has made us glorious. What do you think you should do if you're a bride? I know what you should do. You should do everything you can to get ready. That's why guys don't see brides on the day of the wedding. Because they're busy. They're gone to see their own personal glow all day long.
They've been on an LGN diet for months, right? Look Good Naked. That's what they're trying to do. That's just the moment. Everything they can do is for that moment. They've bought a special dress they've never worn before, won't wear again. They are fired up. Then that music starts. Here's the music. It's coming right now. You're just waiting. You're the mother of the bride. You're sitting right there. I'm just making everybody sit. I don't nod yet.
Then I'd start to maybe get close. I'd nod now. The mother of the bride would stand. Everybody else would stand. Dagnabbit! Wedding coordinator, keep the door closed. Not yet! Not yet! Here she comes. We're waiting. Oh, man. Here she is: the bride ready. There it is! What? What? Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Did you see that?
She was back there making out with another guy. That isn't pretty. Can you imagine saying you love your bridegroom and that great day is going to come when his greatness is fully revealed to you. "Oh, I love him. I'm ready, and I'm waiting for you." You're making out. You're back there, and the music was going.
Here we go again. This is what your life has been about right here. All right! Oh yeah, man! You've given your life to that. Wonderful. Good. Yeah! You're all about your Aggies and your Longhorns. That's where all your money goes, all your time, all your weekends, all your energy, all your longing. "We have Charlie Strong, man. It's going to happen this year. We're back." How pitiful if that's your passion. Listen. There's nothing wrong with enjoying it, but if that's your passion, something isn't right.
How about this? You know, it's that big day. You come, and this is what you have to offer. Here it is. The doors finally open, and you come out. You go, "Hey, I'm the club champion. I've been getting it after. I've been spending all my time making myself look great over there at the club." Look. If you're good at golf, I hope you win the club championship.
But if your passion, infatuation, dedication, and commitment to golf and being a club champion is more than being a follower of Christ, something isn't right. I'm not sure you understand the love of God. It is not a good thing if you're back there, you say you're wearing white, and you just have your tongue in something else's mouth.
You have to learn to hate sin. I'm going to tell you something. If you go on sinning willfully, I don't think you understand this thing. I don't think you know the character of Jesus. I don't think you're responding like you should. I don't think you know how great he is.
Father, I pray we would come to know how great you are and we would follow you, know you, and love you. We would see you as the Lion of the tribe of Judah who is holy, and you're incredibly merciful to us in the way you care for us. We would hate sin because we're your people. We would seek to eradicate it in our life.
We thank you that you are faithful even when we're faith-less. This is not about perfectionism. This is about the direction of our lives. It's about us really seeing sin at its core, running from it, dealing with it, not trifling with it, and knowing, "You're a holy God," and to look forward to that day when you will be faithful and true and return. You will give yourself for us. The clouds will be rolled back like a scroll, and we'll see how great you are.
Father, we right now say we're people who believe and don't see. That is why we die to ourselves even as you died for us. That is why we work out our salvation knowing we can't work for our salvation. We just work it out as faithful and true people who follow the faithful and true King.
If there's anybody here this morning who is not a recipient of the grace of God, I pray they'd come boldly. I don't care what kind of treachery they've been involved in. I don't care where they are in their mugshot stage. I pray they'd just come, that you would start to make them beautiful again.
I thank you that you'd make them beautiful completely in that moment no matter what their mugshot looked like. I pray if they're here, they linger longer, and you start to restore the years the locusts have eaten right now. I pray they'd come, acknowledge their great need, that they need to be ransomed before your righteousness by Jesus.
I pray, Lord, for those of us who know you that we would stop trifling with sin and the character of Christ would live in us. Help us to be followers of the King and not just people who are vaguely familiar with the story. Amen.
It's the character of Jesus, and it ought to be our character. May you love nothing but God and hate nothing but sin. I believe if you do, we will change the world. You have a great week of worship. We'll see you.