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What do you think of when you hear someone say, “This is the life”? Wealth? Fame? The American Dream? Todd Wagner walks us through where true life is found as we kick off a new series called, “This is the Life”.
Leadership: Part 2
Righteousness: Part 2
Righteousness: Part 1
Try reading the “Proverb of the Day” for the rest of this sermon series. Read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with what day of the month it is (e.g. on the 9th day of the month, read Proverbs 9). Every day, pick one Proverb that stands out to you and share it with someone else.
What do you think of when you hear someone say, “This is the life”? Wealth? Fame? The American Dream? Todd Wagner walks us through where true life is found as we kick off a new series called, “This is the Life”.
Hello, friends. Hello, Watermark. It's great to be back together after all the summer and all the different things we've done on every unique campus. We're all back together, and we are starting a series called This Is the Life. This is truly my favorite book of the Bible we're about to study. I know I always say whatever book I'm studying…
I'll tell you this. This is the truth. Whatever book of the Bible I'm studying is the one that I'm most amazed how much I've missed before, but if there is one book of the Bible that has shaped me, we're about to spend a bunch of time in it. It's my favorite series we've ever done. This is true. Part of the reason is this is the third volume of it and we're not going to finish it.
There will be a Volume 4. We did Volume 1 and Volume 2 a little bit earlier of this series called This Is the Life. You should go back and capture it. It was before we moved onto this property in Dallas. Therefore, there were never any videos, only audio. But This Is the Life Volume 1 and Volume 2 are out there.
We covered about 12 characteristics that you see plastered on our campus. If you ever walk through in Dallas, stage two, or some of the other campuses around the children's area, you will see something like this. It's a picture of all the attributes of skilled living that are available to our kids. It talks about 36 ways that you are alive in the way that you operate if you live a life according to wisdom.
Let me explain to you something. When we had your kids, from the very beginning when we started, we didn't think that this was the real business right here and that we just kind of kept kids alive so you could come back. We've always believed that ministering to kids is the most important thing we can do.
If some of you guys at 40 are converted, we've already wasted 40 years of your life. It's a half-conversion. You might want to get after getting that second half right, but man, you convert a child, you teach a child when they're young about the beauty and the goodness of God and you have nothing but decades of life indeed ahead of them.
What we've been doing over there with kids, just so you know. We keep alive ages 0 to 2, pretty much. Then ages 3 to 5, we start teaching them what we call the Bible Biggies. That's when we introduce to them the stories that you hear when you're around people who teach God's Word. The stories about Noah and the ark. We teach about David and Goliath.
We teach about Moses splitting the Red Sea. All the Bible Biggies. Daniel and the lions' den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We teach these great stories that talk about the fact that we serve a God with a history. He has a resume. His CV is impressive. When he says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, what he is begging you to do is to go back and look at how it worked out for Abe, Isaac, and Jacob when they locked in on God.
He wants you to know that you can know him. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Todd. I want to share with you what God has done in my life. I'm going to tell you why God has done this in my life. Since we put that other picture up there, I will throw it back up now. This is from about five years ago when we gathered our first or second class of residents.
It was the end of the year and I just said, "Hey, guys. I want you to… You've been with me for a year now. What words would you use to describe my life?" Listen, when you do that, people are generally kind, right? They don't go, "Are you going to tell him the truth, or am I?" They usually in a situation like that they'll throw out different things.
You look at some of those words: authentic, transparent, decisive, leadership, entrusting, sincere, disciple-maker, intentional, humility, passionate about God's Word, shepherd, family-oriented, and genuinely kind. Those were pretty doggone nice words. You saw the word leadership as I said right there, big, kind of plastered in front because they looked at me like, "Man, Todd, look what God has done in and through your life a little bit around here."
What I actually did when I was doing that with them, I said, "I'm none of those things. Do you know what I am? I'm just a little shepherd boy, man. I'm just a punk who, left to myself, I'm going to destroy people's lives. I'm not going to be a source of blessing and encouragement to others. Do you know who I am?
I'm just somebody who from an early moment in my life (not quite 0 to 5, not quite…I'll come back to in a second…6 to 12)… In those next ten years after that, I got introduced to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It just completely changed the direction of my life." I know exactly why God is doing what he is doing here because God always wants to do what he is doing here. He wants to bless people.
He wants there to be affection and love and redemption and healing. That's what God does. He is always looking for some little shepherd boy who learns to sing songs to him, who trusts him. He'll use him with a nation of people. I was saying that to the residents and the fellows to just say to them, "Guys, don't you think that you can't do this. This has nothing to do with Todd Wagner. This has everything to do with who God is and everything to do with his heart. All you have to do is run after him and just pray that he would give you a heart like David's."
I'm under no illusion why there are good things in my life, these things that are beautiful. The light that I have, the reason that some of those words are attributed to me is because God in his kindness has let me believe in who he is. I did a series a couple of years ago called How to be Rich. I talked about the wealth that is in my life, the true riches. The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord, the Bible says, are riches, honor, and life.
I just know a really good God. He loves you and wants to know you. What we do with your kids after we teach the Bible Biggies, when they get to Kindergarten, first and second they hear over those 36 months all 36 wisdom attributes. One day, I just sat down. I go, "Look, if you were going to live a wise life, a skilled life…"
That's really what the word wisdom means in Scripture. It just means skilled. It means excellent at what you do. It's used of artists, people who can construct things, and people who can sing well. That word wise just means you're really good at it. God wants you to be wise. He wants you to be really, really good at it. What's it? At being a woman or a man.
For all have sinned, the Scripture says, and fall short of the glory of God. What that verse is saying is the reason none of us are the full measure of men that we should be or women that we should be is because we don't keep our eyes focused on our God. So we create something less than what God intended to create.
It's not as glorious as God intends, but here is what's so amazing. God loves us, he runs toward us, and he has made a way for us to come back into relationship with him. As you pursue him, receive his healing and his grace, he starts to produce in you a renewed glory, and it will be well with your soul.
The book that God shares with us more than any other book in the Bible about what skilled living looks like is a book called Proverbs. It is by far the number-one book that has influenced my life. Now listen, I wouldn't know and love God if it weren't for the truths that were revealed in the New Testament where I saw the beauty of who Christ was and what he did for me.
I'm going to get to some of that a little bit today, but let me just start by saying this series is going to talk about how to live the life. This Is the Life. What? Life with God. Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade…12 months each. You'll hear one month on each of those wisdom attributes if you're in our children's program. Then, it just cycles.
You'll hear it again in third, fourth, and fifth grade. All we're doing with our children is we're showing: this is the beauty of the life that God provides. We spend one month on every attribute. We talk about the first week: this is what the attribute is. The second week: this is what happens if you don't live with that attribute. The third week: this is how God will bless you if you do. The fourth week we always try and show them that Jesus is the greatest and fullest expression of this kind of life.
That's what we do with your kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. They will hear each of the attributes that we're talking about in This Is the Life series for a month. We do large group/small group kind of format where… When I was a kid and I would watch Batman, the good Batman, the Adam West Batman…
You guys will… This is the older service here at Dallas that we're talking to. Some of the other kids go, "Who is Adam West?" You ask a kid who Batman is, and they're completely confused. Is it Val Kilmer? Is it Alec Baldwin? Is it Christian Bale? They don't know who Batman is! I know who Batman is. It's Adam stinking West. That's Batman.
When I would watch Batman as a kid, I would love the shows that would just kind of put the caped crusader in this crazy situation and then the little saw would be spinning, he'd be strapped down, he's about to get sawed in two, and then it stops and it says, "Do you want to know what's going to happen to Batman? Tune in tomorrow the same bat time and the same bat channel."
I was like, "Oh yeah, man! I'll be here!" I couldn't wait to come back. I just thought, "Do you know what we ought to do with kids? We ought to do the same exact thing." So our large group/small group format is basically every week we kind of leave them on a cliffhanger. "This is what this attribute is. What difference does it make? Come back next Sunday!"
Then the next week, "How do you live according to this wisdom attribute? Oh my gosh, what's going to happen? Guess what? When you finally repent and humble yourself and live according to that wisdom attribute, the caped crusader lives for another series and Jesus is the one who is the perfect hero on this."
Let me show you that picture again of the attributes and look what's running right through the middle of these when you walk by them it says, "…in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures…" That's from Colossians, chapter 2, verse 3. That's what it is saying. Jesus is the fullness of life indeed. Do you want to see a skilled life? Look at Jesus. That's why everybody loves him. Hindus love him. Buddhists love him. Atheists love him.
They may not think he is who he claimed to be, but everybody loves Jesus because he was the most beautiful man who ever lived because he wasn't just man. He was very God of very God. This series that we're about to do is just to invite you to the life that Jesus wants for you. This Is the Life.
This week, the attribute that we're going to talk about is righteous. That's an interesting word. It's a word that, frankly, because we live in the twenty-first century we, when we think of righteousness and especially when we get done studying a book like Sermon on the Mount, think of righteousness like right enough that God would embrace you and accept you.
You can't think of it that way. The word righteous in Hebrew that shows up almost 90 times in the book of Proverbs… Ninety times this particular attribute pops up! It is all through the book. It is a Hebrew word that really knows nothing of the idea of justification. Look, what's that word mean? I want to explain this to you because if I don't explain it to you, you're going to fall prey to what is called works-based righteousness.
There is no such thing as works-based righteousness with God. You can never live well enough long enough that you can meet the standard of perfection. We all know that. So as I teach today, I want you to realize that I'm not talking about justification or good-enough-to-meet-God righteousness.
The word righteousness, in fact, this attribute, this skilled living is the closest word to wisdom that we have for the whole series. It's why I'm starting this volume of This Is the Life by pulling this one attribute out. It is the almost supreme attribute of all other attributes when you live right. In fact, the word righteousness in English comes from the old English word rightwise.
We get righteous from rightwise. That's how they used to say it. In other words, lots of guys have ideas about how to live well, but what is truly righteous? And even like today right? It's part of today's vernacular. It's part of today's colloquial saying. It's the way kids talk. "Dude, that's righteous."
When you have somebody who just shows up and they have the right clothes on, they go, "Dude, that's righteous!" In other words, "That's the way you should dress. That's the way you ought to act. That's the way the game should've gone. That's righteous!" You don't get it? It's the best! So what I'm going to show you here is that what God is trying to produce in you is that when people would look at your life, they would go, "Dude, that's righteous!"
We know that none of us could ever live well enough long enough that God would say, "That's perfect." We're all sinners. So there needs to be an imputed, which means placed upon us, righteousness that's not of ourselves, and the beauty of God, because he is the righteous God, because he is the God of all gods…
If you can even imagine there is a God that good, that we would go, "Righteous, man!" He has provided for us a means through which we can be reconciled to him. That's the gospel. You all with me? Let me just read you a couple of things. I'm going to use it both ways in the beginning, and then we're just going to dive in and show it to you in all of its beauty.
First of all, I'm going to tell you why we're studying Proverbs. Again, Proverbs, chapter 1, verses 1 through 5. This is what it says. "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel…" The wisest guy who ever lived who could've asked for anything. That's who Solomon is.He asked for wisdom.
"Lord, let me skilled that I might lead your people." That's a good prayer to have. "God, let me be skilled that I might lead this woman. Let me be skilled that I might love these children. Let me skilled that I might be a blessing to my city. Let me be skilled that I might be a single man who doesn't wreak terror."
Good news. "…to know wisdom and instruction…" That's the reason he wrote this. "…to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naïve…" This is a book written for idiots, so that's why I tuned in. "…to the youth knowledge and discretion…" That's why we teach it to our youth. A wise man will love this series. "…a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…"
Can I just suggest to you something right now on September… I know what day it is because I read Proverbs 7 today. It's September 7. Tomorrow would be September 8 when you watch this in Fort Worth and Frisco and Plano. Here's what you need to do. It's what I've been doing for a long time. Actually, there was probably over a decade where I kind of stopped doing this. I'm reintroducing it to my life right now. For decades, I would wake up and whatever day of the month it was I would read that particular Proverb.
God used that to form some of those words that people who are around me would use for my life. What I'm going to ask you to do over this entire series is stick with Join the Journey, stick with whatever Bible reading program you're in or your Community Group is doing with you, but if you want to see your life change over the course of this fall while we go through this amazing series, I'm going to ask you today to read Proverbs 7, tomorrow to read Proverbs 8, the next day to read Proverbs 9, and you just watch.
Don't just read it. When you read it, grab one verse a day. I've never in my life tried to memorize a proverb, but I have memorized I don't know how many. They bleed out of me. They correct me and reprove me constantly because I just read them. I just read them. I just read them. Especially I know almost all of… You ask me what Proverbs 28:1 is I'm going to tell you because I've read it so many times.
Sometimes I'm reading through the Proverbs I can't even finish because I'm just like, "Man!" I just sit there. But grab one out of there every day, write it on an index card, just put it somewhere and for the day make that proverb be the tool that God uses to make your life a little bit more righteous. Just see how it works out for you.
It's how I drove my kids to school for 18 years. We'd grab a proverb of the day. I would sometimes get in the car and I would just say, "Pick a number between 1 and depending on what proverb of the day it was, 1 and 30 something, 1 and 20 something." I'd just go to that one proverb, I'd pull it from that day, and we'd talk about it on the way to school. I'd pray it into their heart and off they'd go.
The righteousness I'm going to talk about tonight, the righteousness, this attribute I want you to know… It's what you want. I mean, I'm going to give it to you. Psalm 37, it's the verse… I can remember where I was seated as a 20-year-old and I was reading God's Word. I was wrestling with what I was going to do with my life.
I wanted to chase after Todd Wagner's dream for his life. I was going to make sure… I'd come to Christ at this point. I was going to be a good guy. I was going to be on the board of the local Young Life. I didn't want to work for Young Life because those guys didn't have jack squat. I didn't want once every five years somebody to remember that the Young Life guys got jack squat and for him to give him a week at his place in Vail.
I wanted to have the place in Vail that I could share a couple of weeks a year with ministry people so I felt good about myself. It's just me. It was my struggle and I'm not saying everybody owns a place in Vail that's their deal, but that was my strategy. I knew I couldn't be in Vail all 52 weeks a year because I was also getting a place in Florida and a lake house and maybe in Hawaii. I'd share with ministry people when I didn't want it.
I remember reading Psalm 37 and God just said, "Hey, bro, you can do what you want. I don't care. But…" Uniquely what he was doing in my life was just giving me a lot of joy in having a sense that maybe the strategy of what I thought I should do was not what was right for me. I have another friend who wanted to go into ministry. I didn't. I was headed to law school.
You guys ever heard of Kelly Shackelford? You should. You should know about First Liberty Institute. Kelly was around my life not many years after that. Kelly wanted to be a pastor. I was headed to law school. All set and squared away to go. Kelly had graduated from law school. I'm in ministry thinking, "I don't know, man. I think I might finally go back."
Kelly was like, "Todd, I think I want to go into ministry." I said, "Kelly, we need constitutional lawyers. You're brilliant. You just clerked for a federal judge. Keep walking with Jesus, man, but I think you need to stay where you are. Do what God wants you to do, but please don't think that what I'm doing is more spiritual. We need godly lawyers."
I don't know if you know, but praise God for Kelly Shackelford and what First Liberty Institute has done the last 20-some odd years. Arguing cases before the Supreme Court and doing more to preserve religious liberty in our country than almost anybody along with my friends at ADF and a few other things.
So please don't think that being in vocational ministry… I hate that term because vocation means calling, and all of us are called to ministry. Please don't think that serving the way I do by your kindness that I get to serve you this way is a more spiritual calling. I can remember reading Psalm 37, which says this, "I have been young and now I am old…" This is to David, whose song God had put in my heart.
"I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread." In fact, Todd, "All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing." I thought to myself, "Okay, God. I didn't want to be out there always asking for something." How many of you guys have ever asked for something? Not a single one of you.
We don't even have an offering here. Because when people love Jesus they see Jesus at work and they figure out a way to support what Jesus is doing. "All day long he is gracious…" You won't just have enough for your family, but you'll be able to give. I'm going to show you what that might probably lend itself to.
Certainly physically I am able to do that, but in so many other ways. Not only that, because you're not going to be an idiot and because you're going to be skilled in living and you're going to be a righteous dad and have a righteous family heritage. Your children won't be a scourge on society, but they'll be a downline from you that potentially could be a blessing to others. It's true. I'd bet my life on it.
This book will tell you how to live. Let me just tell you what it's not. I also want to say this as we just kind of get ready and do some of this. We have a real scourge of fatherlessness in our country. Not everybody has a godly father. Listen, I had a great dad, a loving dad, a present dad. I did not have a godly father.
We never read the Bible together. We never prayed, not one single time, but in the formative years of my life when I was trying to figure out who I was going to live for, I had a Father who was a perfect Father and who loved me and shaped me. This is a fact. As long as there is a Bible, there is no reason for anyone to ever be fatherless.
Do you know that? Did you have an abusive daddy? Did you have an imperfect dad, an absent dad? Almost all of us do, but you will never be fatherless as long as there is a Bible. Do you know what else? As long as there is a Jesus, you'll never need a mentor. You'll never need for somebody else to shape your life because in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and you just learn his ways.
So you want a mentor? I would tell you, master the Master's life. As long as there is a Jesus, there's never a need for somebody to need a mentor. Can I tell you something else? As long as there is a Holy Spirit, no one will ever lack the ability to live a life that others go, "Dude, that is… You're righteous."
So I'm just like, "Quit your complaining. You're without excuse. I don't care what your daddy was like. You have a loving heavenly Father who wants to shape you and mold you and craft you into the fullness of his created intention and beauty." He has given you somebody to follow and he has given you the power to do it.
You are without excuse. Quit playing the victim. Pick up your Bible. Follow Jesus. Yield to his Spirit. Let me just very quickly do this too, because this particular word righteous is one that we have to understand, and I want to say again. I'm not talking about the righteousness unto salvation. I'm not talking about the righteousness of God.
I am talking about the beauty, the proper way to act, how to proceed in right order, the conduct which leads to life, but not the conduct which leads to salvation as I teach you today. The righteousness of God has only been met… The righteousness that leads to salvation has only been met by Jesus, who is the one you should follow. Let me just read it to you.
Using now the word righteous in a different way in this text. This is Romans 3. I want you to hear me, okay, because sometimes I hear this crap. It's a theological term for things I can't say. What I want you to know it just bothers me. It makes me crazy when people go, "Well, Watermark, man… Watermark is a "do" church. I just want to rest in who Jesus is."
I go, "Well, bro, rest in who Jesus is, but when you rest in who Jesus is he says, 'Get up and get with it. Let's go.' Study to show yourself approved. Work out your salvation. Christ has done all for us, but when we see he has done all for us, it's time to get doing. We're not to be merely hearers of the Word who delude themselves but be doers of the Word." Okay? But it's been done.
So watch this. This is Romans 3:21-28. I'm going to read it to you. This is what we're not talking about today: the righteousness which justifies. The righteousness which justifies cannot be accomplished by reading Proverbs or seeking God or yielding to his Spirit. It can only be by having the perfect, infinite person of God who has never sinned and never knew sin imputed, which is a big fancy word for laid upon you. This is Paul in Romans 3.
"But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested [made known] , being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets…" The Law and the Prophets told you he was coming, this great Deliverer. The one who didn't aspire to skilled living and wisdom; he was wisdom! "…even the righteousness of God [which you can have] through faith in Jesus Christ [alone] for all those who believe; for there is no distinction [amongst all the rest of us]; for all have sinned…"
When God looks at us, he is not going to go, "Dude, that's righteous!" He is going to look at me and Kelly Shackelford and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and you, and he is going to go, "That's a sinner who deserves eternal wrath and judgment." Then he is going to look at us and go, "But you're wise enough to know that I'm holy and you're not. You've asked for me to be merciful. Because I am the righteous God, the wise and loving God, I've made provision for you and you wisely have appropriated it to your life."
Watch. This Jesus, "…being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation…"One of those crazy big words which just means appropriate sacrifice."…in his blood through faith." Why was Jesus an appropriate sacrifice? Because God is an eternally perfect and holy God. So he deserves one thing. That is an eternally perfect, holy sacrifice.
Those are hard to find, so he became it for you and me. Jesus is the one who was publicly displayed, this perfect, beautiful, righteous, skilled liver and lover was nailed to a cross because God loves us. Watch what it says. "This was to demonstrate His righteousness…" His, God's righteousness. "…because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed…" by generations of humans by having a sacrificial system which anticipated a perfect sacrifice that would come, but hadn't come yet.
So God said, "If you'll just believe that I'm going to do it, I'll give you grace by faith. One day the sacrifice is going to come." So how were Old Testament saints saved? By faith that there was a gracious God who was using the blood of bulls and goats as a representative sacrifice of the full and perfect sacrifice that would come.
Abraham, Galatians 3:6, "Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS [eternal, perfect] RIGHTEOUSNESS." Because our true righteousness is in God. Old Testament saints were saved just like you and I were. They looked forward to the provision. We look back at the provision. In Christ are not only hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Christ is our salvation!
So watch, follow with me. "This was to demonstrate…" Why did Jesus go to the cross? It's not because he loves you (dirty little secret), it's because God loves himself. Because God is holy. Even though he cares for you and loves you, he can't redeem you unless he does what he requires. So because he wants to do something, he had to do what his righteousness required.
He said, "The only way I can get those scallywags that I love is to do what only I can do, which is to be the sacrifice for them that allows them to come back to me." What a God! So God went to the cross. Why? "…to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration…"
I want to tell you again of what righteousness looks like, that God himself must be the sacrifice that appeases God. "…so that He would be just…" Because he never sacrifices who he is. "…and the justifier [of jerks like me and sinners like you]. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. [Are you righteous by] law?" Never."Of works?" Never."No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law** [and that alone]**."
It's one of the great cries of the Reformation: by grace alone through faith alone. It's what we believe here because we believe this is true. So let me just say this. If you're listening to this series that we do these next 12 weeks and you think anything you're going to do is going to be enough and skilled enough that God is going to be impressed, you need to go back and listen to that last 30 minutes.
You need Jesus and him alone. Now if you need Jesus and him alone, you might want to start to follow and go, "He is going to be my mentor, and I'm not going to be fatherless and he, in his grace, is going to give me the power to start being righteous and more of it every day." Some of you say, "God is good," and don't run to him. It's crazy. It's crazy. It makes me doubt if you really know him.
I was at dinner with my friends, my community on Thursday night before I came up here to meet with my shepherds. I was sitting there, and our dinner came. It was my opportunity to thank God for that, so I was praying. When I got done, a community guy I kind of knew said, "Amen," and I heard a different, "Amen," about five feet away from me moving forward. "Amen!" Good and loud. I looked up, and it was my waiter Corey.
I go, "Whoa! I needed an 'Amen.' I like it!" He says, "You bet!" I go, "Corey, that's great, man! Tell me why you 'Amen'-ed that?" He goes, "Well, because I was raised a Christian in Oklahoma." I go, "That's fantastic. How are you following Christ in Dallas?" His exact words, I wrote it down. He goes, "Oh, I'm not following Christ in Dallas. I'm pursuing my Dallas life now." I said, "Really? Tell me about your Dallas life?" "Well, you know, I just, um… I have a plan. I have to get busy. This isn't what I'm going to do for long. I have a plan."
I said, "Well, Corey, where do you think that plan is going to land you? Can I just take a moment and tell you before I just charge into this good meal you just brought me that I think you have a bad plan? Would you rather follow a stupid, self-infatuated 20-year-old or an eternally benevolent perfect Father?
Because you just told me you're not following your Father; you're following a stupid, arrogant 20-year-old called Corey. Do you know who God is, bro? I don't want to hear that you heard Christian stories growing up. I don't think you knew him or you wouldn't move to Dallas to find your Dallas life. You'd run after him."
I dropped a few verses on Corey. I said, "Corey, do you know the God that you're going to get back to later says this? Psalm 16:11: 'You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence [God, that you're going to get to later] is fullness of joy [Corey] ** in Your right hand there are pleasures forever** [Corey] *. ' * What are you going to get better than that? That's not it, Corey.
How about Psalm 84? The God who you're going to get back to is filled with grace and glory. This is Psalm 84:10. It's better to be in the courthouse of his house than in the middle of all that Dallas can offer you. It says, 'No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.' You're going to wait on that God? I don't think you know him. I think you were raised in a church that called itself Christian, but they didn't tell you who God is or you wouldn't move somewhere else to find some other offering of life."
Are you all as disgusted with Corey as I am? Well hold up a mirror for a second and ask yourself, "Who are you following? What are you doing?" Do you know what I was doing this week? I was reading a guy named J.C. Ryle. J.C. Ryle pastors my soul. It makes me wonder when I read J.C. Ryle if you have a pastor.
He is a brother who lived in the 1800s. Because he wasn't distracted by his iPhone and wasn't distracted by the start of the college football season or the Cowboys .500 season, which starts tomorrow… Because none of these things bothered him, he just had time alone with the Word. God was his Father, Jesus was his mentor, and the Holy Spirit was his power.
So he wrote things like this. "A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder…" Wow. "…and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation."
I was reading that before I met Corey, and God just kind of put his arms around me and he said, "Todd, you know what? That's kind of like you. Are you a holy man, because sometimes you flirt with things. You're a little too comfortable with the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. Have you forgotten that your heart is tinder and even after all these years, the sparks of temptation can consume you and it won't look very righteous?"
So it made me pause. J.C. Ryle continues, "Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall? There is many a hint to be gleaned from the ceremonial law." He is talking about the way that priests were called to ceremonially clean themselves. He talks about the things that would make a Jew ceremonially unclean. There are lessons for us in the illustrations that God was trying to teach.
He said, "Under it [the ceremonial law] a man who only touched a bone or a dead body or a grave or a diseased person became at once unclean in the sight of God." What he is saying is if you were a Jew who wanted to do the work of God, you had to really walk a narrow path because if you even came up to something that was a deviation, God said, "You're out of temple service for me for a while."
So God just wrapped his little loving Spirit around me, and he just said to me, "Hey, Todd, let's up our game and your passion for all that is good." I bumped into Corey. He might've been a little further away from the glory and goodness of God than I was, but I recognized what Corey was after…in me. It's why I'm not more righteous. It's why you don't have the same kind of pastor that J.C. Ryle's church did.
It's why more people, when they describe Watermark don't go, "That's a… I've never seen more beautiful people," Because we have a little bit of a Dallas thing working or a Fort Worth thing working or Frisco or Plano thing working. God would love to see us up our Jesus game here. Not so we can be saved but because we know the beauty of the God who saves. Amen? Amen. Corey, amen. He said, "Amen," louder than you did.
But let's be about it. Let's be about it. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, another guy who sat at the feet of J.C. Ryle… Actually, he wrote the forward to this book that I was reading. He was a pastor in the first part of the nineteenth century. He said this one time. "If you should ask me to state in one phrase what I regard as the greatest defect in most Christian lives I would say that it is our failure to know God as our Father as we should know Him."
Because if you know God as Father as we should know him, you're just going to want to go, "Dad, show me your ways! Teach me more of your ways!" I would just tell you, "This is where you're going to learn your daddy's ways. This is where your daddy is going to pay for your imperfection." But when you see that God *"…did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all…" * it should make you go, "Well, what else does he have for me?"
The answer is, "Everything pertaining to life and godliness." "The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honor and life." Go get you some of that! I'm trying to. We're trying to teach it to kids. We're going to study it together in the weeks to come. We're doing two weeks on righteousness, not just one.
I'm going to walk you through what the righteous life looks like the next time we gather together. We're setting up this whole series by just making it really clear that what's going on here and right here is an invitation to be everything that God wants us to be. I just wanted to say this to you. If you know the love of God and the righteous God that we say we know, then you should want more of him!
If you don't want more of God, I doubt that you really know him at all. Corey, I doubt you know him at all because if you meet God, you're not looking for Dallas to fill your hole. You're not a slave to porn, to career, or anything else. You're going to struggle with it. I do. Every man of God continues to struggle.
It's a lie from the pit of hell if you love God that sin doesn't still look alluring to you. It's our flesh. Our flesh is still here, but if we know God and his truth informs us, then our appetite should change in this way. The old one is not completely dead, but he is no longer sovereign. The old is gone in the sense that there's a more powerful truth present. Something new has come. It's that you see the righteousness of God. Drink deeply with me, my friends. Proverbs 7 today. Proverbs 8 tomorrow. Or Proverbs 8 today if you're a Sunday listener and Proverbs 9 tomorrow.
Father, will you teach us? Will you bless us by allowing us to want and know more of you? I thank you, Lord, that you have been faithful to every Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that has ever come to you. Anytime somebody seeks the Lord, you answer them. What you produce in them is a work of wonder and glory that all of us can see and that you say will be a means through which the world will know that you are who you said you were.
So, Father, thank you that you save us, not according to deeds which we do in righteousness, but thank you that when we see who you are, our lives can become more righteous indeed. We love you and we thank you. In Jesus' name, amen.