In this sermon, Pastor Babij explores what the Ten Commandments, and the law of God in general, mean for believers. Pastor Babij clarifies that God’s law cannot save, sanctify, or secure, but Christ can.
Let’s take our Bibles and just read the second Law in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. You going to see that before the people went into the promise land, they were to be taught again and recite the Law of God and have that firmly rooted in their minds. It says in verse 6:
I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the lan, which the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Let’s pray. Lord, this morning as we are coming to an end of this, looking at the law and commandments, I pray Lord now that You would help us to look back at it. As we think of the Law now as believers, as those who know You as Lord and Savior, how would that remind us of what You’ve done. It would remind us that we could have never kept the law. We could have never been perfect because you are standard is perfection. So Lord, help us to continue to think of that. I pray that it would always move us to worship You more intimately and to serve You more diligently, knowing that You are the God who has done it for us. You are the One who’s provided salvation. Thank you, Lord, that we by faith can trust in Christ as our own Lord and Savior and also be rescued from the condemnation of sin and death that the Law could never have done. So Lord, help us to always remember those things. And I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Let’s take our Bibles, and we are going to be looking at some other passages this morning. Today, we’re going to be looking at the Ten Commandments and the use of the Law toward believers. So looks like this week and next week will be my last one on this series. It’s the whole point of the use of the law for the save believer, assuming that you are a believer, that you’ve come to Christ, that there’s new life in you, that you are following the Lord with all your heart, and desiring to know more of what the Lord teaches. Romans chapter 8 is the first thing that we want to look at today. That’s the law is useful to show believers what Christ, from love to their souls, died and suffered in their place. So the love to the believer, to his sheep now, that the Law is useful for us to show us what Christ has done. We notice in Romans 8:3-4, it is using the law here and it says:
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.
Why did He do that? Verse 4:
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
We see that now the Spirit of God is the One who leads us, not only to understand the gospel, but He leads us into sanctification, that we’re going to be seeing that. But before we looked at that, we see that from our passage of Scripture that on the cross, Jesus handed Himself over to God for our vindication. That means Jesus Christ is our substitute in His death. He’s our substitute in His death. We should have been dying on the cross. We now know that it’s Christ who steps in and dies in the place of sinners.
And what does Jesus do? From 1 Peter, we find that Jesus does several things. Number one: He carried our sin away. It says in 1 Peter 2:24:
and He Himself bore our sins in His body…
Remember, the apostles when they preached the gospel, is preaching it from the Old Testament. Jesus preached the gospel from the Old Testament because that’s what Isaiah says. Isaiah 53 says:
surely our griefs He Himself bore, and in our sorrows He carried;
That’s what the Lord did. And that’s what the suffering Messiah was going to do. Four things really come to mind when it has to do with the substitutionary atonement. It means forgiveness of those who are being atoned for. It means the cleansing of their sin. It means the moving away of God’s wrath upon that person. And then of course, it means a ransom, where it says in Mark 10:45:
to give His life a ransom for many.
So His life was a price paid to affect a release of one who was held in bondage. And who was held in bondage? We were, under our sin. We were captives, slaves to sin. It’s all over Scripture. So the ransom was offered to God the Father against whom we have sinned and who alone has the power to inflict the penalty. That means that Jesus saw us caught in the slave market of sin and had pity on our hopeless situation by paying the ransom price with His own blood, in order to redeem us, to buy us out of the slave market of sin, and then to bring us into the family of God. That’s what what Paul was saying in Galatians, where he says:
so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive adoption as sons.
Meaning to be brought into the family of God. You don’t just stumble into the family of God. You don’t wake up and says: I’m going to get into the family of God. You don’t get into the family of God through any kind of keeping of any rules or coming to any kind of institution. No, you must come to Christ because He is the One who redeemed us from the curse of the Law, that we made be adopted as sons. That’s what we are. We are all adopted into God’s family. We could have never been adopted unless the Lord actually did that.
Of course, the second thing the Lord does is He took the curse from them and expiated the curse, that He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree. Remember Galatians tells us that the tree is the place where when somebody was executed there, that would be accursed anyone who hangs on a tree. In Galatians 3:13, it says there:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree”…
The point is that as we look back at the Law, we see that we could have never done these things. We could have never bought ourselves back from the slave market of sin. We could have never reversed the curse of sin and then finally dealt with it completely. Only someone else did that, and that was Christ. And so when we look back at the Law, we need to look at the Law in the sense that Christ fulfilled it, that we couldn’t do it.
Then a third thing that Jesus did was: He bore our sin so that we would die to sin and then live to righteousness. It says that in 1 Peter 2:24. So sin must be shed before righteousness can be embraced. That’s why in that passage of Scripture in Romans, it says:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Right now, all real Christians are set free from the mastery of sin, from the slavery of sin. They can actually say no to sin. That’s one thing the Spirit of God teaches us. We can actually say no to any temptation to sin and have victory over sin, because sin is no longer our master. Even though Satan wants you to believe it still is, Christ is our master. He is the Master who has set us free so we can live for Him.
In other words, the Law should always bring to mind that someone else had to die in the sinner’s place, because the law could not save anyone. It was never designed to save anyone, but Christ can and did save those that would become His sheep. So that is the first thing.
The second thing as we look this morning at the use of the Law to the saved is: to show the believer their inexpressible deficiency in holiness. In other words, not only we could we not save ourselves, but we cannot sanctify ourselves. God even through His Spirit and His Word has to do that. We cannot do that on our own. To look at what I mean by that, I want you to take your Bibles this morning and turn to Philippians 3:2-6. We see this is where Paul really gives us a warning. The passage of Scripture that kind of shows us who we are is Romans 7, which tells us:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
There’s that battle that takes place in a believer once they come to Christ. They have this sense that they are now to become holy and go cooperate with the Spirit of God as the Spirit of God is teaching them the Word of God, how to be more and more set apart unto God.
In Philippians 3, we find that Paul gives a warning. If you notice what it says in verse 2, he says three times:
Beware of the dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of false circumcision;
In other words, beware of anyone who would try to get you to say you have to do these things in order to be saved. Or you have to do these things once you are saved in order to keep your salvation, or to somehow be pleasing to the Lord. He says beware of those people that say that. He was saying it for this particular reason, because believers really are delusional, unrighteous sinners who must be saved by another’s righteousness, not by their own. In other words, no one can be saved by their own righteousness. No one at all. In Philippians 3:3, Paul begins to say:
for we are the true circumcision…
Our hearts have been now changed, circumsized, to worship in the Spirit of God and to glory in Christ Jesus. And then what do we do? We put no confidence in the flesh, whether to save ourselves or whether to be sanctified. Our flesh is not going to give us any help.
And then Paul says this in verse four: If anybody could be saved, it was me. And verse four says:
although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more.
Why is he able to do that? Because of who he was. His warning is to those who think that salvation comes through the flesh and the keeping of the Law. He lists those things in which he could have placed complete confidence in for salvation in order to be on God’s good side. And what are they? He lists them in verses 5 and 6. Look at what they are. It says number one: I was circumcised on the eighth day, perfectly just as the Law said. Secondly: I was of the nation of Israel. I was born out of and into the nation of Israel. I was of the significant tribe of Benjamin. That’s the elite of Israel. I was a Hebrew of Hebrews with no mixed blood. I was a purebred. There was no one like me. I was also a Pharisee, schooled in all the knowledge and wisdom of Israel in the Pharisaical schools. I was, in other words, considered a separated one, and one who would be a teacher of Israel.
Of course, he always brings this up: that he was a persecutor of the church. Meaning that his zeal was of the greatest Hebrew quality. He wanted to go against what he believed was against God. Of course, this whole church movement he thought was against the Lord. In Philippians 3:6 he says:
as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
Remember, until he came to the Tenth Commandment. That’s where he writes in Romans 7: when it came to coveting, I realized that the commandment rose up and killed me. Therefore, I was laid bare before God as guilty. That was the point where Paul really realized that he could never have saved himself. He could have never put confidence in his own flesh and all these things that he listed here and considered himself saved.
Paul’s warning was number one: you cannot be saved by your own righteousness. All persons need to be saved and made right with God by someone else’s righteousness. This becomes a major theme in Paul’s writing, the justification by faith. That becomes the major doctrine in the New Testament.
Paul’s glory also would include this one: that all persons must receive salvation and the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ alone. That would be it. Now if you look at Philippians 3:7-9, that’s what he says. He says in verse 7:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
Let me just stop there for a minute. This word “rubbish” is this word – really is a a pile of garbage. He considered all those things he listed as just garbage. They have no saving value at all. They cannot save anybody. Anybody who would even imagine or think that they have some goodness or some deeds to give God, that in their flesh they can help God save them is completely deluded. It’s completely deceived. Paul says: no, all those things I was putting confidence in, my flesh to save myself and make myself right with God, it’s a bunch of garbage.
In other words, when you come to Christ, you cannot add Christ on to everything else you’re believing. You have to leave everything and not trust anything and consider anything you trusted – your religious system, your church you were going to, some religious leaders, some book you read, any kind of good deeds, or your philosophy, you need to trash it. You need to say: none of that, none of that had any kind of saving value to make me right with God. I have to just trash it all, put it on the garbage heap. And know this: that only Christ is the One who could save, because He’s the only One who can give the righteousness that we need to enter into the kingdom of God. Look at what he says in verse nine:
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
Now, here’s the age-old question. This is the age-old question: how can an unjust person be made right with a perfectly holy and just God and escape His judgment? See, that is the question. That is the question for every human being. No matter where they were born, no matter what system they were born into, no matter what they claim to be. Someday, they must stand before the God who created the heaven and the earth, who is the same God Jesus Christ, and give an account. They will be judged on what they did with Him and what they did with their life.
That’s the question. And I pray that question would be answered before anybody closes their eyes in death. That’s the point. John says:
these things I have written to you..that you may know that you have eternal life.
And you can know that before you die. He wants us to know that before we die. So here it is. Here’s the doctrine of justification by faith that is well substantiated in the Word of God. This is what Paul said in Romans:
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.
That’s how we’re made right before God. Then he goes on to say in Romans 4:
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor,
If you work for something and you earn a wage, it’s yours. You worked for it. Here’s the reward. But then he says this:
but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
So this doctrine of justification involves a legal matter of the highest order. Indeed, it is the legal issue on which the sinner stands or falls. That his status before the supreme tribunal of God, when we are summoned to appear before the bar of God’s judgement and face a judgement based on perfect justice. This presiding Judge is Himself perfectly just. He’s also omniscient and fully aware of every deed and thought and inclination and word we ever spoke. Measured by the standard of the canon of His righteousness, we face the Psalmist’s rhetorical question that hints at somewhat of the despair. And what is the question? That’s a good question, is to find out what the question is. It’s this: if You Lord should mark iniquities, oh Lord who could stand? Of course, we can answer that question. The answer is no one could stand. That’s the obvious answer. In fact, that’s what Paul says in Romans 3:10:
There is no one righteous, not even one.
Which he got from Psalm 14 and other Psalms, the same thing. He’s preaching from the Old Testament. See, no one would be able to stand before God based on what they did in life apart from Christ. That somehow they can bring something before God and God would say: you know what, you’re such a nice person and you did so many good things. You helped that little old lady across the street. You know, and all those kind of things. I went to church. I was baptized, galvanized, homogenized. And all those kind of things. And they think that they’re going to come before the Lord with those things and God’s going to say: okay, enter my my kingdom? No, that’s not God’s standard. God’s standard is perfection. You must stand before God perfect. And of course, people will say: well when you say that, no one could be perfect. Right! But someone is perfect, and that’s Jesus Christ.
See God commands us to be holy. Our moral obligation is to live perfect lives. However, one sin mars that obligation and leaves us naked and exposed before divine justice. Once a person sins at all, a perfect record is impossible. Even if we could live perfectly after that one sin, we would still fail to achieve perfection. See our sin may be forgiven, but forgiveness does not undo the sin. The consequences of the sin may be removed, but the sin itself is not undone.
So the problem in our day is that people don’t really believe in the wrath of God. They don’t believe that God has a standard of perfect justice. They don’t believe in a real hell where they will be separated from God for an eternity. They don’t believe that. But that’s what it says in the Word of God. That’s what God says. So see, the message of salvation, for the most part, is that people need to be saved, at least in our culture. What do you need to be saved from? I need to be saved from bad habits. Or I need to be saved from some social failure because of where I was brought up. Or I need to be saved from some addictions or some phobia or some bad relationship. That’s what people think you need to be saved from. But people are so concerned about the relationships they have in this world that they are unconcerned about the relationship they have with a holy and a perfect and a just God, whom they will meet. They think they will not. Even if people do not believe in God, they will meet Him someday and then they will find out: wow, there is a God. And they’ll be too late then.
So this is a very important truth: that the Word of God is concerned about the repair of our relationship with God. The Scripture tells us that we are justified solely by faith in Christ Jesus, to make us right before the perfect, holy, and a just God. That’s what it does. In other words, Scripture has a basis on how a person is made right with God. We cannot alter this purpose because this is the purpose found in Scripture. And what is it? The basis would be number one: that we are saved by God’s grace alone. Secondly: we are saved to receive through faith alone this salvation. And of course we do it because of Christ alone. So the Bible teaches that no person naturally possesses the standard of righteousness that God demands. There’s no one ever born into this world.
It was interesting in the dvd we saw the other night. There’s something stuck my mind, where one of the guy said that: you realize that every Bible character is tarred, except one. Everyone. And of course, who is that one? Christ. I was having a conversation about Solomon. Solomon is a very confusing character because he was so wise, and at the end of his life he really blew it. But why is that? Because Solomon could never be Christ. So his image had to be marred too. David’s image had to be marred. Even though these were men who sought God, they were completely imperfect and sinful, just like we are. Nobody can meet the standard that God set, except one person. And that person is Jesus Christ.
In God’s gracious plan of salvation, God Himself supplies the righteousness. He supplies the righteousness to satisfied His own holy character. We could never do that. So when a person accepts by faith the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to that believer. The Bible teaches that the horrible effects of the imputation of Adam’s sin are completely reversed for the people who believe in Jesus Christ. The imputation of human sin to Christ makes possible the imputation of His righteousness to believers. In other words, the only ground which God declares anyone just is the ground of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
Of course, imputation is a big word. It’s a big theological word, but it has a very simple meaning. It means that God took something and placed it on your account, and took your account and moved it over to the cross. That’s considered sometimes double imputation. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus and his perfect obedience also came into the picture. Here’s an illustration that may help you in your mind to put it all together: that faith is the instrument in which we embrace Christ. Not works. Faith we embrace Christ. What happens is that Christ’s righteousness is now transferred over to our account. Our sin is now transferred over to the cross and that would mean that our sin debt is canceled in Christ’s sacrifice.
When the Father looks upon our account, He no longer sees unrighteousness. He doesn’t even see your righteousness because you have none. He sees Christ’s righteousness and that’s what saves somebody. And that’s by faith. That means I come and run to Christ with all my sin. As I run to Christ with all my sin, what do I do? I believe in His death on my behalf. I believe in His sacrifice. I believe everything He accomplished on that cross to reverse the wrath of God and provide forgiveness by the shedding of His blood. And in that way, God says: okay when you believe in Me, I will put My righteousness on your account. I will transfer your sins to the cross and block them out forever. And never again will they come against you, because there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
So that means after you become a believer, you have a destiny. What’s your destiny? The destiny for a Christian is holiness, right? You don’t go on and live the way you want to live, your old sinful life. No, God now is giving you His Spirit. He’s brought you into His family. If He’s brought you into His family, you are now going to display the family characteristics of children of God. This is how God’s children are to look in the world.
He didn’t save you and then take you to heaven. Right? He does that very rarely with people. He leaves you here. He leaves you here to deal with everything you have to deal with in life. But now, I have a different way of dealing with it. I have the word of God now that teaches me, transforms my mind. So God’s alien children, with new spiritual natures, now with the goal to be made holy, because they are no longer children of disobedience. They’re no longer children under God’s wrath. They’re no longer children of darkness, because the Bible says that we are now a holy nation. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.
And then also from 2 Peter 2:14: we are no longer children of the curse. That’s what it says in 2 Peter 2:14, having eyes full of adultery, that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children. He’s talking about false teachers there. They are still under the curse. Even though they may be claiming to have salvation because that’s how they got the position they’re in, they’re claiming to be one of Christ’s sheep, but they do not exemplify it in their behavior, in their manner of living. They are not obedient children to the Word of God. They’re just doing their own thing, for usually the sake of gain.
So being obedient to Christ assumes certain givens. Number one: that you have listened to and have received the Word of Truth, the gospel of salvation. That you understand, secondly, what the Lord requires of you from the Word of God, because you’re in the Word of God. You’re listening to the Word of God. You’re applying the Word of God. And then you are willing to do what the Lord says in order to live a holy life. So if the Lord begins to convict you of a particular sin, then you want to be obedient to put that sin to death and have the ability to do so because you now have the Spirit of God living in you to say no to that sin.
Once the Lord saves us, he brings us into this holy way of living in our new spiritual nature, all to be obedient children, which is connected to a warning actually in 1 Peter. He says in 1 Peter 1:14:
As obedient children, do not conform to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…
In other words, when you become a believer, you’re no longer spiritually ignorant. I know who saved me. I know that that is true. I cannot go back. I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward. I want to be prepared for heaven someday. I already have God’s righteousness. And if you do and you’re transformed and you’re new, then your life will be different. You will be changed. That’s a definite in Scripture. You will not go on in your old ways anymore. It will be a different kind of life. So being a Christian means to be obedient to Christ and obedience leads to responsibility. Remember, we don’t do these things to keep saved. We do those things in gratitude to the Lord. Thank you Lord for saving me. I want to serve You. I want to become holy as You’re holy, because You’ve given me the ability to do that.
The Bible tells us very clearly when someone hears the gospel and responds to Jesus Christ by repenting of their sin and trusting in Him alone for their salvation, they are set apart. They are holy unto God. When God touches you, you become different. You become special to Him. You are now God’s possession. Only God can put a touch on something that changes it from commonplace to something special, different, and set apart unto Himself. Holiness is to be manifested in our life. Like it says in 1 Peter 1:15:
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.
This is not ritual correctness, but genuine change in someone’s heart, or genuine holiness. You see that the Law, the Old Testament, did not impart the power to fulfill the demand to be holy. It didn’t do it. The more you try to keep the Law, the more it condemned you because the more you see you couldn’t keep it. So they couldn’t even live the holy life they could. That’s why they had the sacrificial system, where they constantly were offering sacrifices. The priests were worn out, because the more sacrifices, the more sin. The more sin, the more sacrifices. and it went on and on and on. It wore people out.
However, the cross of calvary in which Jesus died and shed His blood and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost changed all that by providing divine enablement to carry out the command: to be holy, for I am holy. We’re able to carry out that command. God’s given us the wherewithal to do it. The Holy Spirit makes us holy. As we cooperate with His promptings to put off sin and put on righteousness, we become increasingly holy. It’s not that you become sinless, but surely as you grow in Christ sin less. You put off those old sins. And then you’re very sensitive and mindful to your sin. Even your sins right in your thoughts, that Tenth commandment. What do I desire? If I desire something sinful, that is something that needs to be taken care of in our heart, and the spirit of God will bring that to our attention.
In other words, God furnishes the power and the ability as a result of your salvation call to a life of holy progress. John Calvin referred to this as a definitive sanctification. What he meant by this was that sanctification changes the human nature such that a believer no longer wants to continue in sin. The same faith by which the sinner is justified and made right before God also makes the sinner sanctified. It’s the same. It doesn’t change. Now we are increasing in our knowledge of God.
A couple of passage that I mentioned: the 1 Peter passage, and then the passage in Romans 6:17-18. There’s a form of doctrine in Scripture made use of by God to make people free from sin and servants of righteousness. Notice what it says in this passage:
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
That’s what happens. We are freed from the slavery of sin, but we go to another slavery. We’re slaves of righteousness. In other words, our desire to want to do what’s right increases over our desire to want to sin. Who does that? The Spirit of God does that.
So the correct gospel order toward a holy life is as follows. God first purges our conscience from dead works by justification, that we may serve the living God. First to live in the spirit, and secondly to walk in the spirit. That’s always the progression. Therefore, holiness in this life is absolutely necessary to salvation, not only as a means to an end but as part as the end itself. Hebrews tells us pursue peace with all men and sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. True gospel faith makes us come to Christ with a thirsty appetite, that we drink of the living water, even of His sanctifying Spirit. Not only to trust Christ for true salvation, but a heartily desire to be made holy and just. That’s what God puts in us. If that’s not there, there is no salvation. Somebody doesn’t understand something. Being saved from your sin and made right with God immediately brings you into sanctification. They both go together. It’s all one package.
So somebody says: how long you been a Christian? Oh I’ve been a Christian for ten years. Well what have you been doing? You been going to church? Studying the Word of God? Oh no, I really haven’t been doing that. You know, I just got off the track. Ten years? I would say that if the Spirit of God gets inside of you, that’s going to be real quick. There’s immediate conversion, and immediately brought into the process of sanctification. Now for some, sanctification may take longer than others, but nonetheless God will sanctify you. He will make you like Himself because that’s His will. He will do it, giving you His power to do it. That is what we’re looking for. We’re looking for fruit. We’re looking for the results of salvation, a change in perspective of desire, of goals in life. Even a perspective on how we view things, and how we plan things.
Not only that, do we know for sure if we died tonight, that we would go to heaven? Are we assured of that from Scripture? Only the Spirit of God can give you that assurance. He usually gives it to you as you progress in your understanding and your knowledge and wisdom of Christ. You know that if God has given you the salvation, He cannot and will not take it from you. It’s yours forever. And so therefore, you know you have eternal life. Why? Because you believed in the only begotten Son of God to save you. And since you did that, He has now been sanctifying you, setting you apart, giving you new desires.
In other words, the Law should always bring to our minds that God gave the Holy Spirit to make us holy because the Law could not sanctify us. Not only the Law could not save us, the Law could not sanctify us to make us prepared for God’s presence.
And one last thing I want to mention. To do this, I want you to take your Bibles and turn the Hebrews chapter 11. This brings us to the desire for the Christian is heaven. There is a desire that God begins to implant in us. How does He do it? We get saved by faith. We are sanctified by faith. We continue in faith. But remember, faith is not sight. I do not see things and you do not see things clearly. I am trusting solely in God’s promise and word. So are you. That’s what we grow in. Is anybody in heaven now? No, but I’m heading there. How do I know I have heaven? Because God promise through salvation that we would have eternal life and spend eternity with Him in heaven. So that means as you and I are sanctified, my desire to be in the presence of God in heaven increases. This world grows dim in light of His wonderful face.
Faith is trust in the unseen. It is not trust in the unknown. There’s a big difference there. Christians know. Read 1 John. You know this, you know this, you know this, you know this. Why? Because God told us in His Word. That’s why we know it. So faith is trust in the unseen, but it is not trust in the unknown. I know, because of God’s character, because of who He is, because of what He promises. And He always keeps His promise. I know these things.
Biblical faith is a faith that is absolutely certain that what it believes is true and what it expects or hopes or desires (in this case, heaven) will come to pass. So a Biblical faith is grounded in what we can’t see, but what we know is true. You got that? That’s what a Biblical faith is. I don’t see heaven yet. I have never seen Christ. I didn’t see Him die on that cross. But I know it’s true because of what He says in the Word of God. And the Word of God is the Word of God.
So the faith that lays hold of what is promised and therefore hope for is something real and solid, though as yet unseen. For we may know by faith what we cannot see with the eye. And that’s very important this side of eternity. We live by faith, not by sight. We will have sight someday, but you know what, sight wouldn’t really do us much good. Faith does us much better, because faith can see past everything. Faith can see what cannot be seen with the eye. See, that’s why it’s so important.
When the Old Testament characters, for example in Hebrews chapter 11, lived with trust in the unseen, they live by faith. Faith is that ultimate assurance and that ultimate evidence that things not seen are realities to those who have faith in God. So when those realities have the eye of faith fixed on them, then the faith of the person is visible in what they do and how they live their lives. Somebody who has truly faith in God will live differently, even when it comes to things where God promises it’s not ours in our hand right now. We can’t touch it tangibly, but it is true because God says it’s true.
For example, we’re looking at Abraham. Look at Hebrews 11:9. He’s an interesting character, Abraham. Remember, he’s before the Law. But Abraham had to be justified by faith, not by works. We see here a patient trust that carefully perseveres in what God promised. Look at verse 9, it says:
By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents.
In other words, he lived through difficult situations. What I mean by that is that he had no citizenship. He was an alien in the land of promise, in this foreign land. So when he arrived in the land of promise, he found it was still in the hands of others. All his long life, by means of faith, he dwelt as an outsider in the land of promise. Abraham never owned the land, but was only permitted to remain in it as an alien.
Also, he had no permanent settlement. Look at the passage. He dwelt in tents, right? An alien in the land of promise, the foreign land, dwelling in tents. Actually the King James uses the word “sojourn” for alien. The term really gives us the understanding of a non-permanent status one experiences as a foreigner in a land. The word “sojourn” means a day, meaning to stay in a place day-to-day. A tent is something that has no foundation and is not meant to be permanent. It’s designed to be taken down only to be put up in another place somewhere else. That’s how he lived his life, and he did it by faith. But God says: this is your land Abraham. But he never received the land. And he did it for long periods of time. In verse 9:
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise.
In other words, Abraham did not receive the promise. Isaac did not receive it. Jacob did not receive it. In fact, the writer Luke in Act brings this up in Acts chapter 7, where he says:
But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him.
So Abraham dwelt in the land of Palestine. He did not possess the land but held it only as a promise from God, to him and to his descendants. God spoke to Abraham outside the land of Palestine. God blessed Abraham when he had no land, no children, no place to worship. He only had God and he was fulfilled.
Say all that for what reason? Well, the Acts passage was there, but in Hebrews 11:13, if you look there it says:
All these died with in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
So once we become Christians and followers of Christ, we quickly sense that we are non-residents in this world. We are tent dwellers. We are sojourners. Just like Peter says in chapter 2 of 1 Peter:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
So our stay on earth is just for a short time. This is something the Spirit of God does when He sanctifies us. He shows us how short life is. It’s like Ephesians – we want to redeem the time, for the days are evil. But we also want to live our life in a way where we’re offering it up to God as a pleasing aroma before Him. So we stay here for a short period of time. And while we’re here, we’re without citizen status. We have no rights as believers. Again, I love what the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter:
If you addressed as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of you stay on earth;
During the time you’re sojourning. So we are not citizens of earth. We are citizens of heaven. And as citizens, we are under the government of heaven, with Christ as our King who reigns in our hearts. As citizens, our names are written in heaven, giving us full access to the city of God as promised to us. We’re not there yet. As citizens, we have common rights to all the property of heaven. There is nothing in heaven that does not belong to us. As citizens, we enjoy all the delights of God’s presence, both now and in heaven. That’s why he says in Philippians 3:20, he says it concisely:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
All this means we have much in common with Abraham concerning faith. We hold to these things, but we don’t see them yet. We hold to these things, but they are not tangible yet. So in other words. We should also share the longing he had for a permanent dwelling place. And that’s another thing our soul yearns for and desires. Why do we desire heaven? Because heaven is permanent. Earth is not.
So we always feel a little bit uncomfortable here. Don’t worry about that. You always feel like even when you’re growing older, things start going south. Gravity wins, that kind of thing. You’re fighting against it, doing the best you can, but you’re going to lose. You’re going to lose, and that’s going to win over. But the Lord already told us that. Our bodies are going to drop off and we’re going to be in the presence of the Lord. And so tent life, with its non-permanent characteristic, is really now contrasted with the stable settled existence in the next passage. Look at Hebrews 11:10. He had faith with a longing for home. It says:
for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Isn’t that great? That’s what we’re looking for. It is faith alone that can make the prospect of an eternal city built by God real. So we fix our eyes upon it. When we get close to that point where God’s going to take us out of here. We’re going to be looking and anticipating what’s next because God promised it and it is true. And we will finally see it with our eyes. So that means that the city of God, the city that God built, has a foundation. Those who dwell there have permanent dwellings and are permanent citizens and find themselves to be truly safe and secure and truly fulfilled because they are now in the presence of their Lord. That’s what they they have. That’s what God said they would get.
So this is one thing that we must notice that the Holy Spirit of God is doing in us. What is that? That we desire something better than this world. If you have not learned it yet, I pray that you will learn it. This world and what it offers can never ever satisfy you. Oh yes when you were dead in sin, a dead world of course may have satisfy your dead heart with its husks and its empty vanities, but no longer. Those things do not fulfill you anymore.
You have received by God’s grace nobler desires as a believer. Stronger desires. Sharper desires. More passionate desires. It says in Scripture in Hebrews 11:16:
But as it is, they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
This word “desire” is a very telling one, because it means to stretch oneself out in order to touch it. To grab something. To reach after and to desire strongly something. In other words, God gives us in sanctification desires that draw us toward heaven. He gives us desires that keep us stretching out for the eternal city of God. And at the same time draws us away from this world and its glitter. That’s what he’s doing. We’re detaching from it more and more everyday. I’m talking about those who have truly come to Christ and have known something of better things, of brighter realities.
See, have you discovered that in this world we have no home?No true home for our spirits. Our home is yet beyond. We are looking for it among the unseen things. We are in reality strangers and sojourners, as those believers who have gone before us. Like Hebrews 11 is the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. So we’re dwellers in the wilderness, just passing through it to reach our perpetual inheritance in the permanent, stable, eternal city of God.
I hope that these Scriptures will stir your heart to be a little bit more homesick in your present existence on earth. As pilgrims, you will never feel quite at home and comfortable here on earth. You will groan in your soul for your heavenly dwelling more and more. You will want to be like Christ and finally be in the presence of Christ. For the Christian, our final home is not this world. Our citizenship is in the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God. The Bible tells us that such a place is only given to those who are true believers in Jesus Christ, those who have believed in His sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection, and then have gone on to live for Him and be sanctified by the Spirit of God. As it says in the Word of God, the city of God is secure because the source of the city is God, where it says in this passage:
But as it is, they desire to better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
See, that’s our promise. That’s what we hold to by faith. Also in Revelation chapter 21, it tells us this: the city of God is secure because the city permeates God’s presence. It’s described in Revelation 21:11 this way:
…having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crysta-clear jasper.
Really the most important characteristic of the holy city is the glory of God is there. It is the intrinsic worth and majestic splendor of the true and the living God. Just imagine living in a place where God permeates everything and everyone. You don’t need a moon. You don’t need stars. You don’t need sun. You don’t need anything. You don’t need light. Because God does it all. That’s why when you look at these jewels in Revelation, light can pass through them because God’s permeating everything. You cannot get away. That’s going to be a glorious time when the city has been prepared by the Father which comes to the new earth filled with people in their resurrected bodies, made ready and able to dwell in the glory of God for all eternity. That’s our hope and we hold to that by faith.
Then the city of God is secure because the city the city walls allow only God’s own to enter. In Revelation 21:12 it says:
It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels;
Now the walls are described here as great and high. It is obvious that the high walls will not be needed for defense because the city will have no enemies. The walls will be symbolic of God’s protection and security and the exclusion of all that is evil. That’s why it says in this passage:
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Which is eternal death. So the city of God, which God’s children call home, I pray you call it home. And I pray that will be your embrace as you grow in your faith.
So just to conclude, as we look back at the Law, we have to conclude this: that the Law could not save them. The Law could not sanctify them. The Law could not secure a place in heaven for them. The only one who could is Jesus christ. Amen?
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you again for the tremendous Word of God. Lord, it is our hope that all that You have said in the Word of God is true and we know it is. Because You are the God who cannot lie. You are the God who tells us the truth. Lord, many times the truth really is painful, because it penetrates to the deep recesses of our heart. It exposes what we try to hide. I pray, Lord, as the word of God does that, bring us to the place that if someone here today doesn’t know you as Lord and Savior, they would run to you for salvation, for the cleansing of their sin, for them to be right with God. For there’s no other way to be right with God but Christ. For those who are believers, every day would become a more serious walk in the faith. That they would not pursue just earthly and worldly things as the main desire of their life, but they will be detaching from that. Looking forward in faith, preparing themselves to be in Your presence some day. Heaven would be their desire, more than ever. Because you are there Lord, and Your promises will come to pass. So Lord, let us be like the old people of faith that will hold to it by faith, knowing that someday we’ll see it with our eyes. We give You all the praise and glory and honor for what You accomplished and knowing that the law could have never accomplished those things. And I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.