In this sermon, Pastor Babij discusses the use of the Ten Commandments with those who are unsaved. Pastor Babij explains how the Law of God informs the unsaved of their deadly state before God and how they can be reconciled to Him.
We are looking at our Bibles this morning in Exodus chapter 20. I’ll be looking at selected verses today as I come to this message, and one more on the Ten Commandments and the law of God.
Today as I look at this passage of Scripture, I think that it has been a rich time to be introduced to again the commandments. Sometimes we read over it and don’t realize how much is there in the Word of God. But each one is important. As we look at each of these Commandments, we see first Commandment (the short version): do not worship any other gods. It means recognizing that He alone is God, that He is to have first place in our hearts and our lives. The worship of anything or anyone other than the Redeemer God is absolutely prohibited.
Commandment two: do not make any idols. Man must not attempt to make any visible representation of the invisible God. To do so is to degrade Him and distort His holiness. Furthermore, the idol that is intended to represent God as an aid worship eventually becomes God in the minds of its worshippers.
The third commandment: do not misuse the name of God. That means we have the responsibility of taking up the name of God and are responsible for His reputation before a lost in a dying world by treating His name with honor, with respect, and reverence in our thoughts and our words and in our deeds.
The fourth commandment: to keep the Sabbath day. We have the responsibility of one day in seven to attend to God’s honor and our soul. Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, is the day that is designated for God’s people to worship.
And then the second tablet of having to do with man, but in the middle – the Fifth Commandment: honor your father and mother. We have the responsibility to honor our fathers and our mothers. There are several reasons, but one of them is that the mom and the dad is to represent God before the children. So it is significant that it’s right in the middle of the Commandments. They are to live on behalf of what God said and then teach it to the children.
Then sixthly: do not murder. We have the responsibility to care for and protect other’s welfare and physical life.
Seventh: do not commit adultery. We have the responsibility to honor the marriage institution by remaining faithful to one’s own spouse and by respecting the marriages of other people.
Eighth: do not steal. The responsibility for honesty to be the policy and practice of God’s people.
Ninth: the responsibility for God’s people to value and maintain accurate testimony. Do not lie.
And then the Tenth Commandment: do not covet. The responsibility for all God’s people to be checking up on their inner longings for things, and to be satisfied and to be content with what we have. You shall not covet. The tenth commandment uniquely brought forth and reveals the nature of one’s own sinfulness that comes from the depth of our heart.
This Lord’s day, I would like to conclude this series with a message on the Ten Commandments concerning the use of the Law toward the unsaved. Then next week, the use of the Law toward believers. So today, we’re going to look at the use of the Law towards the unsaved, unregenerate, sinful people.
Let’s have a word of prayer before I continue. Let’s pray. Father, this morning, as we come before you, that as we consider the Word of God and what it means to us and how it directs our path, how it lights a road before us, how it shows us how we ought to live, how it represents the character of God: that You are holy, that you are separated from us. And yet Lord, You are near to us. As we have faith in Christ and come near to You by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, and we become Your sheep and Your children, then You are teaching us everything That we ought to know while we’re here on this earth, while we’re sojourning on this planet, looking for a home, heading for a home, heading to be in Your presence. Lord, make us aware of our responsibility to be a witness to those around us. And help us Lord to take the Law of God and be able to use it to apply to their conscience so they see their need of the Savior, of the only one Savior Jesus Christ. I pray, Lord, that you would enable us and help us to do that for those who don’t know Christ, for maybe the children who have not come yet. I pray, Lord, you would impress upon their heart the need to trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior and live for Him. And I thank you, Lord, for this day. In Christ name. Amen.
There are several things that we are going to include this morning in the use of the Law toward the unsaved, the unregenerate and sinful people, which is all the same thing. The first use of the Law would be: to convicted and to awaken their conscience, the conscience of the unregenerate. Just take your Bibles now and turn to Romans 3:19-20, where it says this:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Of course the knowledge of sin does not equal salvation. However, their minds and their consciences have to be awakened to the fact of their own sin and the consequences before a living God. Every one of us who came to Christ, this had to take place.
It’s helpful to hear a great reformer, his perspective on awakening. His name is Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards actually began to see a remarkable increase in the number of conversions among his own congregation. At the time, he did not know that the conversions he was witnessing in his own congregation, in his own flock were the first stirrings of the greatest revival in American history: the Great Awakening. From this moment, Jonathan Edwards began to hear terms like awakening and revival and spiritual renewal, and other terms like them came to the surface. Edwards was in probably the best position possible to be able to evaluate the Great Awakening, because he lived and experienced the events of this movement of the Holy Spirit. He watched first-hand, from beginning to the end of this movement, and he personally witnessed the remarkable emotional and physical responses in congregations where he preached, even though the movement did not come to full fruition until the 1740s. It was stirring and caught the attention of Edwards and moved him to publish his first work on revival in 1736 called “a Narrative of Surprising Conversions”.
So awakening for Edwards was not conversion. It was when the Word of God made an immediate impression upon the soul of man concerning God and Christ and heaven and hell. Thus, awakening that person to their responsibility before God and their own eternal destiny, but it fell short of conversion. He believed that if the awakened sinner did not come all the way over and trust in Christ and become a repentant disciple, they may falsely think that they were converted. It was recorded of Edwards that he was cut to the quick when he remembered the variety of false experiences the hypocrisies and the degenerations that accompanied the awakening. In other words, he thought it really needs to be examined: what really happened here, who was really saved, and who wasn’t really saved. Satan is always trying to mimic with God’s doing. And remember, there will be tarers in the church also.
So his understanding of awakening from his examination of the Spirit of God’s work of conversion was that of spiritual renewal. In other words, this term spiritual renewal was when the awakening led to genuine revival, which meant people were immediately converted to Christ and experience dramatically changed lives that ultimately led to spiritual renewal in the local churches. The churches became alive. People were really genuinely coming to Christ and becoming saved. They were displaying this by having changed lives. The people of God had a heightened sense of His awe and the wonder of God. Their affections were aflame for a deeper and a more intimate relationship with Him, and a desire to carry out His work on earth faithfully and consistently.
Edwards concluded several factors were present, as he said in these goings on in the sanctuary. He describes as he looked at people coming to Christ in his own congregation. This is what he described. I put it up here.
“He noted that, first the awakened consciousness was plunged into the depths of gloom and fear. It realized that there was awful danger in pending. Its whole energies were strained and bent to escape from the wrath to come. Then he saw the troubled soul learning to acknowledge the sovereignty of God, and to leave itself implicitly in His hands, and to confess its need of the meditation of Christ. And, by and by, after many confused strivings and many humbling discoveries, he beheld it arrived at the happy harbor of salvation, the storm changed into a calm at God’s command and will.”
So everywhere genuine revival was found, he said and observed that it was accompanied by strong preaching of the Word of God, a recovery of healthy doctrines meaning the doctrines of grace, a distinct emphasis on justification by faith, and a potent conviction of sin that people felt the weight of their sin. Of course, it led to abrupt conversions and then radically changed lives.
For Edwards, becoming a Christian never stopped at the initial act of believing, nor end with a mere profession of faith. He saw the real proof of conversion in sanctification, dramatically change lives. The evidence of true religion lies much in the affections, where he finally writes a book called “Religious Affections”, where he concludes that one of the real reasons that you know someone is saved is that their affections have changed towards God. Those affections don’t wane. They actually become stronger as one learns more of the word of God.
He also said this:
“That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above the state of indifference: God, in His Word, greatly insist upon it, that we be in good earnest, ‘fervent in spirit,’ and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion…It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the heart in religion that is the fruit of real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and that has the promise of life.”
Like it says in Deuteronomy 10:12:
Now, Israel, what does the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
That has to do with affection. You cannot carry that out unless your heart is engaged. In other words, he is saying that the person in their conscience begins to see their real predicament – that is they are guilty of sinning against God. They are guilty of breaking the law of God. They are guilty of the curse that comes with breaking the commandments. Their conscience is deeply convicted and then it leads to real conversion.
Remember, the word “conscience” actually means with knowledge. That is, every time a person lied or stole or had sinful thoughts of covetousness, they did it with the knowledge that it was wrong. They knew it was wrong. The fact that a person sinned against God should scare them, because they have angered God by their sin. God’s wrath abides on them and they are considered an enemy of God. In the true preaching of the gospel, this must be one of the things that happens – that a person’s conscience is awakened to the realities of what the Lord says about real salvation and their standing before God. It really does bring fear to someone’s soul.
That leads to a second use of the Law. That is this: that the law is to show the wrath of God against their sin and thus affect them with a deep sense of it. Romans 2:8-9, it says:
but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
That includes all humanity. Other passages like Romans 6 where it says:
For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness,
And of course that famous passage of Scripture in Romans 6:23:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If a sinner does not see that they are lost, under God’s wrath, and in trouble with God, they will see very little need of the cross or to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. They will settle on a righteousness of their own. They will think themselves not so bad, that God should be angry with them enough to send them to a place like hell. They sooth their conscience, where the Law brings all that to the surface and shows them who they really are.
It was A. W. Tozer who said:
“But God’s justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a dead opiate for the conscience of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws everyday nearer and the command to repent goes unreguarded. As responsible moral beings we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.”
So we must make them aware of it in our evangelism. We must tell them that God is angry with them. Not that God loves them – that’s not when you tell them God loves them. That comes later on in the gospel. You tell them God’s angry with them. That’s the sword of His wrath already hangs over their guilty heads. And unless they repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save them from God’s wrath, they will not be saved. God will not look away. And if they remain in that condition, they will forever experience the wrath, His wrath and eternal torment.
John chapter 3 sums it up quite well. It says:
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
Noticed there in that passage that refusing the gospel is disobedience to God, when the gospel goes out. We see that this very thing is what takes place because of the sin of Adam and Eve that passed on to us. Of course, the wrath of God abides on people.
That would lead to a third use of the Law and it’s this: to bridle or restrain the rage of their lusts. It’s the Law of God written in their hearts, the Law of God spoken, that restrains evil and restrains the rage of someone’s heart. 1 Timothy 1:8-10 says:
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profaned, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.
So all-encompassed in that is that the Law is given so those things can be made manifest. And then it could also restrain the rage of lust. Even now the mystery of iniquity is being restrained. It’s being restrained by the church. It’s is being restrained by the preaching of the gospel. It’s being held back. But someday, it’s going to be unleashed. And so the Law is used to bridle or restrain the rage of the sinner’s lust.
And then fourthly, the use of the law would be this: to drive people after being convinced of their sinfulness, misery, and self irrecoverable-ness, to drive them to Jesus Christ as their almighty Savior. Galatians 3:24, which I’ve mentioned already, but this passage of Scripture does show us and bring to our attention several things. But remember, the second function of the moral law is known as the pedagogical function. That means the Law functions as a teacher, as an instructor, as a tutor, pointing out what we need to know, what a person needs to know. What a person sees, first of all, is that the Law reveals sin. God is holy and sets high standards for His people. Yet, people could not live to God’s standards. They found that they were sinners under the sentence of death. All the Law did was ultimately condemned them. Well, then, why was the Law given? Well if you look up in Galatians 3:19, we get the answer. Galatians 3:19:
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
So the Law revealed sin but it cannot remove sin. The Law pronounce is guilt, like in Romans 3:20 where it says:
Now, we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.
So the Law pronounces guilt, but it cannot provide grace. The Law carries a curse of death, but it has no cure. It leads to death. Martin Luther said the law is a hammer which smashes our self-righteousness and leaves us prostrate before God in our sin. The law was designed by God to shut everyone up under sin. In Galatians 3:22, it says:
But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin,
A person may be thinking: wow if people are sinners in every period of history and the Law of God, the Ten Commandments can’t save them, then what hope do I have to be saved? Well, thank the Lord that there is very good news. Actually, contained in the Law of God, there’s a very unique and a special design. That design comes in Galatians 3:24, where we see that the Law is designed as a schoolmaster, as a disciplinarian. In Galatians, the apostle explains something exciting. If you take a look there, you’ll see that he says:
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ,
That’s what it is. It’s the law becomes something designed in the law that that drops us right at the cross. If the Law can’t save us, then who can? Well, Christ can save us, where it says:
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Now if you go back and read verses 21 to 26 of Galatians 3, it says this:
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin,
For what reason? Well here’s the unique design of the law:
so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
So that’s the purpose of the Law. It’s to bring us and drop us right off at the foot of the cross, at the person of Jesus Christ. We’re not justified by keeping the Law. We are justified by faith. No one can keep the law. The Law can’t bring a person into the family of God. Only faith in Christ can. By believing in Christ, we are justified and made right with God by Jesus’ suffering, shed blood, and resurrection.
Again, it was Martin Luther also who said: the Law is a mirror which reveals to us our uncleanness and causes us to fly to the lavour to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. The Law, said Luther, is a whip which stings are back and drives us to the cross for redemption. That’s what it’s supposed to do.
And yet if this evangelist’s question is proposed to you: if you were to stand before God and God were to say to you, “Why should I allow you into heaven?”, what would you say? Well, remember all religions promise heaven. But they promise heaven by several things. A person would say this: that I’m a good person. They would say also: that listen, I go to church. I’ve been baptized. I’ve been confirmed. I was born into a religious family. I’m religious. Or simply they would say: that listen, I try to do my best; I try to keep the commandments. That’s what I try to do. But see, that is all the way of works. So it’s the sign of heaven in religion that tells you that you have to do something for God to accept you, for God to invite you in. You, in a sense, are cooperating with God to save you. But that’s not what it says in Scripture.
Many have a gross distortion of Christianity, which supposes that in keeping the Law there may be obtained the salvation of God. That has been and continues to be the most widespread heresy that has ever plagued the church. If anyone’s hope for heaven are based upon keeping the Commandments, the golden rule, the Sermon on the Mount, the teaching of Jesus, or any other set of rules or systems of works in order to be right with God, then they will surely perish in their sins. No one on this planet has ever kept all the Commandments of God, other than Jesus Christ. He was the only sinless man. That means everybody has failed the test. Got an F no matter where you came from. A person may be right with God and comes to the family of God only through faith in Christ. Galatians 3:26 says:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
So it is not salvation by works. It is salvation by grace. God gave us a clear clear definition of sin in His Ten Commandments. Without this, people cannot recognize their pitiful condition, especially their need of the One that can save them.
So that leads me actually to this passage of Scripture that I’ve been mentioning. It’s that of being justified by faith, that you and I are all sons of God through faith. We were brought into the family of God, not by anything we’ve done, but by everything God has done by everything, Christ has accomplished on the cross. That’s the only way anybody can be saved. We submit ourselves to what the Lord has done. We repent of our sins. We believe in Him and the Lord saves us.
That leads me to the fifth thing of the use of the Law. That is this: once we get to a certain point, then the law is to be fixed upon people’s conscience. And then of course a deep sense of their sinfulness comes to the surface. And then the invitation to receive Christ and His offer of salvation then is for them. The law brings us to the place where now we say: okay, here’s who can save you. This is the person who could save you. But see, they’re not readily concluding that. They’re not coming to that conclusion. The gospel brings them to that conclusion. People just don’t get up in the morning and decide: I think I’ll become a Christian today. Spiritually dead people cannot come on their own. The Father must draw them. The Law of God must reveal their sin and lead them to Christ. The Holy Spirit must then convicted them of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. He must quicken them so that they repent of their sins and turn to Christ and trust in Him as their own Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
In other words, in the gospel presentation we have to invite them. We have to invite them to come. In fact, the gospel of Matthew chapter 11, that’s exactly what Jesus does. He invites people to come. If you notice, the first words in this passage in Matthew 11:28-30: come to Me. Come to Me. You just can’t hear the news. You can’t just watch the news. You must come. That’s part of the gospel – come to Me. So here’s a simple command. Don’t come through priest or ministers, not through sacraments or ceremonies, not through churches or temples. It says come personally to Jesus for rest in this passage. Come directly to Him, guilt laden sinners as you are, come. And of course, come to Christ as He is. Come as you are, and come to Christ as He is. There’s a promise in this passage to give rest.
So the quarrel is between you and God, between the sinner and God. You can only settle the quarrel by coming to the Father through His appointed mediator. And that mediator is Jesus Christ. Like 1 Timothy 2:5 says:
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
He is the doorway. He is the truth. He is the life.
The invitation is open to those who are exhausted and burdened down, those who are exhausted in their search for meaning and for truth, people who have felt the crush of life and the crush of their own sin. It’s like David said in psalm 38:3:
There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
People with troubled consciences, record of wrong piling up in their heart. Deep inside people know that they will see their record again someday. Even the apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 2:
in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
Who are to come? People who are troubled, who are weighed down with sin, people who are troubled in their minds, laden with guilt of their wrongs. Their mind are tossed like a ship at sea without anchor, without port, without destination, doubt filling their mind. Unbelief, confusion, fear fills their heart. As life goes by, they have troubled hearts that are empty and unfeeling and afraid.
Jesus is the very kind of person a weary burdened individual may want to meet. For it says in this passage what about Jesus? I am gentle and humble in heart. In other words, there’s no one too far gone for Jesus. No matter how much they’ve sinned, the grace of God is deeper and greater than their sin. There’s no one too far gone for God. We may think they are, but God knows they’re not. Because there’s still abundant mercy, like we sang about. There’s abundant grace. Jesus has the power to make a person’s heart clean and new. Jesus went to the cross and bore a load of sin and grief for sinners. Jesus is able to cast that sin into the depth of the sea, never to be brought up again against that person.
So the invitation to receive Christ and His offer of salvation is for any sinner who desires to come. The gospel message is for everyone. Invite them to come to this gentle and humble Savior. come with your sin and your burdens. Don’t try to clean up your own acting and come. Come with all of it. Come with all your garbage. Come to Me. You can’t do anything to save yourself. Just come to Me – I can save you. Jesus Christ can save you. Give yourself to Jesus. Renounce your sin. Forsake your old habits. Forsake your unbelief. You can’t have rest of your soul when you want your sin too. Jesus says just trust Me. Believe Me. Follow me. And if you want to come, it shows that God has been at work in you to draw you to Himself.
So what’s the promise in our passage? I will give you rest. You shall find rest for your eternal souls. You will know the results of the promise not until you believe, not until you have faith. You will not know the result of a promise until by faith take hold of that promise. This is what you have been searching for. That’s why people are so restless. They’re restless for the truth of how they can be redeemed. The word “rest” means refreshment. It means refreshments for their eternal souls. Peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Rest of conscience, rest of mind, rest of heart, rest of spirit.
And Jesus says I bring complete satisfaction to all persons who put their faith and their trust in Me. Then He says also: my yoke is easy. It’s tailor-made for you and your lives. Whatever God sends you the christian, it is made to fit your needs and your abilities exactly. The load that Jesus gives us is easy. It’s an easy load to bear because He takes the load. He says: My load is light. So come all, all of you who are burdened and heavy laden. And of course, I will give you rest.
So the Word of God is really a two-edged sword. It goes out to convict of sin. The Law of God bring someone to the place of the person of Jesus Christ and brings them to the cross. But it cannot make them believe. It cannot provide salvation. Only the gospel, only Jesus himself can provide salvation. The two-edged sword of the Word of God or the gospel message really goes out to save people, but it also goes out to judge people. Because people have heard the gospel and they just simply didn’t believe it. They shrugged it off. They thought: it wasn’t for me. I don’t need to be saved. I’m not looking for any salvation.
That means it’s going to lead us to the last one at least today of the use of the Law. That is to consign people to double damnation if they reject the almighty Savior Jesus Christ. In other words, they are already under God’s damnation without even hearing the gospel. If they hear the gospel and reject the gospel, that is a double damnation, because they rejected the only message, the only person that could actually rescue them from the condemnation of their sin.
I would like you to turn your Bibles to a very significant passage of Scripture in Hebrews 10:26-31. If you never saw this passage, you need to look it up and see what it says here in the book of Hebrews. Remember, the significant audience of Hebrews is the Jews, the Hebrews. They have experienced all the promises of God, all the Word of God. And they’re brought right to Christ. The writer of Hebrews is saying: listen, come all the way over and believe. Because if you don’t, the end result is not good. You being children of Abraham will not help you. You being religious will not help you. You trying to keep the Law will not help you. Nothing will help you if you reject the only One who can really save you. Look at what it says in Hebrews 10:26:
If we go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “the Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
For somebody who rejects the message of Jesus Christ, that’s the conclusion right there. That’s the result. And it is terrifying to be in the hands of the living God when you have rejected the only message that He has to save you.
Again, the apostle Paul tells who will be the objects of God’s judgment in 2 Thessalonians chapter one. I’ll just read it. There are the objects of God’s judgment and it will be those who do not know God, those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says:
dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Those whom the light of the gospel has shown and whom the sound of the gospel has come but have not yet yield obedience, hardedly trust in Christ as their Savior upon his own terms. All Christless and graceless persons who have heard of Christ and yet have not believed will be the chief malefactors in the day of judgement. My friend, there is some who’ll be summoned by Christ on the day of judgement. He will convict the whole ungodly world and every crime and sin will be made manifest and evident. Every mouth will be stopped and found guilty before Him and they will not be able to deny it. The wicked will be speechless and standing full conviction before the unveiled Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. So the consequences of God’s righteous judgement will actually be threefold in this passage in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Punishment doled out with even-handed accuracy upon such as deserve it. Here, two classes are united because of their common enmity against God. Their faith will be in harmony with their nature, their attitude, their character, their deeds. The consequences, notice in the passage, are definite. They will pay the penalty. They will pay the penalty. In other words. There will be a definite time they will undergo the justice of God.
Secondly, the consequences are eternal. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction points to a duration undefined, unending, everlasting, for all-time. Everlasting destruction includes the loss of everything worthwhile, everything that gives meaning to life. Life that has no end with a quality that is undesirable. This does not refer to annihilation or extinction of being. Of course, the consequences are ultimate. It says they will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord. This is the most devastating thing about it. They’re going to be separated from the source of everything worthwhile. They’re going to be separated from God Himself, at least His mercy and His goodness.
Actually, the word “presence” is the word “prosopon”. It means the face of God, the countenance of God, the appearance of God. The one who’s the source of all good things – a person will be separated from that. Separated from all positive content of life, family, and friends, and food, and creation, even including fun and delight and enjoyment. That all comes from the hand of God.
People say: when I go to hell, I’ll party with my buddies. No, you won’t. There will be no party back down there. Utter separation from the Person who is life and light and love. That’s probably the most terrifying thing about hell. The only thing left there is God’s wrath, because that’s what you wanted all along.
So God will separate, He must separate His presence completely from these people because of their sin. Remember, it’s always been our sin that has separated us from God. If the sin is removed, then the separation is removed, and that’s why we become friends of God. We were enemies of God because of our sin, but when the sin is removed in Christ, then we become friends of God. So there’s no separation. God will be our God. We will be His children and we will ever be with him, because no one could ever separate us from the love of God that was in Christ Jesus anymore.
So this passage of Scripture that they will be moved away from the presence of God is very significant for us. It says in Isaiah:
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
See, it’s been our sin all along that had to be taken care of. People believe eternal destruction to be unreasonable because they desire to pursue their own path of sin without having their own conscience is troubled about the consequences of their actions. Well, as we think of that, we see in this that it’s the very point that when Satan disobeyed, he’ll end up in the lake of fire. Because of our sin, there’s a separation that is between God and us. The only result of that can be separation in a place the Bible calls hell. It was William C. Nichols in his book “The Narrow Way” who said this: “if they only knew how awful sin is and how glorious God is, if people saw sin as the greatest evil in the world and realized every sin is a rejection of God’s rule over us, a sneering at Him, shaking of our fists in His face, and a hurling of dung at Him, people would begin to understand a small bit of what sin is like to God.”
In other words, the use of the Law is used in a way to really bring a person to see what their standing is before God. And it’s not a good one. None of us had a good standing before God because of our sin. But when the Law brought us to Christ and we heard the gospel and we believe the gospel and we receive it in Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, then the sin was not only covered, it was washed away. We saw the day we believed that Jesus was the only way, the only truth, and the only life. No one could come to the Father unless they came through Jesus Christ. See that is the end result.
So yes, the Law of God is still operative and useful to unsaved, unregenerate, sinful people. We must use it. It’s our greatest tool in evangelism. We must use it in our evangelism and gospel preaching and teaching in order to bring someone to Christ for the salvation of their souls.
The status of the Law of God has changed for the believer in that it pointed to Christ and has been fulfilled in Him. In Christ, the Law has been fulfilled. Be sure of this: the Ten Commandments have been superseded and transformed, but it has not been abrogated. It is still useful for the sinner and it is also useful towards the believer, which we’ll look at next week.
Let’s pray. Lord, this morning we realize the weight of the Word of God in the Law of God on the conscience, the minds, the hearts of sinners. Lord, we thank you for this, because without it, we wouldn’t have come. We would not have realized the condemnation we were under. We would not have considered the way of salvation. We would have been comfortable in religion. We’ve been comfortable in our good works. But Lord, thank you you didn’t make us comfortable. And I pray, Lord, that for other people too, who have not believed. That they would come to see and realize that their sin they cannot remove themselves. There’s nothing they can do to remove their sin. So they’re under your condemnation Lord. The only thing that can remove their sin and wash it away is the blood of Christ. So I pray that for us as we go out and we consider our family and our friends and neighbors and co-workers. Lord, don’t let us be silent. Open up our mouths so we can speak the truth of the gospel, Lord, let us pray for them. Lord, give us the delight to see others come to Christ, like Edwards saw real conversions that caused revival in the church and caused people to work for the Lord joyfully. I pray the same thing today. Lord, bring revival. Bring it in our own heart first. And Lord, bring it into the church. Convert people in these days, Lord, that are getting so dark. Please bring people to Christ. And Lord, use us as instruments, as mouthpieces to tell them what they need to hear. So Lord, they can know what we know. So they can have their eyes opened, their ears opened, their souls resurrected to see the kingdom of God and enter the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Please do that, Lord. And do it for the sake of the glory of Your great name. I pray this in in our precious Lord’s name. Amen.