1John 3:4 #5 Sin 9/14/2003
#1. Idolatry in the Law (1John 3:4, Ex 20:2-17, Rev 22:19, Matt 28:1, 5:21-22, 27-28, Mal 3:8, Rev 21:8,27, 22:15, Ezek 34:10, Col 3:5)
#2. A Summary of the Law (Matt 22:37-40)
#3. The Antidote to Sin (Rom 8:2-4, Eph 1:18-19, Psalm 119:11)
Please open your Bibles to the Proverbs of Solomon, chapter 3:19 (2X). The title of today's sermon is "Sin" (2X). This is the 5th sermon in the series that is called "the Wisdom of God" (2X). How did we arrive at the subject of Sin in this beautiful structure that God is building before our eyes? Was the concept of sin also an element of the plan of God He had before the foundation of the world? Absolutely Yes! God said in Eph 1:4 that "God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world", which means it was God's plan that Christ would go to the cross to pay for our sins, and God decided that before the foundation of the world. Therefore Adam's sin did not catch God by surprise, & God included sin as an integral part of His Eternal Purpose for this creation. We read in Prov 3:19,
Pr 3:19 The LORD by (or: in) wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
It means that this plan of God is the most perfect plan possible, because it was conceived in the mind of God who is infinite in wisdom. Then God went to work and we have seen how the Providence of God is providing for His Elect people everything they need for salvation and God is providing for the Reprobate people all the opportunities they need for damnation. There are Elect and Reprobate people, just like in the realm of angels there are elect angels who remained faithful to God, and there are reprobate angels who rebelled against God at the time Lucifer rebelled against God. Reprobate angels were necessary to draw man into sin, and Reprobate people are necessary to inflict on the Elect the persecutions and the sufferings that are necessary to make us grow in grace. It is the Love of God for His Elect that motivated God to create reprobate angels and Reprobate people. Then we saw in sermon #4, last week, how the Love of God for His Elect "is shed abroad in our hearts by God the Holy Spirit", and it overflows into love for our brethren in the congregation. And when we look at the Love of God in the light of John, chapter 3 verses 16 and 17, we see that the Atonement of Christ on the cross in AD 33 was the outwardly visible Love of God for His Elect, and at the same time it was the outwardly visible Wrath of God on Sin. That is why the present sermon is titled "Sin" (2X).
What is sin? Sin is not only a violation of the Law of God, but sin is also a lack of what we are supposed to have. Man was created in the image of God and man was created to glorify God. But man has lost this ability to glorify God. To man belongs originally the knowledge of God. Man has lost this knowledge also. But it is not a passive lack of knowledge. Instead of the knowledge of God there has come darkness and lies about God. Instead of righteousness there has come unrighteousness and sin. Instead of holiness there has come consecration to the Devil and impurity of mind, and wicked inclinations and evil desires. The human nature cannot stand in neutral. It is either motivated by the power of the love of God, or it is motivated by enmity against God. The lack of knowledge, and lack of righteousness and holiness causes man to turn into the active reverse, like darkness and unrighteousness, and unholiness. This is the utter depravity of mankind. This how we all were born.
I will skip the usual introduction that every preacher gives about the origin of sin in the Garden of Eden. I have preached on that subject in 10 sermons from April to July of this year. That should be enough. The Bible tells us that the introduction of sin in the world did not have its origin in the world of men, but in the world of angels. It originated in the mind of the angel Lucifer, who became Satan. And
Let us turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah again, and see how God answers this question. Please turn to Isaiah, chapter 40:19 (2X). God is speaking to "My people" in verse 1. Apply this to our time: God is speaking to people in the church. God is speaking about idolatry in the church. God says here in Isa 40:18, "To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" Does idolatry occur in the church? Absolutely yes! There are unsaved people in every church; those people are not worshipping the God of the Bible; they serve another god, but he is not the God of the Bible.
Isa 40:19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
Isa 40:20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
Those who are well off are making an idol by pouring molten metal in a mold and they cover their idol with gold, as if that would make any difference. Poor people choose a tree that will not rot and they hire a craftsman who will carve for them an idol. Both the golden idol and the wooden idol are impotent: they cannot move out of their fixed place. Please turn now to Isa 41:6 (2X),
Isa 41:6-7 They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
Here is another time and another place, but the same thing is happening. Much work is done, but the end result is the same: Again an impotent idol that cannot move itself. Now turn to Isa 42:8 (2X),
Isa 42:8 I am the LORD (= I am Jehovah): that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Here is another form of Idolatry. God warns us here that He will not give His glory to another. This is a fundamental principle. We may not come up with a gospel whereby we give the credit of salvation partly to God and partly to a human work. God equates this to giving His praise to graven images. Look also at verse 17 of this chapter. Isa 42:17,
Isa 42:17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. (Please turn now to Isa 44:9 (2X), )
Isa 44:9 ¶ They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.
Isa 44:10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?
And then follow 10 verses where God describes how foolish man is by making an idol from part of a tree, and the other part of the tree he burns in a fire to cook himself a meal, and to warm himself. The wood of the tree was not holy because he burned it, but as soon as he made the shape of an idol from the wood of that tree he falls down and worships the work of his own hands. That is exactly what people do when they create a works gospel. Their hands are not holy. But they worship the work of their own hands. Once a beloved Pastor or a Theologian has written a book, or a paper, about what he thinks salvation is, without checking it out with the Bible, he has set up an idol, which cannot save because it is an impotent idol. It does not agree with the God of the Bible. Now turn to Isa 45:20 (2X),
Isa 45:20 ¶ Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they (i.e. the nations) have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
The call of God goes out to all the nations for people to escape the wrath of God on all them that set up their own gospel, instead of the Gospel of the Bible. Now turn to Isa 46:6 (2X),
Isa 46:6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.
Isa 46:7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
Do you get the drift? You can stop at almost every chapter of the OT and see this phenomenon of idolatry. In ancient times it happened in every country of the world, at any month of any year you may choose. It was a universal phenomenon, and God hated it. But murder, stealing and fornication were also universal phenomena, but God did not take time to record these kinds of sins in every chapter of the Bible. What must we conclude from this? Idolatry was the sin that God hated most!
#1. Where is Idolatry in the Law? (1John 3:4, Ex 20:2-17)
Please turn to Exodus, chapter 20:2 (2X). While you are looking this up, let me read to you from
1John 3:4 ¶ Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (Repeat: Sin is the transgression of the Law)
This is very logical, isn't it? Sin is the transgression of the Law of God. What is the Law of God? The whole Bible is the Law of God, because many laws of God are sprinkled throughout the whole Bible. But there are two special places where we find the Law of God in a very condensed form. One of those places is Exodus chapter 20, and the other place is Deuteronomy chapter 5. We have seen that God hates Idolatry more than any other sin. My question to you is: Where in the Law does God speak about Idolatry? Well, let us read these 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, and let us see how God addresses the matter of Idolatry here. Let us look at the First Commandment:
Ex 20:2-3 I am Jehovah thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
What did God say? If we must apply the Word of God to all people at all times, can we say that any of us here was literally at one time in bondage in the land of Egypt? Most likely none of us was at one time a slave in the land of Egypt. This tells us how God wrote the Bible. In many places the literal meaning does not make sense, and then we have to understand the verses spiritually. Spiritually we all were at one time in bondage to Sin and to Satan, and Egypt is spiritually representing the House of Bondage that we were in. That is why the historical exodus out of Egypt in 1447BC was a stupendous picture of our salvation. And so, what is God saying here? Paraphrased God says: "I am Jehovah which brought you out of the House of Bondage. I am the One who saved you. Do not give this credit to anyone else for I will not share My glory with another human being, or with an idol. You shall have no other gods before Me. If you give this credit of salvation to anyone else, you are in fact committing idolatry". And so, if we believe that Christ has done all He could, but now we need to reach out and accept this salvation that He so generously offers, then we are usurping part of the glory that belongs to God, and thereby we are committing idolatry. God does not save someone in the act of idolatry. A works gospel is idolatry. A works gospel does not save anyone. Now look at the 2nd Commandment:
Ex 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Ex 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Ex 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
This 2nd Commandment addresses the matter of idolatry very directly. Does this mean we may not make any statues, or two-dimensional images of anything? No! The separation by verse numbers is not part of the inspired Word of God. God said that we may not make an image representing God and bow down to it, or serve it. That is plain idolatry. Today the opinion is that this Commandment only applies to primitive people. We don't do this any more; we are too sophisticated for this primitive stuff. But is it not true that today's graven images are actually the false gods proclaimed by false teachers? Images graven in the minds of those who bring works gospels. Now look at the 3rd Commandment:
Ex 20:7 Thou shalt not take (= bear) the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh (= beareth) his name in vain.
If we call ourselves Christians but we have not been saved, then we bear the name of Jehovah our God in vain. If we bear the name of the Lord in vain, we are actually serving another god. We do not belong to Christ; we just bear His name. It also shows in our actions. If in our thoughts, or in our actions, or in our speech to people we do a sloppy job, it means we do not care that we represent Christ, and it may mean that we actually belong to another god. The Lord will not hold him guiltless that beareth His name in vain, because it is idolatry. Let us now look at the 4th Commandment:
Ex 20:8-9 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Ex 20:10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Ex 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
That last verse: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth" is an affirmation of the first few thousand years of the existence of this universe, as it is specified in Gen ch. 1 through Gen ch. 11. Either the theory of evolution is right, or Gen chapters 1 through 11 are right, but they cannot both be right. We must make a choice. But we read in Rev 22:19 these words, "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book". Therefore, if we believe the theory of evolution we have, in our mind, thrown out the first eleven chapters of Gen. This means that we are still unsaved, and are under the wrath of God, because we listen to another authority than the Bible, and thus we worship another god, but it is not the God of the Bible. This is idolatry!
But do verses 8 through 10 command us to worship on Saturday? No! The 7th Day Sabbath is part of the Ceremonial Law, and that part of the Law has been abolished for us when Christ died for us on the cross. Have then the 10 Commandments become 9 Commandments? No! When Christ rose from the grave God established the 1st Day in the week to come in the place of the 7th Day. We do not see this in our KJ Bible, but literally the Greek text says in Matt 28:1, "But after the Sabbaths (plural), at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths (plural), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre". It means that the era of 7th Day Sabbaths had come to an end and a new era of 1st Day Sabbaths was beginning. It means that in the list of 10 Commandments God took the 4th Comm. out and God replaced it with a new 4th Commandment, which does not refer to Saturday, but to Sunday. It means, if we still worship on Saturday we are demonstrating that our Messiah has not yet come. It means we are not worshipping Christ, but another god, and this is idolatry! Now the 5th Com.
Ex 20:12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
What does it mean to honor our father and mother? It means we respect them and we obey them in all things that are lawful. Children, listen to me carefully. If we do not obey our father and mother then we do not obey God, because God has placed our father and mother in authority over us. If we do not honor our father and mother we are in rebellion against God, because God commanded us to honor our father and mother. Rebellion is a matter of the heart, and it shows up in our relationship with God. If our attitude is that our father and mother cannot tell us what to do, then the next step is that God cannot tell us what to do. Therefore, if dishonoring our father and mother is a persistent sin in our lives, it means we do not like the authority of the God of the Bible, and we have made another god of our own liking. This is idolatry! Let us now look at the 6th Commandment:
Ex 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
What does this mean? It means "Thou shalt not murder". All kinds of killing is permitted by God. We kill animals and eat them. The government has authority from God to kill murderers. In times of war the government has authority from God to send armies, which do kill. God authorized the armies of Israel to kill off all the Canaanites, because their judgment day had come. Let me read to you what the Lord Jesus said about this commandment in Matt 5:21-24,
Mt 5:21 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill (or murder) shall be in danger of the judgment:
Mt 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (= empty head), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Let me summarize what Jesus said: If you are angry with your brother, then you have committed murder in your heart, and you are already guilty of murder, because God looks upon the heart. Who are we that we dare to criticize God for putting this person in our path? Who are we to call our sinful anger a righteous anger? We are making ourselves a higher authority than God. We have put ourselves in God's place. This is idolatry! Now let us look at the 7th Commandment:
Ex 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
What does this mean? Let me read to you how the Lord Jesus defined it. Jesus said in Matt 5:27,
Mt 5:27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
Mt 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
God looks on the heart. God already knows our desires, and God declares us guilty of adultery. Who are we to minimize what God has said in His Word? God says that He has brought a man and a woman together in holy matrimony. Who are we that we dare to criticize God for making this choice for us? It means we are dissatisfied with what God has done for us; He could have done better. It means we act as if we know better than Almighty God. This means that we are ignoring the Word of God. And this is idolatry! Do you remember what David said when he repented from his sin of adultery? "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned". Let us now look at the 8th Commandment:
Ex 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
Does stealing have anything to do with idolatry? You remember that Gregg Sjoerdsma addressed this subject in a sermon titled: "Will a Man Rob God?" based on Mal 3:8. God said in Mal 3:8,
Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Just think about this: Who owns the property around you? We already know the answer. Our money either goes to work for God, or it goes to work for Satan. There are only two directions our money can go. If we are stealing from God, then where do we bring that money? Yes! It goes to another god. Most likely it goes to Satan. This is idolatry! Now, let us look at the 9th Commandment:
Ex 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Does this law only apply to bearing false witness in court? Absolutely not! The 9th Commandment is forbidding us to lie. Does God hate liars? God hates liars with a passion. Let me read to you what God says about liars in Rev 21 and 22. Beginning in Rev 21:8, God says:
Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Liars are grouped together with murderers, sorcerers and idolaters. That is how bad liars are in the sight of God. Liars are absolutely denied to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God says in Rev 21:27,
Re 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
No one who causes abomination in the sight of God is allowed to enter into His presence, and that includes liars. But to stress the utter abomination of liars God mentioned them separately. When I turn to Rev 22 God mentioned liars for the third time. God says:
Re 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Not only those who are the liars, but also those who love hearing the lies, are cast out into the Lake of Fire together with the unbelieving dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers and idolaters. Why does God have all this emphasis on liars? Which particular group of people does God have in mind? We get a hint when we read Ezekiel chapt. 34, where God is addressing pastors and teachers.
Eze 34:10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
These are undershepherds who are hirelings. They do not feed the flock; they feed themselves at the expense of the flock. It means that they do not faithfully teach their flock, because they have found that if they twist the truth just a little here and there they will have a gospel that is much more appealing to masses of people. That is what they have done to gather mega-churches. It may be profitable for their bank account, but it is outright idolatry! Let us look now at the 10th Commandment:
Ex 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Does covetousness have anything to do with idolatry? Absolutely yes! Just listen to Col 3:5,
Col 3:5 ¶ Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
God equates covetousness with idolatry. And the warning against covetousness is the capstone of the 10 Commandments. In other words, covetousness is the driving force behind violations of all the other commandments. Please turn now to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 22:37 (2X),
#2. The Lord Jesus gave here A Summary of the Law (Matt 22:37-40)
One of the Pharisees who was also a lawyer, a doctor in the OT Law, asked Jesus a question: "Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered him in verses 37-40,
Mt 22:37-38 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
Mt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mt 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Indeed, the 10 Commandments were designed by God to express His love for His people. The love of God shines through, because this is what people need. And what we must conclude, if we are honest with ourselves, is that we cannot keep the 10 Commandments, and that we need a Savior who has mercy on us, and can save us from the consequences of our sins, our transgressions of the Law of God. And here we see the love of God shining through, because "the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ". That is why the Lord Jesus summarized the Law in terms of love. But the love of God cannot be known without the wrath of God on each and every sin. God's righteousness demands it. Our sin might be that we do not love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength. It means that we love someone else, or we love ourselves more than we love God. This is idolatry! Who then shall deliver us from the body of this death? We thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ; He alone can deliver us from our sins.
Let me summarize what we have learned so far: #1. We have seen 5 pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that represents the beautiful structure God is building for the Bride of His Son. The Lord in wisdom hath founded the earth. #2. God demonstrated His love for His people by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth, to atone for the sins of His people on the cross. It means that His people were sinners from birth, who need to be saved from their sins. #3. God's love shines through in His Law by pointing His people to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Reprobate do not see Christ; they only see the Law. #4. Idolatry is the sin God hates most, because God's warnings against idolatry are written in almost every chapter of the OT. And when the Lord Jesus summarized the Law, He stated it in such a way that the warning against idolatry is very prominent. Who can deliver us from the penalty of sin?
#3. What is The Antidote to Sin? (Rom 8:2-4, Eph 1:18-19, Psalm 119:11)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 8:2 (2X). What is the struggle that is described in chapter 7? It is the struggle with the Lord Jesus' summary of the Law, that we must love God above all, and above everything that we hold dear, even above the needs of our own flesh. Can we do that? No! It is an impossible command. Then what is the solution for our problem? The deliverance comes only for those whom God has chosen from before the foundation of the world. When we have become "Born Again" we also learn not to dwell on our failings with the Law, but to do those things that are pleasing in the sight of God. This is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
R 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
God the Holy Spirit gave us faith, and now we believe that we are no longer dead in trespasses and sins, but we are alive in Christ Jesus. What is the Law of sin and death? It is the many laws of commandments and ordinances in the OT that we are not able to keep as perfectly as we should. Even the summary of the Law in the NT we are not able to keep. And no matter how great the penalty for sin is, the Law is not able to keep us from sinning. But Christ can change us. We read in Rom 8:3,
Ro 8:3-4 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Law could not change us, because we need to be changed from the inside. But Christ could change us, because He earned the right to change us from the inside. He purchased us on the cross and now He owns us, body and soul. Christ sent His Holy Spirit to give each one of us a new soul, so that we will come to Him when He calls us, and so that we will live a life that is filled with doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. That is why God said in Rom 8:4, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit". Please turn about 60 pages to your right (ß) to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 1:18 (2X). God speaks here about the activity of God the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Apostle Paul prayed for us that our understanding may be enlightened. We read in Eph 1:18,
Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
God's desire is that we may know the riches of the glory of Christ's inheritance in the saints. Yes it is Christ's inheritance in us. It is only after His exceeding great power to us-ward is demonstrated in giving us a new soul, that we can believe in Christ's inheritance in us. Only then can we say:
Ps 119:11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
It is only then that we have found our Antidote to Sin.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.