Mirror, Mirror in the Word
By Bobby Blakey on October 17, 2022
Mirror, Mirror in the Word
By Bobby Blakey on October 17, 2022
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? That's what the Evil Queen said in the classic fairy tale by Brothers Grimm, because she was comparing herself to other people, and then was filled with jealousy, and rivalry. And one of the things that people do is they think they're a good person, because they compare themselves to other people. And we want to have an honest conversation about who we really are, what the Bible says about you. When we look in the mirror, mirror in the Word, what does it have to say about us? So, I invite everybody here that today, open your Bible with me to Romans chapter 3. And we are going to see perhaps the clearest passage in all of Scripture, that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And so, what Paul does here, and we've been building up to this for weeks, even months here at our church, but we're going to read Romans 3:9-18, and he is going to quote a lot of different scriptures from the Hebrew Bible and put them together as a compelling argument, as a mirror that you could look into, to see yourself. So out of respect for God's Word, I'm going to ask if we would all stand up for the public reading of Scripture. If you're watching this online, if you're at home sick, or you're traveling, we want to welcome you in and open your Bible and look at Romans 3:9-18. This is the Word of God; specifically, this is God's perspective on you. So, we should give this our full and undivided attention. Please follow along as I read, Romans chapter 3, starting in verse 9:
“What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”
That's the reading of God's word, please go ahead and take your seat. And I want to encourage you to open up your bulletin again, and we made a little chart in there for you where there is the meter with our passage in it. And then it has all the different references of what Paul is quoting off to the side here. So, you can see he's primarily quoting the Psalms when he puts these scriptures together. There's also a quote there from the prophet Isaiah. And so, he puts it together as one long quote of Scripture. So that's why it's Mirror, Mirror in the Word because not only is Paul giving us this thought in his masterclass on the gospel here in the book of Romans, but to make what he's saying authoritative in the minds of everyone who would read his letter, he's quoting the Hebrew Bible. This is the longest quote that Paul writes in all of his thirteen letters. As you can see, he's putting a whole bunch of scriptures together in a compelling way to make an argument and the point that Paul wants to prove to all of us here today, if we haven't already seen this, he wants us to see it today, once and for all, that all of us are under sin. And maybe you kind of know that's the right answer. Well, as we go through this text, you might feel more convicted about your sin than you ever have before. That is Paul's goal.
He wants to say, look right there in verse 10, “as it is written, none is righteous.” Now that's his word. Okay. That word is not used in the Psalms, Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. They say the same thing in two different Psalms. And now he's quoting those Psalms right here in Romans 3:10-12. But in the Psalms, it doesn't say the word righteous. That's the word that Paul is putting into it. That's the word he's using as his theme for the book of Romans. So just to remind everybody, or if you weren't here, to catch you up, go back to chapter 1 in Romans and look at Romans 1:17-18. Because he said that the reason he wants to preach the gospel in Rome, the reason he wrote this letter to the church in Rome, is he wants the gospel to be known, because in the Gospel, this is Romans 1:17, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, for “as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” So, the goal of the book of Romans is that you would hear the Word of Christ, that you would respond in faith so that you would be right between you and God. And that if you are right between you and God, you would then know how to live your life based on that solid foundation of salvation in Jesus. But many people are not right with God. And so, in Romans 1:18 he says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness, suppress that truth.”
So, the goal is righteousness by faith. But we start out at the place of unrighteousness. Not just they out there in chapter 1, but even us in here in chapter 2. And now he's going to say whether Greek or Jew, it doesn't matter who. You are in Romans 3, when he says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” What he's saying is all kinds of people, whether you grew up going to church, or whether you grew up out there in the world in all kinds of sin, doesn't matter who you are, all of us start out unrighteous. And we need to be made righteous by our faith in Jesus, God has to declare us righteous, because none is righteous. So, what we're getting to today, if you've been going through Romans with us for a while now, this is our sixteenth sermon from the book of Romans. And we are now getting to the climax of this first section of the letter when he has been talking about sin and judgment. Maybe it feels like we've been talking about sin and judgment for a long time. Well, this is his final statement, meant to convince us once and for all that not one of us is righteous. Go back to chapter 3 and look at verses 10 to 12. These are very strong statements here. Okay? Strong statements that don't leave any room for an exception. None of us are righteous. And just in case, you don't know what none means. It means no one, right. So, he is spelling it out. We don't get it. We don't start out in a place of wisdom. We don't start out in a place of seeking God. All have turned aside, together, they have become worthless. And just in case you missed it the first time, no one does good, and not even one. So, if you reach back in your bulletin there's a handout there, if you want to take some notes. We've got a lot to learn from Paul and these Hebrew Scriptures that he's quoting. So, I would really encourage you to take notes on this service.
But point number one, let's get it down like this: “You want to see yourself as one of the none.” See yourself as one of the “none” when we say that none are righteous. When we say that no one does good, you’ve got to include yourself into the what is generally referring to all, you’ve got to see yourself as one of the none. And a lot of people, maybe you, a lot of people think of themselves as good people. Okay, so we’ve got to have an honest conversation about that here this morning. Because we just read a verse in Holy Scripture, quoting other scripture, saying that not one here does good, not one here is righteous. Not even one exception here. No, not one. But so many people think of themselves as good people these days. So how do we think this through? Go with me to Psalm 14, I want to take you back to the original text that he's quoting here in Psalm 14. And again, this is verses we are all meant to know. Because it's in Psalm 14, and it's in Psalm 53. So out of the 150 Psalms, they decided to do this one twice in the book of Psalms. And then Paul when he's giving his masterclass teaching on the gospel, he quotes it. So clearly, this is a passage sent from heaven to earth for all of us to understand.
Now, I understand why we think of ourselves as good people. Let me just try to explain how I've come to see this. Before we were doing this church here in Huntington Beach. I did high school ministry for many years. And I ended up meeting with a lot of parents of high school students. And one thing I observed over the years of having these meetings is that even though this parent was clearly having challenges with their high schooler, that's why we were meeting because there was an issue that needed to be addressed. And even though we're doing this intense meeting, most of the parents still referred to their teenager as a “good kid.” Even though we're clearly having many problems. No, my kid is a good kid. I heard this so much. I eventually got a little testy, I guess. And I started asking, well, why would you say they are a good kid? And I said it with a smile, just like that. Right? And parents looked at me like no one had ever challenged or asked a question about their kid being a good kid before. And I got some very common answers that I would hear over the years. One was, my kid is a good kid, because they get good grades in school. That was one of the most common answers I heard from parents. You could tell they refer to their kids as good kids, but they haven't really done a deep dive into why they said their kids were good kids. And so, me bringing that up, well, okay, so I'm not saying that people have never done a good thing. That's not what like, yes, they could do something evil, which would be not turn in their work and get bad grades. But instead, they did their work and got good grades. So just because we're saying no one does good. Well, okay, so they did something that was good. That's not really the point. Another answer that I got a lot was, well, why would you say your kids a good kid? And the answer that I got a lot was, well, they're not in jail, and they're not doing drugs. As far as I know. Standards! You know what I mean? Like this was, basically what we're saying is my kids a good kid, because there's other kids that are more evil than my kid. This is the main source where people feel like they are good, is they look into the mirror, mirror on the wall, and they compare themselves to other people that they think are more evil than them. That's often where we get our idea of goodness.
So, I understand that some people might have done some good things. And I understand that some people may not be as evil as other people are, but, see, the point of comparison is not how bad you could be and are you better off than how bad you could be. And it's the point of comparison is not how bad are you compared to somebody else who's more evil than you? So maybe you're good compared to someone else? No, the point of comparison is how do you stand before God died is the point of comparison that Paul is making, that Scripture is making. Look at it here in Psalm 14, “To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” See, people think they're good when God's not involved in the conversation. That's where the idea of human goodness comes from. It's a foolish way to think because you're acting like there's no God, we need to compare ourselves to there's no creator, there's no law giver, there's no standard that he has for us. So that's the problem is it's a foolish conversation, like there is no God. And so here it says they are corrupt. They do abominable deeds, “there is none who does good.” Now, this is the part that we need to see here in verse 2, because this is now in the original Psalm not brought over into Romans 3. But when David says that no one does good, he is saying it from God's perspective. Look at verse 2. “The Lord looks down from heaven, on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.” So, this isn't just what David thinks. This isn't just what Paul thinks. What we're getting right now is a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. And we're getting a glimpse here into what God thinks.
Look at verse 3, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” So, God is on his throne right now. Today, his eyes search to and fro, and he looks straight into your heart. He sees your soul and God is decreeing from heaven in comparison to his standard of holiness and righteousness. No one has lived up to the perfection that God requires; no one is good. Not even one So you have to see yourself as one of the none.
Because you could write down under point number one: “Comparing yourself to God.” That's the first argument that Paul makes. Don't compare yourself to yourself. And don't compare yourself to other people. Compare yourself to God. And then let's see whether you've measured up, and the answer is no, no one does. Everyone's turned aside from God, there is none who does good, not even one. So that's the idea that Paul first presents from Psalm 14. Let's look at it from God's perspective, have we lived up to the glory of God? No, all of us have fallen short. Now, I have tried to explain this to many people who consider themselves to be good people. And it can be hard for people to grasp. This can be a difficult concept for people to understand. And I'm guaranteeing we have people here in the room that think of yourself as good people. And I'm really hoping you'll listen to Paul's argument here today. And then I know some of us are going to have conversations with family members and friends who say that they are good people. So, we need to really see how this argument works.
Because I remember when I just started out being one of the pastors here at Compass HB. I got one of my first phone calls to visit someone in the hospital. And I was nervous. I was new as a pastor here. And I was invited by a lady at our church to go visit her mom in the hospital. And I just felt nervous going there. I didn't know this lady; I didn't know how bad her physical condition was. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to say to this lady. And when I got to the hospital, and I don't know how many hospital rooms you've been in lately, but there's all these machines, and they're always beeping. And I'm always thinking that somebody's going to do something about this beeping. And then over time, I realized if the nurses weren't worried about it, I didn't need to be worried about it. But I felt nervous going into this hospital room. And this woman, she was even more nervous to be there than I was. Because she grew up in Christian Science or, as a Christian Scientist. I don't know if you've heard of this, but they literally have a mantra that they repeat to themselves, that we are perfect. And if you get sick, and if you go to the hospital, it's because you don't have faith that you are perfect. And so, you're not even supposed to go to the hospital in this religion. And so, this lady is telling me how bad she even feels, being there in the hospital, because she should be perfect. And she shouldn't be here. And honestly, I didn't really know very well what to say to that. And I remember praying for the lady, but walking out of that hospital, just feeling like a failure as a pastor, like I didn't really do much help in there. And it wasn't long, until that lady from our church called me a second time and said her mom was back in the hospital again. And will you come and talk to her again? And I remember driving to that hospital, thinking, wow, I was such a failure last time, how's it going to go any better this time. I was, oh ye of little faith. I was like, don't know. I already talked to this lady once. It didn't get anywhere. What's going to happen this time? And when I walked into this hospital room, it was a completely different scene. The nurses were all paying attention to the monitors. The daughter was there visibly concerned, very concerned for her mom. And when the mom saw me, lying in the hospital bed, when she recognized me, her eyes lit up, she waited for me to come over to her. She grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me close so that she could whisper into my ear. “I just had a heart attack. I almost died and I was not going to a good place. You need to tell me how to get right with God, you need to tell me right now” is what she said. And hospitals are terrible places to have the most important conversation of your life because you got all the beeping, you’ve got all the nurses, they're trying to keep you alive physically, it's hard at the same time to have a conversation about how to be alive, spiritually, praise the Lord. He preserved this lady's life. And she ended up at a recovery center right down the street from my house. And so, I got to go and regularly visit with her. Her daughter would come and the three of us would sit there and we would talk about how to be right with God. The problem was from a young age, this lady had had engrained into her brain that she was perfect. This is the way she had been trained to think. I mean, not just a good person, but literally to think of yourself as a perfect person. And I remember in many conversations using the scripture to try to prove the point that none of us have measured up to God's standard. If you've broken one law, you're guilty of all the law, even if it's just a thought, or something in your heart that you didn't really do, God would still see it as sin. And I'm quoting this verse and that verse, and we're having multiple meetings, and I can tell that this woman still considers herself even though she's had a heart attack, even though she is near death, she still thinks that she is good. And I'm like, Lord, how are we going to help her to see what your word says? I remember this one day, we were sitting outside of this recovery center. And I just asked a woman a very basic question, because at this point, not only was this woman up in her age, but her daughter was also up in her age and I said, well, what about all the many years with your daughter? Are you telling me that there was never any sin, any conflict, any arguments, any tension between you and your daughter? And then that moment, this lady had her eyes open to realize that she was not perfect. And from that day forward, there was a radical change in this woman, and her daughter, who was just overjoyed, because for the first time, in her entire life, her mom started to say to her, I'm so sorry for things that I said, and things that I did. In fact, God used the relationship between that mom and that daughter to open that lady's eyes to see that she was a sinner before a holy God. And she repented of that sin. She believed in Jesus. And shortly after that, she died and her daughter walked around saying, my mom knows how to say she's sorry. Now, my mom asked for forgiveness. See, if you won't compare yourself to God and see that you don't measure up, let's just look at the evidence from your own life. Let's just look at the words that have come out of your mouth. Are you trying to tell me that you've never said something wrong? Something that would hurt someone else? Go back to Romans chapter three. And notice the very skillful way that Paul makes his argument, a very logical progression here. He starts with Psalm 14, Psalm 53, this famous passage, “nobody measures up to God, we've all fallen short, we've all turned aside.” Oh, you don't want to compare yourself to God or that doesn't make sense to you.
Well, let's go to the next level. Starting in verses 13, and 14 here, there are four statements about our speech. It says, “Their throat is an open grave”; literally, when they open their mouth, death comes out. That's the idea that they use their tongues to deceive. This is talking about smooth speech, flattery, how many people have said something to somebody's face and something radically different behind their back, how many people have made a false representation of what they really think, to impress someone else, you have that smoothness and that lying that deception, then it says “the venom of asps,” the poison of a snake “is under their lips.” When people are speaking, it's like there's some kind of snake with fangs, biting someone and injecting poison into that person. People are not saying encouraging things to build someone up. People are saying poisonous, rotten things that tear people down and cause them damage like a snake bite. That's how some people's words are. And then it says, “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” And wow, are we there in America, all you got to do is go out in public and be around other people. And you will hear all kinds of words that should not be uttered from anyone's mouth, you will hear people on a daily basis around here, taking the name of our Lord Jesus in vain and blaspheming our God because they are full of it. That's what it says here in Scripture. Look at it. It says their throat, their tongues, their lips, their mouth, how have you listened to the words that you've said, you want to think that you're a good person?
Let's go back and let's review. Let's rewind the tape and let's look what have you said? What have you said, See, one of the lines from Jesus is out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. See what you are saying shows who you really are. Okay? So, we're not like God, we can't see into our souls when we look in the mirror. We just see our physical bodies. Okay, well, there is a way that you can see what's in your heart. The words that come out of your mouth They reveal what is in your heart. Go over to Matthew chapter 12. Let's go to where Jesus says that famous statement. Let's make sure we all understand because people here in this passage in Matthew 12, they have blasphemed, against the Holy Spirit, they have said that Jesus casts out demons, by the power of demons. They're saying that Jesus is not from God, but he's from Satan. And so, then Jesus has this very convicting passage here in Matthew 12, starting in verse 33, where all you want to say I'm from demons. Okay, well, let me talk about the words that are coming out of your mouth. And what that reveals about you. “Either make,” this is Matthew 12:33, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good or make the tree bad and it's fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” And then he says, “You brood of vipers, you bunch of snakes,” same idea, like, hey, what you're saying is not is not helpful. How can you speak good when you are evil? See, when you say evil things, it reveals an evil heart. If you're saying things that are like death, if you're saying lies, if you're saying poisonous things to tear people down, if you're cursing, and you're expressing bitterness that's revealing what's in your heart, that's different than building people up than speaking the truth, then showing people love and giving grace to those who hear and saying great things about God rather than cursing his holy name, see the way that you speak. But that reveals who you really are. That's what Jesus is saying here. Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus is saying that in the things that you say, there's enough evidence to convict you as a sinner, or there's enough evidence to show that God has made you righteous, and you have been changed from the inside out. We can find out who you really are by the words that come out of your mouth.
Point number two, let's get it down like this: “See the heart behind sinful words.” And Jesus is saying that we're just going by your words, you could either be justified or condemned. You want to know who you really are, look at what you say. And I want to really encourage you to examine the way that you speak. And particularly, one of the things that I've observed in my own life and through talking to many people here at church is it seems like many times, we say the worst things to the people that we would claim to love the most. Many times, it's the people closest to us. When we're at our house, and we have our guard down, we often say very cruel and hurtful things to our own spouse, or our own children, or people that we live with. That's often where some of this evil comes out of our mouth. And I don't know about you, but just speaking for myself, I know that I have said hurtful things to my own family. And then after I did that, I even acted like I said things like, I didn't really mean that. I don't know if anybody else has ever said something like that. Well, that's not really what I meant. So even though I'm saying something wrong and hurtful now, when it comes back up, I'm defending myself like, you're the reason I had to say it. That's not what the Scripture is teaching. The Scripture is teaching that the reason I said something that was wrong is because I'm wrong. Because I'm angry, because I'm trying to get my own way. The issue is not the other person. The issue is me. I mean, I've said some things and I have looked in my loved one’s eyes, and I have seen the damage that I have caused by the words that have come out of my mouth. I've said some things where they were wrong. Right? When I said it, I knew it was wrong. And that thing that I said, it doesn't disappear. It doesn't go away. You might as well just paint that on the wall of the house because it was spoken and, I knew right away, that was a wrong thing to say.
I'm asking you, first of all, will you compare yourself to God? Will you see yourself from God's perspective and if that's hard for you to do, secondly, while you examine the words that you have said, words that you know you should have said, maybe even things you've said about God, or things that you have said about other people, and realize that those statements express what is in your heart, they say something about you. You know the reason you said that is because that's who you are on the inside. So you can see here, Paul, he's saying that we're all sinners, compare yourselves to God, you can see it there. Look at what you say, you can see it there. Then go back to Romans 3, because he's got one more profound point that he wants to make in Romans 3:15-17. He has three different quotes that all come from one passage. And notice here that this has to do with the way a person lives, the way you conduct yourself. Notice that it says, their feet are swift to shed blood; in their pads are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” So, notice feet, paths, and way. So, this is about the actions of your life, we sometimes call it a walk here in the Scripture; it's the way a person is going, it's the direction your life is headed. Can you look back at your life, and can you see some consequences that came from sin in your life? Can you see that things you did damaged or hurt other people? Can you even see that in the wake of how you've lived? There has been ruin and misery as the fallout, as the consequences from choices that you've made. Can you even look internally, and that anxiety, that depression to some of the way that you're feeling, even show that you have done things that you know, are not right, but yet you keep doing them, and so then you feel bad about it. So, you are even contradictory within yourself doing things you know are wrong, and then feeling terrible later, and you don't even have peace within yourself? Can you see the consequences sin has brought in your own life and the lives of those around you?
Go back to Isaiah 59. Let's get the full context of what he's quoting here, because Isaiah is trying to prove that the Jews here at his time are going to be judged for their sin. And so, they really need to turn from their sin. This is Isaiah chapter 59, if you can find it. We're going to start in verse one. And then here's a passage that's like, hey, you guys got to see that. Look at all the consequences. Look at all the destruction. It's coming because you are in sin. Look at what he says. This is a great passage, Isaiah 59:1, “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save or his ear dole that it cannot hear.” So, he plays upon a common picture in the Hebrew Bible that our God has a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, that God can reach down and save people anywhere, at any time, also that God will incline his ear to people and God will hear their prayers. So, he's saying, hey, if you’ve got problems, if you’ve got consequences in your life, it's not because God can't come and save you. It's not because God can't hear you. No. Isaiah 59:2, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” If you've got distance between yourself and your relationship with God, God's not the one who moved. It's your sin that separates you from God, “your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he does not hear, for your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity. Your lips have spoken lies,” and then it starts to get into the same kinds of sins. Now, I want to just go back to that idea there in verse 3, where it says, “your hands are defiled with blood,” and then verse 7, “their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood.” Okay, so maybe right away, when you hear a statement like that, you're thinking, well, I'm not spilling anybody else's blood. I'm not committing murder. I think he's using blood here as a graphic picture of the damage that we can cause to other people. Do you recognize ways in your life that your sin has hurt other people? Maybe that wasn't even your intention, but that was the consequence of your sin.
I remember when I was growing up, and one day I was playing with my little brother, Ben Blakey; if you know that guy is a pastor in Idaho, he is my little bro. And we were playing this very politically incorrect game we used to play back in the day called guns. Anybody else know what I'm talking about? This is how we grew up back in the day. All right? It was a different world back then. And so, we're out in the yard, pretending and playing this game. And I've got this great move. I'm going to show this little bro who the real brother is around here, the big bro, and I'm making this epic move around the family minivan I'm coming around the Ford Aerostar there you know with “My Child's an awesome achiever” at Humble Elementary School bumper sticker on it. And I'm coming around, right and I don't realize my little bro Ben is right there on the other side of the car. So, I smack him in the face. I hit him in the eye, and blood starts pouring down my sweet little brother’s face, and I am horrified that I did not intend to, but I have greatly injured my brother, and I start screaming for our dad. And he bursts out of the house like a superhero, tosses me across the yard like I'm nothing, and reaches down to come to the rescue of the little baby of the family, Ben Blakey. And see that's that picture when you see blood, that's when you know, oh, wow, I have really done something wrong here. See, that's the idea. That's what the passage is trying to make you think. And we live in a land where people are swift to shed innocent blood, many people because they will not listen to what God says about sexuality, because they want to take sex outside of marriage. Many people are swift to shed innocent blood where we live. It has become a normal thing for people to kill babies because of their sin, rather than owning up to their sin. It is a regular thing where we live for parents to get divorced, and all that that causes in their children's lives. That is a regular thing that causes great damage. Where we live, there is much sin in America in Orange County that is hurting many people. Can you see the consequences of your sin? Can you see the consequences of sin all around you? That is the idea. Can you not see what your sin is doing, even if you can't see how it's separated you from God? Look around. Look at the blood that has been shed. Look at the look at the history of your life. Look at the ruin and the misery. Look at even how you feel inside of yourself. Do you know something is not right? Do you know you're not righteous with God? Look at the consequences your actions have taken.
Let's get that down for point number three: “You want to see the consequences after sinful actions.” See the consequences after sinful actions. I mean as you get into it, here he is describing the lies that take place. In Isaiah 59:4 he says, “No one even enter suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies.” People aren't even honest in court. “They conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.” Then look verse 5, “They hatch adders eggs; they weave the spider's web; he who eats their eggs dies and from one that is crushed of viper is hatched.” He is comparing the people to snakes and spiders. “Their webs will not serve as clothing.” You can't hide what you're doing. You can't cover it all up. “Men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity” and you can know that they're thinking it because look at this “desolation and destruction are in their highways.” Just look at the trail that you blazed with your life. Is it a perfect trail behind you? Or have you blazed a trail where there is a pathway of ruin and misery? There is a highway of desolation and destruction. Can you see things that you have destroyed and torn down because of your sin? What about inside of you? Isaiah 59:8, “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths.” They're still not walking in righteousness; they have made their roads crooked. No one who treads on them knows peace. They don't know that they're right with God. They know when their head goes down on the pillow at the end of the day. They know there is something wrong within them because of what they've done. They can feel the effects of their sin in their own soul.
Do you see what a masterclass he's giving? You think you're a good person? Here's three points. (1) How about you compare yourself to God? God says that he sees into your soul, and you're not good. You don't live up to his perfect standard? (2) How about the evidence of what you've said throughout your life? Let's examine some of the words that have come out of your mouth. Does that reflect someone who is good? (3) Let's even look at the consequences of your actions. Have people been hurt? Do you even in yourself not no peace? Because you feel contradicted by your own self in the things that you have done? Is there somebody even today that you need to go to maybe for the first time in your life? Say you're sorry to because of what you've said, and done, and how it has hurt them? Have you ever really seen yourself like this before God? It's not just that he's speaking in such strong language. It's not just that he's quoting the Hebrew Bible. What Paul gives us in our passage today, is a three-point outline that you could use on anyone who would claim to be good. And if you still think of yourself as a good person, these are three really important questions for you to think through here today. What does (1) God think about me? (2) What are the words that I've said reveal about me? (3) And what are the consequences of the things that I have done? That's where he takes us.
Go back to Romans 3, because he ends with one final thought. It's like he gives us three different ways to think about it. And then he summarizes it all up here in Romans 3:18. And he says, this is the reason we don't live up to God's standard; this is the reason that we say evil things or do things that cause consequences in our lives. Here it is, verse 18, “there is no fear of God before their eyes.” See, this is the problem is you're not comparing yourself or you're not seeing yourself before God. It's like there's a veil over your eyes. It's like you've been blindfolded, and you can't see you're just examining yourself compared to other people. You can't see who you are before God, there is no fear of God. See, the Bible is very clear in the Psalms, in the Proverbs, in Ecclesiastes, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. You stop being foolish when you bring God back into the conversation. When you start thinking about life from God's perspective, that's when you start to be wise. Now you're really knowing how to live your life. And Solomon, in his sermon, Ecclesiastes, he says, the fear of God, this is it. This is the end of the matter when all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, because you, as a sinner, are going to be judged by God for everything you've done. And see that moment right there. When you see yourself as a sinner, and you see God as a judge. That's the beginning of wisdom. That's the fear of God. But for some reason, people that it's not before their eyes, they can't see themselves as a sinner. They can't see God as the judge, there is no fear of God. Now, a lot of people today, they don't like this concept of the fear of God, even people at church diss on the fear of God
Go to Hebrews chapter 12, or write down Hebrews 12:28-29. That say, we should all worship God “with reverence, and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” The God that we have today is the same God that you can read about in all the passages of Scripture, it is the same God who in the future promises that he is going to judge the world. And if you've ever read the book of Revelation, you know, you don't want any part of Judgment Day when it comes. This is who our God is. God is someone to fear. Now, this week, I got to go be a guest lecturer in a philosophy class at Long Beach City College. And the professor of the philosophy class is actually one of us here at the church. And so, every semester she invites me to come and represent Christianity. So, you want to know what's going on at Long Beach City College these days? Well, at least in one class, an hour and a half long gospel presentation is going on. Right. And you could tell people were fired up after this. Like some of the people— I don't know if any of you are here today— Some of them were very interested in coming to church. I really hope they do if you want to join me in praying for them. But one lady… not everyone agreed with me presenting the gospel in that class, and one lady, she said that what she doesn't really like about the religion of Christianity is that it is fear-based. Okay, well, let me just say very clearly that it is not fear-based. Okay? The greatest commandment is to what everybody? Love God. It is love-based, we do what we do, because we love God, and we love other people as more important than ourselves. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? But there is a fear of God all over the Scripture and see this fear is very helpful. The idea that all fear is bad is not wisdom. You want your kids to be afraid of running into the middle of the street, you want your kids to be afraid of stranger-danger, you want your kids, in fact, you would greatly appreciate for all of your kids to have a healthy fear of sticking their hand into the fire. No fear when it's coming for you, when death and destruction are headed towards you, fear can help you stay alive. And see that's what it is to realize that you have sinned, and that you are going to be judged, and you are on your way to fire and to see God for who he really is. That fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom in your life. And when you can see yourself as a sinner, when the fear of God is suddenly revealed to you, and that blinder is taken off, that veil is removed, and now you can see. No, I am a sinner, I am not good. And no, God is righteous. And he would be right to judge me that fear is what causes you to turn away from evil, to turn to the Lord. And then you see in that glorious moment and starts out horrible when you see yourself in your sin, and you see God as Judge, it turns to the greatest moment of your life, because that's when you see grace in the face of Jesus dying on the cross to pay for all of your sin. And you realize that a God who would be right to judge you decided instead to love you, and to send his one and only Son to die. The Savior takes the place of you, the sinner. So, you receive the righteousness of Jesus, and he pays for all of your sin.
No, let me tell you fearing God, best thing that ever happened to me. And I wish that lady could be here to hear this message. That fearing my sin, and God is the judge, that was the beginning of wisdom in my life. That's what opened my eyes to see the glory of God revealed in Jesus being judged for my sin, so, I wouldn't have to be punished, so I wouldn't have to be condemned. And Jesus who did, he is the one who was righteous. He is the one who lived the perfect life. And he dies in my place. He offers the great exchange of grace, where he pays for all of my sin and by faith, I am declared righteous because I trust in Jesus. And how did I get to trusting in Jesus? Because I started with the fear of God before my eyes. See this fear of God, I hope you've had this. I hope you know what I'm talking about. I hope the Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, and that God would be right to judge you. And then the Holy Spirit has taken the blinders off of your eyes so that you can see Jesus.
Go over to 2 Corinthians chapter 3. It's just a few pages over to the right. Look what Paul writes here, when he's referring back to the Old Covenant, the Hebrew Bible, the writings of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms. He says that people can, the Jews in this passage, they could read the Scripture, even people could hear this sermon, but they still might not see what it actually says. 2 Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were hardened.” So, we're talking about Jews who know all these Scriptures, they know Psalm 14, Psalm 53, maybe they're familiar with Isaiah 59. They know these passages, but their minds were hardened for, to this day, when they read the Old Covenant, there's like that same veil remains unlifted because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes. To this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. See that? The problem is, it's not just intellectually grasping what we're talking about. It's a spiritual understanding. It's like, can you actually see what we're saying? Can you see yourself when you look in the Mirror, Mirror of the Word? Can you see yourself in your sin? And this amazing thing happens. When you look in the mirror of the Scripture, not only do you see yourself that you have fallen short of the glory of God, not only do you get convicted about things that you've said, not only do you see the consequences, and your life and the fact that you don't have peace, you see it for what it really is. But when you look in the Mirror, Mirror of the Word, you find that there's someone else there in the mirror that you can see. You don't just see your sin. You see God, you compare yourself to God, and you see him in his glorious splendor. You see him in his holiness and heaven and you realize that, yes, it's scary who I am. But look at how awesome who God is.
And he's saying people are reading the Bible, and they don't see God. People are reading the Scripture, and they can't see Jesus dying on the cross. And he says, it's like they're blinded. It's like there's a veil over their eyes, 2 Corinthians 3:16, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all with unveiled face blinders taken off, we are beholding the glory of the Lord. And if you look in the Greek there, even some English translations, it's the idea that we are beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror. See, not only does the Scripture convict me of my sin, but it shows me the glory of my God. And when I start to look at him, look what it says happens, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, who is the spirit. See, this is the amazing thing when you as a sinner, actually start comparing yourself to God, yes, you get convicted of your sin, but you start to see who God really is. And, and it's like Satan has blinded you. It's like there's a veil where you can't see it. But when you really turn to the Lord, when you really confess your sin, when you really see your need for Jesus dying for your sin, on that cross, the veil is removed, the blinders are taken away, and now you can see God and all of his glory, and you're not just afraid of him, you love him, you want to worship him for who he really is. See, if you've never had this moment, I'm praying that today is the day.
Point number four: “Ask God to show you his glory.” Ask God to show you his glory. Say, God, I don't want to live a life where I'm spewing things out of my mouth that hurt those who are closest to me, and I'm just causing destruction in the wake of my actions. God, I want to live a life where I'm more like you, I want to stop being me. And I want to be more like you. And it says, when you behold him as in a mirror, when you behold his glory, you are transformed. And the more you look to the Lord, the less you are like yourself, and the more you are transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, as one of his people. And so, I've been praying for some of you here today that today would be the day as we go through Paul's climax, that you would be able to see I'm not a good person. There's only one who is good. And that's God. He is the one who is good. And I need to turn to him. I need to ask him to take this veil off to open my eyes. Today could be the day that God saves you if you ask him to show you his glory, so you can be transformed into the image of Jesus who died for your sins, and rose again, to give you a new eternal life. And to my brothers and sisters, I say this should cause within us great worship, because we should see that though we were blinded in our sin. Our eyes have been opened that we have feared God, we have seen Jesus on the cross. And the way that we were able to do that is God shone his light into our hearts. He removed the veil, the blindness of Satan. God opened our eyes, we should all say here together today. I once was blind, but now I see. And it's grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hours I first believed? So, when was the moment that you knew you were going to fall into that fire and God with his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, he heard your prayer and he reached down and he saved your soul. Yes, the fear of God was a beautiful thing in your life. When was that moment? If you haven't had that moment, today is your day. And if you have had that moment, today is a day to worship the God who saved your soul. Let's pray.
Father in heaven, we come to you this morning. And Father, we just confess the foolishness of thinking that we're good. It's so easy for us to fall into that way of thinking. And Father, I just pray for those who are here today who think of themselves as good people that, if they found this offensive that they would be offended in the right way, that they would be offended by the truth. And that they would be able to see God please open people's eyes to see that not one of us could claim to be perfect. Not one of us could claim to be holy, as you are wholly, not one of us has done everything right according to your Word. Help us to remember some of the things that we've said to those that we claim to love. Help us to see some of the consequences that we have caused by our own willful actions. Father, please today, open up eyes. Please, Father, let your Scripture speak into people's souls. Let your spirit cut to people's hearts. Let today be the day that people fear you so they can love you forevermore. Let today be the day that people see you. And they fear you and their eyes are opened and they turn to the Lord. Father, show us that your grace, your goodness, that you don't want to give us what we deserve. But you want to give us the gift of righteousness, instead. Open people's eyes to see your amazing grace in the face of our Lord Jesus. There's your son, you're killing him on that cross. You're judging him for our sin. There he is taking our place. There he is offering us his righteousness because he pays for all of our sin. Open eyes today, to see Grace. Father, save souls. And for those of us who know Jesus, for those of us who can see you and all of your glory, Father, we ask that you would show us more of your glory, that we would look into the mirror of your Word, and we would be transformed into your image from one degree of glory to another. Father, we long for the day, when we will see you with our eyes and we will worship Jesus face to face, and we will behold your holiness and your perfection. And we will say somebody like me doesn't deserve to be here. So, praise the Lord for his amazing grace. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.