“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.”Romans 3:23-28,
Those of you who are born again, those of us who are born again, upon hearing “all have sinned”, we ought to be falling out of our chairs at this very moment, worshiping God and giving thanks to God that He has saved us from such a terrible thing.
All have sinned. Why don’t we tremble? Why don’t we know how terrible this is? We don’t know how much we’ve sinned in the same way a fish doesn’t know how wet it is! We were born in sin, we were conceived in sin, we were born in a fallen world of sin. The only thing we’ve ever known is sin. Our society, as Scripture says, drinks down iniquity like it was water. We also live in a land that is rampant of the ignorance of God — they have no knowledge of God. We don’t know who God is. We treat Him as though He were some sort of Santa Claus or a buffoon of a grandfather. And we do not understand that He is the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Do you know that Hell is of infinite duration – the primary reason is because every sin you commit is committed against an infinitely worthy and good God. Sin is sin today, listen to the way we speak about sin: We talk about sin against man; we talk about sin even against nature and animals and trees; but no one realizes that all sin is ultimately sin against God.
How wicked is our sin. And if it were only an act, it would be terrible enough; but sin goes much deeper in the heart of a man. A man does not simply commit sin. A man is born in sin — vile and corrupt from the beginning.
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). Only evil continually. I simply read this text one time preaching at a University, and a young reporter came up to me and he said, “I don’t agree with your interpretation.” And I said, “Young man, I didn’t interpret the text, I read it.” And he said, “Well I don’t agree.”
And I said, “Young man, let me tell you something: If I could pull out your heart right now, if I could take every thought you have ever had, from your first waking moment until this very hour; if I could take every thought you have ever had, not just your deeds, but your thoughts, only your thoughts, and I could put them on a video, and I could show that video here in this auditorium tonight, you would run off of this campus and you would never show your face here again, because you have thought things so wicked and so perverted you cannot even share them with your closest friend. As a matter of fact, if your closest friend knew some of the thoughts you’ve had against him, He would no longer be your friend. And young man, I do not know that because I am a prophet, I know that because it’s what the Scriptures say; and I know that, like you, I too am a man.
The first thing you must embrace is this: All men are born in sin, and given over to sin; and all men are born hating God. You say, “Well, I never hated God.” Yes you do. If you did not, in your unconverted state, hate God, then the Bible is not true. Because the Bible calls all men ‘haters of God’ and ‘enemies of God’. You say, “But I loved God ever since I was little.” No, you loved an image of God that you created with your own mind and you loved what you made. But if someone would have come to you and pointed out the God of Scripture, you would have said, “I could never love a God like that.”
So many times I’ll go to people, and they’ll say, “Well, I’ve loved God all my life.” And I’ll say, “Can I sit down with you for half an hour and just explain from Scripture some of the historical Christian beliefs about God?” And after a half an hour, a good churchman would say, “That’s not my God.” And I have to say, “Of course it’s not, but it is the God of Scripture. It is the God of Scripture.”
But now it seems the new generations to follow cannot bear with truth. They would rather be deceived and think well of themselves. But a man who will not accept his illness cannot be healed. A man who does not have all his hopes crushed, with regard to his own self-righteousness, merit and worth, cannot turn to Christ. We must realize that we are destitute and there is only one Savior, and His name is Jesus.
The standard is God’s nature and God’s law; and the Bible says no one has conformed himself to the standard of God’s holy nature, the standard of God’s holy law. All of us have become twisted and dislocated. It says also, “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks for God.” If you have ever truly sought for God, it is only because God has sought you first. It says, “All have turned aside; together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” How many people, even those who set themselves inside the sphere of Christianity, will tell you they are going to heaven because they are not that bad. They are going to heaven because they are good. But what is the testimony of Scripture? “There is none good. No not one.” None. None. All have sinned.
You say, “But brother Paul, I haven’t sinned much.” How much do you have to sin? Adam and Eve sinned only one time, and the entire universe was cast into moral chaos and judgment. You have sinned more times than you can count on a calculator. If Adam and Eve, and even creation, could not escape the condemnation of one sin, how will you escape the condemnation of all the sins that are heaped upon your head? You say, “But I’m pretty good as far as humans go.” But you will not be judged by human standard. You will be judged by God — a righteous and holy God — and He has seen your heart.
You see, God does not need a PR man to make Him politically correct so that people will like Him. The Bible says, “God is an angry God,” and you ought to fall down on your knees in praise that He is. Not only is He an angry God, He is a God who hates. And you say, “Yes, brother Paul, you’re exactly right. God hates the sin and loves the sinner.” Well, that looks good on the back of a Christian t-shirt, but that’s not biblical. The Bible does not say that God hates the sin and loves the sinner. The Bible says God hates the sinner. Look in Psalms 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. In another translation, “You hate all who do wrong.” Now does it say here that God hates the sin? Or that God hates the sinner.
You say, “Brother Paul, but what about John 3:16? It’s in the Book, ‘God so loved the world,’ ” Yes it’s in the Book but so is Psalms 5. “But God is merciful and a loving God. What about that?” Yes that’s true and we’re going to talk about it, but you can’t understand it until you understand the full counsel of God. God is love; but this loving God hates. God is merciful; but He is angry. You see, you can’t just take one side of the coin; not just one part of the story; and that’s the problem today.
Dear people, we are always getting a one-sided story. But doesn’t the Scriptures tell us that we need the full counsel of God? I am going to talk about the love of God tonight in a way possibly you’ve never known it. But in order for you to appreciate the love of God, you’ve got to understand something: His love is exalted in the same way the stars are exalted by a pitch black sky. Let me ask you a question: Where did the stars go this afternoon? Did someone put them all in a basket and carry them away? How come when you looked up you didn’t see them? Because there was so much light. You could not marvel at their beauty; you could not even see them, because there was so much light. In the same way, you cannot see the stars of God’s grace and His love with so much light, when preachers tell you that men are so good. The only way to truly appreciate the love of God and the grace of God is to see the pitch dark blackness of man. And when you see the pitch dark blackness of your own heart, and then you realize that God moved in love for you, it causes you to fall down on your knees with the greatest esteem, and worship God.
Every day He sees the wickedness of this world. Everyday He sees the filth and the murder and the crimes and everything else. But in your book, God has no right to be angry? I tell you, He is angry. He is so angry that on the day He pulls back His mercy and He comes to judge the world, the great captains of this world will cry out for mountains to be picked up and thrown on top of them to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb.
A young guy, one time, said, “I’ll stand there on Judgment day and I won’t be afraid.” And I said, “No, young man, you will melt before God like a tiny wax figurine before a blast furnace.” God comes with hatred against evil. God comes with anger against evil. You say, “God is love and therefore He can’t hate.” I tell you that God is love, therefore He must hate. Do you love Jews? Then you must hate the Holocaust.
Do you love children? How many of you have said with your own voice, “I hate abortion!” Oh, so you have the right to hate because of all the great love in your heart. But you think it’s strange that God would hate because He loves. You see, God loves all that is beautiful and lovely and excellent. Let’s just wrap it up in one basket: God loves everything that is like Him. That’s where the problem comes from. We have the right to love everything we choose to love, but we think God ought to love everything that we love. God loves everything that is like Him because He is absolute perfection. And He comes with wrath against everything that contradicts His nature and will. And that is us. Everyone in this room has broken every law God has ever made; and if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand Christianity.
God the judge looks down upon the sinner who places his faith in Christ and declares that sinner to be legally right with Him. Now how does that work? Well, it says this: He says, “Being justified as a gift by His grace.” How are we justified? It’s a gift.
Do you know where it says about the Messiah, “They hated Me without a cause”? Did Jesus ever give anyone a cause to hate Him? No. You would argue, “No, no, no, no, no.” Jesus never gave even the tiniest hint of a cause for someone to hate Him. They hated Him without a cause. That’s the same word used here; that the Christian is justified without a cause. That means, sir, ma’am, young person, you gave God absolutely no cause to declare you right. “I don’t know why God saved me.” Well, I can tell you this: It was not because of you, it was in spite of you. “What worth did God see in me?” Absolutely none. He said He declared you right even though you did not give Him a cause to do so. He justified you without cause.
He comes to the Christian, the true Christian, you have to keep saying that in America because everyone believes they are Christian. You come to the Christian, and the reporter says, “Sir if you died right now, where would you go?” “I’d go to heaven.” “Why?” “Well, I was born in sin. In sin did my mother conceive me. I have broken every law that God has ever given. Thoroughly found unrighteous and lacking in merit and worth. I deserve the deepest, darkest judgment of…” The reporter says, “Stop. The other guys I understand; they say they are going to heaven because they deserve to go to heaven. God owes them, God is their debtor. They’ve proved themselves worthy. God must give them heaven. But you I don’t understand. You’re telling me with joy that you are going to heaven, but then you are telling me you have no worth or merit to go there. How are you going to heaven?” And the Christian smiles, and he says, “Because I am going to heaven based upon the merit and the worth of another – Jesus Christ my Lord.”
In Christianity, you are either in one realm or the other. You must understand this. You are either in Adam or in Christ. You are either in death or in life. You are either in the flesh or in the Spirit. You are either condemned or set free.
Proverbs 17:15, the problem: “Anyone who justifies the wicked is an abomination to God.” Now think about Proverbs for a moment. Look what it’s teaching us. Anyone who justifies a wicked man is an abomination to God. But what have we been rejoicing in in the last few minutes? God justified us even though we were wicked. Does anybody see a problem? If God says that anyone who justifies the wicked is an abomination before Him, then how can God justify you, being wicked, without becoming an abomination. And that is the greatest problem in all the Scripture, and that is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.
The greatest Dilemma in all the Bible is this: If God is just, He cannot forgive you. Sometimes I have heard evangelists say this: “God could have been just with you, but instead of being just, He was loving.” You know what that means? God’s love is unjust. You see that? People say a lot of stupid things.
That one Man could suffer for a few short hours on that tree, and save a multitude of men from an eternity in hell, because that one Man was worth more than all of them put together. When theologians talk about the perfect sacrifice of Christ, they are not just saying He was sinless, they are also talking about the infinite value of the life given. You take a gigantic cosmic scale, you put everything in it that you can find, you put stars and galaxies, suns and moons and planets and earth, mountains and molehills, moths and men, crickets and clowns; everything you can find; dusts and rocks of granite, everything you can find of creation. And you put it in a scale, and you put Jesus on the other side, and He outweighs them all. It’s His value. He is God. His worth cannot be valued, nor can it be emptied or compared.
You see the preciousness of Christ. Someone had to die there that was a Man. Someone had to die there that was God. And Christ fulfills both of those.
If you’re saved here today, you are not saved because the Romans nailed Jesus to a tree. You are not saved because the Jews whipped Him or beat Him. If you are saved here today, it’s because when He was on that tree, He bore our sin, and His own Father crushed Him. We are not saved because of what the Romans did to Jesus, We are saved because of what God did to Jesus. He slaughtered His only begotten Son.
Many of Jesus’ followers were crucified. Not only crucified, they were crucified upside down. Not only crucified upside down, they were covered with pitch and set on fire to provide lights for the streets of Rome. But many of those followers of Jesus in chains being taken off to be crucified, sang hymns full of joy. Do you honestly believe the Captain of our salvation is in a garden cowering because of a cross, even though His disciples went to the same cross with joy in their heart. Do you think that the Captain of our salvation is so weak? Think, man. Jesus wasn’t afraid of a cross or a nail, a spear or a crown of thorns. What was in the cup? Wrath, judgment and justice of God like blinding white light came crashing down on the head of His only begotten Son; have you never read, “And it pleased the LORD – YAHWEH – to crush Him. To grind Him to powder.
Christ died. Those words should be enough to break your heart into a thousand pieces and to cast you to the floor and worship. Christ died for you. But Paul tells us; Scripture tells us that He did not remain dead. It is not just the death of Jesus Christ that saves us, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ also that has a great part in this story. If He had remained dead, there would be nothing. There would be no hope. All things would be dashed to pieces. But God has vindicated His only begotten Son by raising Him from the dead. And in raising Him from the dead, God has set His seal and told us; declared publicly through the resurrection of Jesus Christ that His sacrifice was sufficient to atone for the sins of His people.
As Evangelicals, rightly so, we are constantly defending the deity of Jesus Christ. But never forget this: Jesus Christ was God in the most complete and full sense of the term. But Jesus Christ was Man in the most complete and full sense of the term. There is one God and one Mediator between God and men: the Man Christ Jesus. A man has sinned. A race of men are fallen. A man must die and a man must rise again from the dead. And then that long awaited prayer of Job must be answered. You see, a ladder that reaches only to the top, Charles Spurgeon tells us, is no good. And a ladder that reaches only to the bottom would do us no help. We need a ladder that reaches from the bottom to the top, and from the top to the bottom. We need a Savior who is God and Man.