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We’re going to make a proclamation. Romans 8:1–2, known to many of you. There’s a reason for this proclamation.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Now this time we’ll say it phrase by phrase. You say it after us. And by the time this conference is finished, some of you will have learned to memorize some Scriptures. We’ll say it phrase by phrase.
“There is therefore now no condemnation [congregation repeats] for those who are in Christ Jesus... For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus... has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Now this time we will all say it together.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Thank you. Now I’m returning to my theme and I feel some of you may have the impression that we’ve been going through a rather long, dark tunnel. And that is really true in a way. Furthermore, we haven’t come to the end of the tunnel yet. There’s more of it. But, if you’ll stick with it, if God wills and I live, we will come out into the light, and it will be a glorious light. God has given me a new, I wouldn’t say revelation, but a new understanding of holiness. And that’s where we’re headed. But it takes a while to get there.
So the title of my message this afternoon is Sin, Righteousness, Judgment. And it’s based on John 16:8:
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”
The He is who? The Holy Spirit. I just don’t want to be controversial, but it just happens to be true. Jesus breaks the laws of Greek grammar to emphasize that the Holy Spirit is a He and not an it. I can’t go into the linguistics explanation of that, but it’s a most forceful assertion of that fact.
So I believe these are the three eternal, unchanging realities on which all true religion is based—sin, righteousness and judgment. There will be sin and there will be righteousness, and at the end there will be judgment. How do we understand sin and righteousness? I believe the answer is we have to know what righteousness is. Because in 1 John 5:17, John says, “All unrighteousness is sin.” So anything that is not righteous is sinful. There is no neutral ground whatever. So if we know what righteousness is, then we know what sin is.
In Isaiah 28:17, the first part of the verse, the Lord is speaking and He says:
“Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; [or the plumb line]”
Now I am not in the construction trade, but I do know what a plumb line is. It’s a piece of lead on the end of a piece of string, and if you want to know is something is vertical you just hang the string by the thing. And if the thing, if it’s a wall or whatever it is, is exactly parallel with the plumb line then it’s vertical. If it’s not, it’s not vertical, and it can diverge one degree or thirty degrees. But it makes no difference. It is not vertical.
And that’s how it is with righteousness and sin. Righteousness is the plumb line. Anything that diverges from the plumb line is unrighteous. It is sin. You don’t have to be a theologian. It’s very clear. There’s just two possibilities in our lives—sin and righteousness. And at the end there is judgment. Jesus said He will convict of sin, of righteousness, of judgment.
Let me ask you a question and pause to consider it. I’d be interested to know how many of you here in your own church in the last six months have heard a serious sermon on the judgment of God? Well I suppose there are about thirty people here, maybe more. Let’s say fifty. That’s a very small proportion out of this number. Now judgment, God’s judgment, is a main theme of the gospel. You cannot really understand the gospel until you have an understanding of God’s judgment. I want to point out to you that the apostles, when they came with the gospel especially to unreached people, the first they spoke about was judgment, not forgiveness. I’ll give you two or three examples. In Acts 10 we have the message of Peter to the household of Cornelius. You remember he was supernaturally directed to this Gentile home, and this is the first time that Gentiles heard the gospel directly preached to them, believed, were filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized in water and became members of the church. It’s a very crucial issue. If this hadn’t happened most of us today would not be in the church. This is our door if we are Gentiles, as I am. Now this is what Peter said in preaching. I’m so glad his sermon got interrupted, aren’t you? I think in a way we probably need a few more interrupted sermons in church. I mean if the Lord interrupts this one, I will not complain. But this is what he said about Jesus in Acts 10:42.
“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.”
What’s the first thing he emphasized? The judgment of God. Then he went on to say:
“To Him all the prophets give witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission [or forgiveness] of sins.”
If there’s no judgment actually there’s no need for forgiveness. If we leave out judgment, we don’t have an issue of forgiveness. Let’s look at Paul in Athens. Acts 17:30–31. And now he’s speaking to completely unchurched, unreached people, very intellectual and sophisticated, and he says:
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, [No one is left out, neither you or I. All men everywhere are commanded, not recommended, but commanded to repent. Why?] because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness...”
Why do we need to repent? Because we’re going to face the judgment of God. All of us without exception. There’s a certain amount of presentation of the gospel that points out it’s beneficial to become a Christian. God will solve your problems, your marriage will work better, your business will succeed, etc. etc. That’s not the main or primary reason. The primary reason is we are going to stand before the judgment of God. All of us without exception. And if we don’t respond to the gospel, it will be a very sad day for us.
And then Jesus, in Luke 24, when He commissioned His apostles right after His resurrection. Luke 24:46–47.
“Then He said to them [the apostles], ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for Christ [the Messiah] to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name...’”
I find that there is an order in the presentation. Judgment, repentance, forgiveness, and then faith. Faith that is not associated with or proceed out of repentance, is a counterfeit faith. It is not the faith of the New Testament. From the very first presentation of the gospel the message was repent. Actually in Matthew 4:17, that’s the only word Jesus preached. A one word message. He said “Repent.” Mark quotes it, “Repent and believe the gospel.” But there is no true believing the gospel apart from repentance. It’s a counterfeit. It’s not real faith. And it produces counterfeit fruit. And that’s why our churches are filled with people who don’t live like real Christians. You know why? Because they don’t have real faith. They have a counterfeit, a substitute faith, which has bypassed repentance. You cannot find anywhere in the New Testament, starting from Matthew and ending up in Revelation, where faith is offered apart from repentance. It’s a false gospel, and many are preaching it.
Ruth and I were in Singapore quite a number of years ago and an American preacher was preaching there and God bless the Americans. And he was one of these people, of whom I’m one, who lengthened peoples’ legs. Maybe you’ve never seen it happen, but it happens. How many of you know that? How many of you have the experience? I know it happened. Well, you’re the one that got me into the trouble, you know that? John Beckett was the one that started me, and I was a little reticent. Here I am a preacher, much older than he is, and is he teaching me something? I saw it worked. And I have lengthened thousands of legs and I’m not ashamed of it. And I’ve seen many, many people dramatically change when they see this simple miracle. Don’t let me preach myself into that, please.
But this preacher, and it was a very mixed congregation. A lot of the people were Chinese, and many of them didn’t understand English. And having preached about this wonderful thing, this preacher said, “Now if you want it, come get it.” And I mean a whole host of people came forward. Ruth and I were asked to counsel. Well, after a few minutes I realized we were in a state of total confusion, because they hadn’t given any instruction on the fact they had to repent. Many of them are idolaters. They said, “There’s something for sale here. We want it.” That’s all. Now I love that brother, but that’s not the message of the gospel. Repentance comes first.
Now let’s go on to the theme of judgment. Repentance, forgiveness, faith, but then at the end, judgment. And we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. Not one of us will ever bypass that. There is one appointment you and I will never miss. We may not actually die. Death is an appointment for most people, but we could be raptured when Jesus comes. But whether we’re raptured or whether we die, there’s one thing that’s going to happen. We are going to stand before God’s judgment. Romans 10—well let me just backtrack a moment in order to avoid confusion. There are two main scenes of judgment in the New Testament. We need to keep them separate in our minds. The one I don’t want to speak about is one mentioned in Revelation 20 where it says:
“...And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away...”
That is the great white throne judgment which closes a whole period of time.
Now you and I, if we live the Christian life, will not be there for that judgment. But that doesn’t mean we will have no judgment. We will have a different judgment before the judgment seat of Jesus. The Greek word that’s used there bema is the same word that describes Pontius Pilate when he sat on his judgment seat and judged Jesus. It’s a place of judgment by a person in authority.
In Romans 14:10 Paul says:
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
We is who? It’s us. It’s not the unbelievers. It’s the believers that we’re talking about. This is not the great white throne judgment. This is a judgment somewhere between the end of this age and the setting up of what I believe in—the Millennium. You don’t believe in the Millennium? Well, God bless you. I do. It’s mentioned six times in Revelation chapter 19. But between now and the Millennium we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And I like the description in 2 Corinthians 5:10 even better, the same truth.
“For we [we is you and me] must all appear [but the Greek word says ‘be made manifest’ which is much more vivid. In other words, there will be no secrets. Everything will be right out in the open.] We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, whatever he has done, whether good or bad.”
And you notice there’s only two categories. Remember what we said? All unrighteousness is sin, and all that is not good is bad. There’s nothing in between. You see, we religious people like to think of ourselves in a third category. “Well, I know it isn’t good, but don’t tell me it’s bad.” That’s not Scriptural. There is no such thing. The things done in the body—we’re going to have to answer to Jesus for the way we have lived. There’s only two categories as I’ve said, good or bad. Jesus said elsewhere, “He who does not gather with Me, scatters.” There’s nothing in between gathering and scattering. What are you scattering? All the things that God has bestowed upon you. Your time, your talents, your intelligence, your money. You’re either using it positively or you’re misusing it. You’re scattering. It makes it much simpler, much clearer—there are not a lot of different categories. It’s either good or bad, it’s either gathering or scattering, it’s either sin or righteousness. There’s no third category.
As I understand it, before the judgment seat of Christ there is no final condemnation. That’s why I started with the Scripture “There is therefore now no condemnation...” It’s not a judgment for condemnation. If we’ve made it that far, we will not be condemned. But it’s a judgment for assessment of service. And that’s where we’ll all appear. You see, a lot of us think about Jesus as Savior which is wonderful and true. But He’s also the Judge. And He’s just as faithful and efficient as a Judge as He is as a Savior.
I think about John the Revelator. At the last supper he rested his head on the bosom of Christ and whispered in His ear. He had a very close intimate relationship with the Savior. But in Revelation chapter 1 when He met Jesus, the Judge, with eyes of fire and a two-edged sword from His mouth and feet like fine brass burning in a furnace and a voice like the sound of many waters, he fell at His feet like somebody dead. That’s the difference between Jesus the Savior and Jesus the Judge. Now Jesus did not condemn him. He said, “Don’t be afraid,” and raised him up again. But I find that generally speaking in the contemporary church as I contact it there is very little awareness of the fact that Jesus is the Judge, and that we’re all going to stand before Him as Judge, and we’re all going to be made manifest.
You might not be free to confess something in your own church because you will be embarrassed. Some not very pretty sin. But you’d better confess it there than take it with you to the judgment seat of Christ, because there it will be made manifest to the whole universe. There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed. There is nothing covered that shall not be made open. If we can begin to live in this awareness it will change the way many of us live.
There is another picture of judgment for Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:11. This is speaking about Christians who serve the Lord and it says:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Now we are speaking about people who have founded their lives on Jesus Christ. Not just church members, but people who have built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and for them there is no condemnation. Paul goes on to describe how our service will be assessed.
“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [the day of judgment] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”
So our life’s work is going to pass through a judgment of fire. If it is combustible it will burn up. If it cannot be burned, it will survive. Then it goes on:
“If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. [You understand? This is a judgment to assess rewards.] If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” [I think the NIV translates it ‘like one escaping through the flames.’]
So, such a person remains saved because he built on the foundation, but his whole life work just goes up in flame before his eyes. How tragic. What impresses me is quantity is not really the issue. Wood, hay and straw are things you can have in large quantities. You seldom have a truck load of diamonds or gold or silver. I understand that quality is more important than quantity. I’m not belittling quantity. I believe people can be the instrument of the salvation of thousands and thousands of souls. But let’s make sure that we are not producing just wood, hay and straw. Because, think of the agony of seeing all your life’s work just vanish in the flame. Thank God you will still be saved, I will still be saved. But think what we will miss.
Now, I want to speak about a special New Testament issue which is judging oneself. I want to turn to the passage in Romans, in 1 Corinthians that speaks about the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11 and I think it’s important that it deals with the Lord’s supper, the communion service, because that is an essential integral part of every Christian life as I understand it. So Paul is talking about a situation which will confront all of us if we are living the Christian life. He’s dealing with people who have been living very ungodly lives. I don’t know whether it’s right to say this, but I’ll say it anyhow. The emphasis really in first Corinthians is more on the gifts of the Holy Spirit than in any other epistle that I know of, and they had the most problems. And I believe it’s true today because we tend to rely on our gifts, and forget about the fruit. Anyhow, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:27.
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in any unworthy manner will be guilty [or answerable for] of the body and blood of the Lord.”
As once you’ve taken that you’ve confessed publicly you know about the death of Jesus on behalf of your sins. You have no excuse for ignorance. You’ll be accountable for what you know. So he goes on:
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.”
So the taking of communion should be always a time for self-examination. Now this can be overdone as it is in some Presbyterian churches where it becomes very legalistic. But nevertheless, it’s a reality.
“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.[He isn’t realizing that he is dealing with the holiest thing on earth.] For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”
For what reason? For partaking of the communion service in an unworthy manner.
Now talking to Charismatics. Are many among us weak and sick? The answer is yes. And Paul goes on to say the some have died prematurely. Have some of us died prematurely? The answer is yes. Now there are various reasons, but one reason is we haven’t applied the lesson of 1 Corinthians chapter 11. If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord. But when we are chastened by the Lord, or judged... when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord that we may not be condemned with the world. Now I find many Charismatics, and some of them are friends of mine, have a real problem in accepting the fact that they could be chastened. That sickness could be a chastening. But this is very clear. Paul is speaking about people who get sick and he says they are being chastened by the Lord.
In Hebrews 12, where we will end up if we get there in the end, not today but down at the end of the tunnel, it says God chastises us as His children that we may be partakers of His holiness. So if we have not yet come to the place where we are partaking of His holiness, we are subject to His chastening. Do you agree? Have I convinced you? You see, I mean I’ve lived amongst Pentecostals, I never knew there was any other kind of Christian when I got saved. I didn’t know that all Christians don’t speak in tongues. When I found people that didn’t, I was amazed. And that was in 1941 so it’s a long while ago. I do know something about Pentecostals and Charismatic. I find many times when we are asked to pray for the sick, we just launch into prayer. We say, “Bless him Lord, heal him.” We quote the Scriptures. It doesn’t occur to us to ask is he being chastened by the Lord. If so, he won’t be healed until he repents. Until God has been diverted to deal with it. And you know to whom that applies? Me, just as much as you.
You see there are three possibilities. You may examine yourself and change. You may be chastened by the Lord and repent. But if you don’t repent, you’ll be condemned with the world. Because you cannot live like the world without being condemned with the world. So those are the three possibilities, and they are brought before us continually when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Now, I’m going to give a personal testimony which is not for my glory by any means. But in 1991 Ruth and I were in Hawaii, and I became very sick with a condition that the doctors found it very difficult to diagnose. They tried this and they tried that and I was getting sicker. Then a very clever doctor for whom I praise God, got the right diagnosis which was in medical terminology, SBE. How many of you know what that is? Subacute bacterial endocarditis. Endocarditis means inflammation of the lining of the heart. Why they say subacute I don’t know, because most people that have it die. In fact until the discovery of antibiotics, there was no cure for it. So here I am a preacher of the word, a minister of healing who has a string of testimonies of people who have been healed including myself, and I’m not being healed. So I was not anxious. I really knew if I died I would go to be with the Lord. I had no doubt about that. I really wasn’t afraid of dying. But I have an intellectual approach. I wanted to know the reason. Why isn’t it working?
So the next day I ended up in hospital for seventeen days and I was intravenous antibiotics for six weeks, and I have to say as a Charismatic preacher, I think God for doctors. Can you say the same? Some Charismatics say doctors are our enemies. They are not. So here am I having a personal interview with the Lord. I didn’t see Him but I knew I was talking to Him. And I said, “Lord, why? Here I am. I believe in healing. I’ve been supernaturally healed. I preach healing. I’ve seen many people supernaturally healed. Why?”
Now, the Lord doesn’t force His opinion on you. I mean, He doesn’t wave a big stick at you. He’s rather gracious and a little bit subtle in His dealings. And I just got a series of scenes in my past life. I can’t tell you how many. They were not very vivid, but they were there. The Lord didn’t say a word, He just showed me these scenes. And most of them were in restaurants. Somebody said, if you want to know the best restaurant in town, ask a preacher. Which is very true.
I was an accepted Charismatic preacher. Many of you know that. I was accepted by the people. I was accepted by my fellow preachers, some of whose names are well known to you. But I wasn’t accepted by the Lord. He didn’t shout at me. He just said, “Draw your own conclusions.” And as I pondered on this I saw very clearly that I had been very self-indulgent. Let me point out to you there are two things that never come together—self-control and self-indulgence. Where one ends, the other begins. You cannot have both and the last of the ninefold fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. So there’s something in your life you have to be careful about.
I don’t know whether I dare to say this, but I will. I’m saying it on the basis of my own experience. You know about the teaching about the strong man over a nation, or over a city, or over a household? You have to bind the strong man and then you can spoil his goods. Well I personally, this is my own personal impression, it’s subjective, but I have been associated with the American people closely since 1963, which is 35 years. In that period of time I believe there have been three successive strong men over America. They’re not the only ones. Another even stronger man is the Indian, the American Indian spirit which has been worshiped in this land from Canada to Argentina. That claim has never been canceled. He still has a legal claim to authority in this nation. But leaving that aside, most of you, many of you, all of you will remember the period of the 1960s. The strong man was rebellion. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. So wherever rebellion comes, witchcraft will follow, which is the occult. But that’s not the last one. You see, I believe the strong men, Satan’s principalities and powers if you want to use the word, are rivals with one another. They contest the position. They fight with one another. They don’t solve it by peaceful means.
So rebellion and witchcraft have given way to a third. Now please keep loving me because I say this out of real deep concern. But I believe the strong man over the United States today is self-indulgence. I don’t want to point at anybody, but according to secular statistics over fifty percent of American people today are overweight. And twenty percent are obese. Why? Because they are being manipulated by a strong man. The difference between that last one and the first two is basically rebellion and witchcraft, were mainly outside the church. But self-indulgence is just as much inside the church as out.
Now that’s my personal testimony. So you know what I did? I repented. I was a preacher and I repented. Do you know that preachers have to repent sometimes? This is how I describe repentance. Other people think it’s just emotionalism My description of repentance is this. You’re driving in a vehicle. You’ve come to a stop. You make a U-turn. You start driving in the opposite direction. That’s repentance. And if you don’t end up driving in the opposite direction, then you haven’t repented. I think I came to my stop about five yards from a precipice. Another five yards and I would have been over. I stopped and I made a U-turn, and by the grace of God I’ve been proceeding in the opposite direction ever since.
Now that’s the message of the communion service. Are we willing to judge ourselves. If we don’t judge ourselves, are we will to accept the Lord’s chastenings and call it what it is. Oh, you can get all sorts of fancy psychiatric names for most problems today. But really the basic problem is a very simple short word of three letters. Can you guess what it is? Sin.
The one thing I’ve seen is God will never compromise with sin. And you can talk as much as you like about revival, but revival and sin are inconsistent. This has been made vivid to me by a scene that came to my mind during Holy week. We have Palm Sunday when Jesus rides into Jerusalem in triumph. All the crowds are applauding Him, calling Him the King, the Prophet, the Savior. He had the whole city at His feet. If He had chosen, He could have taken over. He could have ousted the old religious order and set up a new order, started a new regime with Himself as King, which was what they all wanted. He refused and about five days later, there He was hanging naked on a cross in the same city. Why? Because God will never compromise with sin. And the cross is the ultimate affirmation that God cannot be tempted to compromise with sin. Nothing we do or say will ever persuade God to compromise with sin. And if we’re going to pray and work for revival, that’s one important Scripture that we need to bear in mind. God does not compromise with sin.
I’m so glad I made the U-turn. Here I am seven years later. I’m elderly, but on the whole I’m in pretty good condition. As a matter of fact, when John Beckett picked us up at the airport he was wonderful. He just wanted to arrange everything so I didn’t have to do anything. He said, “Sit there with the luggage and I’m going to arrange everything.” Well he had parked his car in an unauthorized place, but he had persuaded the woman policeman that there was an elderly gentleman that had to... Well, God bless that woman because when I came out she said, “He’s not elderly.” A woman of unusual discernment. But anyhow, I know I don’t have the energy I used to have twenty years ago. But by the grace of God I can look forward to finishing my course. If I had not repented, I would have died. I wouldn’t have been a lost soul, but you know what I would have been? A disqualified preacher.
Let me give you some words of Paul which have impressed me deeply. 1 Corinthians 9:24:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
Paul often uses the illustration of athletes because they are an example of self-control. In order to win a gold medal a young man or a young woman will do all sorts of very torturous things. Live a life of self-denial and self-discipline. What for? Because they see that shining gold medal ahead of them. And if they do it all they can jump just one centimeter higher or run one second faster than somebody else. Why? Because they have a vision. They have a goal. They are aiming for something. Paul says run life’s race like that. Be determined to be a winner. Let me say, we are not running against one another. That’s not the position. Now Paul goes on to say:
“And everyone who competes for the prize [the gold medal] is temperate [or self-controlled] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
We’ve got a gold medal awaiting us that doesn’t corrupt, doesn’t tarnish, will never change. Now this is Paul’s own testimony. Here we have the great apostle, he says:
“Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. [I’m not a boxer just lashing out but not landing my blows on my opponent. I know what I’m dealing with. Then he makes this amazing statement,] But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Now that’s the great apostle. The church planter. The writer of the epistle. And he did not take it for granted that he would finish his course in victory. The word that’s used there says “I discipline myself,” is a very powerful word in Greek. It means to give somebody a black eye. It’s a Greek slang word. I give my body a black eye. I give my body a beating. I think the old King James used to say, “I buffet my body.” Isn’t that right? Somebody said now days people “buffet” (dinner) their body. But I am deeply impressed by that. That’s the way I think. I want to finish my course. In a sense I’m ambitious. Not to rival anybody else, but not to be defeated by the devil. If I had died I would not have been a lost soul, but I would have been a disqualified preacher.
So, coming back to the Lord’s supper, it’s an opportunity to examine ourselves. If we don’t do that, God will chasten us. If we respond in repentance to His chastening we’ll be preserved. If we don’t respond, if we continue in a course of rebellion, we’ll be judged with the world. You cannot live like the world without being judged with the world. That’s obvious. So that’s it.
Now, we’re beginning to come to the light at the end of the tunnel. I quoted the Scripture at the beginning, “The Holy Spirit will convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” We’re very accustomed to the idea of being convinced of sin. How many of you are accustomed to the idea of being convinced of righteousness? Don’t stopped at being convinced of sin. That’s just a step on the way. The thing we want to come to is to be convinced of righteousness. I want to give you just a little help along this line. Romans 5:1:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have been justified by faith. We have been reckoned righteous. We have been made righteous. 1 Corinthians 1:36, “God has made Christ our righteousness.” My righteousness is not my own. It’s not the best I can do. It’s not my religious experiences. My righteousness is Jesus Christ. He has become righteousness for me. I have been justified. You’ve probably heard this interpretation to mean for me to be justified means I’m just as if I’d never sinned. Why? Because the righteousness of Jesus, the sinless Son of God, has been imputed to me. I’m not standing before the Lord in my own righteousness. I’m not living the Christian life in my own righteousness. I am justified, just as if I’d never sinned. The problem with many of us is as long as we try to establish our own righteousness, we do not receive the righteousness of Christ by faith. Being justified by faith we have peace with God. God has no quarrel with us.
There’s a song that Ruth and I learned. I think some of you were there in South Africa by that Australian Aboriginal. I wish I could sing but I can’t.
“I am covered over with a robe of righteousness which Jesus gives to me.
I am covered over with the precious blood of Jesus and He lives in me.
What a joy it is to know my heavenly Father loves me so.
And gives to me my Jesus,
And when He looks at me, He sees not what I used to be, but He sees Jesus.”
Now we’ll close. You’ve got the message I can see. At least you’re getting it. Isaiah 61. I love to preach on this passage. We’re getting out of the dark tunnel. It’s not all together over, but we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Isaiah 61:10. Let me try to explain it this way for a moment. Being justified, acquitted, is like this. Each of us has been on trial in the court of heaven for a crime which carries a mandatory death penalty. We’ve sat there waiting for the judge to announce his verdict. We know full well we’re guilty. The judge comes out and says, “NOT GUILTY!” My wife has been waiting outside for me anxious to know whether I am going to be put to death or not. So at the end of that I say, “That was a nice meeting.” Is that what I’d say? I’d say, “I’M FREE!!! I DON’T HAVE TO DIE!!!”
So how do you come out of church. Have you had a nice meeting or do you realize you’ve been made righteous with the righteousness of Jesus Christ?
Let’s look at Isaiah 61:10.
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, [Not just rejoice but greatly rejoice.] My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness...”
Notice. There are two garments that you get. The first one is the garment of salvation. Wonderful to have it, but never stop there. You’re not just saved. You’ve been covered with a robe of righteousness. Not your righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness. And no matter from what aspect the devil looks at you, all he can see is the righteousness of Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” We have been justified. We are just as if we’d never sinned. Do you believe that? Do you really believe it? Well listen, stand up and tell somebody. Find a person next to you. Look them right in the eye. Say, “I’ve been justified!”
I used to dance. I’ve got one of the marks of age, my legs won’t do what I want them to do. But if I could I would right now. I’d be dancing up and down on this platform. But I’ve been justified.