03 The Ground Work of Faith

Audio: mp3

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

To plant a seed you need to prepare the ground. Are we wiser in planting seeds than in preparing our hearts?

The acceptance of Christ’s atonement is the groundwork of true faith. {OHC 117.3}

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 3 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Before we can receive faith something needs to happen to us and that is out of our control. We can’t get it for ourselves.

John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

We can’t come to Jesus, unless that is given to us.

Matthew 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

This was the preparation work for the people to be able to receive Jesus. He baptized with water. Baptism is the outward sign of an inward work. Baptism without repentance and confession of sin is meaningless.

Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

John was laying a foundation for a greater work. Many people, in praying simply pray to be forgiven of their sins, but what sins? Do we realize what we have done wrong? Do we realize in what ways we have transgressed?

Steps to repentance

Repentance, sorrow for sin, confession of sin and turning away from sin. To have sorrow for sin we must know that we have sinned.

1 Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Sin is the transgression of these principles of behavior that are given in the Bible. It is a behavioral thing.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

In many Christian circles the law is considered ‘nailed to the cross’. If the commandments are gone, what is sin? This is one of Satan’s big deceptions these days.

Defining Sin.

We need to see what in our lives is sin. All have sinned is almost a comfort to some Christians. I’m no different to anyone else. Everyone has sinned. But we need to make that personal. God is speaking to me, not to a collective group.

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The law speaks to those who are under it. If I say to someone, stop kicking me, it’s pointless unless they are. The law says do not do this because we do. The worst people in society usually know that they are sinners but religious people don’t seem to realize it.

Romans 2:21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

It is spoken to us who would teach others. You can go and ask most religious people can I remarry and they would say yes yet God says no. Do not commit adultery. They simply do not think about what is sin. John told Herod it is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife and he was killed for it. So it is if we will stand up and call sin by it’s name. Most people think, oh well I don’t have any other gods but they idolize singers, sports teams etc.The law of God is very broad. Many people claim to keep God’s law but break it on every side without thinking of it.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Where the treasure is, there your heart will be also. What do we idolize? What do we love to talk about? Do we talk endlessly about our own plans and desires? What about emulations which is effort or ambition to equal or surpass another. The scripture says, Thou shalt not kill. How many Christians go to war? John went to the soldiers who were there to hear him and said “Do violence to no man.” How many wars would there be if everyone had that attitude?

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

But for faith to come, we have to repent. We have to confess and turn.

1 Corinthians 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6  But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Rather than going to court, we should suffer the wrong. Brother goes to court against brother and that before unbelievers. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

They are washed, they had done these things but they acknowledged their wrong and they confessed it and they turned away from it.

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Some of these things may offend. That is good in a way as it means our hearts are soft. If there is no response then the heart is seared. But we should not take offense but rather confess our wrongs and forsake them.

2 Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Repentance is a gift. God can give us the repentance. We should pray that God softens our hearts.

The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the hearts of men and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. The Spirit of God is pleading with them to seek for those things that alone can give peace and rest–the grace of Christ, the joy of holiness. Through influences seen and unseen, our Saviour is constantly at work to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of sin to the infinite blessings that may be theirs in Him. To all these souls, who are vainly seeking to drink from the broken cisterns of this world, the divine message is addressed, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. {SC 28.1}

Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: 

What is it that humble desire? They desire to have their hearts prepared for change. God requires us to turn from it. We cannot of our self forsake sin but God requires us to make the effort to forsake sin and then he gives us strength to do it but if we pray to overcome and never make a decided and conscious effort, He cannot do much for us. When we try to turn from sin, we realize that sin is in our nature

Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

This is something we only find out when we try to stop sinning. God knows full well that we cannot forsake sin of ourselves but the trying reveals something to us. It shows us how sin is inbuilt into our nature. It is like a person who unknowingly is lying on quicksand. They don’t know that they are stuck until they try to get out. Then they realize that they need help.

Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

God needs us to realize that the problem is not the actions. The problem is the cause of those actions, our nature.

Exo 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Many people seem to think that the robe of Christ’s righteousness is something that covers over our sins and just hides them from God. But there is something that has to happen before the robe of Christ’s righteousness can cover us.

Zec 3:1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. 6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.

Before he could put on the clean clothes his own dirty ones had to be taken away. But if he tried to cling to them, he couldn’t have put on the clean ones.

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

We need to acknowledge in the depths of our heart that there is something in us that we cannot resist in our own strength then God can help us.

Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

There is no good thing! It may look like a good thing but it isn’t. Any goodness in us is simply Christ shining through us. Sometimes people say about someone, “well, he has his faults, but he has a good heart”. The heart is deceitful above all things.

1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

It is easy to look at this as the faults of others but I need to realize that these things are inherent in me. I am of the same race and have the same tendencies. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life,are things that I need to overcome. Thankfully Jesus makes it possible if I make a decided effort on my part to overcome.

Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12  Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Paul writes about circumcision as the sign of faith. The Jews got it wrong, when they thought that you must conform with the sign even if the real thing isn’t there. In the Christian world it is not circumcision but baptism. Many people are baptized but are ‘buried alive’. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that we need to be baptized into any particular creed or church. We need to baptized unto repentance. That is what we need. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to learn the truth. We do because otherwise how would we know what sin is?

1 Co 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

Baptism is merely a sign of an inward desire and decision. To turn away from sin and to keep turning away from sin is what is most important. “That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” It is by the knowledge of truth that our sin will appear sinful.

Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The carnal mind is not “at enmity”, it IS enmity. We need to realize that our own mind and hearts are totally wrong!

Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

Concupiscence is a strong desire. The law reveals to us that sinful behavior is instinctive and that we have a strong desire to sin in our nature.

Heb 7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

The law is good but it cannot achieve anything in us. We cannot look at the law and obey. It is the better hope coming in that makes the changes.

Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Grace must reign and then we are truly saved by grace.

Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

We are the children of our parents. Genetically we inherit their faults, failings and tendencies. When we become children of God our natures begin to change into Christ’s.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

We need to look into it and see our own defects and keep looking. Bear that in mind and then we can become changed. We look into the law, see our own sinfulness and have two choices. We can recoil in horror and reject the law or little bits of it, or we can ask Jesus to cleanse us and to help us to overcome our inclinations and failings.

They will cooperate with Christ in the work of bringing their hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong under the control of the divine will, so that sin shall not have dominion over them. Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, they will be changed into His likeness. They will grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. . . . Those who truly believe, who confess and forsake their sins, will grow more and more like Christ, until of them it can in heaven be said, “Ye are complete in him.” Col. 2:10. {OHC 117.3}

Amen.

 

Posted on March 13, 2011, in Living Faith Seminar, Sermons For Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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