"Man's Disease, God's Diagnosis"
Sermon by David Chittenden (8-24-97)
Romans chapter 5, beginning in verse number 6. I would like for us to look at several things here that the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5 and beginning in verse number 6. "For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet per adventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the atonement."
I want to talk to you today about "Man's Disease, God's Diagnosis and Christ's Remedy."Let's bow for prayer. Heavenly Father, as we look at your Word this morning, I pray that you would help us to see what you want us to see out of your Word. And Lord, I'm not asking you for a sermon this morning, I'm asking you for a message from heaven. And I pray that we will tune our "spiritual ears" to what you want us to think about today, and Lord that we might put everything else out of our minds, that we may listen to your sweet Holy Spirit as you speak to our hearts this morning. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
In May of 1973, I'll never forget how that my Dad went into the hospital and they began to run some tests. He'd been having some difficulty and some pain that we did not understand. And after they had run tests for a couple of days, the doctor called us together as a family and said, "I need to talk to you. There's some things you need to know." So he pulled us into a room, sat down with us and he said, " We ran some tests today and we found out that your dad has cancer." I remember as he talked to us, he began to tell us about some of the different things they can do to help him and they said, "But we want to run some more tests. We only found that he had cancer in his colon and so we want to do a few more tests." So the next day they ran some more tests. They sat down with us the next day and said, "Well, we found out today that he also has it in his bone marrow." The next day they ran some tests and they said, "We found out he also has it in his stomach area." The next day they ran tests and, of course, you know the story, they found out he had it in his liver. They sat down, they said, "You know, this doesn't look very good, and there is not very much we can do. And here's what we'll try to do..."
I remember as I became acquainted with cancer and I found out what it meant. I realized what an awful disease it can be. I know many of you have probably had contact with that terrible disease. What a terrible thing that it does as it begins to go through our bodies. There is very little that the doctors know about it, even though there have been some cases proved, they've had successful remedies toward, there's many times it hasn't been so. As I studied this, I remember thinking about that occasion and how that as a 16-year old boy, I did not understand all the implications of the disease. I didn't understand exactly what the doctor was saying. I look here in the Word of God and I realize that, especially as you read in the first four chapters of the book of Romans, man has an awful disease that is much worse than cancer. As a matter of fact, in the first three chapters of Romans, he talks about the depth of our sinful predicament. He talks about how awful that sin really is. Sin has ravaged us in our nature. It is come to us through Adam, and we all have that awful sinful tendency. That is an awful disease.
Then we read in chapter number 4 how he contrasts that condition with God's condition of Righteousness, and how that our sinful condition, when it comes face to face with the Righteousness of God, that we are sinners by nature, and we are sinners by choice. Because of that sinful condition, we're in a real predicament. I think about what the Psalmist said so beautifully of God' marvelous grace in the fortieth Psalm, when he says, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my foot upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."
We were sunk in that deep pit of sin and helplessly, we had to reach up when Christ pulled us out and put us on solid ground. How wonderful it is today for us to think about our salvation and to think about what God has done for us. As I think about that, I find here in chapter number 5 of Romans, that he begins to write those concepts of man's condition and God's solution. We read here of what we were like before we met Jesus Christ. You see, he mentions in verse number 6, "For when we were yet without strength." The idea here of being without strength, is that we were helpless. Now being helpless means the kind of powerlessness that comes through paralysis; and in a spiritual sense, we were helpless. We were powerless to get up from our bed of sin or even to lift up our hand to help ourselves. Before we came to Jesus Christ, we have to understand that sin had us in a helpless condition. We could do nothing for ourselves, because we were without strength. To use another metaphor, we were, you could say, we were strapped in an out of control airplane that was plummeting toward earth and we could do nothing to change the course of that. We were helpless. We were without strength. Nevertheless then, you notice, in verse number 8, the last part of the verse says, "While we were yet sinners." And so to make matters worse, Paul says, not only were we without strength, but we were sinners. Now we weren't just innocent participants going on sin's disastrous ride. We were willful participants, and sinners. He says here, "we were yet sinners." Because we were sinners and because we were willful participants of it, we were without excuse. You can look back in Romans 1:20, he says, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even. His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
So he says here we were yet sinners, we had chosen to walk that sinful path. When God showed
us the light, we chose the darkness. The idea of being sinners has the idea of someone who
misses the mark. You know, you can kind of picture in your mind how that an archer can take a
bow and he can shoot that arrow. But if he just shoots it, closes his eyes and shoots it, he's
probably not going to hit the mark. He's going to miss the mark every time, and that is the same
idea that he talks to us about sinning. A sinner is someone who misses the mark. A sinner is
someone who has not attained the righteousness that God wants us to have. I can describe it, I
guess best, in thinking that how, if you wanted to jump across the Red River down here into
Texas. If you went down there and you got back as far as you could and you took off and you
jumped, you're not going to make it across that river. Now some of you could probably run back
and you may be able to jump further than someone else. But I still say to you today, you're not
going to make it all the way across on your own. No matter how strong you are, you're still not
going to make it. I believe the same thing is true of us, as sinners. We may be a good person,
but when we are measured up against the righteousness of God, we're not going to measure up.
We do not have enough strength because we are sinners, because we have missed the mark.
Then you notice, he also mentions in verse number 10, he says, "When we were enemies." To
make matters worse, we are beyond helplessness, we are beyond falling short as sinners, but Paul
writes that we were enemies against God. Now the idea of being an enemy is someone who is
actively aggressive toward us. It is someone who is hating and hostile. You see, the mind is set
against God. Paul said that the carnal mind is enmity against God. So, when God began to
steer us in one direction, we determined we were going to go another direction. No matter how
much God tried to steer us in one direction, our carnal mind is enmity against God and says I'm
going to go the other way. So he said, "While we were yet enemies." You know this is such a
portrait of man's condition. In theological terms, they call it "total depravity." Now total
depravity has the idea that we are rotten on the inside. But it isn't a matter that we are going to
do everything bad possible, it has the idea that we are as bad off as possible. You see, when we
were against God, we're all passengers in the same sinking ship. Though some people may rank
higher morally than others, the ship's still going to go down. Because, as sinners, we cannot go to
Heaven without the righteousness of God. And so as we realize that, we see, we are without
strength, we see that we were sinners, we see that we are enemies against God.
In light of all those things, how did God respond toward us? Now, I don't know about you, but if someone was helpless, and someone determined to go against me, and someone determined to be my enemy, responding it in a kind fashion would be hard. But you look at how that God responded toward us. You notice, he says in verse number 8, "But God commendeth His love toward us." So how did God respond to us? I mean, we looked up at God and we clenched our fist and we said, "I'm not going to listen to you, I'm not going to follow you, I'm not going to be steered in the right direction. I am against you." And God looked down at us and He commended His love toward us. How wonderful a response. You see God's response toward us was not one of a clenched fist in return; but God's response toward us was love, with an open hand. But God commendeth His love toward us. I mean, when God looks down at us, He doesn't say, "I'm going to get even with them." He doesn't look down at us and say, " I'm going to do everything I can to hurt them". He doesn't look down at us and say, " I'm going to do everything I can to hurt them." God doesn't look down at us and say, "I'm trying to make their life as miserable as possible." God looked down at our life and said, " I know they are sinners. I know that they are my enemies. I know that they are without strength, and yet I'm going to commend my love toward them." You see, that was God's response toward us. He loved us. He demonstrated His love toward us while we were enemies. You notice in verse number 7, he said, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die." You think about this kind of love. This is the kind of love that transcends all other love on the earth. There is no one today, listen to me, there is no one today that loves you like God loves you. There is no one on this earth that cares for you like God cares for you. Because for a good man some would even dare to die, but God loved us when we were his enemy. When we were without strength, when we were sinners, when we had our fist clenched toward Him, though we were on a sinking ship, He said I'm going to send that life raft to save you. He loved us, oh, how important it is to realize that He sent His sacrifice, His only son, because of us.
And not only did He love us, but you notice in verse number 9, "Much more then, being justified by His blood." He not only loved us, but He justified us. Now someone has defined "being justified" to being put in a state of "just as if we'd never sinned." But, I think it is even farther than that. He pardoned us. He wiped our record clean. He said, "I'm not going to remember those sins against you any more." Now, who on this earth, when you have sinned against them, and you have done wrong against them, who can say to you, "I'm not going to remember it." But this old mind of ours seems to bring those things back up. But that's not the way God is. When God looked down at us, He said I'm going to justify you, I'm going to pardon you, I'm going to wipe the slate clean.
And not only did He justify us, but in the last part of verse number 9, "We shall be saved from wrath through Him." God's dark cloud of judgement no longer overshadows us, because He saved us from the wrath both now and in the future. You see, before we trusted in Christ, we lived each day not knowing whether God's sword would fall. But now we do not have to fear His punishment because Christ has already endured it on our behalf. He has already taken the punishment, because of us. So He justified us, He saved us from wrath, and then notice verse number 10, it says in the last part, "Being reconciled," we are reconciled because of what He's done for us. Now what does it mean to be reconciled? Well, I guess I think of the Prodical Son who decided he didn't want to listen to the father any more and he just wanted to live in his own way. I see the Prodical Son as he goes out and he lives like he wants to live; he spends all that he has, and he wasted away. I think of how the father must have heard the stories about the son while he was away from the father. And I think of how that, when the son came to himself, we read of how when he was a great way off, as he came back home, the father saw him and he ran toward him. And when I think of the word "reconcile" I think of the arms of the father, as he, running just as hard as he can run, as he throws his arms around his son and he squeezes him to himself, and he weeps. And he says, "My son is home. The one I have prayed for. The one I have longed to see." And as he puts his arms around him and holds him tight, he is reconciled to the father. See, that's what God did for us. He said, you were against me, you were without strength. You were my enemy, and yet, I am going to bring you back to myself. Now folks, that's the kind of God that we serve. He's a god that will bring us back to himself.
Notice in verse number 6, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died." The only time that we can come back to Him is through the death of Jesus Christ.
Today, do you feel helpless? You don't have to, because when you were yet without strength, Christ died. You don't have to be helpless. You can have the strength of almighty God on your side. But when you were without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.
And then, you notice in verse number 8, it says, "But Bod commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners" - what happened? "Christ died." So as we are sinners against Him, you know when God convicts your heart, you know in your heart that your life is wrong. You know that you're a sinner, you don't need a preacher to stand up and tell you that you're a sinner, the Holy Spirit's already shown you that. You know that. When you hear the Word of God, the Holy Spirit takes that knife and he lets you know and you know it. And I don't have to stand here and tell you, you are, because you know it. But, when you know that you're a sinner, I want you to know that God's remedy is Christ's death on the Cross.
There are those that will tell you today, well, you need to clean up "the outside." But folks, I tell you, the problem's not on the outside, the problem's on the inside. When you try to deal with it through psychology, if you just try to deal with it through man's philosophy, it's going to fail you, because it doesn't go deep enough. Oh, yes, I know that psychologists can bring out all kinds of problems and all kinds of personality difficulties; but I want you to know that they can not go deep enough. God goes to the very heart of the problem, and that is sin, and sin will destroy you. It is sin that sends men to Hell. It is sin that hurts people's lives. And today, if you're trying to coddle your sin, I want you to know, that your sin is against God, and because of your sin, Jesus died.
And then, in verse number 10, as we stick our fist up in God's face, he says, "For when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God." How? By the death of His Son. The only way that we could be brought back to God is through the death of Jesus Christ.
Now the reason that I talk about these things today is (especially in a crowd this size), there are many of you here that are facing the sin problem. That's what it is. You may be fighting those problems and it seems like every time you turn around, you do this and you do that, and you can't explain why you do it. It's because of the sin nature inside of you. It's because that we are sinners by nature. In Romans 5:12 he says, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so then death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." In Romans chapter 3, he said, "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." You see, God looked down at us and He realized that the only answer to sin today is not in you reforming yourself. It is not through education. It is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. If you are facing problems in you life that you can not overcome, I want to tell you about someone who can overcome those things, I want to tell you about the only hope that can take you into Eternity, and that is in Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus loves you today. Jesus wants to justify you, He wants to save you from wrath, He wants to reconcile you. But, He will not do it unless you let him.
He says in Romans, chapter 10 and verse number 10, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in thy heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." You see, the only hope that you have today is in Jesus Christ. Years ago, there was a man named T. E. Lawrence, who some people know as Lawrence of Arabia, and in 1915, he was traveling in a journey across the desert with some other Arabs. Things were desperate. Their food was almost gone. Their water was close to the last drop. Their hoods were over their heads to shelter them from the wind. Someone suddenly said, "Where's Jasmine?" Another person said, "Who is Jasmine?" A third man answered, "Well, he's that yellow faced man from Mon. He killed a Turkish tax collector and he fled to the desert." And the first looked around and said, "Look at Jasmine's camel. There's no rider on it." A second one said, "Well, someone has shot him while we were on the march." And a third person said, "He's not strong in the head. Perhaps he is lost in a mirage. He's not strong in body and perhaps he has fainted and has fallen off the came." The first said again, "Well, what does it matter? Jasmine's not worth ten pence." And they hunched themselves on their camels and they rode on. But Lawrence turned back and he rode in the way that he had come, and though he was alone in the blazing heat and at risk of his own life, he went back. After an hour and a halves ride, he saw something in the sand. It was Jasmine, blind and mad with heat and thirst. He was being murdered by the desert. Lawrence lifted him up on his camel and gave him the last few drops of water, and he slowly plodded back to the company. When he came up, the others looked in amazement and said, "Here's Jasmine." And someone else said, "Jasmine, not worth ten pence, was saved at his own risk by Lawrence of Arabia."
When I read that story, I realized that there is someone who looked around, and though there was a great mass of people today, he looked around, and he knew my name. He was concerned about me and he realized I was not with the company. Though there were others that said they didn't even know who I am, and though there are others who say, "I know who he is, but he's not worth much," my Lord and Savior went back in the desert and found me, and put me on his own camel and he brought me back. And I believe today, that if you are in the desert of sin, and today, though you may look good on the outside, you're almost gone. I want you to know about somebody who cares for you, and that's our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Won't you trust Him today?