Everybody Else But Me

Everybody Else but Me

I wish this sermon was for everybody else but me.

I also wish it did not apply to anybody, but I’m afraid it applies to all of us.

Truthfully, we all have a tendency to classify sin into two categories: my sin and your sins.

And of course, your sins are much worse than mine.

When we hear a sermon or Scripture, it is easy to apply the message to someone we know. It is hard to recognize how it applies to ourselves.

It is also easy to dismiss the Word as for another time or culture (which it is not), and miss the personal application.

One of the best Bible examples of this tendency to be blind to our own sin is when Nathan came to David to confront him about his sin with Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 12:1-9
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

Can you see it? While David was quick to condemn the sin of someone else, he had a blind spot when it came to his own sin.

Unfortunately, that is true of us, too, or are you thinking, “Well, I’m not like that,” or “I’ve never done anything as bad as David”?

Perhaps you haven’t. But God looks at all sin the same.

While we have absolutely no problem recognizing the sins of others, and tend to ignore our own sins.

We might recognize our sin briefly during a sermon, but rather than deal with that sin by confessing it to God and repenting, we have a tendency to just forget about it.

But, the only thing that goes away is the conviction we received from hearing the Word. Our sin remains. It will continue to manifest itself in our personality and deeds. Eventually, we will accept it as “just the way we are” and expect others to accept it as well.

One of the most common ways we avoid repentance is to rename our sins.

Other people lie – we just stretch the truth.
Other people steal – we just borrow without asking.
Other people have an anger problem – we are just letting off a little steam.
Other people have prejudices – we have convictions.

It’s not pornography - it’s art.
It is not killing a baby – it is removing unwanted fetal tissue.

We even gossip to each other and call it a “prayer request”.

If you’ve never done any of those things, then I guess this sermon is for everybody else but you.

And what God says about sexual stuff: adultery, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, incest, transgenderism, etc. well, the Bible is just behind the times. That was for another time and culture.

We tell ourselves we are free from God’s rules about sexual conduct and those things should not be considered sins anymore. Besides, Jesus understands my feelings and exceptional situation--He doesn’t condemn me.

We remember Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, but we conveniently forget what He told her to do . . . .

John 8:10-11
Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Oh, but that was for her, back then. Right? If that is what you think, what god are you worshipping?

How well do you know God Almighty?

You see, if you REALLY know God it is impossible NOT to live a life of repentance and obedience.

Self-righteous people tend to be the hardest people to reach for Christ because they are blind to their own sin and their need for repentance. They say they know God and believe in Him, but they don’t obey Him. And the fact that they refuse to repent is clear evidence that they really don’t know God as well as they claim to. (But we are not like that.)

Romans 2:1-5
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

Do you think this passage is for the hypocrite and Pharisee? Do you think, “I don’t judge others”?

Don’t deceive yourself. We make judgments about right and wrong every day. This Scripture is a warning to us, who call ourselves Christians, who attend church regularly, and live lives that we consider to be moral.

It is a mistake to think that because we are a member of a church that we are somehow exempt from the consequences of our personal sin. Judging others without recognizing the sin in our own lives is really only a symptom of the underlying problem, which is that we fail to recognize that we need to live a life characterized by repentance just as much as everybody else.

When we think others need to apply God’s Word, we are admitting that we understand that God is holy. And that He has established certain standards for the way we are to live as His people. We are acknowledging that there is such a thing as sin, and that those who sin are deserving of God’s wrath. And with that acknowledgment, we are also admitting that we are without excuse for our own sin, because we can’t claim ignorance of God and His ways.

Therefore--when we sin and fail to repent--we prove we don’t know God fully.

Just like the unbelievers, we have exchanged the truth about God for a lie. We do that by emphasizing certain character traits of God, (like love) and ignoring certain others (like judgment for sin).

But what we fail to recognize is that we, too, are also subject to God’s justice.

We also fail to remember that God has dealt with us in His KINDNESS, exercising great PATIENCE with us, for which we should be THANKFUL, causing us to REPENT.

There will come a day, when Jesus returns to this earth, and those who have not responded to the Gospel by faith in Jesus alone, will face God’s justice that is no longer tempered by His kindness, but that is not the case right now. As we’ll see more fully in a moment, God extends His kindness to all because it is His desire that His kindness will lead everyone to repentance.

Today is the day of salvation. Judgment is coming.

Paul is addressing some blatant hypocrisy here. And as Nathan said to David, we “are the man!” Paul makes it clear that whoever is practicing unrepentant, deliberate sin in their lives—they are not going to escape the judgment of God.

Furthermore, Hebrews 10:26-27
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

We also tend to think that some sins deserve more punishment than others. We will lie, lust, gossip, disobey, fear, be faithless, deny our sin, and talk about the horrendous evil others commit, not even realizing our sin will reap the same punishment.

Revelation 21:8
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

We also have a tendency to think we are righteous because we aren’t currently experiencing God’s judgment. But God is not patient with us because He is condoning our sin. He is not treating us with kindness and holding back His wrath because we are so moral that we don’t deserve His wrath.

No! He is treating us this way because He is giving us the opportunity to recognize our own sin and repent.

There is only one way we can become righteous before God—and it is NOT making someone else look less righteous in comparison, nor is it by relying on how well we keep God’s commandments.

Righteousness comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…

Merely recognizing our own sin and feeling guilty about it won’t bring repentance by itself. It is only when we recognize the kindness and forbearance and patience of God that we are brought to a place of repentance. Because His sacrificial love on the cross is so overwhelming and so undeserved, repentance is the only appropriate response that shows any faith in Jesus Christ.

If we really understand and appreciate what Jesus has done for us, we will give our lives entirely to Jesus and live according to His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Him, when we love Him, we will do what Jesus says and no longer live according to our fleshly desires.

In other words, it is impossible to really know and love Jesus and not live a life of repentance and obedience.

Galatians 5:16-25
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

A Sunday school teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word “repentance.”
A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.” A little girl also raised her hand and added, “It is being sorry enough to quit.”

The little girl is correct.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  

Worldly sorrow comes from the embarrassment of being caught in our sin. Godly sorrow that produces repentance comes from a profound change of mind and heart in which we see our sin from God’s perspective and we no longer view it as attractive, desirable, or acceptable, but as ugly and deserving of God’s wrath. It is knowing that we deserve to die because of our sin, and turning to God in utter gratitude because He chooses to exercise His kindness, forbearance, and patience rather than His wrath, which we deserve.

Repentance is not just turning away from sin, but also turning toward the Lord for salvation with love, appreciation, and submission. Repentance is not something that we just do once and are done with it. Repentance IS rather a lifestyle in which we constantly turn to Jesus in humility and faith, acknowledging that He alone is our only hope.

Do you see now why it is impossible to really know and love God and not live a life of repentance and obedience?

This message is not for everybody else but me. The Holy Spirit is speaking to all of us.

God wants us to understand that He extends His kindness to us, not so we can sit back and think that we’re something special, nor to think that because we call ourselves a Christian, or have been baptized, or are a member of this or some other church, that our unrepentant sin is somehow immune from His wrath. We are not an exception!  

We can choose to sin, but we cannot choose the consequences of our sin.

Both within and outside of the church, we unfortunately mistake God’s kindness and patience for His permissiveness, or even approval, of our sin. But we are deceived. We think that because things are going pretty well and God has held back His judgment temporarily, that we have somehow escaped His wrath completely.

Read again Romans 2:4-5
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

It’s easy to read the Bible and run across passages where we immediately think of somebody else—who really needs to read those words—without ever considering how they might apply to us. As with any message from God’s Word, the danger this morning is that you’ll think that this is a really good sermon—for everybody else, that is.

But I can assure you this morning that this passage and this sermon is not merely for everybody else. It is for you and it is for me. And if you still think it is for somebody else, then go to the website and read this message again this week and ask God to help you take His Word to heart. Ask Him to give you grace to live a life of repentance, for it is the only appropriate response that we can make to the kindness, forbearance, and patience that God has extended to us even though we don’t deserve it.

If you are figuring that you must be doing OK because your sin isn’t as bad as others and you are not experiencing any consequences, then actually, you are in real danger. You also need to pray and ask God to reveal the seriousness of the sin in your life so that you can confess it to Him and repent of that sin before it is too late.

Either way, this is not just a sermon for somebody else. We all need God’s grace to recognize our sin and repent of it. How do we get that grace? There is only one hope for all of us . . .

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the only way we find that grace. His words are the only Truth. He is the only One who can give us eternal life and the Holy Spirit to empower us to live lives of repentance and obedience. We need to focus on Jesus and love Him with all our heart and follow His Word and His Spirit every moment of the day.

If you are a Christian, then the conviction you sense today is His calling to repent and give your life entirely to Him. On the day of your salvation, you committed to do that. He is patiently and kindly calling you to fulfill that commitment so you can enjoy His life and an intimate fellowship with Him.

If you have never trusted Jesus and received His life, believe His Word today, and confess Him as Lord and Savior, who died on the cross to atone for your sin. Confess your sin to Him and begin repenting of it today by giving your life to Jesus. Then follow Jesus in baptism. He will give you a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, who will empower you to live a life of repentance and obedience unto Jesus and be His witness in this evil world.

  December 2017  
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