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Clean Before My Lord

August 3, 2008

This morning I would like to talk to you about a wonderful, glorious, incomprehensible truth: we are clean before our Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that our sins have been washed away by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. We may say “My sins are washed away” but do we really take the time to understand what that means? Do we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins? Do we take time to contemplate all that occurred from His birth to His sacrificial death, to His miraculous resurrection?


The scriptures paint an awful picture of the state of mankind! They declare that we are guilty of breaking the law of God and that the penalty for the slightest infraction is death! In other words, if you are not perfect, that is sinless, you are condemned already. The fact that we are far from perfect is a foregone conclusion!


And because of our sin we stand condemned before Almighty God. Jonathan Edwards said that “God holds you over the pit of hell by a slender thread and that the flames of hell are flashing about ready to singe that thread at any moment. If it should succeed you will fall into the pit, into the lake of fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels.


We know the scripture that declares that the wages of sin, the penalty for breaking God’s Holy Law is death. (Eph. 2:19) tells us that the world is directed by the prince of the power of the air. Satan has been given the authority over the world. In fact verse 19 says that “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  All we have to do is look around and we will see that it is so. Lawlessness abounds more and more. Evil has reared its ugly face more openly that ever before. Indeed evil is applauded while any form of godliness, any form of law is reviled in the most vehement fashion.


Sinners commit their evil deeds in the sunlight. But this is not news. Paul said…But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2Ti 3:13) And Jesus said in (Matt 24:12) “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. Do we not see this truth? But the world doesn’t see it! They are blind to the downward slide of the world. They are deaf to the cries of the oppressed!  They are also without hope. 

When trouble comes they throw up their hands and run around like Chicken Little and saying “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” They see nothing but disaster and misery. They paint a black picture which is exactly what you would expect from hopeless people. They have no hope because they are without God. That is they don’t know the only One who is hope, who can deliver them from this horrible sentence of death. They are lost and undone and don’t know it! They are blind to spiritual things and to mention their need of a Savior is to be met with scorn.


And, the scriptures say: (1Co 6:11) “Such were some of you; we were just like that! I can remember scoffing with the best of them when someone told me of my need for a Savior. It was foolishness to me. I mean: I believed in God and all that.


I had a friend from the Foursquare Church (The Foursquare Church was very active in the 70’s and they pursued souls relentlessly because they believed that they could save them.) and this friend convinced me (on a purely intellectual level) that I needed to be saved. But his idea of bringing a lost soul to Jesus was to have them get on their knees, lay hands on them and mumble some gibberish after which you were declared “saved”.  Not only that but he believed that he was my savior.


A few days later he pointed me out to someone at school and said, “I saved him”!  And I just as quickly said “I renounce it”. Nothing had been done. I was still the same evil person I had been: no change had been effected by this strange ritual. I was still without hope but was too blind to see it. I trusted in myself and rested my spiritual life on the fact that “I believed in God”, not knowing that the demons do too and they are not saved either!


But one day I was confronted by God Himself and this was a whole different ballgame. Where my friend could only spout words and gibberish, God Almighty thundered into my soul with omnipotent power! His words were alive and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword and with that sword He pierced me deep, striking me through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost depths of my being.


With it He examined the very thoughts and motives of my heart. He revealed to me the truth of who and what I was and I was crushed beneath a load of guilt and fear like nothing I had ever experienced! My sin was an overwhelming burden that oppressed me and drew the very breath out of my lungs. I was lost and undone and I knew it for the first time in my life! But praise be to God He didn’t leave me in that horrible place of miry clay where there is no standing. Having revealed my evil heart full of sinfulness, having shown me, as it were, the pit of hell which was my destination, He then proceeded to give me hope. He showed me Christ and Him crucified.


He taught me that Christ hung on that cross in my place, carrying with Him the ordinances that declared me guilty. He nailed them to the cross and killed them there! Not only did He die in my place but He was raised for my justification according to the scriptures. The Word of God was opened to me so that I understood the truth. And that which was once foolishness now became precious!  I called upon the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  And as Paul said:  but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”


Now there I stood, clean before my Lord. He had called me out of the grave of self and resurrected me to walk in newness of life. He had washed me clean of the filth of my sin and had made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. He clothed me in the robe of His righteousness and hid me in the hollow of His hand.


He set me apart for Himself having chosen me to be in Him from before the foundation of the world that I would be an example of the grace of God to the praise of His glory. He declared me justified, not guilty, having cast my sins as far away from Him as the east is from the west. He took all my sins from me and cast them into the deepest sea. And he placed a new heart in me, one that beats for Him as the heart of a deer pants for water.


And now what is the state of my soul? I am His! He purchased me out of the slave market of sin and I belong to Him. What of my guilt? My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part, but the whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord oh my soul!


Paul writes in (Romans 8:1-5) (1) Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been declared “NOT GUILTY” by our Holy Father and His decrees cannot be overthrown. Through the evil prophet Balaam He made this declaration: “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Nu 23:19)   


Here is the stated truth of the word of God who said…(2)  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (3)  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, (God’s law is perfect but mankind could not keep it perfectly). But what was impossible with man, what we could not accomplish in our own strength God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


We have been resurrected and recreated by the hand of God so that we might not serve sin any longer. He who has died is free from sin. We have been made in the likeness of His resurrection. We stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And therefore we stand clean before our Lord. What is true of me is true of all of God’s children. Your stories may be different than mine but our God is the same and He saves all who call upon His name.  And the wonderful truth of scripture is that He who saved us will keep us.


Listen to those wonderful words of Jesus Christ who said (John 10:27-30) “My sheep hear My voice, (we have been given ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts that can understand the truth of who Jesus is) and I know them, and they follow Me; Go back up to verse (1) and see how our Lord protects us. He says “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.


There are many such thieves and robbers who seek to fleece the sheep! They are in the ministry for what they can get! They are like the leech who says, “give, give.” And there is never enough. When one place runs dry they go to another and ply their craft. God, speaking through His Prophet Jeremiah exposes them for who and what they are. And in this wonderful passage we see how our Father protects us from evil.


He said, (Jeremiah 23:1-2) “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD. (2) Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; this is the characteristic of all false teachers. They gain their positions by intrigue. Their sole purpose is gain. And they slowly lure the people away from the truth.


They are subtle in their approach so as not to startle their hearers. Soon the minds of the congregation are numbed by their subtlety and they step off into bypath meadow and danger. But God does not leave His people to fend for themselves. He is their strong tower and an ever present help in time of need.


In another place He said that it would be better for such people to have a millstone hung around their necks and be dropped into the depths of the sea than to lead one of His little ones astray. And here He says behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the LORD. They can be sure their sin will find them out and they will be dealt with. Their judge does not sleep and one day while they are saying “peace and safety” then sudden destruction will come upon them. Our Father will not allow them to succeed in their evil plan!


And He has not left us without a word of instruction such is His love for us. Skip down to verse (16)  Here he plainly tells us “Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD. (17) “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace”‘; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ (18) “But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? (19) “Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest; it will swirl down on the head of the wicked. (20) “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it. (21) “I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. (22) “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds. (23) “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far off? (24) “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD. (25) “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ (26) “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, (27) who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? (28) “The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth.

What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the LORD. (29) “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? (30) “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other. (31) “Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ (32) “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD.” But if we are His sheep we have been given ears to hear only His voice. And He tells us plainly that while false teachers come tumbling over the wall, He, our Shepherd comes in at the door, not subtly but openly.


Back in John 10 and verse (2) we read “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. (3) “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4)  “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (5) We rejoice at the sound of our Father’s voice and we eagerly follow Him. We know that He has the words of eternal life. There is nowhere else for us to turn. We have come home to the place of rest which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The idea here is of intimate knowledge. We know Him! And because His children have this intimate relationship with Jesus Christ they have a built in safeguard against false teachers. If they are rooted and grounded in the truth of God, if they know the message of the truth then when a stranger, a false teacher comes along they are able to smell out the devilish doctrine and therefore “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” They recoil at the sound of such filth!


But they love the voice of the Lord, they love His truth and His person. They rejoice in His promises and rest in His arms of love. He says in verse 28  and I give eternal (everlasting, never ending, forever and ever) life to them, and they will never perish;


Try and grasp this truth if you can! Try to imagine eternity! Try to understand what it will be like to be in the presence of God and you understand why Paul said that God’s salvation is something that eye has not see and ear has not heard and mind has not grasped: all of what God has prepared for those who love Him!


Now try to get a hold of this truth. We are saved by God, sealed by God and we are secured by God. Jesus says and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.” All of this means that we cannot be lost! If we are His children, if He has truly saved us from our sins, it is for ever! John said “I have written these things to you who believe in the Name of the only begotten Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life!


Consider too the words of the Apostle Paul in (Php 1:6) For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  He will finish what He started! 


And finally from (Romans 8:29-39) we have those familiar words that have inspired believers for generations. I pray that they have not become so familiar that we have grown calloused to their precious meaning!


Paul, speaking to us says “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 ¶  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


What wondrous love is this! It is truly too high for us. We cannot attain unto it. But the stated truth of scripture is this (1 John 5:18-20) 18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but having been made new creations in Christ Jesus we walk a new path, the narrow one that leads to life. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light. We have been transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we might follow our Lord Jesus Christ. And while we have remaining sin in our lives and while the old man still resides in us he no longer rules our lives as before.


We have a new master and a new spirit and the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in the way we should go.  Yes we sin but we do not practice sin any longer because He who was born of God (the babe in the manger and the firstborn from the dead) keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. By His Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirit 19We know that we are of God, and unlike before when we were of the world and therefore blind to the things of the Spirit of God now we see that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 


But unlike the world who thinks that the salvation found in Jesus Christ is foolishness by the grace of God we can say with John 20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.


Even now, with all of our faults we stand by the grace of God, clean before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I offer you this one final word, this final blessing, this benediction of grace, this blessed hope, this glorious truth to rest your weary souls upon: Jude (24) Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, (from falling away) and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


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