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In Romans 5, Paul shows how in one man, Adam, all were condemned, while in One Man, Christ, all are justified. In the concluding verse of this chapter we read, “as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I have found this distinction between a reign of sin and a reign of grace more and more intriguing as I have been studying the the fact that the gospel is by grace alone this last week. It seems that all men fall into one of two camps they are either being ruled by sin or they are being ruled by grace (Rom. 3:9ff, Rom 5:12-14). In this thread, I want to take a moment and highlight some of the main characteristics of the reign of sin that came to my mind.

  1. Sin sets self as sovereign. Having rejected the rule of God, men seek to establish themselves as sovereign. “In those days there was no king in
    Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judg 17:6, cf. Deut. 18:8, Prov. 21:2)
  2. Sin loves foolishness. Having rejected the knowledge of God, men seek to establish guidance for their lives based on their own speculations about what could be or should be (Rom. 1:21, Rom. 3:10, Prov. 1:7). A quick read the book of Proverbs shows over and over again that fools love folly, and they despise wisdom.
  3. Sin pursues unrighteousness (self-righteousness). Without God or His wisdom to guide them, men are left to pursue a “righteousness” which is defined on their own terms, which is really not righteousness at all. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
  4. Sin follows paths of destruction and misery. Without God as the greatest enjoyment, they are always exploring looking for new things to satisfy them. In their pursuit of “happiness”, they are willing to use what ever means necessary, including deception and violence. (
    Rom. 3:13-16,
    Jam. 4:1-4)
  5. Sin never brings peace. Because they are always looking to expand their own rule and authority, they are always at war. They cannot have peace until all who stand in their way have succumbed to their own rule. (Rom. 3:17)
  6. Sin brings death. Since all the works of men are tainted by sin, they only serve to earn them death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, to assert that a person must do works in order to obtain salvation is impossible because no one is capable of doing any good works unless they first are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), “whatever is not from faith is sin.”

These things should all serve as a good heart check for all of us. Are we always looking for something more or something new? Do we find ourselves always restless? How do we approach life? How do we decide which path to take? How do we respond when we don’t get our way? If our approach to answering this questions, begins with ourself or worldly wisdom and proceeds to answer them or achieve some ends no matter the cost, then it is likely that our lives are being ruled by our own sinful hearts rather than by the grace of God.

I saw in the paper today that former Seinfeld co-star Michal Richards apparently made a series of racial comments during a comedy routine on Monday, because of some heckling from the audience. In his apology, Richards said, “I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this.”

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with his evaluation of his character. Jesus said in Matthew 15:18-19, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”  Racism and other evils are a result of the fall. They are a result of our sinful hearts.

I in means am writing this to condemn Richards in fact I kind of feel sorry for the man. You see he like most people is living in denial of the fact that the bad things we say are not an accident they are evidence of what is really in our hearts. But like most people Richards will apologize and go on his way and never deal with the heart of the matter.

As a Christian, this is a great reminder to me not to ignore the words I say, but to realize that they come from my heart. I can be thankful for situations in which I might become short or impatient or make a rude comment, because they allow me to identify sin in my heart that still needs to be put to death. It allows me to see my true colors.

It is the testing situations that we see if repentance has just been an outward change or an actual change of heart. Some of you may think it doesn’t really matter as long as something changes, but Jesus would have disagreed. He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mt. 23:17-28).

So let us not be like the hypocrites who seek an outward change, but let us be like David who desired true repentance when he said, “Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:9-10).

I have been listening to the radio a lot in the last few days. On one of the popular Christian radio networks I have heard this quick message a couple of times in which they point out that a lot of people are trying to get to heaven by their good works. And they ask the question, when is good, good enough? But then they turn around and claim that the bible no where tells us how good we need to be to get to heaven.

I have to differ with them on this point. The bible makes pretty clear that the entrance requirement for heaven is perfection.

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Lev 19:2)

“You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.” (Deut. 18:13)

“as it is written,
         “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 
    THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
         THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 
    ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
         THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
         THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” (Rom. 3:10-12, quoting Ps. 14)

There is no person currently on this earth who will ever be good enough to earn heaven. We are all incapable of earning heaven. We have all sinned before a holy God and therefore have been disqualified as a candidate for heaven based on our own actions. In fact, each sin against God is earning for us an eternal debt of punishment that we will spend an eternity trying to pay off in hell, a penalty we will never fully pay. Yet it is not as though God has left man without any hope. God entered into His creation taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. As the God-man he lived the perfect, blameless, holy, righteous life that we could not. Not only did He live the life we couldn’t, but he paid the penalty for our sins that we could not.

So when is good, good enough. When it is done by the only One who is GOOD……God! But if you don’t want to take my word for it, I will Jesus Himself have the last say in the matter.

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mk. 10:18)

“concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,” (Romans 1:3)

When was the last time that you emphasized the Christ’s role as king when you talked to someone about the gospel. I can say for myself that I have spent lots of time thinking about the fact that Jesus “was born.” The significance of His becoming a man is essential for our salvation. It was because He became a man that He is able to identify with our weaknesses and the temptations that we encounter (Heb. 2:16-18, 4:15). Even more, He was made like us in all things, “so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of His people.”

If Christ was not a man, He would not make a very effective mediator between God and man, because we would still not be able to approach God. The Scripture is clear that no sinful being can approach God and live. For this reason, Israel stood and the foot of Mt. Sinai and waited while Moses acted as the mediator of the law. Yet even Moses was not allowed to see the fullness of God, but merely the coattails of His glory. But Christ is a better mediator than Moses, because as the Son of God, He has full accesses to the Father. Even more, He has seen the fullness of God and experience the delight of being in the presence of God. And so it is because of His identification with us as men and His relationship with God as both Son and Sacrifice and the we may boldly approach the throne of grace.

See already I have said much of His humanity, but what of Him being a King? He “born of a descendant of David.” Maybe in our naivety as Americans (or at least as non-Jews), we miss the significance of that statement. But a first century Jew would have surely understood it. They would have remembered the Lord’s words to David:

“When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”  (1 Chr 17:11-14, emphasis mine)

While discussing Christ humanity is an important aspect of the gospel, I hope that we will spend more time telling people of “The King.” Let us not shy back from telling people that Christ came into the world not only to save it, but to rule over it. In fact, salvation is considered synonymous with belonging to the kingdom (Gal. 5:21, Eph. 5:5, 1 Cor. 15:24, 50). Clearly, Christ must be Savior and Lord. For we have been redeemed so that we might be His people, and He might be our King and submit ourselves willingly to His leadership.