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Watch 2022 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - There Is No One Who Does Good

Derek Prince - There Is No One Who Does Good

Derek Prince - There Is No One Who Does Good

In our previous session we dealt with the sins of religious people and the Jews were singled out by Paul as an example but not as the only example. I pointed out to you that in many ways what was true of the Jews in the first century is equally true of Christians in the twentieth century. We don’t need to read those words as simply something about other people, that don’t apply to us. We need to see how they apply to us. In that particular session we looked at the five principles of God’s judgment which we’ll briefly recapitulate.

First of all, God’s judgment is according to truth, the truth of His Word. Secondly, it’s based on our deeds, on what we do. Thirdly, there is no partiality, no respect of persons. Fourth, we are judged according to the measure of the light available to us. The greater the light, the more strict our judgment. And fifth, the judgment is not merely of external actions, but it’s of the inner motives and intents of the heart. Then Paul sums up those whom God accepts and those whom God rejects in a general category that covers all ages and all races. God accepts those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality. The word doing indicates works and the word seek indicates faith. It’s faith that works. That is what God looks for.

Then Paul dealt with the difference between external ordinances and the reality of an internal experience with God. He points out and gives various different examples that God does not accept external outward ordinances or ceremonies or rites as qualifying to be accepted as righteous. Now we’re going to move into chapter 3 but we’re going to continue this same thing, this same theme, which is that knowledge of what is right, knowledge of God’s laws, does not by itself make us righteous. On the contrary, it increases our responsibility. Again, in the first verses of chapter 3 Paul applies this to his own Jewish people. He says: Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Somebody might say, If circumcision doesn’t make us accepted with God, why do it? Why did God impose all these ordinances upon the Jews? What is the benefit? He says there’s a great benefit. Great in every respect.

First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. That’s the Jewish people. I have to point out to you, today it’s the Christians who are entrusted with the oracles of God. It’s we who have available to us the full Word of God. What then? If some did not believe [it’s better to say if some were unfaithful], their unbelief [or their unfaithfulness] will not nullify the faithfulness of God. I pointed out to you at the beginning that the word faith doesn’t merely cover what we believe intellectually, it covers our personal commitment to God. So rather than saying unbelief here it’s better to say unfaithfulness. Their unfaithfulness, the unfaithfulness of some of the Jewish people, did not nullify God’s faithfulness. God remained faithful even when Israel were unfaithful. That’s what Paul is saying. So he says shall their unfaithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God? Then, the next words in this translation are: May it never be! The Old King James used to have God forbid.

Again, Paul is thinking like a Jew. It’s a typical Hebrew phrase. Ha-lee-lach. I was wondering how to render it the best way and I thought really it means perish the thought. How could you think of such a thing? So from now on wherever we read: Ha-lee-lach, I’m going to say, Perish the thought. The name of God is not in the word, it just means it’s something unthinkable, how would you dare to mention such a thing or suggest such a thing? So let’s say perish the thought. Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy words, and mightest prevail when thou art judged.

Now that is quoted from Psalm 51, which is David’s great prayer of repentance after he was convicted of the sin of murder and adultery. The words that preceded are these: Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight. Now those are amazing words, because David had murdered a man and taken his wife. You’d say he’d sinned against the man and he’d sinned against the wife. But at this moment of tremendous agony David says, Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight. And there comes a point which only the Holy Spirit can bring us to when we realize that no matter how much our sins and our evil doing may affect other people, the terrible thing about them is how they affect God.

I think Charles Finney defined that as true repentance. He said we have not come to true repentance when we simply look at the consequences of our sins in others. True repentance is getting a vision of what our sins have done to God. I’d have to say there’s very little of such repentance in the contemporary church. I think the results are evident. So David had this terrible inner revelation of how his sin affected Almighty God. The agony that it caused the heart of God. The man whom God had chosen to be king had betrayed God, betrayed His trust. Then he says, In the light of that, God, whatever You say is true. When You enter into judgment with us, Your truth prevails.

I think it’s very important that we somehow, by some route, come to that place. What God says is right, what He says is always true, He’s never wrong. How many times we’re tempted to think God really didn’t do quite the right thing in that situation. God, I’m not altogether sure that I can trust the way You’re handling this situation. It really takes a deep dealing of the Holy Spirit to bring us to that place I remember reading one day in one translation in Revelation 4:11 where the old King James says: For Thy pleasure, everything is and was created. But this translation said, in essence, and I can’t give you the exact words They were created that way because You wanted them that way.

And I had a revelation. I don’t know if I can share it with you, but the best reason for anything is that God wants it that way. There’s no higher reason that can ever come than the fact that that’s what God wants. These words sound so simple, but we need to come to the place of bowing before God, His judgments, His ways, His will and say, God, everything You say and do is totally perfect. I come back to the words of Moses to Israel. His way is perfect and all His works are righteous. God has never done anything unrighteous. I hope that as the result of studying Romans you’ll get a new picture of the total righteousness of God. For that we have to humble ourselves. We may not have committed precisely the sins that David committed but in every one of us there are those things which have been horrible in the sight of God.

I think Finney is right that there's a place we have to come to, where by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we see what our sins have done to God. God sometimes has to take us by a hard route but that’s the place that Paul is talking about here in this passage. Then he goes on, and now very frequently in Romans Paul imagines an objection against his teaching. He states the objection and then answers it. Again, it’s a typically Jewish way of thinking. They think in terms of what I would call the Talmud, these propositions and counter-propositions. That’s why I think so many successful lawyers are Jews because it’s right there in the Jewish mind from their background, this way of balancing one thing with another.

Another thing about Jewish people is if you ask them a question they’ll usually answer with a question. I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed that. If you study the teaching of Jesus, He was a real Jew. Almost invariably when He was faced with a question, He answered with a question. What shall we do about divorce? Haven’t you ever read...? and so on. So here Paul is he is anticipating the objection of his fellow Jews. And believe me, every one of these objections are still made today by Jewish people who are confronted with the gospel. So he says: But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! [Perish the thought!] For otherwise how will God judge the world? He imagines somebody saying, Well, what you’re telling us is the more unfaithful we’ll be, the more glory that gives to God for His faithfulness.

So if we want to give glory to God, let’s go on being unfaithful. Do you understand? That’s the objection. And this is his answer. Perish the thought! Then he returns to the same theme in verse 7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? So if my sin has glorified God by bringing into focus His faithfulness, why should I be judged? Understand? Believe me, those objections would still be made today. And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), Let us do evil that good may come? That’s a perversion of the truth of the gospel. But I would tell you out of my experience in the Middle East, it’s a common misrepresentation both for Jews and for Muslims. They misrepresent the Christian faith as being a way of doing what you want and getting away with it. That’s a typical Middle East reaction.

Paul deals with it. He doesn’t waste much time with this, he says: Their condemnation is just. I’m not going to waste time on people who think like that. They deserve the condemnation because they’ve heard the truth and deliberately rejected it. Coming on to verse 9: What then? Are we [Jews] better than they [Gentiles]? Not at all. We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; They’re all guilty of sin. Whether we’re Jews or whether we’re Greeks, we all have this in common. We are all sinners. Again, it seems God wants it this way, but I’ve dealt for many years with Jewish people and I have a Jewish wife. The hardest thing for Jewish people is to see that they are sinners. You’d be amazed how hard it is for them to see that. And they’re not insincere. It’s amazing.

So when Paul now comes out with this whole series of Scriptures taken from the Old Testament, each one of which affirms the sinfulness of all men, but particularly the Jews, he knew what he was dealing with. He knew his own people. So he comes out now with a whole series of quotations from the Old Testament all proving that we’re all guilty before God. It begins in verse 10: " it is written [that is, written in the Bible], There is [not one] 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". I think it would be good to turn to one of the two passages in the Old Testament where those words are found. They’re found in Psalm 14 and in Psalm 53. So God, by the Holy Spirit, caused that statement to be recorded twice in case anybody might miss it the first time around, they’re bound to come up with it. Psalm 14.

You see, there’s a little bit more and it’s very important. We’ll start in verse 1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. Notice believing wrong leads you to live wrong. You cannot believe wrong and live right. Otherwise, you cannot believe right and live wrong. Our living is the product of our believing. When they said there is no God, they exposed themselves to all forms of evil.

Now, I want you to notice verse 2. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, This is the total human race. The Hebrew phrase is the sons of Adam. I want to point out to you we will not be able to go into this the Bible only deals with Adam and his descendants. Wherever it says men, the Hebrew says the sons of Adam. This is important. I’m not going to be able to go into it, but there are many Bible commentators who believe that there quite possibly were other races of men upon the earth but they’re not dealt with in the Bible. The Bible deals only with Adam and his descendants. It’s very important because it can lead to many misunderstandings. The LORD looked down... upon the sons of [Adam], to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

I want to point out to you that there is no one in his natural fallen condition who seeks after God. It isn’t in the human heart to do it. This became very real to me because I never had any problem believing I was a sinner. That was one of the advantages I started with when I met the Lord. I came to the Lord about the same time as a friend of mine in the Army who was very religious. I made progress about ten times faster than he did simply because I had no problem in seeing that I was a sinner. But, I used to say to myself, After all, I really was a sinner. But I had this in me that I was looking for the truth. From the age of twelve upwards I really was looking for the truth.

One day I read this psalm and God said to me, "You were only looking for the truth because I put that in your heart. If I hadn’t put it in your heart you’d have never been interested in the truth". So I realized I couldn’t take credit for that. It’s very important. There is no one naturally who seeks for God. Many of you probably from childhood because of your background or your upbringing or the mysterious dealings of God in your life, you’ve had a longing for God. You wanted to know God, isn’t that true? But never take credit for it. You would have never had it if God hadn’t put it there. Left to yourself: you don’t understand, you don’t seek God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. How many? Not even one. That is so emphatic, isn’t it? And there it is, in the book of Psalms, twice. But it’s so hard for people to see it.

We’ll return to Romans 3 and we’ll read these other passages there. They’re taken from the psalms and from the prophets. We won’t turn to every reference, but to some. Verse 13: Their throat is an open grave with their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths... There is no fear of God before their eyes. As you contemplate that list for a moment, I want to ask you a question. What area of human personality is most emphasized and dealt with first? I didn’t hear it. The mouth, that’s right. How true that is. I think all the first four statements are about what we do with out mouth. You see, James said the tongue is an unruly evil. No one can control his own tongue.

I remember I was in a conference on the future of society, which was a ridiculous thing, in the first year of World War II. It wasn’t a religious conference but someone stated that. No one can control his own tongue. I said to myself, That’s true. It was really my first contact with the Bible as being true and practical and relevant. No one can control his own tongue. So Paul quotes there from the psalms and from the prophets. He goes on Now we know, in verse 19: ...that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God;

That’s very important. It’s addressed primarily to the Jewish people. It says, it's no good your pointing the finger at Gentiles and saying this is what they did, this is the kind of people they are, because this is your own book. It was given to your first, it applies to you first. It applies only to other people second. Your own book tells you there is none who does good, no not even one. All are corrupt, all have gone astray. So he comes to this great summation and he has worked hard to get here and I think you probably feel you’ve been working hard to get here, too. But it is hard work. Verse 20: because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Notice again that the the is put in. Do you see that? So you can either say the Law or you can say law. First and foremost, it applies to the Law of Moses but it also applies to every other kind of law. No one will be ever justified in the sight of God by keeping rules. That’s the important basic statement. You see, I smile at my Protestant brothers and sisters. So many of us say, Well, we’re not under the law, thank God, we’re not under the law. Then we make our own silly little laws. Every denomination has its own laws. The Baptists have one law, the Pentecostals have another, the Catholics have another. But no religious law will ever cause anybody to be reckoned as righteous in the sight of God. You see, what we’ve done is switch from the Law of Moses, which was a perfect law which was given by God, and we’ve turned to our own laws.

Now I’m not saying that a movement doesn’t need laws. Any group of people needs law to keep them under control. But keeping those laws, even if you keep every one of the thirty-three rules of the Pentecostal church you belong to, doesn’t make you righteous. Is that right? Is that true? God opened my eyes to this truth many, many years ago I think because of my philosophic background. The main issue in the New Testament is whether we’re made righteous by keeping laws or by faith. And as I’ve gone through my Christian experience and ministry, I’ve hardly ever encountered people who’ve given any serious consideration to that question at all. What we’ve done is jettisoned the Law of Moses and substituted our own silly little seven rules. Not that all the rules are silly by any means, but they’re silly if you think they’re going to make you righteous before God.

Now, if I were to ask you to put up hands, and I’m not going to, a lot of you would have to admit that really you thought you were made righteous because you kept the laws of your particular group. Let me say it this way. You’re not made righteous by that. But if you have been made righteous by faith, you probably will keep at least the relevant laws, you understand? But keeping rules will never make you righteous in the sight of God. I think I’d like you all to just say that. I’ll say it once and you repeat it after me. Don’t say it if you don’t believe it. Keeping rules will never make me righteous in the sight of God. I don’t think some of you realize how far you’ve come.

See, if we can’t get through this, we’ll never complete the pilgrimage. This is just stage two, there are a lot of stages to come. If we don’t see this clearly and embrace it and realize how true and how relevant it is, we can’t go any further. We’ll keep slipping back into the same problems. Personally, This is just an opinion of me, I believe that legalism is the greatest single problem of the Christian church. I believe that legalism also is the cause of much of the sin in the church because lots of sincere and honest men have embraced this set of do-not’s: do not commit adultery, do not look at another woman, do not this and do not that. And they’ve focused their attention on them and become enslaved by them. The way to be pure is not to keep resisting lust because the more you resist lust, the more it dominates your thinking. There’s a totally different way of becoming righteous which is a righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ. So in our next session we’ll continue to deal with that.
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