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Watch 2022 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - Just As If I'd Never Sinned

Derek Prince - Just As If I'd Never Sinned

Derek Prince - Just As If I'd Never Sinned
TOPICS: Justification

We’ll be moving on again in Romans 3. Our previous session was a kind of parenthesis in which we dealt with the purposes for which the law was given. And we enumerated six very practical purposes, for which the law was given. I want to say that I am not suggesting that that’s all the purposes, but at least it is six of them. Now we’re going to go back to Romans 3:20, which is a kind of milestone. It tells us we’ve come so far in this pilgrimage it says: by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in [God’s] sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. We begin verse 21: But now... And here we are beginning God’s solution.

See, in His great wisdom, God didn’t offer the solution till He’s shown the problem. Now He has wonderfully, in great detail, very systematically outlined the whole problem and has shown us the Law is not the solution. What is the solution? Now, He unfolds it to us. We’ll read verses 21–26. These are some of the most compact verses in the Bible. To analyze them could take us a whole day, but we don’t have a whole day so we’re going to have to be content with what we have. Romans 3:21: But now apart from the Law [or Law] the righteousness of God has been manifested..., But you’ll notice that the the is in italics. Did you notice that? I think it’s better to say a righteousness of God a different kind of righteousness. But now apart from the Law righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets...

Again, you see, Paul is very careful to say, I am not innovating. This is all contained in embryo in the Old Testament. All I am doing is explicating what was implicit in the Law and the Prophets. [verse 22:] even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And again, the message of Romans is there’s no way to righteousness except by faith. There’s no alternative. You cannot receive righteousness any other way. through faith in Jesus [the Messiah]. At this point I really want to say Messiah, because it so much better represents the continuity of Scripture than to introduce this Greek word, Christ. I think I’m a little prejudiced, as a matter of fact. for all those who believe;... So this righteousness which is by faith is offered to all those who believe.

The word "all" is important. It’s not something now that’s restricted to the Jewish nation. It’s for all who need it. What kind of people need it? All. But what all people? Sinners. even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus [the Messiah] for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;... In what respect? In respect of sinfulness. There are many distinctions. Different races, different colors, different cultures, different languages, different religions, but there’s one thing we all have in common. We are all guilty of sin. We’re all accountable to God for our sin. In that respect there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic, black or white, they’re all the same. Verse 23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... How many have sinned? Are you sure? Does that include you? Does that include me? It certainly does. All have sinned.

Now the word for sin is a word that means really to miss the mark to come short of the mark. You see, there are a number of words in the Bible for wrongdoing and each one is specific. There’s another word, transgression. Transgression means walking across a line that’s marked. Transgression is disobeying a known commandment. Now the Jews were guilty of transgression. In most cases the Gentiles weren’t. They didn’t have a known commandment, so they were different in that respect, but the same in the respect of sin which is coming short of the purpose for which we were created. What were we created for? The glory of God. That’s right.

I remember a young Jewish man who came to the Lord years ago in London when I was ministering there and he became what I would say was pretty fervent. And I remember he said once he was preaching in a street meeting and he said, A person has no right to exist who doesn’t exist for the glory of God. I said, That’s true. That’s the only justification for existing in God’s universe when God has created us; that we exist for His glory. What is sin? It’s coming short of the purpose for which we were created. Now there’s another word, which is translated iniquity, but a better translation is rebellion. That’s another aspect of wrongdoing. Rebellion, is in the heart of every one of us, but rebellion is primarily an attitude not an act.

We’ll deal with rebellion in Romans chapter 6. That’s where the old rebel is dealt with. So we’ll keep that for Romans 6. But we’re all alike in the respect that we have sinned and in sinning we have come short of the glory of God. We have missed the purpose for which we were created. That’s why sinners are always, in some respect, frustrated. Because they are not living for the purpose for which they were created. It’s like if you take a Cadillac and use it to move furniture it’ll not do well, see? Or you take a truck and use it as a taxi, you’ll have problems. The reason being that the thing was made for one purpose and it’s being misused. Well, that’s true of every sinner. Every sinner is failing to fulfill the purpose for which he was created, and somewhere deep inside, there’s inner frustration because of that.

All right, going on then in chapter 3. We come now to the solution. Verse 24: being justified... I would prefer to say having justification offered to us, because we are only justified when we respond. being justified as a gift [being made righteous as a gift] I think I’d better give you some of my definitions of justified at this point. Justify is a sort of dry, theological word for so many people. But it is the most glorious word. And I’ll give you a series of possible translations. To say that I’m justified means I’m acquitted my case has been tried before the court of heaven and they’ve handed down a verdict, not guilty. Isn’t that wonderful? Because there is no higher court than the court of heaven. When heaven says you’re not guilty, it doesn’t matter what your neighbor says about you, it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. You are not guilty. That’s part of being justified.

And then it means being reckoned righteous. God reckons righteousness to you on the basis of your faith. But the same Greek word also means to be made righteous. So it’s not just that you have righteousness reckoned to you but, as a result of that, something happens inside of you. You remember we said already God calls things, and whatever He calls those things, that's what they are. There may not be an immediate obvious change, but the whole process is there in what God calls. So God chooses to call us righteous. And when He calls us righteous, we become righteous. And then another translation, some of you I know have heard this before justified means I’m just-as-if-I’d never sinned. Why? Because I’ve been reckoned righteous with the righteousness of God. Not my own righteousness, not my best efforts, but by faith I have received as a gift the righteousness of God.

And if you don’t receive it as a gift, dear brother and sister, you’ll never get it. You cannot work for it, you cannot earn it, it’s as high above the best we can do as heaven is above earth. God said in Isaiah 64:6: All your righteousnesses are like filthy rags. He didn’t say all your sins. He said the best that you can do in the sight of God is like a filthy rag. And those filthy rags will never get you to heaven. I don’t have this in my outline, but I feel so good about it I’m going to turn to it. Isaiah 61 verse 10. I never preach on this subject without getting to this verse. Isaiah 61:10 This is describing what it’s like to be justified, to be reckoned righteous. I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God;... Exult is perhaps the strongest word you can have for being intensely happy, and telling everybody about it. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness...

A lot of people know what it is to be saved, but many who are saved don't know what it is to be justified. First of all, He clothes you with a garment of salvation. That’s wonderful. I could say that’s a kind of undergarment, but then he wraps you around with a robe of righteousness. He totally covers you with a robe of His righteousness. And it doesn’t matter from what angle the devil looks at you, all he can see is the righteousness of God. He has nothing he can say against you. That’s justification. That’s what we’re talking about. I feel so grieved so many times that Christians don’t really get excited about their faith. I believe in the people who get excited. To me, that’s logical. To say you believe these things and not get excited about them is illogical.

I remember when I was attending the Anglican church and this is no criticism of the Anglican church. As a rather critical teenager, I listened to all the words that were said and the beautiful prayers and confessions and they were glorious. Then I watched the people and I thought to myself, If these people really mean what they say it doesn’t show. They don’t look like it. And I had a little mental picture in my mind of an elegant lady walking out of church one Sunday morning and she drops her beautiful lace handkerchief on the stone floor, and I run after to her and pick up the handkerchief and return it to her, and she is much more excited about getting the handkerchief back than she is about all the things she’s been saying about salvation.

See, people who behave like that have never really grasped what they’re saying. I think if you really can comprehend that God has covered you with the robe of His righteousness, you’ll have to do what Isaiah says, I will greatly rejoice in the LORD. I will exult in the God of my salvation. I’ll be so happy, I’ll have to tell people. I’ll have to do more than just sit in the pew. I’ll have to get up, shout, dance. That’s not illogical. That’s logical. I’m the professional logician: to say you believe all these wonderful things that are said in this epistle to the Romans and in the whole New Testament and not get excited about it, it is totally inconsistent. It means in actual fact that you don’t believe what you are saying. And only the Holy Spirit can make it real to you. Brother Prince can’t do that.

All right, we’re going back to Romans 3 Verse 24: being justified as a gift by His grace. We’ll come in Romans chapter 5 to the statement that we receive righteousness as a gift, so bear that in mind. We won’t go any further with it now. by His grace... And you understand, grace is the supernatural working of God which does things for us we cannot deserve. Grace cannot be earned. Will you say that after me? Grace cannot be earned. If you have anything you have earned, it isn’t grace. Grace starts when you come to the end of your earning. Going on: being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;...

That word redemption in the Greek version of the Old Testament is used for the mercy seat on the ark in the tabernacle of Moses. It’s a beautiful picture. Here was the ark. Inside it was the Law which had been broken, which cried out against Israel, but God provided a mercy seat which was exactly the same dimension as the ark, which covered the broken Law. And which was the place where God manifested Himself and spoke and which was overshadowed by the cherubs of glory. And as long as the ark is uncovered, you have no access to God. But when the ark is covered by the mercy seat, then God can draw near to you and you can draw near to Him and He can speak to you. You have access into the immediate presence of Almighty God. Because of the mercy seat and the mercy seat is the sacrifice of Jesus His shed blood. It is the only basis on access to a righteous God.

Let’s go on reading verse 24: the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. So God displayed to the whole universe the one sole sufficient propitiation for all the sins we’ve all committed. And it’s demonstrated by the life laid down and the shed blood of Jesus. And God didn’t do it secretly. He didn’t do it in a corner. He did it very publicly. And then it goes on to say: This was to demonstrate His righteousness [God’s righteousness], because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;... You see, we have a mystery that under the Law of Moses for nearly 15 centuries Israel was continually remembering their sins. To take just one ordinance, the Day of Atonement, once every year they made a remembrance of their sins, but no sacrifice that they brought did away with their sins.

The sacrifices of the law merely covered those sins until the next sacrifice was due. But when Jesus came, the writer of Hebrews says, He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. He didn’t just cover sin, He disposed of sin. He removed it. He set it aside. And so in this demonstration God vindicated His righteousness that for 15 centuries He passed over sin which had never been properly atoned for. But God knew what He was going to do. He did it in faith on the basis of the assurance that Jesus would ultimately provide the all-sufficient sacrifice. You see, everything that God did in respect of Calvary He did in faith. Jesus died in faith. There was not a single evidence of any real permanent result from His ministry when He died. He died in faith. Thank God His faith was justified.

Going on the verse 26: for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness [God's righteousness] at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. That’s the crux of Romans. That God can be just and just justify the sinner. How could God pass over sin without compromising His own righteousness? The answer is Romans. That’s the key descriptive verse. That God might be perfectly righteous and still forgive sinners. As I have said before, God’s problem is not punishing sinners. There’s no problem about that. God’s problem is forgiving sinners, and He’s the only one who can provide a solution. The solution is contained here in Romans. Now we come on to some of the effects of receiving this propitiation this atonement. We read verses 27 and 28: Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

We pointed out in the previous chapter, chapter 2, that religious knowledge produces pride. The more religious people know, the prouder they get. And pride is an abomination to God, so He’s got to do away with pride. He does it by this law of faith, which leaves us nothing to boast of. We cannot claim anything. We didn’t do anything for ourselves. God did it all. All we can do is receive by faith the free gift of righteousness which God offers us. You see, I never want to become controversial, but I have had a lot of contacts with the Muslim religion, Islam. It permeates the whole Middle East. I’ve lived in three Muslim countries at different times, and this is my personal observation: I have never known anybody made happy by Islam. I venture to say it’s never made a single person happy in the course of 13 centuries.

What’s the attraction? It’s a religion of works. Why do people like a religion of works? Because it gives them something to boast of. It suits human pride and I don’t take Muslims as the only example. It’s true of Orthodox Jews and it’s true of a lot of professing Christians who haven’t realized that we have nothing whatever to boast off. God did it all. All we can do is receive by faith what God has done. And let me tell you this: that boasting and pride are incompatible with faith. Because the famous verse in Habakkuk 2:4 says the one who is proud, his soul is lifted up in him. It’s not right. But the righteous will live by his faith. Faith and pride are incompatible. This is very important to remember because a lot of us are in danger of getting proud. We do some little thing for God. We get some success in our ministry and we think, There you are, the man with the answer! That’s terribly dangerous. There’s no room for pride. It’s totally excluded.

It’s very interesting, in the course of His earthly ministry Jesus dealt with two persons whom He especially praised for their faith. The interesting thing about it is neither of them were Jewish. One was the Roman centurion, who said, I’m not worthy that You should come under my roof. Just say the word. That’s all that You need. Jesus said, I tell you, I haven’t found faith like that in all of Israel. What went with his faith? Humility. I’m not worthy. I’ve got no claims. Just say the word. The other, one of my favorite stories in the Bible, the Syro-Phoenician woman who had the demon-possessed daughter. And she ran after Him and cried and made a nuisance of herself The disciples said, Send her away, she’s upsetting us. We don’t like this noise. But she wouldn’t go away. She called Him, first of all Son of David, and He didn’t respond because the Son of David was His title to the Jewish people. She was not a Jewess.

Then she said, Lord, and then He responded. And He said, What do you want? And she said, The demon to go out of my daughter. And He really tested her humility, because He said, It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs under the table. What is He calling her? A dog. Now it’s an insult in the West, but believe me in the Middle East to be called a dog, you couldn’t have a much worse insult. But He was putting her in her place. He was saying, I’m committed by covenant to Israel. I made a covenant with them through Moses that I would be their healer, but I have no covenant with you, so you’re just a little dog. You see, when God seems to be hard He’s the most merciful. And her response, True Lord, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs. What faith! God, I don’t need a slice of bread, just one crumb will get the demon out of my daughter. Jesus said, Oh woman, great is your faith. Help yourself, take what you want. What was the conspicuous thing about her character? She was a humble person.

Let’s be careful that we don’t become proud. Because pride and faith can’t co-exist in the same situation. Let’s complete this chapter. Paul’s now going to point out this message is for both Gentiles and Jews. He says in verse 29: Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also if indeed God is one [which is the great claim of Judaism, God is one] and He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. The basic requirement is faith, you see that? Faith may be expressed by circumcision, or it may operate without circumcision, but whatever way it comes, it’s faith and faith alone that is the basis of justification. Circumcision without faith will not justify a man. And then he finishes this, and this is very important. In verse 31: Do we then nullify the Law through faith? [Do we set the Law aside?] What does he say? Perish the thought! On the contrary, we establish the Law. It’s very important to see that.

Faith in Jesus and the New Testament does not set aside the Law of Moses. It’s part of the Word of God. It’s permanent. In fact, the only people who can take the Law as it’s written are people who believe Jesus died in our place. Any group of people, Jews or Gentiles, whoever they may be Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists claim that they are observing the whole Law of Moses are lying. They’re not. We can say we believe the whole Law. We don’t set aside any commandment. Not even how to deal with a rabbit if you kill it in the field because Jesus did it in our place. So we alone of all people on earth can say, That’s right. We accept the Law in its entirety, but in its entirety it was fulfilled in Jesus and through His death we are delivered from the Law. Amen.
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