Dr. Ed Young - Holiness
Sometimes when you're perusing around the Bible, open it to the first chapter of Judges. Joshua had led the children of Israel to conquer the Promised Land. He didn't clean out all the evil that was there, demonstrated in the lives of all the -ites, the Perizzites, all the -ites. But now he died, and now the sons of Jake had to go and possess the land that they'd inherited, but there were some still evil for our understanding ISIS like people, demonic people there.
And so, Judah, one of the sons, inherited the area around Jerusalem, but it was occupied. Canaanites, Perizzites. And he looked at the king who ruled there, he saw how strong he was, and so Judah went to his brother, Simeon, and said, "Let's join forces. And if you'll help me conquer the land of Judah, which is where Jerusalem is, I'll help you possess the land that you've inherited". And so, they came together, and they did battle with the king. Read it there in Joshua chapter 1, Adoni-bezek, Adoni-bezek had an army over 10,000, but God's army battled him, and they defeated him, and ran him out of the area. But Adoni-bezek, he escaped, was running away, the king, and they ran him down, captured him, and cut off both thumbs and both big toes.
And Bezek said, "I deserve that, because I have conquered 70 different kings, and that's exactly what I did to them. I cut off their thumbs and their big toes". I looked at that a long time, and I said, "What happens when you don't have your thumbs"? You can't grasp anything, really. It's awkward. You can't function even to write or to pick up anything without your thumb. Try it. Then I said, "What about your big toes"? They give us balance. Without big toes, you just sort of waddle around, awkward. Without thumbs, big toes, you are completely disabled. You don't function properly. Kings had to fight, kings had to lead, and their thumbs are gone, big toes are gone, out of business.
I know a lot of people right now, maybe in this place, and for all practical purposes it's like your thumbs are gone, using it as a metaphor because you can't really grasp things. You don't see the long ramifications of decisions that are made. You work just on the basis of natural law, natural ability, talent, education, and that's about it. You can't really grasp, there's no depth to life. You make silly, foolish choices. And then without toes there's no balance.
How in our culture today we've lost all sense of balance, all sense of proportionality, and when that goes crazy and bizarre, life gets confusing, life gets confusing. But a lot of people are running around without their thumbs. They can't grasp, they don't get it, they don't think far, they don't move far, and a lot of times your life and my life, we get out of balance. That's what we're studying about, how to get in balance, how to see a long way, how to be in and figure out what God is doing in this world. And a lot of people in our secular society are so confused. Something happens, and I hear all kinds of people say, "I'll pray about that. Oh, I'll pray for you".
The question is to whom do you pray, and to whom do I pray? Well, everybody prays to their own God. We had one of our hurricanes sometime back, and I was in a room with a lot of the so-called leaders of our city, and our mayor at that time called upon a pastor to pray, and he prayed to Mohammed and Allah and Buddha and everybody in the world. Next time we gathered he called upon a fine evangelical pastor, and he prayed the prayer for us, and he prayed in Jesus's name, and the mayor said, "Oh, ecumenical prayers. Ecumenical prayers".
Let me tell you something, folks. Our God is a peculiar God. He is one God, look at this universe, and you see, did you notice it didn't come together by accident? You notice how everything fits together, moves together? In your body, in life, in purpose. And therefore we say we're going to pray, it doesn't make any difference, it makes all the difference in the world if you're praying to whom it may concern or the true and living God revealed in the Bible.
As we look and study Romans chapter number 1, we begin to see how God operates. Ladies and gentlemen, all you and I have to do is to master 39 verses. Romans 8:1 through 39, 39 verses, that's it. And by the way, this isn't a little walk through the tulips. Tragically, you want to think, grow, mature, bring your Bibles, hopefully a pen in your hand, because regardless of your theological acumen and regardless of how long you've been to church and how many times you've read through the Bible, you will not get this just like, phew. And by the way, it's gonna take some vocabulary. You got to learn some big words.
Listen, any discipline of life, whatever you do, there is that specialized vocabulary that gives meaning and understanding of how you function, how you live in this life. And God has given us a beautiful world, but it is not a simplistic world. You pick up anything in this world from a leaf, and you could take four or five steps, and before long you're over your head. But we look at God, and he is saying, this is it. He's telling us how he operates. Isn't it exciting to know he didn't leave us just wandering around and guessing? He gave us instructions. He gave us an understanding of how this works.
And he starts off, we've already looked at chapter 6 a little bit, and by the way, these 39 verses in Romans chapter 1, it's not something new that he hadn't brought up in Romans before. He's just sort of squeezing it all down. Big principles, big understanding of God and life and how we relate to him and how we don't have to go through life with no thumbs and no big toes, unable to grasp, unable to balance. In chapter 6 he tells us what's happened to us in Jesus Christ.
In chapter 7 he confesses, told us he'd been brought up under the law. Most of us here, unless we've been brought up in a strict Orthodox Jewish background, have no real concept of the reverence of the law, the reverence of the Torah, how every Jewish boy and girl were brought up from birth all the way through maturity to reverence the law, to keep the law, to follow the law, to hold the law up before them morning, noon, and night, as they went in and as they went out. It was the law. God's revelation of how to live on Sinai, and now the transition is coming, and the apostle Paul has taken us from Sinai to Christmas, to Calvary, to Easter, to the Second Coming, to heaven. Quite a trip, is it not? Quite a trip.
And here he puts it all together. He starts in Romans chapter number 7, he says, you know, "Those things I want to do, I end up not doing them, and those things I don't want to do, I end up doing them," and you see he is still thinking in this period of his life as Paul confesses, as an Old Testament person, he's an Old Testament Christian. You run into those all the time. "Are you a Christian"? "Oh yes". "Well, how do you know you're a Christian? If God would ask you, 'Why should I let you into my heaven if you died?' what would you say"? "Well, I did a lot of good things. You know, I help people, and I went to church".
And we recite all these things as if that's going to impress God Almighty. Because if, boy, that's how I'm going to get there, you can hammer this, and I have for 40 plus years, and some nincompoop who is absolutely still in the baby pool of Christianity, "Well, I'm gonna try harder to be a Christian, pastor". Quit trying. That's not what it's all about. There's no law keeping involved. We've already discovered if we've read a little bit in Romans chapter 6, it's by grace, it's by grace. He said, "Well, that gives me a license," We'll see about that. So, we come to Romans chapter number 8. Before we get there, Paul says, now, he's a Christian, he said, "I am still involved in a life that is lived like I don't have my thumbs and my toes". He said, "O wretched man that I am".
Boy, that word wretched. That's nauseating, huh? He says, "I am wretched". He said, "Who in the world will deliver me from this hypocrisy, this sin, this shame, this disgrace? Who will deliver me"? And he says, "Thanks be unto God through Jesus Christ, my Lord". Okay, that's a great answer. How does it work? Used to drive around the country, I don't see it anymore. You see signs up saying, "Jesus is the answer"? Oh yes, how is he the answer? How does it work? How's it function? Is it just piosity? Oh, Jesus is the answer.
Okay, tell me how that answer is incorporated into your life and in my life. Paul tells us. Romans chapter 8, we've already looked at one verse. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Ladies and gentlemen, that verse is what the Bible is all about. That verse is what Romans is all about. Jesus is the answer. Why is he the answer? Because in Jesus Christ there is no condemnation. Remember, we've already established the fact that somebody whines and says, "I just want a God of love, not a God of wrath", because God is a God of love, he is a God of wrath, and he cannot overlook and neglect and just pass over and forget all the garbage that collects in your life and in my life. No, no, no, it doesn't work like that.
So, Jesus Christ, he says, "There's no condemnation for those who are," what? What is the first thing? "Those who are in Christ". Underline that, put a star by it. A hundred and sixty-four times in the writings of Paul in the Bible he mentions the phrase, "In Christ," "In Christ Jesus," "In our Lord". You think that's important? And then he develops it. I haven't even got the scripture yet for the day. This is just the introduction. Look at verse number 2, it tells us how we are set free, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death". Look here, we already are in prison. "In the law of my mind making a prisoner of sin which is in my members".
Lord, he said my mind, man, I'm right with God, but in my flesh I get all mixed up, and he says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and the law of death". We are set free because we become men and women in Christ, and what sets us free? It says, "For the law of the Spirit of life and Jesus Christ". Here's another law. It's the Holy Spirit. You see, when we go through salvation, we go through these experiences, understanding what we have, built in you and me is a new life. Remember we talked about how physical birth takes place, remember?
Then we talked about spiritual birth takes place. And we come through that, with that we have the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit, but we don't use it, we don't provide for it, we don't truly understand how it functions and let the Holy Spirit of God function in us and in everything we do. There's a resource of power there that will set us free from all the trash that accumulates in our life. And then look at verse 3, "For what the law could not do," by the way, it tells what the law could not do. The law cannot save you. Keeping rules cannot get you to heaven. What the law cannot do. You see, we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we're not only forgiven, that's great, but also we're empowered.
That's the Holy Spirit power to operate in us to keep us clean, to keep us right, so we can march and make our way from the baby pool all the way to the temple where there's waters to swim in. You see it? It's a beautiful, beautiful picture. "The law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ," is the Holy Spirit, "has set you free from the law of sin and death". We're free. That's liberty in Christ. And let you ask, "For what the Law could not do," why could not the law do this? It's weak. We're all weak. Nobody can keep the 10 Commandments. Nobody has ever kept all the 10 Commandments. If you say, well, you know, last time I checked them, I was doing pretty good.
Well, read Beatitudes, and then Jesus says, "If you have thought and have hatred in your heart toward anybody," bang, rock, it's as if you killed them. So, motive is there, and if the 10 Commandments didn't get you, I guarantee you the Beatitudes in 5, 6, 7 will take care of you. So, we can't keep the law. We can't do it. It's impossible, because it's weak. But look what God did. God, he's sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh. In other words, Jesus came to take care of the garbage in your life and in my life, and the penalty, the condemnation that you and I deserve for breaking the law, and we were born lawbreakers. But God came in Jesus Christ and provided a Savior and answer for life.
And then we see it in verse number 4, "So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us". Now, what are we trying to... what's our goal here? It's become holy. Oh boy, I'll never make it. No, you won't. I won't either. It's become perfect. No, you won't make it. I won't either. But look what happened, what Jesus, what God did. When God gave Jesus Christ, who was perfect, and he was putting on the offering plate there on the cross, "So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us".
What's the requirement of the law? Perfection. How's that working for you? I've already said, it doesn't work. But look what happened, Jesus came, and he filled you up and filled me up with the righteousness of God. That's a big old word. With the perfection of God, which makes us acceptable to him. Therefore we go through God, not as people who've been messed up with our thumbs and our toes, but it has been filled up in us. God has poured righteousness into you and righteousness into me. Therefore we go to God boldly and confidently because we are sons and daughters. You have children, they may rebuke you, you may not have a good relationship with them, but they're still your kids, right?
They're still your kids. We may be out of fellowship with our kids, but never out of relationship with our kids, because their blood is our blood. And that's what he's saying. That's the reason we say, hey, you can just go and you have a license. Whatever you do, you're forgiven. Whatever you do right now, you're forgiven. "Well, that's privilege, that doesn't make any sense. I'm a Christian, and here's somebody who does this". No, no, you can do anything you want to do if you're a true Christian.
If you're in Christ, freedom. Oh man, I like this religion. You know what the difference is? Now we're in the family, and we have new desires if you're in Christ. New desires. If you're in Christ, you have a new walk. If you're in Christ, if you're in Christ. And therefore, that's which I desired, I no longer desire. I may bounce into there sometimes, but, boy, I don't stay, because that's not who I am, and that's not who you are. We let the Spirit begin to work in our life. You see how it works?
And when you walk, you better have your big toes if you're gonna walk, folks. You better have your thumbs if you're gonna grasp anything in this life. God has brought salvation to us, and that we tried to keep all those rules and regulations, but the dams are down, the guardrails are off, but Jesus comes, and he saves us. If you're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and you're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean by yourself, if you can't swim, guess what? You're gonna drown.
If you're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and you're a pretty good swimmer, like I am, you'll stay up a while longer, maybe. Or if you're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and you are an Olympic long distance champion, you're still gonna drown. What do you need? A Savior. Somebody to come and take you out. And that's exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us on that cross. He took all of our garbage there, he took it on himself, he took all of our judgment, and all of our condemnation upon himself, and therefore you and I are set free because we have a new desire.
If there's still those pagan desires, those lustful desires there in your life, you better check whether or not you're in Christ, because he makes brand people. And whether or not your walk is with him, you better check whether not you're in Christ. I didn't intend to say this, but I am. I meet a lot of people, run into a lot of situations, my vocation. I watch television, somewhat. If you got a number on your back, I might see you. If you don't, news, I'd probably see you.
You know what breaks my heart in individuals, in our culture, in our city, in our world? If, if you and I and those servants in every walk of life, the commercial world, the political world, the medical world, educational world, would simply let Jesus Christ come in their life, let Jesus Christ come into their life, they'd get new thumbs. They'd be able to grasp things that seems to be beyond their grasp. They would get new big toes, and they'd be able to walk in ways we can't even imagine. But yet we live in the flesh? That's what we see?
It is mind boggling. I could never understand how ISIS, when they were running roughshod over much of the Middle East, were just killing, beheading Christians left and right. I said, you know, of all people, people who are Christians? Why? They accept, they love, they forgive, they serve, they reach out to anybody, everybody, anywhere, anytime, regardless of any other consideration.
And they're the ones that evil went after wholesale? Why? It's because the power and the witness of Christ is diametrically opposed to evil, any shape, fashion, maybe objectively, maybe subjectively, but that's who we are, and that's what we must do, and that's how we, you and I, must live. Begin to live like that, we'll understand more and more of what it means to be a man, a woman, a teenager, a young person who is in Christ and will move out of the shallow water, will move into waters that we can swim in, and we begin to make a difference in this day and this age and this time.