Robert Jeffress - Under New Management
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. An alarming number of Christians believe that God's grace and forgiveness, give them free reign to do what ever they please. But using grace as an excuse to sin suggest a complete misunderstanding of what grace really is. In fact, once God's grace enters into our lives, sin ought to receive an eviction notice. Well today, we're going to look at seven radical changes that God's amazing grace brings into our lives. My message is titled Under New Management on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
John Newton understood the difference between good grace and bad grace. Newton was born on July the 24th, 1725 in London, England. His father was the commander of a merchant ship that sailed the Mediterranean. Like his father, John Newton had salt water in his veins and would spend the majority of his life on the open seas. When Newton was 19, he enlisted to serve on the man of war HMS Harwich. Conditions on the ship were so intolerable that Newton deserted the ship, but was recaptured and publicly flogged for his disobedience. At his own request, John Newton transferred to serve on a slave ship. He was brutally abused by the slave trader whom he served, and would have died had it not been by the rescue of a sea captain who had been a friend of John Newton's father.
In 1748, John Newton became the captain of his own slave ship on which ironically he subjected the slaves to the same abuses he had endured. Although Newton's mother had attempted to impart her Christian faith to Newton before she died, Newton had no use for religion. However, on may the 10th, 1748, all of that changed. Newton was sailing his ship home when he encountered a violent storm. Convinced that the storm would result in his own death, Newton cried out for help, "Lord have mercy on us". Once the storm passed, Newton sat in his cabin and reflected on the miracle he had just experienced. From that moment on, Newton observed that day, may the 10th, 1748 as the day of his great deliverance, when God's grace began to work in his life.
John Newton eventually gave up slave trading and moved to Liverpool where he worked as a surveyor of tides. He became a disciple of the great evangelist, George Whitfield and an admirer of John Wesley. Hungry to know God's word even more deeply, Newton taught himself Greek and Hebrew. Eventually Newton was ordained and became the pastor of a church in Olney, England. It was during those years of ministry in Olney, that John Newton wrote, perhaps the most beloved hymn of all time, "Amazing grace, how sweet for sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come towards grace hath brought us safe thus far and grace will lead me home". John Newton had been transformed from a trader of slaves to a slave of Jesus Christ. Grace free John Newton, not to serve no master, but to a new master. John Newton's life was truly under new management.
Now there's some of you who would say, "Pastor I'm a Christian, but I don't have a dramatic story like that, a dramatic conversion story". It doesn't matter how you came to faith, whether it was on the open seas, in a violent storm or as a seven year old boy or girl. Regardless of how you came to faith, a dramatic change is occurred in your life, whether you realize it or not. And that's what we're going to talk about today and next time. We're going to talk about the seven radical changes that grace, God's amazing grace brings into our lives. First of all, what does God's grace give to us? First of all, it results in a new awareness of sin. Grace makes us more aware a new awareness of sin in our life.
Remember what we saw last time in Ephesians 2:1, Paul described our condition before Christ. He said, "And you were what? Dead in your trespasses and sins". A corpse has no feeling. It's unable to feel anything. And it's that way with us before we are saved. It is grace that teaches us to fear. It is grace that allows us to experience the pain of our sin so that we can accept God's grace. That awareness of sin is not only necessary listen, to lead us to salvation, but that awareness of sin plays a part in our life after we are saved. It leads us for sanctification, it leads us to become more like Christ.
Have you ever noticed the closer you get to God the more aware you are of your own sin? That too is a gift from God. Paul described that pain he felt even as a Christian about his own sin. In Romans 7:18-20, Paul gave this very honest confession of what his life was like even after he had experienced God's amazing grace. He said, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh, for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want I do not do and I practice the very evil that I do not want to do. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I'm no longer the one doing it, but the sin which dwells in me. Wretched man that I am," verse 24, "Who will set me free from the body of this death"?
Have you ever felt that way before as a Christian? The things you vow will never do again you find yourself doing, and the things you promise to do you find it hard to do what you've committed to God. That's the truth of every Christian life. Now, the proponents of bad grace the abusers of grace would have said, "Paul let me help you out with your dilemma. Quit worrying about sin. You're already a Christian. You've already got your ticket to heaven. You have been then declared judicially not guilty in the presence of God. You don't need to worry about sin". That's bad grace. That's an abuse of grace. To the purveyor of bad grace words like confession and repentance, they have no pardon their vocabulary. And yet God wants us to be aware of our sin. And that awareness isn't a curse, it's a gift. It gives us a new awareness of sin, an awareness that leads to salvation yes, but an awareness secondly, that leads to our sanctification.
There's a second radical change God's amazing grace brings into our life, and that is a new status before God, a new status with God. Paul describes this change in status in our relationship with God by two striking contrast. First of all, he says, "Grace has changed us from being an enemy of God, to becoming a friend of God". Listen to Romans 5:8 and 10, "But God demonstrates his own love toward us. And that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For if while we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his faith". There's a second contrast to show the new status we have as recipients of God's grace. We have been changed from slaves to sons. Turn over to Galatians 4:6-7. Paul talked about this change. He said, "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son into our hearts crying, 'Abba Father.' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir through God".
Now you have to understand what this culture is here to understand what Paul is saying. In Paul's day, slaves were considered members of a household. They live with their owners. And that's why, for example, in Ephesians 5 when Paul discusses relationships in the home, he talks about husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and their masters, all were part of a Greek or Roman household. But a slave had no rights whatsoever. A little baby, however, who was part of a family had a few rights. But a son somebody between the ages of 14 to 17 at that age at the father's discretion, sometime in that period of time he would turn a child into a son and therefore, a fellow heir. That boy between the ages of 14 and 17 had full rights to his father's estate.
Now, why does that matter here? In the Bible, there are two metaphors that describe how we enter God's family. One is through a new birth. We're born again, that describes the new life we have. But the Bible also says adoption is a picture of the way we enter into God's family. We are adopted into God's family. And here's why that's significant. In Paul's day if a couple was childless and they wanted a child many times they wouldn't go out and adopt a little baby. They would adopt a son to carry on their legacy between the ages of 14 and 17. And so when that son was adopted, he came into the family not with just a few rights like a baby would have, he would have the full rights as a fully grown son.
And that's what Paul was saying here. "When we enter into God's family, we come not as a baby, we come as a son. We are an heir through God". That means everything that belongs to God belongs also to us, all because of God's grace. And that means we can cry out to God for anything, with any need we have, knowing that he hears us and he will answer us according to his perfect will. What has God's amazing grace done for us? It's given us a new awareness of our sin that keeps us close to God. It's given us a new status with God no longer enemies but friends, no longer slaves but sons.
There's a third radical change and I love this one. God grace provides a new heart. It gives us a new heart. Since the beginning of time, since after the fall, God had promised his people that one day he would give them a new heart. A heart that would be motivated to obey God not out of fear, but out of genuine desire. In Ezekiel 36, let's get down to verse 26. God promised, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and I'll put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh".
When does that new heart, that new set of desires come? Historically it came after Christ died and was raised from the dead, and at Pentecost God sent his Holy Spirit to indwell every believer. And now for anyone who receives God's grace and forgiveness in his life, God not only provides a pardon from sin he provides our brand new power, the power of the Holy Spirit who makes us into a new person, giving us a new heart with new desires. And yet, to fully appreciate the new heart that God gives us, we have to understand the old heart that still remains within us. Paul describes the defectiveness of our own heart. The heart of stone is God calls it.
In Galatians 5:17, "For the flesh sets its desire against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please". What are those deeds of the flesh? Verse 19, "Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and the things of which I forewarn you". "So pastor, what's the relationship between that old heart that's in me and this new heart in a word dysfunctional, dysfunctional". Or as Paul said, "They are in opposition to one another".
Isn't that exactly what Galatians 5:17 says? "There is a civil war that is going on in the heart of every believer". I read Roman 7, to you for a moment ago from the new American standard. Let me read it again from the living translation because I think this captures it. Romans 7: 21, "I have discovered this principle of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all of my heart but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am, who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death"?
Paul wrote that as a Christian. Does that resonate with you? Have you felt that way before. Look, the Bible says there is a battle that's going on in the heart of every believer. That war is inevitable but here's the good news, it is winnable. It is a winnable war. And the reason is this, unlike the false teaching you hear from some Christians, those two hearts within us are not equally powerful. They are not equally powerful there a reality they're there, but if you have truly trusted in Christ as your Savior, your old heart that flesh its power over you has been destroyed.
That's what Paul said in Romans 6:5 through 7, "For if we have become united with Christ in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old self, our old heart was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin". Now this is one of the most unfortunate translations in all of the Bible. When the English translators translated this word, "Our body of sin has been done away with," that makes it sound like it's disappeared. We all know that's not true. Sin has not disappeared from our life. The desire to sin has not disappeared. It's been crucified.
Now in the New Testament, when somebody was crucified, they didn't disappear. They didn't jump off the cross, but they were rendered powerless. And the same thing has happened to that sin power in your life. When you trust in Christ as your Savior, a spear has been driven through that sin nature, that old heart of yours. It no longer has any more power over your life than you choose to allow it to have. Now that used to bother me for a long time in reading the Bible. I couldn't understand how is it that if my sin nature had been crucified, it still has some regular victories in my life? St. Augustine used three phrases to describe our relationship to sin. And this might be helpful to you, write these down. Before we become a Christian, the phrase that describes us is, "Not able not to sin".
Did you know a non-Christian is not able not to sin, not consistently anyway. Sin is a part of his nature. Romans 5:12 explains why that is. "Therefore, just as through one man Adam, sin entered the world and death through sin and death spread to all men because all sinned". When Adam, the head of the race sinned, sin absolutely infected every one of his offspring down to you and me today. We have been infected with sin, our nature is corrupted, we are not able not to sin. It's not logical to sin, it's not logical to feel the pain of your sin, but logic has nothing to do with it. It is part of our nature. We are slaves to sin. But there's a second phrase, "Able not to sin".
That's what happens after we become a Christian. When we become a Christian again Paul says, "We're no longer prisoners to sin. We have a choice to obey God or our old nature". Romans 6:6-7, "For he who has died is freed from sin". And the third phrase, the one that we look forward to one day is, "Not able to sin". One day when we've laid aside this old corrupt body, that is filled with suffering, sickness and yes sin, one day when we inherit that new body God has planned for us, we will be rid of that old heart. And we'll come to the place that we are not able to sin. Paul talks about that in Romans 7:24-25, "Wretched man that I am, who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord".
2000 years ago, Jesus Christ invaded this planet. And at the cross of Jesus Christ, he conquered sin and death forever. It was 2000 years ago at Calvary that the mission was accomplished and Satan was deposed. You say what does all of this have to do with grace? Those who spread false grace, talk about the two powers, the old nature and the new nature, but they equate them. And they say they are equal in force. And they teach that as long as we live in this world, we can have no victory over sin whatsoever. We are slaves to sin, only when we get to heaven will we enjoy freedom from sin. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Don't fall for it. 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ defeated the power of sin in your life. He has destroyed Satan's dictatorship over your life. Now live like you are free instead of a slave, that is the amazing result of God's amazing grace.