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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Religious... Right in Hell

Robert Jeffress - The Religious... Right in Hell

Robert Jeffress - The Religious... Right in Hell
Robert Jeffress - The Religious... Right in Hell
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Religion, Self-Righteousness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In the church today, there are countless individuals who call themselves Christians, attend worship every week, and do their best to live by the rules, but in their hearts, they never really put their faith in Jesus Christ. Well, today I'm going to explain why our own self-righteousness can never save us. Salvation comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, period. My message is titled, "The Religious... Right in Hell" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

James Hammond was a plantation owner who also served as a governor and congressman during the time of the civil war. Besides being a defender of slavery, James Hammond was known for his voracious sexual appetite. In 1839, Hammond purchased a slave girl named Sally along with Sally's 18 month old daughter Louisa. Hammond fathered several children by Sally. And then when Louisa, the little girl was old enough, he fathered several children by her as well. James Hammond's political career was interrupted briefly when his brother-in-law wade Hamilton accused him of sexually abusing four of Hamilton's teenage daughters. But the most amazing thing about James Hammond was the way he reacted when tragedy struck his life. When his wife left him after an epidemic destroyed many of his slaves and livestock, this is what James Hammond actually wrote in his diary. "It crushes me to earth to see everything of mine so blasted around me. Negroes, cattle, mules, hogs, everything that has life around me seems to labor under some faded malediction. Great God, what have I done? Never was a man so cursed. What have I done or omitted to do to deserve this awful fate"?

The ability for self-delusion is both limitless and it's dangerous. Those who failed to come to term with their own sins or inclined to condemn others and show contempt for the grace of God, which is why they are fully deserving of the wrath of God. That is the message that we have come to today in our study of the book of Romans. If you have your Bibles this morning, I want you to turn to Romans chapter two as we discover why it is that the moralist, the religious will be right in hell. Now I dread preaching messages like I preached last Sunday. And the reason I dread those messages is not because of the inevitable condemnation I receive from those outside the church, but because of the commendation we in the church tend to put on ourselves after hearing that kind of a message. It's easy to listen to a message like that and say, "That's right. Pastor, preach it. Let those homosexuals have it. Let those adulterers have it. Thank God we're not like them".

It's kind of like that third grade Sunday school teacher who was teaching her class on the self-righteous pharisees. And at the end of the lesson, she said, "Now boys and girls, let's bow our heads and thank God that we're not like the pharisees". It's very easy to come up with self-righteousness when we hear messages like that. I think Paul understood that, and that's why after talking about the pagans who have descended into depravity, he next turns his attention toward the self-righteous. Those who think surely they're okay with God because they have adhered to some moral code. But I want you to notice what Paul says in this passage. He says, "The self-righteous person is just as guilty as the unrighteous person". Why? Because of his condemnation of others and his contempt for the grace of God.

Let's see how Paul develops that thought beginning in verse one. First of all I want you to notice three descriptions of the self-righteous person in Romans 2:1-4. Paul explains three reasons why a self-righteous person is just as unrighteous as the pagan who has fallen into depravity. First of all, he describes him as his condemnation of others. He says, "He is guilty because of his condemnation of others". Look at chapter two, verse one. "Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for an end that you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things". The reason God says the self-righteous person is guilty is because he condemns other people. Does Paul mean that we are never to condemn anybody or anything for any reason? Turn over to Matthew chapter seven verse one for just a moment. Hold your place here in Romans two, but turn over to Matthew chapter seven.

Josh McDowell has noted that 20 years ago, the most often cited verse in the culture was John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son". Everybody was talking about John 3:16, Christians and non-Christians alike. But you know what the most often quoted verse today in the culture is? It's not John 3:16, it's Matthew 7:1, "Judge not lest you be judged". Everybody says that. Christians and non-Christians like, "Judge not. Judge not". They treat that verse as a king's x. Kind of like saying, "You better not judge. Don't judge. Jesus said, 'don't judge lest you be judged.'" is Jesus saying that under no circumstances are we to not judge anything? Is that what he is saying? Well, if he's saying that, then he contradicts his own words in this very same chapter. For example, in Matthew seven, verse six, he says, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces". That verse requires you to make a judgment. You have to decide who's the dog and who's the swine and who's unworthy of casting your pearls before.

We'll turn over to one more, verses 15 through 17. Jesus said, "Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves". Well, how do you know who's a false prophet? You have to make a judgment, don't you? That somebody is a false prophet. Look at verse 16. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit". You have to make a judgment. Is this person producing good fruit in his life or bad fruit? Over and over again, Jesus says we must make judgements. So then what does Jesus mean when he says don't judge one another? What is Paul saying in Romans two when he condemns those who condemn others? The Bible says there is a particular kind of judgment we are never to engage in.

Here are three kind of judgements that only God is capable of performing. First of all, when we determine people's obligation in the gray areas. We are never to do that. We are never to determine people's obligation in the gray areas of the Christian life. That is to be guilty of judging. What do I mean by the gray areas? Look, when we speak out against adultery or homosexuality or lying or cheating or murder, we're not guilty of formulating judgments. We are simply repeating the judgments that God has already made. We have not only every right, but every responsibility to do that as God's spokesman. But we also have to admit there are some things in the Christian life that are gray. That is, the Bible doesn't speak directly about them. And in those cases, we are not to judge other people. In Paul's day, it was eating meat that had been offered to an idol. And we talked about the principles involved with that.

In Paul's day, there was also the question about drinking alcoholic beverages, which by the way has spilled over, pardon the pun to today, 2000 years later. We can have our convictions, but it is wrong for us to try to impose those convictions on you. Remember the definition of legalism? Making my conviction your obligation. The Bible says we're not to do that. We're not to try to make judgments or determinations for everybody in these gray areas. Paul will say that when we get to Romans 14. He discusses this at length. So, abstain from making those determinations in the gray areas of life.

Secondly, we're not to try to discern people's motives. If you try to judge a person's motives, you're participating in a judgment that God is only capable of performing. When you say something like, "Well, you know the reason she did that is because she's trying to look holier than thou". You're not to do that. We don't know a person's heart. In Proverbs 16 verse two, Solomon said, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives".

Number three, we are not to try to determine a person's eternal fate. Again, we are performing the kind of judgment that only God can perform when we say, "That person is beyond redemption. That person can never be forgiven". James said in James 4:12, "There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy, but who are you to judge your neighbor"? There's only one person who can sentence someone to hell, and that is God himself. We are not to say about anybody that there's no chance they could ever repent and turn to faith in Christ. Don't make that kind of judgment. Only God can make that kind of judgment. Why is the self-righteous person guilty before God? First of all, because of his condemnation of others. Secondly, because of his hypocritical conduct. Look again at verses one to three, "Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, o man, that when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and you do the same yourself, do you think you will escape the judgment of God"?

The self-righteous is guilty because he condemns activity that he himself condones. And such a person will not escape God's judgment. Now let's get real practical here. What he's talking about. Ask the question, have you ever been involved in an affair? Oh no, not me. Well, Matthew 5:8 says, "If you've lusted after another person who is not your mate, you're guilty of adultery". Before we shake our head and discussed over that group of teenage thugs that mug an elderly woman at an ATM machine and takes her money, before we condemn those teenagers, ask yourself the question, have you ever taken something that doesn't belong to you? Maybe under-reporting your income to the internal revenue service or over-inflating your expenses on your expense account or holding on to money for yourself that should have been given to God because it belongs to him. That's what he's talking about here. Before you judge other people, make sure you're using the same standard on yourself.

Now, let me add a word of clarity here. Paul is not saying you can never speak out against any sin that you have committed yourself. He's not saying that, because look at Paul's own example. Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a murderer of Christians. He called himself in 1 Timothy 1, the chief of all sinners. That means he was probably guilty of every sin in the book and yet he spoke out against sin. Here's the difference. Paul confessed his sin and he found the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He repented, he turned away from his sin. He did not condemn sin in others that he condoned in his own life. And the same is true for you and me. Sometimes it's those who have committed sins that are in the best position to speak out against those sins once they've repented of them. What Paul is saying here is, "Don't have two standards: one by what you judge others and one with which you judge yourself. You will not escape the judgment of God".

You see, the self-righteous person engages in selective obedience. He wants to think, for as long as I'm not guilty of this or this, I'm okay with God. The problem is God doesn't grade on the curve. God demands 100% compliance with his law. You say, "Well, who can do that? Who can keep all of the law"? Exactly, exactly. That's why we all stand in need of the grace of God. But the self-righteous person doesn't understand that. The Bible says, "It is his condemnation of others, his hypocritical conduct that lead thirdly, to his contempt for God's grace". Because he does not understand the seriousness of his own sin, he actually has contempt for God's grace. Look at verse four of Romans two. "Or do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance"?

The self-righteous treat lightly the riches of God's kindness. Now those of you who are parents understand what this means. Imagine saying to your child, "It's Saturday. I want you to do some chores around the house. Mow the lawn or pick up your room or do the dishes". Your child says to you, "Well, how much are you going to pay me for that"? And you say, "I beg your pardon. Pay you"? "Yeah, how much are you going to pay me"? And so you say, "Well, let's think about it. Let's think about the food that you put in your mouth every day or the clothes you wear on your back or the bed you sleep in every night". And what does your child say? Your child looks at you and rolls his eyes and says, "Big deal". Now what is he saying? He's saying, "That's nothing. You owe those things to me". He is treating lightly your kindness. Now that's exactly why the self-righteous person is condemned before God. He actually has a contempt for the goodness, the grace of God. He believes God owes him those things.

I want you to notice in verse four three gifts of God that the self-righteous treat lightly. First of all, they treat lightly God's kindness. This word kindness refers to God's general blessings to the non-Christian as well as the Christian. The gift of life, the gift of family, the gift of health, the gift of rain. All of those are God's gifts to all of us, and yet the self-righteous treats those lightly. He owes those things to us. Secondly, God's forbearance. He treats that lightly. That word forbearance means withholding judgment. The fact that God doesn't strike you and me dead the first time we sin and send us straight to hell is only because of his forbearance. He's withholding judgment. And the third gift we treat lightly, the self-righteous person is God's patience.

That word patience, makrothumia means long suffering. It simply refers to God's continued forbearance. Not only does God refuse to strike you dead and judge you the first time you sin, he keeps withholding that judgment. Why is that? Is it because he condones what you're doing? No. Notice what he says in verse four. "It is the riches of his kindness that leads you to repentance". The only reason he hasn't judged those of you who are not yet Christians, the only reason he hasn't slain you and sent your soul to hell is he is hoping that you will turn to him in repentance. And that leads to verse five. We've looked at the description of the self-righteous. Why is the self-righteous person guilty? Because of his condemnation of others, his hypocritical conduct and his contempt for the grace of God.

Now notice what happens to the self-righteous and the destiny of the self-righteous. Verse five, "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God who will render to every man according to his deeds". What does Paul mean storing up wrath for the day of wrath? I read one writer this week who used this analogy. Imagine an old miser who stores up gold. He hoards gold coins week after week, year after year, decade after decade. He takes these gold coins and he hides them in his attic so that they're not stolen. And over the decades, he builds up a huge mound of these gold coins. Every week, every month, every year he thinks he is storing up wealth for himself, but one night while he sleeps, the gold and the attic above him crashes through the ceiling and falls upon him, killing him immediately. The miser thought he was storing up wealth for himself, but in fact, he was storing up judgment. And so it is with everyone who resists the grace of God.

Every minute of every hour of every day, we are storing up wrath. Every wrong thought that we have, every unkind word, every day that goes by that we don't thank God for his blessings that he's given to us is like adding to those gold coins. We are storing up wrath for ourself that one day will come crashing down upon us.

You say, "Pastor, how can I escape that sure and certain day of God's wrath that the Word of God talks about"? Here's the key. When you face God, and by the way, we're all going to face God one day. When we face God, we don't want to be dressed in unrighteousness. Sin will never allow us into the presence of God. But secondly, we don't want to be dressed in self-righteousness either. Our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. The key is to make sure when we face God, we are dressed in Christ's righteousness. See the Bible says, the moment you trust in Christ as your Savior, he wraps you in the perfection, the righteousness of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Is just like the hymn writer said, "When we accept the righteousness of Christ, we are dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne". The apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 5:9, "Much more than having been justified by his blood, we shall escape the wrath of God through him".
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