Sunday, January 31, 2010


Luke 10:25-37 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (26) He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" (27) And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (28) And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." (29) But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (30) Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. (32) So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (33) But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. (34) He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. (35) And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' (36) Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" (37) He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."

Among those who seek after God, there are but two types- those that pursue Him based on their works, which is self-justification, & those that have the sense that no such approach is possible; that God alone justifies us as a “free gift”. Paul thus describes this only genuine justification in Romans 4 & 5 as a gift, & what makes a gift a gift is the fact that the recipient has done nothing to earn it; elsewise it would “not counted as a gift but as his due” (Romans 4:4).

Why would God throw out all the works of man, both good & bad, when assessing the merit of a man to be saved? Surely, Scripture gives many reasons, but three stand out as chief among them-

1. To maintain His sovereignty over those destined to be eternally in residence with Him,
for otherwise man, not God, would the decider of who’s in & who’s out.

2. To maintain the completely pure righteous nature of the Father’s heavenly realm,
for otherwise men would be entering on the backs of their own good works, but by necessity, be stained with their evil works as well. Instead, we enter Heaven pure as Christ Himself when we enter through Christ.

3. To express His inordinate mercy.

Ephesians 2:1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- (6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

See, salvation does not come from good works, as the scribe had supposed in his pursuit of self- justification, but rather for good works. Get that, get that, get that- because many on the wide road to destruction do not.

God’s justification comes first; then & only then, pouring out of His work of salvation, will your good works come.

What precisely do I mean by that? That only by comprehending the fullness of His work (the cross) will we be able to enter fully into our work.

The proverbial priest & the Levite also failed to understand this fact. They were probably either headed to or from the Temple in the administration of their duties at the sacrificial altar. But God says to such again & again that He desires “mercy, not sacrifice” (Prov. 21:3, Isa. 1:11-17, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8, Matt. 9:13 & 12:7). It was not that God despises sacrifice, but that He delights only in “right sacrifices” given because of “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17-19). In the parable, the scribe is represented in the priest & Levite, two persons devoted to following mere legal regulations in their pursuit of God’s justification, instead of being meditative in regards to the spirit of those same regulations. They misunderstood the depth of their depravity, thinking that merely whitewashing the outside of the tomb would restore the dead bones within. They apparently never pondered David’s words as he confronted his degeneracy in Psalm 51. See, David knew his sin well because of his deep lamentations, & he knew as well that forgiveness was not due him because of some shallow work, vainly done without any inward conversion. David appealed to God not on the basis of a work of sacrifice, but on the basis of “a broken and contrite heart”, depending only on God’s mercy to deliver him forgiveness.

And there lies the cause for the failing to mercifully care for your “neighbor”. You have not yet fully understood the measure of mercy God has already poured out on you. Get that, & the love for your “neighbor” will surely follow. Those that seek to justify themselves are to be pitied greatly, for in this they demonstrate that they have little experience with the love of God. The Apostle tells us in 1John 4 that we love God & our “neighbor” only because He first loved us. So our love, for both God & man, will be wholly contingent & comparable to our cognition of God's preeminent love for us.

Expressing the love of God is directly proportional to the measure that you have experienced the love of God. And that experience is borne in the throes of humble repentance & lamentations over your every depravity.

The preaching of sin is therefore fundamental at every stage of Christian maturity until you have been fully “perfected in love” (1John 4:18).

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