Broken week 1:
Key text: Romans 3:9, 21-24
The greatest enemy of the gospel is not the evil of man but the idea that man is essentially good. Today let’s talk about that.
We live in strange times don’t we? Often as I talk to people about the times we find ourselves in the statement is made “strange times isn’t it?” or “the worlds in trouble isn’t it?”
But what I always find strange about that statement even when I make it is has the world ever been in a good time? Every generation has their problems, and in the eyes of the older generation the younger generation is worse than the last; by that logic the world should had descended into absolute and unrecoverable anarchy about 1000 years ago.
But the world is still here and things are still going… kinda. But this lie we tell ourselves that our generation was better is the greatest danger to us and the world around us.
If you have your Bibles please turn to Roman 3:9, 21-24.
In the passages Paul is addressing the need for the gospel in the world is a need that is fundamental to the whole human race.
He has spent 2 whole chapters preparing the reader to understand what he is going to say in this chapter.
In chapter one Paul establishes the guilt of the gentile that although they don’t have the Law they are guilty because of their own consciences and the fact that nature has been a witness to them of God and who He is.
In chapter two Paul builds a case against those who trust in the Law (O.T rules) for righteousness; stating quite clearly that those who think themselves righteous because of what they have done have already condemned themselves because they are guilty of the same sins.
So in the third chapter of Romans Paul states the following;
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We love to punt this verse to the world without reflecting on the implications it has upon ourselves.
So let’s address:
The lie we tell ourselves: “I’m not THAT bad”
The truth we don’t want to hear: “We are deeply broken”
The hope for healing: “We are sick, but there is a doctor”
We tell ourselves and others this often. And in reality you probably are not… kinda. I mean most of us keep ourselves clean and by the standards of those around us. You know we pay our taxes and haven’t killed anyone lately.
But let’s address “I’m not THAT bad.”
The problem with the lie is that we are comparing ourselves with the wrong standard; we are not as bad as the worst of people.
That is like saying I’m a genius because I got 75% on a grade two test; you know I passed the test I must be clever.
The question is it at the right level?
And the problem with not taking responsibility for badness that we all possess is that we are then unwilling to accept it and therefor will not take responsibility for our brokenness.
This is the problem of someone who is supremely arrogant as well as the person who hates themselves. They both are unwilling to address the real brokenness that they possess and are both as equally deluded as the other.
Paul addresses this so powerfully through Romans; in Romans Chapter 1 he address the sins of those who reject God and Christian’s are so quick to jump on the band wagon of condemning those who do such things.
29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;31they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
The problem is that there is an unfortunate chapter break here which causes us to stop reading for some strange reason; but Paul goes on to say in Chapter 2;
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.3So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?
The standard we pick for others is rarely applied on ourselves and that is why people look at that as say we are being hypocritical.
You see the standard is incredibly high and equally condemns all people.
There is a truth that you need to hear this morning and a truth you don’t want to hear:
This is what Paul is trying to emphasize in Romans chapter 3 when he states for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Again your natural defensiveness will come up and you are secretly dismissing what I am saying. You are thinking I’m not deeply broken; I’m a nice person, people like me, I have done all this good stuff I have never done anything that would make me deeply broken. Right?
Well if you are brave enough to say that you are actually a good person; let me ask you to stand up and share with everyone here those thoughts that you think that are so deeply perverse or hateful or wrong that you would never even share it with your best friend.
Our own thinking betrays us; it shows us that at the fundamental level in our thinking we are out of control; bent towards darkness, evil and hatred.
You and I end up thinking and doing that which we believe we are not. And if we are actually aware of this and accept the reality of this we would cry as Paul does in Romans chapter 7 where Paul says;
21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
We will never find the healing that we are looking for unless we are willing to accept our sickness.
Which leads me to:
This is the crux of what I want to address this morning; we will never go to the doctor until we are willing to accept that we are sick.
I don’t know what it is about being a man and the desire to not go to the doctor; but my grandfather used to do it and ended up with pneumonia my dad did it and ended up with pneumonia and I did it and ended up with well pneumonia. 3 generations who all almost died from stubbornness.
The problem with men is they say; I’m not paying someone to tell me that I’m sick, I know I’m sick; I’m a man I’ll suck it up and just get better; and guess what we suck it up and end up with pneumonia!
Why because we are unwilling to actually recognise our weakness and get help; because we are men.
Women this also applies to you in other ways; you see the condition of mankind is one of arrogant self-reliance. Both men and women alike are unwilling to address our true issues because it would show the world our weakness and we try so hard to show the world and people around us that we are not weak!
Well that is the problem with mankind in general; until we are willing to accept our sickness we will never go to the physician for help.
This is what Jesus was saying when he said in Mark 2:16-17
16When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?"17And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
The reality is that when Jesus was saying I have come to call sinners not the righteous; where those who fell in the righteous camp actually righteous? No! Again Paul when He says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; he really means all.
Let me encourage you church today; you are all a bunch of sinners! Just like everyone else in the world.
Are you morally better than the world; if you are honest; no! Are you more righteous; by yourself no!
If we accept this truth then our righteousness is not something we do; but something done in us by Jesus (by our physician) and it is in this truth that we will actually find healing.
Once we get this we can actually get healing from our brokenness; it is only when we are honest that we need help that we would truly live out the grace that we receive from Christ.
It is only in this place of dependence and humility that we live the life that Christ has called us to live.
It is only as I am made keenly aware of the depth of my own brokenness that I can actually be loving to people and truly see them for who they are.
As I delude myself and think I am better than I am that I treat people with contempt and a complete lack of grace.
The call of the Christian is to live a life of dependence. Constantly dependent upon the one who called us and saved us.
In this place is also the key to our own personal freedom from the things that entrap up and break us.
The more I try to be good the more I find I end up living as far from that good that I want to. But as I fall in dependence upon Christ; as I make my life more about pursuing Him and loving Him that I find myself becoming free of the things that break me down.
Why because I find satisfaction in the one that can only give me satisfaction.
Church we are broken; but we have a great physician; we are lost; but we have a kind shepherd.
As Spurgeon says; “I have a great need for Christ and a great Christ for my need.”
I am again and again confronted with the reality that I am nothing without Christ.
Church the key to our personal healing is not 10 steps to the next best you; it is to surrender to Him who is able to restore you; to seek satisfaction in Him alone.
We are all broken we are all sick; so let us daily go to him who is able to heal and restore. That is the message we hold onto and the message we take to the world.