Overcoming Sin

Scripture: Romans 6:14, 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:1
Date: 11/18/2017 
Lesson: 7
"How have you experienced the reality of a new life in Christ? What tangible evidence can you point to that reveals that which Christ has done in you? What areas are you refusing to let go, and why must you let them go?"
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Good morning, friends, and welcome to Sabbath school study hour, coming to you here from the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church near Sacramento, California. A very warm welcome to our online members and those who are joining us across the country and around the world - and also to the members and the visitors right here at the Granite Bay church - always good to see you coming out a little early on Sabbath morning to study our lesson together. Well, before we get to our lesson study, just some important information for those who are joining us online. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the book of Romans. Some of you who have been tuning in from week to week, you might not have a lesson quarterly, but you can still study along with us.

You can download the lesson from the Amazing Facts website - it's just amazingfacts.org and today we're on lesson #7, which is entitled overcoming sin - again, that's lesson #7 - go to the Amazing Facts website, download lesson #7, and you can study along with us. Well, before we get to our study, we always like to begin in lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite The Song leaders to come and they'll lead us in our music this morning. Thank you, Pastor Ross. We're going to sing your favorites, like we do every week.

Let's start with Jesus paid it all - #184 in our hymnals - and we're going to do the first, second, and fourth stanzas - #184. Thank you for joining with us and, at this time, Pastor Ross is going to have our opening prayer. Let's bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, once again we are indeed grateful to be able to gather in your house and open up Your Word and study. It's an important study, Lord, it's one that you want us to understand, as revealed in Your Word through the book of Romans, so we pray that the Holy Spirit would come and guide our hearts and our minds, and may we all be inspired by the good news that Jesus saves to the uttermost.

Bless our time together, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Thank you, Pastor Ross. And I want to welcome everybody - welcome those who are not only here in the Granite Bay church in our Sabbath school class - those who may be watching - by the way, let me just let you in on a little internal secret. We have several Sabbath school classes happening in our facility.

We have another adult class, we have some children's classes, and so we're thankful for those who tolerate our - all that's involved in recording this class so that we can share it with many others who are watching out there. We actually - Granite Bay has members that are in all different parts of the world that have no local church they can attend, and so, they're some of our online members. And maybe you're in that category, where you have no online - or no local church that you're able to attend. Then you can just contact us at granitebaysda.org and we'll tell you what would be involved if you want to be one of our online members and know more about that. We're continuing our study in this majestic, wonderful book of Romans that Paul wrote to really summarize the plan of salvation.

And, today, we're on lesson #7 and it's on just the - oh boy - you know, the Gospel is about sin and salvation, and our lesson today is overcoming sin. It's really getting to the heart of the matter. Some people are cringing right now, just by the title of the lesson - I did not title the lesson - this is the title of the lesson. I appreciate it. I'm glad for it.

When people think about overcoming sin, they tend to recoil and cringe and cower, because they think, 'you're not going to, like, talk to me about sin and me stopping it?' It kind of gets people's attention because our battle is with sin. Jesus came to save us from our sins, and so, we're going to be addressing that today. And our study today - we're talking about Romans chapter 6 and we're also going to be dealing with 1 John 1, verses 8 through 1 John chapter 2, verse 1. Our memory text today is Romans :14; if you've got your Bibles, I invite you to say it with me. I think it's from the authorized version - Romans 6:14 - are you ready? "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.

" We are not under the law but under grace. What does that mean? Sin shall not have dominion over you. Now, normally, when I do a lesson, I have one page of notes. Today I have one and a half pages of notes. Because this is a very important lesson, there's a lot to say on it.

Some people are going to challenge, maybe, some of what I'm going to say and I want to make sure I can back it up as well as possible. Let me tell you what I'm going to say, then I'll say it, then I'll tell you what it is I said. I'm going to tell you that the grace of Jesus is sufficient to not only cover your sin, but to give you victory over sin so sin does not have dominion over you - sin does not rule your life anymore. He wants to save you from your sin. Now, in some churches today, they say that's legalism to talk to Christians as though God expects us to stop sinning.

They say it's legalism. I am going to give you the evidence; you draw your own conclusions today, if God came and asked us to cut down on sin or to turn away from sin - that's the question we're really talking about, okay? Fair enough? Alright, I remember - you've got that verse in the Bible - Matthew 5:48, "be ye therefore perfect" - Jesus is speaking - "even as your father in heaven is perfect." How many here feel perfect as their Father in Heaven. Good. I'm - notice my hand didn't go up. So, did Jesus mean what he said? 'Be ye perfect'? I remember one time - I travel a lot and stay in a lot of hotels and, I don't remember all the circumstances, but I stayed in this one hotel where it just was not a good night's rest.

I don't know if it was because the hotel window was right up against the interstate and I just heard cars all night long, or it was too hot, or something, but I just couldn't sleep and I tossed and I turned and I rolled and when I woke up in the morning - you know, they've got the cover sheet that they first put on the bed before they put the other sheets on and it, sort of, is - what do you call that? A fitted sheet - goes around the edges - well, I tossed and turned so much that I worked the fitted sheet loose and I actually had exposed the mattress underneath. I mean, it looked like had been wrestling, and the mattress was clean enough, but I noticed that I had uncovered the part of the mattress where the label of the mattress was and it said, 'serta perfect sleeper' and I woke up with a laugh. I thought, 'yeah, right!' I said, 'that was hardly a perfect night's sleep.' Even though I was on a perfect sleeper, I didn't sleep perfectly. And who here feels perfect? And yet God is calling us to perfection. Now, if it'll make you feel any better, you need to know something.

When Jesus says, in Matthew chapter 5, verse 48, "be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." - You read Luke 6:36 and he words it differently. Now, we know he's talking about the same thing, because the things that Jesus says before the verse in Matthew are the same discussion he has before the verse in Luke. So he's doing the same background discussion about loving your neighbor and all this, but Luke, he says, 'be ye therefore merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful.' So, when God says 'be perfect', what's he talking about? He wants us to have perfect love - perfect mercy. Now, whatever Christian perfection is, all I know is the Bible's pretty clear that as we are living on the borders of the second coming, we need to have the kind of faith that shadrach, meshach, and abednego had, where we are not going to bow down and worship the beast and his image. Are we all in agreement? Let's see if hands go up.

We need to have the kind of faith that Daniel had when Daniel said, 'i'd rather go to the lion's den than break one of God's commandments.' Do you agree with me? Amen. So, if you've got that kind of faith where you'd rather die than knowingly break one of God's commandments, that's the kind of faith that God wants us to have. That's what it means, it means you love God so much, you love him more than your own life. Later today we're going to be talking a little bit about the reformation and in preparing for that message I've been reading fox's book of martyrs and looking at what some of the reformers went through and, boy, a lot of people died for the truth. Sometimes for very small parts of the Scripture.

You know, there are people who died to defend baptism by immersion, as opposed to infant baptism. They believed so strongly in it, they died for it. I mean, that takes a lot of faith. Well, the Lord is wanting people to love him and His Word so much that we'll rest our lives upon it. Ephesians chapter 5, verses 1 and 2, "therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

And walk in love," - how? - "As Christ also has loved us and given..." Us an example. So the Bible tells us that a Christian is what? What does Christian mean? When you say, 'he's a Christian,' what does that mean? One who follows Christ. The model for their life is to follow Jesus. To just say, 'we accept the blood and the sacrifice of Jesus' and then live our own lives? Or do we pattern our lives after his life? Right? What kind of life did he live? A holy, sinless life. So, by God's grace, we are to do our human best, by faith, to live the kind of life that Jesus lived.

Are we still together? Is that legalism if you are trying to be like Jesus? If you are doing it to save yourself, it is. If you're doing it because you love him, it's not. If you're doing it because you believe in his power, that's not legalism. You with me? Am I right? Amen. So, we're not talking about you save yourself by doing it, we're saying if you love him and you are saved, this is your goal.

Let me give you more verses. John 13:15, Jesus said, "for I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." The Bible tells us he's our example. Peter 2:21, "for to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:" can that be misunderstood? And 1 John 2:5 and 6, "but whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God...abides in him [he] ought himself also to walk just as he walked." Now, you know, when it talks about walking as he walked, everybody's got a different gait - when I say 'gait' I mean a 'walk' - it's an old horsing term. Have you ever noticed some people walk funny? You know, some people they walk, kind of, real stiff. Some people - I mean, everybody's got a different walk.

In the Bible, when it talks about the walk, it's talking about your life. It's not talking about your gait. And so, when it says we should walk like he walked, it means - when it says 'Enoch walked with God,' 'Noah walked with God,' Christians walk with Christ in the Spirit. And that means their lives reflect that. Amen? Alright, let's keep going here.

Now, before you get totally discouraged, let me just state a fact that is also biblical. Everybody has sinned except Jesus. The Bible is pretty clear that the world is full of imperfect people. The church is full of imperfect people - and this is under the section in your lesson where it talks about sin abounding. Now someone, for me, in a moment, is going to read Isaiah 53:6, okay? I'm going to read Romans 5:20, "moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more," - can you think of places in the Bible where God's grace abounded towards sinners? Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he was perfect. No, Noah drank, got drunk, stumbled around naked. The Bible tells us that Abraham obeyed God, but was Abraham obeying God when he lied and said Sarah was his sister? I think he did it twice. Yeah, Isaac did it once. Matter of fact, Abraham goes to Egypt and tells the pharaoh, 'yeah, she's just my sister.

' The pharaoh takes Sarah into his harem - Abraham doesn't do anything to rescue her. He thinks, 'oh well, now I got myself into it.' He doesn't stand up. Then, finally, the pharaoh finds out that was his wife and he, basically, he banishes Abraham from Egypt for his lying - sends him out with gifts because curses had fallen upon him. And then, later, he takes hagar and takes a surrogate because he doesn't have faith that God's going to give him The Son through Sarah. So you can point to Abraham and say he wasn't perfect.

You can point to David - where sin abounds, grace abounds. Did sin abound, at one point, in David's life? Did God's grace abound? He wrote psalm 32, psalm 51. Now, the one who I think of, where sin abounded the most, was manasseh. Manasseh, a great, great, great, great, great grandson of David was about the most wicked king who ever lived. He killed the prophets, he put idols in the temple, he sacrificed his own children to the fire Gods - just - it was just terrible what he did - worshipped all the stars in the hosts of heaven.

He was carried off to assyria and, in his affliction, he turned to God, he repented, God forgave him, and brought him back to the Kingdom. Where sin abounded, grace abounds. Mary magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils. Sin abounded. But grace abounded.

She's the first one to announce the resurrection. You can just go - Peter denied Christ - God's grace abounded. You can see a lot of places where God's grace abounded. How many of you have felt his grace abound in your life? So, we admit that. Go ahead, read, for us, please Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:6, "all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Notice the words: all, everyone, all have gone astray - have sinned - iniquity. Job 5:7, "yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." It's a law of nature. Sparks go up in a fire, and our natures go down. It's just, you know, we're attracted to sin. You can look at psalm 119, verse , "I have gone astray like a lost sheep.

.." Kings 8:46, "when they sin against you" - king Solomon's praying here - "(for there is no one who does not sin)," - we all agree? - "And you become angry with them" - he tells them what to do to atone for their sin - this is Solomon praying. Psalms 14, verses 2 and 3, "the Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one." There's a song we sing, 'no, not one, no, not one' - Ecclesiastes 7:20, "for there is not a just man on the earth who does good and does not sin." The Bible's pretty clear that all humans, aside from Christ, have sinned. Now we get to Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Jeremiah 13:23, "can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil." James 3:2, "for we all stumble in many things." - This is new testament - "for we all stumble in many things." Now, stumbling's a little different. The Bible says, 'lay aside every sin and the weight' - that's almost like there's different categories - there's just weights that we have and then there's sin.

John 1, verse 8, "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His Word is not in us." So, that's just a few Scriptures that I think establish the point that humans sin. That we - the human race has a record of sin, that, you might say, God can give all victory - we're going to make that case in a moment - but if a baby is born is that baby, if it lives long enough and reaches the age of accountability, will it sin? Yes. You all agree? Otherwise, you couldn't say there's only one who has never sinned - being Jesus.

So, God knows that we're born with this diseased dna. Man originally was motivated by love but, because of sin in our nature, that motivation was lost and now we're naturally motivated by selfishness. The compass needle got turned around backwards and it's only through a miracle we get a new heart where we, once again, are motivated by love. That's the conversion experience. That's a new birth.

So, when we come to Christ, we've got a problem where sin reigns in our lives - selfishness reigns in our lives. Through conversion it's changed where love reigns in our lives. Now let's go on to that section about where sin reigns. Someone's going to read, for me, Romans 6:12. Alright, just get ready and I'll read Romans 6:6 first.

Romans 6 is really where we're studying today. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." Now, does he say there would never be an occasion or an incident of sin? No, what he's saying is when you're saved, you are no longer controlled by sin. You are no longer slaves of sin. Go ahead, please read that for me - Romans 6:12. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lust thereof.

" And I'm going to add Romans :14, "for sin shall not have dominion over you..." - So you've got enslaved to sin, sin reigning, sin having dominion - those are words that are talking about being in ultimate control. Now, in spite of all the problems we have in our government - probably always have had problems in government - I am thankful that we do not have a dictator that has dominion over the government. That doesn't mean that you're not going to have petty crime. We have a beautiful neighborhood where we live. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday, I said, 'I'm so thankful we have a neighborhood that's so good, you know, something got left on the front porch and it's there two or three days later.

Nobody bothered it.' And they said, 'yeah, well, occasionally we've had some incidents, but it's few and far between.' - Where, you know, somebody had someone ransacked their mailbox or just, you know, little petty things. But it's a safe place. Crime does not have dominion there. Your lives are like that. Who's on the throne? If Jesus is on the throne, then Christ reigns in your life.

He controls your decisions. It doesn't mean there won't be an occasion of falling, because you see that in the life of the apostles. Let me give you an example. Everyone likes to talk to Peter - Peter is, of course, a new testament example - were the disciples thoroughly converted before Jesus sent them out preaching? After preaching, Jesus taught them three and a half years, near the end of his life Jesus says to Peter, 'get behind me, satan.' And then he says, 'when you were young you girded yourself and you' - oh, that's not the verse I wanted - he said, 'Peter, when you're converted, strengthen the brethren.' When you're converted, strengthen the brethren. Peter might have been thinking, 'when I'm converted? What do you mean 'when' I'm converted? I'm out preaching and teaching and casting out devils.

' And then Peter was thoroughly converted there at his conversion and he went out and he wept bitterly. But then the Bible tells us that you get to the book of Galatians, Paul has to rebuke Peter for Peter being hypocritical. So Peter was a converted spirit-filled man, but did he still make occasional mistakes? See what I'm saying? Was Paul thoroughly converted? When he saw the Lord and he wept and he was baptized, filled with the Spirit - performing miracles - he and Peter both - but then Paul has an argument with barnabas and he says, 'I'm not taking Mark with me, he's a quitter.' And they got so bad that they just - they shook the dust off their feet and walked away from each other. Barnabas took Mark and Paul took silas and God ended up with two missionary groups that grew out of an argument where they lost their temper. Were the disciples arguing among themselves which of them was greatest? Had the Lord already sent them out performing miracles before they were arguing which of them was the greatest? Does the Lord sometimes work through us in spite of our imperfections? Were they saved during that time? I think so.

When they were following Jesus they said, 'Lord, we love you.' I believe they were in a saved condition and God was still working in their lives and they had growing left to do, but they had left everything to follow Christ. They misunderstood a lot of things - first of all, did they misunderstand the Kingdom? They were saying to Jesus, 'Lord, will you now establish your kingdom?' They thought he was going to flex his muscles and overthrow the Romans and sit on the throne of David and Jesus - they still didn't get it. 'Show us The Father' - he said, 'Philip, I've been with you this long and you don't know that I'm showing you The Father? And there's a lot they didn't understand. Thomas didn't even believe the resurrection after Jesus said, several times, 'I'm going to die and I'm going to rise again.' But were they his church? Were they his followers? Were they saved? Because they were living up to the light they had, the best they humanly could. They were people.

The Bible even says Elijah was a man subject to all of the passions and struggles you and I have. Elijah prays and fire comes down from heaven; he prays and rain comes down from heaven. Then, jezebel threatens him and he loses his faith and runs. Was Elijah saved? But did he still have mortal weakness every now and then? Yeah, he got scared and he said, 'I'm just' - went under a broom tree out in the desert and prayed to die. He got discouraged.

I'm going to show you where Ellen white said that when we lose faith and we're discouraged, it's a sin. God ended up taking him to heaven in a fiery chariot. So, friends, I'm going to talk to you about God wanting you to be perfect. Don't be discouraged. I think you all understand what I'm saying.

If God was to say anything less to you, being a perfect God, what do you want him to say? He can - he's a holy God - he can only call you to holiness. Do you notice that we always - we siphon down to the lowest denominator? God knows our natures. If you know you don't have to pay your taxes until the 15th, you start working on it just a day or two before. We always - and, when God tells you what the standard is - I've seen it so many times - people say, 'Pastor Doug, can I just give up this and this?' 'How short can I have my skirt and still get to heaven?' 'Can I have a - how about an inch shorter, would that be okay?' And we're just always wanting to know how close to the edge can I get and still get into the Kingdom. 'Is it okay if I do' - 'can I have a little bit?' - And it's like you're saying - human nature is we want to know how much of the world can we have and still squeeze through the gates? Should that be the attitude, or should we be saying, 'Lord, how close to you can I be?' Instead of waiting until the 14th of April before you think about your taxes.

There's just something about - so God says, 'come to me now. Live a holy life.' He gives us the perfect ideal because Christ is our example. Was he perfect? Are most people perfect? No. How do you acquire justic - what do you call it? - Perfect justification? Let me explain what I'm talking about. When the thief on the cross - he's a thief - the Bible also says they were rebels.

The Bible also says that they were murderers. Someone had been killed in one of their robberies, evidently. They were guilty - it says - you read all three Gospels, they were guilty of murder, stealing, rebellion, and sedition. And he turns to Jesus and says, 'Lord, remember me.' Jesus said, 'you will be with me in paradise.' Was that thief perfect? Yes. When he accepted the justification of Jesus, [God] looked upon him with the perfection of his own son.

Is that right? God, The Father, viewed him as perfect, through the sacrifice of God The Son. His sins were covered by the blood of the lamb, through his faith in Christ. So, the first way we acquire perfection is by faith. Perfection and justification are the same thing - you're declared just - how just? He cleanses us from all unrighteousness, by faith. So, if you're cleansed from all unrighteousness, how much wrongteousness do you have? (Laughter) none.

Right? So, if you're cleansed from all unrighteousness - you still with me? You know the verses I'm talking about - when you come to Christ by faith and you're justified, does The Father see you as perfect? You're almost afraid to say that, aren't you? I've got great Bible arguments. This is the story of the reformation. He sees Christ - he sees - yeah, he sees the justification of his own son in us. That's good news, isn't it? Amen. So that means you're a prayer away from perfection.

When you pray in faith and you repent of your sins, and you confess your sins - he sees - and that's what the thief on the cross did, he confessed his sin, he said, 'we're getting what we deserve.' He confessed Jesus as Lord - he said, 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. He confessed Christ as king. He did it publicly and Christ publicly promised him eternal life. Based on his sanctification or his justification? He came just like he was. You know that song 'just as I am without one plea'? So, having established we believe in righteousness by faith, we're first declared perfect by justification.

Now, after you've been justified, here's where the problem comes in. Come to Christ just like I am, praise the Lord, I'm saved. Now, what do I do about tomorrow? I've still go my old carnal nature and all these habits and things I've learned. How do I live a different life? That's where it gets tough. Sometimes I almost wish, 'Lord, help me, you know, confess you and then die right away.

' You know? Like the thief on the cross. It's not like dying for Jesus that's so difficult, sometimes it's living for him, amen? It's the little things, too, but he can give you victory in that area. You spend your life doing wrong, Isaiah says you need to learn to do good. There's a learning process. He gives you a new heart - your desires change.

Am I right? Amen. Let me read something to you - steps to Christ page 47 - this is an incredible quote - "what you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision or of choice God has given to man. It's theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart.

You cannot, of yourself, give to God it's affections, but you can choose to serve him. You can give him your will. He will then work in you to will and to do according to his good pleasure, thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Your affections will be centered on him. Your thoughts will be in harmony with him by surrendering your will to him.

" How often do you do that? Paul said, 'I die daily.' We get the bread of life - 'Lord, give us this day our daily bread.' We are born again every day. We take up our cross daily - on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis you've got to be saying 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus. You surrender your will to him. Christ said, 'therefore, if the son will make you free, you shall be partially free.' How free does he make us? He'll be free indeed - completely free. Sin no longer has dominion, right? You are no longer a slave to sin.

You are made free indeed. What about where it says, 'not under the law but under grace'? We're still in Romans chapter 6 I'm going to read the rest of :14, "for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Now some people misunderstand that. They just read the part 'not under law'. They say, 'whew, I don't have to keep the law anymore. Praise the Lord.

Oh, I feel such a burden. I'm at peace. I'm free - I'm free in Jesus. I don't have to keep the law. You ever heard it used that way? Yeah.

That's not what he's talking about - because just think about what that means. 'Oh, praise the Lord. I am free in Jesus. I am not under the law. I can just go to the store and shoplift now.

I don't need money anymore. Praise the Lord, I'm free in Christ.' 'I don't have to tell the truth anymore. I'm free.' 'I'm not under the law, I'm now under grace. I don't have to be faithful to my spouse. I can use God's name in vain.

This freedom is wonderful - not under the law.' That's absurd. Really? You know, the people who use that typically don't have a problem with those other commandments, they have a problem with the fourth commandment, and so they want to be free. Well, I have people use - heard people say, 'nothing wrong with me drinking alcohol, I'm not under the law, now, I'm under grace.' Have you heard that? Yeah. That's not what he's talking about. You see, when you break the law, there's a penalty for breaking the law and we have all broken the law and the penalty for breaking the law is in Romans.

The wages for sin - death. It's death. You are under a death penalty. You're alive, so it hasn't been executed yet, so you're under a death sentence. But, through Christ, you're no longer under the penalty of the law.

You're now looked upon as grace - through grace. And it says, in your lesson, 'the person who supposedly lives under grace but disobeys God's law, will not find grace but condemnation. Under grace means that through the grace of God, revealed in Jesus, the condemnation of the law' - the penalty of the law which, inevitably brings to sinners death - 'has been removed. Thus, now, free from this condemnation of death brought by the law, we live in a newness of life - a life that is characterized by and made manifest through the fact of being dead to self, we are no longer slaves to sin' - which means there's a different life that we're living, amen? Amen. Alright, sin or obedience? Someone is going to read for me job 2:3, in just a moment.

I'll read a couple first. 'Noah was a just and perfect man in his generations. Noah walked with God.' That's because Noah was super-human. They lived hundreds of years back then, they could walk with God. Is that how Noah walked with God? Or did Noah have the same temptations that people have today? Sin was sin back then just like it is today.

Genesis 17:1 - God said to Abraham, "I am the almighty God; walk before me and be perfect." So it's not just Jesus making trouble for us in the new testament when he said, 'be thou perfect', but God, here in the old testament, said the same thing to Abraham - 'I am the almighty God; walk before me and be perfect.' That's a pretty high standard. Genesis 26:5, "because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." - Notice that - God says, 'commandments, statutes, laws' - that's Genesis 26. Had the Ten Commandments been given yet? Where do you - where do the Ten Commandments first appear? Exodus 20, right? Here we're in Genesis 26 it says God's got commandments, statutes and laws - you know why? They all passed them on orally. They knew the Ten Commandments from the Garden of Eden. They weren't codified until Exodus.

But did they know adultery was a sin? What did Joseph say? Before the Ten Commandments, Joseph said, 'how can I sin and take your wife - and take this man's wife?' Did God tell cain, way back in the beginning, murder was a sin? He said, 'sin is at your door.' And he murdered his brother. And so, the Ten Commandments have always been there, they were just, finally, codified in stone, by the time. So Abraham knew what those laws were. He walked according to them because he loved the Lord and God had said to them, 'be thou perfect.' Read, for me, please, job 2:3. "Then the Lord said to satan, 'have you considered my servant job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him without cause.

'" Yeah, so here, job, the Bible calls him a perfect and an upright man who loves God and hates evil. And he's living the kind of life where God can brag to the devil about job because job is sinless? No, had job sinned? Yeah - he says so even in his own book. And when God reveals himself to job, he says he repents in ashes. But he was a perfect, upright man. He lived a life that was consistent.

Now I didn't put the quote in my notes, but if you look in the book steps to Christ, there's a beautiful quote there and it says, 'it's not the occasional good deed or occasional misdeed that determines whose side we're on, but it's the habitual words and acts. What is the pattern of a person's life? Are they living for the Lord? It doesn't mean that they have a moment or a weakness, or they fall in some area, so, Deuteronomy 18:13, "thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God." It's all through the Bible. What does that mean to be perfect with the Lord God? Don't get mad at pastor doug; I didn't write it. What is he saying? Well, it's in the Bible. What does he mean by that? Live a life where you're walking with God.

Tell me the verses that say a little bit of sin is okay. There must be some because I hear people talk like that all the time in churches - that God is asking us to sort of cut back. (Laughs) that's not what he said. If you look in John 5:14, "afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, 'see, you have been made well.'" - This is the man who had never walked - 38 years - "sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." Did Jesus say, 'try to sin a little less'? Is that what he said? He said, 'live a holy life. Don't go back to your life of sin.

' Now I want you to look at a verse with me, that sometimes has troubled people - go to Hebrews chapter 10 in the new testament - this is often misunderstood and I thought we ought to just address it. Hebrews 10 - and this is before the chapter of the great faithful in the Bible and, if you read in verse 26, "for if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." If we sin willfully - that makes it sound like if you sin once, deliberately - now most of your sin is deliberate. Do you think about the sins in your life? You can't say, 'I fell into the refrigerator and I ate that extra cupcake. When I fell my mouth was open and it just fell in my mouth. It wasn't deliberate.

' Is that how it happens? Or do you consciously say, 'I really shouldn't be doing this.' And, usually, it's not something as innocuous as a cupcake. You know what I'm talking about. We make a conscious decision. 'I really shouldn't listen to that song.' 'I really shouldn't watch that program.' 'I really shouldn't go to that website.' 'I really shouldn't tell that joke.' And we do it. And you say, 'oh, I did it willfully.

And here I read in the Bible, 'if I sin willfully there is no more sacrifice for sins.' - I'm doomed.' I get questions like that, people. Have you ever worried? Or you think, right after I eat that forbidden cupcake' - I mean, it even - it's called 'devil's food cake' and you knew you shouldn't - 'right after I eat it, I get hit by a car - I'm done for because I've sinned willfully.' - People worry, 'I've lost myself. I am in an unsaved condition after the cupcake and I need to quickly repent.' And so a person says, 'you've got a roller coaster experience.' Baptists or calvinists have a big problem with people who believe in free will. They say, 'because you guys, every time you sin you think, 'I'm lost until I repent again.' And so you've got a saved/lost/saved/lost/saved/lost experience and that's over the course of an hour - sin/repent/sin/repent/sin/repent - and they say, 'once we're saved we can't be lost.' That's the other extreme - both of those are wrong. They're both misunderstandings - those are extremes that are being abused.

God is not saying once you're saved you can't be lost and neither is he saying that once you're saved there may not be lapses and you lose your salvation. I think that you must believe that, when you've committed your life to the Lord, if you have not retracted that commitment, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it. He's called the author and finisher of our faith - and you need to live with a certain joy - how can a Christian have joy if you go through your day saved/lost/saved/lost/saved/lost - it's a works-oriented salvation and it's fearful. Perfect love casts out fear. You've got to have faith that when you come to the Lord, you really love him, that you've got peace that he's going to finish what he started.

First of all, going back to Hebrews, let me just tie this off - when it says, 'when we sin willfully' - the word 'sin' there is not talking about an incident, it's talking about an ongoing life. If we continue to sin willfully after we've received a knowledge of the truth, there's nothing more that the Lord can do for us. That's what it's talking about. It doesn't mean that if you fall through a willful sin - and most of them are - that then you cannot be saved. Let me read a few more verses to you here on sin and obedience.

Luke 1:6, talking about zacharias and elizabeth, "and they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Were they Godly people - the parents of John the baptist? You still awake? You with me? Were they saved? Did zacharias have problems believing the angel and was he struck dumb because of a lack of faith? But was he still walking with the Lord? He was a saved - it says he walked before the Lord blameless. They're doing everything they can humanly do to obey the Lord because they loved the Lord, not to earn their salvation. I've got to make that clear. Philippians 3:15, "let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:" James :2, "...if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man," - it says, 'watch what you say' too. If you can control your mouth, you can control everything else.

Now, for an adventist, that means not only what you say, but what you eat. We know the mouth works both ways. If you can control the mouth, you can control everything else. If you can bring your appetite into submission and you can bring Your Words into submission, you're home free. I'm paraphrasing, sorry.

Didn't we all get into trouble because of something that was eaten? Now, at first glance, we might assume that Jesus is asking some of us to be angelic androids. But a closer look of several examples provide a better picture. What does 'perfect' mean? Well, in english, it means 'conforming absolutely to a definition of an ideal type'. It means 'to be excEllent; complete; beyond practical or theoretical improvement' - beyond improvement - is that what we're saying when we are looking for Christian perfection? Does Paul say, 'I do not count myself to have apprehended or to be perfect'? Paul said - but then Paul says, in 2 Timothy, 'I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race - I've finished the course - I have kept the faith.

Hereafter there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me that day and not to me only but to all them that love his appearing.' So one place you hear Paul saying, 'I do not count myself to be perfect', but then in 2 Timothy he says, 'I have finished the race. I am looking forward to my crown. Did he have assurance about his salvation? I'll just let you sort that out. In Hebrew, the word for 'perfect' is tamim. It means 'entire; integrity; truth; without blemish; complete; full; perfect; undefiled'.

In the new testament the word 'perfect' is teleios - it means 'complete in labor; growth' - at the right place it's supposed to be in its growth - 'mental or moral character.' If you are walking in the light that God has given you, you will be in the Kingdom. Walk in the light as he is in the light and the blood of his son cleanses you from all sin. He doesn't ask you to take steps that are not in front of you, he asks you to take the steps that are before you. I expect to see martin luther in heaven. Martin luther - I've been reading about him this week - going to talk about him in half an hour - martin luther was a Godly man, a bold and, yet, a humble man, but then it goes on to tell us that martin luther drank beer.

Now, if I drank beer, I'd be in trouble because I know better. Back then, they didn't have clean water. At least the alcohol cleansed the beer to some extent. I expect to hear - to see John newton in heaven. John newton wrote amazing grace.

He smoked until the day he died. Doctors prescribed cigarettes back then - it's hard to believe, isn't it? They walked in the light that they had, you see what I'm saying? I expect to see David in heaven - and Solomon. Solomon repented of his sins. They both had way too many wives. Now, if I took extra wives, I would die on two counts - (raucous laughter) - my wife would be first and then I'd be lost in the judgment.

My wife would be first to kill me, is what I meant. So - but - 'cause I know better. So God expects us - to be perfect means to live up to the light you have. We've got a lot of light in this generation, amen? Free from sin, what does that mean? Romans 6 - let's read verses 16 through 18, "do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin" - if you're obeying sin, you're a slave - "leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

" 'Pastor Doug, do I need to be perfect before I'm baptized?' No, you're never going to get to the place where you think you're good enough. 'Do I need to know everything?' Before you're baptized - you should know and believe the fundamentals. 'What do I need to do? Can I still get baptized if I'm smoking or drinking?' No, because those things are things that have dominion over you. People get addicted. When you are addicted to some bad behavior, you are not free yet.

Sin shall not have dominion over you. See what the difference is? If the pattern of your life is one that you are chained in some area of your life to sin, you are not free. Before I was baptized, I studied this and I realized I need to - I need to quit cursing. I need to quit drinking. I need to quit smoking - those things had dominion over me.

God calls us to live lives of purity. I understood, because I was taught by a good old adventist pastor, that you may fall afterward. Why do you think we have foot washing in our church? If we believe that once you're baptized, you're going to be perfect, then why do we even bother with foot washing? Is that a good question? We have foot washing because it's sort of understood that, while you had been washed as a whole, you may need a mini baptism to cleanse you for the failures along the way, but sin should not have dominion over you. Sin should not reign over you. Do you understand the difference? The controlling - Jesus is Lord of your life, not the devil anymore.

And so, there might be attacks along the way, but Christ is on the throne. That's what Paul is saying. Let me read something - this is an outstanding quote from Christ's object lessons page , "but Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble all-around character is not inherited," - it does not come to us by accident - "a noble character is earned by individual efforts through the merits and grace of Christ." - It comes through Christ - "God gives talents and powers of the mind. We form the character.

It's formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies." - You can get your dna checked and find out who to blame - "we shall have to criticize ourselves closely and not allow one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected" - Paul says 'let every man examine himself - 'let no one say 'I cannot remedy my defects of character." - Don't say that - "if you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life." - All things are possible through Christ, amen? If you - "the impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you cannot overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God." - If you completely are submitted - if you surrender, you can. I'm paraphrasing along the way.

I hope you spot those spots - "remember that you'll never reach a higher standard than you, yourself, set." - You'll never reach - if you think 'my standard is less than Christ' then you will go to the lowest common denominator - "then set your Mark high and step by step, even though it be a painful effort, by self-denial and sacrifice ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress. Let nothing hinder you." Someone's going to read, for me, Romans 8:2. I'm going to read Romans 6:23 first, "for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life" - one of the best verses in Romans 6 - "in Christ Jesus our Lord." You've got two masters, Jesus and the devil - two destinies, life and death. The wages - something you will be paid - you earn - is death through sin; but something you can receive by faith is eternal life through Jesus. Go ahead and read, please, for us, Romans 8:2.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Can you say 'amen'? Amen. Living a spirit-filled life will free you from that life of sin and death. That's, I think, good news. I want to read something to you - I've got a couple of moments left - I'm going to just pray our editors'll find a creative way to keep as much of this as possible.

Let me read something to you from, well, Jude 24 - there's only one chapter, "now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy," - he is able to keep you from stumbling. Can you say 'amen'? Here's a quote from adam clarke's commentary: "if men would spend as much time in fervently calling upon God to sanctify them as they spend decrying the doctrine of Christian perfection, what a glorious state the church would soon witness. This moment we might be emptied of sin, filled with holiness, become truly happy. The perfection of the Gospel system is not that it makes an allowance for sin, but it makes atonement for it; not that it tolerates sin, but it destroys it. Let all those who retain the apostolic doctrine press every believer to go on to perfection and expect to be saved while here, below, into the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus.

Are you weary of that carnal mind, which is enmity to God? Canst thou be happy while you are unholy? Arise, then, to the birthright of every child of God and be cleansed from all sin, to keep yourself unspotted from the world and so live to nevermore offend his maker. All things are possible to him who believes. Believe all things are possible to the infinitely meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord Jesus." Now, that was written 200 years ago, but it's still pretty powerful today. I want to give you one more from the book Acts of the Apostles - and I know we're out of time, but I'm going to read it anyway. I very rarely pull the senior pastor card, but I'm playing it now.

"Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of God but, of himself, we are utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God's Word declares that we must have, before we can be saved, is the result of the working of divine grace as he bows, in submission, to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth. Man's obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ's righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance, every act of obedience. The part the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Savior to heal the disorders of his sin-sick soul.

He has not the wisdom or the strength to overcome; these belong to the Lord and he bestows them on those who, in humiliation and contrition, seek for help." That's Acts of the Apostles 532. And I've got a lot more - I'll put my notes up online if anybody wants to see the parts I left out, but this is - some great quotes to encourage you that, by the power of Christ, we can be holy. Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God. And that's all that we're talking about today, is purity of heart. Amen? We're out of time.

I want to remind you that we do have a free offer and it's called is it possible to live without sinning? By Joe Crews and we'll send it to you for free. Ask for offer #187 - just call 866-788-3966 - that's 866-study-more and we'll send that to you. Thank you so much. God bless you, friends, we will study His Word together again next week. Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible.

With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to Bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

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