The Great Physician Diagnoses the Human Heart (Mark Sermon 31)
November 13, 2022 | Andy Davis
Fullness in Christ, Original Sin
Pastor Andy Davis preached an expository sermon on Mark 7:14-23 on the issue of human heart defilement and that only through faith in Christ it can be healed.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
This is truly a sobering passage. For in it, the great physician of our souls has summoned us individually into his office. Jesus said it's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners do repentance.” We are sick with sin and the great physician has called us into his office. You think about going to a well-known doctor, a specialist, and as you come in, often the specialist's credentials are up on the wall, their academic credentials, maybe some other credentialing up there.
We've walked through six chapters of Jesus' credentialing. Six chapters of miracles that only God in the flesh could do. Driving out demons with a word effortlessly. Healing a paralyzed man with a word, proving his power to forgive sins. The ability to still a storm with a word, saying “Peace be still”, and instantly, the wind and the waves are quiet. Healing a woman who had a bleeding problem for 12 years. Raising a 12-year-old girl from the dead. Walking on water. Feeding 5,000 plus women and children. That's who has summoned us into his office and is sitting us down now to tell us what's going on with us.
He sits us down in this text with a grave look on his face and He has the full results of his examination. This is pure internal medicine. He's probing our insides, and we ask him, "Is it serious doctor?" He answers, "It's deadly serious. As a matter of fact, it's fatal, eternally fatal, if it's not treated. This disease has permeated every system within you and it is killing you every day and it will kill you forever if I do not cure it, and I'm the only one who can. But here's the good news, the cure is 100% effective, for as it turns out, I myself am perfectly free from all of these diseases. They have never characterized me, none of them, and they never will. For my heart is perfectly pure and I alone can give you my health. I can impede it to you, I can give it to you directly in an instant. Then along with that, I can clean up all of the filth and manifestations of your internal corruptions that ever has been or ever will be. I can cover up all of that at great cost, which I will pay myself. And then finally, I can give you my own nature, my own perfect heart, and with that heart, you will live forever."
Okay, that sounds very serious. But the ordinary human response is to minimize the disease of sin as though it's somehow something external, some trivial thing that has attached itself to us externally from which we can relatively easily be cleansed. When we come to this passage, we're staring into the very heart of darkness, for our world as defiled by the river of evil that Jesus describes here that flows from our corrupted hearts and it characterizes every single person on planet earth, all eight billion that populate this amazing planet. When most people are asked, "Are you basically a good person?" They will inevitably answer, "I am. I consider myself basically a good person." Even when people who have committed heinous crimes are arraigned in court, there's usually some mitigating circumstances that are brought in to explain why something external to that person did the things that they did, some abuse or poverty or other circumstances. They're really not responsible.
The Bible addresses this very directly and differently. Indeed, this passage in Mark 7, in harmony with the teachings of all of scripture, makes it plain that true evil flows from within out, starts from inside and goes out, not the other way around. It's not the externals. We are not basically good, pure beings that just somehow need to walk through this externally defiling world. If we could just keep ourselves clean from it in a bubble, we would be fine, and if we occasionally bump into something that defiles us, the cleansing from that is relatively easy. That is not the case. We are deeply stained within. Evil bubbles up from the polluted well of our hearts and it defiles everything from the inside out.
Now, lest we think this is the final word of the human heart, I've already given you hope, but I want to speak to it again. We need to understand God's original purpose in creation and then the significance of the fall that came after that and God's purpose in redemption. God's original creation of the human race, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created in the image of God, perfectly in His image. At the core of their being was what the Bible calls their “heart”. I don't mean the muscle that pumps blood through you, but the Bible just used that language. The heart, the core of your being, the core of your soul. Given to the heart is the ability to think, to reason, to comprehend, to study, to evaluate, also to love, to be attracted to, to display affections, to be delighted in things, to marvel at them, to choose, to make choices. The heart does all of these things, to plan, to accomplish those plans. That's what the heart does.
"We need to understand God's original purpose in creation and then the significance of the fall that came after that and God's purpose in redemption. "
All of this was in the original equipment that God gave to Adam and Eve, part of His original design, and it was good, it was very good. The crowning achievement of almighty God, man, male and female, in His image. Two pure hearts, two innocent hearts, Adam's heart and Eve's heart, perfect in every respect, able to know God, able to love God, able to serve God. But sin entered into the hearts of our first parents from outside them through a deeply mysterious corruption that no theologian can ever explain — why there ever was darkness or evil in God's good universe. But it came in and by their disobedience, they were defiled and corrupted deeply. In the wisdom of God, the entire human race, we are told, theologically, the entire human race fell into sin in Adam.
One of the great mysteries of theology is this doctrine of original sin. But not only did we sin in Adam, but we received a corrupted nature in Adam. At the core of that corrupted nature is the evil human heart that Jesus exposes in today's passage, and that corrupt human heart is universal. Every human being alive today has the same deep defilement, as we shall see. But thanks be to God, He's not left us without a remedy. The good news of the gospel is of a comprehensive salvation from sin in all respects. God has the power to transform our evil thoughts, our evil hearts, and make them pure and perfect in conformity to Christ. Through faith in Christ, our sick hearts will finally be healed, completely healed, totally conformed to Christ, and we will spend eternity loving what Christ loves, hating what Christ hates, thinking what Christ thinks about everything, feeling what Christ feels, choosing what Christ chooses, rejecting what Christ rejects. We're going to spend eternity with a healthy heart. Praise God for that. Through simple faith in Christ, that is where we're heading. But before we get there, we need to hear this devastating truth about our hearts. We need to understand that the evil we do is not some accident, some minor flaw, some aberration, some insignificant trifle in our basically good nature. Know the evil we do truly, truly flows from our core, the core of our being.
"Through faith in Christ, our sick hearts will finally be healed, completely healed, totally conformed to Christ, and we will spend eternity loving what Christ loves, hating what Christ hates."
I. The Pharisees Charge Jesus with Uncleanness
The context of this is the Pharisees’ charge of Jesus concerning ritual uncleanness. We talked about this last week. The scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and they attacked him through his disciples as they stood there watching like a bunch of spiritual police or vultures or whatever, watching them eating, and then noting that they didn't do the ceremonial hand washing that was part of the traditional religion. This tradition did not come from scripture so Jesus deals with it. He addresses them. He addresses their traditionalism, putting their traditions above the word of God, their hypocrisy, presenting themselves as being pure and sinless when they are actually deeply corrupted within. Their legalism, thinking that they could be made right before God by their obedience to the laws of God and that they actually had been doing this. And their fake, false, human, manmade worship. “People honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain. Teachings are just rules taught by men." He deals with all that and exposes their religion as corrupt.
The issue of worship then is the heart. “These people automated their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” True worship comes from the heart, genuinely loving God with all of your heart, expressing that love in the holy ways that are prescribed by scripture. That is true worship. But these men, they're hypocrites, they're whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside and inside, full of dead men's bones and everything unclean [Matthew 23]. This is the description of what that corruption is in this chapter. That's what we're going to address today, the heart as a source of all human uncleanness in the sight of God.
II. Jesus Proclaims the Truth: All Defilement Comes from the Heart
So Jesus proclaims the truth, all defilement comes from the heart. Look at verses 14 and 15. “Again, Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.’" Jesus summons the crowd. Last week it was just Jesus and his disciples eating and the Scribes and Pharisees standing there watching. Jesus ups the ante and says, "I want everyone to hear this." He summons the crowd. Who are the crowd? They're the ones that are nearby, never far away from Jesus, probably wanting healing. They're ready at any moment. He's always got a huge crowd. He says, "I want you all to hear this." He summons them. And He wants to deal with this issue of spiritual healing.
Again in Luke 5: 31- 32, “ It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” It's a powerful verse for me in understanding the therapeutic or healing nature of our salvation. We are sick with sin, Jesus is the physician. He has the power to heal us, and He does it through repentance. Everyone on earth needs to hear what Jesus stands to proclaim here. He summons everyone to listen. We need to know how sick our true nature is, how evil our hearts are naturally apart from Christ's healing work. Christ's healing work begins when sinners see that true condition, acknowledge that it's true. They're not trying to lie about it anymore. They say it's true. “What you say here in this passage is true of me. And I'm crying out to you, Jesus, heal me, heal me. Save me from this. Save me from myself.” And He will. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, healed.
If you think sin is something you occasionally do, like bumping into something dirty and then you just need to go wash from it quickly, this passage says that's not the case. Some external hand washing thing has got nothing to do with it. There's nothing from the outside that can defile you. But if you realize that it flows from inside you, it's not like a piece of lint you flick from your sweater or some gum you stepped in that you scrape off the sole of your shoe, it's coming from inside you, it's who you really are apart from the grace of God, then you can come to the physician of your soul, Jesus, who is the only one that can heal it. Look at verse 15, this is Jesus's statement. “Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.”
That would've been shocking to the Jewish nation. Their basic approach is you have the bad people, the notorious tax collectors and sinners, they call them sinners, meaning everyone else is not a sinner. Those are the serious ones. If you're not in that category, you're fine. If you're a Jewish person, you're fine. You're in the chosen nation and you are generally pure. You're fine as long as you don't do any of these big things, and you just need to make it through the world like you're walking through a minefield without getting defiled. If you could just do that, and you do that just by keeping the commandments, and that's not that hard to do. You just need to keep them from childhood.
Remember the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and says, "Good teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" He says, "Why do you ask me about what is good? No one is good except God alone." And then He gives him the commandments, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother. "Teacher," he said, "All those I have kept since I was a boy." “Whoa. Really? I'm going to summon your parents and ask how that whole honor your father and mother thing went.” But that's what they thought. It's like, I've done this. That was the norm. Therefore, defilement was something that happened on the outside. It was a trivial matter and just some ritual cleansing, some hand washing, would be symbolic of how easy it is to get clean from that.
You've got all this idea of defilement and you want all of the defiled people staying away from you, the lepers. They just need to call out “Unclean, unclean”, so we don't bump into them. The woman with the bleeding problem, she just needs to stay away so that we don't get defiled by her corruption. We just need to move through. But Jesus is saying, "Look, nothing from the outside can make you unclean in God's sight. Rather, it's what comes from inside you that makes you unclean."
Now, here, we're bumping into the Levitical holiness code. The Jews had a whole bunch of clean and unclean designations. It started with food itself. There were foods that they considered clean, and there were foods that they considered unclean. These were written right into the law of Moses. They didn't make it up, it’s something God said. This is such a huge issue that I've decided to deal with it next week in a whole sermon on verse 19 and saying that Jesus declared all foods clean.
But the distinction between clean and unclean went far beyond food. As I said, it has to do with skin diseases and whole rules about people with leprosy and things like that. If you touch the dead body of an animal, for example, you were unclean until evening, you had to wash yourself with water. If you went into a house where there was a leper or there was mold on the wall, you were unclean until evening, you had to wash yourself. This kind of thing. If you had a bodily discharge, you had to wash yourself, you’re unclean until evening. These are the Levitical holiness codes, the cleanliness codes. They have all these rules. Women that give birth were unclean for one to two weeks.
This whole idea of ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness is established in the law of Moses. Jesus wasn't denying that. It was to give a picture of the pervasiveness of defilement from sin and the call of the Jewish nation from God to be a holy people. Why did God do this? If what Jesus is saying is true, nothing outside can make you unclean, including bumping into a leper or having some blood touch your hands, why do they even do that? I think it was like God's picture book, like picture books you have for little kids, and you're looking at pictures and it's just a simple summary of what's on the page. These were external pictures getting ready for the true salvation that's coming, and Jesus, the author of the Hebrews, tells us they were. [Hebrews 9-10] All of these laws are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings, external regulations applying until the time of the New Order. That is until the time of the real salvation that's coming, the New Covenant, through the blood of Jesus. That's what the author's saying. God set them up as a picture, but they didn't bring actual cleansing from sin. They were just a picture.
Again, Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come.” The reality is in Christ. But even in the Old Covenant, this does not mean God was saying back then that sin was external. It's very clear again and again that God has always looked at the heart. First Samuel 16:7, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” Psalm 24:3-4, “ Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Psalm 51:5-6, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.”Later in that same psalm, verse 10, “Create in me a pure heart, oh God.” In Jeremiah 4:14, God cries out through His prophet, "Oh Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved." Do you hear that? Wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?
It is clear that all along in every era of redemptive history, God has searched our minds and our hearts. It's never been a matter of external washings. He wants us to have a clean and pure heart in order to be in His presence. But friends, that the one thing we do not have. The fundamental problem of the human heart was established in the Old Testament in many places, but probably no more famously than in Jeremiah 17, nine and 10 where the prophet says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
Jesus is not teaching some unheard of doctrine here, some new idea. Not at all. God has always searched the heart and mind of man. But the Lord made it plain in Jeremiah 17 what He found. The heart of man is deceitful above all things, meaning it's a corrupt, lying heart. Deceptive. Not loving the truth, and He says it's beyond cure. It's desperately sick, meaning we can't cure ourselves. We don't have the ability to do this. We can't change our core nature. Jesus is the physician of the soul. It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. “I didn't come to call a bunch of righteous people to admire their own purity. That's not why I came into the world. I came because there was no other way for a race of corrupt, heartsick people like us to cure ourselves.” We couldn't do it. There was no other way. “I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Repentance starts with us agreeing that what Jesus says in Mark 7 and what other texts say similarly is true of us. It's who I am. That's where repentance unto salvation starts. Jeremiah 17:9 says, we do not understand the heart. It's beyond understanding. We don't understand why we do what we do. Is that not true? Sin is essentially irrational, it’s insane, it’s craziness, no explanation. Jesus is saying these things and it must have fallen like a bombshell on these people. But there was all kinds of preparations that they should have listened to. Jesus was saying their righteousness was a sham. All the hand washing in the world could never transform their wicked hearts.
III. Jesus Explains the Truth: A River of Evil Flow from the Heart
Now Jesus explains the truth. A river of evils flows from the heart. Look at verse 17, “After he'd left the crowd and entered the house, the disciples asked him about this parable.” The disciples are deeply troubled here. They didn't understand what He was saying. They didn't understand the full ramification. They thought, maybe it's another one of those parables like some kind of a rough play on words. Explain the parable to us.
In Matthew's Gospel, the disciples are very concerned about what the Pharisees are saying. In Matthew 15 they say, "Do you know the Pharisees were very offended at what you said?" So in Matthew 15: 13-14 Jesus has to address them. He says, "Every plant that my heavenly father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them. They are blind guides. If a blind leads a blind, they're both going to fall into the pit. So you should stop worrying what those false teachers are teaching. Forget about them. God's going to deal with them. Like in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, He's going to weed them out. They're sons of the devil. Don't follow them anymore. Don't worry about them.”
So the disciples ask for an explanation. Peter, in Matthew's Gospel, speaks up for them, but they're all saying, "Well, explain the parable to us." I don't think any of them expected the answer they're about to get from Jesus. The NIV has this translation: “Are you so dull?” I love that. It's so blunt. ESV is a little sweeter: “Are you without understanding?”Or Let's sharpen it a bit: “Could you really be this stupid? What's wrong with your minds? Do you not see how clear this should be to you?” So I want to say, “Yes Lord, I really am this dull. I don't get it. Would you just say it in small words and slowly for me because I get confused sometimes.”
To some degree we’re all a bit slow on the uptake spiritually. We have to have things said to us again and again. Sin clouds the mind. It makes perception hard for us. Here's the good news. When you are done being saved, when you're in heaven, that problem will be gone. You'll get everything immediately and you won't forget anything. You'll have a perfect mind and be able to comprehend. But in the meantime, here we are, so you have to listen to me this morning, and we walk through texts like this. It's hard for us to understand. So yes, we're this dull, we are without understanding.
So then Jesus then goes into an explanation of food. Verse 18-19, “Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean, for it doesn't go into his heart, but into his stomach and then out of the body.” In other words, food is just food. You put it in your mouth, you chew it, you swallow it, and then you eliminate it. That physical stuff that you've taken in and that you've chewed and swallowed cannot do anything to your soul. It cannot do anything to what the Bible calls your heart, the core of your being. It doesn't touch you. Nothing that you chew and swallow can make you unclean.
At that moment, Mark gives us an editorial comment that's worthy of an entire sermon next week. In saying this, Jesus has declared all foods clean. I don't know that anybody understood that at that moment, but it was true. So we'll get into that next week. But the true lesson here is the true state of the heart, which has been the home base of this entire sermon. Look now at the wickedness that comes from the heart as Jesus describes it. Verse 23:23, “What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean, for from within, out of men's hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.”
This is the source of all the trouble on planet Earth. This is it. It's not the only articulation of it, but it's pretty clear. This is why we're having the troubles we're having. Every sin begins within this corrupted human heart all over the world. The water that flows metaphorically from the wellspring of our hearts is deeply polluted. Proverb 4:23 says, above all, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Too late, friends. It's already polluted. It's already corrupted. I'm not saying the verse doesn't have something to say to us, but the fact is, the damage is done. The well has been polluted. It's defiled already. It's beyond cure. [Jeremiah 17]. Nothing of ourselves can cleanse this internal fountain. Jesus is alluding to the filth that comes out when we eat. The true filth of the human being is not physical, however, but spiritual. It is the river of sins that flows from inside out our corrupt and rebellious hearts.
"Every sin begins within this corrupted human heart all over the world. The water that flows metaphorically from the wellspring of our hearts is deeply polluted."
The first word here is “evil thoughts.” The Greek term is for the word “dialogue.” But it's the inner reasoning, perception, thinking. The word-based conceptions that are evil. Jesus calls these evil, deeply dark, man's inner musings, ponderings, plans, assessments, fantasies, purposes, intentions, schemes, devices. All the tangle of our thoughts are polluted by evil. The heart loves wicked things and causes the body to act wickedly in accordance with what we love first, and it's not some accident. It's the wicked nature of our true selves. Out of that corrupt thinking flows twelve specific corruptions listed by Jesus; six evil actions and six evil attitudes behind them. All of these defile us, making us unclean spiritually in the sight of a holy God.The twelve listed here is not a comprehensive list. There's others beside. There are many other sin lists in the Bible, but this is pretty thorough.
He starts with six evil actions. What's interesting is these are all plural. Most translations don't bring the plural over because it's weird. So the ESV singularizes it, NIV singularizes it, the NAS has it in plural. But it is plural. What do I mean? Fornications, thefts, murders. What's the significance of the plurals? We do these again and again and again and again and again, and we didn't know we did that many of them. We didn't know that our sins were as numerous as the hairs of our head and worse. We underestimated. We forget the record, how many times we've done these things. But Jesus doesn't forget. Everything's recorded. Plural.
He starts with fornications, from the Greek word “porneia”, from which we get pornography. It’s a general term in the Bible for all sexual sin, it is the king of all corruptions. A staggering percentage of all internet queries are sexual in nature. All sexual sin flows from inside. This of course includes fornication in the standard sense of sex between unmarried persons. It is amazing and tragic how the statistics in evangelical churches like ours aren't much different than the world on fornication. God has never changed His standard. Marital relations is for marriage. Sex is for marriage. It's not for unmarried persons. And it's wickedness. But this is a more general term for all sexual immorality.
Then thefts; taking something that belongs to someone else; a possession that's theirs and you take it. Murders: the wicked act of taking another human life. Now, for me, as I read this list, I understand that God is looking beyond whether you actually murdered somebody to whether you were angry enough to murder them in your heart, but you just restrained for other reasons. Or you had a heart of adultery but you never saw it through, but you committed adultery in your heart. Jesus talks about this as well. So there's no excusing us for any of these things. The nature's in our heart. Adulteries: sex between people who are married but not to each other, violating the marriage covenant. Then the deeds of covenanting: the desires and behaviors that come from greed.
These would've all been clear to any reader of the Ten Commandments. They're very clearly forbidden in the Ten Commandments. Then there's this word malice, which is wickedness, a general catch-all term for all manner of evil actions, but specifically dark feelings of hatred toward other people. So those six actions.
Then you've got six evil attitudes that underline these evil deeds. The first six were plural, now these are all singular. Deceit: craftiness, lying, misrepresentation, or treachery. Scripture says all people are liars. Lewdness: the lust that comes from having a dirty mind, just a lewd mind, a sexually corrupt mind. Then envy, the greed that underlines the materialistic life, the endless drive for money and possessions, and then attitudes of jealousy and coveting toward other people's success.
Then there's slander, which is using your mouth to assassinate somebody else's character in somebody else's hearing. You're just laying them low through your harsh reflecting of their sins, slander. Then there's pride. Theologians say the root of many of our sins, not all of them, but many of them comes from pride. That feeling of superiority, feeling of arrogance, of dominance, pushing yourself forward. My agenda is what matters the most. Just self worship that flows out. Then there's foolishness, just stupid stuff that's just a waste of time. Frivolous language and actions and foolish things. All of these things are describing the human heart. Then verse 23, the final statement: all these evils come from inside and this is what makes a person unclean. So that's the diagnosis. That's what the physician of the soul is saying about all of us.
IV. The Only Solution: Heart Transformation by Christ
The only solution is heart transformation that Christ alone can give. This is a devastating list. None of us can look at that list and not see ourselves exposed. All genuine Christians have known this about ourselves. This is why we came to Christ to begin with. Maybe some of you have never done that. Maybe you've never come to Christ. You didn't realize how bad this problem was and that this man who's saying these things is the judge of all the earth. In Revelation 1, He's portrayed as having “a head and hair white like wool, as white as snow and wearing a white robe with a golden sash around his chest, and his eyes were like blazing fire and his feet like burnished bronze, and a sharp double edged sword comes out of his mouth.” It's a terrifying image of Jesus as the judge of all the earth. And He sees right through us.
But this is the savior. When John, in Revelation 1 saw Jesus, he fell at his feet as one dead, and then Jesus reached out his right hand and touched him and said, "Do not be afraid." Whereas it says in another place, “I have not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it.” He could have condemned the world from heaven like Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead, He came into the world to live a sinless life and to die in an atoning death, to shed his blood on the cross, that sinners like us might be forgiven. That's what He's offering, so we have to flee to the great physician. We have to flee to the one who understands our deceitful heart and who can cure it, and we have to repent.
The promise of the New Covenant is that He has the power to create in us a clean heart, oh God. He has that power. He has the power, as Ezekiel 36 says, to give us a new heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. And I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I'll put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” He has the power to transform our hearts, to make us new. He has the power to cleanse us from all of the river of defilement that's come out from us. Not the hand washing ritual of the Pharisees. But as Titus 3 says, “God saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ, our Savior.” The washing that comes through the blood of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to clean us up. That's the cleansing we need.
Now, if you read that list, you know we have an ongoing problem. Salvation comes to us in stages, justification, sanctification, glorification. Justification: the moment you trust in Christ, you know that this is true, this is your true heart state, you flee to the cross, you flee to Christ, you receive full forgiveness, past, present, and future, and the perfect health of Jesus's heart imputed to you as though that were yours. That's incredible. Almighty God looks on you as though you are as clean as Jesus, positionally, instantly by faith. That's justification. Now we're all set, right? We don't need to read this list again? You know, if you have been walking with the Lord carefully over these years, you know you need to read this list because this is the problem you're having even still. Roman 7, “The very thing I hate, I do. And the good things I want to do, I do not do.” That's Roman 7. I have the same problem with this river of evils.
"Salvation comes to us in stages, justification, sanctification, glorification. "
Paul cries out in Roman 7: 24-25, “What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” So you have to read this list and say these things are still a threat for me now. “I'm threatened by this. I need your help. Would you please cleanse me and heal me and work this in me?" And that crying out against yourself, that fleshly nature, that internal nature, enables you to go to war against the manifestations of these tendencies, these categories. They put out acts of the flesh. Those are the very things Romans 8:13-14 tells us we are to mortify or kill by the spirit, “If you by the spirit do put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live.”
You can't finally kill any of these tendencies so that you know that tendency will never bother you again, you'll never be covetous again, or you'll never lie again, or you'll never be lustful again. That cannot be you. You got to be on guard the rest of your life and you got to be in good churches that'll preach the truth like I'm trying to do to you today and get all the help you can get from brothers and sisters. You need to be in home fellowship and have people in accountability relationship praying for you and all. You need all the help you can get while we walk through this dangerous world. Praise God for brothers and sisters that want a covenant with a church that'll help them do that. We're going to watch over one another in brotherly love and pray for each other because while we live, we're in danger. But thanks be to God, the final act is glorification. Aren't you looking forward to that? Brothers and sisters, glorification. When in an instant these things will never be true of you again, ever, and you'll be conformed to Christ forever and ever.
Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for the good news of the gospel. We thank you for the truth that Jesus, as the physician of our souls, tells us here in this text. It is a shameful thing to read these dirty words and know that they do characterize us even still. All the years that we have walked with you, we still struggle with these kinds of corruptions. Thank you for telling us the truth. Thank you that you, Lord Jesus, are sufficient, your bloodshed on the cross, sufficient to forgive us the confession of our sins. If we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all new defilements. You have the power to do that. And you have the power through the spirit to cause us to wage war against the deeds of the flesh and to be successful in weakening them and slaughtering them day by day. And then the good news that someday this warfare will end and we'll be free at last. Lord, give us hope. Fill us with the power of the spirit to fight this battle, to fight the good fight, to finish the race and keep the faith. In Jesus' name. Amen.