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Sign up at harvest.org. People who look at Christianity from the outside sometimes wonder if they have to give up all their fun to become a Christian. Pastor Greg Laurie says their perspective is backwards. A true Christian doesn't walk around saying, how much can I get away with and still be a Christian? A true follower of Jesus says, because I'm a Christian, because God has saved me from my sin and done so much for me. How much more can I become like Him?
How much closer can I be to Him? It's a big difference. Looking for loopholes. That's what the late actor W.C. Fields reportedly said when someone asked him why he was reading the Bible, looking for loopholes. Unfortunately, sometimes believers look for loopholes in Scripture. They've read a certain passage, but they wonder if maybe the original Greek will cut them some slack. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us what Scripture reveals about us, but also helps us chart a pathway out of our sin to our Savior. Well, let's grab our Bibles and turn to the book of Romans. And we're in Romans chapter three. And the title of my message today is The Dark Side of the Moon. No, this is not a message on a Pink Floyd album.
I'll explain why I titled my message just in just a few moments. Romans three starting in verse three. So what advantage is there of being a Jew? I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision?
Yes, there are great benefits. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. True, some of them were unfaithful, but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?
Of course not. Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. And as the Scriptures say about Him, He will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court. But some say, well, our sinfulness serves a great purpose, for it helps some people see how righteous God is. Isn't it unfair then for God to punish us? This is merely a human point of view.
Of course not, Paul says. Now drop down to verse eight. And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, hey, the more we sin, the better it is. Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.
We'll stop there. So if you're taking notes, here's point number one. Reading and knowing God's Word does not save you. Reading and knowing God's Word does not save you. As important and vital as the Bible is, you must do more than simply read it. Now if you are saved, you should know it. You should read it.
You should study it. But knowing that alone will not save you. God chose the Jewish race to deliver the Scripture to. Verse three says, first of all, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
That's no small thing. Yes, there were benefits to being a Jew. That's what Paul is saying. God gave the Scripture to the Jewish people. They preserved that Scripture.
And now we have both the Old and the New Testament and we call it the Bible. Scripture tells us the Word of God is alive and powerful and it's sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword. As another translation puts it, His powerful Word is as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubts or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word.
We can't get away from it no matter what. And by the way, we shouldn't want to get away from it because it's God's Word. And being baptized, number two, or doing other outward things does not save you.
Being baptized or doing other outward things do not save you. For the Jews it was the act of circumcision. This was a very important right to Jewish people commanded by God for the Jewish males to be circumcised. So they thought, I have been circumcised.
I am right with God. Paul calls them out in Romans 2.27 and he says, Uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God's law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God's law but you don't obey it. So when he says an uncircumcised Gentile, that's a non-believer effectively who is believed, hey if they are doing what the Word of God says they are better off than you that have been circumcised but you are not doing what the Word says. Now in our day we might say, well I was baptized. Or I was raised in the church. Or my parents were Christians. But that doesn't make you a Christian.
See the religious Jews were turning to legalism. They were thinking because we do these things we are right with God. It is never about the things we do that makes us right with God. It is the thing He has done for us. And that thing is sending His Son to die on the cross in our place and make us acceptable to God. Not through what we have done but through what He did.
Number three. Being raised in a Christian home doesn't necessarily mean you are saved. The Jewish people were thinking hey I am one of the chosen people so if I sin it actually shows God's glory because God will forgive me. And then people will see how gracious God is.
Look at verse 5. Some might say our sinfulness serves a good purpose for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn't it unfair then for Him to punish us.
This is merely a human point of view. Of course not Paul says. First of all let me say yes it is true that God forgives sin.
And thank God for that. Yes it is true that God gives second chances. But that does not mean we should intentionally sin. You might say well I was saved at a harvest crusade. Or I was baptized. Or I received communion recently. So now I can do whatever the heck I want to do. Because I have offered my penance to God. I have earned up some credit with God.
Now I can go have some fun. Do you realize how warped that thinking is. But trust me it enters even into the church. We think we have done these things now and now I can do whatever I want. Some will even say well you know what I believe once saved always saved. So I can go out and sin. If that is your attitude I have to question the once saved of the always saved part. Because that is not the way a true child of God thinks. A true Christian doesn't walk around saying how much can I get away with and still be a Christian. A true follower of Jesus says because I am a Christian. Because God has saved me from my sin and done so much for me. How much more can I become like Him.
How much closer can I be to Him. It is a big difference. And so they are basically saying oh well it shows God's grace and we sin and He forgives us. Paul is saying yeah but that doesn't mean you should go out and keep sinning.
And now Paul is clearly showing us that religion doesn't save us because we are all guilty. Garden variety sinner. Self-righteous sinner.
Religious sinner. Mark Twain said quote everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows anybody end quote. That is why I call this message the dark side of the moon. It is an expression basically to describe something mysterious and unknown.
The side of the moon we can't see so to speak. And no one knows better how dark our hearts are than we. The only one who knows it better is God. But we know too don't we. We know how we can think of godly thought and an ungodly thought in a nanosecond. We know our nature and how we are drawn to the wrong things. We know that when we are being bad we are being bad but then sometimes we will be good and then we will feel so good about being good we are bad again because we are being prideful.
It is like an endless cycle that goes around and around. Bringing me to point four. You have to see you are lost in order to be found. That is Paul's whole objective.
To show you that you are lost. You are sinful. Everyone. Immoral people. Self-righteous people. Religious people.
Everybody is separated from God. And you have to admit this. Now I have no navigational skills whatsoever. I am so dysfunctional when it comes to getting somewhere.
My friend Franklin Graham he is a pilot so he has amazing navigational skills. I get lost going home. Right.
You know. I get lost with GPS. And that seems hard but sometimes GPS messes with you.
Have you noticed that? I was going to LA recently. Kathy and I were just driving along. All of a sudden GPS says turn right on the next off route. Well ok. GPS told us let's do it. I know that place is right up the 405 but GPS just told me to turn right. So we turn right. Turn left on the next street. Turn right on the next street.
Ok. Go in a circle. Get out of your car and scream. And then it takes me back on the freeway. What was that all about?
Someone hacked my GPS. It made no sense. Frankly I don't know why that happens sometimes. You think you are going around something. Maybe a detour.
There was nothing to go around. And so we follow our GPS but it gets us in trouble on occasion. So here is what it comes down to. If you don't know how to get somewhere I finally call the person. Look I can't find your house. You have to guide me. They say well where are you? Well I am at this intersection.
Ok here is what you do. This is what God is doing. We have to admit where we are without Christ before we can find Him. Because verse 10 says no one is righteous not even one. You might say well Greg I know some pretty righteous people. Well understand what the word righteous means when the Bible uses it. It means one who is such as he ought to be. No one is righteous enough. No one is good enough.
Because everyone falls short. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I would like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. What is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place. So you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.
Join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. We are considering who we really are in light of what scripture tells us. Pastor Greg is presenting a message today called the dark side of the moon.
Let's continue. Point number five what you say reveals a lot about who you are. What you say reveals a lot about who you are. In verses 13 to 17 of Romans 3 Paul gives us an x-ray study of the sinner head to foot. Verse 13. Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they practice deceit. Their talk is felt like the stench from an open grave.
There is a visual. Their tongues are filled with lies. Snake venom drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They rush to commit murder, destruction, and misery. Always follows them. Wow.
Tell me what you really think Paul. I mean that is so direct. But this is speaking to people that continuously deceive and manipulate and lie in order to hurt others. And we could update that today because we don't just say these things now. We use social media. We could say their tweets are filled with lies. Their posts are cursing and bitterness. You know people will engage in what is called cyber bullying today. Harassing people.
Saying things about people that are not true. And sadly many young people have been so affected by this they have taken their own lives. And every day you go online you are going to read lies and you are going to see venom and vitriol and much more.
You know Socrates once said to a young student, speak friend that I may see you. And now today people can be anonymous online and have a pseudonym or another name that they hide behind and say things that are so harsh and destructive. I think political rhetoric has been weaponized of late where we demonize one another. Can't we learn how to disagree agreeably? We need a big giant kumbaya moment in America today.
You know just stop for a minute. Remember how America was affected after 9-11 when the twin towers of the World Trade Center were attacked and they collapsed in a heap of rubble and all those lives were lost. The whole country was traumatized collectively. Remember how there would be prayer vigils on street corners. Some of you aren't old enough to remember this but that is what was happening.
And I remember one moment when Congress both Republicans and Democrats were there in the steps of the U.S. Congress and they spontaneously broke into a chorus of God bless America. We need to dial down the rhetoric and start talking to each other again in America. Point number six. There is no hope apart from Jesus. There is no hope apart from Jesus. Moral living. Good works. Even attempting to keep the Ten Commandments. Because no one really does.
How could you? Jesus said, you have heard that it has been said you shall not murder but I say to you if you have hatred in your heart toward your brother it is the same thing. Who of us has not had hatred in our heart at one time or another? You have heard that it has been said Jesus says you shall not commit adultery but you shall not commit adultery but I say unto you if you look on a woman with lust in your heart it is the same thing. Who has not broken that commandment? But listen the commandments were not given to make you holy.
The commandments were given to show you that you are not holy. The commandments are like a moral mirror. I see myself as I am. I don't know about you but I don't really love looking in mirrors that much these days. Some people love mirrors almost as much as they love selfies. But you know you might be walking along and you notice everyone smiling at you and you are thinking hey I am looking good today.
Right? Everyone is smiling at me. Then you go and you wash your hands in the bathroom and see yourself in the mirror and realize an entire piece of pizza is encrusted on your shirt. You wondered where that piece of pizza went.
They are laughing at you. The mirror revealed the truth. It wasn't a happy thing but it was a necessary thing. That is the law. The law. The commandments condemn us but they don't convert us.
They challenge us but they don't change us. The law was given to open our eyes and to shut our mouths. Look at verse 19 of chapter 3.
Whatever the law says it says to those under the law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be guilty before God. You are saying Greg this is the most depressing message ever. Ok. Now I am getting to the good news.
Are you ready for it? This is my last point. Point number seven. God has shown us the way to know Him through Jesus. Look at verse 21. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Christ. This is true for everyone who believes no matter who they are. This is the key word. But.
Underline that word but. But now God has shown us a way. There are a lot of great moments in the Bible where we read the words but God.
I could talk about this for a long time. But let me give just one illustration. After Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and thought dead he made this statement. You meant evil against me but God meant it for good. But God. You might be in a situation right now and it is looking bleak but God is going to step in. And so that is the point that Paul is making here. He is saying but now God has shown us a way.
And what is that way? It is called grace. Grace. Verse 23 of Romans 3. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. I will talk more next time about redemption and especially justification. That is a word every Christian needs to understand.
And I believe understanding it can change your Christian life. Let me just close with a couple of thoughts about the word grace. The word grace means God's unmerited favor. There is nothing you will ever do or nothing you have ever done to merit the grace of God. But it is by grace the Bible reminds us in Ephesians. By grace you have been saved through faith not of works lest any man should boast. God has extended His grace toward us. Let me close with two quotes about the grace of God. The first from Max Lucado who says quote, Grace is God as a heart surgeon cracking open your chest removing your heart poisoned as it is with pride and pain and replacing it with His own. End quote. Quote number two is from actor Denzel Washington who says quote, Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that it is a gift. I didn't always stick with Him but He stuck with me. End quote.
Very true. And God has extended His grace toward you by sending His Son to die on the cross for you. I love how Paul personalized it when he said He loved me and He gave Himself for me and Christ loved you and gave Himself for you. He died on that cross for you so you could be made right with God and experience His grace, His favor. And if you have never asked Him to forgive you of your sin why don't you do that as we close in prayer. Let's all pray together. Now Father I pray for every person here. Every person wherever they are. Lord I pray if there are any among us that do not know You personally.
If they have not asked Jesus to come into their life yet may this be their moment to believe. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if this is your moment to believe, Pastor Greg would like to help you take that step in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. So please stay with us. Well we're talking with Pastor Levi Lusko today. He and his wife Jenny have authored The Marriage Devotional, a wonderful resource we're making available.
Levi let's be candid. Some people are married to some pretty tough customers, you know. No one's perfect but some people are particularly prickly and challenging.
Let's give some encouragement to someone who's just plain worn out from all the drama. Well we like to say that you know it's first of all more you you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So consider your tactics right.
Are you making it easy for them to change? Sometimes it's it's easy to get into a rut of almost speaking negatively and only focusing on and pointing out the negative things. Kind of like when you start researching to buy a new Honda Accord all of a sudden every car on the freeway is a Honda Accord. You'll see more of whatever you're staring at. It's a cognitive bias. So similarly in your marriage you can be focused on the towel they left on the floor and the way they forgot to pick up the dry cleaning.
But if you begin to look for the good you'll see more of it and you'll start to comment on the good and everybody it's human nature wants to repeat what they got praised for. So even if it's really hard to be creative you can find one thing your spouse did that was awesome. Comment on that. Enlarge that. Thank them for that.
Write them a little simple note. Hey thank you for making the coffee before I wake up every day. It's always nice to come down in the pots full. Thanks for taking the trash out last week.
And if they notice that's happening they're going to eagerly look for ways to do more of that. So if you can find and spot that blessing speak about it use your lips use your your your ability to comment on it and then they're just going to naturally hopefully begin to to grow in that area. These are some great insights from Levi Lusko who's on air with us right now telling us about his new book called The Marriage Devotional that he wrote with his wife Jenny. And this is one of the things I appreciate about this book is you get both the husband and the wife opining on marriage and it's honest and there's a vulnerability in this book but it's based on scripture and it's based on experience of a 19-year marriage that is very strong. So if you want to strengthen your marriage and you want to know more about what you can do to bolster it each and every day because there's 52 devotions here to go through with your spouse and order your copy of The Marriage Devotional by Levi and Jenny Lusko. It's our special gift to you this month at a new beginning.
Now here's how it works. We don't charge you for the book we give it to you for your gift of any size but we're hoping that you'll be generous. If you were to order this book online or get it in your local bookstore it's a pretty expensive book and rightly so because it's chock full of great information and biblical truth. However we want you to be generous and invest in this ministry so we can continue to offer resources like this and teach God's word and proclaim the gospel.
So order your copy of The Marriage Devotional by Levi and Jenny Lusko. Dave tell folks how to get a copy. Yeah it's easy to do just give us a phone call at 1-800-821-3300 and today is our last opportunity to mention this so get in touch right away.
Again dial 1-800-821-3300 or write us at a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg if somebody listening right now knows that they need to ask the Lord to forgive them of their sins could you help them with that right now? You know what Dave I'd love to do that. So listen if you want to go to heaven when you die if you want to know that you are a child of God if you want the Lord to forgive you of your sins just pray this prayer with me you might even pray it out loud you can repeat it after me if you like just pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from that sin but I know that you died on the cross of Calvary for my sin and rose again from the dead so forgive me Lord I choose to follow you from this moment forward I want you to be my Savior I want you to be my friend I want you to be my God thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer in Jesus name I ask this amen. Now I want to help you start growing spiritually so I have something to send you at no charge it's my gift to you it's called the new believers packet and in it is a copy of the new testament in a very friendly understandable translation called the new living translation it also has some notes that I wrote hundreds of notes actually that will encourage you in this commitment you've made these notes will answer a lot of the questions you probably have right now and there's some other materials in this packet as well so order your copy of the new believers packet immediately and thanks for giving me the opportunity to lead you in that prayer and I wanted to be the first to say to you welcome to the family of God. Yeah that's right and here's how to get that free new believers growth packet just call us at 1-800-821-3300 we're here 24 7 to take your call that's 1-800-821-3300 or write us at a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org and click know God. Next time as our study series in the book of Romans continues Pastor Greg identifies three important words he says these three words can change your life. Join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher Greg Laurie. The preceding podcast was made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know God learn how to become a harvest partner sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
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