The second point is this, the doctrine of deliverance means we have been delivered by God. I must continue to deliver what I feel is pressing on my heart.
I couldn't find anything. I began to view salvation from the perspective of deliverance and realized that this great truth is largely neglected in the church. And so, we're in the midst of this series on deliverance, the neglected doctrine.
And why is it important? It's important because I am saying to you in this series that I am continually saddened and I am continually disappointed by the widespread lack of discernment in the quote-unquote evangelical church. And while its lack of discernment is obvious to any discerning person, and while we could make a long list of things that they don't seem to discern very well, at the very top of that list is one most critical matter where there is a serious lack of discernment and that is the issue of who is a true Christian.
And it's astonishing to me how confused people are. And the way to understand who a Christian is, is to understand deliverance, the theology of deliverance. You can tell a Christian because they're delivered.
That's what the Bible teaches. And you know, just at that point, maybe we can talk practically, deliverance I believe may be the best, most comprehensive, most clarifying word to define a Christian. The first category of deliverance is those who are really Christians have been delivered out of error into truth.
Now listen to what I say. No one is a Christian who does not understand, believe, embrace and love the truth. What truth? The truth that we call the gospel. No one can be a Christian who has not been delivered out of false doctrine into true doctrine and that is into the gospel of Jesus Christ. You must be delivered into the true gospel. Any other gospel, Galatians 1, results in a curse. In 2 John, anybody who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, who doesn't settle down in the true teaching of Christ does not have God, 2 John 9. Now let me just take you to a passage that will act for us as a transition, Romans 6, verse 17. Just a simple thought here, okay?
Thanks be to God. You were a slave to sin. Stop there. What's a slave? Oh, that's a word that carries a lot of baggage with it, right? A slave is somebody who is in abject, dutiful service under a master. When we think of a slave, we think of someone whose will, whose ideas, whose opinions, whose plans, whose purposes, whose future are not in their own hands.
Don't matter. A slave is somebody who does whatever he's told. A slave is somebody who is under commanding authority. And he says about us, you were slaves of sin. We are literally dominated by sin. Sin is our master. Occasionally we do something that is humanly good and kind and something that may be even humanly noble. Occasionally we express love, we take care of children, we take care of older people, we give to charity, but the basic dominating force and power in our lives is sin.
That's the way it is. In verse 18, but you've been freed from sin and you became slaves of righteousness. Wow, this is a dramatic change.
I mean, this is a major dramatic change. You're no longer a slave to sin, you're now a slave to righteousness. Your master is righteousness. Your compelling power is righteousness and where once you found your satisfaction and you found your delight and you found your joy and you found your fulfillment in sin, you now find your delight and your satisfaction and your joy and your fulfillment in righteousness, where once you hated the thought of doing right and loved the thought of doing wrong and now you hate the thought of doing wrong, love the thought of doing right, that's a big change...big change. How did it happen?
The middle of verse 17, you've got to see this. You became obedient from the heart. Something didn't happen on the outside. You didn't get a new set of rules and grit your teeth and grind away to try to fulfill them. Something happened on the inside. You became obedient from the heart. Obedient to what?
Look at this. To that, and I'm going to give you the Greek, toupon didakes into which you were delivered. There's that great word, delivered, paradidome in this case, to deliver, to hand over, to relocate. The reason you have changed, the reason you have stopped being a slave of sin and become a slave of righteousness, the reason is because you were delivered from error into that toupon didakes, toupon meaning that mold, that structure, that form, that body. And the idea there is there is a body of truth, a body of teaching, a set of doctrines, truths into which you were delivered and became obedient from the heart. That's the first indication of a true Christian. They have been delivered into the body of truth that saves. And if they haven't, they aren't Christians. If somebody can't explain the gospel, doesn't embrace the gospel, doesn't believe the true gospel, they're not saved.
I wish they were. But the only way to help them become what they're not is to tell them they're not, not to tell them they are. I don't want to be a part of that deception. They have not been delivered from the heart into that body of truth that constitutes the gospel. That leads me to the second point, at last.
I'm just going to introduce it. The second point is this. The doctrine of deliverance means we have been delivered by the Spirit of truth, listen, from error to truth. We have also been delivered from sin to righteousness, by the Spirit of holiness. And that's right there. Look back at verse 17, you were slaves of sin.
Verse 18, you became slaves of righteousness. That is a fact, folks, that's a fact. Sometimes somebody will say, Oh, you know, my husband is just behaving terribly. He's not interested in the church and, you know, he's going off with this woman, he's having an affair, whatever, whatever, whatever, and I...you know, I know he's a Christian because I...he used to go to church and so forth and so on.
Let me tell you something. If a person wants to sin, if a person's greatest satisfaction, fulfillment is found in sin, that's not a Christian. There is a new life principle. There is a new slavery and it is a slavery to righteousness. It isn't that we're perfect, it's just a new principle that creates a new practice. It amazes me how people don't get this. One of America's leading theologians wrote a book and talked about the fact that when you're converted, it may not change anything in your life. What?
That is absolutely absurd. It changes everything in your life, absolutely everything. Go back with me to Ezekiel 36. I want to show you the core principle at the very essence of being that is changed in this deliverance. The New King James, by the way, translates Romans 6, 17 excellently by using the word delivered.
But in Ezekiel 36, this most notable passage on the New Covenant, the New Covenant is the saving covenant, but I want you to notice the character of this New Covenant salvation. Verse 25, I'll sprinkle clean water on you and you'll be clean. What's going to happen when I save you? What's going to happen is I'm going to clean you and cleanse you from all your filthiness.
That is amazing. There's going to be a washing here. It's synonymous with the washing of regeneration in the New Testament, the washing of the water of the Word. And I'm going to cleanse you from all your filthiness in your idols. Verse 26, I'm going to give you a new heart. The prophet here is reaching in and talking about the very seat of thought and feeling and emotion and attitude. I'm changing the inward character, the inward nature, the inward principle, the inward disposition, a new heart.
I'm putting a new spirit. I'm going to remove that hard heart that couldn't sense righteousness and I'm going to give you a tender heart. And verse 27, I'm going to put my spirit within you.
I mean, that is just...that is coming at it every way you can come at it. I'm going to change everything about your insides and...this is so good, verse 27, I'm going to cause you to walk in my statutes and you'll be careful to observe my ordinances. And the end of verse 28, you'll be my people and I'll be your God and I will deliver you from all your uncleanness. When you become a Christian, the Spirit of truth moves you from error to truth, and the Spirit of holiness moves you from sin to righteousness, from vice to virtue.
He called His name Jesus, Matthew 1.21, because He would save His people from their sins. Sin's power, sin's dominion is broken, shattered. Back to Romans 6 for a moment, and there's so many Scriptures. He says in verse 19, I'm talking in human terms, I'm talking in the language of slavery because it's a good human metaphor. I'm speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.
I mean, as human beings it's hard for you to understand spiritual truth, so I'm attaching it to something you do understand like slavery. Further in using human analogies, you once presented your members, your faculties as slaves to impurity and lawlessness. All your human faculties, all of them, your mind, your thought patterns, your voice, your speech, your body, everything was basically serving impurity and lawlessness, producing further lawlessness. And now your members have become slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness, therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now you have been freed from sin, you are enslaved to God, you derive your benefit resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life.
Everything is different. Not only is the end different, death and life, but the life is different from slaves of sin to slaves of righteousness. I love what it says in Romans 11, when the deliverer comes, he takes away sin. That's why verse 14 of Romans 6 says, sin isn't master over you anymore.
It's not master. And back in verse 4 of Romans 6, you were buried with Christ in His death, you have risen with Christ in His resurrection, you now walk in newness of life. We have a new life. It's the same as 2 Corinthians 5, 17, if any man is in Christ, he's...what? He's a new creation.
Old things have passed away, new things have come. I'm not perfect, but my longings are changed, my affections are changed, my desires are changed. I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to love and honor Jesus Christ. I want to bring honor to the Spirit of God as His temple. I want to bring the Word of God in clear, bold relief before the face of men, and I want to obey the Word of God.
And those longings are not natural longings. As a natural, unconverted person, I have no understanding of the things of God. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to me. I am totally blind, totally dead to that, and fully satisfied to follow the course of my own sin.
That's not how I think anymore. Sometimes parents will say, you know, I have a child and I remember when they prayed a prayer and, you know, they were saved and now they're just living this life where all they want to do is wrong. And look, that is the manifestation of their character.
Their nature is acting its normal way. If you're falling into sin and saying, I hate this, I resent this, I don't want this, if you're saying like Romans 7, there's something going on in me in my flesh that I hate, I do what I don't want to do, I don't do what I want to do, oh wretched man that I am, please God deliver me from this, that's a Christian. Nobody is on their way to heaven who doesn't have manifest holiness in their life, a manifest love of what is right. Jeremiah 31 33 is another old covenant passage.
You don't need to look it up. It essentially says the same thing. Jeremiah 31, that's the classic New Covenant passage, I should say, the classic New Covenant passage and listen to what it says. Jeremiah 31 33, this is the covenant I'm going to make with them. I'll put My law within them and on their heart I'll write it. I'll be their God, they'll be My people.
Wow. I'll be devoted to them, they'll be devoted to Me. I won't have to hold them to an external law, it'll be all over their hearts, it'll be their desire, their longing, their joy. Sanctification is inseparable from justification. So deliverance means you're delivered from sin to righteousness. It means your whole perspective is completely changed, completely different. Wonderful way the book of Revelation begins, chapter 1 verse 5, Jesus Christ the faithful witness the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth, I love this, to him who loves us and released us from our sins.
That's not just a forensic, it's not just a legal release, it's a real one. That's why Philippians 3 says in verse 3, we are the true circumcision, that is we are the true people of God who worship in the Spirit of God. That's a characteristic. We worship in the Spirit of God. We rejoice in Christ Jesus and we have no confidence in our flesh.
That's a believer. Do you rejoice in Jesus Christ? Do you worship in the Spirit of God? Do you have no confidence in your flesh? Do you long to honor God, to know His Word, obey His Word?
Those are the evidences of new life. Ephesians 2, 10, very familiar, you're saved, verses 8 and 9, by grace, but verse 10 says we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. And James says the same thing in James 2, faith without works is what?
Is dead. I mean, it's by the evidence of a changed life that we know the faith was viable. Oh, there are many passages, I think of Galatians 6, 15, neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision. That kind of thing doesn't matter, but a new creation. We are a new creation. Everything has changed with regard to our view toward sin and righteousness. A final passage, 2 Thessalonians 2, 13, I'll close with this, although there are almost endless texts to which we could look. 2 Thessalonians 2, 13, we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you, that's election, from the beginning for salvation. Look at this, through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
There it is, the two points I've been trying to make. There has to be faith in the truth, that's the first deliverance, though it's mentioned second here, and there has to be sanctification by the Spirit. Sanctification means a separation, that's what sanctification means.
It means to separate. You are delivered from sin to righteousness. Salvation then comes through that separation from sin and through that faith in the truth.
Those are the first two great points. Scripture is so consistent. Nobody is a Christian who doesn't believe in the true gospel and who doesn't have holy longings, righteous affections, love for what is right and a deep animosity toward what is wrong. That's indication that you have been delivered. So when you evaluate somebody's Christianity, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, right? Jesus said in Matthew 7, I'm going to say, depart from Me, I never knew you.
You workers of what? I just look at your life and I see the product. You do iniquity. You don't belong to Me. I don't care what your claim is, you do iniquity. You don't belong to Me. It doesn't matter that you said, Lord, Lord, we did this in Your name, did that, prophesied, cast out the demons.
That isn't the point. Look at your life, workers of iniquity. You can tell who's a Christian. It's manifest. They've been delivered. They have been delivered to faith in the truth, in the language of 2 Thessalonians 2, 13, and they have been delivered into sanctification by the Spirit. That is, they have been separated from error and from sin into truth and righteousness.
Do you see? How can we ask the question, who's a Christian? It's all right there.
It's all right there. They believe the truth and they live as new creations. Lord you know how my heart is gripped by this issue because of this pervasive confusion, so needless. And how sad it is that people say, oh, that's just His opinion.
And if that isn't an exact proof of the severity of the problem, I don't know what is. We're not interested in my opinion or anybody else's. We just want the truth, Lord. And You've made it so clear how You have held us accountable to the truth because it's so clear.
It's not as if You've tucked it behind the scenes in some obscure passage. It's splattered all over the entire Scripture that to have a relationship with You, we have to come to the knowledge of the truth and we have to be delivered from sin into righteousness. The kingdom of darkness, the domain of darkness is a domain of error and a domain of iniquity. The kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Son of Your love is a domain of truth and a domain of holiness. And if we belong, then we've been delivered into truth and holiness. And may we honestly evaluate our own lives, our own relationship to You. And if there is any fear that we, in fact, are not Christians, may we embrace the truth in all its glory and cry out to be delivered from sin into righteousness. And may You be gracious to us. And Father, use us to bring the truth to bear to so many people, not only outside the church but inside, so hopelessly confused. May we be people of the truth and people of holiness. Give us wisdom with our families, our close friends to be discerning. And if there's not an understanding of belief in embracing of and love for the truth, the truth of the gospel, and there's not a passionate affection for what is right and a longing to find all satisfaction in goodness and holiness, may we help uncover that one's true spiritual condition and call them to a genuine faith and repentance. Use us in that way, we pray in Christ's name.
Amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Master's University and Seminary, helping you better understand what being a Christian really means. Delivered by God, that's the title of his current study here on Grace to You. Now, we recently heard from someone who has been delivered from doubts, specifically doubts about God's purpose for trials in the Christian life. Grace to You Radio played a very timely role in this situation, and John, I'll let you read the letter from this man, also named John.
Yeah, John in Colorado Springs writes this. I want you to know about my absolute thankfulness for your dedication to the truth of God's Word. I've recently been going through the hardest season of my life, with my wife diagnosed with cancer and starting chemotherapy.
This week in particular has been extremely difficult. I've had many questions about why a godly woman, a Proverbs 31 wife, would be subjected to such sickness and suffering. And just yesterday I was listening to Grace to You on The Word, 100.7 FM, and I heard your message on the helmet of salvation. In your message you mentioned John Bunyan, who wrote The Pilgrim's Progress, my favorite book aside from the Bible, during his most difficult season. I was reminded that Bunyan's work in the midst of struggle has been a blessing to my life, as has Grace to You Radio and the people who make it available. I still have many questions and many struggles, but I know that I can trust a good God whose character is unchanging.
Whatever he does, it somehow must be in my best interest even when I don't see it. Thank you, Grace to You, and The Word, 100.7 Radio. You're changing lives by being faithful to the Lord.
And he signs his name, John. Just a note, it was a couple of months back that John heard the message on the helmet of salvation, and that's part of our series on The Believer's Armor, a series on Ephesians 6. It's always the highest joy for us to receive letters from people whose lives are transformed by the Word of God that is proclaimed through Grace to You. I just would remind all of our listeners, we love to hear from you. There are no joys as great for the staff of Grace to You as to get letters that let us know how this ministry is touching your life. Christian radio is still very important to us. We're thankful for the partnership with Christian radio stations, and we're thankful for your listening to Grace to You, and maybe going beyond that to find your way to the website with all the resources available there.
That's right. And, friend, thank you for praying for the staff and volunteers here at Grace to You, and for the people God is allowing us to reach with biblical truth. And if you get a free moment, please do what John suggested and send us a letter about how you're benefiting from this verse-by-verse teaching. That really is a great encouragement to all of us here. You can send an email to letters at gty.org, or mail your letter to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412.
And our email one more time, letters at gty.org. And remember, at our website, gty.org, there are thousands of resources designed to help you grow in biblical truth. Do you have questions about how to strengthen your relationship with your spouse and kids, or what sovereign election is all about, or how to deal with the trials you face, and how to minister to a loved one who is suffering? For those and countless other issues, you will find biblical answers in the Grace to You Sermon Archive. That's 3,500 full-length sermons available for free download right now. You'll also find daily devotionals and insightful blog articles, and you can purchase the MacArthur Study Bible and John's topical books. You can make a one-time gift, or you can set up recurring donations to Grace to You, and much more. You'll be busy at our website. The address there once more, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John continues his study called Delivered by God, with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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