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1694. How Sinful Am I?

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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January 25, 2024 6:00 pm

1694. How Sinful Am I?

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 25, 2024 6:00 pm

Bible professor Dr. Brent Cook continues a series about the doctrine of man called “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” The scripture passage is from Romans 3:9-18.

The post 1694. How Sinful Am I? appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. We're continuing a study of the doctrine of man titled, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Brent Cook and Steve Pettit will introduce him.

Well, as we continue our series this semester on fearfully and wonderfully made, the theme of the doctrine of man. We have many of our Bible professors and seminary professors come and speak. And this morning we are honored to have Dr. Brent Cook. He has been teaching here since 2006 when he earned his Ph.D. in church history and God has given him a wonderful breadth of understanding and knowledge in the ability to communicate in such a clear and profound way. Dr. Cook is not only our professor but he is my pastor and I'm so thankful for him. He has loved our family so I've seen the pastoral side of him and I know he loves you as a student.

So would you please give a warm welcome to Dr. Cook. I'd like for all of us to take just a moment and look at the back of our hands. Would you do that for me? Just stare at the back of your hands. Now would you compare your hands with the hands on the screen? They belong to someone who is older than you but otherwise do you notice anything abnormal about these hands? These are actually a normal pair of human hands.

They could belong to any one of you but whose are they? These are the hands of a man named Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was a notorious Nazi. He was one of the chief architects of the Jewish Holocaust.

He was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Throughout the Second World War Eichmann kept a very low profile and never had his picture taken. After the war he actually passed unnoticed through two allied prison camps. He slipped out of Europe. He moved to Argentina where he hid out for some 15 years.

However in 1960 the Mossad, which is Israel's national intelligence agency, tracked him down, orchestrated his capture, smuggled him through an airport, and brought him finally to trial in Jerusalem. Eichmann was sentenced to death by hanging. His body was cremated. His ashes were taken out of the sea and dumped on the waves. Eichmann was not to be associated with any country or buried in their sacred ground.

Why? Because he was pure evil, a monster, completely inhuman. Or was he? Look at his hands.

Are they any different than yours? Eichmann's humanity posed a real problem. Hannah Arendt, a noted philosopher who was a reporter on the Eichmann trial, put the problem succinctly. She wrote, The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were and still are terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together. Now understand she is not trying to excuse his crimes, but she is pointing out what the Jewish Mossad also discovered. Eichmann on trial seemed to be a completely normal human being.

He claimed he was just following orders. And when you look at those hands, you wish they were the clawed hands of a monster. But they're not. And that's our problem. In the Gulag Archipelago, Russian literary giant Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.

Wouldn't that be wonderful? But Solzhenitsyn continues, The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who would destroy a piece of his own heart? Now my topic in our series on anthropology is the fall of man. That is an enormous topic that ranges across the whole Bible and in fact across the pages of all human history. And I'm going to assume that you know the Genesis account of the Edenic rebellion quite well. So let's turn instead to Romans chapter 3.

And I want to answer this morning just a single question. Here's the question. How sinful are we? How sinful are we?

Now I hope we have no Adolf Eichmann's in this room. Nevertheless, Paul's description of humanity is pretty grim. In Romans 1 through 3, Paul makes a case for universal condemnation. And that includes us. How do we know? Well Paul writes in Romans 3, 9, What then? Are we better than they?

No and no wise. For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin. Paul has already proven in chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Romans that Jews and Gentiles are universally condemned because of their sin. And now to remove all doubt, Paul in verses 10 through 18 is going to string together a series of Old Testament quotations demonstrating how sinful we really truly are. Read the text as it is written, verse 10. There is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all God out of the way.

They are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher, a grave. With their tongues they have used deceit. The poison of asp or snake is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.

There is no fear of God before their eyes. That is a graphic description of the human condition. There is hardly anything more revolting, I'm told, I haven't had to experience this, than the stench of rotting flesh emanating upwards from an open grave. Paul says when people open their mouths, what comes out is death.

Well, let's ask a difficult question. Can you actually apply these verses? Can you apply these verses to a lost relative?

Whom you know to be kind, generous, and loving. Can you apply them to a lost co-worker who has a key to your house, and on whom you can call in an emergency? Would you say their feet are swift to shed blood? Can you apply them to an unbelieving co-worker who is trustworthy, reliable, who volunteers to take your shift when you're out sick? Are destruction and misery in their way?

Admittedly, the text is very challenging. On the one hand, Paul speaks in universal categories. Look at verse 10, there is none righteous. Verse 11, there is none that seeketh after God. Verse 12, there is none that doeth good.

And two times he says, no, not one. On the other hand, we can all think of people to whom it's difficult to apply these words. My neighbor is no Adolf Eichmann. So, are we really as bad as Paul claims? How sinful are we?

Well, let me deal quickly with two related questions, lest they become a distraction. And then we'll come back to the main question, how sinful are we? First of all, does Paul mean that we are all guilty of the same crimes?

And the answer is no, certainly not. Paul does not claim, well, everyone out there is a murderer. Paul does not claim, well, everyone is swift to shed blood.

That's not what he means. Elsewhere, Paul is going to rank his own crimes as worse than others. He called himself the chief of sinners, I'm worse. Paul recognizes also later in Romans that the authority, that the government has the authority and the duty to restrain and to prevent perpetrators of great evils. Rulers are supposed to be a terror to those who would engage in evil.

And I, for one, am very grateful that Adolf Eichmann was finally captured, brought to trial and sentenced. Question two, does Paul mean that evil people can never do a good thing? As he's saying, well, an evil person can just never do a good thing.

And the answer again is no, at least not on some level. Jesus recognizes that even evil people can do good things. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this, which one of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? He then proceeds to acknowledge, listen to these words, you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children. Even an evil father gives his son a fish to eat rather than a poisonous serpent. Even evil fathers give good gifts to their children. In 1995, British media conducted an interview with Ricardo Eichmann.

This is the fourth son of Adolf Eichmann. When asked how he remembered his father, here's what he said. I remember him holding my hand and taking me to the bus stop. I remember him taking me into a sweet shop and buying me some chocolate.

I remember sitting outside on the step every evening thinking, when will my daddy come home? So friends, with those two questions answered, let's turn back to the main question, just how sinful are we? Again, Paul's description is clear. Verse 10, there is none righteous. Verse 11, there is none that seeketh after God. Verse 12, there is none that doeth good. So does God really look at the human race, all of us, all of me and Adolf Eichmann and just condemn us all? Yes, but is that fair?

Are we really that sinful? Well, let's be done with an easy example like Adolf Eichmann. Let's deal with a difficult example. I would like for all of you to think of an unbeliever whom you recognize to be genuinely kind, a giving, trustworthy, honest person.

All right? You all have someone in mind, maybe a relative, maybe a good friend, a community leader. Think of that very nice person. How sinful is that person? I was forced to answer this question in the summer of 1995.

This is the summer following my high school graduation. I want to tell you the story of an unbeliever. I will call him John.

This is not his real name. Two weeks before high school graduation, I was hired by John. He owned a very large tree nursery and was very successful in business. And John had a reputation for helping a lot of people.

One of my coworkers had been imprisoned after pulling a knife in a bar fight and stabbing someone. Well, after he was released, he couldn't get a job until John hired him. John helped that man put his life back together.

The man eventually bought a ranch in Wyoming, got married and lived his dream. Well, I too was the recipient of John's kindness. I had to work for two hours a day for two weeks after school with plans to work for the whole summer. This was the summer before I was to come to Bob Jones University as a freshman in the fall. And I had clocked a mere 10 hours when I was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of beginning work full-time after graduation, I was suddenly running around to various doctor's appointments.

I had two surgeries and I was trying to figure out, you know, what's the best treatment option for a life-threatening disease. And I didn't go to work. And that's when John called at 9.30 on a Wednesday night. And I thought, well, there goes my summer job. And John said to me, look, I feel very badly about your situation and I've decided I'm going to go ahead and pay you 40 hours a week for the duration of the summer whether you work another day or not. Well, I lost 30 pounds in a month and I never returned to work that entire summer. But true to his word, John mailed a paycheck to our mailbox every two weeks and I opened it up and there was 80 hours of work. And I hadn't worked a single hour. That happened the entire summer. Now, I ended up not having the strength to come to BGU in the fall, but I gradually went back to work for him in September.

I was far from full capacity. Nevertheless, as soon as I got back, John gave me a raise. Two weeks later, he gave me a second raise. So how many of you will acknowledge that John actually did good by me? Is anyone sitting there thinking, well, that's like the best illustration I've ever heard of your righteousness is filthy rags. I'm like, that's it. That's the definitive example right there.

How many of you say, well, that explains verse 16, destruction and misery are in his ways. That's John. Now, let's make the problem even more challenging. During the month of April 1996, the following year, John had his best month of sales ever. Then May surpassed April. June surpassed May.

And July surpassed June. Whatever money John lost in paying me the previous year not to work, he made back many, many times over. When John asked why his sales were so good, I told him, well, I believe that God is blessing you because you took care of one of his children.

So would you put yourself in my shoes a short time ago? I recently visited John. We sat out on the patio of his beautiful home.

To the west, the snow-covered peaks of the Rockies pierced a cobalt blue sky. To the east lay 70 acres of prime real estate, which used to be the site of his tree nursery. They are now worth several million dollars. John is retired. And I asked John about numerous individuals who would work for him, and I could name off person after person after person whom he had helped. But John, to this day, is not a believer. So, help me out here. How do I evangelize him?

I mean, what do I say to him? How about this? You know, your throat, John, is an open grave. Your feet are swift to shed blood.

The poison of snakes is right there under your lips. Destruction and misery are just clearly in all your ways. Now, if you want to apply Romans 3 to Adolf Eichmann, I get that. That's easy.

But what about John? I'm not denying that Romans 3 applies. I'm just saying it's really, really difficult. And if you think it's easy, you need to make more friends with unbelievers. John has a lifetime full of examples of helping people in ways that I never can. I mean, I can't pay you not to work for a whole summer.

Sorry. So, how are we going to deal with this? Well, let's go to Romans 1, and let's notice how Paul's whole section on universal condemnation began. Paul's going to lay a very important foundation in chapter 1 that ultimately will lead to a scathing indictment of the human race in chapter 3. In verses 18 through 21, Paul insists that all people know there is a God. And yet, people refuse to recognize him as their creator. Paul says in verse 18, they hold, that's the word, hold down. They suppress, they hold down, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. And Paul says in verse 20, they can look at creation and know there's a creator.

Look at the text. For the invisible things of him from the creation, look at the creation, of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power in Godhead, so that they are without excuse. No one can plausibly look at the universe out there, look at the earth out there, and deny God's existence.

Contemporary atheist Paul Davies writes, the universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator. That's exactly right. But what happens when people like John refuse to acknowledge the creator? Well, do they all become Adolf Eichmann's and orchestrate the death of millions of Jews? No. Do they all commit the same crimes?

No. Later in Romans 1, Paul is going to catalog a whole series of sinful behaviors, but no one person commits all those things. Nevertheless, there is one sin that Paul is really going to single out for particular emphasis, and it's found right there in verse 21. Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful. They know God, but people refused to glorify the creator. And what is the result?

What does that look like? Ingratitude. Now, ingratitude might strike you as a fairly innocuous sin compared to the crimes of Adolf Eichmann. After all, who among us isn't guilty of ingratitude? But that's just the point. Ingratitude is a universal, perpetual crime of fallen image bearers against the creator.

Would you think about it? What good gifts of the creator do we enjoy every day? We breathe God's air. We eat his chickens. We delight in his cool evening breeze. We grind his coffee beans. We swim in his oceans. We enjoy his spring flowers.

We enjoy the endless colors and flavors of his creation. We quarry his stones and cut down his trees and build our houses. We harness his electrical currents and light our buildings and warm our homes. We drill into his earth and draw out his oil and fuel our cars and our buses and our planes. We gaze in his stars and we marvel at his cells under our microscopes. We use his bodies. We kick soccer balls on his fields and we hike through his national parks. We tame his animals and we put them to work and we eat them. The fact is, we cannot live a day or even a moment without consuming, in some way, God's good gifts.

It's impossible. We live in a gray, saturated world. But when creation becomes ordinary, we forget about how extraordinary it truly is. When Moses disappeared on the mountain, the Hebrews alleged that he was dead and Yahweh had forgotten about them.

Really? Well, what had they eaten that very morning, if not the manna which graced the desert floor? The manna had become so commonplace, the Hebrews forgot it was a gift from God. And friends, your manna is no less marvelous. Did you know it takes 172 gallons of rain and 1,200 hours of God's sunlight to produce a single loaf of bread?

That's grace. Now, imagine with me that I'm employed by a wealthy benefactor. And I know that you have a $20,000 medical bill.

And imagine that I deliver $20,000 to your mailbox over the course of a whole summer. Would you say, I've done good by you? Absolutely, I met your medical need. But what if I neglected to tell you that I represented a wealthy benefactor and that was his money? I let you believe that $20,000 was my own. Have I done good by you?

Yes, the answer is still yes, you got $20,000 for your medical bill. But have I done good by the wealthy benefactor? Have I done good by him, leading you to believe that I was the source of that goodness? No, the answer is no, I've absolutely betrayed him. I am unrighteous, even while doing good on one level, I'm helping you.

I have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. And friends, that's precisely the problem with John. He did enormous good by me, I thank the man to this day, I love this man.

But he has yet to acknowledge the Creator as a source of all of his goodness. Who gave John the mind to start a tree business? Who gave him years of good health while he grew the business? Who made the tremendous variety of trees that John grew in his fields? Who made that organic soil rich with good bacteria and microorganisms which grew his trees? Who is it that poured rain out of heaven and sunlight out of the heavens to water those trees? Friends, John made a fortune selling his trees, except those weren't his trees. Those were God's trees. All of us combined could not produce a single living cell of a single tree no matter how hard we tried. All of us combined could not wring a single drop of rainwater out of the heavens. Or send a single ray of sunlight hurtling at 186,000 miles per second from the sun down to the earth to light those trees.

We couldn't do it. All of creation belongs to God. So this is the question that I have for John as I sit there on his patio. John, who made all this?

Who made all this? God is the source of all goodness and all creation, and we know it. Verse 21, they knew God, but they glorified him not as God. We all come into this world in a state of rebellion against our Creator. And that rebellion, friends, is expressed in many different ways. Thankfully, the majority of people out there don't become Adolf Eichmann's. But all of us express our hostility to God through our ingratitude. We really are that sinful.

Now, I don't want to leave you here, though. Let's go back to Romans 3 very quickly, and let me just give you a little bit of good news. Paul's statement of universal condemnation ends in verse 20. And then comes some really good news. It comes in verse 21, and it concerns something called the righteousness of God, which we all need. And here's some more good news.

Would you look at verse 23? Good news. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That's good news. That actually sounds like universal condemnation.

What do you mean that's good news? Well, it's true, we've all sinned and we've all come short of the glory of God. But in context, that verse is situated between verse 22 and verse 24, where Paul is saying essentially we all have the same problem. And if we all have the same problem, verse 23, we've all sinned, then guess what? The same solution will work for everyone.

That's really good news. We all have the same problem, verse 23, right? And if you've got that problem, then guess what? If you've got that sin problem, there is a solution for you.

The same solution works for everyone. Where is it? Verse 24, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. So friends, would you think again about the hands of Adolf Eichmann? They could be your hands.

They could be mine. But here's the good news. They could also be the hands of the permanently incarnated Son of God. With one important exception, His hands are now permanently scarred with the consequences of our refusal to glorify our Creator. Shall we pray? Father, we thank you for Christ. We thank you, Lord, that He has taken all of our sin and all of our ingratitude.

The debt of ingratitude that we have amassed through our lifetime is just so insurmountable. We thank you for Christ, that He has taken away our sin. We thank you for the redemption that we have through His cross and His resurrection. It's in His name that we pray. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Brent Cook. Listen again tomorrow as we continue the series fearfully and wonderfully made on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 13:31:16 / 2024-02-20 13:41:17 / 10

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