J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Shame: I Wanna Live Forever

shameAudio for this sermon can be found at http://www.sermoncloud.com/sovereign-king-church/.

Shame is such a strong word, and to feel ashamed can be devastating.  So many people that I have spoken with who struggle with depression have some deep-rooted event that they’ve done or was done to them that started them down the road to losing hope.  Think about it for a minute.  Most people reserve shame for something that they are grossly regretful for.  People may feel ashamed when they hurt someone verbally or physically.  If you have ever stolen something you may feel ashamed.  Maybe once you were given a chance to do something because someone was really gracious to you, but you squandered that chance.  You might feel shame about that.

For example, I knew this guy in college whose parents were able to completely set him up going into his freshman year.  He had everything that I didn’t have.  He had a computer.  He had a full meal plan.  He had a new car.  He didn’t have to work.  Everything thing that a student could have was his.  I began to notice though about a third of the way through the semester that he was spending a lot of time in the student lounge in the bottom of the dorm, and I mean a lot of time.  He watched a ton of cable (the lounge was the only place that had it back then).  He played poker down there.  It was almost like he lived down there.  I began to wonder, “Does this guy ever go to class anymore?”  Well, about 2/3’s of the way through the semester, he knocked on my door and asked if we could talk.  I said sure.  I then heard his story about how he hadn’t been in class in weeks.  Not only had he not been in class, he hadn’t dropped any of them either.  No matter what he did, he was going to finish the semester with an imperfect 0.0 GPA.  There was going to be h-e-double hockey sticks to pay when his parents found out because in 1989 money, he had wasted about $5,000.  On top of that, he had told a ton of lies to his parents and now he was ashamed of what he had done and fearful of facing the consequences.  He sat in my dormroom and wept for his poor judgment, his taking advantage of his parents’ hard work, and for the butt-whipping to come.

Let’s try another example to get the picture.  You know there is that database where you can search online for sex offenders.  I know one of those guys and interact with him a couple of times a week in the community.  He walks like a man full of shame.  He doesn’t make eye contact and barely speaks when spoken to.  He is a man broken and lives with shame.

Let me try even more examples.  Men, maybe you live with a secret internet porn habit.  Ladies, maybe you secretly keep in touch with an ex-boyfriend.  Maybe you have had an affair.  Maybe you cheated on a test at school.  These are the things that cause shame.  I think you all understand the feeling and emotion that I’m talking about.  Now listen to this verse

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul uses shame language here but in an entirely different way.  Paul says, he does not feel shame about the truth that Jesus has provided peace and a relationship with God.  He has absolutely no shame in the Gospel of Jesus because the righteousness of God, the very goodness of God, has been delivered to you, the shameful, because of Jesus.  Now the shame or disgust that you initially want for say a sex offender to feel is exactly what Paul wants you to avoid when considering the work of Jesus Christ.  You should not feel ashamed about Jesus.  You should boldly declare Jesus as the most beautiful creature you have ever known or thought of.  His giving you His goodness and his taking the penalty for your sin should make it nearly impossible for you to be silent about Him.  Anything less than proclaiming Jesus to others is being ashamed of Him.

When someone asked me this week why I was reviewing the first half of Romans, my response was, “We don’t get it.  We haven’t gotten it yet.”  If we did, you wouldn’t be able to contain the enthusiasm and joy that you  have had about Jesus and about telling others about Him.”  You would walk with a new hope and confidence in your day to day that would overshadow anything that you might encounter.

And you want to know why you don’t have to be ashamed of Jesus?  Because He has removed your shame from you.  Through his absolute forgiveness and giving you of goodness, all the shame that you have ever accumulated is taken away.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5

Can you imagine living like this is true?   A life free from guilt and shame?  When our CE Group was discussing the sermon that covered this passage, I asked them if they ever knew anyone, and I mean anyone who had struggled with guilt over past sins and mistakes, and then found absolute freedom from guilt by trusting Jesus Christ.  You know how many examples the group could come up with?  None, zero, nada, zilch.  After hearing that, I knew we had to tackle this passage one more time.

How is it possible for the believer in Jesus to no longer have guilt or shame or condemnation?  I mean things we have done or not done don’t disappear.  The consequences and the hurt that we inflict are still there.  In fact, most of you probably think that showing real remorse over something you’ve done means living in guilt.  You would feel guilty if you didn’t feel guilty.  Look what this verse says that Jesus has done for you.  There is now no condemnation for any of your sins:  past, present, or future.  Though others may condemn you or may want you to walk in guilt for your sins, God does not.  Your condemnation is complete.

And not only has Jesus’ death provided full payment for your sins to remove guilt, Jesus’ life fulfills the righteous requirement of the law which means Jesus gives you all the goodness you need to be accepted by God.  You can now live a life led by the Spirit because of all that Jesus has done.  Taking these two passages that we have looked at together, they speak of not being ashamed of the Gospel because Jesus has taken all of our condemnation.  You should realize just how free you are and how dependant you are.

Think of it in this way, “What does living in faith free you from?”  “What are you free from?”  Well in chapter 1 of Romans, Paul tells us that we are in a hell of a mess because of our sin.  No one seeks God.  No one loves God.  No one obeys God.  Everyone is in trouble as everyone is a slave to sin.  Now that may seem like a pretty harsh statement, and maybe you think it’s overstated.  But ask yourself, “How many people have you ever met that you were convinced did what they did only and solely for the glory of God?”  We meet lots of semi-good people and maybe a few decent people, but folks who live their lives only to serve and glorify God?  They are rare, and if they rare, they might just be extinct.

But Paul offers hope.  The hope that slaves to sin have is this thing called the Gospel.  It is the power of God for salvation.  The gospel is the declaration that those that serve sin can now serve God by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  It comes not by futile efforts but by faith – simple, powerful, active belief in Jesus Christ.  So as you can see, you are depending on someone and something else for hope of a new life.  That someone is Jesus.  Living by faith makes you dependent; something most American hate and detest.  But the Gospel declares that you must become dependent upon Jesus for everything.  You don’t live trusting and having faith in yourself; you live trusting and having faith in Jesus.  When needing a change of heart and attitude, you don’t just dig deep and look for the power for these things in yourself.  You trust Jesus’ work and the power of the Holy Spirit to change you.

This is a great time to ask yourself this question:  Do you live by faith in Jesus? Or do you live trusting yourself?  This is more than just believing that Jesus died for your sins.  Do you live absolutely trusting and dependant on Jesus for everything?  Some of you are pretty talented.  Some of you are pretty smart.  Some of you are pretty attractive.  The question is, “What are you trusting?  The gospel or yourself?”  If you are trusting yourself, let’s read Romans 3 to see if that is a good idea.

Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

You could spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life telling the truth, and you couldn’t boast.  You could spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life being nice, and you couldn’t boast.  You could spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life being patient, and you couldn’t boast.  You could spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life being faithful to your wife or husband, and you couldn’t boast.  You could spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life being perfect, and you couldn’t boast.  You would still have nothing to boast about because none of those efforts would erase your slate of sin.  None of it would clear your record, and how is this one:  none of that obedience would be accepted by God.  Unless…unless you have Jesus.

Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the sharpest theologian that America ever produced wrote these words:  We are directed, whatever we offer to God, to offer it in Christ’s name, as expecting to have it accepted no other way, that from the value that God has to that name. Paul says something pretty similar in Colossians 3.17.  “And whatsoever you do in word of deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

To act in Christ’s name is to act under him, as your head, and as having him to stand for you, and represent you Godward.  To obey in Jesus’ name means you to do it for the wonderfully selfless reason of giving Him glory.  There is no ulterior or selfish motive.  Of course, even attempting an act of God-honoring obedience is impossible without Jesus, but no work of any sort is accepted by God unless done in Jesus’ name.  The irony of the life of following Jesus is that you are simultaneously free and dependent at the same time.  You are no longer a slave to sin which makes you free, but you are also completely dependent upon Jesus for life, salvation, forgiveness, and obedience.

So, instead of living a life of futility, you can live a life of true, honest God-glorifying obedience.   A life of joy, happiness, and hope is possible but only as it is done in the name of Jesus Christ.  Do it for yourself, and you works will be futile. Do it for Jesus’ glory and in His name, and God finds it pleasing.

Folks, you have nothing to offer God but the faith that He has given you.  Any thing you do for God must be done by faith in Jesus’ name which means you have to trust Him to do it and you are practically invisible in the doing.  Consider Jesus’ name for a minute.  Say his name with emphasis, and it becomes a curse word.  Say it.  contemplatively, and His name becomes an act of worship.  Say it in some arenas and it will offend, while not saying it in others is offensive.  As the old hymn sings, “Jesus, there is something about that name.”  All of scripture, and especially the book of Romans, make it abundantly clear:  there is no peace with God the Father without the work of Jesus Christ.  How many of you have said His name recently apart from maybe hitting your hand with a hammer?

Well, Jesus either means everything to you or nothing.  There is no real middle ground.  If you have any desire of peace in this world, then Jesus must be everything to you.  Listen to Romans 5.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul uses a lot of legal language here, so lets wade through it for a moment.  You can have peace with God, but it only comes through His son.  Not only does faith in the work of Jesus bring about peace with God the Father, His work also declares you justified or legally innocent of sin.  That means everything evil, wicked, or sinful that you have ever thought, spoken, or done is completely erased from your account.  These truths, also known as the Gospel, should cause each and every believer to rejoice because they have a true and honest hope of seeing the glory of God.

Again, the irony of the life of following Jesus though is that you are simultaneously free and dependent at the same time.  You are no longer a slave to sin which makes you free, but you are also completely dependent upon Jesus for life, salvation, forgiveness, and obedience.  Now here is something else that is amazing:  God entrusts these wonderful truths to those who have faith in Jesus.  2 Corinthians 4 describes this entrusting as placing a treasure in a clay pot.  It is like using a weak dollar store flower pot to hold a million dollars in gold.  If you are a believer in Jesus, that’s you.  God has entrusted the message of the Gospel, the wonderful work of Jesus Christ, to the very people that Jesus had to save.  He has ordained that the means by which people will hear the Gospel is you proclaiming the truths of scripture to those who need to hear it.

You would think that the church, who Jesus affectionately calls His bride, would eagerly and tirelessly proclaim to a lost and hurting world the freedom and peace with God that comes through Jesus.  Yet, outside the walls of most church buildings, Jesus’ name remains unsaid.  The simplest barometer to determine how the church is doing in proclaiming Jesus is for you personally to ask yourself how you are doing in that task.  If you remain silent in hearing that question because you know that you haven’t proclaimed Jesus to yourself much less world lately, then you know how the church is doing…poorly.

When faced with the daunting task of having to tell the world about Jesus, you may say that you are inadequate, uneducated, or ill-equipped to proclaim Jesus and gladly leave that job to me or some other pastor.  But I would offer that if the treasure of the message of Jesus is held in clay pots, then God is looking for those who aren’t too confident in themselves but rather those who are confident in the treasure in which they hold.  Oswald Chambers called the paradox that God entrusts us with His message, “The Brave Comradeship of God.”

You might say, “Gordon, I still can’t do that.  I can barely understand how Jesus’ work applies to me much less explain to someone who doesn’t believe.”  Well, part of me just wishes I could tell you to, “do better,” but that statement would be pretty gospeless.  Paul fortunately knows the right way to encourage you.  He says this in Romans 8, and this we will pursue with greater depth next week.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God knows you are weak.  God knows you struggle to believe that there is no condemnation or shame.  God knows you are tempted to always trust yourself instead of Jesus.  God knows you are scared to death to tell others about the Gospel.  So God sends His Spirit to help you in your weakness.  In fact, the Spirit helps you when you can’t even articulate what you need.  Cry out to God for this help, and God will cause the Holy Spirit to search your heart and comfort you with the truths of God.  The Spirit will intercede or be your go-between for you and God so that you can find strength when you are weak, you can rest that your sin is paid for, you can believe that there is no more condemnation or shame for your sin, you can begin to trust Jesus instead of yourself, you can proclaim this sin forgiving, life imparting Savior Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it..

Let’s pray to Him now.

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September 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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