The lesson this evening is shared with you as the result of a request. I was requested to share with all of you the concepts I shared with a class last Sunday morning. The request was made because the class provided some understanding and helped eliminate some personal confusion.

I will share these understandings this evening by using some diagrams. I hope by both seeing and hearing, we all will deepen our insights and understandings.

  1. Let's consider the basic problem that exists in humans establishing a relationship with God.
    1. The basic problem is stated by acknowledging a basic dilemma:
      1. How can a Holy God enter a relationship with unholy people?
      2. We will not understand the dilemma unless we understand the basic character of God in terms of His holiness.
    2. What should we understand about God being a Holy God?
      1. We should understand that God is the total opposite of evil (sin).
      2. There is no evil in God. God is holy by character.
        1. It is not a matter that God chooses not to be evil.
        2. Instead, it is a matter that God by divine nature and character is not evil.
        3. No form of evil has any appeal to God; God cannot be tempted (James 1:13).
        4. Evil is completely incapable of deceiving God! (Galatians 6:7)
        5. In fact, God finds evil in any form repulsive.
      3. Humanity is in total contrast to the Holy God.
        1. Everyone of us can be deceived by evil.
        2. Some form of evil appeals to each of us.
        3. We are temptable, and we will never cease to be temptable.
        4. We are always by human nature and human character susceptible to evil.
          1. Evil can pervert and corrupt our attitudes.
          2. Evil can pervert and corrupt our emotions.
          3. Evil can pervert and corrupt our motives.
          4. Evil can pervert and corrupt our intentions.
          5. Evil can pervert and corrupt our behaviors.
        5. We are so susceptible to temptation and deception that we can be perverted and corrupted in fundamental aspects of life and never know it!
        6. We can actually think we are acting for God when we are acting for evil!
    3. The basic problem is created by the fact that God is holy and we are not!
      1. There will never be an occasion when God's basic nature or our basic nature changes.
      2. God always will be by divine nature holy.
      3. We always will be by human nature unholy.
      4. Therein lies the basic problem: how can He Who is by divine nature holy associate with us who are by human nature unholy? How can He Who is repulsed by evil associate with us who are by human nature unholy?
      5. In some way the Holy God must allow us to be holy in order for Him to associate with us.

  2. In the consideration of holiness, it is given to us by God's act and not as an achievement of ourselves.
    1. "What do you mean by that statement?"
      1. There is nothing any one of us can do of ourselves to make us holy apart from the involvement and action of God.
        1. We are 100% incapable of making ourselves holy.
        2. There is nothing that we can cause to happen in our hearts, our minds, or our bodies (apart from God's involvement) that can make us holy through the power of humanity.
        3. We are human; we always will be human on this earth.
        4. We, on earth, will never be beyond temptability or deception.
      2. If God makes us holy:
        1. It will have to happen through God's action and power.
        2. It will have to be a gift--under no circumstance will we deserve it.
    2. That is why our holiness is totally dependent on God's forgiveness.
      1. Divine forgiveness comes from God to us as a gift.
      2. We do not deserve it; we cannot deserve it; it is never granted to us because we merit or deserve forgiveness.
      3. Forgiveness exists because of God, because of God's mercy, because of God's grace, because of God's love.
      4. Forgiveness is extended to us because of Who God is, not because of who we are.
        1. Forgiveness exists because of what God did in Jesus, not because of what we do in response to Jesus.
        2. Basically forgiveness is God's gift.
        3. We responsively can accept and appreciate it, but we can never deserve it.
        4. All we can do is accept forgiveness; we can never deserve forgiveness.

  3. The Holy God acts in righteousness.
    1. People who accept the Holy God's forgiveness respond to God in righteous attitudes, emotions, and behavior.
      1. There are some basic understandings we must have regarding human righteousness.
        1. We must understand that our righteousness is inferior--it will never be on par with God's righteousness.
        2. We must understand that we can learn what is righteous only by learning the character and nature of God.
        3. We cannot know what is righteous without God informing us of what is righteous.
      2. The only way we can appreciate the gift of God's forgiveness is by demonstrating our appreciation through righteous behavior.
        1. Growing and maturing spiritually is basically learning how to imitate the character and nature of God.
        2. That is both positive and negative.
        3. In the positive, we develop the attitudes and motives of God and reflect them in our emotions and our behavior.
        4. In the negative, we refuse to think, feel, or do those things which oppose God.
        5. A person cannot appreciate God's gift of forgiveness while knowingly, deliberately, by choice yielding to emotions or actions that oppose God.
        6. That simply means that we always are struggling against our human natures that either accept evil or are pulled toward evil.
    2. The only way the Holy God can extend to us holiness, forgiveness, and righteousness is through Jesus. Consider some scriptures:
      1. 1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing [God's] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.
      2. 2 Corinthians 5:20,21 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
      3. Colossians 1:26-28 That is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
      4. Colossians 1:13,14 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
      5. Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

God can give us the gift and can accept the inferior expression of our righteousness because God gave us a Savior. Only because we have a perfect Savior can God be in relationship with us unholy humans.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 2 November 2003

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