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Deliverance: From Sin to Righteousness, Part 2

Selected Scriptures October 29, 2000 80-225

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As you know, we have been studying the gospel of Luke, but we have taken a bit of a break and I have been sharing with you on the subject of deliverance, the neglected doctrine. Some apology, perhaps, is necessary to those who have not been with us in the month of October. We are always in some continuity here, always teaching through a book. And if you come on a given Sunday at Grace you may struggle to try to get yourself in to the flow a bit because there's so much continuity from week to week as we go through the Word of God. We've taken a bit of a break from Luke to address the subject of deliverance, and I confess that too has been a sort of continuous message over the month. I apologize for sort of bursting on you in the middle of this, this morning.

It has been of grave concern to me that the evangelical church has seemingly been willing and content to abandon sound doctrine. I'm not talking about liberal churches, I'm talking about those that would be confessedly evangelical. Many popular evangelical leaders and writers, pastors, professors, people who are the influencers are content with a lack of discernment as if it were some spiritual virtue. They have entered upon what I suppose if we were living in Spurgeon's time would be called a downgrade. The church is on a slippery slope. The evangelical church is progressing down away from the heights of truth and the honor of God. It is willingly abandoning its discernment, willingly abandoning Bible exposition and therefore a deep and accurate understanding of truth.

And in so doing, it is moving away from what glorifies God because what glorifies God is the exposition of Scripture. Let me tell you very simply why. In the Bible God is revealed. God's glory is on display through the biblical record. God puts Himself on display in Scripture. The preacher then has one clear compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture. I'll say that again. The preacher has one clear compelling duty, to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture.

When you exposit the Word of God you wind up teaching sound doctrine, truth. And when the truth is understood and the truth is known, God is therefore displayed in that truth. The revelation of Scripture is the truth and it is the truth of God which is the very nature and essence of God. So I say again, the preacher has one clear compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture.

That's not what's going on in evangelicalism today. People are moving away from Bible preaching and Bible teaching and Bible exposition. They're moving away from an interest in sound doctrine, an interest in definitive truth. They are embracing anything and everything that nominally identifies itself as Christian. And the church will continue to do this until someone or some ones hold up the Word of God. The Word, you see, faithfully, the Word accurately and the Word relentlessly brings to people the true majesty of God. And with it comes true understanding. Any preacher who doesn't do this has failed in his responsibility before God. My task as a preacher is very simple, I'm expected to teach the deep things of Scripture so that I can lift you to the heights of praise.

I suppose some of you who are visiting with us might say to yourself if you come from another church environment, they sure sing a lot of old songs here. Where are the praise choruses?

There's a reason. Hymnology is tied to theology and where you have depth you have height. Where you have a shallow theology you have a shallow hymn knowledge. Where you have a superficial understanding of divine truth, you have superficial expression of it. But where you have a people who have come to grips with the depths of divine truth and who have grandiose and glorious thoughts about God produced by an understanding of the profound realities of divine truth, they're not content with a shallow expression. We love the old hymns because they are profound. They have a certain poetic genius that reaches into the depths of our theology and gives it expression. We don't need to be seduced by a sort of a saloon melody. It's enough for us to sing great words, we don't need a mantra to induce an emotion. Our thoughts of truth and our thoughts of God catapult us into lofty hymns.

So the preacher's responsibility is to dispense the truth. And in unfolding the truth of the Word of God, going deep into the truth of the Word of God, God's glory is revealed. And when God's glory is revealed, God's people praise Him. So the preacher goes down, takes his people up...down into the depth of truth that they might be elevated to the heights of praise.

I only have one tool. Can you imagine a profession with only one tool? I only have one tool, just one...Scripture, it's the only tool. There's a popular book written by a well-known Presbyterian pastor that advocates the fact that the gospel is in the stars, that the whole gospel, including justification, is revealed in the constellations. In the book he says that God preached the gospel in the stars to Adam even before he fell.

This is nothing new. This has been advocated in years past. It surprises me that man who knows theology well would write a book like that because that is a flat denial of sola scriptura. Listen, I only have one tool and it isn't the stars, it's this Book. God has revealed all divine truth in one Book of which He is the author. If you say it's in the Book and it's in the stars, then why can't the Roman Catholics say it's in the Book and it's also in the Pope and church councils? And why can't Mary Baker Eddy say it's in the Bible and it's also in the Science and Health and Key to the Scriptures. And why can't the Mormons say it's in the Bible and it's also in the Doctrines and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Mormon?

Divine truth is not in a church. It's not in a Pope. It's not in a bishop. It's not in a denomination. It's not an experience. It's not in somebody's intuition. And it's not in the stars. It's in a book, the Bible. Every time the church has wandered away from this, it has been fraught with disaster.

This is Reformation Sunday. What produced the Reformation was a Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther. Came to the conviction that God's truth was confined to the book. This is revolutionary. That's not what the Catholic Church believes. Martin Luther said God spoke only in the book, and all divine truth is confined to the book...not popes, not bishops, not church councils, not the magisterium, not the tradition...the book. And he said it's the book alone and next to Jesus and the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther was the most divisive man that ever came along in the Christian faith. He created a massive rift which separated those who believed the Book from those who were caught up in the Roman system. It was the conviction that God spoke only in the Book that produced the Reformation. It was then, once Martin Luther had come to the conviction that the truth was in the Book, he went into the Book and he found the truth and it was justification by grace through faith alone, wasn't it? Didn't have to pay any attention to what the Pope said, what the bishop said, what the council said, it was all the Book and the Book's clear.

In 1539 Luther commented on Psalm 119. He wrote this. "In this Psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read day and night and constantly but about nothing else than God's Word." And Luther called it "the external Word," I like that. It's outside of us. And Luther said, "The saving sanctifying illuminating Word is the external Word." What did he mean by that? He meant that it's outside of us, like God is outside of us. You can't invent God and you can't invent truth. God isn't the product of your imagination. God isn't the product of your fantasy. God isn't the product of your experience. God isn't the product of your intuition. God isn't the product of your charismatic emotion. God is not the product of your existentialism. God is God and He's outside of you, not subject to your tampering. God is not a clay toy you can shape any way you like.

And so, the Bible is outside of you. It is external. You can take it, you can leave it. You can't tamper with it. You can't make it other than it is, and you can't make it say other than what it says. It is a Book, it is a fixed book with fixed letters and fixed words and fixed sentences. This was Luther's great conviction that changed the world. Luther said, with a resounding forcefulness in 1545, which was the year before he died, he said, "Let the man who would hear God speak read holy Scripture."

You know, there are books just flooding the Christian world today. You can see them at the Christian Booksellers Convention, about how to listen for the voice of God. Training yourself to listen for the voice of God, learning how to hear God's voice. Let me tell you something. You want to hear God? Read the Book. Stand around listening, who knows what you're going to hear. Whatever it is, it won't be God.

So, what is the task of the preacher? John Piper says, "The large and central part of our work is to wrestle God's meaning from the Book." That's right. Luther in 1533 said, "The Word of God is the greatest most necessary, most important thing in Christendom." And it is. I'll tell you what, you turn away from the Book and you have endless problems. You turn away from the Book and Jesus becomes a clay toy, you can shape Him any way you want. Truth becomes a clay toy, you can shape it any way you want. John Piper says, "Luther had one weapon to rescue Christ from being sold in the markets of Wittenberg. He drove out the money changers, the indulgence sellers with the whip of the external Word, the Book," end quote.

See, people want to reinvent Jesus, shape Him any way they want. They want to come up with their own view of truth, shape it any way they want. The Book doesn't let you do that. Our faith is rooted in a decisive revelation in history called the Bible. And as a pastor, as a preacher, as a minister, I have one job. I'm a broker of the Book, the Word of God transmitted in a book. Fundamentally I am a reader and I am a teacher and I am a proclaimer of the Book. I have to feed you the Book, the truth of the Book. As much as I am faithful to that, I discharge my duty before God. As much as I am unfaithful to that, I fail in my responsibility and I incur a serious accountability before God. I want to take you down into the richness of the Word so that you can go high to the height's praise.

And when people grasp the deep truth of Scripture, they begin to grasp the high majesty of God. I look at the evangelical church today and I see shallowness, indifference toward Scripture. Truth is a problem because they see it as divisive. I see, because of that, they don't know the depth of truth, they also don't know the glory of God. David Wells writing in No Place For Truth, his wonderful book, said, "It is this God, majestic and holy in His being, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world." And Leslie Nuvegan(??) wrote, "I suddenly saw that someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity and yet the center was fundamentally the self and God is auxiliary to that," end quote.

This modern evangelical drift puts man at the center of everything...more important than the scriptures and more important than God. And when that happens, what can change that is to confront it. And that's really why I have been addressing this the last few weeks, I don't know anything else to do other than what Luther did and what John Calvin did and what Spurgeon did and what others have done in history. You just have to take it head on and say it the way it is. I look, and I've been doing some reading in the life of Calvin and Luther and other Reformers, trying to understand how it was that they had such a massive influence. When you think of those kinds of names, you think...Well, they must have been strong personalities, they must have been gifted leaders...etc., etc. As you study their lives, what you find out is they were absolutely indefatigable and relentless expositors of Scripture. And they took every single opportunity that ever came their way to exposit the Word of God before people and the Word of God is what caused things to change. As people came under the powerful, clear preaching of the depth of truth, they became consumed with the glory of God. They became discerning and they saw error for what it was and truth for what it was and they made right choices.

Benjamin Warfield, the great Princeton theologian who had a great ministry in my life long after his death when I was a seminary student and read The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, Warfield said of John Calvin that "No man ever had a profounder sense of God than he." He said that in his work on Calvin and Augustine. He said, "No man ever had a profounder sense of God than John Calvin." And where did John Calvin get that profound sense of God? Got it out of Scripture. John Calvin spent his life studying the Scripture. He spent his life as an expositor of Scripture. People assume John Calvin was kind of a theologian. Well he was a theologian but he was a theologian who had a right to be a theologian because he was an expositor. His theology was the product of his Bible exposition. Through Calvin, sound reformed theology, theology of the Reformation, took hold, found its roots and with that deep theology came the product of that theology which was high praise. Many of the songs and hymns that we sing, that are the most beloved and the most rich and deep, were written by those who were Reformers, Puritans.

Did you know John Calvin only preached Bible exposition? And God used him to change the face of the world. He went in to Geneva in 1536 and he did Bible expositions until 1564 with a three-year banishment, that I'll mention in a moment. But he preached the exposition of Scripture. I've stood in the little, it's almost like a chapel, it's a consistory, they call it, next to St. Peter's Church where Calvin preached on the Lord's day. And he preached in this little chapel every day and he did exposition of Scripture and he had five guys sitting on the front row and they wrote down everything he said. All five of them collectively would get it, put it all together and give it back to him to edit, and that's how he produced commentaries. And day after day after day he would teach, expositing the Scripture.

R.L. Dabney writes, "All the leading Reformers, whether in Germany, Switzerland, England or Scotland were constant preachers and their sermons were prevalently expository," that means to...exposit means to explain the meaning of Scripture. So he says, "We can assume with safety that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of the great revolution of the Reformation was mainly due, was the restoration of scriptural preaching."

Dabney also points out that what happens in history is sort of a three-step downgrade. And we're watching it happen right now. There is a time in the church, he calls it the Golden Age, when the truth of God is preached from the Word of God. Okay? That's the Golden Age, when men exposit the Scripture. I grew up in a time like that. I grew up in a time like that. Bible exposition was flourishing. Bible exposition is what people did. Not any more. Oh, the evangelicals say there's a second step, they don't know this, but Dabney says there's a second step. Evangelicals says, "Well, we still believe biblical truth. We still believe sound doctrine. We're still evangelical. But we just think the Bible is archaic and people don't identify with it and it's boring so we've taken the truth and we've put it in some cultural context that people can identify with that communicate better. And it's still the truth and we believe the truth and the Bible is so old and it's stuffy. People just don't relate to it and so we still hold to the truth and we...we just give it new clothes."

That's a transition, folks. That's a transition from the Golden Age. First you preach the truth of God from the Word of God. That's the dress that God put on it, that's the way He clothed it. And God knows what is best for the soul and the spirit and the mind of a man who is under the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit, right? So he knows what truth comes to a man most powerfully in the working of the Holy Spirit and that's why He put it in the Bible the way He put it. But maybe people think they know better than God, so they take the truths of Scripture out of the Scripture, put them in another dress, clothe them differently in order to remove the stigma of the Bible, the offense of the Bible and somehow think they can get through to the culture in a sort of a soft-sell way and they have basically set the Bible aside because they think it's sort of embarrassing.

Dabney says, "This is the transition stage. In this, the doctrine taught is still that of Scripture but their relations are molded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics and God's truth is now shorn of a part of its power over the soul."

Third step...Well, you know, the Bible was offensive. We got rid of that. Now we find that the doctrine is also offensive so we get rid of that, too.

And then Dabney pleads, "May we ever be content to exhibit Bible doctrine in its own Bible dress."

And that's why, you see, I say if people would just start preaching the Bible, the Bible would provide clarity, it would provide discernment. It would provide understanding. It would provide profundity. And also lift people to the heights of transcendent praise. The Bible forms the whole content of our preaching. It's a one-tool profession, as I said. God set forth all its truths in such context and such proportions and such relations as He knows suit the soul and mind of man best when under the influence of the Holy Spirit. No other forms of truth are as good.

I just hate to see people beginning to say..."Well, you know, we still believe the truth but we don't teach it from the Bible because people don't accept that." Well, if you got rid of the Bible because they didn't like it, why are you going to hold on to the truth when you find out they don't like that either? I don't think you can do ministry without a radical commitment to the Bible. I mean, a radical commitment to the Bible, I'm viewed as a radical. I'm viewed as a non-intellectual sort of a low-level Christian pastor because I'm not open to every view of everything. I'm seen as anti-intellectual.

That's fine, I really don't care. My intellect can only function effectively for the honor of God in one way, and that is if I use it to come to an understanding of Scripture...and then communicate it to you. Whether or not I understand every wrong view is not relevant.

I don't think you can do ministry in this climate today the way God wants it done without a radical commitment to the Bible. And I say radical because it's resisted even within the framework of evangelicalism. And as I said before, the meaning of Scripture is the Scripture. As you clear the fog and reveal the meaning, that is the Scripture. And that's the truth of God and that puts God on display and that gives people discernment and gives the church power.

You know, I just think there are people who don't want to do the hard work. You know, you look at Calvin, he..he wrote prolifically, he wrote his Institutes, he wrote his commentaries, several shelves of my study are filled with his volumes. He preached ten sermons every two weeks...all of it Scripture exposition. Same with Luther. Between 1510 and 1546 he preached 3,000 sermons. Many days a week and many times a day he preached and all that with family struggles, with his wife, Katie, gave him six children. Some of them died, the rest of them he catechized on Sunday afternoon. You want to hear a typical Sunday for Martin Luther? Five A.M. was the first service, it was an exposition of an epistle. Ten A.M. was the second one, it was an exposition of a gospel. In the afternoon he taught the Word of God to his children. At five o'clock he came back to exposit a book in the Old Testament. On Monday and Tuesday he taught more exposition. On Wednesday he taught on Matthew. On Thursday and Friday he taught on an apostolic letter. And on Saturday he exposited the gospel of John.

You know, people don't roll out of bed and lead a Reformation. You understand that? There's a reason why these people had the influence they had...consumed with Scripture, with its understanding and its proclamation. All he did was preach and preach and preach and preach and the people worshiped. He went down and they went up. That's why I told you a few weeks ago, it's better to go slower than faster, it's better to be deep and not shallow. It's better to be thorough and not superficial.

Back to John Calvin, he never wavered from expository preaching for almost 25 years...from 1536 to 1564 in Geneva. And he even ignored Christmas and Easter and every other event and just kept doing his exposition. He didn't give any special messages, he just stayed with his expositions. The scope of his pulpit is really amazing...just amazing. He preached for six years on the book of Acts. He gave 46 sermons on Thessalonians, 186 sermons on Corinthians, 86 sermons on 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, 43 sermons on Galatians, 48 sermons on Ephesians. In 1559 in the spring he started a study of the gospels, expositing the gospels in a harmony fashion, and he didn't finish when he died in 1564 in the month of May. That was on the Lord's Day. And in the middle of the week he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah, and 123 on Genesis and so on and so on and so on. And all that took preparation and study.

He was preaching on Easter, 1538. After his sermon he left the pulpit of St. Peter's church and they threw him out of town. The city council banished him. They had enough of him. He had only been preaching a couple of years there but he was so strong, so powerful that they threw him out of town after his sermon. He came back just a little over three years later and picked up his exposition at the next verse. As I was saying...

Biographers tell us that Calvin believed the Word of God was the only lamp and that the lamp had been taken away from the churches. And that's what I believe. And Calvin had a horror of those people who preached their own ideas in a pulpit. He believed that expounding the scriptures was the only thing God wanted done. Calvin believed that God's majesty was revealed in His Word and if you didn't preach the Word then you didn't give glory to God.

And, you know, it wasn't easy for Calvin, preaching ten times in two weeks, lecturing three times in theology, having a Friday Bible study, visiting the sick, counseling people, reading and writing. He had a weak stomach. He had severe migraines and the only way he could control his migraines was by eating one meal a day. He worked night and day with scarcely a break. That's why he died young. In 1564 when he was 53 years old he wrote his physician describing colic, spitting of blood, ague, gout, excruciating suffering of hemorrhoids, kidney stones, etc., etc. At the same time, his wife gave birth to children and they died one after another and she died.

He turned the world upside down. Just literally turned the world upside down because of the power of bringing the Word of God to bear. Back to Luther for a moment. Just to show you how prolific they were in the Word, Luther in 1520 wrote 133 works. In 1522 he wrote 130 works. In 1523 he wrote 183 works, one every other day and the same in 1524. All the product of intense scrutiny of the Word of God. And this is what turned history.

The contemporary evangelical church, sad to say, is not interested in biblical depth and therefore it doesn't experience biblical height. It tends to be shallow and worldly and weak and self-deceiving, deceiving itself with superficial success. And at the heart of this is this tragic thing of embracing non-Christians as if they're Christians. And that's what we've been talking about in this series. I know this is a long introduction, and I'll never get to my point, but...but you understand, this is a passion with me. And I just want you to know where I'm at in my heart. Without a deep grasp of biblical truth, there's no discernment. And with no discernment, then you just can't tell who's a Christian and who's not. So Satan comes into the church...comes into the leadership, comes in to teach at colleges and teach at seminaries and write books and get on Christian TV and on and on it goes.

And as I told you, where you don't have the truth and you don't have the preaching that brings clarity and discernment and the glory of God, you have terrible problems. And the first one is, people no longer distinguish between who's a Christian and who's not. This is one of the great realities of the Reformation. The Reformation're not Christians, period. You're not. They said, "Well, we're Christians." No you're not.

It's time for us to take the stand at the same point in this day. And as I've been trying to tell you the last few weeks, the way you distinguish a true Christian from a non-Christian, no matter what they claim, is found in this category that we're calling deliverance, right? And what have we been saying? Well, you can tell who is a Christian because they've been delivered. The ministry of the Lord is to deliver, to rescue, to save. And a Christian isn't known by some act, some event, some prayer, some signing of a card, some going forward, some being baptized, some joining a church. It's not identified by an event but by deliverance. True Christians are those who have been delivered. And deliverance is this general truth that contains the realities of salvation.

And first, we said, true Christians have been delivered from error to...what? truth. And that was a big issue, and it's an issue we need to be clarified on. If you haven't been here, you need to get those tapes. I mean, it's just very important. Nobody is a Christian, folks, who doesn't believe the true gospel. That's a pretty sweeping statement. You have to believe the true gospel or you're not a Christian. You can't believe a false gospel, like Mormons and people in the Roman Catholic system. You have to believe the true gospel. You can't believe the liberal message of good works and social change. You can't believe some aberrant kind of thing about who Jesus is. You can't be a non-trinitarian and believe in a God who is not a trinity, such as T.D. Jakes and people like that, and be a Christian. Christians believe the truth because, we saw clearly in Colossians 1:12 and 13, we've been delivered out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God's love. We have become saints in light. We've gone out of the darkness of ignorance and error into the light of truth.

And I'm being specific with you because I feel like we have to do that. Who is a Christian? Somebody who has been delivered from error to truth. You've come to understand, to believe, to embrace the truth.

And secondly we said, true Christians have been delivered not only from error to truth but from sin to righteousness. And we looked in particular at Romans chapter 6 which is a very vital text last time which talks about the fact that we were slaves to sin and we are now servants of righteousness. And I just want to finish up that point.

Turn to 1 John 3, just a couple of comments to finish that point up. And next week I'm going to give you the third point, since I've run out of time. First John 3, John is just giving this very black and white look here. First John 3 in verse 2 he says, "Beloved, now we are children of God." All right, we're children of God. How do you know that? How do you know when somebody's a child of God? How do you know when somebody belongs to God, when they are a true believer?

Go down to verse 4, "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness." Okay. Verse 5, "You know that He appeared in order to take away sins." Now stop right there.

Why did Jesus come into the world? To take away...what?...sins. So what should be characteristic of a Christian? Sin is taken away. How clear is that? Matthew 1:21, you know, He came to save His people from their sins. So John is simply saying He appeared to take away sins. So what's true about a Christian is, sin has been replaced by righteousness. And he goes on to explain that. Verse 6, "And no one who abides in him sins...present tense...continues in sin," in that same pattern. It doesn't mean that we never sin because back in chapter 1 he said if you say you don't have sin, you're making God a liar. Of course you have sin, but you do not continue in that constant pattern of sin. That's a present tense verb in the Greek which indicates continuous action. No one who abides in Christ continues in that same pattern of sin. And no one who continues in that same pattern of sin has seen Christ or knows Christ.

People say all the time, you know, "Well I...I know they're looking like this and they're doing like this, but I know they're Christians, I know they're Christians because I remember when this happened and that event happened." Look, Christians don't continue in a pattern of sin that's unbroken.

Verse 7, here's a key, "Little children, let nobody...what?...deceive you." Don't let anybody deceive you. "The one who practices righteousness is righteous." Is that difficult to grasp? Come on. Who's righteous? People who do righteous things. It's a matter of nature. It's a matter of the life principle, the life power. And he makes that very clear. "The one who practices...verse 8...sin is of the devil. He's got the old nature under the control of Satan. And the devil is a sinner from the beginning, but the Son of God appeared for this purpose to destroy the works of the devil." And what are the works of the devil? Sin.

Second time, verse 5 verse 8, "The Son came to destroy that pattern of sin." To destroy that principle of sin and that power of dominant sin. And so in verse 9, "No one who is born of God practices sin," practices that idea of constant unbroken continual sin because he has a new seed in him. He uses the analogy of birth, of human birth. A baby is the product of its parents. It bears the life of its parents. The seed, the egg the parents have create the essence of that child, that child is literally the coming together of the two lives that produced it. And the child will manifest characteristics. It will be shaped like its parents. It will look in the face like its parents. It will have physical mannerisms like its parents. It will have some intellectual capabilities like its parents, and maybe some other capabilities as well. It will reflect the genetic structure inherited from parents. And that's essentially what he's saying. If you're born of God, you're going to be a product of that new birth and you're not going to continue to practice sin but what's going to happen is, you have a new seed in you and you can't continue in sin because you're born of God.

Look, if you were ever born of God, the principle of sin has been broken and the practice of sin has been interrupted. Somebody looks like they're a Christian and all of a sudden wanders off into sin and stays there, now...they never had that new birth because if they had a new birth, if they were born of God, no one who is born of God practices sin. No one has that same constant pattern. As I told you last week, it has to do with what you desire. We sin, as Christians, but we hate that sin. We love righteousness. Like Romans 7, I want to do things and my flesh gets in the way and I don't do what I want to do and I do what I don't want to do but I know that's a wretched thing and I despise that and I cry out to be delivered from it.

One of the great reasons to go to heaven, you know, you talk to people about going to heaven and they say, "Ah, well, you know, streets of gold and blah..." You know the best thing about heaven? No sin. That's the most appealing thing about it. Don't you get sick of it? I'm not talking about sin in your spouse, I'm talking about yours. And no one who is born of God continues in an unbroken pattern of sin, it can't happen. Why? Because His seed is in you. You have an incorruptible seed, Peter says, a new life, a new nature, a new creation.

And then verse 10 sums it up. Here's how you distinguish the children of God and the children of the devil. It's obvious, I like obvious is it? "Anyone who doesn't practice righteousness is not of God," that's enough for me.

How do you know who's a Christian? Somebody who loves what is right, who loves the law of God, who hates sin, who has a pattern of righteousness interrupted by sin, that sin that he hates. It's the residual of his old self, his old disposition.

In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul talks about this and he says, "I have been crucified with Christ." What do you mean, Paul? I'm dead, the old Paul's gone. The old life has died. "It's no longer I who live," that old ego, that old I is gone, "Christ lives in me." Wow...and if Christ lives in you, everything is different...everything. There's a new life principle that produces a new life practice.

If...if we don't understand who a true Christian is, we're confused at the most critical point, aren't we? Because we can't tell a person their true spiritual condition. They may be lost on the way to hell, it doesn't help them to tell them they're Christians. And we've also invited Satan's tares into the church. People who do not love God's truth, who do not love His righteous law, who do not hunger for what is right, don't have a new heart...don't have the new birth, don't have an incorruptible seed, don't have Christ living in them. They haven't been delivered.

If the heart hasn't been changed to love God's Word, if the heart hasn't been changed to love God's law, if the heart hasn't been changed to desire to obey the law of God as Ezekiel 36 puts it, if the heart hasn't been changed to pursue virtue, not sin, then that heart hasn't been changed at all. The hallmark of salvation, folks, is you understand, you believe, you embrace the truth of the gospel, you love that truth and you love righteousness and you hate sin. True Christians worship God, love the Word of God and obey the Word of God. They are like the deer, we read about in Psalm 42, who pants for the waterbrooks, their soul pants after God. The psalmist says, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." The psalmist says in Psalm 119:97, "Oh how I love Your law."

So if you have a child or a spouse or a brother or sister or friend or an acquaintance who really wants to sin, plans to sin, finds fulfillment in sin, doesn't have a passion for righteousness, doesn't have an interest in the truth, the person hasn't been delivered. He's not a Christian, no matter what they claim.

Today, as we've been saying, evangelical church and leaders are saying anyone who says he's a Christian is a Christian. Anybody who says they believe in Jesus is a Christian...liberal, Protestants, charismatic, Roman Catholic, orthodox, sort of free-floating unattached people who believe in Jesus. You know, athletes who do this...when they make a good play and then get caught soliciting a prostitute, anybody who claims to be a Christian can be tested by truth and virtue. This is critical. Real deliverance produces a changed life.

There's a third point and I'll just tell you what it is, we'll do it next week. They have been delivered from the dying world to the eternal Kingdom. Profound, and we'll look at it next time. Let's pray.

Father, what clarity, what precision Your Word provides. Thank You for the examples of men of the past that we talked about this morning whose testimonies are instructive to us because of their faithfulness, the power of their lives which You so mightily used. Give Your church a restored confidence, a restored passion, a restored hunger for truth, for the Word of truth. We pray, Father, that You will give us discernment so that we can truly judge a person's spiritual condition. Protect Your church from the downgrade of truth, the downgrade of Scripture. We just pray, Father, that You will awaken pastors and leaders to be faithful, to preach Bible truth and Bible dress relentlessly and passionately for all the years of their ministry that You might do a mighty and true work in hearts. Thank You for the deliverance You have provided us by Your grace, in Christ's name. Amen.