Genesis 012 – Religion Versus GraceGenesis 3:6-7 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 1, 2020 • Genesis
Genesis 012 – Grace versus Religion
Dr. Andrew Woods
…And where’s the pastor? Well, you better hope it’s not the rapture if you’re still here. I got into a conversation with a wonderful person there in our foyer and lost track of time. But anyway, let’s take our Bibles, and open them to the Book of Genesis 3:6. Let me say once more that one of the things you need for our study in Genesis 3 is this handout. Did you all see that in the back? It’s got an outline and a written summary of Genesis 3, and that will cover the ground that we’re trying to cover. Online, folks, don’t panic. You’ll find it in our archives. Go to this sermon, and go to sermon notes, and you should have the exact same handout.
But we are studying, as you know, the Book of Genesis. The first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis is the beginning of the human race. That big section has four parts of it, one of which we’ve completed: Creation. Genesis 1 is an overview of the whole creation week. Genesis 2 focuses on day six. So everything is humming along just fine. What could possibly go wrong? Well, Genesis 3 went wrong. And without an understanding of Genesis 3, you can’t really understand why we need Jesus. Genesis 3 and the after effects of Genesis 3 in chapter 4, the first murder, and chapter 5, the universal problem of death, is a description of how humanity strayed from the will of God and began to suffer consequences and repercussions.
As W.H. Griffith Thomas said in one of his commentaries concerning Genesis 3, “This chapter is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.” Jesus does not make sense to people. And the reason He doesn’t make sense to people is because they don’t realize they’re drowning. Reaching out for a life preserver doesn’t make sense until you figure out you’re drowning. In Genesis 3, we figure out we’re drowning, and suddenly the provision that the Savior provides for us by way of a rescue operation falls into place. But that rescue operation doesn’t make sense unless you understand the dire circumstances that we’re in. And that’s why the Lord gave us Genesis 3 in our Bibles.
This particular chapter [Genesis 3] has about five or so parts to it, the first of which we covered last week, the temptation by the Serpent. And as we looked at that section, we saw Satan’s tactics: four of them. And we also saw Adam and Eve’s mistakes: four of them. And now we see that the temptation has been offered and the mistakes have been made, we now move into Genesis 3:6, and after that, as time permits 3:7-13, where we will see the actual sin of Adam and Eve, 3:6, and then the results of that sin, 3:7-13
There are, in 3:6, two major things to think about:
- The three avenues of temptation, the first part of 3:6.
- The breakdown of God’s authority structure, the second part of 3:6.
So notice, if you will, Genesis 3:6, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
What the Bible indicates is that when we come under temptation, there are only three avenues through which temptation can come. Those are described very well for us in 1 John 2:16, which says “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (avenue number 1); the lust of the eye (avenue number 2), and the boastful pride of life (avenue 3) is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. Every time we come under temptation, it’s only coming through those three avenues. Sometimes it’s a combination; 2 of 3 sometimes 3 of 3, but those are the only ways temptation can come.
Lust of the flesh: what exactly is that? It’s the temptation to use one’s body in a way that’s displeasing to the Lord. You can think of a lot of different things that would fit under that category: the abuse of drugs, alcoholism, sexual immorality, and on and on we could go. It’s an appeal to the the body—gluttony would be an example; lust of the flesh—use your body in a way that’s displeasing to the Lord.
And then the second way temptation comes is through lust of the eyes. It’s an appeal to the eye gate: covetousness—desiring something that really does not belong to you. Desiring someone else’s popularity, someone else’s prestige, someone else’s wealth, someone else’s spouse. These would all fit under that category of the lust of the eye.
And then the third avenue is the pride of life, which is simply an invitation to live your life the way you want to live it independently of God. You’re the boss. You’re in charge. You’re the master of your own fate. You’re the master of your own destiny. Go ahead and sing the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way.” ‘God doesn’t know what’s best. I know what’s best.’ Pride of life.
Lust of the flesh. Lust of the eye. The pride of life. What’s very interesting is you see all three of those, not just described in 1 John 2:16, but you see them all there at the beginning of Genesis 3:6, ”When the woman saw that the tree was good for food,”… [lust to the flesh; lust of the body; use your tongue, use your body in a way that’s displeasing to the Lord], “…and that it was a delight to the eyes,” [lust of the eye]. “…and that it was desirable to make one wise” [pride of life].
It’s interesting to me that Jesus Christ, in Matthew 4:1-11 and in Luke 4:1-13, recording the same story, the same historical account, faced the exact same temptations. And when you study Matthew’s record of that, you’ll see three temptations that Jesus experienced at the hands of Satan in the Judean wilderness. And when you read the same account in Luke’s gospel, you’ll see the same temptations, but Luke does something very interesting. He takes temptations 2 and 3 and reverses the order. I think Matthew gives you the proper order chronologically, but when Luke describes the exact same temptation, he’ll take numbers 2 and 3 of the three temptations and reverse those. Why would Luke do something like that? Because he’s trying to show that Jesus, the Son of Man, which is Luke’s major theme, went through the exact same temptation the way Eve did. Eve was tempted in this order, lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. Jesus went through the exact same thing in that order.
Lust of the flesh: Satan says to Jesus after he was fasting for 40 days, “Command these stones to become bread.” That’s an appeal to the body. You’re hungry. God wants you to fast. ‘Go ahead and break the fast and eat as you please; You are deity, after all, so use your miraculous powers to satisfy the needs of the body.’ It’s an appeal to the flesh. Lust of the flesh.
Temptation number 2, as Luke records it, is that Satan in an instant, showed him—it was visual; it was an appeal to the eye gate. He showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the earth. And he essentially said to Christ, ‘Bow down and worship me, and they could all be Yours.’ That’s an appeal to the sight or to the eyes. It’s actually, when you look at that temptation, an appeal to get an end run around the cross. Satan is saying to Jesus, ‘Look, I know why You’ve come into the world—to redeem the world. I know that the route for redemption is through the Cross. You don’t have to go through the Cross. Just give me,’ [Satan says to Christ], ‘a moment of worship, and the kingdoms will be Yours.’ And it was a visual display. When you study Luke 4:5-7, Jesus saw these things—lust of the eye.
The third temptation is the pride of life, where Jesus was tested or tempted to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple—to test, to see if God will break the fall through the provision of the angels. And ‘If you pull this one off,’ [Satan is saying to Jesus], ‘if you pull this one off, think of the immediate following You will have. Think of Your level of popularity. Because no one has ever done anything like this in Jerusalem.’ And so it’s a subtle appeal to the pride of life. And the reason that Luke is reversing temptations 2 and 3 is [because] he is harmonizing what Jesus experienced with exactly what Eve experienced. And what’s interesting is where Eve failed, Jesus succeeded. This is why the Scripture refers to Him not as the second Adam, but as the last Adam.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45 it says ‘So also it is written. The first Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.’ So Jesus succeeded in every single area where Eve failed.
That’s why there has been nobody like Jesus. Nobody has ever succeeded like that. And Jesus must have been God in human flesh. I mean, intertwined with His humanity, must have been connected to that deity, because any normal human being would collapse and fold under those circumstances. And so what exactly do you have in this Man, Jesus Christ? You have Somebody who has been pushed to the furthest degree a human being has ever been pushed in the only three areas that temptation comes: lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
There’s no other way to push Him further in those three areas than what Satan did to Him, or allowed him to experience in the Judean wilderness. And yet Jesus succeeded because He wasn’t just man. He was the Son of Man; intertwined with humanity was deity. The Book of Hebrews 4:15 says this of Jesus Christ, “He has been tempted at all points as we are, yet without sin.” And you say, ‘Well, how could Jesus have been tempted at all points like I am? I mean, I’m facing a specific temptation at work to embezzle money. Jesus never faced anything like that. Or, I face this temptation, or I face that temptation. Jesus hasn’t faced anything like that.’ But on the other end of the stick, He has experienced that. Because there are only three avenues through which temptation can come: lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, the pride of life. All temptations fit under those three categories. And Jesus was pushed to the furthest degree a human being has ever been pushed in each area, and yet without sin. He succeeded where Eve failed, He succeeded where we fail because He was not just man, but He was the God Man. And this explains to us why the Book of Hebrews 4:15-16 refers to Him as our sympathetic High Priest. How could He be sympathetic to me? How could He be sympathetic to you? Because He stood in your shoes. And maybe He didn’t face exactly what you face, but He faced that category, whether it’s lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, or the pride of life. And He was pushed much further than most of us will ever be pushed in those categories, yet without sin.
And so when you pray to the Lord and ask Him to help you in the midst of temptation, He knows exactly what you’re going through having stood in your shoes. He knows exactly what you’re experiencing. And He knows how to provide mercy and grace in that time of need having experienced temptation to the ultimate degree in these three avenues, the only avenues through which temptation can come.
See, back in my basketball days, I played basketball from seventh grade all the way through my senior year in college, and I had all kinds of coaches during that time period. I had coaches where it was evident that they had never played basketball in their youth. And then I had other coaches that had actually played. Some were very successful either at the high school level or the college level, having played the game of basketball, and when coaches are telling you to endure as they’re making you run or lift weights or whatever, obviously, which coach has your respect? Not the guy that’s never stood in my shoes. What would he know about the pain I was in trying to get in shape for basketball? He wouldn’t know anything about it because he’s never experienced it.
But the coach that’s lived it and gone through it—when he’s telling you to do X, Y and Z, that coach has your respect because he’s experienced what it is to stand in your shoes. You see that? And it’s this very thing that makes Jesus what He is, as our High Priest. You’re not praying to some kind of neutral deity that doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer— when you pray to Christ. You’re praying to Someone that has has been tested, has been tempted in all ways, yet without sin. He knows exactly how to minister to you and to me in our time of need.
And so, Eve’s failure here is sort of the beginning of the rescue operation that Jesus will employ because Eve folded, but Jesus did not, although He was pushed much further in Luke 4:1-13.
He indeed is the last Adam. There hasn’t been anything like Him before or anything like that to follow. John, in his gospel, calls Jesus the monogenēs. When you see that word, ‘begotten,’ “only begotten Son,” it’s a translation of the Greek word ‘monogenēs. Mono. You recognize that word as in monopoly, one or singular, and genes, you recognize as a species or a kind. You have a similar word in biology to describe species and kinds. Monogenēs —put those two together, and it simply means one of a kind. The only begotten Son. What does that mean? It means one of a kind. Jesus is one of a kind. He could stand under temptation because He wasn’t just man. He was the God Man. And as far as I can tell in the area of world religions, this is very unique to Christianity. I don’t know of any other religious system that teaches such a thing. Whether it’s Buddhism or Islam or any other system of thought you give yourself to, I’m not really sure when you pray to those alleged deities, [you are] praying to someone that suffered just like us. But how different this Man, Jesus Christ, who is qualified to be a sympathetic and merciful High Priest, having suffered as we do.
We continue on with Genesis 3:6, and what you start to see is the breakdown of an authority structure that God Himself had established in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise [lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, the pride of life are all there] “she took from its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.” Now, what you’re witnessing here in 3:6 is a breakdown in male headship that God has established within marriage, and we have spoken of this, have we not? And it needs to be spoken of because there has arisen something in our culture that now comes into evangelical Christianity, a movement called evangelical feminism, which is a theological movement within the church that seeks to abolish all gender role distinctions within marriage in the church. ‘How dare you say that the man is the head of the home!’ You say, ‘Well, it’s in the Bible.’ The response from evangelical feminism is, ‘but that was never the original design of God. That is a consequence or a repercussion of the fall. That’s not what God originally intended. So all of your passages saying that the man is the head of the home, and it outlines in Ephesians 5 the man’s responsibility in the home, the woman’s responsibility in the home, those are all verses that are post-fall, not pre-fall.’ But I’m here to tell you that the structure that God had established is pre-fall. God established male authority within the home, within the family prior to the fall, contrary to what you hear from evangelical feminism. Why would I say that? Well, as we have looked at when you look at the order of creation on day six in Genesis 2, what you discover is Adam is created first. Eve was created second. Eve is deceived first. Adam falls into sin second.
You say, ’Well, is the order of creation really that big of a deal?’ You bet it is. To God it is. When Paul lays out actions telling women that there are certain offices within the church that are off limits to women, Paul says this, “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.” ‘Now, why would you say something like that, Paul?’ Paul says, ‘I’m glad you asked,’ 1 Timothy 2:13, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” I mean, the order of creation is very significant here, and that’s pre-fall.
Number 2, Eve did not name Adam; Adam named Eve. You’ll see Adam naming Eve as we have studied in Genesis 2:23. It’ll even happen again post-fall, Genesis 3:20, and that’s an authority issue. Because as you go through the Word of God, when somebody names something, they’re exercising authority over what they just named. Genesis 1:10 says this “And God called the dry land Earth.” Why would God do that? Because He has authority over the Earth. So when Adam names Eve, it’s demonstrating that Adam is in that place of authority. In fact, when you go into the Book of Daniel, and these [see slide on Biblical Significance of Naming] are all of the passages you could look at to show the biblical significance of naming, but you’ll notice that Nebuchadnezzar renames the three Hebrew youths. Their names are changed from Jewish names to Babylonian names to the names that we know today, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But those were not their original names. It was Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah.
When you study the Hebrew names, they reflected different parts of God’s character. When you study the Babylonian names, they reflected different aspects of the Babylonian captivity that Israel had just been taken into. And when Nebuchadnezzar does that, you know what he’s saying? ‘I’m the boss.’ That’s what the renaming is. ‘I’m in charge; I have the authority.’ And the rest of the Book of Daniel says, ‘No, you don’t.’ And the God of Heaven shows up numerous times to vindicate His authority over Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian authority.
So the fact that Adam is naming Eve, and not the other way around, is a big deal, not only in terms of that, but also in terms of the order of their creation.
And things are going to go south real quick. Sin is going to enter the human race. And what does God say there in Genesis 3:9? ‘The Lord God called to the woman’— it doesn’t say that, does it? “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So Eve sins first, Adam sins second, but God does not call out for Eve in terms of accountability. He calls out for Adam. Why in the world would God do that when Eve sinned first? And it relates to the fact that Adam was in charge. He was the boss. He was the leader. And when a company goes belly up, you don’t go after the janitor, you go after the guy that’s in charge. And so from a simple reading of early Genesis, you can understand why this whole evangelical feminism is off—the argument that male headship is something that originated after the fall. It did not originate after the fall. It was the design of God prior to the fall. Now also Romans 5:12, New Testament, says this, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world.…” [Wait a minute. I thought Eve sinned first. Why doesn’t Paul say ‘through one woman sin entered the world.’ Why does he say “through one man sin entered the world?” Because of the leadership of Adam and his failure in that regard.
However, it’s very tempting for male chauvinists to abuse passages like this, and to get out of balance because there’s another side to this story. When you go back to Genesis 1:26-28, God says, concerning authority, “Let them…” [That’s plural. That’s both of them]. “...subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God gave that authority to both of them. But the male was put in that place of headship in that authority structure.
We also have noted that when God formed Eve, he did not form Eve from Adam’s foot, implying her inferiority. He formed her from his side. He did not form her from his head, implying her superiority. He formed her from his side. So, yes, men and women certainly have different roles to play in terms of God’s authority. But in terms of value, both are equal. Both are absolutely equal. In fact, 1 Peter 3:7 calls the wife “…a fellow heir…” of salvation. It says, “…[You] husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker,”…Now, weaker, I don’t think means she’s less important. It’s just stating a simple truth concerning the fact that she’s more fragile than he is. She is more fragile than he is physically. Now, I know some of you are watching WWF, and you have these Amazon women, and they put guys in headlocks and beat the daylights out of them. That’s like the exception to the rule. He’s not covering every single exception. And generally speaking, a woman will be reduced to tears faster than a man. It’s not saying she’s not smart, it’s not saying she’s not intelligent. It’s not saying she has nothing meaningful to do under God. It’s not saying she’s inferior. But quite clearly, she’s the weaker vessel.
So why should I, as a husband, dwell with wisdom with my wife? ‘Why shouldn’t I just roughshod right over her?’ Because, number 1, she’s weaker than you. And number 2, ”…she is a woman; and show her honor as “a fellow heir of the grace of life”….” Do you see that? She’s going to the exact same heaven I’m going to. She is an image bearer of God, just like I am. She is a co-ruler just like I am. But God gave me as the man, God gave the man in the marriage the place of authority—pre-fall.
It’s a lot like the Trinity, the triunity of God, where God the Son submits to God the Father. Does that not happen over and over again in the Gospels? Does not Jesus submit to the will of the Father? Does not Jesus, over and over again, say, “Not My will be done, [but]Thy will be done.’ And yet when Jesus submits to the authority of the Father, He never yielded a millimeter of deity. He’s fully God. So therefore, it must be a submission in terms of role and not value. That’s the biblical position. The female position is a submission of role and not value. It is a submission of function. Here’s the fancy words—paid a lot of tuition money to learn fancy words; got to use them on somebody. It is a submission of function and not ontology. It is a submission of role and not value. When Jesus submits to the Father, He is submitting in terms of His function or role within the Godhead, not in terms of His ontology or value, or the fact that He is fully deity, just like the Father is fully deity. The Son simply plays a different role. That is the authority structure of God—pre-fall, contra-evangelical feminism, and that is the authority structure that Satan is unseating right here in Genesis 3:6.
Genesis 3:6 says “She took from its fruit [the tree of knowledge, that is] and ate. She also gave to her husband with her”…notice that Adam is there. He’s not on vacation. He’s not in the Bahamas. He’s not reading the newspaper. He’s not out working on the garage. He’s right there when this whole thing happens. The Hebrew grammar supports that, by the way. And he knew fully what was happening and didn’t bat an eye, didn’t move an inch, he just did not exercise his leadership function within the home. Adam is supposed to be leading his wife in spiritual things, and that is not what is happening. He is actually following his wife into sin, and everything that God established early on, pre-fall, is now unraveled. You have the breakdown in male headship. You have that same breakdown today, by the way. It’s something that married couples constantly deal with. A lot more on that as we progress, particularly when we get to 3:16.
So we have the sin of Adam and Eve. We have the description of the three avenues of sin. We have the unseating of male headship. And now what follows 3:7-13 is the results of the sin. What happened? What are the consequences? Because night follows the day just as consequences follow sin. You pick the sin, but you do not get to pick the consequences. So what are the consequences? There are actually four things that happened. There are four things that not only happened to Adam and Eve, but they happened to the whole human race, which are still dominating us and plaguing us to this very day. [See slide on the Results of the Sin]
The first thing that happened is that Adam and Eve got religious. In fact, Genesis 3:7 is the first act of religion found in the whole Bible. Notice 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” ‘Oh, we blew it. We’ve just committed an offense against a holy God because we’ve eaten from the forbidden tree, and we’ve got to get this situation fixed.’ Not a bad desire. The problem is they tried to fix it themselves. That’s religion. Because when you look at the rest of 3:7, it tells you exactly what they did. “…they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” And there’s religion. You say, ‘Well, what is religion?’ That’s why I’ve titled this message, ‘Religion versus Grace.’ It’s all explained right here in the opening pages of God’s Word.
Religion is man’s attempt to solve his sin problem through his own efforts. That’s religion. People sometimes refer to me, I remember growing up, and after I became a Christian, they say, ‘Well, well, Andy, Andy is religious.’ I am not religious. I am, in fact, probably the least religious person you may ever run into in your whole life. I hate religion. The fact of the matter is [that] it was religion that killed Christ. The Pharisees—they’re religious. But religion has no place in Christianity because Christianity, rightly understood, is not religious; Christianity is not ‘man, fix yourself and earn your way into God’s presence.’ And humanity has been religious ever since. In fact, archeologists tell us that you go all around the world. And there are artifacts and remains of religion wherever you go. Man is recognizing that something is wrong, and he’s trying to do something to fix the problem. Isaiah 64:6 is very clear that God will not accept religion. Isaiah 64:6 says, “For all of us we have become like one who is unclean. And all our righteous deeds...” [Doesn’t say unrighteous deeds] “And all our righteous deeds,…” [All of the things that we think we can do to fix our problem in sin]. “All our righteous deeds [unto God] are like a filthy garment,” [a polluted garment].
God will never accept religion. He will never accept my ambition and tactics to fix things, to earn my way back into His presence. You know what God will accept? He will accept grace. You say, ‘Well, where is that?’ It’s in Genesis 3:21. This is what God will accept. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife.” Where do you think those garments came from? Well, obviously, an animal had to have been killed right there on the spot. What did the animal do wrong? Nothing. The animal is an innocent sacrifice. That’s the point—3:21, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” The garments that Adam and Eve made for themselves had no, what I can tell, blood associated with them. Didn’t we just finish celebrating the Lord’s Supper, looking back on His blood?
God says in Genesis 3:21, ‘The way I’m going to fix this, it’s going to get bloody. Because what I’m going to do is I’m going to take an innocent animal, and I’m going to kill that animal on the spot, and I’m going to take the garments of skin from that animal, and I’m going to clothe you. You will not clothe yourself. I will clothe you. And if you won’t receive that as a gift, you can’t have a relationship with Me.’
So we get to the New Testament, and John the Baptist in John 1:29 says, “Behold”, [when he saw Jesus coming there on the Jordan]…“Behold the LAMB of God, which takes away the sins of the world.” And you read that and you should just be shocked out of your mind because there you learn that the innocent animal is God’s Son. ‘You mean He’s going to kill His own Son? Yes, He is. Well, what did His Son do wrong? Nothing. Just like the animal, presumably killed with the garments of skin taken from that animal did nothing wrong.’ And that’s Christianity.
God Himself steps into the line of fire and absorbs the wrath in our place. It’s like committing a crime, and your father is the judge of the county. And you go before your own father for sentencing. And your father issues the harshest penalty that can be issued under the law, and then your father takes off his judicial robes. He steps down from behind the bench, and he says to the bailiff, ‘Take me away in my son’s place.’ That’s Christianity. That’s grace. That’s the basis on which humans enter or come into a relationship with God. Paul the Apostle had to learn grace. Because Paul, when he was Saul, was right there in verse 7 trying to fix himself. In fact, that’s where the majority of people in the world are today, even as I speak. They’re right there in verse 7, even people that go to church. Even in the Bible Belt, churchgoers think this. ‘I guess I’ve got to go to church to do my deed of the week, whatever that is, so God will like me more.’
Paul the Apostle talks about the righteousness which he had or thought he had prior to salvation, and he calls himself blameless. And did he get a wake up call! If there was ever a need for a guy for a wake up call, it was Saul who became Paul. And Paul writes about it later after his new insights. And he says “…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.“
Aren’t these animal skins coming from God to Adam and Eve per Genesis 3:21? Isn’t it a picture of transferred righteousness? It’s all here. And what a foreign idea this is to us. I mean, why don’t people embrace this? Why don’t people accept this? Well, I’ll tell you why they don’t. It’s completely contrary to the way we operate. It’s completely contrary to the way we we work. I mean, if you work hard at your job, you get you get rewards, right? You work hard at school, you get rewarded for it by good grades.
And here comes God saying ‘You can work till the cows come home. I won’t accept any of it. You come to me through the avenue that I have ordained through My Son, or you don’t come.’ And oh, my goodness, when you come to God through the avenue that He has ordained for it, what a shock to the system that is. That is a total unlearning of everything we know to be right. And the reason people don’t like it is, ‘Well, what is my role? How can I be special? What bragging rights do I have?’
You know, there’s a reason why the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians called the gospel an offense. What is so offensive about it? Here’s what’s offensive about it. It removes bragging rights. That’s what’s offensive. You can no longer look at your long list of what you accomplished and say, ‘God, aren’t you lucky that I’m on your side?’ It’s one of the most humbling things that could ever happen to a person—to understand the gospel—to receive the gospel. And many people don’t like it for that reason. They cling to their religion. And beloved, as God is my witness, hell itself, right now, as I speak, is jam-packed with the most religious, sanctimonious people that have ever walked this planet, the Pharisees being part of that crowd.
This is a quote attributed to Luther. I haven’t been able to track it down, but whether he said it or not, it’s a wonderful quote. He said, “Every week I preach justification by faith to my people because every week they forget it.” Why do we have to keep hearing it over and over again? Because we forget it. We just go back to normal operating procedure in the flesh in the world of religiosity; in the world of religion. People say, ‘Why do you go to conferences?’ I’ve got to go places where I can hear grace again. Because in my mind, I get so confused. And I will so quickly go back into the flesh, start doing things, thinking that God is somehow obligated to shine on me because I did X, Y, and Z. That’s the spirit of religion. That’s the spirit of Adam and Eve. It’s the spirit of Cain, the spirit of the Pharisees that killed the Savior. It’s all the same. It’s religion versus grace. And may God help us to to understand this.
The second thing that happened, by the way, and here’s a nice chart that exemplifies the whole thing. [See slide on Religion Says]… What does religion say? It’s at the top of the screen. Religion will say Jesus did about 90%. So there’s a 10% gap that you need to make up. ‘Well, what do I need to do?’ Well, my Roman Catholic friends have told me it’s three words, “Pay, pray and obey.”
And if you don’t “pay, pray and obey,” how in the world are you going to make up for the deficit that Jesus left us on the cross? That’s the way most people think about Christianity. That’s their interpretation of it. That’s their impression of it. They think it’s Christian. It’s not Christian. They don’t know any better. And let me tell you something, beloved, if you believe that, at the top of the screen, you say, well, how can you be so sure on this? Because that’s what I believed. I believed that for 16 years. I was raised 16 years in that system on the top of the screen. In fact, for 16 years of my life, before I heard the gospel, understood the gospel, I was right there in Genesis 3:7, ‘sewing them fig leaves together;’ week after week, thinking that somehow I’ve earned my way into God’s presence. In fact, the man that shared the Gospel with me, asked a simple question, and you might use this as a question. Because how people answer this question will show you whether they’re in the world of religion, top of the screen, or in the realm of grace, bottom of the screen. You just ask them, ‘Well, if you’re going to get into heaven, why should God let you in?’ And listen for the “I’s” and “my’s” because they’ll start coming. That’s what I said [at] 16 years old when I was confronted with grace.
I have done this, and I had done some things. I was an acolyte in the church. I had a perfect Sunday school attendance record. They actually gave me, the church we were in, a large metal cross for it. I mean, how could God not want me? I have done this, I have done that. “Me, my,” and we got a really bad case of the “I’s.” That’s the problem with religion. It’s a bad case of the “I’s.” And if you believe the top of the screen, you know what’s always going to be bothering you your whole life? Whether you’re really going to make it. Because “pay, pray and obey.“ I mean, how do you quantify that? Those to me, seem kind of subjective. How do I know if I’ve done enough? And there are people today who really have no assurance of salvation. And the reason they don’t have any assurance of salvation is because they’re on the top of the screen; they’re in verse 7 still. Most of the religious world, most of humanity, is there. By the way, the top of the screen is why people walk away from Jesus. Look at how onerous Jesus is; look at what he requires, when in reality, they are rejecting a caricature created by Satan, of Jesus, but not the real Jesus. Where do I find the real Jesus? I don’t find him in verse 7. I find him in verse 21.
I find him at the bottom of the screen where God says ‘Jesus did 100%.’ Where did He say that? That’s exactly what he said in John 19, I believe it’s verse 30. His final words on the cross where “It is finished?“ It’s the translation of the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which is a Greek term found all over the Greco-Roman world by way of archeology, and it’s it’s an accounting term. It was what was used to describe someone who paid their bill. Tetelestai, which, by the way, is in the perfect tense—one time action, ongoing results. Tetelestai, the accounting term, means paid in full. Jesus did it all.
Do we understand how badly Satan is challenging that today? How people are confused over something as simple, as fundamental as this. And we have evangelical pastors, and it’s an abomination when they say it. They talk about final justification. Final justification is out of the pit of hell. What do they mean by final justification? Did your good works outweigh your bad works to prove you’re one of the elect at the final justification? I’ll use the names of people that teach it. John Piper teaches that. Thomas Shriner, a scholar, teaches that. It’s right there inside the Bible-believing camp, and it is a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty. There is no such doctrine as final justification. The Bible teaches that the moment you place your faith in Christ, justification is a done deal because it’s not based on what you do to begin with. And you may go from that, receiving that, and live the most holy life that can be imagined, and your justification didn’t get altered one iota. And you may go out from that and live like the devil for ten years or more. And you’re still justified because it comes to you by way of grace. ‘Well, gee, Pastor, you’re really on thin ice now because now you’re promoting unholy living; an unholy lifestyle. And people are going to hear you, and they’re going to say, well, I’m just going to go sin up a storm.’ Yeah, maybe people will. But you know what I’ve discovered? When people like myself—others—actually see what grace is, and you see what God has bequeathed to you at the point of faith, how could anybody look at that and say, ‘Well, I’m just going to go do what I want?’ The natural reaction of understanding grace as it’s revealed, is simply to say, ‘I just can’t believe what I have.’ And as Romans 12:1 says, ‘we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices, because that’s what’s reasonable.’ That’s what’s logical.
Grace rightly understood, reasonably or logically leads to holy living. Why is that? Because there’s something that wells up within the heart that says, ‘I want to glorify God for what I have. I’m not trying to pay Him back. I can’t. I’m trying to pay Him back. I’m religious and maybe don’t even understand grace to begin with. I’m not trying to somehow add what was deficient in the cross. I can’t do that because Jesus says ‘paid in full.’ But oh my goodness, receiving this free gift that I have, gosh, what’s logical to do; what’s reasonable to do is to offer to the Lord my body as a living sacrifice.’
Grace, I’m convinced, does not lead to licentiousness. It leads to a desire to live for God, maybe as never before. Let me tell you something, folks. Most churches around the world today, most churches in the United States, most churches in the Houston area will never even mumble a single syllable of what we just communicated. You know why? They want to keep you afraid. Because, my goodness, if I tell them that they’re complete in Christ, maybe the offering won’t be as big. Maybe people won’t come. Maybe they’ll go to another church. Maybe they won’t live right. And so it’s a torrential rain pour in the world of theology of pastors saying, ‘I hope you’re going to make it. Because if I don’t see some good works, then maybe you’re not one of the elect.’ Or on the Arminian side, maybe you’re going to lose salvation. And they want you in a state of fear of showing up before God at the judgment, and maybe your good works don’t outweigh your bad works, and maybe you weren’t one of the elect, and therefore, maybe you won’t experience final justification. That’s a motivating tool. That’s the way to keep people in a state of enslavement. It’s a way to keep people in a state of bondage. Yet why do that?
- It’s false.
- The most productive people for God on planet earth are people who understand the
grace of God.
And you see all that there just in Genesis 3:7. Look at that: we covered two verses today, only 47 chapters and a half left.
But if you’re here today, and you have never received the grace of God, the exhortation is very simple based on what we’ve explained: Jesus did it all; receive what He has done for you as a free gift by way of faith. You can do that now, even as I am talking. If it’s something that you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray? “Father, we’re grateful for this early historical record, and how it reveals truths that are New Testament and even 21st century truths that we desperately need to hear and need retaught over and over again. Be with us as we continue our way through the Book of Genesis, we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said Amen!”