Sermon delivered October 4, 2003 by Pastor Delmar Anderson

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the King James Version KJV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Are You Perfect Yet?

1 John 5:7-13

Jesus is the Way, isn't He. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Aren't you thankful you know Jesus this morning? Where would you be? What would you be doing if you didn't know Jesus? How wonderful He is.

If you have your Bibles this morning I would like for you to look at the book of Matthew 4. There is a verse there that takes us back some two thousand years to a time when spiritual darkness covered the earth. The earth was a dark place. Now, let's read Matthew 4:16 and 17. The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

You see, for four thousand years, the great adversary, Satan had been trying to erase the knowledge of God from the face of the earth. Humanity had become more degraded through ages of transgression. When men lose sight of God, they don't know what life is all about. They don't know what they're supposed to be doing on planet earth. They look at the future and they see nothing but darkness. After four thousand years, the deception of sin had reached its height. To the masses of people death was a dread mystery. Beyond was uncertainty and gloom. Even the Jews had so departed from God that they had well nigh lost hope. They couldn't see into the future. Bewildered, deceived, humanity was moving in a gloomy procession toward eternal ruin, to a death in which there is no hope of life, toward night to which comes no morning. The dark shadow that Satan had cast over the world grew deeper and deeper.

The great adversary, Satan was exulting that he had so debased the image of God in humanity. He was trying to make the gulf between heaven and earth impassible. It was his purpose to so degrade the human race that the forbearance of God would wear out, and God would abandon the world and the human race to oblivion.

Within ten centuries the unfallen worlds watched. They were wondering what was going to happen. Would the God of the universe arise and sweep away the inhabitants of the earth? And if God should do this, Satan was ready to carry out his plan of securing for himself the allegiance of heavenly beings. But God so loved the world...1 Instead of destroying the world, God sent His Son to save it. The prophet, Isaiah, said in Isaiah 9:2: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

You see, God had revealed many years before that the connection between heaven and earth could not be broken. You remember the story of Jacob, how that he had deceived his father and stolen the birthright. We find him fleeing from his brother, Esau, in fear of his life. He felt he was an outcast. He felt that God had cast him off. He confessed his sin with weeping and he prayed for some evidence that he was not utterly forsaken.

God did not forsake him. He lay down on the ground to sleep and as he slept, he saw a ladder reaching from heaven all the way to earth. The angels were ascending and descending on that ladder. Now, that ladder represents Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Jesus would leave the courts of heaven. He would come to this dark world and take upon Himself humanity and He would become our substitute and our surety. He would pay the penalty for sin by giving His own life for us. And by His own merits, He would bridge that gulf between heaven and earth that sin had made. Jesus made it possible for man to be restored to the favor of God and escape the penalty of sin, and receive the gift of eternal life.

It was at this time that when the deception of sin had reached its height that God sent forth His Son to dispel the darkness that covered the earth.

We read in Galatians 4:4, 5. When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that might receive the adoption of sons. What did Jesus Himself say there in John 12:46? I am come a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness. Now, humanity could understand the real meaning of life. They could understand what life was all about. They could understand death and what it means. They could understand that death is only a moment of sleep and then comes the resurrection to eternal life. There hearts could be filled with hope. They had something to live for. They had something to look forward to. They could be filled with assurance, and their hearts could once again be filled with joy and happiness, for Jesus said in John 14:6, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life:

Yes, Jesus is the Way. He is the Way to life. There is no other way. There is nothing you can do, there was nothing man could do to dispel the darkness. There's nothing you can do to earn eternal life. It is God's gift.

Oh, what a wonderful Savior we have! What He has done for us is clearly stated in that book, Steps to Christ. I love this statement so much, it's so clear, it's so wonderful. It fills our hearts with hope and assurance. "The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been,--just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents,--perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness."2 What am I going to do? The condition of eternal life is perfect obedience to the law of God.

Now, "It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous." (What hope do I have if the condition of eternal life is absolute perfection? Absolute righteousness to gain eternal life? What am I going to do?) "...We have not righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us."3 He lived a sinless life, He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness, which is perfect obedience.

If you give yourself to Him and accept Him as your Savior, then sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in the place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as though you had never sinned. Oh, what a wonderful Savior we have!

You see, God's holy law is His character in written form. Now, God is infinite. And if that law is God in written form, that would make His law infinite, wouldn't it? So, the demands of the law on you in order for you to have perfect righteousness, is infinite. Infinite righteousness! What does "infinite" mean? It means, inexhaustible, immeasurable, inconceivable, absolute perfection, absolute righteousness. The law deals with more than simply outward acts. The Sermon on the Mount makes this clear. It deals with the very thoughts of the heart, the intents of the heart. It deals not only with sins of commission, but sins of omission.

Friends, our wonderful Savior has met all the demands of the law for us. He is our substitute, He is our surety. His righteousness is ours. You see, that's His name. Jeremiah 23:6. ...The Lord our righteousness. What a wonderful name.

Notice the experience of Joshua. Zechariah 3:1-4. He shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. Satan points to Joshua and he says, "Look at him. Look how sinful he is. Look at all of his failings. He has no right to heaven." And the Lord said unto Satan, "The Lord rebuke the, o Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

Now, Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. Christ answered and spoke to those who stood by him, the other angels, and said, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And unto him He said, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."

This scene depicts what Christ does or has done for you and me. Joshua stood there as a representative God's people; you and me. And, there he stands under condemnation, clothed in filthy garments, his own righteousness. And Satan is standing there accusing him, telling God, "You have no right to save him. You didn't save me, now You have no right to save him." He presents before the Lord their evil doings, their faults and their failures. He pints to their filthy garments, their defective characters, their unlikeness to Christ. And the Lord's people, Joshua stand there trembling. He has nothing to say. He can't answer.

But then, God's people plead the merits of their Redeemer in Christ. He takes away the filthy garments and places His own robe of righteousness on him.

Notice how Jesus illustrates this wonderful truth in Matthew 22:1 cf. And Jesus answered and spake unto them and said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. Now, every guest had been provided a wedding garment. This garment was a gift from the king. The king came out to inspect the guests that had come to the wedding. The determining factor was not the goodness or the worthiness of the guest, but the generosity of the king. Everyone dressed in the king's garment could join in the wedding feast. Everyone was on the same level. They all depended on something the king provided as a gift. They all had the same opportunity. But there was one man who refused the garment. He wore something of his own doing.

When the king looked at him, he said, "How did you get in here? Now, this robe is a gift. You can't make it, no matter how good a tailor you are." God's law demands infinite righteousness, and that only Christ can provide. We're told that the life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character. "Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make is meet to appear in God's presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put on every repenting believing soul."4 And we're told this robe is woven in the loom of heaven has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and His character He offers to impart to you.

In Colossians 2:10 we're told, And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power. Are you perfect yet? If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, continue to abide in Him, Paul, the apostle, says, "you are complete in Him."

Paul tells us of his experience of receiving Christ. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute the followers of Christ. A great light appeared in the heavens. It was so brilliant, this light from heaven to light the earth. Paul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Why are you persecuting me?" And Paul said, "Who are you?" The voice said, "I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest." Paul said, "What would you have me to do?"

I want you to notice how Paul described his life before this experience. He said, "I was of the stock of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew, touching the law of Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the Christ, teaching the righteousness in the law blameless."5 Paul said, "I was keeping the law. I was blameless." He believed he was justified by obedience, by his own works, by his own obedience. But after that experience, he understood then that Christ provided the righteousness that he must have.

Then Paul said in Philippians 3:9, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. What is Paul saying? He's saying "I want to be found abiding in Jesus, not depending on my own righteousness, my own works, but I want to be clothed in that beautiful garment of infinite righteousness that Christ provides.

Notice in Romans 4:1, the experience of Abraham. It says, What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him the worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

That word, "count" means to reckon. In other words, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned or put down to a person's account. Like Paul said in Romans 3:20, Romans 3:28, Yes, we have a wonderful Savior. He is our substitute and our surety.

Now, I don't want to be misunderstood here. There's another element involved here and this is something that is very important. When we come to Christ and accept Him as our personal Savior, giving our hearts to Him, we are clothed with that beautiful garment of absolute infinite righteousness. Absolute perfection which is required for our entrance into heaven. But what effect does this kind of faith by which we are justified before God have in the life? Well, let's go back to Abraham. It says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, but what happened then? What was the result of that kind of faith? Well, it says in Genesis 26:5, Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws. So true faith always leads to obedience, and if obedience doesn't follow, our faith does not justify. Jesus can't clothe us with His robe of infinite righteousness unless we have forsaken sin. We are choosing to walk in obedience to His law.

True faith works by love to purify the soul. Paul said in Romans 3:31, Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If ye love Me, keep my commandments." I want us to make this very clear, that this is something that is very important. In true obedience, the motive is not to earn salvation. The motive is love. True obedience is the result of love.

What would you think of a husband who says to his wife on the first night of their honeymoon, "Now wife, this married life is really going to be hard on me. But for your sake I'm going to deny myself the things that I used to enjoy so much. It's really going to be hard for me to give up all these things that I could do as a single man. It's really going to be hard because I crave these things. But I'll just buckle down no matter how much it hurts, no matter how hard it is. I'll just buckle down and do it all for you." What would the wife think? What kind of relationship is that? You see, dear friends, God wants us to obey Him because we love Him. Not because we feel like, "I've got to do this and I've got to do that or I'm going to be lost. I don't want to do it, but I have to. Or I'm going to be lost."

If your obedience is that kind of obedience, you have the wrong motive. You're on the wrong track. What did David say in Psalm 40:8? I delight to do Thy will, O my God: Yea, Thy law is within my heart. If we really love God, His love is in our hearts, we will delight to obey Him. "But while God can be just and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with garments of Christ's righteousness while practicing known sins or neglecting known duties. God requires the entire surrender of the heart before justification can take place. In order for a man to retain justification there must be continual obedience through active living faith that works by love and purifies the soul." The motive is a faith that works by love.

This is really the essence of the New Covenant. In Hebrew 8:10 it says, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. Now, what is God's law? A little while ago we said that God's law is a little transcript of His character. God's law is His character in written form. He says, I'm going to put My law in your heart." And His law is His character in written form, so what He is saying is: "I'm going to put My character in you." When God's character is in us, it become our character. Therefore it's the natural thing for us to keep the commandments, because it's us. It's our character. God's character is our character. We're going to act and talk according to our own character, aren't we. So, if God, in the new covenant, puts His character in us, there's your true motive of obedience. That's the kind of obedience god wants. Any other kind of obedience is no good.

God's law is love. God's love is in our hearts under the new covenant. Just as the angels of heaven were keeping the law before sin entered, they were keeping god's law and didn't realize it. They didn't realize it. It was just the natural thing to do. They didn't have to go down and read the commandments, "Well, I've got to do this and I've got to do that." No. It was them. It was their character. This was the problem with the Jews. They never attained to righteousness because the law was not in their hearts. That's what Paul tells us in Romans 9:31,32. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness has not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. You see, they did not have God's character in their hearts. They thought they could be saved by outward obedience.

But then in Romans 9:30 Paul says, The Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. By faith we receive the robe of Christ's righteousness. By faith we allow God's character to come into our hearts. True faith works by love to purify the soul. "The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins because these sins are borne by His substitute surety." The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying, "This is My child. I reprieved him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy, eternal life because I have taken his place. I have suffered for his sins. He is My beloved son." This man, clothed in the beautiful garments of Christ's righteousness, stands faultless before God.

Back to those verses we read in the Scriptures, 1 John 5:11, and I love these words. They're so comforting. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. It's in His Son. It's not in our works. This life is in His Son. Verse 12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

These things I have written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." We don't have to doubt about having eternal life. We may KNOW that we have eternal life. It doesn't say we are going to have eternal life: it says we have eternal life. We have it right now. This is the beginning. When you accept Jesus, that is the beginning of eternal life for you. You can have full assurance. You can know that you are a son or a daughter of our heavenly Father. We can know that we have eternal life.

And when we have this kind of faith, the darkness is gone. Now we can be happy Christians. We don't have to go around doubting, wondering if we're going to be saved. Wonder if we're ready to meet the Lord. We are ready to meet the Lord because we have the wonderful, beautiful robe of Christ's righteousness, and we have accepted His character into our lives. We can be filled with assurance. We can be filled with peace and joy. And you can say, with assurance, with the apostle Paul, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.6 It is our privilege today to have that kind of faith. My prayer is that this may be the experience of everyone here this morning.

1 John 3:16
2 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 62
3 ibid.
4 Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 311.
5 Philippians 3:5,6.
6 2 Timothy 4:8

Hymn of Praise: #252, Come, Let us Sing
Scripture: 1 John 5:7-13
Hymn of Response: #208, There'll Be No Dark Valley

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