The Prayers of the Spirit

The Prayers of the Spirit

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Romans 8:26-27 as we continue to walk through the eighth chapter of Romans. The text is centered upon the subject of prayer and Paul explains how the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness. 

Prayer is one of those subjects that goes unaddressed by many pastors and consequentially it becomes ignored by many believers. Bad habits often continue on from a child through adulthood without being corrected. This can lead to severe problems regarding the spiritual walk of a believer along with an ongoing pattern that’s passed on from one generation to another. 

Consider the prayer life of James, the half brother of Jesus. He became a follower of Christ after Jesus’ resurrection and rose to the leadership role of the church in Jerusalem. He was martyred for his faith in Christ, yet, what we often don’t hear about James is that he was a prayer warrior. He was known by many as “camel knees” since he spent so much time on his knees they were rough and tough like that of an old camel. 

Another man that we learn a great lesson from in church history is George Muller. He loved the orphans and cared for thousands of them during his lifetime—however, it was his relentless prayer life that propelled his ministry forward. George Muller once said, “I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.”

According to Romans 8:26, we are weak. Often we pride ourselves in our strength or we live life remembering how strong we once were in the past. We think that if we really worked hard, we could get back to that level again when in all reality it’s simply not possible. Perhaps you remember the days when you once lifted weights or competed in various athletic disciplines. To decline physically is considered normal, but it’s the exact opposite spiritually. So, why do we think about our Christian life in the same way? We think about how we once memorized verses of Scripture, searched the pages of the Bible soaking up the doctrine, and longed to pray to the Lord. But, over time that pattern declined and today your spiritual life parallels your physical life – both are in a state of decline.

According to Paul we are weak and stand in need of the help of the Spirit of God. When we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit of God helps us! This is one of the unique roles of the Spirit of God—as helper he brings us to a place of prayer and encourages us to remain steadfast in the faith during seasons of difficulty and challenging trials. Leon Morris observes, “It is not only that we do not pray very well; it is also the case that, while we often think we know what we need, we are not always good judges of that either.” [1]

The Spirit of God not only helps us in our weakness, but he intercedes for us in prayer. In other words, the Spirit of God prays for God’s children. When we read the Bible, we find that Paul and Moses struggled in prayer at times, so none of us can pray a perfect prayer. However, the Spirit of God prays with perfection. The third person of the Trinity praying to the first person of the Trinity without the slightest error or sinful motive. This should be of great joy to our hearts. John Knox once said, “Our needs go far beyond the power of our speech to express them.”

Paul says the Spirit groans in our hearts. John Murray explains that the groanings “are the intercessions of the Spirit and the groanings are but the way in which these intercessions are registered in the hearts of God’s children.” [2] As the Father searches the heart (vs. 27), he receives the prayers of the Spirit that are registered in our hearts. The Spirit of God knows what we need and he likewise prays in complete union with the Father.

When we pray, we often conclude our prayers by saying, “if it be your will.” The Spirit of God has no need to conclude his prayers in such manner. He prays in complete unity with the Father and knows the will of the Father before he prays. In other words, the Spirit prays in complete perfection unlike us in our weakness. 

Life magazine photographer, Cornell Capa, once asked Elisabeth Elliot if she was fearful to go live with the Aucas after they had killed Jim. The photographer was asking her if she was concerned that God would not answer her prayer for safety since he didn’t answer her prayer for Jim’s safety. Her answer came back without hesitation: “I prayed for the protection of Jim, that is, physical protection. The answer the Lord gave transcended what I had in mind. He gave protection from disobedience and through Jim’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only Eternity can show.”

Remember in your weakness to have confidence that the Spirit of God is near and he will help you to pray. Whatever you do—don’t neglect your prayer life. 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing.


  1. Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 327.
  2. John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), 312.


The Eager Anticipation of Glory

The Eager Anticipation of Glory

In the summer of 1941, C.S. Lewis was asked to give an evening sermon at the Oxford University Church of Saint Mary. His sermon was titled, “The Weight of Glory.” In his sermon, he described the longing that humans experience as we await the return of Jesus. In the sermon he described that eager longing as “a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.”

The only thing that will bring about true satisfaction in this life is the coming glory of God that will be ushered in as Christ returns. Yesterday as I preached Romans 8:18-19 in our ongoing series through Romans—it’s clear that these verses serve as the prelude for what Paul will further develop in verses 20-25. However, it’s likewise clear that both Christians and the non-rational (sub-human) creation as a whole is groaning with expectation for the return of King Jesus.

The children of God live in a broken world filled with sin and suffering. The suffering (πάθημα) can include both persecution and general hardships of life. However, after Adam fell in the Garden and Paradise was lost—sin entered the world and death came as a result of sin (Rom. 5:12). Anyone who desires to live a godly life will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) and as a result of this broken world—both Christians and non-Christians will endure hardships. The rain falls on the just and the unjust—and so do the results of the curse. If you visit a hospital will you find both believers and non-believers who are occupying the rooms on any given day.

The children of God long for the return of Jesus because such hardships and suffering do not compare to the glory that will be revealed in Jesus. When Christ returns, he will make all things new. The results of Jesus’ future glory for the lives of God’s children include:

  • Glorified humanity
  • Perfect life without sin
  • Food without decay
  • Street of gold
  • Gates of pearl
  • No more sin
  • No more disease
  • No more pain
  • No more death
  • No more tears

That’s why it is said of Abraham, he “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

Not only do God’s children wait with eager expectation for Jesus to return, but so does all of God’s creation. Both the animate and inanimate creation (sub-human and non-rational) creation. This includes the trees, hills, animal life, and everything that has life. The creation knows that there is a curse upon this earth. The very best day in this life cannot compare to the Garden of Eden. It was a lush and perfect paradise without decay, disease, and death. Yet, after the fall—everything changed. Just look at the location where the Garden of Eden was located in the Middle East region—it’s largely a desert today.

Paul uses personification to describe creation moaning with expectation for Jesus to return. Today, even creation knows that all is not well. Both the animate and inanimate creation feel the curse of this present evil world.

  • Disease
  • Decay
  •  Wildfires
  •  Tsunamis
  •  Earthquakes
  •  Tornados
  •  Hurricanes
  •  Landslides
  •  Floods
  • Desert land
  • Famines
  • Lack of water
  • Diseased animals
  • Bugs that devour plans
  • Diseases that kill flowers and fruit and trees
  • Polluted water
  • Polluted air

One day, the Last Adam (Jesus Christ) will return in glory to usher in his visible Kingdom and he will make all things new! William Hendriksen observes, “Beautiful and very meaningful is the phrase “the revelation of the sons of God. It indicates that not until the day of Christ’s Return will it become a matter of public knowledge how much God loves them and how richly he rewards them.” [1] In his sermon in 1941, C.S. Lewis described our anticipation by writing the following:

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

Are you ready for Christ to return? Has the Holy Spirit caused you to find assurance of your salvation and a longing for the return of the King?


  1. William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, vol. 12–13, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 267.
The Blessings of the Doctrine of Adoption

The Blessings of the Doctrine of Adoption

Yesterday I preached from Romans 8:15-16 on the doctrine of adoption. As we’ve already noted numerous times in our study of the eighth chapter of Romans, this entire chapter centers on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. However, one of the main aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to provide assurance that a person is a true Christian. In this text, we learn about how we’re blessed as a result of our adoption into the family of God.

Fear is something that plagues many people in this life—and sometimes that’s the case for those who profess Christ as Savior. If we’ve been adopted into the family of God, we do not have to live a life of fear and anxiety. Instead, we can live a life of assurance because we’re no longer slaves to unrighteousness and held in bondage to the law of God with the inability to fulfill the righteous demands. We can fear the Lord without being terrified of the judgment of God (see Exodus 19:16).

Psalm 111:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

As adopted children, we are called out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. We have received the Holy Spirit who indwells us as believers. Although the Holy Spirit is referenced by several different titles in the Bible, we see here that he’s referenced as the Spirit of adoption. The doctrine of adoption is central to the Christian life. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s love for his people. That’s one reason adoption is a great practice in our day as well. When I speak with people who have been adopted, I often tell them that their adoption is a picture of how God chose us. It’s a human illustration (although imperfect) of God’s love for fallen humans.

  • Moses was adopted into Pharaoh’s family for a divine purpose!
  • Esther was adopted by her uncle Mordecai.
  • 2 Samuel 9 – David adopts the son of Saul – Mephibosheth.

The Greek term used by Paul here in this text is huiothesia which means “to have an installation or placement as a son” and serves as the technical Greek term for the process of adoption. Not only was the child transferred from one family to another or from no family to a specific family, that child was given the full rights of a son. The adopted child received full rights of an heir and could never lose it.

Another blessing that comes as a result of our adoption is the intimacy that we enjoy with our heavenly Father. If you look at the language surrounding verses 15-16, you will see that it’s centered on the language of family relationships.

  • In verse 14, you see the terms, sons of God.
  • In verse 15, you have the language of adoption as sons.
  • In verse 15, you see the emphasis on Abba Father.
  • In Verse 16, you see the language of children of God.
  • In verse 17, you see the language of heir.

In terms of salvation, we view God in different functions of his character. Regarding the doctrine of election, we think of God as Sovereign. When it comes to the doctrine of regeneration, we think of God as Creator. Regarding our status of justification, we think of God as Judge. However, as it pertains to the doctrine of adoption, we think of God as Father.

We often fail to realize how revolutionary Jesus’ words were in the model prayer. At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry—there was a vast chasm between the people and the personal name of God as Father. For instance, the great name for God is YHWH and is usually translated Jehovah or Yahweh and was protected by the Jews. It was so fenced off from the people that we don’t truly know how to pronounce it to this very day. The reason why is that it was not pronounced and there was no indication for how it should be pronounced.

In the Scriptures, the vowel pointing for Adonai (which means Lord) was substituted for the divine name Jehovah which was to remind the readers to say Adonai instead of Jehovah. In many ways – like the Jewish laws that were added to God’s law in order to protect the Sabbath from violation or from becoming common place. So the way they approached the name of God was the same way — they were seeking to protect God’s name from becoming common among the people. Jesus comes along in his earthly ministry, and as God in human flesh, he points the people to pray, “Our Father…” which was revolutionary.

Paul walks in Jesus’ footsteps and as an apostle – points people to pray to God as Abba FatherWhy Abba? We must recall that Jesus spoke Aramaic. So, when he was praying, he was not speaking Greek. The New Testament is written primarily in Greek language. So, as Jesus prayed, he would have called God Father in Aramaic which is Abba. So, Paul and the apostles remembered that and wrote it down even when they were writing in Greek! Unlike the other world religions that depict a deity who is far off and detached from the common man or woman—we come to God as “our Father” who is interested in his children.

The final blessing that we see in this section regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit is his work of assurance. It’s not the work of a pastor to provide members of the church with assurance of their salvation. According to Romans 8:16, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. If you want to know that you’re a true Christian, depend on the work of the Spirit who indwells all true Christians. That’s his work.

In 1654 the Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote, “Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions…. [However] most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell. Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; [then] they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalency of such or such a temptation …. They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.”

That’s not the way we should live our lives as followers of Jesus. We are given the Spirit of adoption to assure us that we belong to our heavenly Father. In fact, in 1 John, we find these words:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). 

As a child of God, you should live a life of assurance as the Holy Spirit confirms and convinces you that you are indeed the child of God. As you live with such assurance, your walk and your worship will be full of joy and purpose each day.

Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood


The Assurance of the Holy Spirit

The Assurance of the Holy Spirit

Yesterday, I preached Romans 8:14 in our series through Romans. As we’ve noted already, the eighth chapter of Romans is a commentary on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and much of that ministry is centered upon the assurance of salvation. One of the great threats to joy and traps of discouragement in life is the lack of assurance that many people struggle with as they pass through this evil world. Some of that lack of assurance is because of struggles with sin and yet others are merely the ongoing attacks of the ancient enemy of God—the devil. In this one verse, we learn how to have assurance as believers.

Mortification of Sin Produces Assurance

Paul writes, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The word translated led comes from the Greek term “ἄγω”  which means,
“To direct the movement of an object from one place to another.” In Luke 4:40 the text says that people “brought” all those who had diseases and sicknesses to Jesus to be healed. This is the same word translated led in Romans 8:14. It implies movement. To be a Christian will involve movement and this movement known as sanctification involves waging war with sin.

Notice the connection between 13 and 14 as we see the connection language of “For” by Paul which is being used as a hinge. In other words, everyone who is led by the Spirit of God will be able to overcome sin and will be engaged in the mortification of sin. This is not something we can do on our own, but as we overcome sin, it’s yet another proof that we are being led by the Spirit and empowered to victory.

Progressive sanctification is the ongoing and progressive work of the holy Spirit changing from one degree to another—an ongoing spiritual growth that results in spiritual maturity—causing us to become more conformed to the image of Christ than the world. We see this language of sanctification and holiness all throughout the New Testament (1 Thess. 4:7-8; 1 Cor. 9:27; 1 John 4:4; Heb. 10:23). In other words, if you are not pursuing holiness and overcoming sin as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have a right to call yourself a Christian. In such a case, you should lack assurance.

The New Birth Produces Assurance

In all of our study of salvation, we must not forget that the work of salvation is a work of our triune God. As we study the Trinity, we must not forget that the Holy Spirit himself is God. He is no less God than the Son, nor is he less God than the Father. He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son—never created and will never cease to be God.

  • In Job 33:4 – The Breath of Almighty
  • In Psalm 51:12 – The Generous Spirit
  • In Psalm 143:10 – The Good Spirit
  • In Psalm 51:11 – The Holy Spirit
  • In Isaiah 11 – The Spirit of Wisdom, counsel, might, understanding, knowledge, and fear.
  • In Hebrews 9:14 – The Eternal Spirit
  • In Hebrews 10 – The Spirit of Grace
  • In John 14 and 15 – The Comforter
  • In 1 Peter 4 – The Spirit of Glory
  • In Revelation 1 – The Seven-Fold Spirit
  • In Romans 8:9 – The Spirit of Christ

One of the great errors of many within religious circles – even many within evangelical circles – is to place a hyper-focus upon the Holy Spirit. When we read the New Testament, we find that his ministry is to lead us to Christ—not to himself. Therefore, the overarching ministry of the Spirit is to direct us to Christ in the pages of the Bible (2 Pet. 2:21) and to draw us by his work of conviction to a place of repentance and faith. We see this language of being called to salvation throughout the New Testament in verses such as:

  • called to fellowship with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9)
  • called to inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9)
  • called to freedom (Gal. 5:13)
  • called to peace (1 Cor. 7:15)
  • called to holiness (1 Thess. 4:7)
  • called to a worthy walk (Eph. 4:1)
  • called to one hope (Eph. 4:4)
  • called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12)

The work of salvation is not a work of our human will. It’s a work of God’s saving grace. It is the work of the Spirit who causes us to be born again. After the new birth, we leave behind a life of slavery to sin and walk in obedience and submission to our new Master—Jesus Christ. We become slaves of righteousness. It’s the work of the Spirit to lead us and guide us to truth and to correct us of error.

As we live the life of a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and leading us, and the Spirit leads us to identify with God’s people in the church. Notice the language Paul uses in Romans 8:14, “sons of God.” That’s family language which implies that we are apart of God’s family. We have brothers and sisters in the faith—God is our Father—we are his sons and daughters. Therefore, we need one another and God never intended for anyone to journey alone. One of the evidences that you are a “son” or “daughter” of God is that you love the church! We are called to love the church, serve the church, forgive one another in the church, and encourage one another in the church.

Love the Church

  • Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 – Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart
  • 1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
  • 1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Serve the Church

  • Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Forgive One Another

  • Ephesians 4:3 – eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  • Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Encourage One Another

  • Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Are you plagued with fears and doubts regarding your salvation? Ask yourself a couple of very important questions as you examine your own soul. Do you have evidence that the Spirit of God is causing you to hate sin and to fight against it? Do you have a love for the church of Jesus Christ? If this is not true of you—you may simply have religion, but your religion apart from genuine faith in Jesus Christ is empty and vain.

If you’re not a Christian today—why not come to Jesus in repentance admitting that you’ve sinned against God and that you need his love and mercy and forgiveness through Christ?

If you desire to be a Christian – it’s God who works in you such a desire. Respond to him – call upon the Lord even now. He loves to save sinners.

Mortification of Sin

Mortification of Sin

Yesterday, in our ongoing series through Romans, I preached Romans 8:12-13. As I’ve previously stated, I believe that Paul is the greatest church planting, pastor, theologian in church history. I likewise believe that Romans is the most important book in the Bible. In addition, I believe that Romans 8 is the most important chapter in Romans—and the most important chapter in the entire Bible. Therefore, we find ourselves in a rich study through Romans and it’s amazing what God is teaching us about salvation.

In many ways, Romans 8 is a commentary about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In a very unique manner, the Holy Spirit who most often places the focus upon Christ, pulls back the veil just a bit for us to see the role and responsibility of the Spirit of God in our salvation from beginning to end. The Holy Spirit is involved in our regeneration and his indwelling role involves the work of progressive sanctification.

In Romans 8:12-13, we find that the Holy Spirit is leading believers to put to death the deeds of the body. The language of “put to death” is what has previously been translated, “mortify” and entire books and studies have been written on this very subject throughout church history. In his great work on mortification, John Owen states, “A man may easier see without eyes, speak without a tongue, than truly mortify one sin without the Spirit.

The Christian life is not pictured as a “lazy lagoon” ride toward heaven. It’s a life of great trial, difficulty, and an ongoing war within to overcome sin, pursue holiness, submit to God, and progress in sanctification. This is not a passive calling. This is an active engagement by the believer and it’s here in Romans 8:12-13 that we see our calling as Christians to engage.

The difficult work of mortification of sin involves the engagement into the dark places of a person’s heart. This type of introspection and self-evaluation is not always exciting work. However, it’s necessary. Like black mold growing in dark places—if left unchecked it could become a serious and potentially deadly problem. Suppose you were seated on your couch on a Friday evening and something caught your eye and as you turned, you saw a Diamondback Rattlesnake crawling around the corner of your baseboard in your living room. What do you do at that point? Well, you certainly don’t reach for more popcorn and reengage into your latest Netflix episode. You immediately engage because of the threat the snake imposes.

The same thing is true with sin. We must never be at peace with sin, or it will demonstrate that we are not at peace with God. We must view all sin as venomous and deadly intruders into your hearts and lives. The calling is to war. We must engage. We can’t afford to wait. We are called to put it to death.

Psalm 139:23 – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

Two Types of People and Two Eternal Destinies

Two Types of People and Two Eternal Destinies

Yesterday I preached from Romans 8:5-8 in our series through Romans. While many people attempt to teach a third category of people (the carnal Christian) and a basic Universalism approach to eternity with heaven being real and hell being reserved for the monsters of society—it’s imperative to grapple with the reality that Paul sets forth in this paragraph and to understand that real people go to hell everyday and they will never leave. Where will you spend eternity?

Paul begins with a comparison of the two people and their eternal destinies. The unbeliever sets his mind on the things of the flesh (the world) while the believer sets his mind on the things of the Spirit (God and the things of God). The unbeliever receives the second death while the believer receives eternal life and eternal peace. That’s the entire point of Romans 8:5-6. In other words, what we believe controls how we live. Unbelievers love the world proving that the love of the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15). The believer loves God and demonstrate that by a life devoted to him. The unbeliever goes to hell and the believer goes to heaven. There is no other option.

Paul then completes this section with three clear statements about unbelievers. As you consider these statements, examine your life and see if you are in the faith.

Statement #1: Unbelievers are hostile to God

In Romans 8:7, Paul states, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God…” The word translated hostile is the Greek term, ““ἔχθρα” which means “to be at enmity with God; hatred towards God; to be hostile in attitude and action towards God.” This means that a person who is an unbeliever is the enemy of God and is at war with God. This warfare is manifest in both active and passive disobedience. In other words, there is both a physical and non-physical (mental) aspect.

The unbeliever who is at war with God can physically rebel against God by physical acts of sin that demonstrate hatred. This could include everything from murder to sexual sins such as homosexuality and adultery. Self-mutilation is another means of physical war against God—including the sin of suicide (self-murder).

The unbeliever who is at war with God can likewise wage war against God with ideas and ideologies. For instance, “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Ps. 14:1). The false ideas about God and false teachings about his character, the doctrine of salvation, and various other ideas that assault the nature and sovereignty of God prove that even mentally—the unbeliever uses his or her mind against God.

Statement #2: Unbelievers Cannot Obey God

Paul points out that the mind of the unbeliever “does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Rom. 8:7). This is what we know as the doctrine of Total Depravity. The Bible teaches that man, if left to his own ability and his own will, would never choose God. According to God’s Word—the unbeliever is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-10). Furthermore, the unbeliever cannot understand God’s Word, because such understanding comes from God (1 Cor. 2:14).

By nature, the Word of God teaches us that we are lawless (rebels) against God:

  • Matthew 7:23 – And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • Matthew 23:28 – So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
  • 2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
  • Titus 2:14 – who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
  • Romans 4:7 – “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;

The unbeliever cannot obey God – because his will and desires are in bondage to sin. This is why John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Statement #3: Unbelievers Cannot Please God

What separates Christianity from most world religions is that other religions teach that it’s possible and necessary to please God by works. Christianity teaches that it’s impossible. God pleases God. That’s the point of the cross. Guilty sinners come to God through Jesus’ work. Paul is laboring in Romans to teach the clear doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone for the remission of sins.

The clear teaching of Scripture as a whole is centered on this reality:

  • Romans 3:20 – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
  • Galatians 2:16 – yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
  • Titus 3:5 says, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,”

That’s why we need a righteousness that we can’t perform or purchase. That righteousness does not come from within us. It’s what has been called “an alien righteousness” – one outside of us. It’s the righteousness of God. When Jesus died on the cross, he alone pleased the Father!

Isaiah 53:10 – Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

In the substitutionary death of Jesus, Christ was:

  • The wrath receiving
  • Justice satisfying
  • Guilt removing
  • Penalty paying
  • Sin atoning
  • Devil defeating
  • Grave conquering
  • Lamb of God

As you consider these two types of people and their eternal destines, what group of people do you see yourself with? What path are you walking? Where will you spend eternity—heaven or hell? If you are not a Christian, but you see your sin and understand your need for forgiveness, remember, Jesus by his resurrection proved that he has authority to forgive sinners. Call out to God today and plead for the work of Christ to be credited to your account. Plead for mercy from the God of mercy and you will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

Augustus Toplady wrote these words in his hymn:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.