“Do You Think You’re Any Better?”
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
TEXT: Luke 13:3, 5 ~ The words of Jesus: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Introduction: 106-year-old lady dancing in the White House said, “The Bible says, ‘Laughter is the best medicine.” (Readers Digest)
Psalm 2:4 ~ “He who sits in the heavens laughs” – in derision at us!
Other so-called Bible verses:
“God helps those who help themselves.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 ~ “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Actually, God’s Word says that He will not tempt you beyond what you are able to endure.
God will give you a way out, a way to resist the temptation to sin. (So you are without excuse: No matter how strong the temptation, you could have resisted. God provided you with the way of escape.)
But as far as laying a heavier burden on you than what you can carry goes – God will lay the heavy burden of the Law on your back (“break your bones”) – but only to bring you back to your Savior, only to help you realize you cannot bear your burden alone, that you need Him…
Psalm 51:8 ~ “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”
Despite all the evidence from God’s Word that each and every one of us was as spiritually dead as the worst sinner imaginable…
Despite the Apostle Paul claiming he was Chief of Sinners…
No matter how many times we sing,
“Chief of Sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me…”
I. We do think we’re better…
A. We act like God chose us because we had sense enough to repent.
1. We twist Scriptures (like “if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right”), pretending that means we earn our way to heaven by being good enough.
2. We forget that Jesus also said, “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40
3. “We deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…”
B. Justice = Death (The unholy eternally separated from the Pure and Holy God)
1. We like to deceive ourselves into thinking our sins aren’t’ so bad that we deserve to die and suffer forever.
2. We like to think we earned and deserve God’s love because we repented and believed – and now God owes us for what we did – forgetting that it was God who granted us repentance and belief…
II. God makes us better than a filthy sinner.
A. He makes you his own dear child
1. He loved you even before he restored your purity…
2. Christ Jesus did your suffering for you – paid the full price!
B. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
1. So He “digs and dungs” – granting you repentance again and again…
2. The Word feeds us, strengthens us, until we bear fruit worthy of repentance.
3. And then when we fail again, the Word leads us back again, back to our baptism, where we remember that we have been washed clean.
How can we continue to sin?
III. We ARE better: God makes us better!
A. Magnificat: Elizabeth praises God who blessed Mary:
1. Luke 1:41-55 ~ “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’”
2. The Magnificat: Mary praises God who blessed her:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
B. God has done all this for you! Blessed are YOU among all people!
1. I Corinthians 15:19-20 ~ “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
2. We are better, because of Jesus Christ and all he has done for us!
And yet, we are no better than others, because Christ died not for us only, but for the sins of the world.
Let your neighbors know the promise is for them, too.
Conclusion: It’s easy to get depressed during Lent. Don’t get lost in your sorrow and contrition over your sins that caused Christ to die for the sins of the world!
He didn’t stay dead! Don’t be depressed… Be grateful! Thank God that he led you to repent. God has granted you a new heart that repents and returns to our dear Father.
Ezekiel 33:16 ~ “None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him.” The bones that God has broken will rejoice!
WE HAVE CAUSE TO REJOICE EVEN NOW!
NOW we delight to do God’s will.
(And when we stray again, we repent again and once again delight to do God’s will. Lead a life of repentance.)
GOD HAS GRANTED US REPENTANCE AND WE WILL NOT PERISH!
Christ rose from the dead – and you will, too!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understating, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.