There is enormous pressure on you today to think of the good — good, opposite of evil — to think of “good” in ways that have nothing to do with God. Just think now: “Okay I call that good, I call that good, I call that good,” and God is never even in your mind when you say it. And so does the world. So you can strip God out, strip the Son of God out, strip a heart out that is dependent on God and delighting in God — just strip all that out and still have good.
This is what Paul said in Romans 14:23: “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” That’s devastating, for everybody in the world. Whatever action, whatever attitude does not proceed from faith is sin. Here’s the way Hebrews 11:6 puts it: “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God].”
So on this last point, I’m asking, “Okay, what’s the glory of the Christian life?” And Paul and the writer to the Hebrews are saying your life is just sin and your life is just displeasing to God unless there’s faith; that is, unless there’s an embracing of God as supremely valuable.
Don’t reduce faith to affirmations of sentences that Satan himself knows are true. Faith is the reception and the embrace of all that God is for us in Jesus, with a restful contentment and joy. And Paul says, and Hebrews says, where that is not happening, life is evil. Sin. That’s as radical as you can get.
Most of you probably don’t believe that. Without faith, you cannot please God. What was the ultimate essence of the Pharisees’ sin? They devoured widows’ houses, they despised sinners, they distorted the law, they exploited the poor, they felt no mercy, they neglected justice, they murdered God’s son. Is that the essence of their evil? No.
The essence of their evil is that they loved money. It says so in Luke 16:14. And they loved the praise of man. And out of that cesspool of preferring the praise of man and what money can buy, preferring all that to the God of grace, everything evil came out of their lives which we hate. But now, will you go down in your heart? Will you get at the root of what the ultimate essence of your evil is?