In the following sermon clip Pastor John talks about what it means to have God’s word, his law, with us, and his Spirit within us. The presence of the Holy Spirit changes everything about the Christian’s obedience. The result is that we live off of the approval of God, not the approval of man. Here’s what Pastor John said in a sermon back in 1999.
I remember a day in seminary 31 years ago. It was the fall of 1968. My systematic-theology teacher, Jim Morgan, was a big, strapping, strong 36-year-old man who died of stomach cancer in six months from this moment that I am talking about. He just shriveled up to nothing. It was the day of the Vietnam War, and people were going barefoot to class and hitting the streets afterward, and Jim was a real radical.
And one day we were in this heated conversation after class. I can picture it right by the refractory. I learned the word refractory at Fuller Seminary: it’s where you eat. And there he stood, and in the middle, he stopped and he said, “John, I love Jesus Christ.” It was an overwhelming sentence. I had never heard a professor say that in my life: I love Jesus Christ. It just took my breath away.
Do you feel some of that welling up inside of you? If you do, thank the Spirit. It doesn’t come naturally to love Jesus.
Law + Spirit
The law plus the Spirit results in an internal change of the heart that loves God and is circumcised. Law plus Spirit equals satisfaction in the praise of God, even if no man approves what you do. You can be content and satisfied because you know, in Christ, God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. I can sweep all of your errors away because I paid for them with the blood of my Son. Well done.”
Isn’t it great to know that even our sin-infected good deeds are going to be praised by God? That is awesome. You don’t have to produce a perfect deed to get the praise of God because, if you did, there would be no such thing as the praise of God. There won’t be a perfect deed you have ever done until the twinkling of an eye changes you into the image of Jesus. But all the little contaminations or big contaminations of the good things you do are burned up in the fire of Calvary, so that what is left, he will praise. And knowing that, you will have a smile forever, and there will be this mutual delight that goes on and on that so satisfies the heart of the saint, that if nobody approves what you do, you are a rock. Don’t be a second-hander.
Real with God
When I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged twenty years ago, another thing emblazoned itself on my mind: her hatred of second handers. Me too. Not the people, but the concept — that is, always choosing what you do and what you say, not because of its intrinsic worth in the face of God, but because an eye is being cut to what they will think and say about it. That is a second hander.
Don’t be that way. Be real with God. If you have God, if through Abraham you are a beneficiary of the covenant — I will be your God, you will be my people — then who cares what people think?