Losing Your Religion – November 3, 2019 (Televised Version)

Losing Your Religion – November 3, 2019 (Televised Version)


male announcer: The
following program is paid for by the friends and partners
of Touching Lives. James Merritt: You’re tryin’
to do it all yourself. You’re trying to do all you can
for God and you’re hoping man, I hope he takes. I hope he accepts the paper that
I’ve written. I hope he takes the life that
I’ve lived. I hope that my good outweighs
the bad. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe,
maybe he’ll take me or you’re coming to God and saying, I
wouldn’t trust–I wouldn’t trust the best five minutes I’ve
ever live to get me to you. I’m putting all my trust in what
Jesus has done for me. announcer: Teaching people
everywhere who Jesus is and why they need him. This is “Touching Lives
with James Merritt.” James Merritt: If you want to be
right with God and if you want to know you’re right with God,
buckle your seatbelt. You have got to lose your
religion. You say, “Excuse me, you’re
a pastor.” Yeah, you heard me. You have got to lose your
religion, because as hard as it is to believe–I’m going to
tell you something may shock you. Being religious, trying to do
the rituals, trying to obey the rules, trying to follow
the regulations, tryin’ to keep the restrictions, may not, it
may not only not get you any closer to God, it may
wind up keeping you from ever knowing God. It may wind up ever even keeping
you from God. We’ve been preaching this series
on Galatians; we’ve entitled it “Free At Last” because one
of the reasons that Paul wrote this book and one of the reasons
he’s talking to these believers in Galatians is to let us know,
look, Jesus did not come to introduce us to a new
religion; Jesus came to deliver us from all religion. So we could actually enter
into a relationship with a God who’s not captured by any
religion. So he’s dealing with these
people called Judaizers, who are trying to tell these early
Christians what a lot of people still believe–what a lot
of you still believe. There are many of you, I believe
you come into this church every Sunday, you hear me preach every
week, and you still go out the door and you’re still
deep down think this: “If I wanna be right with God and if I
want to stay right with God, I’ve got to keep the Ten
Commandments to the best of my ability. I’ve got to obey the law
and I’ve got to follow the rules.” Well, Paul does something that’s
just brilliant. Paul actually says why don’t we
go to the law and see what the law says about the law. Why don’t we see if you can pull
off what you think you can pull off by keeping the law. And what you’re going to find
out is he appeals to that very law to show that people want
what we want the law to do, the law can’t do. What we would like for the law
to accomplish, the law cannot accomplish. And he shows us even the law
of God cannot get you to the God that gave you that law. So, whether it’s the law that’s
found in this book or you may have another book, your book may
be the Quran, you’re made book may be the Bhagavad Gita. I don’t know what your book is,
but Paul says, let me tell all of you, if you’re tryin’ to get
to God through your particular religion and through keeping
your particular law and following your particular
rules. There are four things you need
to remember about all religious law. Number one, the law is a curse
not a cure for sin. The law is a curse, it’s not
a cure for sin. Now, Paul knows he’s dealing
with people who love the Old Testament, they’re Bible
scholars in the Old Testament. They love to quote the Old
Testament. So he says, okay, let me quote
the Old Testament, and let me show you something that may
surprise you. The law actually curses itself
’cause here’s what we don’t understand: the law does not
commend people who try to keep it. What the law actually does is
condemn people because they can’t keep it. So, here’s what Paul says. Paul says, “For all who rely
on the works of the law,” for what? To be right with God, to get
right with God. So just fill in the blank. I’m relying on my baptism, I’m
relying on my church membership, I’m relying on paying my taxes,
I’m relying on being faithful to my wife, I’m relying
on giving money to the poor, I’m relying on not drinking too
much, not smoking too much. I’m relying on not using bad
language–just add everything you want to add. Paul said, “If you’re relying
on the works of the law, you are under a curse.” And then he quotes the law as
it’s written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue
to do–” and I can–you guys see that word? Can y’all say it out loud? Can you say it loud? Yeah, what does
“everything” mean? Yeah, you’re great, you’re
on target. Alright, it means everything. He said you’re under a curse. If you’re tryin’ to get to God
by being good, if you’re tryin’ to get to God by obeying
the Commandments, you’re tryin’ to good by being religious,
you’re tryin’ to be good by keeping the law, then you
better continue to do everything written in the book of the law. So, Paul’s being blunt. If you’re trying to be religious
enough, good enough, obedient enough to get to God. He said, you’re under a curse. You know what the curse is? The curse is not disobeying
the law; that’s not the curse. The curse is not perfectly
obeying the law. That’s the curse. He said you’re under a curse if
you’re goin’ to perform your way to God, you gotta meet his
standard not yours and God’s standard is perfection. And since his law is perfect
and he is perfect, think about it. If the law of God is perfect,
and it is; if God is perfect, and he is, and we’re trying
to have a relationship with a perfect God, logic itself
says then I’ve got to keep the law perfectly if I wanna
have a relationship with God who is perfect. See, here’s the problem. One of the problems we have is
we try to understand how God’s law operates and we try to kind
of see it the way that we think our law operates. So let me give you an example. When it comes to human laws,
here’s what we do: we grade ourselves on the curve and let
me tell you what I mean by that. I’ve heard this so many times. I said to someone about two
weeks ago–they were visiting our church and I said, “May, I
ask you a spiritual question?” They said, “Sure,” and I said,
“Do you have a personal relationship with God?” He said, “Well, I’m trying to,”
and I said, “What do you mean?” And he started–and I knew it
was coming. I’ve heard them all. Well, I’m not perfect. I’ve told a lie, but I’ve never
committed perjury. I’ve cheated on my test,
but I’ve never cheated on my taxes. When I was little I stole
a cookie, but I’d never robbed a bank. I’ve gotten in a lot of fights,
but I’ve never killed anybody. And so, here’s what we say,
well, I think I’m good to go because my good outweighs
my bad. And I’m not as bad as the guy
on death row. I’m mean, I’m not, you know, I’m
not–and in a way we’re right, in a way it makes sense. You’re not goin’ to jail
for telling a lie if it’s not perjury. The IRS is not gonna come
after you if you cheat on a test just don’t cheat on your taxes. You’re not gonna be locked
up for stealing a cookie just don’t rob a bank. The problem is God’s law doesn’t
operate that way. God doesn’t grade on the curve. So let me put it this way. I don’t know how it is now
because things have changed. When I was a boy, when I was
going to school, there was a grading system. So when an A would be 90 to 100;
B was 82 to 89; C was 70 to 79; D was 60 to 69; F was anything
below 60, okay? That’s not the way it is
in God’s school. In God’s school, there two
grades: A+ and F. There’s only two grades,
all right? You ready for this? Let’s see how good you are
at your math. So, if you make 100 on God’s
test what do you get? A+ What if you make 99, what do
you get? You get an F. Now you may say, Lord, he is
a hard-nosed professor. No, that’s not the problem. He’s holy and he’s perfect. And he only has one standard
and that is holy perfection and here’s our problem: He
demands a holiness from you you can’t produce. He demands a perfection from you
and you can’t get there. You know, all of my life I’ve
had people say this to me. They worry about what they call
cheap grace. I’ve had people really debate
me on this. They say, you know, you guys
preach the grace of God. You guys just preach man, it’s
all about grace, it’s all about faith, God loves you, he
sent his son, you give your life to Jesus, and man, you’re good
to go, and then you can live any way you want to. Well, let me stop right there. I’ve never preached that and I
don’t believe that. I do believe you’re saved
by grace through faith, but I believe when you’re saved
by grace through faith, you don’t live the way you want to,
you live the way he wants you to, that’s the difference;
however, that said, I’m not worried about cheap grace. You know what bothers me?
Cheap law. You say, “What do you mean?” We’ve got this idea that God
will somehow grade us on the curve and accept anything
less than perfection, and especially anything
less than the perfect righteousness of Jesus. So, here’s the central point. Paul just gets right to it. I mean, he’s not pulling any
punches. If you’re trying to do enough,
give enough, be enough to get God’s approval and God’s
acceptance, you are under a curse and it is
the curse of trying to be good enough. You say, “Why is that a curse?” Because you will never, ever be
good enough for God. It isn’t going to happen. The law is a curse. It is not a cure for sin. But then he goes deeper. He says the law is a barrier. It’s not a bridge to God. The law as a barrier, it’s not
a bridge to God. Now, if what Paul said is
true then the next conclusion just
naturally follows. Listen to what he says in
verse 11. He says, “Clearly, no one–”
what does “no one” mean? All right, you’re sharp, you’re
with me. “No one who relies on the law is
justified before God.” So, Paul says if you’re relying
on keeping God’s commandments to justify you before God,
you’re automatically condemn because you’ve not perfectly
kept God’s commandments, because the one thing that every person
that’s ever lived or ever will live needs to be right with God
is to be justified. I’ve got to somehow get God
to look at me and say even though I’m guilty, even though
he knows I’m guilty, even though I know I’m guilty, even though I
know that he knows that I’m guilty, even though he knows
and I know that I know he knows I’m guilty–somehow I’ve got
to get that God to look at me and say, “Innocent, acquitted,
justified.” And Paul said, “And the law
can’t get you there.” The law will never justify you. It is not a bridge to God; it is
a barrier to God. The law is not the way you get
to God, it’s actually the wall that separates you from god. Now, by the way, what many
religions are trying to do– and they’ll tell you this–is
there trying to get you justified before God and here’s
what they’ll all say: “You want to be right with our God? Do this, don’t do that, go
here, don’t go there, say this, don’t say that. Keep our laws, keep our rules,
keep our regulations, and you just might get there.” Paul says, “No, it won’t
happen.” So you may be asking a very
legitimate question right now. I would be asking, Well, wait
a minute. So if God’s commandments
and God’s law won’t help me get to God–here’s a simple
question: So, why did God give the law to begin with? Why did God give
the Commandments? Well, I’m glad you asked
the question. I sure am glad Paul answered
the question. Here’s what he says in verse 21:
“Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God?” In other words, what he’s saying
is, so is the law a bad thing? He said no, law is a good thing. Nothing wrong with the law;
law’s perfect. “Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that
could impart life, then righteousness would certainly
have come by the law, but Scripture has locked
up everything under the control of sin.” Now here’s what Paul says. This is where I want you
to listen to him. I want you draw in real close
and listen. The law was never given to show
how good we are, it was given to show how sinful we are. So, let me put it to
you this way. The law illuminates our faults. It cannot eliminate our faults. It can illuminate them; it can’t
eliminate them. So here’s what the law does. The law tells you, “Okay, you
want to live a godly life? This is what a godly life
looks like.” You go, “Great,” and then
the law turns around and says, “Ha, but you can’t do it. You can’t pull it off. It is an absolute impossibility. You can’t keep it.” God’s law cannot make you
innocent, it can only prove you’re guilty. Here’s an illustration: you’re
in a trial and let’s say it’s a judge–not a jury trial, it’s
a judge trial. Now if you’re in a judge trial,
you already know going into that courtroom there’s only one
person in this courtroom that can either condemn me as guilty
or confirm me as innocent. There’s only one person in this
courtroom that can either punish me or pardon me, all right? Who is that? Who’s in the room?
Who is it? It’s the judge. He’s only what he can do
it, right? The prosecuting attorney cannot
find you guilty. Your defense attorney cannot
find you innocent. There’s only one person in that
courtroom that can justify you. There’s only one person in that
courtroom that can say you are innocent, you are free to go. It’s not your attorney. It’s not the prosecuting
attorney. It is that judge, and likewise,
the one thing we need to even be allowed into God’s presence,
to have God’s approval, to receive God’s acceptance, we
gotta be justified by the supreme judge, and Paul
says you will never be justified by your religion and you’ll
never be justified by your righteousness. There is nothing you can do
to justify you. You can only be justified when
the supreme judge declares you are justified which leads
to the third point. Paul says the law is a reference
for, not a rival with Jesus. It is a reference for, not
a rival with Jesus. So, let me just kinda–here’s
our problem–well, I think– hopefully now you understand it. The law’s perfect. We’re not. Only a perfect person on their
own can have a relationship with a perfect God. And the only way we could ever
be perfect on our own is to achieve perfection. But we can’t do that so what’s
our problem? We’re under a curse. Say, “Boy, were hopeless.” Oh, no, no no, no. The law’s still gonna help us
out. You say, “Really?” Yeah, because the same law that
just said to us you can’t keep me, you’re not going to get
to God through me, as a matter of fact, you’re under a curse
because of me–that same exact law turns around and refers
to the one who is perfect and who can remove our curse
because he perfectly kept the law and his name is Jesus. That’s right, so listen to what
we read. By the way, Paul’s just goin’
back. He just quoting the law, that’s
all he’s doing. He said, “Christ redeemed us
from the curse of the law.” How did he do that? “By becoming a curse for us.” How did that happen? “For it is written:
‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'” Now the reason why
Paul brings redemption into the conversation is very
simple, because the only remedy for our faults and our failures
and our foul ups and our mistakes and our mess ups is
redemption. Not religion, not righteousness,
not rules, not regulations, not restrictions. Redemption. Well, why do we need redemption? Because our problem is not that
we’re just sinners and we foul up and we sin, we are actually
slaves to sin. We’re born in slavery to sin. And if you know anything
about slavery, you know there’s only one antidote to slavery,
only one: freedom. There’s somebody that did for me
what I couldn’t do for me. I didn’t keep the law, you
didn’t keep the law, and none of us have kept the law, but he
kept the law and because he kept the law for us. He can remove the curse
of the law from us because he kept the law, he can remove
the curse of all by taking our punishment for breaking the law. See, the law was given to show
us two very simple things. Number one, we’re not perfect
and we can’t keep law. And listen if you don’t believe
that I can’t help you. I’ve wasted your time. You are not perfect and I know
you’re saying you know that, yeah, but it’s worse. Quit trying to keep the law,
keep trying to obey–but quit tryin’ to obey the Commandments
’cause you think that’s what’s gonna get you to God ’cause you
can’t do it perfectly. But then he shows us the second
thing: We need a savior who is perfect who can keep the law. So, it says lawbreakers
and lawbreaking have to be punished because God’s holy. God doesn’t say, “Well, boys
will be boys. Let bygones be bygones.” He can’t do that and be a holy
righteous judge. So because it has to be punished
he sends Jesus, and here’s what Jesus does: obeys the
law perfectly. Never says a wrong thing, never
does a wrong deed, never utters a wrong word, never thinks
a wrong thought–keeps the law perfectly. So, Jesus took our punishment:
he took the curse for us so he could take the curse from us. That’s why the one thing we’ve
got to have to be free from sin, free from shame, free
from guilt, free from grief is not found in religion, it’s not
found in rule keeping, is not found in regulations, is not
found in righteousness. It is found in redemption
and that is only found in the cross of the Lord Jesus
Christ, period. So, here’s the point. You will never be right with God
until you lay down the law and lose your religion to Jesus. You’ll never be right with God
until you lay down the law and you lose your religion
to Jesus and that leads to the last thing, ready? The law is an advocate for not
an addition to faith. The law is an advocate for not
an addition to faith. Now, Paul comes to this
climactic statement when he reminds us the law will tell you
want to achieve, but the Lord will tell you what to receive. So he says this: “Clearly–”
that is, look, by now I think you’ve got it figured out,
“Clearly, no one who relies on the law is justified
before God,” why? “Because the righteous,” i.e. the justified, “we’ll live by,”
say that word out loud, “faith.” They’ll live by faith, and then
Paul is so brilliant, I mean, Paul knows how to twist
the knife. He says okay, you Judaizers, you
Jewish boys and girls, you wanna go back to the law and the law
keepers and all that, okay? Let’s go back to the Father who
got all this stuff started– let’s go back to Abraham. He says this, “He redeemed us
in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come
to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith, we
might receive the promise of the Spirit.” So, Paul said all of this
to make one central point: You want to be accepted by God? God wants to accept you but he
will only accept you his way, and it has nothing to do
with your performance, it has nothing to do with your
position, it has nothing to do with your popularity. It is not a matter of what we do
for him. It is simply a matter
of accepting by faith what he has done for us. And let me tell you, this is–I
mean, he–Paul is so brilliant. Why does he keep quoting
the law? Why does he keep going back
to the Old Testament? Why does he go back to Abraham? He’s making a point, I don’t
want you to miss it. You know he’s telling these
Judaizers? Hey, guys, this grace by faith
thing I’ve been preaching– that’s the way it’s always been. It’s never changed. It’s never been different. So, let me just disabuse some
of you have a notion you’ve carried all of your life. You say, “Yeah, you know,
in the Old Testament people were saved by keeping the law.” No they weren’t. Go find that in the Old
Testament, you can’t find it. You won’t find anywhere
from Genesis to Revelation, where anybody not Moses, not
Joseph, not Abraham, not Daniel, not Isaiah, meant not Jeremiah,
not Ezekiel you won’t find anybody anywhere in the Bible,
where it says they were saved by keeping the law. That’s not how they were saved. As a matter of fact, you
know what? The Jews even understood they
couldn’t keep the law perfectly. You know how I know that? Because millions of lamb
and millions of gallons of blood flow throughout all the Old
Testament. Why do you think the Jews
everywhere they went, from the very beginning of their
religion, why do you think they set up shop so they could
sacrifice lambs? Why do you think they did it? Why do you think all these lambs
were killed? Because it was a picture
of redemption. A price had to be paid. You do the crime,
you pay the time. So every time the Jews would get
together and they watched that priest slit the throat of that
lamb, and he’d pour out that blood and that sacrifice would
be placed on the altar, here’s what they were doing. Here’s what they were saying:
We get it. We understand it. All of our good works don’t
mean anything. Trying to keep all those
Commandments, can’t happen. So by faith they trusted that
God would take the sacrifice of that lamb and through that
sacrifice and, until the ultimate sacrifice
that Jesus Christ came and made, they would accept that sacrifice
as payment for in redemption of their sins. That’s why–hear me loudly
and hear me clearly– the message of the Old Testament
is no different than the message of the New Testament. It’s exactly the same. How are we saved in the
New Testament? We’re saved by grace
through faith. How are people saved in the
Old Testament? They were saved by grace
through faith. The law always pointed to grace,
it never pointed to goodness. It always pointed to faith, it
never pointed to fulfillment. And that’s why there’s always
gonna be only two choices you can make when it comes to having
a relationship with God, finding acceptance with God, and knowing
God. Okay, you’re gonna make one
of two choices and you can’t have it both ways. You’re either going to try
to have a relationship with God with your goodness or
God’s grace. You can’t have it both ways. You’re either gonna try to have
relationship with God with your religion or his redemption. So here’s where you’ve gotta
decide where you are. You’re either the Home
Depot-do-it-yourself-guy, you’re tryin’ to do it all yourself. You’re trying to do all you can
for God and you’re hoping, man, I hope he takes it. I hope he accepts the paper that
I’ve written. I hope he takes the life that
I’ve lived. I hope that my good
outweighs the bad. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe,
maybe, he’ll take me or you’re coming to God and saying,
I wouldn’t trust the best five minutes I’ve ever
live to get me to you. I’m putting all my trust in what
Jesus has done for me. That’s the ball game. That’s what you gotta decide. That’s what you got
to understand because from one end of the Bible to the other–
if you’d like to know let me just tell you this and I’ll
wrap this up. I’m getting through early. I’ve got two and a half minutes
and I’m not even gonna take it, so, Merry Christmas. The Bible’s not hard
to understand. It’s really easy. There are parts of it that are
hard, I get that, but as a whole, nah, it’s real simple. Can I give you the message–you
might wanna write this down– can I give you the message
of the Bible in one sentence? All has to do with the law. Okay, you ready? This will be worth coming
to church for. Here’s the message: The lawmaker
became the lawkeeper and died for me–a lawbreaker. That’s the message of the Bible. The lawmaker became the law
keeper and died for me– a lawbreaker. And when you finally understand
that here’s what you’ll do. You’ll lay down the law, you’ll
lose your religion, and you’ll find what I found as a nine
year-old boy. Everything you ever need
at the foot Jesus Christ. announcer: To watch an extended
version of today’s teaching message with Dr. James Merritt,
go to touchinglives.org. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ James: You know many of you
might be surprised to learn Paul’s view of religion that
we’ve talked about today. In this book called Galatians,
Paul teaches that religious people must first do something
I want to be right with God. You know what they gotta do? They gotta lose their religion. But why would he say that? The answer is simple: Jesus did
not come to give us a new religion; he came to give us
a new relationship. My prayer is that you have
a personal relationship with Jesus already but if you
don’t call any time, 24/7 at 1-800-413-1131 and we’ll tell
you how you can meet Jesus. It’s a blessing to have you join
me today for the message. I hope to see you right here
again next week. male announcer: “Touching
Lives,” teaching people everywhere, who Jesus is and why
they need him. This program is sponsored
by Touching Lives Ministries and is made possible
by the grace of God and your faithful prayers and gifts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *