The Yet Sinner

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Rom 5:6-8 GW  Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people.  (7)  Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person.  (8)  Christ died for us while we were still (yet) sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us.

Have you ever thought about the situation in Israel when Christ lived and died? What in the world, did the world have going for it at that time? What did the Romans have going for themselves spiritually? What did the Jews have going for themselves spiritually? What did the disciples have going for themselves spiritually?  The answer is....not much.

Oh the Romans were powerful, they had built many roads and travel was easy for it’s citizens, their borders were at peace, beautiful art and buildings graced the empire. It was one of history’s most celebrated civilizations. But what did they have going spiritually?  Nothing!

They had a system of polytheism that represented many different gods and goddesses. Their lifestyle was quite sinful and materialistic. Say the word orgy today and all sorts of drunken and sexual images come to mind, the word originated with Greek and Roman worship practices. Toga! Toga! Toga! That was not an “Animal House” idea, it originated in Rome.

The Jews at the time were under the yoke of Rome, they had not heard from the Lord through a prophet for over 400 years! Pharisees and Sadducees controlled the spiritual climate of the people by enforcing ridiculous do’s and don’ts upon the people.  
Everything was rote form and ritual, salvation was by works, and the spiritual leaders were making themselves rich and powerful as they played the system.

About the only thing the world had going for it at this time was John the Baptist and Jesus. And what did they do? They beheaded John the Baptist and they crucified the Son of God.  This itinerant miracle worker named Jesus walked among them as their Messiah at the “right time” and most of them didn’t even know it.

The Jews were looking for a Messiah to deliver them politically and not for a Messiah who would deliver them from their slavery to sin. What kind of Messiah are you looking for? One to solve the problems of the United States? Your financial problems? Your marital problems? Your relationship problems? Or are you looking for a Messiah who will deliver you from your sin.

So often, we put the cart before the horse don’t we? We are sinners, our sin has angered God, and we must daily come to Him in repentance and godly sorrow over our sin, then believe that He sent the Messiah to pay for our sin, and that His wrath has been turned away from us in spite of our sin!

As our sin problem is dealt with, and our relationship of peace with God is established and nurtured,   these other areas can be addressed.

Then there’s the disciples. What did they have going for themselves spiritually? They weren’t looking for a Savior from their sins either. They were looking for someone to restore the political kingdom of Israel.

Act 1:6 GW  So when the apostles came together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you're going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

They still did not quite get it!  And think back on the night that Jesus was arrested. Oh my, three of His closest friends couldn’t even stay awake when He prayed. Then Judas betrays him with a kiss, and in Mt 26:56 we read....”then all the disciples abandoned Him and ran away.” ....all of them!

Oh, a few trickled back, Peter snuck into the courtyard to see what was going on and look at his fine showing! He denied the Lord, not once, but three times.  The women who followed Him viewed His crucifixon from a “distance.” (Mt 27:55)

His mother Mary, her sister, and Mary Magdalene and John were the only ones who were nearby when He died, and you get the idea that John was there just as a friend of the family as Jesus charged him with caring for his mother.

The point I am trying to make here, is that these people, the Romans, the Jews, and even the disciples were a spiritually helpless and pathetic lot. And from a human point of view, at the time of His death, who was around that was worth dying for? The hedonistic Romans? The self-righteous Jews? The denying, deserting, traitorous disciples?  There was none not one!

Psa 14:3 GW   Everyone has turned away. Together they have become rotten to the core. No one, not even one person, does good things.

But hallelujah! Jesus didn’t come to die for the righteous,

 Mr 2:17 When Jesus heard, He said to them, They who are strong have no need of a physician, but the ones who have illness. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Scarcely will you find a decent person to die for from a human point of view, but that didn’t stop Jesus, indeed it compelled Him to act on their behalf, and so He went to the cross not only for the spiritually helpless of His day, but for the spiritually helpless of all time!

We are all spiritually helpless without the Holy Spirit, and after Jesus died and ascended to heaven, He asked the Father to give His followers the what? The Helper.

Joh 14:16 GW  I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.

So with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we go from helpless to divinely helped. Without the Holy Spirit all men are helpless. Jesus knew, that when He left this earth, the Father was going to give Him permission to pour out the Holy Spirit, to bring the heavenly Helper into the helpless state of man.

Joh 16:7-8 GW  However, I am telling you the truth: It's good for you that I'm going away. If I don't go away, the helper won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  (8)  He will come to convict the world of sin, to show the world what has God's approval, and to convince the world that God judges it.

Three things that the Helper will do for the helpless. He will use the Word of God, written or proclaimed,  to convince us that we are sinners. He will convince us that God judges sinners, and he will show, those who have been properly convicted of their sin, and properly frightened of judgement,  that the only way to gain God’s approval is through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This Helper came to the disciples with power on Pentecost and they went from a helpless flock  of frightened followers to a bold band of believers! Peter, who had sheepishly denied the Lord was now being divinely helped to bring the conviction of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers.
And he spoke of their sin, and he spoke of their judgement, and when the people were convinced of their guilt and their need, they cried out, “Brothers, what should we do?” And the Helper spoke through Peter and showed the helpless what they needed to do.

“All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit (the Helper) as a gift.

You will no longer be helpless, you will be helped. Isn’t it great to know that when you were baptized as an infant or whenever, that from that moment on, you had internal divine help with discerning what is sin and what is not?

That you had internal divine help warning you of a coming judgement? And that you had internal divine help that drove you to the cross daily for the forgiveness of your sin?

Jesus died for us while we were yet helpless, we had no power of our own to believe in Him. Yet He died. He died for us while we were yet sinners. Do you know what a “yet sinner” is?  A yet sinner is the unrepentant sinner who is still covered with his sins because, in pride, disbelief, and rebellion, he has not taken them to his only hope and help. He has not taken them to the cross

Are you a “yet sinner?” Are pride, rebellion, and disbelief in your camp? Let me show you what a “yet sinner” looks like. A yet sinner looks like King Saul of the OT.
In 1 Samuel 15 We read of a time when Saul disobeyed God. God had ordered Saul to wipe out the Amalekites. Nothing was to be spared. The Amalekites are an example to us, for they represent sin and God wants all sin to be wiped out, and that’s what Jesus did.

 Col 2:13b  For he forgave us all our transgressions, 14 blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that stood against us and was hostile to us, and took it out of our way, nailing it to his cross. (MNT)

So the Amalekites were to be blotted out by God’s prerogative to judge sin, and we pick up the story about the “yet sinner” in 1 Sam 15:3, the prophet Samuel is speaking on behalf of the Lord to King Saul.

1 Sam 15:3  Now go and attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Don't spare them, but kill men and women, infants and children, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys."  

Isn’t it interesting to see the word “claimed ?” The destruction of the sinful Amalekites, is a foreshadowing of the destruction of those who reject His Son, because they are still in their sin. God claims the right to send sinners to hell. That’s what’s meant by the phrase, “the wages of sin is death!” Not a physical death, but a spiritual one. That’s God’s claim against sinners. But praise be to God, we have the opportunity to be RECLAIMED through  faith in Jesus Christ!

So Saul attacked the Amalekites but he did not slay their king, and he spared the best sheep and the cows and all the best property.

1 Sam 15:10  Then the LORD spoke to Samuel:  (11)  "I regret that I made Saul king. He turned away from me and did not carry out my instructions." Samuel was angry, and he prayed to the LORD all night.  (12)  Early in the morning he got up to meet Saul. Samuel was told, "Saul went to Carmel to set up a monument in his honor.

(In Saul’s honor? Are you catching the scent of human pride here? Please do because pride is a sure sign of a “yet sinner.”)

Then he left there and went to Gilgal."  (13)  Samuel came to Saul, who said, "The LORD bless you. I carried out the LORD'S instructions."  (14)  However, Samuel asked, "But what is this sound of sheep in my ears and this sound of cows that I hear?"

 (15)  Saul answered, "The army brought them from the Amalekites. They spared the best sheep and cows to sacrifice to the LORD your God. But the rest they claimed for God and destroyed."  

Here is another glimpse of a “yet sinner.” A yet sinner seeks to pass the blame for his sins onto something or someone else. And he seeks to justify his disobedient actions as if he were really doing something good, or that he is doing the best he can under the circumstances. In short,  His plan for living seems better than God’s.
Then Samuel said what needs to be said in the church today as we seek to gloss over and excuse our own disobedience!  God has the right to speak to us as Samuel spoke to Saul.  God has the right to tell us to sit down and shut up and listen!

(16)  "Be quiet," Samuel told Saul, "and let me tell you what the LORD told me last night." "Speak," Saul replied.  (Even that response is prideful! As if God needs the green light from Saul to speak!)

 (17)  Samuel said, "Even though you don't consider yourself great, you were the head of Israel's tribes. The LORD anointed you king of Israel.  (18)  And the LORD sent you on a mission. He said, 'Claim those sinners, the Amalekites, for me by destroying them. Wage war against them until they're wiped out.'  (19)  Why didn't you obey the LORD? Why have you taken their belongings and done what the LORD considers evil?"  (20)  "But I did obey the LORD," Saul told Samuel. "I went where the LORD sent me, brought back King Agag of Amalek, and claimed the Amalekites for God.  (21)  The army took some of their belongings-the best sheep and cows were claimed for God-in order to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."  

More evidence of the “yet sinner.” They fail to see their sin, even when it is laid out before them. “But I did obey the Lord”....Saul whines.

(22)  Then Samuel said, "Is the LORD as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience? To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice. To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams.  (23)  The sin of black magic is rebellion. Wickedness and idolatry are arrogance.

(The yet sinner has a rebellious heart and is arrogant, and the yet sinner is guilty of black magic, wickedness, and idolatry. This is the sin of the unrepentant, and the wicked and idolatrous will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“Because you rejected the word of the LORD, he rejects you as king."  (24)  Then Saul told Samuel, "I have sinned by not following the LORD'S command or your instructions.

Ah, now we get a confession. The yet sinner is also quick to mouth a confession when he thinks he may lose something in his station in life.

And notice how he separated the Lord’s commands from Samuels instructions. He did not recognize fully the authority of Samuel as a prophet. The yet sinner does not yield to the full authority of the scriptures. They pick and choose what they will believe.   Saul continued:

“I was afraid of the people and listened to them.

Was his confession real? Not with that addendum, because once again he refuses to take ownership of his sin and seeks to excuse it.  The yet sinner’s actions are often motivated by fear of a lack of acceptance by others rather than a fear of not being accepted by God.  Saul, having thought he said what Samuel wanted to hear says:

 (25)  Now please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the LORD."  

The yet sinner, says, let’s just cover this up so others won’t know what happened. Let me walk with you as if nothing has changed.

(26)  Samuel told Saul, "I will not go back with you because you rejected what the LORD told you. So the LORD rejects you as king of Israel."  (27)  When Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed the hem of his robe, and it tore.  (28)  Samuel told him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today. He has given it to your neighbor who is better than you.  

Wait a second. He gave it to a neighbor who is better than you? Did not he give it to David who turned out to be an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, and a thief? What makes David better than Saul?
The answer is that David was repentant when he was confronted with his sin. He immediately confessed, He made no excuses, he said, “I have sinned against God!” And that moved him from a yet sinner to a forgiven sinner.

 (29)  In addition, the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind, because he is not a mortal who changes his mind."  (30)  Saul replied, "I have sinned! Now please honor me in front of the leaders of my people and in front of Israel. Come back with me, and let me worship the LORD your God."

A pathetic ending for the “yet sinner.” Who begs again not to lose his glory before men. The yet sinner is not interested in the glory of God, he is only interested in maintaining his status quo.

(31)  Then Samuel turned and followed Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

Samuel granted Saul his wish, as if to say, okay Saul, I’ll go with you, but verily verily, I say to you, you have your reward.  And Saul leads the procession rather than God’s prophet, because Saul has honored himself above the Word of God.

One more quick indication of the “yet sinner.” Did you notice that Saul kept referring to God as Samuel’s God? “The Lord your God” The yet sinner does not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He tries to coattail in on other believers or on false worship.  If I just go to church, then I will be accepted by the Lord your God.

Well, “yet sinner.” Jesus died for you even while you remain in this state. He died for yet sinners and this is what demonstrates God’s love for us. He died for us while we were yet sinners. While we were like Saul, proud and rebellious.
He wants to give the yet sinners an opportunity to have a restored personal relationship with Him through the blood of Jesus Christ.

What will it be? Will you continue to blame others for your sin? Will you seek to justify it as if you had a purer motive? Will you continue to cover it up in order to “look good” in front of others? Will you continue to pick and choose what you will obey?

Will you continue to make excuses, or will you allow the Helper to convince you that you have disobeyed God, and that you are worthy of nothing but His judgement, will you allow the Helper to then point you to Jesus as the only remedy for your sin?

I hope and pray that the Helper is convicting you of any pride, rebellion, or disbelief in your life today and that you will come forward today to the holy meal and humbly receive the promised forgiveness of sins. The sins that Jesus bore on the cross for you and your salvation.

Pray with me now, repeat after me.  Lord Jesus,.............. Thy Word has searched me and tried me............You know the secret intents of my heart.............. I acknowledge ................that there is no good thing in my flesh,.............. that according to my sinful nature ...............I rebel against a full settlement with my sin................... And yet convicted by Thy Spirit....................... I acknowledge my sins................., I hand them out to be judged.............. I make no excuses........... I am not worthy of forgiveness............ But for Thy mercy’s sake, ...................because of Thy merit,................. blot out my transgression............ Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow............ Amen.

If this is your heartfelt confession, then come to the table helpless one, don’t remain a “yet sinner,” come  and partake of God’s demonstration of His love for us.