We will be in John 1.14-18, primarily 16-18
Sleep Deprivation & Caffeine
Stand with Me out of reverence for God’s Word
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.” This is God’s Word.
Lecture first then application
Theme: Jesus Christ is the gracious fulfillment of the law that our hearts so desperately need
What we know changes our hearts which affects what we do.
For example, scripture is clear “Thou shalt not lie”. Yet when situations arise where we can escape shame by lying, that’s what we resort to. Our boss asks if we’ve finished something and we say yes even though we’ve forgotten. So we know we shouldn’t lie up here, but we don’t feel anything about it in our hearts, which compels us to then choose to act by lying. Conversely it is possible to know something in our Heads & act upon it by our Hands, but we don’t have any desire to do it in our Hearts.
Imagine asking your spouse/child/roommate/friend to take care of something for you. Would you rather they do it because they love you? Or because they feel like you demand it of them?
The former right?
The latter isn’t worship. At best, it’s simply a form of legalism, or following instructions for the sake of following instructions.
Book of Signs
Book of Exaltation
Keep all of this in mind as we address the first part of verse 17.
“For the Law was given through Moses”.
What is the Law?
Way back when God created the nation of Israel. He freed them from slavery and said He would fulfill the promises He had made to their ancestors for them. If you open your bible, you’ve got your Old Testament on the left and New Testament on the right. In the first five books is the beginning of the story of Israel. Several of those books (Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) consist of the Laws that God gave to them.
The Laws are the God-given statutes for how the people were to live
There are multiple parts of the law that made it all encompassing:
These are the ways the people were to live as a country. Many of these laws were tied up in social justice.
Be just with the poor, (Lev. 19:15)
Cattle, of neighbor (Deut. 22:1-4)
Children, rebellious (Deut. 21:18-21)
Debt (Lev. 23:34-43; Deut. 31:10)
Divorce (Deut. 22:19)
Dress, attire (Deut. 22:5)
How to handle conflict (Lev. 19:17)
These are laws like the 10 Commandments. Instructions on how we are to live.
Idolatry (Lev. 26:1-13)
Love God (Deut. 6:4)
Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)
Do not Oppress your neighbor (Lev. 19:13)
Stealing or lying (Lev. 19:11)
Sexual sins: adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, etc.
Cleaning house of leper (Lev. 14:33-57; Num. 5:2)
Festivals (Lev. 23:1-25; Nu. 29:39)
Laws on animals for food (Lev. 11:1-47)
Law of Atonement (Lev. 16:1-28;17:1-16)
Offerings (Num. 29:39)
What was the purpose of the Law?
It affected every part of Jewish life & so was a guide for Holiness for God’s chosen people
Here’s the thing: the law is not attainable for us. What do I mean?
Let us take a moment here to measure ourselves against the Moral law.
“Thou shalt not kill”
It’s not enough to not commit murder.
Have you ever been angry with someone? You have murdered them in your heart.
Christ says in Matthew 5.22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Ever cast a second glance at someone?
Matthew 5.27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.“
What Christ is getting at is that the Law of God is not about things we know in our heads & things we do with our hands.
The religious leaders were great about this at that time. They might act out the law to the letter, but they didn’t do it out of love for God.
The Law is intended for our hearts. It’s the things we wrongfully love that condemn us.
This is why it is so important for us as christians to pursue one another when we see these things. When we see someone we love harboring bitterness for example, and we choose not to call them out of that, we are willingly damning them to Hell. It’s no different than letting a child run onto the interstate and not trying to save them.
So can we live up to every standard that God gives us when our hearts are perpetually in the way?
The law shows us that we are sinners
We are separated from God because of sin.
God is perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly just, etc. We are not.
Oil & Water
So although God wants us in His presence due to love, He is also required to punish us.
Imagine a convicted murderer being freed by the judge on the first day of court. That doesn’t feel like justice.
For God to look the other way would go completely against His nature
Romans 7.7 “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.””
Our sin is already present, God’s Law is the measuring stick that shows us where it is.
We also experience condemnation outside of the Law
These are all “Pizza preferences”
Scripture doesn’t have a clear stance, so we make it have one.
We want law where there is no law.
“Never feeling good enough” that constant, wearing voice
Rehearsing old mistakes & conversations
Just don’t have the energy to keep working so hard
It is normal to experience condemnation but that does not make it good
Theologically we have experienced it ever since our first parents Adam & Eve
How did they react to their sin? They hid. They blame shifted. And this all continues today when we try to justify the wrongs we commit
We’re into some really depressing stuff. If this is your first week, this is one of the joys of preaching exegetically. We have to deal with what comes next. So if that means the text talks about Adultery on Mother’s Day, sorry mom church is going to be awkward today.
We’re going to stay like this a little longer before we get to the hope.
When we experience condemnation, it is because we are separated from God
We cannot experience hope & goodness when we are so far from God who is Hope & Goodness.
Romans 3.23 “All have fallen short of the glory of God”
Not a single person in here deserves the Glory of God.
Verse 18 “No one has ever seen God”
You may be wondering based on stories you heard growing up:
No, physically couldn’t see Him for fear of death.
Not like “I’d have to kill you if you knew my government job”
Like scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
What little he saw changed him.
What about Adam & Eve?
No, removed from God’s presence as soon as sin. They lost their relationship with Him.
Miraculous Signs in the desert?
No, God showed His character through His marvelous works but the people did not “know” Him in a personal & intimate way
What’s clear here isn’t never seeing God, it’s never knowing Him
Because of our transgressions, which we call Sin, we cannot know a perfect & loving God.
Romans 3.20 “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”
Verse 5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it”.
As Christians, we can look back at the law & see what was missing. We can look at it & see the Christ-shaped hole in the center of the puzzle.
The Israelites who did not believe did not see this & took it so far as to kill Christ because they couldn’t see the need for grace. The darkness could not comprehend the light. Those in sin could not see the freedom from their condemnation when it stood in front of them.
So we should understand that it is right of us to feel condemned, when facing a God who is Holy. It is normal for every person in this room to feel condemned. It is not good to feel condemned.
Let’s talk about Hope.
Here’s what I appreciate about these verses. They’re ordered in what looks like a question to response format. So:
A. For the law was given through Moses;
B. grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
A. No one has ever seen God;
B. the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ
Because of our inability to live up to it, the law leaves us condemned.
The law lacks the grace to free us of our condemnation.
Yet grace is abounding in Jesus Christ
Romans 3 22-24 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
By having Faith in His Righteousness, our sins are not counted against us.
We hate others in our hearts? Christ perfectly lived a life without hate.
We lust after others? Christ was tempted & yet never sinned.
And so on. Every day our hearts fail the test & yet Christ lived the life that we wish we could. Christ has no reason to be condemned.
All we must do in our condemnation is trust
The Trust can be sometimes all we have, when faced with the weight of our sin. Grace is meaningless until all you can see is the black abyss of your own evil heart
When you break your marriage covenant, or abuse your spouse or ruin your marriage before it starts because you just couldn’t keep it in your pants or whatever & your spouse can’t stand to be in the same room as you, have faith that Christ has willingly taken all of the condemnation you deserve.
When your friend turns on you or abandons you, or you ruin the relationships you have by idolizing them too much, have faith that Christ has willingly taken all of the condemnation you deserve.
When you can’t stand to live another day because of your porn addiction or because of your mistakes at work or whatever it is that you can’t get out of your mind, have faith that Christ has willingly taken all of the condemnation you deserve.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. All are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
So you might ask “who then is this Jesus that He’s able to do this?”
Verse 17 is the first time in this entire introduction that John has referred to Him as Jesus Christ
Christos meaning “Chosen one, Anointed one or Messiah”
John spent 17 verses outlining that Jesus is God, and now he wants to clearly state that Jesus is the chosen one to pay the penalty for our sins.
Since the beginning of time, Christ has been with God, ready to take the condemnation that each person in this room deserves.
Jesus is the Visible God
We are separated from God because of our Sin. Yet God physically came to us to seek us out. God sat in the living rooms of our ancestors & shared meals with them. He stood on hills & taught them. He lived a life amongst us, that God might be visible to us.
“Who is at the Father’s side” or “The Father’s Bosom”
Christ was with us, and before that He was perfectly in the presence of the Father. He alone can intercede for us. Because of His relationship to the Father.
Someone must pay for sin. God is perfectly just. Someone must be punished for everything we have ever done. The only difference between the Christian & the secular is that for the Christian, Jesus Christ has willingly taken our punishment & condemnation upon Himself.
We have received His fullness, grace upon grace
Matthew 5.17-20 ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The Law is fulfilled within Christ. We cannot fulfill it. Instead Romans 10.4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
In John’s introduction to His Gospel, He makes it clear that there are only two responses to all of this.
We might either know God & find grace in Jesus Christ
Or we will ignore God & face the condemnation that our sins bring
We call ourselves Refuge City Church because this is a safe place to work these things out.
I don’t want to come across up here as a “Fire & Brimstone” preacher (even if that would look pretty awesome on my business card)
What I want you guys to know is that if you’re not in a place where you agree with what has been said, this is a safe place for you to work this out.
I don’t want you to leave because you disagree, nor does any other member of this church.
John has given us his introduction, and we’ve got another year to work through how he wants to prove it to us.
I want to invite you all to stick with us, as we work through John’s claims together, as a community who wants to make much of Christ & love one another.
The band can come back up
“Father, just as the darkness could not comprehend the light our hearts are also in the darkness. Each day we are faced with the need of your grace yet we avert our eyes from it. Change our hearts, that we might crave this freedom from condemnation. Change our hearts that we will fully experience this freedom, given to us by your son Jesus Christ. This is Amazing Grace Father, help us to never lose it from our sights, and always lead us back to it when we stray. Amen.”