Straighten Up

Through the Lord Jesus, when people confess and trust Him, comes justification, the straightening up of your life to make your life right before God.

Scripture: Acts 13:38-39


Alright, thank you very much. And hello, friends, how are you? I wanna go on with you today, if I may, in the 13th chapter of Acts. Let’s back up a little into verse 38. We were almost at 39, I guess, the last time we talked together. Paul says in his talk to the folk in the synagogue, they’re in Antioch. He said, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man,” that’s through the Lord Jesus Christ, “Is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins and by him, by the Lord Jesus, all that believe,” that is, believe on him, commit themselves to him in faith, “Are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

Small thought here before we go on, and that is, what you say about Jesus has a direct relationship to the removal of the burden of sin and guilt from somebody else’s heart. And in addition, let’s remember that anything else you say does not remove the burden of sin and guilt from other people’s hearts. Now, stop and think of all the subjects of conversation that we have with our fellow man. And of course, some things are interesting, and we like to talk about them, and others may not be quite so interesting, but this is not a question of interest. This is a question of whether or not you really want to help another person.

If you want really to help him get rid of his sins, you talk to him about the Lord Jesus. Through this man, the Lord Jesus, he’s preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. By the same token, those of us who are ministers of the Gospel and who do preach sermons, or those of us who are Sunday school teachers and who teach Sunday school lessons or Bible class teachers or whatever, do remember that the messages you give and the lessons you teach must head up, must focus, in other words, in the work of the Lord Jesus, if indeed there’s going to be any lasting value to what you say.

Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, not through the saints of all the ages, not through the prophets. Although, Paul had referred to the prophecies, and will do so again. Not through the prophets does forgiveness come, not through the church does forgiveness come, but through the Lord Jesus Christ. So I say, if you’re interested in helping people, do remember, please, that it’s what you say about the Lord Jesus that matters, okay? And it says, “By him, all that believe are justified.”

Now, justification, Dr. Pettingill, I guess it was, used to say, “Justified means just as if I’d never sinned.” Just as if I had never sinned. Justified means just as if I had never sinned. God makes you perfect before him, justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Why? Because you and I are imperfect, by nature. That is to say then that we have every one of us transgressed God’s law and broken it. That means then, because the Bible says “He that shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in only one point is guilty of all.” That means that we are guilty before God, and all the law can do is to condemn us. Paul says in Romans that the law is holy and just and good.

Nothing wrong with the law, but all it can do is to point out, like a faithful mirror will point out to you your dirty face. That is, if your face is dirty when you look into it. So the law is a mirror. We look into it, and we see that the face of our soul is smeared with sin, and we’re hopeless before a holy God who can do nothing other than punish sin. So, what did he do? He gave his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, die for all of them. Every sin you have ever committed or are now guilty of, or ever may commit, the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for them all through his death on Calvary.

And so when you commit yourself to him, in true faith, you turn yourself over to him, you surrender to him, you invite him into your life and your heart, when you commit yourself to him, you really believe on him. More than intellectualism now, a real commitment of yourself to Christ is what we’re talking about, then, it says, you’re justified from all things. Oh, what a delicious experience that is, isn’t it? How wonderful to know that God takes all of the record of one’s sins and writes across it “Paid in full” at Calvary. It’s great. Now, in the face of such a wonderful offer, Paul says, “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets.” And here’s a reference to two verses, one Isaiah 29:14, and the other Habakkuk 1:5, where the wording is quite similar in each case.

He says, “I’m gonna do a new thing, and you won’t even believe it because,” he said, “The prophets said to those unbelieving people back there.” He said, “Because you don’t believe me, I’m gonna have to do something aside and around and be, and away from you, so that you won’t have any share in it, but I’ll be doing it.” In the case of Habakkuk, he spoke of the invaders, swift and terrible invaders who were gonna sweep across the country and destroy it. And said, “I’ll do this. You won’t believe it, but I’ll do it. I’ll raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation. They will march through the breadth of the land and possess dwelling places that are not there. They are terrible and dreadful. Their judgement and their dignity proceed from themselves, their horses are swifter than the leopards,” and so on and so on.

He said, “This is the problem. The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth. The wicked doth compass about the about the righteous, and wrong judgment proceedeth.” And so God says, “Behold among the nations and regard and wonder marvelously.” I’m gonna do something that you wouldn’t believe it, if somebody told it to you as news. Now, why does Paul evoke that kind of a prophecy in connection with the offer of the Lord Jesus Christ? Why does he say, “Listen, the old-time prophets prophesied that folk who didn’t believe God and didn’t obey God were gonna be completely overwhelmed by his judgment.” Why?

Well, because God’s gracious offer of salvation once spurned, has to lead to absolute judgment. God’s gracious offer of salvation, if you spurn it, has to lead to judgment. And so, he says, “Beware, lest that come upon you, which is spoken by the prophets.” Anybody that despises the mercy of God can’t hope for any other way out. See, because God deals in mercy and in grace. He says, “I will therefore, the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you.” He deals in mercy and in grace, and in free salvation. But if you don’t trust that, if you don’t receive that, if you won’t receive the person who brings it, the Lord Jesus, then there isn’t anything else that God can do.

And so he says, here are three things that he says. First, through the Lord Jesus comes forgiveness of sin. Second, through the Lord Jesus, when you trust him, comes justification. Not only is the burden and guilt of your sin gone, but the record is cleansed so that you’re justified, just as if I had never sinned. Third, if you refuse God’s mercy, there isn’t a thing that God can do for you. This is the wind-up of Paul’s sermon that day. And I surmise that this is about what we have to say to people in our day, isn’t it? Just about the same thing.

Paul said, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” What you say about Jesus is directly related to the lifting of the burden of sin. Through the Lord Jesus, when people can confess and trust him, comes justification, the straightening up of your life, to make your life right before God. This comes through trusting Christ, not through self-resolve. Would you realize today with me, that one’s life is cleaned up, not only in the record in the presence of God, but in the actual daily living? One’s life is cleaned up, not by trying, but by trusting?

It says, “By him, all that try hard are justified.” Is that what it says? Oh no, not at all. By him, all that make a New Year’s resolution, is that what it says? Oh no. What does it say? By him, all that believe, and that word believe means commit yourself to Christ. All who really commit themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ are justified. You want your life to get straightened out in some way today? Start trusting the Lord Jesus about it. Oh, start trusting the Lord Jesus Christ, for the straightening out of your life and conduct and character and personality, and he will do it. “Faithful,” the Bible says, “Faithful is he who calleth you, who also will do it.”

Dear Father, I pray that today, what we say about the Lord Jesus will be used to bring other people to a freedom from guilt and shame and sin, and also that what we say and do about the Lord Jesus will be used of God to lead others to trust the Savior. I ask it in his name, Amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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