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Previously noted (on 8/28/05) that the Jews of Paul's day were profoundly ignorant of God's righteousness. Paul said that they had an abundant zeal for God, but that the zeal was misdirected. This strikes at the fundamental difficulty every sinner has in accepting the gospel of free grace. The first was that the sinner lacks an adequate concept of God's holiness, and thus sees no need for an atoning sacrifice.
The second difficulty is that the sinner does not conceive his sins to be the acts of an unholy nature. He is conscious that they are his acts, that the acts are sinful, and that he is guilty as a result. But unless he is enlightened by the Holy Ghost he will never see his heart as the fountain of those acts.
Thus the sinner promises reformation, ignorant that reformation is impossible for him. Even if it were possible, simply doing individual works in conformity with the law would be insufficient for the sinner's salvation. The fountain must be cleansed.
An unregenerate sinner cannot offer God a single holy act, much less an unbroken succession of such acts. His depraved nature will taint every act.
By grace, when our persons are accepted for Christ's sake, all the works we perform - regardless of the imperfections of them - are approved by God as evidence of a gracious state. A new birth is necessary to the performance of any work acceptable to God. [Click on the "Outside Web Link" to see the Order of Worship for this service; and other audio from it.]
Dr. Richard Bacon was born in 1946 and has been married to wife Debby since 1971. He received his education at Memphis State University (BA), now University of Memphis, Whitefield Seminary (M.A.R.; M.Div.; and Ph.D.), and Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Th.M; Th.D.). His...