12th September 2023
Read (Romans 12v3-5)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
It is a humbling thought that we have done absolutely nothing to merit salvation. We are not saved by works, we are not saved because we're better than the guy down the street and we are not saved because God owed us something. Salvation belongs to God and we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In response to this truth Paul exhorts us to have a sober judgment of ourselves. What does he mean? Brothers and sisters, we are not as awesome as we think.
Sometimes our sinfulness abounds and we convince ourselves that we are never wrong, we are never to blame and we are the finest Christian the church has ever seen. I'm sorry to say none of this is true. When we are tempted to boast in ourselves Paul directs us to a true and sober picture of what we are really like. Truly we are sinners saved by grace and in daily need of God's mercy, forgiveness and sanctification.
Therefore when we sinfully believe ourselves to be a "big deal" we are to be humbled by the Gospel and the common faith which we share with all true Christians. This is what Paul means when he calls on us to judge ourselves "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." (v3b). Are you better than the Christian who doesn't pray as zealously as you? Are you more highly esteemed by the Lord because you went on a mission trip last summer? Are you more valuable to the local church than your brothers and sisters because of your giftedness? No. When we start believing in our own greatness we forget that every Christian is united by a simple truth - we are all sinners saved by grace.
The church isn't a collection of superstars who rule over the poor peasants. Instead Christ is the head of the church and the church is like a body which is made up of many parts. Some Christians will be called to preach, some to evangelise and some to open their homes in gracious hospitality but the church isn't like George Orwell's "Animal Farm" where "all animals are equal (but some are more equal than others)" Christians are united to Christ by faith and therefore as they belong to Jesus, they also belong to one another (v5). Your brothers and sisters are not there to bow before your greatness or to act as a ladder upon which you climb.
There can be no room for arrogance or pride in the Christian life. Christ is God's gift to the church - not you or me. It is His blood which cleanses us from sin and His sacrifice is the only grounds for our boasting. As Charles Spurgeon once said "The feeble saints cost Christ as much suffering as the strong ones." Therefore, brothers and sisters, do not boast in yourself but think soberly of your true condition.
Q42 What is the sum of the ten commandments? The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.