Table of Contents

10. Mercy

Today we will look at mercy and grace, and what exactly God sees when He looks at us. There’s a position out there that really removes the power of grace to change us and the power of mercy to forgive us. Let me give you some quick definitions right off. Mercy is God’s forgiveness of our sins. Very often the words mercy and grace get mixed up in conversations. You can’t fully separate them both because you really can’t have grace without mercy and there’s no point in receiving mercy if you won’t let grace have its work. So, within Scripture you’ll find them both, but for the most part, mercy, as defined in Scripture, is God’s forgiveness of our sins. Grace, as we’ll see here in a moment, is defined in Scripture as the power to overcome our sins. It’s not usually used in that concept, in fact, when children are often taught about God’s mercy, the word grace is usually used as well, so the church thinks that grace is just forgiveness of sins. That’s certainly one reason why we don’t see much overcoming of sin within the church or a proper preaching of what mercy is in Jesus Christ. They’ve taken the definition of grace, perverted it, and made it into an empty argument. Mercy is simply this: It is God’s patience and how He allows us some time so that grace may have its way with us. Really, it’s got power simply because God says, “I will forgive your sins and give you the grace to overcome those sins.” What is usually preached and loved out there today is that God forgives your sins, and God forgives your sins, and God forgives your sins, and God forgives your sins. Nobody changes or confronts sin really to overcome it. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t forgive us every day. He does that. We don’t have time to look at that today. What we will look at are clear definitions of what mercy and grace are.

  • I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiven. (1 John 2:12)

It is a concluded matter. Could John write the same thing to us in truth and in spirit? Where John could write, “The reason I’m writing you this letter, why we fellowship together and have this love that comes from the Holy Spirit toward one another is because God has forgiven our sins,” we cannot even begin to talk about fellowship in the church, salvation, or anything in Jesus Christ if we can’t start from a position that God has forgiven our sins and then we can press on from there. It would do no good to strive and live a godly life if mercy hasn’t met us there first, because anything we do from then on would not be complete in God’s sight, so we have to have mercy even to begin our day, each day.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the church has a wrong definition and application of mercy. Typically, they will say the blood of Jesus Christ has enabled them to be in a position so that when God looks at their lives and at them, He doesn’t see their sin, He sees Jesus Christ instead. We will see today very clearly that this is an empty and simple argument.

  • Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save… (Isaiah 59:1)

Many people’s arguments come up short when they bump into the message of the cross because they don’t have and have not surrendered to God’s mercy. They have man’s mercy within the church and religious mercy, but it’s not the mercy that leads to grace—and that’s the problem.

  • Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. (Isaiah 59:1)

Much of what happens within the church is really a lot of nervous anxiety. People’s consciences feel guilty so they’re constantly running out to get God’s attention or they’re praying to God for His mercy in an indirect fashion. But He never hears them because they rely on empty arguments concerning their sin and concerning the mercy of God.

  • But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 39:2)

Ever notice that the church goes from one fad to another or flocks to books that offer some new way of getting to God? It sweeps the country and the world for a little while and then that eventually dies out and they go on to something else. It is because they bring empty arguments before God. They feel that emptiness inside and they know deep down inside that God does not hear their prayers. If they would ever have an honest moment, they would admit, “I know that I’m not in a right relationship with God” and so they sense that God’s arm is too short, and His ear is deaf toward them. It is because their pleading about their sin is not based upon truth.

  • For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. (Isaiah 59:3)

Now, everything about verse three contradicts what is said in the church today. Because in the church today everyone says that God sees our heart—not what is on the outside. This whole business about when God looks at me, He does not see my sin but sees Jesus Christ, is to say that God ignores what is on the outside.

Everything in verse three is God pointing to accuse them of sinning, or placing them in a position that concerns an empty argument involves the outside part of a man. Again, verse three says, “For your hands….” It’s that which we can see. Your actions—what you do with your hands—are stained with blood. So, they come before the Lord asking for His mercy and pleading for His forgiveness and what He sees is blood-stained hands. Their actions demonstrate the fruit of what’s in their heart.

  • For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. (Isaiah 59:3)

The little things that they do speak of guilt and sin. They might be calling on the name of the Lord or claiming His mercy. They might be saying that they’re forgiven, but when God looks at their fingers, what they do and the small things in their life, mercy is not there, grace is not there, but there is a lie there.

  • Your lips have spoken lies. (Isaiah 59:3)

That’s what it said on the outward—what men can hear and see. Recently an article in the newspaper wrote about Christian musicians and one of the quotes in the newspaper was simply this, “…that except for the lyrics, everything was the same as a rock and roll concert.” Your lips have sung lies, the outward part of you demonstrates that grace and mercy are not in your life.

  • Your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wicked things. (Isaiah 59:3)

Now look at verse four.

  • No one calls for justice… (Isaiah 59:4)

In this whole business of God’s mercy, very few in the church call for justice. At the first conviction of sin, what does everybody rush in to do but to offer forgiveness? At the first conviction of sin! There is not a sense of God is a God of justice and He will bring that justice except for mercy. There is no deep conviction of sin, no lasting conviction of sin.

  • No one calls for justice, no one pleads his case with integrity. (Isaiah 59:4)

When somebody begins with the position that God does not see my sin because of Jesus Christ, that somehow He’s oblivious to what I do outwardly, they use that as an excuse to continue on in their sin or a refuse to confess that sin, so they rely upon empty arguments. Our God, above all, is a God of justice. He is a God of truth and He does not look at a lie and say that it is true. He does not even take a lie and cover over it so that it makes it seem true but underneath it is a lie. That’s what the Pharisees did.

They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. (Isaiah 59:4)
It is this small doctrine, it is the small things that the church does that gives birth to all the evil that we see going on. Not only does this happen within the church, but also the world is unable to be confronted for sin by the church because we’re so powerless.

I spoke with some of those who had been in churches that went around talking that way, saying that God doesn’t see my sin, He just sees Jesus Christ. I asked, “What scripture do they use to back that up?” Whenever I asked that question, there was a pause and they would say, “Well they would never use scripture; it was one of those assumptions.” Nobody ever backs up for a moment to think about what it is they’re saying.

The closest scripture that I could come to, the one that people seem to run to is Galatians 2:20. They will say “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live” and it’s a done deal because Paul spoke of it in the sense of that it is a completed thing.

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

As if the use of this scripture precludes ever dealing with sin in our lives. Let’s just take the God of justice and set Him aside. Let’s take Scripture and twist it ever so slightly so that we have an empty argument. But somehow saying that because I no longer live but Christ lives in me, then I am beyond rebuke or correction, that there’s no need for conviction, confession of sin, or anything like that.

Again, I want to come back to our God is not a god who lies. It would be as if I took some cow manure and poured chocolate on it, stood back, and say, “Okay, I have a sweet treat.” It is to live a lie. All of us would be appalled at such a thing and consider it to be a vile thing, that Jesus Christ would take His blood and lay it over a lie and say that it is good. That is exactly what that doctrine is like.

Let’s just look at this doctrine for a moment. If it is true, then when God looks at me, He doesn’t see any of the sins that I have committed or will commit and there is no need for me to be rebuked or anything else; that all God sees is Jesus Christ, so then there was no need for Adam to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

  • All the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all those whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelations 13:8)

From the very beginning, before creation of the world, in God’s mind—however you want to look at this—the Lamb had already been slain. Therefore, if Adam and Eve had been in the Garden and Jesus Christ had been slain since the creation of the world, all Adam had to do was turn to God and say, “You don’t see my sin. You don’t see what Eve and I did, you see Jesus Christ,” and we would still be in the Garden of Eden until this day. But we know that isn’t true.

The same Paul who wrote “I no longer live but Christ lives in me” also wrote Philippians 3:12.

  • Not that I have already attained all this… (Philippians 3:12)

Paul said, “I no longer live,” but he also wrote:

  • Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)

We have not yet been made perfect even though we will claim it is as if it were there. That’s called faith.

  • Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. (Philippians 3:13)

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he didn’t say, “I am perfect” and that he was beyond correction. That’s not what that passage means. In fact it means quite the opposite we’ll see here in a moment. “But one thing I do” he says, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Every single day, Paul had dealt with the sins of the day before, carrying his cross, confessing, or whatever needed to be done so the next day he got up for a fresh start. He began to strain toward the goal. There is effort put forth. Think of somebody running, fighting, or somebody working. There is a straining effort that goes on every day—not this laid-back attitude that we see in the church; not this whole concept that says, “Well, I’ve asked Jesus into my heart” and then we sit in our padded pews and consider everything done.

  • Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14)

He who wrote that he no longer lived—acting like it has already been accomplished—said “I’m pressing on toward the goal.”

  • I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

What is going on here? Most people seem to misunderstand what God is up to. Most people think that God thinks we’re all sinners and so He sent His son as a price for our penalty, He died on the cross and that we’re just supposed to celebrate that kind of mercy, but that’s not the full story.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree… (1 Peter 2:24)

It doesn’t stop there. That’s where most churches stop. They even skip the next part—and this is how it really reads in most versions.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

That’s what’s lived. That’s what’s proclaimed. Now let me read the whole thing and let’s see exactly what God is up to, why Jesus Christ died on the cross, what it enables us to do, and what it means to lay hold of the mercy of God.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that… (1 Peter 2:24)

So that something may happen in our life on a daily basis. Something that calls us to strain and put forth effort, to go with zeal to grab the prize so that we might die to sins. The mercy of God died on a cross so that I may be able to run the race. The mercy of God died on the cross so that I may strain. The mercy of God died on the cross so that I may suffer in my body to be through with sin. The mercy of God died on a cross so that I may have the ability to put to death the sins that are in my life. It is an empty argument to say that when Jesus Christ died and said, “It is finished,” there is nothing left for me to do. That is when the race can begin! Without Jesus Christ, it wouldn’t do me any good to run the race. All my straining, all my effort, all my prayers, all my giving, or doing whatever it might be would’ve been in vain so that we might die to sins and “live for righteousness.”

  • …by His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

When you accepted the mercy of God that was your open door to pick up the grace of God, to allow grace to have its way in your life so that you could die to sins and live for righteousness. Certainly, the total opposite of that is preached and lived out within the church today. Their kind of mercy of God is 1, 2, 3, ask Jesus Christ into your heart and it’s pretty well over with at that point. You just sit back and wait till Jesus Christ comes back.
God does not paint over our sins, instead, He seeks to crucify our sins and Jesus Christ enables us to die to our sins. That’s why in the church there simply is no excuse for not overcoming sin other than a hard heart. Yes, I know it takes some time and I know we have to wrestle, but the only thing that holds us back from overcoming and being a transformed people is that we have hard hearts. The death of Jesus Christ opened the door by which I may enter into the grace of Christ and overcome.

  • I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

Jesus Christ died on the cross that you might be able also to die to your sins. Without that, there is no mercy of God and any man that accepts any other message than this has not received, nor are they walking in, the mercy of God.

  • The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)

The mercy of God enables me and gives me that freedom in Jesus Christ to hate my own life. Without the cross of Jesus Christ, it would have been futile to hate my own life. I’d have been under the law. I’d have been striving to do all kinds of righteous things and it never would have been good enough. But the death of Jesus Christ allows me to have died to my sins, to hate my own life, and to be resurrected in that new life. That’s what the mercy of God allows.

When Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, he said “I no longer live.” What did he do that was an act of faith? Does God not call things that are not as though they are? We participate then, in that faith. I stand before God realizing what I am not, and calling that which is not yet what it should be, and looking at Jesus Christ as if it were. It fills me with confidence, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ. When I come before God in confidence and I say, “I know that I am not this, but I know that you will make it what it needs to be.”

  • In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin… (Romans 6:11)

This is what mercy allows me to do. My attitude is “I am dead to that sin; that sin that tries to overcome me; that sin that causes me so much trouble; that flesh that is there.” Your attitude needs to be one of a surety that says, “I will overcome the sin by Jesus Christ.”

  • In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

So naturally Paul wrote “I no longer live,” not from a position that it is an accomplished thing, but from a position that it is the accomplished thing. Do you understand what I’m saying?

  • Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12)

Because you are dead to sin, because you have been crucified, fallen to the ground, and died, and because mercy has touched your life, and grace is working, because all those things are assured, you will not let sin reign in your body. So, when I am convicted of sin, I confess it. When my hand begins to do something wicked, I stop it. When somebody confronts me about something that needs to change, I will admit to it and humble myself. That is what mercy allows me to do.

  • Do not offer the parts of your body to sin… (Romans 6:13)

The empty argument out there today is, “Don’t look at the outward of what I do.” Isaiah told us that’s an empty argument and Paul told us not to offer your body to do wicked things. The outward should be changed as well as the inward.

  • Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

The mercy of God allows me to offer myself to God so He can work righteousness. That’s why scripture says that when we come to Jesus Christ we can come in with confidence and receive the help we need, and when we fail and sin, we can only blame ourselves; that we were too hard-hearted to allow mercy and grace to have its way.

  • For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

So, let’s get the distinction down right now that there is a difference between mercy and grace. Mercy allows me to be forgiven for my sins and failures both in the past and in the future, but grace enables me to then begin to live a righteous life whether it be humility or doing good deeds or whatever grace might involve.

Many people just are not taught this. They still believe that somehow when God looks at them, He does not see their sin. That’s like saying our God rejoices in lies or He ignores them. That’s not a God of justice! I mean, even in a worldly sense, think about it—if you went before a judge who was known for overlooking injustice, what would you say about that judge? Suppose you brought people before this judge and he says, “I don’t see a criminal sitting there, I see a saint—someone who goes through the city and does all kinds of good deeds. Why’d you bring him in?” The world and the church would be indignant about that kind of judge and rightly so. That’s not a God of justice.

  • You were taught… (Ephesians 4:22)

Most people are not taught this. That’s why those who fall away and leave can go out and find fertile ground for all their slander and gossip. Many people don’t want this kind of mercy or grace.

  • You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self… (Ephesians 4:22)

Two things happen each morning and each day. I put off something and put something on. That’s where the straining and effort come in. That’s what grace is trying to do. There is this old-natured Tim that must fall to the ground and die, and I must take him and put him off and put on Jesus Christ. That’s where your battle comes in. Every situation that comes before you, you have a choice. Here is your old nature and how you do what you do and here is the new nature of Jesus Christ. You literally have to push off the one and pull on the other—that’s the daily, hourly choice you make.

The reason why I know certain people don’t change is because I see their old self doing the same thing. They’re predictable in their righteousness—really their unrighteousness. They’re predictable in all the things they do and that’s who they are. So, they’re not putting off the old nature, they’re trying to reform the old nature—something that is impossible to do.

  • You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which, is being corrupted… (Ephesians 4:22)

It’s not completely over with. Look, if it’s really true that all God sees is Jesus Christ, He doesn’t see our sin, then those people should walk around naked because before the fall in the Garden being naked was not a thing of shame. So, if they’re really in the heavenlies, if their mind is really up there above and if that’s all God sees, then start walking around naked.

…which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. (Ephesians 4:22)

Let me pause there a moment. What words did he use? “Deceitful desires…” This is what most people don’t like, because the mercy of God comes along to reveal truth. Of course, they think everything they do is noble and holy. Our sinful nature, who we are in our old nature, embraces deceitfulness. We can’t see it except by the Holy Spirit, except by mercy, except by grace, and except by other people that fellowship with us in the light. It’s really that simple. Our old self is corrupted.

  • …to be made new in the attitude of your minds… (Ephesians 4:23)

Now look at verse twenty-four. We have to put on the new self and be created like God in true righteousness and holiness. There is a false righteousness and a false holiness that claims the blood of Jesus Christ. This falseness says all that God sees is Jesus Christ, therefore I don’t need to change. That is the deceitful desire of the old nature. Then there is the new nature, and when your mind is transformed, this is easy to see. But when your mind is not transformed, when it is not being crucified, you can’t see it. You know about the only time that we really see it is when we’ve done something so wrong and the consequences are so bad, then we say, “Oh I was wrong.” But even then, there is very little hope in that. How many people in the world do you know that keep on and on, and blame somebody else or some other situation? The lies are there always to meet whatever we do. But God, in His mercy, puts Jesus Christ up on the cross and if we look clearly at that, we see who we are.

  • …and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

Again, you have a choice in every situation to put on the new and take off the old or to keep trying to reform the old, which is a lie.

What it amounts to is simply this. Right now, for one brief moment in the context of eternity, we’re falling to the ground and dying. Think of a seed when it falls to the ground, isn’t there a time period when it falls through the air and land? In the same way that Paul said, “I no longer live” it is because he fell to the ground. It’s in that process, it has already begun and very quickly, very soon it’s all over with.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable… (1 Corinthians 15:42)

This body is decaying. It’s perishing, it’s falling apart. But, it is raised imperishable.

  • …it is sown in dishonor… (1 Corinthians 15:43)

What does that mean? Every single day when I pick up my cross, I see a little bit more dishonor. A little bit more sin is revealed to me. Why? Because I’m falling to the ground. It’s being sown in dishonor. I’m reminded of who I am and why I need the mercies of God every single day. Every day, God wants me to fall to the ground, give up my life, hate my own life, embrace it all by mercy, and let grace do its work because this body is in disgrace.

  • …it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power… (1 Corinthians 15:43)

The weaker I become, the more I let the cross do its work, the more I learn grace in the power of Jesus Christ. This is what God is doing by His mercy. Paul said that it is by God’s mercy He has us ministering. Not because he was already just like Jesus Christ or that he had the power of Jesus Christ, but that he fell to the ground. He died in the humility that is hidden in Jesus Christ. Oh, it’s a done deal because he began the process.
This is why it’s so appalling that people say God only sees Jesus Christ and not their sin. It’s really a blaspheme against all of Scripture. It’s a teaching that needs to be completely destroyed and demolished.

  • No one who is born of God will continue to sin… (1 John 3:9)

It’s really that simple, no one who is born of God by the mercy and grace of God will continue to sin. It begins to stop because God’s seed remains in him. It’s small, it’s a beginning, it’s a process, it’s starting, and mercy’s done its work. Lives begin to change and hands stop doing evil because God’s seed remains in him. Look at this:

  • …he cannot go on sinning… (1 John 3:9)

Those who are being transformed by grace begin to find it impossible to sin. Now truly when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed—when you’re in that position.

The old-natured Tim Williams used to like to do all these vile things; the new nature that is put on could not do those vile things, even if it strived to do so. It would find them so unattractive and so unappealing that it is not possible for that nature to sin. The more I die and the more I put off this old nature, the more that seed can grow, and the more righteousness can be there.

  • …God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

Everything about a man continues to change, time and time again in ever-increasing glory, scripture says in verse ten.

  • This is how we know… (1 John 3:10)

This is one reason I know that those who teach that kind of doctrine, that hold onto that kind of sloppy mercy, do not belong to Jesus Christ. All I have to do is look at their life. Whether it be slander and gossip, whether it be vileness of dress, whatever it might be.

  • This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are… (1 John 3:10)

Here’s a real good test;

Anyone who does not do, [that’s outward] anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God. (1 John 3:20)
What do the church and the people of the church spend most of their time doing? Justifying the wicked that is done. “That’s not what they meant,” “That’s not what’s really in their heart,” “That’s not what they intended to do,” or “I know that really deep down inside there’s something more noble there,” but that’s not what John told us to look at. He told us to look at the actions that take place.

  • Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

God’s seed in us enables us to love our brothers. God’s seed within us enables us to do what is righteous and all that is needed for us is to fall to the ground and die. Yes, it takes training; yes, we have to press on toward the goal—but what a goal! What a goal that when you finally have some sin in your life; that one thing that God is working on at the moment, (it’s not like He couldn’t find a lot of other things) and there’s a little bit of overcoming in that, a little bit of transformation. There’s rich freedom in that, there’s rich joy. But a lot of us are wasting our time because we’re trying to reform the old man and we’re hanging on to a mercy that’s not mercy. We’re counting on a mercy we won’t receive because, once again, God gives you mercy to allow enough time so that grace might have its way with you. The man who rejects that kind of mercy and grace forfeits eternal life.
In Titus, God tells us what His grace is. Mercy is the forgiveness of God and grace is the power to live a Christian life. What’s missing between the two is the cross. People don’t want to pick up their cross, so they’ll grab onto the mercy. I know a lot of self-righteous groups that like to grab on to all the righteous things to do because they don’t want the cross.

  • For the grace of God that brings salvation… (Titus 2:11)

Paul wrote about a salvation that’s in the future. We’ll see here in a moment that it’s because I embrace a future salvation that I have full salvation now.

  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No”… (Titus 2:11–12)

The more humble you are, the more teachable you are, the more “No’s” you will have in your life. Last week someone come up to me and asked, “Is it wrong for me to want to be alone?” and I said “yes,” meaning of course, you have to put a bit of “no” in your life, you can’t be alone. That’s what grace teaches us to do, to say “no” to our sinful nature.

  • It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:12)

This isn’t mercy he wrote about; this is grace! What allows me to lay hold of the kind of grace that will teach me to be self-disciplined now? It is grabbing hold of the mercy of God that allows me to get a hold of the grace. The question is, “Do we want the grace?” Look, everybody in prison right now would like some mercy. Every prisoner would like a judge who’d bring him in and say, “You’re free!” They’d all vote for him, and that’s the kind of God most people in the church want, they don’t want one that brings in the criminals and says, “Okay I will grant you mercy if you reform your ways and never, ever break another law again.” If they were being honest, many would say, “Every law? Can’t I just have my crimes under control? Can’t my crimes just be tamed a little bit?” That’s how most people are toward Jesus Christ. We only want to reform our sin a little bit, not have it killed.

  • …while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness… (Titus 2:13)

To redeem, then, means to overcome. To be redeemed means that grace will have its way and we will rejoice in righteousness. Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, not just the ones that we choose. I get people writing me all the time in misery about their sin—especially sexual immorality. They want to know how to overcome it. I said, “Don’t try to overcome it if that’s all you’re trying to overcome, because God wants to overcome all wickedness within your life.” If you pick and choose and say, “Well, I don’t like this part…” I mean, even the world would like to give up overeating, or smoking. But God seeks to crucify the whole man:

  • …who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own… (Titus 2:14)

Look at this. Verse fourteen reveals more than anything else we’ve looked at so far:

  • …eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

When you talk to people who claim to be Christians—people who say that they have the mercy of God and they belong to Jesus Christ—how eager are they to discover what is good to do? Try to suggest they might have something to change. Use a third-person story. “You know, I have a friend who has this problem . . .” If they think you are talkingabout them, you will meet hostility. They are not touched by the mercy of God, or the grace of God. People who are touched by both of those things are eager, “Mercy has met me this day! I got up this morning, feeling my sin, who I am, how much needs to change and I had a choice: Deny that I’m better than that, (I don’t think so) or be honest before God.” I say, “God, I rejoice in Your mercy, and as I’m rejoicing, I don’t feel that I’m worthy to rejoice in that. Every day I have to come before You with all these things. I tell You what, God; I will grab hold of Your grace to overcome everything that I can.” That’s why we’re to be full of good hope. Even when we weep and cry. We can lighten up and take things seriously because we have a hope that we can be transformed. So, we have every privilege to weep. I want to weep—I wish that I could weep more over my sins.

  • …who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

Most of us have to be cattle-prodded into doing good. You do. You have to be rebuked, argued down, boxed in the corner, see the result of it, and then you say, “Okay, you’re right, I confess that and receive the mercy. “Then you stop right there. There’s no grace that meets you to overcome. So, we’re right back where we started from, recycling the same thing over and over again. You might as well join a church that says, “Well all God sees is Jesus Christ,” You might as well! Be a little bit happy.

  • These, then, are the things you should teach. (Titus 2:15)

Nothing in here about all that God sees is Jesus Christ when we sin. “These, then, are the things you should teach;” the grace that teaches us to say No, eager to do what is good, self-discipline… Now, this is not only what we should teach, but encourage and rebuke with all authority. This is not a game, this is not a doctrine, this is not my opinion, I didn’t make this up, I encourage you to do it and if you don’t do it, I will rebuke you with the authority of Jesus Christ.

Look at Romans 8:24. And with that kind of proper understanding of mercy and grace, I can take my stand and say I am saved. Time is so short on this earth, it’s almost over with. I’m saved. At the same time, I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. At the same time, I’m not arrogant enough to act like I’m already in heaven. I’m not pitching my tent saying I have arrived.

Let’s put this together.

  • For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:24)

In the hope of eternal life, I’m saved. Do you see the contradiction that we have to live, the glorious contradiction that is ours? In the hope that I will be saved in Jesus Christ it makes me saved now.

  • For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:24)

In hoping for what I don’t have, it means it’s mine. If I claim that it’s mine and I don’t hope that I’ll be saved, then I’m not saved. Because I’m in the truth when I hope for that which I will receive, that makes me have what I will receive and that’s why, with true faith and true humility and all that grace is, I can get up in the morning and say, “I am saved and I will press on toward that salvation.” Do you not think that God will honor that kind of faith? But a faith that gets up in the morning and says, “I see these sins, and I’ll just claim Jesus Christ and be here and play a game at repentance.” God will honor that? But he who says, “The prize is mine, I can win it in Jesus Christ, He died on the cross so that I might overcome. I believe in my heart that I will overcome, so I will press on in that truth to lay hold of that which is mine,” will overcome. When Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ,” he merely stated the sure hope that he grabbed hold of.

  • For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Many people just hearing what I said will think it’s foolishness. I hate to put this in a worldly sense, but I will do so. When athletes are training to run the race, what do they tell them to visualize? Coming in last? “Visualize that you’ll make it! You’ll be fourth!” They tell them to visualize that they have won, that the gold medal is theirs, that the race is done and then they run the race. I don’t want to reduce the gospel down to that because that’s not what we’re talking about; we’re not talking about some self-centered goal to achieve Jesus Christ.

  • For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, (1 Corinthians 1:18)

We were saved before the creation of the world. Jesus Christ was crucified before the creation of the world and God knew that I would be in Jesus Christ, so I’m saved. At the same time, I don’t have that salvation, so I hope for that salvation and in the hoping of that, right there—smack dab in the middle—it’s mine.
I’m seeing time as God sees time.

  • …but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 12:18)

So, I get to walk all of these nice contradictions, and it’s a glory. One thing that works within your heart is that you begin to not notice time. In the real world, it’s like crossing a room. It’s going by so fast, so all of our petty problems become just that—petty. All of our sins that need to be crucified, we are filled with the hope of overcoming and we want to press on more and more and we don’t want anything to hinder us. It also works an urgency because I know, very soon, I will be standing before Him and I want something to present before Him. All this works for the good, if we just humble ourselves.

What happens is that the foolish do this. They take one scripture about being saved and they say, “This is mine, it’s over and done with” and they sit in their easy chair. Oh, they play at it, of course. I mean, they won’t sit there and just flat-out say “I’m not going to do anything,” although it’s just about at that point. I mean there is a doctrine almost floating out there that you don’t even have to ask Jesus into your heart because Jesus paid the price and there is nothing you have to do because that would be salvation by works. It’s getting ridiculous.

  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

His mercy allows me to be born again because I should be judged and sent to hell. Verse four says:

  • …and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you… (1 Peter 1:4)

What does this say? We’ve looked at scriptures that say we were saved, we’re being saved, and we will be saved. Verse four says it is kept in heaven for you.

  • …who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)

And so, I will be saved even as I am saved. Our God does not live a lie. He doesn’t look at Tim Williams and say, “Okay, I will ignore the sin.” God comes to me in His wisdom; the Holy Spirit comes with His counsel and says, “There’s this sin, let’s die to this, let’s put on the new nature and put off the old nature.” So, I run and live and move and breathe within the mercy and grace of God, coming and going no matter what’s happening.

If somebody doesn’t buy this argument, if somebody says, “Oh this doesn’t have anything to do with that, it’s out of context” then fine. Paul said in Galatians that he no longer lives, but that he was crucified with Christ. If they still want to claim that then they need to also claim Galatians 6:17.

  • Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17)

When Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ,” notice that he didn’t turn to them and say, “You have been crucified with Christ.” He didn’t say everybody else could claim the same thing. So, before they can claim it, I want to see them also say in Galatians 6:17 that they bear within their body the marks of Jesus Christ. And if they want to play a legalistic, logical kind of argument with Galatians 2:20, then we will do the same with Galatians 6:17 too. If you claim the one, you have to be able to claim the other.

Someone wanted to know, “How do you get started in this? How do you begin to receive this mercy and walk in this mercy and grace?” Well the most ironic thing about this whole doctrine of Galatians 2:20 is that they don’t believe God when it comes to how you receive Him, which is through baptism. People come to me and say, “Look, I’ve been crucified with Christ, I no longer live.” I ask them, “Okay, how did that take place? At what point did that happen?” They do not even believe the means which God has set down for that to happen, which is water baptism. So, they can’t even claim that which they say they hold on to.

  • We were therefore buried with him… (Romans 6:4)

So when Paul said, I no longer live, I’ve been crucified with Christ,” when and where did that crucifixion take place but in baptism?

  • We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)

Paul didn’t say, “I asked Jesus Christ into my heart, I was filled with the Holy Spirit, I spoke in tongues, so therefore I’ve been crucified with Christ.” He said, “We were buried in baptism with Jesus Christ.” They must be able to point back to some place, some time saying they were baptized in Jesus Christ.

  • If, [circle the “if,” highlight the “if”] we have been united with him like this… (Romans 6:5)

Paul didn’t give any other example of where you can get out of this or do it some other way.

  • If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (Romans 6:5)

Again, this isn’t just water baptism, there’s a baptism by the blood, the water and the spirit, 1 John 5:8. We won’t look at it today, but that’s for people that want to go check it out. Again, we have to be united with Him like this.

  • For we know that our old self was crucified… (Romans 6:6)

All right so what starting point? At what beginning point can a person say, “I no longer live, I have been crucified with Christ”? It is at baptism; it is not by asking Jesus in your heart, speaking in tongues, or doing anything else but baptism.

  • For we know that our old self was crucified so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6)

We’re back, then, to the mercy and the grace. The mercy of God gave you a new life and the grace of God says you’ll no longer be a slave to sin. The mercy of God says you were crucified with Christ and the grace of God says you were raised from the dead in Jesus Christ.

  • …because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)

One of the reasons why there’s so much hostility toward all of this is because they haven’t even submitted to the basic doctrines of baptism. If a man won’t surrender his opinion with that and the way that people come to Jesus Christ, why would he ever submit to anything else that talks about holiness and righteousness?

So, when you’re talking with somebody, there’s no use going out on all these other arguments, you’ve got to bring them right back here. Because if a man is not willing to humble himself to accept God’s way of being saved and beginning the process in Jesus Christ, why would he accept anything else that Scripture might have to say? He can pick and choose how he wants to read it.

  • …because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)

How did they die? By being baptized.

  • Now if we died with Christ… (Romans 6:8)

If we did, if that is a done deal, if that was done in faith, we believe.

  • …we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)

I told you earlier I titled this “Part 1.5” because we had to deviate. I have scriptures about pressing on with Job about the mercy of God, but we’re out of time. I hope that next week we don’t have to deviate on anything else, or demolish any other arguments, so that we can press on to the mercy of God.

Let’s pray:

Father, we praise You for Your mercy and for Your grace. We pray Father that You work within us a willing heart and spirit. Father, that we would have a true faith that puts off the old and puts on the new and, Father, we could see that living hope that is before us that we will overcome and that You will overcome the sins in our life. All we need to do, Father, is to hold on to You and fall to the ground to die. We praise You Father for Your mercy that forgives us, for this chance to repent, to let grace have its way. May You do so in many lives. Amen.
To find additional titles that embody the message of the cross, please visit:

Chapter Links

  1. Glorify God at Work
  2. Holy Spirit and His Voice
  3. God is Good
  4. The Most Important Sermon
  5. Do You Want to Be Made Well?
  6. Let Your Lifeboat Go
  7. Missed Chances
  8. Crossing the Jordan
  9. Obedience from Faith
  10. Mercy


The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing, and only one thing – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance according to the whole gospel.

The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness with the whole gospel.

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