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Romans Series #24[i]
Title: Five Slanderous Reports
Text: Romans 3:8
Subject: Slanders Against the Gospel
Five Slanderous Reports Confronted — That is the title of my message. — Five Slanderous Reports Confronted — You will find my text in the 3rd chapter of the Book of Romans — Romans 3:8.
Slanderers are Satan’s bellows, by which the fiend of hell divides and stirs up contention. Usually, the best way to answer slander is with silence. I make it a policy never to respond to the slanders of men against me. Slanderers are like Joab. When they come to hug you, they have a dagger in their left hand with which they intend to kill you, as both Abner and Amasa discovered only when they found Joab’s blade under their fifth ribs (2 Samuel 3:27; 20:10). As Solomon puts it, “He hideth hatred with lying lips” (Proverbs 10:18).
Throughout the ages, God’s servants have been slandered by those who opposed them, just as our Savior was slandered by his accusers. While, as I said, it is usually best to answer slanders with silence, sometimes, for the benefit of God’s people, those slanders must be confronted plainly, as Paul had to confront them at Rome, Galatia, and Corinth.
A slanderous report is a malicious, false defamatory statement. It is a report that is intended to discredit a person. Politicians commonly slander one another, hoping to steal favor from their opponents and win it to themselves. Sadly, preachers and religious leaders frequently act like politicians and play politics with people.
Like Diotrephes, loving to have preeminence, false prophets slander faithful men, hoping to exalt themselves. These slanderers are not merely men who have and relate a mistaken opinion about a man. Evil as such gossip is, that is an understandable error. Slanderers know full well that the thing they state is untrue when they state it.
When men who will not receive the Word of God cannot refute the Gospel we preach, when the doctrine we teach cannot be gainsaid, because it is plainly stated in Holy Scripture, they attempt to discredit the message we declare and discredit us by making our doctrine appear horribly evil. They do this by avowing that we say things we never dreamed of, let alone stated. That is exactly what Paul confronted in Romans 3:8.
(Romans 3:8) And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
Because Paul preached salvation by grace alone, without works, slanderers went before him everywhere he went warning people not to hear him, saying, “Paul preaches that since we are saved by grace, it does not matter how we live. Sin as you like, because even if we do evil good will come of it.” Of course, neither Paul nor any servant of God ever taught any such doctrine! And, regarding such slanders, God the Holy Spirit here declares, their “damnation is just.”
Like David, “I have heard the slander of many” (Psalm 31:13), who would turn you away from “simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3), turn you away from the Gospel of the grace of God, and turn you to the “cunningly devised fables” of men (2 Peter 1:16). Jeremiah’s words of lamentation for Israel and Judah in his day, might well be words of weeping and lamentation spoken by every faithful prophet of God in this generation (Jeremiah 9:1-8).
(Jeremiah 9:1-8) (1) Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (2) Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men!”
Then, the Lord God describes the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, who were the cause of the faithful prophet’s sorrow and concern.
(Jeremiah 9:3-8) (3) They bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. (4) Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. (5) And they will deceive everyone his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. (6) Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD…(8) Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.
Proposition: Slanders against the Gospel are slanders against God and slanders by which Satan would destroy your soul.
Here are five slanderous reports that have been made against the Gospel we cherish and the men who preach it. These are not hearsay matters. All of the slanders I will confront in this messages are things I have either read with my own eyes, or heard with my own ears.
Free from the Law
1. When we declare, as the Scriptures clearly do, that all who are born of God are “not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14), we are accused of saying, “Let us sin that grace may abound.”
Those who make this accusation know that it is false. It is an accusation that legalists have been hurling at Gospel preachers for two thousand years. Because they are mercenaries, they presume that all are. Jude describes these slanderers as “ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). They turn the grace of God into lasciviousness by daring to assert that the preaching of salvation by grace alone, without works, will open the flood gates of sin and teach people to live in licentiousness. I have just two things to say about this; and these two things you will find written in broad, boldfaced, capital letters throughout the Word of God.
First, God’s people are not, in any sense whatsoever, under the yoke of the law. The Scriptures are crystal clear in stating this. This is not a matter of supposition. This is not a matter of debate. This is not a matter of indifference. This is clearly, plainly, repeatedly, and forcibly stated throughout the New Testament.
(Romans 6:14-15) (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
(Romans 7:1-4) (1) Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (2) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. (3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. (4) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
(Romans 8:1-8) (1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; (To live after the flesh is to live under the law!) but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (To live after the Spirit is to live by faith in Christ!) (6) For to be carnally minded (under the law) is death; but to be spiritually minded (born of God) is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind (the sinner trying to make himself holy by legal works) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh (those who live under the law) cannot please God.
(Romans 9:31-10:4) (31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
(Romans 10:1-4) (1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
(Galatians 3:13-14) (13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
(Galatians 5:1-4) (1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Let redeemed sinners everywhere sing with joyful hearts of praise to God our Savior…
“Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission!
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all!
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it,
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, —
Christ hath redeemed us, once for all!”
That’s the first thing. — God’s people are not under the law. — Second, the grace of God that brings salvation teaches every saved sinner to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 3:8; 2:10-14).
(Titus 3:8) This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
(Titus 2:10-14) (10) Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Christ Made Sin
2. When we repeat the very words of Inspiration asserting that our Lord Jesus Christ was “made sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are accused of saying that “sin was infused into Christ.”
I’ve never known anyone to suggest or in any way imply such a monstrous thing, except those who simply refuse (whatever their reason may be) to bow to the revelation of God. Wishing to make a straw man they can beat with vigor and pretended indignation, they speak as though some blasphemous fool actually believed the invention of their own perverse brains.
What a great pity it is that evil men will take the most precious revelation of Holy Scripture and turn it into a theological football to kick around for their amusement!
Our blessed Savior had no sin of His own. He was born without original sin, being even from birth “that Holy One” (Luke 1:35). Throughout His life He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22); “and in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But on Calvary the holy Lord God “made Him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Just as in the incarnation “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), in substitution the Word who was made flesh “was made sin for us.”
· I do not know how God could be made flesh and never cease to be God; but he was.
· I do not know how the eternal God could die and yet never die; but he did (Acts 20:28).
· I do not know how all the fulness of the infinite, incomprehensible God can dwell in Christ bodily; but it does (Colossians 2:9).
· And I do not know how Christ who knew no sin could be made sin and yet never have sinned; but He was.
These things are mysteries beyond the reach of human comprehension. But they are facts of Divine Revelation to which we bow with adoration. Hard as it is for many to realize, our God is “slightly” bigger than our puny brains!
(2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2) (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
3. When we bring forth the glorious fact of the eternal justification of God’s elect, exactly as it is stated by the Spirit of God in Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 1:3-6, vain men brazenly declare that we “do not believe the blood of Christ is necessary for salvation.”
What fool ever imagined that the accomplishments of God’s purpose in eternity nullifies the sure performance of his work in time? Again, such an absurdity has never been written or stated (to my knowledge) by anyone, except the slanderer who is embarrassed by his open rebellion to the Word of God, and will not repent. But, when men seek to draw away disciples after themselves, craving preeminence, seeking “advantage” for themselves (Jude 16), open deceit becomes (in their eyes and for themselves) excusable. Let such wicked men, “whose damnation is just,” carp all they will, the Word of God is as clear as crystal. — With regard to this matter of our salvation in and by Christ, “the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3; Romans 8:28-32; Ephesians 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:9-11; Romans 11:29).
(Romans 8:28-32) (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
(Ephesians 1:3-7) (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
(2 Timothy 1:9-11) (9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
(Romans 11:29) The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Eternal blood upon the Altar,
Sprinkled on the Mercy-Seat,
Lamb of God, from everlasting,
Slain, accepted, He for me!
As He Is
4. When we assure believing sinners of their complete and perfect union with Christ, as John does in 1 John 4:17, declaring that “as He is so are we in this world,” we are denounced by men who assert that the repetition of John’s declaration is heretical, because “it makes men little gods.”
Let the accusations fly as they may, — All God’s elect are one with Christ, accepted in Christ, and in Christ well-pleasing to the Triune Jehovah, because, “as he is so are we in this world!”
With His spotless garments on,
I am as holy as God’s own Son!
Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be;
For in the Person of His Son
I am as near as He!
Dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I cannot be,
For in the Person of His Son
I am as dear as He!
Partakers of the Divine Nature
5. When we assert that every regenerate person in this world is made a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) in Christ, that we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), having Christ who is our righteousness imparted to us, as the Holy Spirit declares, we are accused of denying justification by Christ and imputed righteousness.
The imparted righteousness bestowed upon the heaven born soul is not a denial of imputed righteousness, but the verification of it. That new man created in righteousness and true holiness is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). That new nature is not a new principle of life, but a new life, a new man, a new nature, that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Redeemed by the blood and born of the Spirit we are made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).
Illustration: “How good do you have to be to get to heaven?”
· You have to obey God’s holy law, perfectly.
· You have to pay for all your sins. — You have to fully pay, fully satisfy God’s infinite justice.
· You have to have a holy nature. — “Ye must be born again!” — The First Resurrection!
· You have to have a new body. — The Resurrection!
I began this message by referring to Jeremiah’s lamentation in Jeremiah 9. At the end of that chapter, we are given word from our God, as he calls us away from slandering false prophets, who “who bend their tongues like their bows for lies,” who speak peace with their mouths but lay in wait to destroy…
(Jeremiah 9:23-24) (23) Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (24) But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
· Would you be free from the curse of God’s Holy law?
· Would you be just with God?
· Would you be as Christ is?
· Would you be a new creature?
· “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!”
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning — August 10, 2014
Kingsport Sovereign Grace Church, Kingsport, TN — (08/10/14)
Reading: Psalm 31:1-24