Loving Our Fallen World

Dustin Folden January 31, 2016 Romans 3:1-26

→ Click to view the Sermon Outline

I. Conviction #1: I was once lost and hopeless (3:1-20)

A. This concept was difficult for the Jews to learn (vv. 1-8)

B. This concept is difficult for us to accept (vv. 9-20)

  • We did not seek God (vv. 9-12)
  • We did not behave righteously (vv. 13-17)
  • We did not fear God (vv. 18-20)

II. Conviction #2: My condition did not change as a result of my efforts (3:21-26)

A. Righteousness of God (vv. 21-23)

B. Justification (v. 24)

C. Redemption (v. 24)

D. Propitiation (v. 25)

III. Conviction #3: I boast in the one true God and in His righteousness (3:27-30)

A. The only proper boasting is in the Lord (vv. 27-28)

B. The Lord can change anyone (vv. 29-30)

C. The many faces of the fallen world

Take Aways

1. Evaluate your own heart

2. Repent of your wrong thinking

3. Look for opportunities to love your fallen world

 

Manuscript

Well this year our annual theme is Loving Our World. We're thinking of the various ways in which God is calling us to love those around us. So far, Pastor Viars has spoken on loving the unborn and encouraging us to celebrate women caring for their unborn children and serving in ministries that encourage women to make godly choices about the unborn. We love the unborn and we are going to fight for their survival. Last week we studied loving the mission field with a particular emphasis on Cuba. Again, I want to thank you for loving the world by loving the believers in Cuba and so generously giving of how the Lord has blessed you. I think the Cubans are, Lord willing, going to get an enormous Christmas in February and it's great to be a part of that as church family.

Today we're going to peer from a much large vantage point. Instead of narrowing our focus on Cuba or the unborn we're going to think about the condition of the entire unbelieving world. This morning we're going to consider loving our fallen world. With that in mind please turn in your bibles to Romans 3, chapter 3 verse 1. That's on page 120 of the back section in the bible in the chair in front of you. Page 120, Romans chapter 3. Since we are jumping into Chapter 3, I want to remind you of what we find in Romans chapter 1 and 2. Paul begins the book of Romans by saying that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it's the power of God unto salvation for both Jews and Greeks. Greeks is another way of referring to Gentiles in many situations like we have in this text. When you read Jew and Greek or Gentile it's important to understand what he is saying. For Paul, every person fits into one of those two categories. It's not like American, German, French Canadian, and in Greek. It's not like Caucasian, black, Hispanic, Asian. Paul is saying that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for every human being. Praise God that every human being is capable of being saved. Romans 1:18-32, he explains the sinfulness of the Gentiles, all the non-Jews and indeed there is plenty of sin to go around.

Now, if you were a Jew reading this portion of Romans, you might be tempted to think, "Right on. You tell them, Paul. Amen and amen, you preach it brother." Your joy would only last until the end of chapter 1, because then Paul teach on the sinfulness of the Jews. In other words, Paul is explaining in the first two chapters of Romans his theological assessment of the human condition. We all have a problem. We all have a big problem with sin. With that in mind, let's get into our text. Please listen carefully as I read the word of the Lord. We're going to read the whole chapter of Romans 3, so let's do it and let's go through the whole thing. Follow along with me starting in verse 1 of chapter 3.

"What then advantage has the Jew, or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, 'That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.' But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), 'Let us do evil that good may come'? Their condemnation is just. What then? What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.

As it is written: There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they keep deceiving; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their paths; and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Verse 19: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God. Because by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe, for there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith, this was to demonstration His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed, for the demonstration I say of His righteousness at this present time so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith part from works of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles, also? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since, indeed God, who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised by faith, through faith is one. Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the law."

Woo! That is a mouthful, but so rich and packed with truth. We need to dig into this text to see if we can discern all that Paul is intending, here. In order to do this I'd like to organize our time around three convictions you must have if you will ever be an authentic witness to the world through love. Three convictions. This text leads us to put on, in our mind, and in our lives.

Conviction number one; I was once lost and hopeless.

I. Conviction #1: I was once lost and hopeless (3:1-20)

That's the focus of the first twenty verses. I want to make a statement and see if you agree with me: You cannot love someone if you are constantly looking down upon them. Do you agree with that? Would you agree that as soon as you see yourself better than those around you, you will not love them. Instead, you will treat them as though they exist to serve you, or, at least, they should get out of your way.

First Corinthians 13 says that love is not arrogant. It does not view itself as better than others. As long as you have the view that, well, there's you, and then there's me, you will not love people. It's like, "Yeah, yeah, I know you're really good. You're awesome, but I'm up here looking down on you." There's you, but there is me. As long as I live there in that mental space, I will not love a fallen world. If you don't properly consider your own condition, you will not love those who are lost. This concept was very difficult for the Jews to learn. That's where verses 1 through 8 really talks about the discourse that Paul is answering.

One of the contexts, one of the controversies we see in the New Testament generally is a controversy between the Jews and the Gentiles. We see that over and over again in the New Testament. The Jews viewed themselves as privileged and this lead to pride. Rather than seeing the own condition of their hearts, they judged those who were around them; which is why you need to be circumcised, why you need to follow the law, why you need to do this, that, and the other. We see, even, the argument of versus 1 through 8, after explaining that the Jews were sinners just like the Gentiles, Paul has a series of objections to answer.

"Well, then what's the point of being a Jew then?" The text kind of eludes to, verses 1 through 2. "Is there any benefit being a Jew?" Paul says, "Yes. Absolutely. You are entrusted with the commandments of God, the oracles of God. That was very important, but was it supposed to make you arrogant? No. Were you supposed to be good stewards of the commandments and the privileges God gave to you? Yes. Knowing God's word was and is an honor and a privilege, it's not an opportunity for arrogance." Then Paul says, "In fact your ..." speaking to the Jews, "Your sinfulness did not change God's faithfulness to you." God gave them his word. He explained the blessings of obedience and the consequence of disobedience. God remains faithful to His word what He said He was going to do. He's faithful to His people. He's faithful to His word. 

Then the Jew's said, "Well, if God is faithful and we're in this special place, that means He's not going to judge us, right? That means we get a free pass, right?" "No. That's not what it means," verses 7 and 8 say, "it means that God is faithful to everything He said, including the consequences for disobedience's. In other words, you Jews are guilty, just like the rest of the fallen world. You are just as liable." Do you see what Paul is doing? He's concern the Jews were thinking of themselves as better, as having a righteousness on their own. He brings them down a few notches by saying, "First, you have all sinned and are just as guilty, and secondly, that your sin is as deserving as judgment as everyone else's."

The next section is very difficult for us to accept. That's what verses 9 through 20, "Are we better than they?" You know, once Paul lays the smack down on the Jews, if you will, thinking that maybe they're better than everyone else, he says, "Nobody ought to think that way. Nobody should have this high view of themselves looking down on others." Friends, sometimes we are like this. We don't want to admit that God's justice upon us would be entirely righteous. That His justice over me because of my sin is completely legit, and righteous, and holy, and good.  We don't want to admit that. We don't want to admit that we are just as bad as the fallen world around us. Instead we want to hang onto that sliver of self-righteous, maybe just a little bit. We want to hang onto just a sliver that comes out in the form of saying things like, "At least I did not ... " fill in the blank. At least I did not have 12 kids with 12 different people. At least I graduated from high school. At least I did not kill anyone. At least I did not ... At least I did not ... At least I did not ... Every one of those is an attempt to show that I am better than you. This attitude is not only inconsistent with Romans 3, it absolutely kills our ability to love a fallen world.

In this section Paul uses a number of Old Testament passages to make his point. If you want to read those at a later time, Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 are very powerful passages and they really show the human condition at a high level that Paul picks up in chapter 3. As you get into those verses 9 through 20, there's three truths that are evident about people like you and me. First, we see in verses 9 through 12 that we did not seek God. We did not seek God. There's none righteous, not even one. There's none who understands. there is none who seeks after God. There is no one who seeks after God. We seek after our own kingdom. We are little kingdom builders. We love to construct that which we think is going to please and honor us. People who mess with our kingdoms, they receive our wrath. If God messes with our kingdom, we get angry at Him. He is not just talking about the Jews. He is talking about all of us.

I am sure some of you remember your unsaved days better than maybe others. The reality is that none of us were seeking God on our own. We did not behave righteously. All of our lives were characterized by some way, shape, or form; by deception, cursing, bitterness. But, at the heart of self-righteous comparison is the idea that I am better than you because I did X, or I did not do X. What we do is we create standards of righteousness that we think we can attain. In those standards, as long as I come out better than you, then I feel pretty good. I get to decide what's a good, a big deal, or a little deal. I'm fine with right and wrong, I just want to decide where the threshold is and I want to make sure I adjust it to put myself in the best position.

Often times our standard of righteousness that we construct revolves around many things. Often times it revolves around skin color. Racism today is, perhaps, a bit more subtle than it used to be, instead of having a sign on a restaurant it may be posted on a Facebook wall. Maybe it's not as overt at times but it's often buried in the heart and it comes out in a look, or a snide comment, or just plain being distant and not associating with somebody different. Often times we set standards of righteousness that revolve around intelligence because we value the aspects of intelligence that we're good at and we convince ourselves that others are inferior because they can't do what we can do.

Growing up and in parenting there is always the temptation to have some sort of educational credentials at an early age, isn't there? You know how the conversations go, "Well, my kid started reading at 2." "Well, my kid composed symphonies in the womb. Take that!" "My son's going to boy's state." "My daughter's going to language school." I actually went to language school one summer, not because I wanted to. I learned one phrase [foreign language 00:17:02] because every day I had to go to the bank to get money to go and buy chocolate. That is what I wanted. I did not come back bilingual, I came back loving Toblerone chocolate. I came back not meeting the standards of righteousness if this is what the intellectual thing is, you know? I didn't measure up.

Often times we construct these standards of righteousness around economic status. It goes both ways. Pride is possible from both the haves and the have-nots. Just not wanting to associate with somebody in a different economic status than you. Friends, that sort of comparison based on skin color, wealth, education, that is unrighteousness in the sight of God. If we're willing to search the depth of our hearts we're probably going to find that it is true in some ways for us. That's why it's hard for us to read passages like this and recognize our spiritual condition.

Text goes on to say we do not fear God, that's what verse 18 says, "There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." We don't fear God, we don't have a good knowledge of our sin and we make excuses for our behavior. We don't want to look at our own life using the perspective that God does. We want to minimize our sin and then use our viewpoint to develop self-righteousness to judge others. The Law was there to point us to our sin so that everybody shuts their mouth and there are no excuses, that we're all accountable to God, so that we would see our true condition. Don't miss this point, it's crucial to the argument: if we are going to authentically loves others we must see our true condition before God.

It might be true that we have been given advantages that others did not, but often times rather than listen, learning, and stewarding those advantages, we became prideful and did not see the depths of our own sin. Then we would look down upon those who did not have those advantages. It might be true that we didn't sin in every way possible known to man, but that does not make us righteous. Only in our minds are we convinced that we are more righteous than someone else. When I remember that I was in the same condition, we are then equals and I can love you. I can love you because I'm not looking down upon you, because the word of God has helped me understand my spiritual condition where I was.

II. Conviction #2: My condition did not change as a result of my efforts (3:21-26)

The second conviction you need to develop to be an authentic witness in love to a fallen world is that your condition didn't change because of your efforts. In this passage, Romans 3:21-26, it's one of my favorite passages. It's just a beautiful text that shows our condition did not change because of us, but because God did some amazing things. I want to look at a few terms and phrase from this portion to understand what God did when He saved my sinful soul. First we see, in verse 21-23, the righteousness of God, "Now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." This idea is going to be very close to the next where we look at justification, but for now, let me say a few words about the righteousness of God.

The righteousness of God refers to His intervention, to vindicate His people and deliver His people from their sin. Righteousness is not possible from our own efforts. What the bible calls Works of the Law; the law is there to close our mouths and point us to be accountable before a holy God. Righteousness can only be achieved by a righteous God who intervenes on our behalf. That's what makes salvation so wonderful. You know there are a lot of things you can do on your own. There are a lot of things you can do based on your will power, if you set your mind to it, you can do a lot of things, but become righteousness is not one of them. Only God can do that. You and I need to realize that God had to move and intervene, He had to move in our direction because there was none who seeks after God.

Romans 3 says that the righteousness of God refers to His willingness to intervene on our behalf by sending Christ. Then we have this amazing word, a justification. Can everybody just say ... 1, 2, 3, justification. This word needs to become ... I mean write it on the front of your glasses, scratch it on your cornea, I don't know. Don't do that. This word is amazing. It needs to guide how we view ourselves and others. Look at verse 24: being justified as a gift. You couldn't earn it. Being justified as a gift by His grace, because He is so good, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Justification is the legal declaration that the sinner who is guilty is innocent and then given the righteousness of Christ. I mean that is why we sing. That is why we praise God. That is why the words Hallelujah come out of our lips because the word justification is so powerful. The best way that I know how to explain justification is to retell a story I heard a while ago. A story about a Texas defense attorney names Racehorse Hanes. That's the best lawyer name ever, by the way. Racehorse had never lost a case. He was being interviewed because he's never lost a case. He's being interviewed and the interviewer asks, "Do you ask your clients whether they've committed the crime?" He said, "No. My job as a defense attorney is to present the facts of the case in the best possible light for my client." The interviewer then asks another very insightful question, he said, "Is there ever a time you found out?" Racehorse leaned back in his chair and says, "Yup. Yeah, one time I found out. The jury had just returned a not guilty verdict and the judge turned to my client and asked him if there was anything he would like to say, and he responded, 'Yes, sir, I would,' and he stood up and preceded to say, 'Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, thank you for declaring me not guilty, and I promise I will never do it again.'"

Friends, that is justification. It is God saying to you and to me that, even though we are guilty, red-handed guilty, caught-on-camera guilty, that God though the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, by faith in him has declared us innocent and then given us the righteousness of Christ on our account. Praise Him for that. May that move you in your heart to rejoice at the grace of God.

Amazingly the text keeps going. Redemption, verse 24. This is a lovely ... This is a beautiful word. It means to buy back. This time a biblical illustration is best to convey this ides of redemption. Recently we studied the book of Hosea. In that book we are told that Hosea was to marry a woman named Gomer and Gomer was a prostitute. Hosea obeys the Lord and marries Gomer, the prostitute. In the course of time, Gomer returns to her former manner of life of sexual sin and she leaves Hosea to run after pleasure. However, she is caught. She ends up a slave being sold to the highest bidder. Her desire for sexual pleasure without boundaries has ended up with her slavery. Here's where the story gets most surprising and most beautiful, Hosea does not excuse her sin, he does not ignore it, he does not water it down, he does not act like it didn't exist, but he buys her back anyways. We might be tempted to say, "You know what? She's getting exactly what she deserved. She made her bed now she has to sleep in it. There's a heavy price for rebelling and being foolish and she's paying it." Yet, Hosea goes and he buys his wife off the slave market as an act of love and faithfulness.

Friends, that's exactly what Christ did for you and for me. We were once lost. We were once a slave to sin. We were once a resident of the kingdom of darkness, following the father of lies, but God through Christ found us, brought us back, and made us a resident of the kingdom of His dear son. He did that, not us. Then we see a word like propitiation in the text, look at verse 25, "Whom God displayed publicly," talking about Jesus now, "as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed." Propitiation is a big word. It's a big word, but it's a very important word, one that we ought to know. It means to satisfy. Next time you have a big meal and you're really satisfied, say, "Ah, I'm so propitiated." Everybody in the restaurant's going to look at you like, "What is he talking about."

When the bible is speaking of God and using the word propitiation, He's talking about satisfying the wrath of God. Remember earlier in Romans 3:1-8, the Jews did not want to believe that they were under the wrath of God. Instead they wanted to argue that they were in a favored position that excluded them from God's wrath. This verse reminds us all that we are all under the wrath of God. All of us deserve God's eternal punishment. Thanks be to God that he did something about that. When Christ died on the cross, God poured out His wrath on Christ so that He didn't have to pour it out on me, or on you. When Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It's so that you and I would never have to be forsaken. The gospel, the good news is that Jesus Christ took the wrath of God, all of it, in our place so that you and I don't have to.

It may be, at this point, that some of you are wondering if these things are true for you? Have you really been justified? Have you really been redeemed? Has God's wrath towards you really been propitiated? That question has a rather straight forward answer. If there's been a definite point in time in your life when you have understood that you are a sinner, that you couldn't earn righteousness before God on your own, and that your sin was an offence against a holy God and that you were under His wrath. If you've placed your faith in nothing other than the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation than these things are true for you.

If you're not sure, you know what, you can do that right now. You can, in the quietness of this moment, here at this point in time admit that you are a sinner and place your faith in Christ, what He did on the cross, as your only hope of salvation. If you say, "You know what, I have some questions. The Lord's working in my heart, I'm convicted but I have some questions," and if you want to sit down with someone this week just come to the tent after the service, or email us, or call the church and we will ensure that someone speaks with you as soon as possible so that you can know that you're justified, redeemed, and that God's wrath has been propitiated in Christ for you. If you know Christ as your Lord and savior, I hope that you are rejoicing in your heart as we go over this text. "Praise God that I'm justified, that I'm redeemed, that I have been given the righteousness of Christ that I didn't have to earn." It almost drives you to break out in song. Victory ... I can't do it.

That's where the song in our heart comes from is because what Christ has done. It comes out in our words and our actions. The argument of this text is clear, the only way that you and I will authentically love the fallen world around us is if we remember our lost condition. Secondly, if we will see that God changed that condition, not us. This leads me to my third point; developing the conviction that you will boast in the one true God and His righteousness.

III. Conviction #3: I boast in the one true God and in His righteousness (3:27-30)

The final conviction we find in this last part of the passage is that our boasting is in the one true God, the God of the Jews and the God of the Gentiles. In His righteousness, the only proper boasting is in the Lord. So often when we look down on others it's because we are boasting our heart or we're actually saying it out loud, but look at verse 27 and 28; Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

You are believing in something other than yourself. You're trusting something other than yourself. You have no room to boast in yourself. No platform to look down upon others from. If I am properly looking and thinking about my prior condition, in the condition of those that I am called to love, the fallen, I remember that Christ saved me. He changed my condition. I want to then point others to the person who can change them, the Lord. I don't boast in my righteousness, my intelligence, my ability, I boast in the righteousness of Christ. I boast about a God who changed my life. I boast about what God has done to change me from the person I was, someone who looked for all kinds of ways in their own life to be proud of themselves and then used that to be judgmental on others, to someone who is called to love people in the same spiritual condition that I was to the glory of God. The truth of the matter is the Lord can change anyone.

I know it's difficult because sometimes we will say, "Well that guy will never change. He never has changed. He's so stubborn and hard-hearted, so resistant to the things of God. There's no hope. I can't imagine anything changing him." Except the God who is the God of the Jews and Gentiles. Who is drawing men and women from all nations to Himself. That God changed me and He can change the fallen.

I also want to take this time to look at the many faces of the fallen world. I want to drive this home because this has a lot of implications because the fallen world has a lot of different faces. This week we celebrated the groundbreaking of the Hartford Hub. The Hub is going to be a place where relationships are built. As many people tell you, those relationship are not that difficult to establish if you will just be available. I've heard it said recently, "The ministry of just being there." You will build relationships. It is our goal that these relationships would not just shoot the breeze, but they would be redemptive in nature. Our goal is that these folks that we get to meet are changed by the God who has changed us. Here's what that's going to mean, we have to love the fallen world and many of its faces. I have a number of pictures, stock photography from the internet, not necessarily it's someone that you now. There's no necessary stereotyping going on here, but these are just people, examples of people that we need to love.

How about this picture of a number of prisoners? Fallen individuals who have expressed their sin in a way where the government has had to intervene, is that a person we can love? The answer will be 'no' if we are looking at our own self-righteousness, or think of ourselves as better than others. What about some poor school children? These children don't represent kids who live in a far off country, these children represent children who live right here in this town. Are we interested in relationships with them because they need friends, their parents need friends, and need people to care for them. The answer will be 'no' if we look at our own self-righteousness and think of ourselves as better than others. How about a homeless person? You know the men's ministry at Bethany Farms that, by God's grace, we're looking to start, will not be serving men that have their act together. There will be men who are struggling and in their choices they end up homeless. I'm not talking about homeless in Chicago or Dallas, but right here in our town. Are we going to love them? The answer will be 'no' if we look at our own self-righteousness and look down on others.

How about some teenagers? These teenagers here, they egged your car. Some of you, if you live around the church, you know exactly what I am talking about because your car has recently been egged by a number of people in the neighborhoods around the church. It's easy to get frustrated. They hang out around the park all day and grope all over each other and some of the words that come out of their mouth make you want to clean out your ears, but are you going to love the fallen world? Are we going to exclude this group? The answer will be 'no' if we look at our own self-righteousness and think of ourselves as better than others. Now, how about a high-class couple? How about folks that represent the arrogant in society? Maybe they have their act together and they know it, or they want you to at least think they do. Their income fully supports their lifestyle and they're enjoying some of the finer things the world has to offer. Maybe they have the attitude to go with it and they have no time for you. Are we going to love them? They need Jesus as well.

How about a picture of just a regular family, a family that lives next door to you. Think about your neighbors. There's nothing flashy about them. There's nothing particularly annoying about them. You see them when you cut your grass. You see them in the morning when you go to work. Are you going to love them? The point is that the fallen world comes in many shapes and sizes. The fallen world is just people who don't know Christ, yet. The answer to these questions is, "I'm only going to love them if I have the right convictions based on God's word particular through Romans 3." When we think about the fallen world of Lafayette, Indiana, it will push us, it will challenge us, it will convict us to look at the people the way that Christ does; as sheep without a shepherd being lead to a slaughter. That needs to motivate your heart to love them and not judge them and look down upon them in your own self-righteousness.

Loving the fallen world in practical ways requires conviction based on God's word. Let me give you a few take-aways.

Take-Aways

First, evaluate your own heart. Allow God's word to penetrate your heart. Recognize that loving our world is not loving people "over there", it's loving the many faces in our community that you see every day. Ask God to show you how you struggle with this. The biggest mistake to say, "That's not me. There's none of that in my heart." Allow the Lord to help you evaluate your heart and then repent of any wrong thinking the Lord allows you to see. At some point, change comes through repentance. Agreeing with what God says and then changing your mind and moving in a different direction. If there's no repentance in our hearts, there will not be change in our hands, in our words, in our feet. Repent of whatever the Lord has shown you in your life and in your heart that's not consistent with this passage. You don't view yourself, the world, through that grid. Then look for ways to love your fallen world. It's not going to be hard.

If you have the conviction of your spiritual condition, what it used to be. The opportunities are all around us. They come when the snow falls, they come when someone has a need, and they come by just being there. They come by getting to know your neighbors. They come by sharing Christ with everyone who needs the transforming message of the gospel. Let's pray together and ask God to help us have the convictions to do just that. Let's pray.

Lord will you help us put on the convictions that we see in your word? Lord, help us to humble ourselves and remember our lost, hopeless, and helpless condition. Lord, help us to remember and appraise you that you acted, that you changed us, that you justified us, you redeemed us and you propitiated your wrath away from us and put it onto your beloved son. Lord, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the death, the burial, the resurrection, our only hope. Lord, thank you for the gospel, may it guide us to view ourselves properly, to view you properly and to view our world properly. Lord, help us to see a fallen world like you do and then love a fallen world like you do. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Dustin Folden

B.S - Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Pastor Dustin Folden and his wife Trisha joined the Pastoral Staff in 2010. They have two children, Mackenna & Sawyer. They enjoy playing board games, cooking together and going on hiking adventures. Pastor Folden shepherds the 9:30 worship service, oversees the Adult Bible Fellowship ministry, the Wednesday evening Faith Community Institute as well as serves in Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.

Read Dustin Folden's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Folden to Faith Church.