Have you heard of the new fad that's sweeping teens across the nation? It's called: Knockout. No it doesn't have anything to do with bowling pins nor does it have anything to do with dressing like you're going to the Prom.
Knockout works like this. You get a camera phone. You started recording. You focus on an innocent bystander walking on the side walk. Then, you hold the camera steady as your friend bursts on screen. You record as he swings his fist with all the momentum he can. You cringe as it connects with that pedestrian's face. Then, you reconvene. Laughing hysterically and awarding points for how 'knocked out' the person is who got hit. Hilarious, right?
These are the times we live in. Times when we have to watch our surroundings at the mall. Times where we are on alert at the movie theater. Times when preschools issues codes for parents to enter and pick up the children.
There has never been a more appropriate time to pray the final petition of the Lord's Prayer over and over again: Deliver Us From Evil!
In our lesson for today, I'm thrilled to tell you that God our Lord will do just that!!! Open up to Romans 3:19.
I. God Reacts to Evil.
“Now we know that whatever he law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”
Now we might not always believe that God is going to do anything about evil. We might think he's too busy playing a game of Divine Go Fish with the angels in heaven in order to remember to exact vengeance against evil down on earth.
Think about what we see on earth: Groups continually plant bombs and then shoot television interviews in which they ridicule the men and women who are trying to stop them. Sadistic men kidnap and tie women up for years – becoming nonchalant and cocky – “No one will ever catch me!” Blog post after blog post mocking God and scoffing at the very thought that he could ever hold them accountable.
These people think they are getting away with it and we might feel like they are getting away with it.
But listen to the words from Romans 3 again—The whole world will be held accountable to God. Will be. This is future fact. It's a most definite truth. It doesn't say, “Might be,” or “could possibly be,” but “will be.'
When that happens, it won't be like what you see on the People's Court. There won't be any backtalk. There won't be any preconceived perceptions clouding God's judgment. There won't be sappy argument from picketers or internet bloggers that would cause God to sway his decision.
Because God is God. God has the final say. God doesn't forget. God doesn't miss a wrong. God always sees. God always knows. God always exacts justice! And justice is that he declare all evildoers to be unrighteous. Not good. Evil.
Then, He will give them their their punishment. It won't be community service. Not time served. A hefty fine won't be acceptable nor will 40 years at Guatanamo Bay or life in Alcatraz.
Those punishments are way more humane than what God has in mind for evil.
I'll allow Jesus himself to tell us about it. In Matthew 13:41 “God's angels will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
II. The Worst Kind of Evil
There are a lot of different evildoers in this world. Sometimes, we think we can spot them: tattoos, gruff looking facial hair, a turban. In fact, when you see someone who matches that description you might walk down on the other side of the road or quickly lock your car doors.
But what about those people who don't look evil and do evil anyway? The next door neighbor for 20 years? The grade school principal? The artistic teenager?
The worst kind of evil is the evil that you don't expect.
Look back at Paul's words again. You'll see an evil that you might not be expected. “Now we know that whatever he law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Who is held accountable in that passage? Could you read it again?
The whole world.
Do you ever find yourselves divorcing yourself from that phrase? As if, it is talking about terrorists, murderers, and the neighbor who listens a little too heavy to his heavy metal, but...not you.
Well, let's do a quick experiment. Lift up your feet. Then, slam your foot to the ground. Did you feel anything? Did you hear a noise? Do you want to know what that was that your feet slammed into?
You are in this world and you too will be held accountable to God . Look at his judgment in verse 20, “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law. Rather through the law we become conscious of sin--”
Sin refers to bad things. The opposite of Good. The opposite of God.
Now, maybe you're screaming: “Yeah, right! I'm not that bad. I'm not evil! How can God call me that? There must be some kind of mistake.”
Remember: the worst kind of evil is the evil that you can't identify as evil. Consequently, if you were evil, do you think you'd identify yourself as evil? Or would you blatantly refuse to listen to God? Ignore God? Refuse to accept the truth.
Kinda like the defendants on The People's Court.
The truth is God will declare no one righteous because no one is righteous! That means you. That means me. We all deserve divine punishment for our evil. Eternal death in hell.
III. How God Saves Us from Evil
It's very similar to being on death row.
Haunted by what you had done you sit, dehydrated from tears, in a quiet, dull jail cell. Without any tears left to shed, you numbingly, sullenly sit on the edge of your prison bed.
You know what you did.
You know what you deserve.
You close your eyes to hide the fear.
Then, you hear a commotion. You look up. The cell gate rolls open. Your attorney walks in. He's gleaming.
“There's a way,” he says, “There's a way out! They're willing to drop the charge on you. You won't die! You can live and you're free.”
I got news for you. That's exactly what happened. Your attorney, Jesus Christ, has great news for you.
Listen to God's awesome plan for saving you from evil. All evil. Even the evil within yourself!
Romans 3:20 – Now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Righteousness is what we need to get past the eternal sentence of punishment. Righteousness means that there is no evil--only "right"--ness.
How can evil people like us become righteous?
Think of Winnie the Pooh. He loves loves honey. However, Winnie the Pooh was also a bear. Bears can't make honey. Honey bees can. So, no matter, how hard Pooh Bear tried, he couldn't make honey! He had to get it from the bees.
That's like us. We can't produce any righteousness on our own. So, where do we find the righteousness to be saved from the evil within ourselves? From the only one who can produce righteousness: God himself!
Immediately, you might be thinking: "Let's talk cost. What will God demand of us in order to get his righteousness?"
Remember what we just learned! We are humans. We are sinners. We have evil within us. Therefore, we can't give God anything good in order to earn salvation. Paul says “There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!
So God gives it to us. Free.
He gives it to you. Free.
All are justified freely by his grace. That's exactly what grace means. Free gift.
Of couse, we shouldn't get the impression that no one paid for this righteousness from God. Take a look at the next part.“All are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
What's redemption? It's the buy back price.
In a kidnapping, there might be a ransom note. A demand that the parents pay a couple million dollars and then, they get their child back.
Evil took hold of us. It threatens to take us to hell. It demands a ransom of God. The ransom? Give up your perfect child in exchange for your evil children.
God didn't even blink.
Verse 24, “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
What's atonement? Break the phrase apart to remember it easily. “At One Ment.” Meaning, we are no longer God's enemies because of our evil deeds, but we are at one with God. We are at peace. Jesus saved us from our own evil!
Now, you might think: “That doesn't seem very just! Is God just deciding to let me – and countless other believers get away with sin?”
Not at all. Look at verse 25 again: God did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just...
How did God demonstrate his justice by sacrificing Jesus on the cross? Because on the cross, evil got what it deserved! The hellfire, angry wrath of a God who hates sin raged against sin—our sin! On the cross, our evil deeds were punished in the person of the innocent, completely righteouss Son of God.
But God's whole plan was not simply about punishing evil. It's not just about vengeance. It's about you.
God is both just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Justifies means: “Declares not guilty.” “Declares not evil.” That's exactly what God has declared you because of Jesus!
Here's our conclusion then: God will deliver from evil.
He does it in this life. He is the one who protects us in the hood. He is the one who keeps us safe from terrorists. He is the one who commands his angels to guard and protect you from all evil.
And one day, he will bring you to heaven. A place where there is no evil! There aren't any bombs. No nuclear holocaust. No shootings. No walking down on one side of the street while watching your back because you don't know who's gonna get you. There is no evil in heaven.
My grandpa Kiecker was a small town farmer. There's some scary stuff on a small country farm. Fights amongst the hired help -- machinery accidents -- wolves attacking the chickens.
Grandpa no longer has to deal with any of those frightening things. Now he is at home in heaven. Now he is in the loving arms of his God, Jesus Christ -- apart from all evil.
Maybe, you have a Grandpa Kiecker too. Maybe you have a loved one who has gone into heaven. Give thanks to God for that loved one. Give thanks to God for delivering them from evil. Continue to pray that God does the same for you -- even as he already has on the cross.
Deliver us from evil Lord. Deliver us from evil. Amen.