Audio: (6 min.)
So now today we pick it up, to talk about why the law cannot sanctify. You can't even get to first base in becoming a holy person until the wrath of God against you is removed, and condemnation has become acquittal.
If you're justified this morning, by faith alone. You've put your faith in Jesus Christ. You've received Him as the savior and Lord and treasure of your life and your verdict has been changed and God says, "not guilty" over your life ... accepted, received, righteous in Christ. Does God, now that you are justified by faith alone, send you back to the law to get sanctified? And I'm answering no, He doesn't.
Everybody in this room is corrupt. Where are you going to turn to have your heart revolutionized? Law? A list? It isn't going to happen. The law is powerless to take away your rebellion. The law is powerless to take away your treasonist preference for things over God. In fact, (let's say it the way Paul really says it), if you go to the law, as a rebel, do you know what you'll do? You will make the law a new theater for revolt.
Now let's see this. You need. We need to erect some barriers between us, (and I'm talking us christians now), barriers between us justified sinners and running to the law as the first or chief or decisive instrument of our sanctification. Don't do that.
If Christ's obedience becomes the obedience I need to be accepted with God (which it does...that's the meaning of justification), and the law presumably is given to help me perform my acts of obedience, and he already did that for me ... why the law? And that's exactly the question in Paul's head when he says the next sentence: "The law came in so that the transgression would increase." ... Wow. That's God's purpose for the law ... to move into the hearts of rebellious people and turn rebellion into many transgressions.
So the function of the law, the purpose of the law, the effect of the law ... is rousing sinful passions, not subduing sinful passions. You go to the law to get your sinful passions fixed? It won't work. The law stirs sinful passions. If you turn to the law to get your heart changed, it won't work. It will make you worse.
If the law is not the place where you go to as the first and chief and decisive means of sanctification, where do you go? Answer ... You go to Christ. Die to the law. Don't turn to the law first, chiefly, decisively, as the instrument whereby your corruption can be made into holiness and loving humility. Turn to Jesus, welcome Jesus into your life, see Jesus, savor Jesus above all competitors, and you will be changed. But not by the law.
Oh how many christians there are who are just doing external stuff with lists. Lists of doctrines, and lists of do's and dont's, thinking that's christianity and will commend them to God. It won't! Trust in Jesus. Treasuring Jesus, resting in Jesus, delighting in Jesus, valuing Jesus, hoping in Jesus, enjoying Jesus, leaning on Jesus, knowing Jesus ... will. Turn away from the lists to the person behind the lists. Go through the lists quickly to the person.
So where does our obedience come from? Paul says if I were to take on my lips a description of where your obedience came from, I would not dare to speak of anything except what Christ did.
The hardest thing in my life is to see Jesus. To see Him. Him... Him! ... not sentences about Him merely, but Him. That's the dynamic of sanctification. That's the process of holiness. That's what will get you changed, and Him glorified. And I welcome you to join me in the quest to get to Jesus, know Jesus, love Jesus ... don't get stalled at the law.
-- John Piper, Sermon, Nov. 11, 2001