I am thankful for First CRC. Can I say I am proud of you, without stirring up the sin of pride? You have received this sermon series on serious sins well. Many have expressed appreciation or spiritual benefit. You haven’t complained to the elders that the pastor talks about sin too much. Considering we live in a culture that increasingly chooses violent kinds of options when confronted with sin and evil, it’s to your credit that you have endured this series without calling it hate speech or wanting to shoot me. First Church still has prayer of confession as a part of our weekly cooperate worship. Many churches have abandoned this spiritual discipline. Church is where we should be able to be honest about our spiritual condition, where we can all say we are sinners and learn what kind of sinners we should be, which is repentant sinners. The only people in heaven are repentant sinners, the only people who can be members of this church are repentant sinners. Jesus didn’t come into the world for the righteous but for the unrighteous, to seek and save and have fellowship with sinners. The goal of these sermons has been to open our blind eyes to how all of us are caught in the entangling web of self-destructive sins and passions and sinful desires and to encourage us in the fight for our true joy and pleasure, which will never be found in sin.
The meaning of anger. One of the most helpful books on anger is by David Powlison, Good and Angry. It’s so good I want to read the entire second chapter to you. “Do You Have a Serious Problem with Anger?” Yes. That’s it, maybe the shortest book chapter in history. At the end of each chapter he has some applications. At the end of this chapter he suggests going back and rereading the chapter several more times. Do you have an anger problem? Have you ever had smoke coming out your ears or been red in the face or raised your voice? If you are human the answer is yes. From our two texts we learn there are three kinds of anger. First, there is God’s kind of anger called the wrath of God (Romans 12:19). God’s wrath is an expression of His holiness and justice. His wrath is perfect and pure and righteous and justified. It is always completely under control and never sinful. Second, being made in the image of God there is a way in which humans can also have a righteous anger, especially in the face of gross injustice and assaults on God’s character and nature. We carry in us a sense of what’s right and wrong, just and unjust. Paul says it is possible to be angry and not sin (Ephesians 4:26). In fact it would be a sin if Christians never got angry about injustice, abortion, domestic violence, abusing and distorting sex, dishonoring marriage, mocking God and His Word. Third, there is sinful anger, the last of the seven serious sins we have been considering. We could easily spend three sermons on these three kinds of anger, but I am only going to focus on the anger that affects us all the most, our sinful anger, what James refers to as, “the anger of man [that] does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). This is a universal sin. Everyone sins this sin. Anger is cross cultural, it respect no ages or peoples or positions. Anger may be the very first sin each of us ever commits as an infant. The youngest children can fly into a rage and throw epic temper tantrums over food, bedtimes, Legos, and Rainbow Dash. I wonder if the candy and toy aisles in stores are ever get completely dry of tears?
He is alive! that's the Christian's conquering cry. & we know Jesus lives because we experience His resurrection present & power each day. But the reality of Christ’s resurrection doesn't just rest on our feelings & experience. it is also based on the fact of history, & verified by the biblical testimony of those who actually saw all the evidence: the empty grave & burial clothes. & they saw Jesus alive, standing bodily before them, & they even touched Him. o they ate with Him around a table, & by a fire on a beach. & they all state: “Jesus is risen! He is alive!” Now 1 of these eye-witnesses is MARY MAGDALENE. she was there when they crucified & buried our Lord, & after He rose up from the grave. & we can learn from her the real, saving meaning of Calvary & Easter. So then let us consider: 1st, her personal nature. & 2nd, her resurrection encounter.
The season of Lent is a penitential season of preparation that leads up to Resurrection Sunday. This Lent we have studied six of the so called seven serious sins. The snow day in February pushed anger to next week. This serious look at our sin should heighted for us our joy on this Sunday when we see what God has done to forgive us all our sins. Today truly is a day for rejoicing. The sting of death is sin and the wages of sin is death, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. As our deeper look at sin gives us more of an appreciation of this day, so also a deeper look at our victory will give us a deeper appreciation of this day. Paul paints a vivid picture using four scenes to show us what Christ has done for us. They show us four blessings that are ours because of Christ, that are ours as Christians. Two internal blessings and two external blessings.
I didn’t have to think very long about which of the seven serious sins should go with Palm Sunday. The chief priests and the Pharisees, all the religious leaders envied Jesus’ popularity and power, His authority and influence. People were flocking to Him. In the face of Jesus’ greatest miracle, raising Lazarus after being dead for four days, their response was envy and jealousy and unbelief. Such is the power of sin in our hearts to resist clear evidence and turn us away from the truth and into evil. Notice their motive. “If we don’t stop Jesus He will disrupt everything, we will lose our place and our nation. If we don’t bring Him down, He will bring us down.” They disguised their sin by saying they were looking out for everyone’s good, preserving the social and national order. Their love for the public good covered their hatred of Jesus. We see how strong the sin of envy can be when they were compelled to act against someone who had done them no wrong. Lazarus had done nothing wrong to anyone. He was just living, but his very existence was enough to drive them into a frenzy of envy and hatred. Three years of pent up frustration and envy are coming to a head. They are tired of being in Jesus’ shadow, they despise Him. Everything He did was successful, good, praised. It galled them to see their enemy triumphing. “Look, the world has gone after him.” Envy exaggerates. The religious leaders didn’t just want what Jesus had, they didn’t want Him to have it. They wanted Him dead.
As we turn to chapter 10 we are coming to the last major section of the book of Daniel. Chapters 10-12 are the final vision of Daniel. Chapter 10 is one long introduction to the vision that comes in chapter 11 and concludes in chapter 12. Chapters 11 and 12 are a lengthy detailed prophecy of the future, filling in some of the blanks of the nature of the 62 weeks of years in chapter 9. The setting for Daniel’s last vision, vss. 1-3 Verse one gives the context for all that follows to the end of Daniel. This final vision takes place in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, meaning the third year after Cyrus defeated and overthrew Babylon around 539 BC. The first question is what is Daniel doing still in Babylon which is now Persia? We know that in Cyrus’ first year he gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem and in Nehemiah we read of the return of 42,000 (Nehemiah 7:66). But in the third year of Cyrus Daniel is still in exile, still working for the government, still praying for his people. What is he doing standing by the Tigris River? [As an aside, it is interesting how our history intersects with Daniel’s history. The Tigris River flows through Mosul where there has been recent intense fighting with ISIS, and it flows through Baghdad. There are US soldiers standing by the Tigris today.] Was Daniel too old to travel that great distance? What do you think? We know Daniel to be a man of integrity, character and conviction, who does only what the Lord wants him to do. He is only in Persia because he is under conviction that is where God wants him. God had leaders for the work in Jerusalem, God needed him to be a leader for His work in Babylon. Strategic work, spiritual work, holy work. God’s will and God’s work for Daniel in exile were not finished. In his old age of over 80 God still has work for Daniel, still has a purpose as long as he draws breath. We should not coast in doing the Lord’s work for as long as He gives us life and breath. Do we not pray, “Thy will be done” and is that not good enough until the day we die. Don’t live for the day you can do nothing, live every day for His will, to do something for the kingdom. Daniel is in the king’s court to plead the cause of his people before the king. Daniel’s work of prayer in Persia was as useful as the people’s work of rebuilding the walls and the temple in Jerusalem. There was a lot of heavy lifting going on in Jerusalem that was being enabled by Daniel’s heavy praying back in Persia. Never assume that physical labor is the most important labor. God’s work is accomplished by our prayer work. Senior saints, don’t grow weary in your holy calling to pray for God’s work. SERVE is a work week that can’t be done without prayer work. 64 workers are coming and we need 64 prayer workers to join them and support them.
While Daniel was praying and confessing his sin and the sins of his people, and asking God how long until the end of the 70 years of exile and desolations of Jerusalem and the temple, God sent the archangel Gabriel to answer Daniel’s prayer and give him understanding concerning what was to come. Daniel had only been praying for himself and the people of Israel. Daniel had only been inquiring about the 70 years of Babylonian exile. Daniel had only been reminding God of His promises to Israel at this point in history. The answer he got far exceeded all he could ask or imagine, far exceeded his wildest dreams and visions. The answer he got pushed the very limits of his understanding and beyond. Daniel was thinking about himself and his people, God was thinking about all of humanity. Daniel was thinking about 70, God was thinking about 70 sevens, 70 years of sevens (490 years). Daniel was thinking about going back to Jerusalem, rebuilding the Temple with its sacrifices. God was thinking about destroying Jerusalem and the Temple again and abolishing sacrifices forever. Let’s return to verse 24 and focus our attention there tonight. The six-fold purpose of the Seventy Weeks of Seven.
We live in one of the most affluent countries on earth, we are better off than every previous generation, we have access to an abundance of goods and services, yet somehow it isn’t enough. Modern American advertising skillfully and subtly fuels our desire for more, making us feel like our quality of life depends on having this or that. We are barraged with messages of what we need, must have, even deserve. Facebook is brutal. I can see what my high school and college classmates are doing, where they are traveling, what they are driving, what their house or second house looks like. The battle against this sin will be tough because everything in our culture is against us. We are all supposed to pursue the American Dream. We are all called to pursue our happiness and happiness is found in money, possessions, and achievements. We invented the bumper sticker: He who dies with the most toys wins. We live out the motto: some is good, more is better and too much is just right. What is greed? A good desire gone bad.