Revive Our Hearts Radio

The Wrath Absorber

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that no matter how much effort you may exert, relationship with God cannot be earned. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our fellowship isn’t because we’ve done it right, or we’ve done the right kind of penance like, "I sinned yesterday and today I’ll read two more chapters in my Bible, or I’ll be extra good." You’ll die trying!

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts for Friday, June 13, 2014.

All this week Carrie Gaul has been helping you discover freedom from condemnation. She’s our guest teacher this week in a series called “Approved.” We’ll hear from our host Nancy Leigh DeMoss at the end of today’s program.

We’re picking up where we left off yesterday, and on that program a volunteer had come to the stage to wear a dark robe representing sin and condemnation. Carrie then removed that robe and replaced it with a shining, sparkling royal robe to show the righteousness of Christ. To see these illustrations for yourself, you can watch the video version of this week’s teaching at www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, let’s get back to Carrie as she continues talking about the robe of righteousness.

Carrie Gaul: Jesus paid the price for our sin—past, present, and future. He received unto Himself the fullness of God’s wrath so that you might become the righteousness of God. And when you and I, in this black, heavy, sinful, dark robe that we’ve been referencing—Paula is wearing it again today on the platform. Her head hanging in shame and guilt, and some of you remember well that reality. When we acknowledge our sin, that this is indeed who we are. At the core of who we are, the very essence of who we are, we are sinners.

You see, it is not if you’ve been baptized. It is not if you’ve been in church all of your life. It is not if you are doing a Bible study three nights out of the week. It is not if your parents or others in generations before you have been involved in church ministry all of their lives. It is not even if you are involved in church ministry right now. Hear me when I say this, and hear me well: It is not even if you call yourself a Christian or say that you believe in Jesus. James chapter 2 says even the demons believe in Jesus, and they tremble.

The question is: Do you believe at the essence of who you are (clothed in this robe that Paula is wearing on the platform today), that there is nothing you can ever do to make yourself acceptable to God, that you can’t ever clean up that robe? Do you say, “Yes, Lord, yes, I’m a sinner. Yes, I acknowledge it. Yes, I understand that, and I desperately need a Savior. Today I choose to put my faith in Jesus, in His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection"?

And when we do, my friends, when that takes place, whatever age you are, what happens is you and I enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. A part of the covenant symbolism that took place was an exchange of robes. In the Old Testament, if you want to study something that will make your life just come alive, study covenant in the Old Testament, and then jump into the New Testament and lay it over top, and it will just come alive to you.

In the covenant traditions, there was an exchange of robes. When you place your faith in Jesus Christ, this is what happens: It’s the exchange of robes. Jesus takes from you that sinful, dark robe. As I’m taking it off of Paula today, it’s the robe that He wore to the cross. As I’ve laid it upon my own shoulders, representing Jesus Christ, He takes that sinful robe, and He exchanges it with you.

He gives you in its place His robe of righteousness. So we’re putting on Paula on the platform today this gold, glittering, long-flowing robe of Christ, representing Christ’s righteousness.

You are no longer this person, clothed in the sinfulness of your old man. This is no longer you. This is who you are. This is the righteousness of Christ that you’re clothed in.

So, my friends, this moment you are either alive in Christ, or you are dead in your sins. You are either clothed in this black robe of sinful, depravity, evil, the one that you’re born in. You’re either clothed in that robe that’s hanging on the platform right now, or your clothed in the righteousness of Christ, represented by that gold, glittering robe that Paula’s wearing. It’s one or the other.

You say, “Carrie, how do I know? I don’t know what I’m wearing.”

Well, where have you placed your faith? Is your faith in your own works, represented by this black robe? Are you trusting in your “righteousness”? It’s not righteousness; it’s unrighteousness. Are you trusting in your works, in what you can do? Or have you placed your faith in the works of what Christ already did on your behalf? It’s one or the other. Have you come to the place that you have placed your faith in Christ’s works?

If your faith and trust are in your own righteousness today, my friends, you have no hope. You are dead in your sins. There is nothing you can do to clean up that black robe. You stand condemned by the God who loves you more than you can ever fathom and has done everything to make it possible for you to come to Him in a covenant relationship through Jesus Christ.

If you are in that black robe of sinfulness today, you do not have to stay there. You simply repent. It’s the most beautiful word in all of Scripture. It simply means your faith was in this black robe that I’m pointing out to you today on the platform. If your faith is here, then you simply move it. You choose. You say, “I’m a sinner. I need a Savior.” And you choose to place your faith in the righteousness of Christ.

And if you’re listening to us today, and you’ve already placed your faith in Jesus Christ, then you are clothed in His righteousness right now. This is how God sees you. This is how He thinks of you. This is how He responds to you.

That’s why Zephaniah 3:14 says, “Sing, O daughters!” Raise the rafters! Be happy! Celebrate! God has reversed His judgments against you. From now on, God is your King, and there’s nothing to fear ever again.

The reality of who we are in Jesus Christ, the truth of how God sees you today, clothed in the perfect righteousness of His Son, is life changing. My friends, we have been approved. We have been approved!

What robe are you wearing? Are you clothed today in the robe that you were born in, of that black, heavy, dark, utter sinfulness? Are you clothed in that robe? Or have you made the great exchange, and you’ve received the robe of Christ’s righteousness upon you?

Have you placed your faith in Christ alone for the salvation of your soul? Or are you still desperately trying to clean yourself up, to make yourself acceptable to God by the works of your own hand?

If you have never acknowledged that there is nothing apart from the blood of Christ that will make you acceptable to God, that it was your sin that put Christ on the cross; if you’ve never come to God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, today. . . today, Scripture says, is the day of salvation. Choose to put your faith in Him today. Acknowledge your sin, your desperate need for a Savior, and receive Christ’s righteousness.

And today, my friends, if you are found in His righteousness, will you rejoice with me? You are gloriously approved by God because of the shed blood of Jesus and His righteousness.  

Nancy: Carrie, I think it would be just fitting if we would take a moment here and just give people an opportunity to respond to what you’ve been sharing. This is the heart of the gospel. And in some hearts listening right now, the Spirit is at work, and He’s making this clear to you. He’s opening your eyes, and He’s giving you faith to turn to Christ, to believe in Him, and to be saved.

Or perhaps this has happened to you, but you’re still just learning the words to put with it. You’re still growing in your understanding, which we all are. Right? I was four years old when that great exchange took place in my life. I didn’t know all these theological terms or all those verses. But I love the fact that now, more than fifty years later, He’s still showing me more of what this means and what a precious gift it is that He would give me His righteousness.

So, let’s just bow our hearts in prayer before the Lord. If you’re in a place where you’re saying, “I’m just getting it just now,” right now you can place your faith in Christ. Say, “Thank You, Lord, for taking my sin upon Yourself so that I wouldn’t have to live in condemnation and guilt, and that I would have to wear that robe myself, that robe with my sinfulness, that I would not have to endure Your wrath for my sin.”

Thank Him that He has taken that robe on Himself, that He became sin for us. And thank Him that it didn’t just end there. He has been willing to give to you the robe of His righteousness.

So right now, just by faith say, “I receive that. I am a sinner. I can’t save myself. But You have died to take my sin and to make me righteous.”

Thank Him that He absorbed all that wrath of God that you deserved, that I deserved for my sin, and say, “Oh Lord, I believe. I receive.”

And as you do, the Scripture says you become a new person. Naybe you’re even living in your mind, in your thoughts, even in your lifestyle as if you were still wearing that black robe of that sinfulness. Then could you just confess that to the Lord? Say to Him, “I’m a Christian, and I know You saved me, but I’ve been living as if I didn’t have Your righteousness. I’ve been living as if I had to keep carrying and wearing that robe of sin.”

Thank Him that it’s not how you can perform for Him or what you can do to please Him, but that you’ve been approved. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your sinfulness. He sees the righteousness of Christ, His sinless life, His perfect death, His glorious resurrection, His ongoing life as the incarnate Son of God raised in Heaven for our salvation and justification.

Oh Lord, those are big, huge long words, but they’re so sweet, so rich. I pray that You would make them more precious to our hearts; that we might rejoice in the life You’ve given us in Christ; that we might walk in that; that we might be day by day involved in sharing with others, speaking as those who’ve been approved by God. And we give You thanks, in Jesus’ name, amen.

As Carrie was sharing, I couldn’t help but thinking about a beautiful hymn that we sang when I was growing up. It was written in the 1730s by Charles Wesley, who “got” the gospel. He understood it. These words are quaint because they’re not quite the way we talk today, but let me just read a few of these stanzas to you, and I think it just sums up so beautifully what we’ve been talking about over these last few days.

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain, for me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite his grace:
Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free! For oh my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
(Wearing that dark robe? It’s a description of that.)
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray. I woke, the dungeons flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free: I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown through Christ, my own.

("And Can It Be" by Charles Wesley)

How could we ever approach God’s holy throne with boldness if it weren’t for the fact that Christ has given us His righteousness? Does that make your heart sing? Does it make you glad?

Approved: The Wrath Absorber from Revive Our Hearts on Vimeo.

Valerie came—how many years ago was it, Valerie?

Valerie: 1995.

Nancy: She came to a Bible study in my home, and we were telling the old, old story of Jesus and His love. And you remember that video of the Jesus . . .

Valerie: We started in January, the Bible study in your home. And the week before Easter (it took me till April, hearing the Word) . . . But she passed that video out, and she went to a conference. I played it Easter night and accepted Christ in my living room alone.

Nancy: Because you saw what Jesus had done for you, and you grew up in the church, hearing about that.

Valerie: I went to church, went to communion, asked for forgiveness, but I will tell you that Carrie did this about seven years ago at a ladies’ conference. She asked me to wear those robes. If you haven’t worn those robes, you need to go home and put that black robe on. Even though I had accepted Christ, it still brought me back to the place of my sin, of who I really am.

You can be a Christian. You can go to church. Like Carrie said, you can be involved, but when you put that robe on, and you’re all by yourself, and you look in the mirror, and you realize what Christ did for you . . . I’ve never gotten over it. I’m still a sinner. I still have to pray every day. I wake up in the morning, and I still ask God to be with me every day, but you never forget that black robe. But I’m wearing the gold one!

Nancy: I’d like to take just a few minutes for, perhaps others here maybe heard this message before and it’s touched your life the way it has Valerie’s. Could you share this truth, what it’s meant in your life? Or maybe you’re just hearing it today for the first time. But I’d just like to hear from several. Who’d like to share what this truth means to you?

Hannah Kurtz: Carrie, that was something that the Lord really taught me about four years ago. I was the kid that grew up in church, in a gospel-preaching church. I knew that I wasn’t saved by my works, but I still believed the lie that I had to do all of these things to please God.

About four-and-a-half years ago, my freshman year in college was when this truth finally just set me free, and I realized that it’s not what I do. It’s all about what Christ already did for me. I don’t serve Him because I have to. I don’t serve Him because I’m obligated, but when you really understand what happened there, that great exchange, it’s like, “I can’t do anything else but serve Him.” So I just want to praise the Lord and thank you for reminding me of that today.

Jessica: I grew up in a Christian home. I was the good Christian girl. I never had dated anyone. I started dating my husband, and we let our relationship get physically intimate, and we had sex before marriage. At that point I couldn’t accept myself anymore. I thought I wasn’t worthy to come to God anymore. I let distance come. Just these truths that I wasn’t worthy even when I was a virgin to come to Christ. I was a sinner then, even though I thought I was good then. I’m not worthy now, and I wasn’t worthy then. It’s only in Christ, and it’s just freeing to know that.

Nancy: Amen, amen. In our generation there is such an emphasis on helping people find self-worth. All these kids have grown up thinking that your problem is that you’ve got these feelings of inferiority, you don’t realize how much self-worth you have. I think we’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

And we’ve built up a generation, by the way, of young people who are now adults who think that they are wonderful. And then when the world knocks them around, they think, Oh, I don’t deserve that!

And so these people come to us, and they’re struggling in their marriage or struggling with guilt or shame and, “I just feel so worthless.” But what a lot of well-meaning people will do is just say, “Oh, you really are worth it!”

You can look in these catalogs, and you’ll see night shirts you can wear and mirrors you can look into and signs you can put in your house, “I am wonderful.” But that’s not really helping human hearts, because the fact is, as Jessica just said, “We are not worthy.” We were not worthy before He saved us; we’re not worthy of His love now. We are fallen. We are sinners. We have sinned against a holy God.

The only reason we can approach His throne with confidence and boldness, the reason we can lift up our heads instead of having them be bowed down with shame and guilt is not because we are worthy, not because we are special but because—why? He is worthy, and He has taken our sinfulness and given us in that great exchange His righteousness, His worthiness. And not for pride, but for humility and for worship and for gratitude for us to say, “Lord, I love You, and I’ll serve You, and I give my life to You, not because I’m under some obligation to do that, not because I’m trying to climb my way up into Your favor, but just cause I love You. I’m grateful for what You’ve done for me.”

You see, that perspective changes everything. Doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing that, Jessica. And I love what she said, “I felt so guilty and ashamed after I lost my virginity,” but she said, “The fact is, I wasn’t worthy when I was a virgin.” Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight, but it’s Christ who makes us worthy. And that can give you a whole different perspective about your past, about the sins that nip at your heels even now, those besetting sins that just keep bringing you down and you keep confessing over and over.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t confess our sins. That’s how fellowship with God is maintained. But our fellowship isn’t because we’ve done it right, or we’ve done the right kind of penance, like, “I sinned yesterday, and today I’ll read two more chapters in my Bible, or I’ll be extra good.” You’ll die trying!

Carrie, that’s really what you experienced over those twelve years. “I’m just tired of trying.” Remember how her counselor said, “Why don’t you quit trying? Because Jesus has done it. Why don’t you rest in faith in what He has done for you?”

I hope that in this series this week, maybe this illustration, maybe this visual picture of these two robes is something that will not only minister encouragement to your own heart and deepen your own understanding of the gospel, but perhaps something that in the days ahead you will be able to share with others as well.

I want to encourage you to keep meditating on these truths, not just to come to a day like this and hear a message like this and say, “Oh, that’s great!” But you know how fast we forget things? That’s why I like resources that help me keep remembering. And that’s why we’re offering this week a fabulous book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called Comforts from Romans.

It’s thirty-one short daily devotionals, bite-sized chunks,based on the first eight chapters of the book of Romans. She just walks chapter by chapter through who we are as sinners and how we were born in sin and how Christ came and paid the price for our sin so that we could have His righteousness. This will help you work these truths more deeply into your own thinking, your own lifestyle.

It’s not just enough to hear these things once. We need to live in these truths because we and this world keep trying to pull us back into this performance mindset. “You’ve got to do something. You’ve got to do something to be approved.” And God’s Word says, “No, you are approved in Christ.”

So this is a resource we’re wanting to make available this week. To anyone who makes a donation of any amount to help the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll be glad to send you Elyse’s book, Comforts from Romans.

When you give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, and you say, “I’d like to make a gift to the ministry,” be sure and let us know that you want to receive a copy of that book, Comforts from Romans, and we’ll get that right out to you.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrapping up a series with Carrie Gaul called “Approved.” It’s the final day.

We’ll be letting you know about that special offer, so contact us right away to ask for Comforts from Romans. We’ll send one copy per household for your donation of any size.

What questions came to mind as you listened to Carrie? Well, you can ask her when she joins the Revive Our Hearts Listener Blog today. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, scroll to the end of the transcript, and post your comment or question for Carrie.

Well, if you’ve known Christ for a long time, you need to be on the lookout for a few dangers. For instance, you can lose the wonder of your salvation. Nancy will talk about some of these pitfalls next week.

Now, she’s back to pray.

Nancy: Oh Lord, thank You for the good news that You took that robe of our sin upon Yourself, You bore the full extent of the Father’s wrath against sin. And then You gave us in exchange the robe of Your righteousness. You put faith in our hearts. You’ve extended grace to us, and some, perhaps for the first time, as they’ve been listening to this series. I pray that those roots, those seeds of faith would go down deep, would take root, and would produce much fruit in the days ahead.

Thank You, Lord, that we walk not by sight but by faith, leaning hard in dependence upon You to live this life in and through us that we could never live on our own.

Words fail to express this well, but Carrie has done a good job this week of helping us better understand the wonders of this truth, and I pray that it will become ever more meaningful and significant in each of our lives.

We give You thanks for Jesus, for Your amazing grace, and for the fact that we are accepted, approved in Christ, in whose precious name we pray, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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