Summary: Through faith in Jesus Christ, your standing before God is amended to reflect Christ’s righteousness. Your standing and not your state has been changed. Your state will change as you are filled with the Spirit of God to glorify Him.
Series: The Line in the Sand
Message Title: Drawing the Line
Scripture: Romans 3:21-22a
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
It doesn’t matter what illustration, parable or tale you use, practically every one of them will having a turning point, a point within the story that turns to life application; turning from a general revelation to a specific relevance for the listener.
The parable that Jesus told concerning the prodigal son tells us that he had that very point in his life. The Bible says that after he had wasted the inheritance his father had given him and was starving, he longed for the food that the pigs were eating. And, he tucked his tail between his legs and went home. His father rejoiced when he saw the son returning!
I want to share a story of just such a conversion experience; a conversion experience that happened in the heart of a young man. I want to share the turning point in one person’s life that changed the very direction and destination of his life.
It begins with his mother; a devout mother who taught her young son carefully and prayerfully. It began with a woman of God that prayed daily for herself, her family, and especially her son. The young son grew into a young man and discarded a life in Christ for a life of immorality. The boy, now turned man, was caught up in the pleasures of the flesh and the pleasures of the mind, while turning his back on the pleasures of God.
The young man was brilliant and he was talented, but he was also very full of himself; he always wanted to be the best at whatever pursuit he followed or to whatever he put his mind. With that in mind, you can get a picture of the depth of his corruption and the level to which he sank to be the best, even in immorality.
His mother still prayed for her son, much like the prodigal son’s father poured out his heart to the Father for his own son. Yet, it seemed to all around that this young man was lost to the world and would never come back home.
The young man traveled the world. He was a country boy in the big city, and we all know what happens to country boys in the big city, don’t we? The city, with its appeals and trappings overcame his senses, plunging the young man into the lowliest and most despicable of the so-called dens of iniquity. His addiction to the world was costly in many ways. While his brilliance of mind afforded him the backing and the following of many deep-pocketed, yet shallow-minded men, it did nothing for the spiritually and morally bankrupt young man. The young man was seemingly in too deep, and had even fathered an illegitimate son.
Yet, still his mother faithfully prayed for her son and sought the advice and intercession of Christian friends, priests, and bishops. All to no avail.
The lure of an even bigger and better city tugged at the heart of the young man. His twisted mind compelled him to lie to his mother before he departed, and he set off, leaving her behind in tears.
And, there it is. That was his so-called undoing, the turning point that touched him deeply: he had lied to his mother. That very thing troubled his heart and he began to sink into a depression that left him grasping for reasons and rationalizations for his life and his pursuits. He found the outstretched hand of Christ, and Jesus pulled him out of the mire of the world and set him on solid ground. He became a Christian and promptly went home to his mother. She rejoiced in the good news. She was not standing in the doorway with stick; there were no I told you this would happen. No there was only rejoicing for the prodigal son.
Not soon after the young man’s conversion, she approached her son and told him that her work on earth was done. Nine days later she went to be with the Lord.
A very touching and interesting story, don’t you think? Do you recognize it? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of just these kinds of heartrending stories. This story, however, is the somewhat abridged [edited and shortened] story of the early life of one of the greatest Christian philosophers and theologians this world has ever known. Do you know him? His name is Augustine [aw-GUHSS-tuhn].
Augustine reached a point in his life that was very similar to what was disclosed before Romans 3:21. Augustine’s life reached the lowest of lows. His life and actions were so despicable, so appalling, that even his own heart couldn’t bear it any longer. His heart longed for the filling and the satisfaction of the righteousness of God. A filling and satisfaction that had previously been displaced by worldly pleasures and material gains. His life, in a way, reached those first two words of Romans 3:21: