‘Following Jesus’ is not the Gospel; Neither is False Repentance

Today’s sermon is from Sermon Audio and can be found here. You can download the PDF file here. The sermon is titled:

The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery
By Ty Blackburn
Providence Church

Preached on: Sunday, February 2, 2020
Bible Text: Ezra 9:1-14

“1 Now when these things were done, the princes came near to me, saying, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, following their abominations, even those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy offspring have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands. Yes, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass.”3 When I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled the hair out of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel were assembled to me because of the trespass of the exiles; and I sat confounded until the evening offering.5 At the evening offering I rose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn; and I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands to Yahweh my God; 6 and I said, “My God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have increased over our head, and our guiltiness has grown up to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceedingly guilty to this day; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 Now for a little moment grace has been shown from Yahweh our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a stake in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and revive us a little in our bondage. 9 For we are bondservants; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to set up the house of our God, and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.10 “Now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land to which you go to possess is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness. 12 Now therefore don’t give your daughters to their sons. Don’t take their daughters to your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity forever, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’13 “After all that has come on us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such a remnant, 14 shall we again break your commandments, and join ourselves with the peoples that do these abominations? Wouldn’t you be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 Yahweh, the God of Israel, you are righteous; for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guiltiness; for no one can stand before you because of this.””

Ezra 9

Today’s text is one of idolatry. Not just idolatry, but idolatry after receiving God’s grace. God brought back the exiles to the land and temple is being rebuilt, everything looks like it’s all back to normal, and then they start to intermarry with people from another land, with other gods and worship practices. These worship practices and other false gods included very loose sexual sins and thus they not only were commiting sexual sins but were mixing in worship of other gods.

After receiving God’s goodness, they once again turned away. We do this daily. We receive forgiveness of our sins yet turn back into them. Yet, that’s not the end of the story. In daily repentant faith we are alive in the new man in us and we despise our sin and want to do better, not because we are trying to merit good favor from God, but because we already have the best favor and love from God.

The promise of God in the flesh, the perfect sacrifice, the atonement for our sins is the good news that brings faith, strengthens faith, and causes us to want to do good works because that’s what the Spirit inside of us does, it produces fruit of the Spirit. We want to turn from evil and do good because of this promise of God’s love and mercy in Christ, that Christ has merited everything for us in his passive and active obedience on our behalf.

That is true repentance. Will the sermon we will review today have this teaching of true repentance? Will it give us the Gospel of Christ crucified? Will we be given the forgiveness of our sins? Well, let’s dive into it and see.

“The first thing Paul says after he says, “I’m here to preach the Gospel,” is he starts in chapter 1, verse 18, through chapter 3, verse 20, and he tells them that all flesh is condemned before the judgment bar of God; that every single human being that has been born save one, the Lord Jesus Christ, every single one is condemned in sin and in need of salvation. That’s where the good news begins, and then he tells you about the wonder of what Jesus Christ has done in chapter 3:20 through chapter, really through chapter 8. So it’s the glorious Gospel. Well, you see the same pattern. Ezra comes preaching the law of the Lord and the first thing he does is expose sin, and so God needs, and when we need the Gospel, we need the Gospel every day. It’s a favorite saying that many people have said through the years, Jerry Bridges mentions that in his book, “The Discipline of Grace,” you need to preach the Gospel to yourself every day. Christians need the Gospel as much as unbelievers need the Gospel. Now unbelievers need the Gospel to be saved but Christians need it every day. Well, you need the whole Gospel which is to continually see your sinfulness in deeper clarity so that you can see the sufficiency of your Savior with greater joy and delight, and you will treasure him more. And so God wants to do that in our hearts today and so in the same way that they’re surprised by the reality of their sin, Ezra is and they are, may the Lord grant that we will be.
Let’s read Ezra 9 this morning.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

Ty says that everyone being condemned in sin and needing a savior is the beginning of the Gospel. It’s not Ty. That’s the Law. He then skips over “what Jesus Christ has done” giving us the chapters but not the content. I hope Ty doesn’t skip over the Gospel in the rest of his sermon. Especially since he admits that we need the Gospel every day. Yet, he views the Gospel as “seeing your sinfulness in deeper clarity so that you can see the sufficiency of your Savior with greater joy and delight, so that we can treasure Him more”. Yeah I hate to break it to you but that isn’t the Gospel. That’s Law. Despising sin and loving God is the Law, it’s not God in the flesh crucified for your sins and raised for your justification.

“The reason they were forbidden from intermarrying with the people outside of Israel was because of the spiritual commitments of those people and that to intermarry with them was inevitably to become an idolater with them. To follow the desires of their hearts and for a young man to go after some beautiful Moabite girl or for a young woman to respond to the advances of some young Jebusite man, was to set in course, to set on course the inevitable apostasy of that person.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“This is the essence of the calling of discipleship, to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength, to pursue him above everything else and to be separate from the world because the world doesn’t live that way. In fact, it is completely opposed to God, and so you cannot love God and love the world at the same time. “If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15-17. You cannot love the world and love God at the same time. So the call to be faithful has always been a call to not love the world, to be separate from them and distinct.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“They did not separate themselves and because they did not actively separate themselves, they fell into spiritual adultery. They followed their desires and they married thesenforeign wives, this is what we’re told in chapter 9 and chapter 10. That phrase actually occurs six different times, they married foreign wives, and in doing that they became an abomination. Their lives became increasingly offensive to God. I mean, on the front end, it’s basically are you going to live your life according to the word of God or according to your own thoughts and opinions and beliefs? The Christian way of life is to repudiate your own heart, to renounce your own desires, to renounce your beliefs and to say, “I will follow the word of God. I will follow God.””

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

He’s exegeting the text quite well but leaning us a bit heavy on the reliance of the Law for justification. He says that discipleship is to fulfill the entire Law perfectly and that the Christian life is to repudiate our sin and to follow God, which is the fulfilment of the Law. Now the law is great and it has a place in Christian sanctification, which is the third use of the Law. Yet, apart from Christ, apart from repentant trust in the Gospel of Christ crucified, the third use of the Law, for our sanctification, becomes using the Law to perfect ourselves and that is not only improper doctrine but will lead you to either be a proud hypocrite or to a despairing end.

11] For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh, He reproves them on that account through the Law, so that He carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again. For His office is not only to comfort, but also to reprove, as it is written: When the Holy Ghost is come, He will reprove the world (which includes also the old Adam) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 13] But sin is everything that is contrary to God’s Law. 14] And St. Paul says: All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, etc., and to reprove is the peculiar office of the Law. Therefore, as often as believers stumble, they are reproved by the Holy Spirit from the Law, and by the same Spirit are raised up and comforted again with the preaching of the Holy Gospel.”

Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord; Third Use of the Law

Let’s continue in Ty’s sermon…

“Verse 14 he says, “shall we again break Your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who commit these abominations?” The word “abomination” means “disgusting.” It pictures a kind of reprobation that is offensive to see or to hear. I shared last week from Leviticus a passage, I read it, didn’t comment much on it, but I’m gonna remind you of it which basically talked about the abominable things that the people of the Canaanites were doing before God gave the land of Canaan to Israel, remember? It spoke of things like all kinds of deviant sexual practices including bestiality. I mean, is that, that was happening and so giving into your desires leads to more and more corrupt desires, leads to things like this, and so giving into their desires was already leading to abominable practices among the Israelites. The word “abominations.””

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“And he said, “This is what’s really happening, though, because you are
worshiping their gods and you are adopting their practices.””

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“The surprising power and essentially the essential point we see I think illustrated in this account and illustrated again and again through Scripture, is once you stop separating yourself, once you stop actively and intentionally separating yourself from the world, it is inevitable that spiritual adultery will happen in your heart. That’s the power of it, and so that to see the reality of fighting the world and the flesh and the devil, the sin nature that still is a part and clings to us who have been born again, we still have in ourselves the principle of sin. We have ungodly lusts and cravings and we have the world system around us which is diametrically opposed to the things of God.””

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

So, we have sin clinging to us, we often daily fail to seperate ourselves from the world, we have sinned against God. We have all committed sexual sins of lust and failed to keep the commandments. He has continued to convict us of sin, I hope he will give us the Gospel of Christ crucified for our sins and pronounce forgiveness to us. He’s done a fine job of exegeting the text and giving us an expository sermon but isn’t too keen on the distinction between law and gospel. Ty has often skipped passed the Gospel and pointed us to lean on our works. Perhaps he will turn this around.

“If you’re not actively changing your values, if you’re not actively changing your thoughts and your intentions by clinging to the word of God, then you are by definition being conformed to the world and you are becoming more and more a spiritual adulterer. In essence, uncrucified desires always result in spiritual adultery of some kind. So if you’re not killing sin, it will be killing you, as John Owen said.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“The problem was in stopping being intentional about separating themselves, they stopped pursuing God through his word and if you’re not actively pursuing God through his word, you are forsaking the Lord and his commandments because the heart is naturally moving away from those things.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“What’s the sure remedy for spiritual adultery is to be actively and intentionally engaging yourself in going forward which means be actively and intentionally separating yourself from the values and the thoughts and beliefs of the world; to be constantly remembering who you are and whose you are; that God has separated you from the people, the peoples of this world to himself; that you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, 1 Peter 2:8. God has chosen you and separated you unto himself, his treasured possession. Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. Do you know what he says right after that, after he says, “Remember who you are,” he says, “Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” He says, “Fight against your cravings which war against your soul and if you’re not fighting, you are losing.” It’s just a matter of time until destruction is evident, until the appalling reality becomes clear. We must fight.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

He first tells that if we aren’t killing our sin in our thoughts, words, and deeds and clinging to the Scriptures then we are spiritual adulterers. So, Ty has condemned us all of this sin. We still sin, we sin in our thoughts, words, and deeds by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved God with our whole heart, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. Then we are all idolators and adulterous. Ty gives us the remedy, the cure for our sinful nature. His remedy is to be set apart from the world, to abstain from sin and fight sin. So, Ty’s cure isn’t forgiveness for those sins in God crucifed and risen, His sacrifice for those sins and our justification. He points us back to our works. He is finishing his sermon in the next few quotes, let’s see if we get any true Gospel for our sins or if we are left in despair with our filthy rags to comfort us.

“You’re not to be like the heroes in the movies, you are to be like Jesus Christ. That’s the manliest man that ever lived. You are to be a man of God. You are to turn from thinking like the world thinks and you’re to fight against it with the word. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to your commandments. And so you let the word of God tell you and what the word of God tells you is this: if you’re gonna get married, if the Lord wills for you to get married and it’s not that, God calls some to singleness, but if he’s called you to get married, he’s called you to delight in the wife of your youth.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“God invented this thing and we are called to obey him and when we obey him, we find that his way is the best way, and then in the sexual relationship the Lord invented a man to love his wife in the way that a man loves his wife in marriage, to serve one another, not to act out of lust and selfish interest, but to look and put the other person’s need above your own, and what happens is there is a sweet communion physically and in the soul and spiritually that as Martin Luther said, approximates something that must be what heaven is like. And you want to give that away for the garbage that the world is offering? No. I urge you to say no. And if you’re not fighting against the tide that is everyday going against your mind, if you’re not reducing some of this stuff that you’re watching, you’re listening to, you’re not repenting, you’re not accountable, you are sowing corruption that you’re gonna have to work through in your marriage if you get married. Don’t do that. Today begin seeking purity. Repent and you will find that God’s way truly is best. He is good. Everything about him is good and right and best, and if we’ll renew our minds and separate ourselves from the world, we will be holy unto him and we will not only enjoy one another, we will enjoy him whom we were created to love and to know and to enjoy forever.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

“That’s what God is calling us to. The ugliness of spiritual adultery that comes on so quickly, so suddenly that we must be vigilant to fight against but we have the power in Jesus Christ, the Gospel, “If you continue in My words, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The truth sets free from every bondage. Jesus loves to take, you may be struggling because you have been giving yourself to all the wrong ways of thinking. You may be a young lady and you’ve been thinking and trying to be like the world to attract the attentions of men and you’ve done some things that you’re ashamed of, repent today, run to Jesus, confess your sin to someone that you can trust in the body, and start walking in purity and start getting counseled and helped by another believer just to walk alongside you and help you follow Jesus. Young men, you may be struggling with pornography, older men, you may be struggling with pornography, you need to stop, you need to repent, you need to confess your sin to another brother and you need to get somebody alongside you, walking with you to help you pursue purity and holiness.”

‘The Ugliness of Spiritual Adultery’ By Ty Blackburn | Providence Church

Ty’s gospel is to be like Jesus, keep your way pure by following His Word. He says further, to repent, to confess your sin to another Christ follower that will help you follow Jesus. Wow. Ty points you to Jesus, not as God in the flesh crucified for your sins and risen for your justification, but as a new Moses, someone to emulate, follow, and do what they say. Repentance in this way, in the way of the Law, is not true repentance but one without faith and trust in the promise of Christ crucified. This type of repentance is one of Law and of no hope. For more on this let’s look at what is said on this in the Solid Declaration of Concord:

3] Now, when we consider this dissent aright, it has been caused chiefly by this, that the term Gospel is not always employed and understood in one and the same sense, but in two ways, in the Holy Scriptures, as also by ancient and modern church teachers. 4] For sometimes it is employed so that there is understood by it the entire doctrine of Christ, our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry upon earth, and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament, and hence comprised in it the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God, His heavenly Father, as it is written, Mark 1:1: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And shortly afterwards the chief heads are stated: Repentance and forgiveness of sins. Thus, when Christ after His resurrection commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel in all the world, Mark 16:15, He compressed the sum of this doctrine into a few words, when He said, Luke 24:46,47: Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations. So Paul, too, calls his entire doctrine the Gospel, Acts 20:21; but he embraces the sum of this doctrine under the two heads: Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 5] And in this sense the generalis definitio, that is, the description of the word Gospel, when employed in a wide sense and without the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel is correct, when it is said that the Gospel is a preaching of repentance and the remission of sins. For John, Christ, and the apostles began their preaching with repentance and explained and urged not only the gracious promise of the forgiveness of sins, but also the Law of God. 6] Furthermore the term Gospel is employed in another, namely, in its proper sense, by which it comprises not the preaching of repentance, but only the preaching of the grace of God, as follows directly afterwards, Mark 1:15, where Christ says: Repent, and believe the Gospel. 7] Likewise the term repentance also is not employed in the Holy Scriptures in one and the same sense. For in some passages of Holy Scripture it is employed and taken for the entire conversion of man, as Luke 13:5: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And in 15:7: Likewise joy shalt be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. 8] But in this passage, Mark 1:15, as also elsewhere, where repentance and faith in Christ, Acts 20:21, or repentance and remission of sins, Luke 24:46-47, are mentioned as distinct, to repent means nothing else than truly to acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to desist from them. 9] This knowledge comes from the Law, but is not sufficient for saving conversion to God, if faith in Christ be not added, whose merits the comforting preaching of the holy Gospel offers to all penitent sinners who are terrified by the preaching of the Law. For the Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of sins, not to coarse and secure hearts, but to the bruised or penitent, Luke 4:18. And lest repentance or the terrors of the Law turn into despair, the preaching of the Gospel must be added, that it may be a repentance unto salvation, 2 Cor. 7:10.”

Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord; Law and Gospel

The preaching of repentance without the Gospel of forgiveness in Christ crucified for your sins, is all Law, it will produce a false repentance. The same repentance that the world has apart from Christianity; it’s works righteousness. Ty has preached a near 73 minute expository sermon, and gave you Christ as a role model, Christ followers for you to make your confession and give support, and yet zero forgiveness, zero Gospel.

Ty actually disobeyed Jesus by not giving you the forgiveness of sins in God who took on flesh and bone, and was crucified, died, and risen for our salvation:

“46 He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24: 46-47

Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.”

1 John 4: 1-3

We all commit idolatry daily, which is the first commandment. We love, trust, and fear things more than we do God. We are guilty and stand accused. The solution isn’t to try harder to be better, that won’t make up for sinning against God. The solution isn’t to try to be like God, we can’t, we have original sin, concupiscence, in our sinful nature. We will always fail, even though we are Christian’s, we will fail to be perfect apart from faith in Christ.

The Law has three uses. The first is for everyone. It’s the outward curb, the punishment for sin that is given to the government. The second is the mirror, it shows us our sin, it shows us just how bad we are and that we deserve God’s present and eternal wrath. The third is for the Christian, it shows us what a good work is and, through the Gospel, the Spirit gives us the ability to do it. Ty wasn’t using the Law in any of these ways. At best he was trying to use the third use yet without the Gospel. The third use of the Law is no longer the third use if the Gospel is absent. The Law for the Christian, is the Law in light of the Gospel. Without the Gospel Ty then is using this Law as a means for justification, and self righteous, self- sanctification. Ty then is using the Law as the world uses the Law; veiled, and watered down, to make one feel holy, apart from Christ.

This is where the Gospel comes in. God, in human flesh, lived a perfect and obedient life and was the propitiation for our sins. He willingly was nailed to the tree to die and He did die. He died for you. He also rose from the grave for you. To impute into you His perfect righteousness. In the eyes of the Father’s it’s as if you not only never sinned, but that you are as righteous as Christ. You are loved in this way, you are set free from your sin, free to love and serve and to be loved and served by God. This is why you are now able to want to love God and your neighbor because God loves you and has taken away all fear of punishment, has brought you to Himself by becoming one of us, doing what we couldn’t do, and then being the perfect sacrificial Lamb for our sins. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, and may the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.

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