The Sinner's Good Versus the Saint's Good

I. For purposes of this study, the word “sinner” refers to non-elect, unregenerate persons whereas “saint” refers to elect, regenerate persons. II. Sinners neither do good nor can do good. ROM 3:9-12. III. Yet Scripture cites numerous examples of sinners choosing good things. A. Consider the scribes and Pharisees, who were not eternally saved. MAT 23:33. 1. Yet they tithed, which is a good thing commanded in the law of Moses. MAT 23:23. 2. They practiced the rite of circumcision which was given by Moses. JOH 7:22-23. 3. They confessed the resurrection and the existence of spirits, both of which are true. ACT 23:6-8. B. Sinners can love their own, which is a good thing to do. MAT 5:46-47; 1TI 5:4, 8. 1. There is a natural affection which sinners may have, though some lack even this. ROM 1:31; 2TI 3:3. 2. Even animals care for their young. LAM 4:3. C. They can receive the word, believe, and be baptized. LUK 8:13; JUDE 1:4. D. They can for a while escape “...the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...” (2PE 2:20). E. Judas Iscariot was an apostle who preached the gospel and healed. MAT 10:1-8 c/w LUK 9:1-6. F. Sinners can hold the truth, albeit in unrighteousness. ROM 1:18. G. Devils believe and tremble. JAM 2:19; MAT 8:28-29; LUK 4:33-34; ACT 16:16-17. H. An unjust judge who is a sinner may execute a good sentence. LUK 18:1-5. IV. The sinner's good is not good in the sight of God Who demands absolute perfection. ROM 3:19-20; JAM 2:10-11. A. Ergo, their righteousnesses are as filthy rags. ISA 64:6. B. While they may do good outwardly, their goodness does not proceed from the Spirit of God and CANNOT please God. ROM 8:7-8. V. How is it that the imperfect obedience of a sinner is rejected whereas the imperfect obedience of a saint is accepted? VI. Sinners do good for the WRONG reasons. Therefore, their righteousness is not righteousness in the sight of God. MAT 5:20. A. Their goodness is an outward one that does not reach to the heart. MAT 15:7-8; 23:28 ct/w PSA 51:6; ROM 7:22. B. They do good to be seen of men. MAT 6:1-2, 5, 16; 23:5-7. C. They pick and choose good rather than paying heed to all the commandments of God. MAL 2:9; MAT 23:23. D. They act out of self-love. LUK 16:15; 2TI 3:2, 4-5. E. What they know they know naturally rather than spiritually. JUDE 1:10. 1. They cannot receive the truth AS a child of God receives it. 1CO 2:14; ROM 8:5-6. 2. While they may receive facts of the truth, they do not receive the love of the truth nor do they discern its true nature. 2TH 2:10. VII. Acceptable obedience that proceeds from the Holy Spirit is characterized by the following: A. love for God. EXO 20:6; JOH 14:15. 1. love: That disposition or state of FEELING with regard to a person which (arising from recognition of attractive qualities, from instincts of natural relationship, or from sympathy) manifests itself in solicitude for the welfare of the object, and usually also in DELIGHT in his presence and DESIRE for his approval; WARM AFFECTION, attachment. (caps mine) 2. The saint genuinely desires to please God. EPH 6:6. 3. Nothing good we do is acceptable without love. 1CO 13:1-7. B. faith. HEB 11:6. C. a willing mind. NEH 1:11; 2CO 8:12. D. obedience from the heart. ROM 6:17; ACT 8:37. E. sincerity. JOS 24:14; 1CO 5:8; EPH 6:24. F. hatred of sin. PRO 8:13; PSA 119:104. G. aiming at the glory of God. MAT 6:1-18; 1CO 10:31. H. acceptance of all God's commandments. PSA 119:128. I. genuine effort to obey. PSA 119:106, 112; 2CO 8:11. J. sorrow over and confession of sin. PRO 28:13; PSA 32:5-6. VIII. The obedience of the saint is rendered acceptable in Christ. 1PE 2:5; HEB 13:20-21. A. Being led of the Spirit, he is not under the law that would condemn him in his imperfections. GAL 3:10, 13; 5:18. B. His imperfections are cleansed away by the blood of Christ. 1JO 1:7. C. That a saint’s imperfect obedience is rendered acceptable by Christ is a humbling thing. GEN 32:10; 1TI 1:12-15. IX. Consider examples of imperfect obedience that were accepted with God. A. David desired to build the temple but did not do so. 2CH 6:8. B. Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord although the high places were not removed. 1KI 15:11-14. C. The Passover in Hezekiah's time was accepted even though many had not cleansed themselves according to the law. 2CH 30:18-20. D. Jesus said the disciples had kept God's word, yet we know they were imperfect. JOH 17:6. E. “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (ROM 7:21). F. “Then let none conclude that they have no grace because there are so many imperfections in their obedience: a child may be weak and sickly, yet a legitimate one!” (Arthur Pink) X. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2CH 16:9).
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