This is the sermon for Sunday morning, September 27th, 2009.

EVER INCREASING GRACE PART 2

Romans 5:20b

INTRODUCTION

In this series, we are dealing with the subject of sin and grace.  While we are in this series, I hope that although it is short, we will take off our masks and be real with the Lord and with ourselves.  Truthfully, we all struggle daily with sin. But thanks to the God saves us, it has been a struggle that has been won; not by us keeping the law perfectly, but it has been won for us through Jesus Christ!  In this struggle with sin, God has provided ever increasing grace.

Our theme verse in this series is what Paul wrote in Romans 5:20.  Let’s read our theme verse this morning.

Romans 5:20 ESV – where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…

This morning we are going to look into the life of one of Judah’s most wicked kings – Manasseh.  We are going to look at the wicked things he and the nation of Judah did, plus the grace of God displayed toward him.  Then we will finish up this sermon in 1 Timothy.  Let’s begin.

The wickedness of Manasseh.

2 Chronicles 33:1-9 ESV – 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 3For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” 5And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, 8and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” 9Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.

Make no mistake about it: Manasseh was a very evil, wicked person.  He absolutely had a wicked heart that was opposed to the ways and Law of God.

Manasseh’s wickedness:

  • He did evil before the LORD.
  • He had the people rebuild the high places of worship.
  • He erected altars to the Baals and had built Asherah poles.
  • He practiced astrology and worshiped the stars, and practiced communication with the dead (necromancers).
  • He had false altars built within God’s Holy Temple.
  • Sacrificed by fire his children in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (incidentally, in the time of Jesus, this was called the valley of Gehenna.  Jesus used Gehenna to describe hell).
  • Had an image made in God’s Temple ( 2 Kings 21:7 says it was an Asherah pole).
  • Led all the nation of Judah astray.
  • The nation of Judah became more evil than the evil nations God destroyed.

Now let’s look at a few things also mention in 2 Kings 21.

2 Kings 21:10-16 ESV – 10And the LORD said by his servants the prophets, 11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.” 16 Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

  • Manasseh had a lot of innocent people killed.
  • Because of his wickedness: Judah and Jerusalem would go into exile.

As we can see, Manasseh was as wicked as they come, and surely there would be no hope for him.  If anyone deserved God’s judgment and the eternal fires of hell, it would be Manasseh.  But notice how God leads Manasseh to repentance and how He responds to Manasseh’s repentant heart.

The grace of God toward Manasseh.

2 Chronicles 33:10-13 ESV – 10The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. 11 Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 12And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

God’s grace:

  • The Lord warned Manasseh (through the prophets according to 2 Kings 21:10).
  • The Lord had Manasseh taken captive by Assyria to humble him. This was God leading Manasseh to repentance.
  • Manasseh prayed for God’s forgiveness and favor (grace) and received it.
  • Manasseh was restored.

Evidence of Manasseh’s repentance.

2 Chronicles 33:15-16 ESV – 15And he took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside of the city. 16He also restored the altar of the LORD and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and of thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.

Evidences of repentance:

  • He got rid of the idols in and around the Temple.
  • He restored the true worship of Yahweh God.

Now let’s look at what Paul says about himself and apply his words to our lives.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 ESV – 12I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

The Greek word for “I am” is ego imee (ego i-mee).  It is in the first person present indicative; meaning that Paul is stating that this isn’t a past reality, but a present one.  It doesn’t mean that Paul is presently guilty of His past sins, what it means is that apart from being in Christ, Paul would still be the foremost, or chief of sinners.  He is not free from sin because of anything on his part, but only because of Christ and Christ alone.

Like Paul, we were sinners and even the worst of sinners.

1 Timothy 1:13a&15b ESV – 13athough formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. 15b Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

We like Paul were shown mercy and had the grace of God abundantly poured out on us.

1Timothy 1:13b&14 ESV – 13bI received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Christ saved us by being patient with us while we were in our sin so that we might receive eternal life.

1Timothy 1:16 ESV – I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Jesus should be praised because now He strengthens us, trusts us, and appointed us to serve Him.

1Timothy 1:12 ESV – I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.

CONCLUSION

As we conclude, like Manasseh and Paul – we were sinners, abounding in sin.  But God abounds in grace – or another way of saying it, was gracious – toward us by giving His grace to us which is greater than our sin through Jesus Christ.

He was gracious to us so that we might serve Him wholeheartedly.

His grace is so perfect, righteous, and powerful that He calls us and appoints us to serve and follow Him.

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