Philip Ryken | When I Don't Keep Covenant | Luke 22 | 4/15/2019



the first class that I took when I graduated from Wheaton College and went out to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia was orientation to gospel ministry with Tim Keller one of the best things that dr. Keller did for us in that semester of class together was give us a list of questions to help us evaluate how we were doing spiritually it came from some old Puritan I've looked over that list many times over the years and I have to say I never feel very good about the results would you like to hear some of Keller's questions I have to tell you at least for me they're very humbling the list starts like this have I been fervent in prayer was there warmth have I practiced God's presence at least every hour how are you feeling so far the list goes on have I sought to center conversations on the other person's interests and needs and ultimately toward God or did I turn it toward my own interests have I given thanks to God after every pleasant occurrence or time have I thought unkindly of anyone should I keep going there's more have I been careful to avoid proud thoughts or comparing myself to others or have I done things just for appearances have I mused on my own fame or acclaim or how about this one which comes near the end have I over or under eaten over or under slept over or under worked that's only half the list if you're like me you don't have to get very far to realize how many missed opportunities there are to live for the glory of God and how much forgiveness you need not just for things you shouldn't have done that you did but also for things you should have done and never did God have mercy and maybe you feel the same way when you read Wheaton's Community Covenant I know I do as we come to the end of the school year and particularly as we get ready this week to remember the world-changing events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday this is a good time to consider how well we've kept covenant with one another and how well we've kept covenant with God and we could turn the Community Covenant into a list of questions based on the promises that we make and we can ask ourselves has christ-like love been my motive in all actions decisions and relationships have I treated my body in the bodies of others with the honor do the very temple of the Holy Spirit does my life show evidence of patience and self-control have I been seeking mercy and justice for the helpless and oppressed I've have I avoided all occasions of dishonesty jealousy sexual immorality and if somehow I have done all of those things have I also grown in humility which is also part of the community covenant my point is that in one way or another we are all covenant breakers and so we all wrestle with this question the question I want to pose for us this morning what should I do when I don't keep covenant what are the implications of that of my broken promises from our relationship with God and for my relationship with other members of this Wheaton College community what should I do with my sin in my shame well I see several possibilities one is to decide that the Community Covenant doesn't matter all that much it's something I sign perhaps or maybe clicked when I started at Wheaton something I read with my dorm floor or at my apartment building but it's not really something that matters to me very much it's not something I revisit it's not something I feel especially concerned about keeping or not keeping my attitude perhaps could be described as dismissive another thing I could do is lower the Community Covenant to something that I might be able to reach and so I I downplay my sins I wasn't really lying I was just letting other people draw their own conclusions that was only lust it wasn't actually sexual center if it was at least it didn't affect anyone else technically I didn't cheat and besides it wasn't as bad as what I see some other people doing alternatively I could make the Community Covenant more doable by deciding that some promises are more that there are more important than others specifically more important than the parts of the Covenant that I don't want to keep of course I would never get an abortion but what's so bad about getting drunk every now and then another attitude towards the Community Covenant is more negative it may be less common but certainly we see it on this campus and that is an attitude of resentment I'm no longer sure that I want to identify as a Christian I'm not sure that I want to be part of this community anymore in an all honesty there are parts of the Community Covenant that I no longer want to keep it's like something a student said to me one time I feel more like a rule follower of the administration not a covenant keeper before the Lord and then there's another response to the community covenant that is equally negative and perhaps more common but for a very different reason it's the response of helpless shame some of us don't have a problem agreeing that these promises are good to make love purity integrity our problem is that we feel so helpless in our struggle with sin maybe for some of us one sin in particular that we are in spiritual bondage and so rather than helping us feel good about leading a holy life the Community Covenant makes us feel ashamed and condemned we don't want to keep doing things that we hate to do we just don't know how to stop and feelings of shame lead to despair it's tempting to give up why even try these are some of the ways that we might respond to the Community Covenant in the context of our sin dismissing or downplaying it editing it perhaps resenting it or even hating it because it's a standard we feel helpless to meet and what I want to communicate this morning is a different response something else that we can do with our many sins and that is simply take them to the cross of Jesus Christ and confess them which of course seems especially appropriate to say at the beginning of a week that ends with Good Friday in Easter Sunday now I understand that sin separates us from God in all of his holiness but I also believe that the last thing God wants us to do with our sin is to stay away from him it's only the devil that wants us to do that what God wants us to do is turn back to him he wants us to repent he wants us to come running back for mercy he wants us to admit that we have sinned so that we can experience the grace of his forgiveness in Jesus Christ experience freedom from shame be reassured again of his love for us and then start serving him again when you know that you have sinned when you have failed to love God or love your neighbor when you have broken your promises by doing what you shouldn't have done or failed to keep covenant by not doing what you were supposed to do the very best thing to do with that is to go straight back to the cross it is to learn what the tax collector learned to say what the tax collector said when he went to the temple weighed down with the heavy burden of his guilt before God and simply said God have mercy on me the sinner and when we do this we experience the joy that faithful people of God testified to whenever they talk about their confession of and I I think of what David experienced when he finally confessed his sins blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven he said in psalm 32 whose sin is is covered and he remembered a time in his life when he had refused to admit that he had sinned at all it it nearly destroyed him when I kept silent he said my bones wasted away he he felt God's hand heavy against him his strength was dried up the same things which happened to us when we carry around the guilt of unconfessed sin it weighs you down in ways that you don't even understand it takes the joy right out of life but when David confessed his sin when he acknowledged it before God when rather than covering up his iniquity he confessed it something amazing happened he said I I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and God will forgive the iniquity of my sin David experienced a sudden onrush of spiritual joy started singing about gladness and in rejoicing he found pleasure again in the presence of God and all of that came when instead of stubbornly insisting that he wasn't a covenant breaker that he didn't really have any sins to confess he came totally clean about what he had done and I also want you to see this that when we say that we are sorry for sin we are delivered from all of the wrong attitudes that we have about the commandments of God including those commandments which are expressed in our community covenant when we confess our sins we are not lowering God's standards down to something we can keep as if we could keep up an even lower standard which actually we can't but no we we keep God's standard up where it belongs and acknowledge that we are the ones who fall short we freely acknowledge that in our confession nor do we pick and choose areas of obedience that we think are more important instead we maintain that anything God tells us to do is important enough that we should include in the confession of our sins confession of sin is a way of affirming the Covenant of God even when you don't keep it it also brings an end to our resentment understand if you feel distant from God God is not the reason sin is the reason it's only when we're holding on to sin that we get grumpy with God letting go of sin leads leads us to worship Him again and it also breaks the bondage of shame that we experience when we want to stop sinning but feel like we can't confessing sin then confessing it again if we sin again and confessing it again after that this is one of the main ways that the Holy Spirit wants to liberate us from sins imprisoning power repentance is what saves us from guilt and shame it's what delivers us from hypocrisy and double mindedness I'm simply saying that the best thing you can do when you fail to keep covenant with God as all of us do is to take those broken promises back to the cross that's what we've done this morning in our corporate worship we do that I think every week we have confession of sin on this Kim in this campus community we do it privately whenever we tell God that we're sorry for our sins we can also do this interpersonally by confessing our sins to one another the by the Bible says confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed this is the way that the Spirit does is liberating work that's one of the main purposes and I have to say most frequent results of the conversations that we have with students struggling to keep the community covenant that purpose and result is healing the healing that comes with repentance and forgiveness now what makes all of this possible the freedom the healing the the joy that come when we confess our sins is what Jesus did for us on the cross was so beautifully expressed for us in the chaplains prayer this morning covenant breakers are saved by the covenant keeper who gave his life for our sins and there's no better place to see this than Luke chapter 22 it was the last night of our saviors life you can see him in that Upper Room imagine his disciples gathered around him at that table and you can hear the things that our Savior begins to say to them he is speaking to a group of known sinners promised breakers those who have failed to keep covenant it's true of Judas obviously the betrayer already Satan had entered that disciple who would lead Jesus unto death by betraying him with a crisp with a kiss lying theft murder Jews Judas is guilty of all of these obvious sins but the other disciples are equally guilty what they are talking about and we didn't read the entire passage I wish now that we have but what they are talking about let me remind you is they are sharing table fellowship with Jesus is which of them is the greatest talk about a useless conversation it's really an ugly scene it was anything more unattractive or more offensive to God than people who think they are spiritually superior to everyone else that's the disciples and then there's Peter of course over the course of the meal Jesus will say that before sunrise Peter will deny having any connection to Jesus a spiritual downfall as sudden as anything that you can imagine I think it's pretty easy to see ourselves in these disciples none of them were totally faithful to Jesus all of them failed to keep their promises to him they were betrayers deniers abandoners and that sets the context for this remarkable moment when Jesus lifts the glass of salvation towards them and says this cup that is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood those are words that change the world if you understand them they will change your life forever as well when Jesus said new covenant he was thinking back to the Old Covenant the Covenant for example that God had made with Abraham we looked at at the beginning of the year God promised Abraham offspring like the stars in the sky like the the sand of the desert he said through Abraham all nations of the world would be blessed and to confirm the promise God made a covenant maybe maybe you remember how he did this Abraham carefully divided the pieces of the sacrificial animals and that night God passed through the pieces by himself in fire and smoke symbolically he was taking upon himself the responsibility to keep the Covenant and also to suffer its curse if Abraham and his descendants broke it which of course we did now Jesus the Divine Son of God came to make good on that promise to suffer the curse of the broken covenant he told his disciples there would be a new covenant now and it would be sealed with his own precious blood he would pay the price of sin he would bear the shame of our transgressions he would suffer the penalty for every broken promise see Jesus on the cross and you have to understand he is dying there for the racist he's dying there for the adulterer he's dying there for the thief and the murderer all of the promises of the Covenant all of the broken promises he is dying in the place of those kind of sinners and he's not doing it with the blood of some sacrificial animal he's doing it with his own blood freely shed on the cross all the way unto death now I tell you that is a covenant there could never be a better covenant than one that is sealed with the infinitely precious blood of the Son of God who never broke any promise but kept all of the commandments of God and there could never be any cleansing more complete or covering more complete for all of our covenant breaking than the blood of Christ this is what Peter discovered what he loved to preach we start to see a glimpse at the end of the story that was read for us of what what will happen in his life as soon as he realizes that he is a sinner what does he do he confesses his sin he expresses it in his weeping sorrow he knows in that moment because Jesus took the time to look at him that he was still beloved by the Savior and soon he would be serving Jesus again all because of the blood of this covenant poured out for him and it is poured out for you to wait in college it is poured out for each and every breaker of the covenants of God this new covenant in Jesus is the promise of God's forgiveness for you it is the proof of God's love for you it is the power to keep God's promises in your own life promises to God into one another not perfectly of course not in this life but really and truly at the cross and through the empty TriNet tomb there is the grace that we need to keep the commitments that we are called to make to our faithful God our Father we pray that you would refresh us in your grace in this week when we remember the sufferings of our Lord Jesus help us to give a help help us to come to a deeper clearer understanding of what it means to be covered with the blood of Jesus what it means to rise with new life it enables us to live the kind of life that is pleasing to you for Jesus sake it's in his name that we pray amen

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