I. THE IDEAL REQUIREMENT OF GOD.
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments and the statutes of the Lord.
B. In our text the prophet declares "He has shown thee O man what is good and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."
C. In the Hebrew language their are two different words that are both translated require in English.
1. In Deut. the Hebrew word is more like inquire, or ask of you. "What does the Lord ask of you."
2. In our text, the Hebrew word is more of a demand, "What does the Lord demand of you."
D. What are God's requirements?
1. Fear the Lord thy God.
a. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
b. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.
c. It is to stand in reverence of His awesome holiness.
2. To walk in all His ways.
a. That is to obey every commandment, and statute of the Lord.
b. To walk in holiness, truth, purity.
3. To love and serve Him with all your heart and soul.
a. No half-hearted relationship.
b. Or as we spoke a few weeks ago, no divided heart.
E. That is what God asks. What does He demand?
1. That you do justly.
a. That you be fair in all your judgment.
b. Paul asks who are you to judge another man's servant, before his own Master he either stands or falls, and God is able to make him to stand.
c. God has not given to us the privilege of judging others. "Judge not, lest you be judged."
d. We do not have all the facts.
e. We do not know the motives of the heart.
f. We so often judge on the basis of hearsay. "But someone said that they saw." Someone is not a credible witness. We are often quick to judge on the basis of someone. Who? What evidence did they produce? Usually it was a friend or cousin of someone. Twenty years ago they were circulating a picture of Jesus in the clouds. I heard at least 20 different versions of who took the picture, and where it was taken.
2. That you love mercy. Even if the person is guilty, that you be kind and forgiving. "Be kind one to another, tender hearted forgiving one another even as God for Christ sake has forgiven you."
a. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
b. "Forgive us our trespasses even as we forgive those who trespass against us."
c. Here it is not that you just be merciful, but that you love mercy.
3. That you walk humbly with thy God. The man who is proud, does not know God.
a. When Isaiah saw a vision of God he said, "Woe is me."
b. When Daniel saw a vision of God he said, "My beauty was turned into corruption."
c. No man has had an encounter with God and come from it with a feeling of pride and greatness.
4. These are the things that God requires, or demands of you.
F. You say, "I have failed, I have not lived up to those requirements, but let's go to the New Testament, I've always had trouble with the law, I sort of prefer the mercy, love and grace of the New Testament."
1. In Matthew 5:48
we hear Jesus saying to His disciples, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
a. So you say that you want to live by the New Testament standards? Good luck, but you will need much more than luck.
2. Matt. 22:37
Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
3. As I read these requirements of Jesus I immediately come into the consciousness of sin, I have missed the mark. I am not going to try to pretend that I have even come close. Mine is not a near miss. So many say, I would have hit the mark, but you pushed my arm, and caused me to miss. Adam said, "The woman that you gave to me to be my wife, she did tempt me, and I did eat."
II. WHAT IS GOD'S ACTUAL REQUIREMENT? I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FULFILL HIS IDEAL REQUIREMENTS?
A. With man there is the ideal self, and the real self. In psychology it is called the ego and the super-ego.
1. The super-ego is what you perceive yourself to be, and the ego is what you actually are.
2. The closer your ego is to the super-ego the more well balanced you are. If there is a wide divergence, then you will have difficult mental problems.
B. With Jesus the real and the ideal were one. There was no divergence. He was able to say, "I do always those things that please the Father."
C. No man has attained to the ideal requirements of God except Jesus.
1. The Bible says that there is none righteous, no not one.
2. The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
3. Do you want to challenge those statements, would you like to come forward and from this pulpit declare to all of the people here that you are perfect?
4. Should you come forward and make such a statement with real sincerity you would immediately gain the sympathy of the whole crowd, for we would know that you were mentally deranged.
5. No man in his right mind, would think himself to be perfect. There is that consciousness of sin in every heart.
D. One day a group asked Jesus what they must do to do the works of the Father. "What does God require of us?" Jesus answered, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent." Joh. 6:28
1. Our King James text reads believe on, but the Greek is more literally translated believe into. For when the Greek word eis is used with the accusative, it always denotes a motion into.
2. It is believing into Jesus Christ. Many may believe on Jesus and not be saved. It is believing into a relationship where He becomes the Lord of your life.
3. By your believing into Jesus Christ, God grants you the forgiveness for missing the mark. "Believe into the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Paul told the Philippian jailor who was asking what he must do to be saved.
4. Paul wrote to the Romans, "For if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
III. WHAT HAPPENENS WHEN I FULFILL THE ACTUAL REQUIREMENT OF GOD AND BELIEVE INTO JESUS CHRIST?
A. God forgives all my missing of the mark. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanses me from all sin.
B. He gives to me the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell my life, and begin the work of conforming me into the image of Jesus Christ.
1. And we all with open faces beholding the glory of the Lord are changed from glory to glory into the same image, by the Spirit that worketh in us.
2. The fruit of the Spirit which is love begins to be manifested from my life. Through His help and power I begin to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, I begin to love my neighbor. I become kind, merciful, and forgiving.
3. What is happening? I am moving from the real to the ideal.
4. You see, God has never given up on my attaining to the ideal requirements, but has now given to me the power, whereby I might attain unto it, through the Holy Spirit.
C. Have I attained?
1. Paul the apostle a man who was in touch with his real self, said, "The good that I would, I do not, that which I would not, I do, O wretched man that I am." After thirty years of walking with the Lord as he wrote to the church in Phillipi he said, "I have not yet apprehended that for which I was apprehended by Jesus Christ, neither do I count myself perfect, but I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
2. No I am not yet perfect, but I am on the way trusting in the strength and help of the Spirit that I might become more like Jesus every day.