Failure in Part (1)

Sermon for Sunday, August 27, 2017

Failure in Part

Is failure to do all that God has said okay?  Some seem to think it is.  They take one verse that says something they believe needs to be done and act as if that is all that is required.

Do we have permission to omit or fail to do what we do not like?

We cannot omit what we know to do:

James 4:

[17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

We cannot willfully disregard what we know to do:

Hebrews 10:

[26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

The Bible says we can be willfully deliberately ignorant (2 Peter 3:5).

With human frailty being what it is, we all will experience failure before God.  This is not what I am talking about today.  Salvation is ultimately by God’s grace no matter how dedicated we are.

What the lesson is about today is the willful neglect of part of what God says about something.  This is done for a variety of reasons.  Some people are not even aware of why they do it.  This is the danger of spiritual blindness and prejudice.

2 Thessalonians 2:

[10] They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  [11] For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [12] and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Jesus mentions two great commandments.  The point: You must do both.

Matthew 22:

[36] “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  [37] Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  [38] This is the first and greatest commandment.  [39] And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  [40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

According to Jesus, these two commands are foundational to everything in the Law but the Law required obedience in other things.

1) If we fail in part we fail in all.

In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), the commands regarding murder, adultery, and theft involve relationships with others.  Violations reveal a lack of love for one’s neighbor and sin against God.

If we love God and not our neighbor we fail in part.

If we love our neighbor and do not love God as we should we fail in part.

If we fail in either part we will not be accepted.  The religion of God is not like a cafeteria where we get to pick and choose what we like.  To be acceptable we must do all that the Lord has spoken:

Exodus 19:

[3] Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: [4] ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

[5] Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, [6] you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’  These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

[7] So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak.  [8] The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”

God did not say, “If you obey me in part.”

The elders of the people did not say, “We will do part of what the Lord has said.”

2) We must love our neighbor in all ways and not just in part.

The command “Love your neighbor as yourself” includes all things involving our relationships with others that we should do.  Here are some passages that illustrate that:

James 2:

[8] If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

[9] But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  [10] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

[11] For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

[12] Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, [13] because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.


[15] Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  [16] If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

1 John 3:

[18] Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

3) We must love God in all things and not just in part.

“Love the Lord your God” also includes all that is required in loving God.  For example, in the Ten Commandments we are told “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), which shows we cannot worship other gods in addition to the one true God.

The second commandment says “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Exodus 20:4).

Is there some aspect of God’s being we can reject?  The last two Sundays we talked about some attributes of God that are difficult for many to understand, yet they are clearly taught in God’s word: 1) God is omnipresent; 2) God is omniscient; 3) God is omnipotent; 4) God is timeless; 5) God is spiritual.

Some in Israel were rebuked because they did not believe God was omniscient:

Jeremiah 23:

[23] “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away?  [24] Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord.  “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

Many today believe God is love but reject his justice.  They know in full but fail in part.

4) How “Failure in Part” plays out in faith:

This attitude toward faith and God manifests itself in many ways.  Some of these I have personally experienced in people over the years.

It begins with good intentions but always gets much worse because if we can fail in part we can fail in all, and eventually this is where it leads.

1) “I don’t have to attend church because I believe in grace.”

2) “Doctrine is not important.  All you have to do is love Jesus.”

3) “A transformed life and not doctrine is what is necessary.”

4) One preacher’s liberal journey ended with this belief: “I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview.  If it’s true, it belongs to God.”

5) A founder of what is called the “emerging church” movement said, “I believe people are saved not by objective truth, but by Jesus.  Their faith isn’t in their knowledge, but in God.”

J B Myers

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