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Worship Message - For the Defense


For the Defense

Often after holidays such as Christmas and Easter, my attention is drawn to various

explanations of salvation and the wonderful results of it.

I think the cause of that is that following celebrations of either Jesus’ birth - that He

came to earth for the purpose of offering salvation - or His resurrection - which followed

His death as the sacrifice for our sins, which was the act needed for salvation to be

possible - the question needs to be asked, “So what?” So what that Jesus was born? So

what that Jesus died? So what that Jesus was resurrected? So what that Jesus still lives?

What effect is any and all of that going to have on my life and your life?

So it is that today, the Sunday after Easter, we are going to think about salvation, doing

so this time by way of an explanation that is based on a courtroom. What better

courtroom TV series is there - I say is because it can still be viewed on Hallmark

Channel - what better courtroom TV series is there than Perry Mason, which debuted on

CBS in September of 1957 and ran through May of 1966?

Altogether, just short of 300 TV episodes were filmed. After that - from 1985 to 1995 -

30 made-for-TV Perry Mason movies were aired. But the classics were the old CBS

black-and-white hour-long TV shows.

In those TV shows, only three times did Perry lose. The Case of the Witless Witness, The

Case of the Deadly Verdict, and The Case of the Terrified Typist were his three losses. I

would say a 99% success rate was pretty good. Especially since he got one of his losses

reversed on appeal.

Anyway, I am certainly not saying Perry Mason is our spiritual defender. Nor am I

saying that Hamilton Burger - the prosecutor who almost week after week after week

was defeated by Perry - has any resemblance to our spiritual accuser. But for this

message, perhaps thinking of the old Perry Mason courtroom shows will help us as we

think about salvation.

One more disclaimer. I am not saying that on judgment day, things will happen in a

courtroom setting. If nothing else, decisions will be made much more quickly.

But if it can be likened to such a setting, there of course has to be a judge. Concerning

spiritual matters, the judge is God. In fact, that is what is explained in Romans 14:12. In

that verse are the words. “So each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

As we will get to, there is someone who will speak against us. As we will get to, there is

someone who is willing to speak for us. That one will speak for us if we will let Him. But

each of us shall give account of himself to God, who, in the courtroom setting, is the

judge.

As it was in every Perry Mason episode, the case against the defendant is presented first.

It is presented by the prosecutor, who, in a spiritual sense, will not be Hamilton Burger,

but someone who goes by two names - Satan and the devil.

Both those names are very scary.

Satan means adversary or opponent. Hence the one who pleads a case against us.

Devil means slanderer, which means that while each of us has something that can be

brought up against us - that point will be made in a moment - the devil will word our

offenses in such a way they are made to sound even worse than they already are.

Hamilton Burger had different tactics he used. The tactics were based on the facts of the

particular case being tried. But Satan? The devil? There are basically only three points

he has to make, no matter which of us is on trial.

The first point is based on Romans 3:23. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of

God.”

To make that point, the devil - I will use myself as an example in this trial scenario - to

make that point against me, Satan might call all sorts of witnesses.

He might call my sister. “Ms. Petska,” she could be asked, “will you tell the court what

happened the summer of 1955?” “Well,” my sister would say, “my brother - the

defendant - George - made a habit of stealing my crayons.”

And hey, in the whole scheme of things, a few crayons were probably not a huge deal.

But was it stealing? Yes. Which is a sin.

“Your witness, Mr. Mason - I mean, Jesus.” “No questions.”

The devil might next call my mother, who could recount the times I sassed her. And no,

I don’t think I did that very often, but I’m sure it happened occasionally. Has everyone

else done the same? Probably. But whenever I sassed, it was a sin because of lack of

respect for my mother, who could probably tell of times I sassed my dad, too.

Satan might then call my dad to confirm such times. The devil might then call anyone

and everyone else who might know about other times I have fallen short of God’s glory -

fallen short with a bad attitude or gossip or...

The list could go on, but the point with each witness would be the same. George has

sinned. George has fallen short of the glory of God. In fact, the devil would have very

little trouble establishing that fact.

And again, everyone else can have the same point made against them. Again, all have

sinned and fall short.

My defender? He will have no questions for any of the witnesses. So, with the fact I have

sinned being established, the devil will move to the second point of his case, which is

based on the first part of Romans 6:23. “Your honor, may I remind the court of the law?

For the wages of sin is death.”

And by the way, what is referred to is not physical death, but spiritual death. Death

described as being separated from God - from His blessings, from knowing His

presence, from benefitting from His power. A separation that can make life here more

difficult. A separation that will be horrible in what follows life on earth. More on that in

just a minute.

As stated, the consequence of sin is clear. Those who sin deserve death. Since I have

sinned - since that can be proved by any of a number of people - I deserve death. That is

what the prosecutor - the accuser - the slanderer - will point out to God.

The devil will then go on to what the punishment should be. What the punishment after

death should be. And how horrible that is, which is based on Revelation 21:8.

Listen. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators,

sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars...” And hey, I may not have committed all those sins.

On the other hand, remember what Jesus said? Even thinking about such things is sin.

So maybe I have committed at least some of those offenses, doing so at least in my mind

at some time in my life. As for sinners, “their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire

and sulphur.”

George has sinned. He falls short of the glory of God. Because of that, he deserves

spiritual death. And he deserves to be punished. Where? In Hell. Those are the points

Satan - the devil - the spiritual prosecutor - can make against me.

And yes, he can make the same case against you. Which ought to make you and me more

uncomfortable than any of the defendants on any of the Perry Mason episodes. For

them, they might have faced prison. A few along the way also faced the death penalty.

But for us, we are talking about eternal damnation. Which, if only the prosecutor has his

say, most surely will lead to our spiritual doom.

But for those who were clients of Perry Mason, there was at least a glimmer of hope.

For those who accept Jesus as Savior, there is hope because, in the spiritual courtroom

setting, Jesus, when accepted, promises to be our defense attorney. That is at least

suggested in John 3:17.

John 3:16 is the verse that says, “For God so loved the world that He gave Jesus, that

whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Verse 17 adds, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but

that the world might be saved through Him.”

This point will be made again, but it must be stated that as Perry Mason did not defend

everyone. An accused person had to retain his services. So it is that Jesus will not defend

everyone. To have Him defend you, you have to retain Him. Which is done by accepting

Him as the Savior.

But when that has been done, even with the seriousness of all that Satan says against us

- again, using myself as an example, even with the seriousness of all Satan says against

me - I have, because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, a defender. A defender, it turns

out, who is even more impressive that Perry Mason.

Here is what Jesus will say in answer to the points made by the devil.

“Has George sinned?” Jesus will ask. “Yes. Has he fallen short? Does he still fall short?

Yes. In fact, if it please the court, I Myself,” Jesus might say, “have seen every one of his

sins and, I might add, have been disappointed in him.

However, he has already taken care of doing what the law - what spiritual law - says is to

be done. Your honor, I quote for the record I John 1:9. ‘If we confess our sins, God - by

the way, judge, that is You - if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will

forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

George confessed his sins early in 1970. He did that when he became a Christian at the

halftime of a basketball game when a Fellowship of Christian Athletes team gave an altar

call. Other times George has fallen short, he often has confessed those sins.”

“Your honor,” the devil might shout as he stands to his feet, “I object. The point of my

esteemed colleague is incompetent, immaterial, and irrelevant. I don’t care what George

has confessed. He is a sinner and deserves to be condemned!”

“Overruled,” God will say.” “Jesus, you may proceed.”

“Judge - God - George has done what the law requires. Therefore - this is the second

point - he deserves, not death, but eternal life.

A point based on John 5:24. ‘Truly, truly, he who hears the words of Jesus and believes

in Him who sent Him, has eternal life.’ Not eternal physical life, of course, but eternal

spiritual life, forever being associated with Me,” Jesus will say.

“That being the case, George is entitled, judge, not to an eternity of punishment in Hell,

but an eternity with Me in a place called Heaven - a place described in John 14:2-3. ‘In

My Father’s house...’”

By the way, do you sense how the case is stacked in favor of the defendant? Jesus is

God’s Son, which means the judge and the defender are very close. Spiritually they are

one. Meaning what the defender says is going to have more impact than what the

prosector says.

“‘In My Father’s house, which is Heaven, are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have

told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

How great it is - this is me speaking - to know that when we accept Jesus as Savior, not

only will He be our defender. He is also spending His spare time preparing places in

Heaven.

Perry Mason? He often spent his spare time in fine restaurants. But Jesus spends His

spare time preparing places in Heaven for His people - for those who have accepted Him

as Savior.

* * * * *

George has sinned. He therefore deserves death, followed by punishment in Hell. That is

the case Satan will present against me and against everyone else. And listen. If, on

judgment day, the devil is the only one God hears, God will have no choice but to decide

against the defendant. Which means Hell will be the sentence. Which means Satan will

have won.

But for those of us who have retained Jesus as the defender - for those of us who have

accepted Jesus as the Savior He became when He died on a cross, which He proved on

Easter by coming back to life - for those of us who are Christians, the devil will not be

the only one heard.

In fact, every word - every point - made by Satan will be refuted and overturned as Jesus

will say that because of acceptance of Him, we are forgiven and therefore are worthy of

eternal life, which includes blessings in this life and then spending the rest of eternity in

Heaven, where all His people will have places prepared for them by Jesus Himself.

So, what has to be done to accept Jesus as Savior? What has to be done to retain His

services? There are two things - two steps - based on Acts 20:21.

First, repent. Which means to confess your sins. But more than that, it means to be

sorry for your sins. And actually, there is even more to it. Be so sorry you promise to rely

on God’s strength to step away from your sins - to turn around and walk away from

them, your desire being to never do them again.

And hey, you may have to do that over and over and over again. I think there is

significance in the words, “fall short.” Not “have fallen,” but “fall short of the glory of

God.” My interpretation is that we might always struggle to be all we should be in our

lives.

But repent. That is the first step. Second, have faith in - believe in - our Lord Jesus

Christ. Faith. Belief in. That means more than to just know about Jesus. It means to

accept Him. Trust Him. Rely upon Him. Make Him the center of everything you do.

Every decision you make.

* * * * *

In December we celebrated Jesus’ birth. We celebrated the fact He came to earth for the

purpose of being the Savior.

On Easter we celebrated His resurrection, which followed His death as the sacrifice for

our sins. We celebrated the fact He became and is the Savior.

And yes, the question does need to be asked. So what that He was born? So what that He

died? So what that He was resurrected? So what that He still lives? What effect is any

and all of that going to have on my life and your life?

The effect it is supposed to have - that it needs to have - is for us to accept Jesus as the

Savior. As your Savior. When that happens, no matter what Satan - the devil - the

accuser - the slanderer - says, everything that is said will be able to be defended by

Jesus, the result being, not your condemnation, which is what Satan wants, but

forgiveness, eternal life, and a place in Heaven, which is what God wants.

And one more reference to Perry Mason. Though I have not seen those particular

episodes, it is reported he did lose three cases in his TV series. But Jesus - our spiritual

defender - has never lost a case He has defended. Neither will He ever lose a case in the

future when He is the defender, which He is when He is accepted as Savior. When you

accept Him, you are guaranteed spiritual victory.

I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. If you have not, will you join me? Not for me, but for

you. And for Jesus, who wants to be your defender.

In a moment, today’s closing song. Before that, let’s pray. Think of the words as I say

them. I you, too, are a Christian, think how the words of the prayer summarize the

wonder of salvation. If you are not a Christian, will you pray the words, too? And mean

them?

Let’s pray.

Jesus, Satan is right in accusing me. I have sinned and I do fall short. Because of

that, I deserve spiritual death. I deserve Hell.

But Lord, I do not want to be separated from You. So I confess my sins, trusting

that I will be forgiven. Thank You that forgiveness results in eternal life. With

that, help me to know a closeness to You now. Help me to feel it. Help me to look

forward to being with You for all eternity in Heaven.

Lord, by repenting and having faith in You, I can have a defender even better

than Perry Mason. I can have You, the Son of God the judge, defending me. So

help me to accept You, even now. Thank You. Amen.

If you prayed those words with me - if you believe them - great. What a wonderful

decision you have made. One that will help you now. One that will help you forever. One

for which thanks is to be given, whether the acceptance was today or any time in the

past.

For all of us who are Christians, let’s sing the chorus Lord, We Praise You.

Lord, we praise You,

Lord, we praise You,

Lord, we praise You,

we praise You, Lord!

Lord, we thank You,

Lord, we thank You,

Lord, we thank You,

we thank You, Lord!

Lord, we love You,

Lord, we love You,

Lord, we love You,

we love You, Lord!

Jesus was born. Jesus died. Jesus came back to life. All who accept what He did - all who

believe He is the Savior - have Him as defender. Yes, a defender even greater than Perry

Mason.

Jesus - the one defender who never has and never will lose a case. Why would anyone

not accept Him, the one and only hope we will ever need? Thank You, Lord, for all You

offer. Amen.

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