LEARN TO LOOK FOR A BIBLICAL VIEW ON ISSUES – AND NOT JUST A TRADITIONAL VIEW

Titus 1:9 says “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Notice the verse says “by sound doctrinenot by tradition of men but by well thought out, researched, studied and reasoned teaching based on God’s Word and God’s Word alone.

We always need to be thinking toward a Biblical view and not just a traditional view. (Mark 7:8a & 13) To get a proper view on any subject we must take into account both God’s terrible holiness, and His gracious forgiveness in view of the sinfulness of man.   To find the Biblical position on issues, we must:

  • Approach the Scriptures open-mindedly. We all have the tendency to believe what we’ve always been taught, without looking at our views critically to see if they are consistent with Scripture. The person who desires to know God’s mind must always come to the Word with a pure heart and an open mind, leaving prejudices and preconceived ideas behind. What is most important is that we find out what God’s Word says not what our traditions or culture say.
  • Look at all of Scripture as a whole on a subject. We cannot just rely on those verses which support our cherished positions.  That is how we so often argue Scripture.  For a view to be Biblical, it must fit every Scriptural text into the view without denying or doing interpretive violence to any position.
  •  Look at each Scripture in its context. The context of a passage will never change the meaning of a verse, but it will clarify the meaning. Each text must be studied on its own, faithfully understanding it in context.  Then, we seek to put all the verses together into a unified and consistent whole.  If the Bible is God’s Word, then every verse’s clear meaning will fit just like a puzzle piece perfectly in the whole of His Word.
  • Dr. C.I. Scofield had a great thought on the proper interpretation of scripture ““Never use a doubtful or obscure passage to contradict a clear and positive one and never use an if to contradict a verily.”

Seek Biblical answers not traditional answers, not good sounding answers, not even at first glance what would appear to be “Biblical” answers, but seek to actually examine the Scriptures for what they truly and actually say. Scripture cannot contradict Scripture and remember and keep at the forefront of your mind that our Lord strongly condemns placing mans traditions above His Word. Learn to always make sure the position you are taking or the stand you are making on an issue is based on God’s Word and not just mans tradition. (Mark 7:6-8a & 13 – He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.)

THE REALITY OF HELL

Mark 9:43 -49 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

The immediate reference here is to offenses against Christ’s little ones, whereby they are let into sin. The hand, the foot, and the eye represent men’s strongest desires and the earthly objects dearest to them. Whatever sacrifices the doing of the will of God may require; it is wise to cheerfully and promptly make them. For the trouble it will cause in this world if we don’t, is nothing to the misery which the neglect of our salvation will result in the world to come. We need to make sure of the eternal security of our salvation and we need to make sure we do whatever it takes to live out our life for Christ and to especially not hurt little ones, as you can see Christ seems to have a special punishment for those who do.

INTRODUCTION: The reality is; a place called Hell does exist. People are in Hell, and people are going there every day. Matthew 25:41 says Hell is a literal place of everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.Dr. John R. Rice had this to say about Hell; “If there is a place of eternal torment where damned souls cry in vain for water amid the flames they cannot escape forever, it is the most terrible and alarming fact in this universe! The very possibility that such a doom may await the sinner is so shocking that no other question can compare with it in importance. How can today’s feasting or hunger, clothing or nakedness, honor or infamy, pleasure or pain compare in importance with a million years of pain, torment of body, mind and conscience? I beg the sinner to consider how worth while it is to know what God says about Hell. We ought to learn about Hell to escape it ourselves and to rescue others from it as well.”

KEY FACTS ABOUT HELL:

(1) Everyone will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2, 3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14, 15).

(2) Everyone has only one life in which to determine their eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

(3) Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16-18).

(4) Hell was designed originally for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

(5) Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ (Matthew 13:41, 50; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8).

(6) Hell is conscious torment.

  • Matthew 13:50And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth
  • Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
  • Revelation 14:10 “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:”

(7) Hell is eternal and irreversible.

  • Revelation 14:11 “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
  • Revelation 20:14 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
  • Revelation 20:15 “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

WHY DID GOD CREATE HELL?If it is God’s sincere desire that everyone come to know Him why did He create hell in the first place? Why make a place of judgment for humanity?

  • The Bible teaches that God did not create hell as a judgment for humanity. God created hell for the punishment of the devil and his angels and not as a place for human beings to suffer. Jesus said “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:Matthew 25:41.
  • Hell was created as a place of judgment for Satan and those who followed him in their rebellion against God. The Bible says that the devil and his angels will eventually be consigned to hell “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10.
  • Human beings, who are created in God’s image, are not meant to spend eternity away from the presence of God. The place God created for them is heaven. Jesus spoke of this place that God has prepared for those who trust Him In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.John 14:2-3.
  • Hell was not created for humanity, but it is the destination for those who reject God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16-18)

WHY WOULD A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?The Bible speaks about a place of final judgment for those who do not believe in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ.  Jesus spoke of it as a place of eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.)

  • Some people wonder how hell can be reconciled with a God of love. Why, they ask, would a God of love allow people to go to hell? – The answer to this question is that God is a God of holiness and justice as well as a God of love. These moral attributes are complementary, not contradictory. When the laws of God are disobeyed there must be a judgment. God’s laws demand that sin must be paid for. God can still love someone but He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. This is the reason that Jesus Christ came to earth, to die for the sins of the world. (Matthew 20:28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.)
  • The emphasis should not be placed upon hell but by the fact that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to show His love for mankind. (Romans 5:6-8 – For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.)
  • God has showed His love by sending His Son to die for our sins — to take our punishment — so that we could go to heaven. The judgment of hell is for those who refuse to accept God’s love and forgiveness.

JESUS WAS THE MOST PROLIFIC PREACHER ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL.Jesus said more about Hell than did Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul, Peter, John or anybody else in the Bible. Jesus is the Authority, and if he placed this much time and effort in giving us instruction and knowledge about Hell, than we need to study what He said about the subject.

But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” – Matthew 5:22

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 13:49-50

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” – Matthew 23:33

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” – Matthew 25:41

THE FOLLY OF SINWe all have a sin nature that pulls us in the direction of sin. (This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:3)

  • The condition of our heart will show in how we act. (O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. Matthew 12:34-35)
  • The Bible tells us, we are not to continue in sin if we are currently living in it. (What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:1-2)
  • Don’t let sin control your life. Don’t submit to your sin. Fight that sin. With the Lords help he will give you the victory through his power. (Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Romans 6:12)
  • Your Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost. (What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 6:19)
  • Take care of your body and don’t put things in it you are not supposed too, like alcohol or drugs. (Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1)
  • Don’t practice evil works.(Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: Psalms 141:4)
  • Don’t do things that harm your body. Your body is not yours in the first place and if you are a Christian, it is also the Temple of the Holy Ghost. Do not do any self destructive behavior.
  • Sin leads to destruction. (For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23)

FINAL RESIDENCE OF MAN WITHOUT GOD IS HELL.

  • Hell is a literal place of torment. (Luke 16:19-31)
  • When a lost man dies he goes immediately to Hell and torment. This is what the Bible teaches us. Notice in the passage we just read in Luke 16:22-23 – “the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in tormentsHe died then the very next moment he opened his eyes and he was in Hell being tormented.
  • The Bible gives us a clear and fearful picture of the torment of the lost sinners in Hell in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 14:10-11 – The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…)Hell is a place of eternal horror and torment!!
  • There is literal fire in Hell. (And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Matthew 18:9)
  • Hell is a place of eternal suffering. (But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Mark 3:29)
  • YOU WILL BE THE SAME PERSON IN HELL.
  • You will have the same kind of mind, same memories, same bodily desires u have on earth.
  • Remembering will be another kind of torment you will experience in Hell. You will remember every time you turned down the Lord. Every bad thing you did, every lost opportunity to get saved. You will remember reading this and hearing this message.
  • Final Judgment – In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John wrote concerning the final judgment of the wicked (Revelation 20:12 &15 – And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.).The reality of a final judgment is clearly taught in Scripture. But the Bible also indicates that the people who go to hell do so because they have rejected God’s provision for salvation. The Bible says that God does not want anyone to go to hell “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9.
  • No Goodness – Eternal life without God would be a life without goodness; everything would be evil and bad. In heaven there will “… in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:… ” Revelation 21:27. So in hell, everyone there will be unclean and an abomination. There will be nothing good. There won’t be happiness or joy. We won’t feel good about ourselves. Life will be utter misery.
  • No Love – Eternal life without God would be a life without love. God is love; Satan is not (I John 4:8). Hell is a place of evil and hatred, not a place of love. Can you imagine eternity without love in your life?

FOREVER HOME OF THE CHRISTIAN IS HEAVEN.

  • Jesus sits on the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.)
  • Jesus prepares mansions for us in Heaven. (John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. )
  • In Heaven the streets are gold and the gates are pearl.(Revelation 21:18-21)
  • The only light in Heaven is the Glory of God. No other light is needed. (Revelation 21:23)
  • The inhabitants of Heaven are those who trusted by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 21:24)

FIVE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT IF YOU ARE UNSURE YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO HEAVEN.

  • What if today was your last day on earth?
  • What if you stepped of this planet into eternity?
  • For about 155,000 people, today will be there last day alive. We have no assurance of another day on earth.
  • And if there really is a Heaven and a Hell, there really is a God, and we will have to stand in front of Him one day.
  • Why not know for sure where your eternal home is, know for sure you are saved, and know for sure your eternal soul is secure and going to Heaven some day.

FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF SO YOU CAN KNOW FOR SURE YOU ARE SAVED AND ON YOUR WAY TO HEAVEN.

  • Have you ever sinned? (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23)
  • Do you know there is a penalty for sin? (For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23)
  • Did you know Jesus paid our sin debt? (But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8)
  • Did you know all you have to do is call on his name and you will be saved? (For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13; Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31b)

FREE GIFT OF HEAVEN. DON’T SAY “NO” AND SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL (In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; II Thessalonians 1:8-9)

  • A place of eternal fire.
  • A place of everlasting destruction.
  • Eternal absence from the presence of the Lord.
  • Eternal separation from our loved ones.

IN CONCLUSION: Hell is literal place. It is a place of eternal torment. It is a place of eternal separation from God and loved ones, a place of not only physical torment but of emotional torment. We will remember every sin, every time we rejected God. We will remember the last opportunity we had to get saved. It is a place of eternal fire, eternal pain and eternal anguish. But it does not have to be our eternal home. If we will just ask Christ to be our savior, knowing we are a sinner in need of a sin debt to be paid. Then accept the payment made by Christ with his shed blood and death on the cross we can have life eternal in Heaven with him and not spend an eternity in a Christless Hell.

Our curiosity about the eternal abode of the dead is not completely satisfied by biblical terms or verses. What we do know is that either eternal torment in hell or eternal joy in heaven awaits all people after death, based on whether they trust in Christ’s payment for sin and accept Him as their Savior or if they reject Christ and His payment he made on their behalf. (John 3:17-18For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.)

“MURMURINGS & DISPUTINGS”

(Philippians 2:12-18)

Philippians 2:14-16 – Do all things without murmurings and disputings:That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

INTRODUCTION: The Bible tells us in verse 14 to do all things without murmurings and disputing. This means we are to do all things without a complaining and confrontational spirit. We are to do all things with a good attitude. We are to work willingly, happily and with a servants heart for our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:7 – With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:) When we work for someone or serve in the church, do it as if you are reporting directly to Christ himself, because in a way, you really are.

Let’s look at the definitions of these words:

Murmurings – comes from the Greek word “gong-goos-mos” which means to grudgingly grumble about something.

Disputings – comes from the Greek word “dee-al-og-is-mos” which means a doubtful discussion, consideration or debate about the purpose, reasoning or thought.

So you could say the verse this way – “Do all things without grudgingly grumbling about it and without doubtfully considering or debating the purpose or reasoning behind your instruction to do it.”

I would say it this way “Follow the leadership you are under whether that be Christ or your boss or your Pastor. Without having an attitude about what you are told or asked to do, without constantly complaining about everything and without doubting and debating the request or command.”

Have a servant’s heart like the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

MURMURINGS AND DISPUTINGSWe need to not have murmurings and disputing toward things we do for God and our Church or for things we do at our secular jobs. (I Corinthians 10:31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.)

I am going to talk about 3 areas where we need to watch our attitudes or our “murmurings and disputing”.

Secular Job

  • We need to maintain a testimony where we work. Especially since we are Christians and hopefully those you work with know you are a Christian.
  • We need to maintain a good testimony of having a good attitude and not complaining about everything at work, because we represent Christ. If people we work with see a negative complaining, insubordinate attitude from us, they are not going to want anything we have. We will turn them off to Christ and that may end up sending them to a Christless eternity.

Church life

  • We need to have a good, a non complaining attitude in things we do for Christ and in our church life. Constantly complaining about things is a sin. A very discouraging sin to the leader that has to hear it all the time.
  • We need to support and enthusiastically follow the leadership of our Pastor. God put him in the leadership position in our church “for such a time as this”. God gives him the vision and we need to follow and support the vision God has given him.
  • Of course if the leadership of the church is leading in an unbiblical path we are not obligated to follow it in those circumstances nor should we. We should follow the biblical guidelines given in those circumstances as found in Matthew 18:15-17. Our ultimate allegiance should be to God and His word.

To the brethren

  • The Bible warns us over and over again about causing problems among the brethren. Of the seven things listed as what the Lord hates in Proverbs chapter 6:16-19 the last one mentioned and considered an “abomination” is that “he that soweth discord among the brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16, 19 – These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:, vs.19 – A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.)
  • Don’t be guilty of what the Lord considers an abomination!
  • How do you sow discord among the brethren? – With murmurings and disputings. With a complaining attitude. With an attitude of seeing just how much you can get away with or trying to get special treatment for yourself. With a critical spirit. With an aggressively disrespectful spirit. Complaining about others without full knowledge of situations or reasoning. By complaining about church functions instead of supporting church functions.
  • Don’t be guilty of this sin, the Lord says is an abomination. We are commanded in the Word of God to mark those which cause division among fellow Christians and to avoid them. (Romans 16:17 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.) – Don’t make fellow Christians have to avoid you.

WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE GUILTY OF MURMURINGS AND DISPUTINGS? HOW DOES NOT COMPLAINING BENEFIT US? (Philippians 2:15a That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,)

4 Specific Benefits are listed in the first part of verse 15:

  • “Blameless”So we will not have any guilt, or be the one to blame because of problems within the church or in the world. Make sure you are never the source of “discord among the brethren”, but the solution to that discord.
  • harmless” Never be the one guilty of causing harm or hurt feelings to other Christians or other people in general. Strive to live a life that does not cause harm to others. The Bible tells us to cut out the murmurings, disputing and the gossiping in order to cut out the harming of others.
  • “sons of God” – We are Christians, if we are saved we are the “sons of God”. We should want to act like our Heavenly Father and live and set a good example and not act like the father of this world the devil.
  • “without rebuke” – If we don’t let ourselves murmur, dispute or gossip about things we will have no rebuke coming to us.

WHY SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT BEING BLAMELESS, HARMLESS, SONS OF GOD AND WITHOUT REBUKE? – THAT IS ANSWERED IN THE NEXT PART OF THE VERSE – BECAUSE WE LIVE– in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” VERSE 15B.

  • We are to be a light to the world that we live in. How can we be that light if we are complaining, gossiping, murmuring and disputing? We need to be the lights we are commanded to be. (Matthew 5:15-16 – Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.)
  • The world we live in needs our witness. Paul says we live in the “midst of a crooked and perverse nation”I think that accurately describes our nation today. So because of that, more than ever, we need to be living right as Christians and not murmuring or disputing. We need to be setting the example on how to live right not being an example of how to live wrong and sinfully.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO BECAUSE WE ARE A LIGHT IN THE WORLD? – VERSE 16a TELLS US WE SHOULD BE – “Holding forth the word of life”

What is the “word of life”? – The Gospel is called the “word of life” because it reveals to us eternal life and shows us how to have eternal life. It is called the “word of life” because it has the answers to all of life’s issues and problems. If you can’t find the answer keep looking. Sometimes the answers come as a result of the hours you spend in study and prayer in the looking for them.

  • Holding forth the word of life” – are you holding forth the Word of God? Are you doing as we all are commanded to do in Acts 1:7-8 – “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
  • Are you “Holding forth the word of life” by obeying what the Lord commanded in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
  • Are you “Holding forth the word of life” by obeying what the Lord said in Luke 14:23 – “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

IN CONCLUSION : Why should we not be murmuring, complaining and disputing? – because of the benefits God’s Word tells us we will receive in verse 15  to be “blameless, harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke”

We should not be murmuring, complaining and disputing because we live in a “crooked and perverse nation” that needs a light, a light of hope, a light of love and light of victory through the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We should not be murmuring, complaining and disputing because we are commanded to hold “forth the word of life” the gospel to the world.

We should not be murmuring, complaining and disputing so we can say as Paul did in the last part of verse 16 “that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” So we can have joy at His appearing and know we have not lived in vain and to know that are labor has counted for Him and for eternity.

THEY SPAKE WITH BOLDNESS

Acts 4:31 – “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness!”

 INTRODUCTION:  Acts 3:1-8 – “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God”. Peter and John went into the temple. Peter, by the name of Jesus, had just healed this man that had been lame from His birth. Then Peter starting preaching in the temple. We pick up this story in chapter 4 at the conclusion of Peter’s message and the reaction of the priests and the Sadducees.

We need to boldly proclaim the word of God in our community. We should not be afraid to witness for our Lord – He gave us access to “All power” we therefore have no reason to be scared about “Go Ye” (Mathew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.)

We are going to look at several questions and we are going to get our answers out of God’s word.

WHAT DID THEY GET IN TROUBLE FOR?  (Acts 4:1-3And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.) – THEY GOT IN TROUBLE FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD!

A time is coming when we may get into trouble for preaching, teaching, and living by what the Word of God says. In fact, it is already beginning to happen in this country. I read, not long ago, about a baker in Colorado and another one in Oregon. Two homosexual men in one case and two lesbian women in the other case came into the bakery wanting to order a cake to celebrate their wedding ceremony. The bakers, who believe what the Bible says about the sin of homosexuality, refused to make a cake for them. They would bake a cake for other events for them and had, but they just could not bake a cake for a homosexual wedding. They are now facing criminal and civil prosecutions and verdicts, all because they did not bake a cake, all because they acted on what they believed.

Are you willing to act on what you believe come what may?

  • Would you still be willing to preach God’s Word, teach God’s Word, be a witness of God’s Word, believe and act upon God’s word if it meant a prison sentence?
  • Acts 4:31 AND THEY SPAKE THE WORD OF GOD WITH BOLDNESS”
  • Notice in Acts 4:4 the prison bars did not stop the power of God’s word and His message. They laid hands on them, put Peter and John in prison, but that could not stop God. I love verse 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.”
  • What are you willing to sacrifice for God?Your plans, your dreams, your freedom?How about your pride? Your comfort zone? Are you willing to sacrifice your Saturday to get His Word out to our community?

WHAT AUTHORITY DID THEY HAVE TO PREACH GOD’S WORD? (Acts 4:7And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? ) – Notice the question that was asked of Peter and John.

Now notice Peter’s response, look at Acts 4:8-12 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

So what authority or by what power did Peter and John preach and teach and witness? – The same authority and the same power we preach and teach and witness by. By the power of God through Jesus Christ His son, enabled by the Holy Spirit himself who lives in all of us that are Christians. Go Ye into all your community preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and compelling them to come in!

Don’t hesitate to proclaim the word of God, and to be a witness for Him. We have all the authority we need. God will bless your efforts. I know I am nervous every time I knock on a door. I just trust God and pray as I am knocking on the door for Him to give me the words to say, and you know what? Sometimes I stumble over my words, but the Lord blesses our efforts. We are commanded to go. The Lord will take care of the increase. (I Corinthians 3:7 – So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.)

WHAT DID THE PRIESTS AND THE SADDUCEES SEE?Acts 4:13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled;“ – They saw boldness. Peter and John had boldness. They boldly proclaimed the word of God.

Do you have boldness? Do you need boldness? Well just ask God for it and, if you are of a sincere heart, He will give it to you. (Mathew 7:7-8 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.) We get our boldness to share God’s word through Jesus Christ His Son. (Ephesians 3:11-12 – According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.)

WHERE HAD PETER AND JOHN BEEN?Notice verse 13 againNow when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”)

  • They had been with Jesus. Have you been with Jesus today?
  • Can people around you tell you have been with Jesus?
  • Can people tell you are a Christian?
  • If we are saved, we should have testimony of our Savior. It should be obvious to those around us that we are a Christian. It should be obvious that we have “been with Jesus”.
  • Is it obvious to those around you that you are Christian and that you have a relationship with Christ? If not, you need to ask your Lord for forgiveness and work at being a better witness for Him.

WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE OF PETER AND JOHN? Acts 4:16-18 – “Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”

  • They threatened Peter and John, and told them not to teach or preach in the name of Jesus again.
  • The day is coming, if it has not already, that you will be told to keep your faith to yourself. You will be treated rudely by someone. You will have a door slammed in your face for witnessing for your Lord. You may be cussed at or ridiculed for being a Christian, or as the case of the bakers in Colorado and Oregon, you may face prison time and enormous fines for your beliefs.
  • Acts 4:31- “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness!”
  • Are you willing to speak the word of God with boldness come what may?

WHAT WAS PETER AND JOHNS RESPONSE? Acts 4:19 -20 – “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”I love their response: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” They were not going to intimidate Peter or John. Want to know why? Verse 13 tells us – because “they had been with Jesus”

  • They were saved by the blood of the Lamb of God. They had been with Jesus. They were obeying His command of “Go ye”. They had boldness from God.
  • They could not help themselves, they had to speak and teach and preach about Jesus, just like they had to breathe air to live, and they had to teach Jesus!
  • Is this the way you feel about your Lord?

WHAT WAS THE CHURCHES RESPONSE?  – Acts 4:23-29 – “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,”

  • Peter and John gave a testimony of what had happened to their church.
  • The churches immediate reaction was to turn to God in prayer.
  • They quoted scripture in their prayer to God.
  • They praised God in their prayer.
  • The last thing they did in their prayer was to ask for something.
  • It wasn’t for some material need or possession; there was nothing selfish about their request.
  • They prayed for more boldness so they could do a better job of spreading Gods word to their community and the world.(Acts 4:29 – And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,)

CONCLUSION: What was the end result of all of this? – The end result of their boldness? The end result of their going and sharing the gospel of Christ? They were blessed twofold. (Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.)

  • A multitude believed.
  • How did a multitude believe? By power of God’s word and by the early church obeying Jesus command to “Go ye”
  • How did they obey that command? The Bible tells us how Paul obeyed that command in Acts 20:20 – “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,” – Paul went house to house.
  • Acts 5:42 – “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – Not just in the Temple or the Church but in every house, they went house to house.
  • Unity in the Church – God blessed their church for going and witnessing to those around them with unity. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul” – Do you want unity in your church? – Start a vigorous soul-winning and witnessing ministry.

The Lord will give us the boldness we need to share His Word with those around us. He will bless our efforts. He will bring the increase. He will bless our church with multitudes saved. He will bless our church with unity. And all we have to do is just obey His command in Mathew 28 and “Go”!

“WHAT MOTHERS DESERVE”

Proverbs 1:8-9 “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”

This is a general exhortation to receive the instructions, and submit to the authority of your parents. And not only hearken to thy father when he teaches you; but these verses are telling us to let our mother’s commands be a law unto us. One of the great steps to wisdom is to give great reverence to your parents, both natural and spiritual; especially reverence to your mother. God gives us special direction to observe and do what our mothers tell us to do as if it is a law we must follow. God, in His Word, takes special care to promote a just reverence to mothers and what they have to tell us about life and living in general.

Verse nine is telling us, if we heed to the good things our mothers teach us and observe them as if it is the law, that it will metaphorically be “an ornament of grace” on display for the world to see. Those around you can tell if you are respectful and obedient to your mother or if you are not. It will show in your countenance, in your conduct or in some other way in your life negatively, if you are forsaking the instruction of your mother.

INTRODUCTION: The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed that they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, but by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

On May 8, 1914, the United States Senate and House of Representatives passed a joint resolution establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The next day, May 9, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation, an excerpt of which is below:

Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Billy Sunday speaking on the love mothers have for their children said this “A Mothers love is unselfish, and has no limits this side of heaven.

ON MOTHERS DAY WE SHOULD REFLECT ON WHAT OUR MOTHERS DESERVE:

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE OUR OBEDIENCE (Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. & Colossians 3:20 – Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.)

  • Children, obey your parents” – the duty of children to their parents is obedience.
  • In the Lord” – we are to obey our parents “in the Lord”, we are to obey them because God has told us to, because authority was established by God.
  • For this is right” – we are to obey our mothers and fathers simply because it is the right thing for us to do.
  • Even Jesus obeyed His mother growing up. (Luke 2:51 – And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.)
  • Are we giving our mothers the obedience they deserve? The obedience we are commanded to give them by the Lord? The obedience we are told in God’s Word that is just the right thing to do?

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE OUR RESPECT (Ephesians 6:2-3 – Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. & Exodus 20:12 – Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.)

  • Solomon warned of dire consequences to those who disrespected their parents in Proverbs 20:20 “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”
  • In the Old Testament times, children that disrespected their parents were put to death under the law. (Leviticus 20:9 – For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.)
  • In Proverbs 20:20 it says their “lamp shall be put out” in other words they will have no prosperity, they will live an unblessed, by God, life.

An old Chinese proverb says “Respect for one’s parents is the highest duty of civil life.

  • The Bible, God, and common decency, demands that we respect our parents, especially our mothers. Are you respecting your mother like you should? Do you need to apologize to her for any disrespect you have showed her?

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE OUR AFFECTION (I Kings 19:20 – And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?) – Elisha here in this verse demonstrates the kind of affection that is due our parents.

  • Why not be affectionate to our mothers? They have given so much for us, they have sacrificed so much for us, and can we at least in return demonstrate our thankfulness to them by showing outward affection to them?
  • Such affection can be an “I love you Mom!”, or hugs, or gifts.
  • Do we give our mothers the affection they deserve? Have you given your mom the affection she deserves recently and consistently?
  • Elisha here was a grown man going to be a mighty prophet for God; and we see he is begging for the opportunity to run back and hug and kiss his father and his mother. Do we have this kind of love and respect that Elisha demonstrated for our parents? Do we cherish our father and mother like Elisha did? If we do not, we need to get that right with God, and with them.

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE TO HAVE CHILDREN WHO ARE INCREASING IN WISDOM (Proverbs 10:1 – A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. & Proverbs 17:25 – A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.) – We have an obligation to our parents to strive to increase in wisdom throughout our lives and in our decisions we make.

  • Jesus increased in wisdom as He grew from childhood to adulthood, we are to be conforming to His image as we go through our life, this is a key area we need to conform to, and our mothers need us to conform to Christ in this area of wisdom too. (Luke 2:52 – And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.)
  • Mothers worry enough about their children; we should not be giving them any unnecessary grief by our foolish actions or direction.
  • Much of our wisdom, if we will really listen, accept, and apply it, can come from our mothers and what they tell us, teach us, and show us.
  • Are you growing in wisdom in your life? Or are you heading down the path of foolishness? For your mothers sake you should strive to be as wise as you can be in the Lord.

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMONSTRATED IN OUR LIFE (Proverbs 23:24-25 – The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.) – More important than any other achievement we could do in our life for our mothers is the achievement of a righteous character in our life.

“There is no greater joy a parent can have than to see his son take virtuous courses.–Let not thy father and mother then want this singular pleasure; but by thy well-doing fill the heart of her that bare thee with joy and triumph, who, for all the pains and care that she hath had in thy birth, and about thy education, desires no other requital but only this.” – Bishop Simon Patrick (1626 – 1727)

  • Nothing makes a mother happier or prouder than to have a good (righteous) son or daughter.
  • We can get true righteousness in our life by our faithful following of Jesus. (Romans 3:21-22 – But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:)
  • Everyone has a need for the gospel in their life. Your salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ, through whom God manifests His combined righteousness and mercy, will be a great source of joy for a Christian mother. Knowing their children are on their way to heaven is the best knowledge a mother can have. We need to make sure of our salvation and of our mothers salvation too.
  • Any righteousness we have in our life is of God; and how we live in accordance with His Word. We are, according to His Word, justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The benefits of whose obedience and death are obtained not by human works or merit, but by receiving Him as our Savior, and trusting in Him for our salvation. (Romans 5:8-11 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.)
  • Jesus Christ is to whom God commands us to commit our souls, with all humble and obedient regard. This way of obtaining righteousness and life is now made available to all, and is put upon all them that believe, for there is no respect of persons with God. “Whosoever will”, have the chance to get save, will have the ability to have His righteousness imputed onto them. And no greater joy will our mother have then to see us walking after God and serving Him with our life. (Romans 4:22-25 – And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.)

OUR MOTHERS DESERVE OUR CARE AND CONCERN FOR THEM (I Timothy 5:4,8 & 16 – But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.) – Our parents, especially widows, deserve our care and concern.

  • It was God’s original intent that children were to be their parents “social security”. Our parents, as they get older, deserve the best care we can afford to give them.
  • Some as they age may require professional medical care, but we should not simply drop them off at the nursing home for just convenience, our parents are ultimately our personal responsibility and we should honor and care for them as in a way to thank them for all they did for us.
  • Ways you can care for your mother while you and her are still young, is by doing the dishes, helping with the laundry, taking out the trash, helping with the cleaning of the house and you should show your respect to your mother, that she deserves from you, and do all of these chores without prompting and seek to do them all to the best of your ability.
  • Are you caring for your mother like you should? Will you make the decision to start caring for your mother like you should today if you are not? Will you make the commitment to God now to care for your mother as she ages?

IN CONCLUSION: God gives us special direction to observe and do what our mothers tell us to do as if it is a law we must follow. God in His Word takes special care to promote a just reverence to mothers and what they have to tell us about life and living in general. We are to obey our parents “in the Lord”; we are to obey them because God has told us to, because authority was established by the Lord. Why not be affectionate to our mothers? They have given so much for us, they have sacrificed so much for us, and can we at least in return demonstrate our thankfulness to them by showing outward affection to them? Everyone has a need for the gospel in their life. Your salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ, will be a great source of joy for a Christian mother. Knowing their children are on their way to heaven is the best knowledge a mother can have. We need to make sure of our salvation and of our mothers salvation too. (III John 1:4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.)

We may choose to give our mothers flowers, cards or gifts on Mother’s Day; but we need to keep in mind that all the other days throughout the year she deserves something from us to, our mothers, year round, deserve our:

  • Obedience
  • Respect
  • Affection
  • Wisdom
  • Righteousness
  • Care

Are we practicing all these things that our mothers deserve from us all the days throughout the year or do we just act a little extra nice to her on Mother’s Day?

Hearken… TO DO Them – part 2

(Deuteronomy 4:1-14)

Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.”

WE SERVE A MIGHTY AND LOVING GOD THAT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO ANYTHING. (4:7-8, verse 7For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?)- Rightly so, as verses 7-8 point out that what the Lord is doing with Israel is no small thing. What nation has ever had a god so close to his people as the Lord is to Israel? The Lord handpicked Israel in His graciousness. The Lord answers when they call. The Lord was so concerned about His peoples’ success that He came down on Mount Sinai to give them a law more perfect and righteous than any man-made system of morality and justice. Other nations create and choose their gods. Other gods don’t answer. Other gods have to be appeased with great sacrifices to prevent great wrath. What the Lord does with Israel is different and marvelous.

  • Moses now shows them the great opportunity they have been given by the Lord through obedience to His ways. If Israel will continue to keep His statutes while they live in the Promised Land, they will have exceedingly more wisdom and understanding than the nations around them. The world often looks at rules as something we keep to appease a higher authority. This limited view is especially foolish when it comes to God’s rules and statutes. Aligning our lives by His standards is the path to wisdom and keeps us from harmful decisions. This is no different than a parent who tells a child to not touch a hot iron. The rule isn’t there to appease Mom and Dad; it is meant to keep the child safe! It is the same with the law of the Lord.
  • Not only was this something great for Israel to appreciate, this is something for Christians to appreciate as well. The Lord’s treatment of Israel is mirrored in our relationship with Christ. We are also a chosen and holy nation (Ephesians 1:4; I Peter 2:9). The Lord has continued His theme of closeness to His people by sending his Son. Think about that. The Son of God came to Earth. The Son of God took His time to notice us and teach us how we ought to live. He gave His life for us. He listens when we pray. Nothing makes us deserving of such an intimate and loving treatment. As Moses says here, what people has ever existed that has a god this close? What nation has a god that cares so much about them as to give them such a righteous law and actually care about their wellbeing? The gods of the ancient times didn’t come close. The various things man worships today do not come close. Our Lord sustains us. The gods of today have to be sustained by us. Money runs out. Technology breaks. Television shows get cancelled. Our Lord pursues us and seeks our life. The things we worship today do not care about us. They suck our resources, time, and energy dry until we are completely empty. Our Lord answers prayer. What a magnificent Lord we have who desires to be so close to us and give us life! His rules and statutes are not cumbersome – life is found in them.
  • When the Lord’s closeness and righteous law better our lives, others that see this in our life will seek out the Lord as well. How else can the world know about the Lord’s great wisdom and understanding except by seeing it exhibited through his people? I Kings 10 tells us how the Queen of Sheba came to hear the wisdom Solomon had through the Lord. The text tells that she was so awestruck with his wisdom that she was breathless and overwhelmed. Notice I Kings 10:6–9, “And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.”
  • This passage is truly exciting. The fact that a woman who had never known the Lord came to know such a great testimony of Him because of the wisdom He gave Solomon should inspire us. We can cause the same reaction today. We can cause others who do not truly know the Lord to glorify the Lord because of the great wisdom He gives us, if we let Him by how we live out our life.
  • If we truly see that people are full of foolishness, one of the best ways we can instigate change is by passionately pursuing the Lord’s law and wisdom in our own hearts and the decisions we make. What a great opportunity we would have; but we must seek out to diligently live out and do the Word of God in our life in order to be that influence on others.

WE NEED TO BE DILIGENT STUDENTS OF THE WORD OF GOD (4:9 – Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;) – Romans 2 is a reminder of how greatly Israel ended up wrecking this opportunity. Romans 2:2324 says “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” Though Solomon’s wisdom was cause for praising the Lord, he was an exception in Israel. As opposed to causing the nations to praise the Lord, Israel’s hypocrisy and wickedness caused the nations to blaspheme Him. Though Moses just finished reminding Israel of their great opportunity for wisdom, the beginning of verse 6 says this opportunity only exists when they keep the Lord’s statutes. This stands as a grave warning to Israel and to us of the danger of forgetting to carefully obey the Lord.

  • If we are not diligent students of the Word of God we will eventually be a bad testimony of the Lord. We may cause others to backslide; we may even prevent others from getting saved by how we are living out our life. In order to not have this bad testimony we need to be diligently doing the Word of God with our life.
  • Just because the Lord cared for Israel so lovingly was not an excuse to not be careful to watch their souls with all diligence. We have great reason to rejoice because of the mercy and grace given us by the Lord, but that mercy is not a license for carelessness (Romans 6:1-2). Careful attention to the Lord’s statutes is laughed at and often ridiculed today. “Why are you so picky?” or “It’s all about rules to you.” May we never forget that we are saved by the mercy and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? We must also never forget that we are saved by faith and not by works. We must remember that we are involved in a very serious fight to keep our hearts pure. Now is not the time to let our guard down. We must be alert and cognizant of the condition of our souls. We must diligently be watching and praying about our obedience.

WE NEED TO NOT FORGET PAST TEACHINGS AND PAST EXPERIENCE’S WITH GOD. (4:10-13 verse 10 – Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.)– Keep past experiences and past teachings in mind, dwell on them from time to time and pass the knowledge of those experiences unto your children.

  • “And that they may teach their children.” The key to all of this is they not only practice these things themselves, but that they teach their children to do so as well. They were to continue to tell the story of the day the Lord met them on Sinai in flashes of lightning and thunder. They were to continue to teach them the fear of the Lord. This is the biggest thing missing from Christians today is a healthy fear of the Lord. Fear (reverential respect and awe) was the foundation of Israel’s relationship with the Lord, so Moses tells them to continue to spread that fear through their children. The reason why many young people are unafraid to rebelliously speak and act as they desire is because they have no fear. They do not fear their parents and they do not fear the Almighty God either. If you fear the Lord like you should, you will act in a respectful manner to your parents like you should. (Job 28:28 – And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.)
  • Certainly we must teach children and young people of the grace and mercy of the Lord, but if they have nothing to fear – what does grace and mercy save them from? It is impossible to appreciate the Lord’s love and mercy without having good biblical fear. People do not naturally fear the Lord. Fear is taught. It is taught in Bible stories like what happened at Sinai and Baal-peor. It is taught through a loving rod of correction. If the fear of God is not taught to children, then the fear of the Lord will stop.

IN CONCLUSION: God’s demands are made and they stand firm. His authority must not be challenged, and to reject it means eternal death. But the same God who demands perfection supplies the perfect solution. In Jesus Christ the Law of God is kept for us. In Christ, His righteous will be imputed to us. In Christ, the Law is fulfilled. Each stipulation, each aspect in ways we could never imagine perfecting, Christ did it for us. He suffered for our breaking of the Law; He credits to us His obedience. All we have to do to get started on our journey of doing the Word of God, to get started on our journey to the promised land of our life, is to accept by faith what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us and call on Him to be our Savior. (Romans 10:9,10 & 13 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.)

Hearken… TO DO Them – part 1

(Deuteronomy 4:1-14)

Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.”

God in this passage demands our diligent attention to His Word and our diligence in doing His Word in our life. God wants us to be attentive to the reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word whenever it occurs. God is reminding us of His authority over us and our obligation as His children, if we are saved, to be living out and doing the Word of God with our life.

INTRODUCTION: “Hearken….to do them” – Moses having laid before the Israelites the law and teachings of the Lord for their nation, calls upon the whole assembly, in the most earnest and serious manner, to consider what influence these teachings and laws ought to have upon their conduct and practice. He tells them here, that doing the Word of God should render them punctually obedient to the laws of God, and very cautious and wary of offending Him, either by the addition to His Word by works, ceremonies, superstitious rites or the flat-out altering of His Word. Moses is teaching here that the absolute condition of their peaceful and happy enjoyment of their life lies in how they respond to, and live out the Word of God with their life. In our text, Moses emphasizes the importance of doing the law of the Lord that had already been poorly kept by this new generation.

WHY DO THEM? – “That ye may live” (4:1) – Jesus’ words serve as an appropriate consideration about doing the Word of God in our life.  John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” True love for our Lord listens to the grave warning given by Moses: to be careful! We must watch our souls with all diligence our entire lives. It is not a blind obedience. Moses is about to teach them. So why do them?

  • Because – Understanding is necessary if obedience is to be rendered. God’s authority is given in the context of education with a view to application, as God’s servant, Moses, will teach so that they may do. Just hearing the law is not sufficient. Hearing must be in order to do or live out our knowledge in actual practice in our life.
  • Because – Though culture may tell us to talk, dress, and conduct ourselves one way, hearts that truly love the Lord seek to influence the culture with His ways. We must not allow culture to overcome God’s Word in our hearts as it did with Israel! If we will take care to remember the fear of the Lord our entire lives, we will be further reminded of the importance of not growing slack.
  • Because – The Word of the Lord is not a burdensome thing to keep. His ways are full of life. When His statutes teach us His wisdom, it provides the opportunity for others to see and hear of the Lord’s wisdom. How merciful is our Lord to always grant forgiveness to those who are repentant. May we learn a greater passion for doing the statutes of our Lord. (Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;)

WE ARE COMMANDED NOT TO ALTER THE WORD OF GOD. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” (4:2 – Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.)Why are we commanded not to change the Word of God?

  • Because – We need the pure and complete Word of God so we know how to live and worship God the right way.
  • Because – We can see what happens to those in the past that have not “hearken…. to do” the will and Word of God. (4:3)
  • Because – The Law of God is the ultimate Authority – and it is the ultimate source of our freedom. With law there is also to be order. The two go together. The structured authority entailed in the legal codes in our society is what attempts to gives us harmony and peace. There is a connection we often overlook between authority and freedom. It is the authority of the law of the land which prescribes and protects our freedom. For there to be freedom, there must be authority. The same holds true in our spiritual life, for there to be freedom from the bondage of sin there must be an authority acknowledged in our life and there must be laws and teachings (the Bible) that we live our life by.
  • Because – Our life depends on us obeying and doing the will of God with our life. In verse 3 Moses uses the incident at Baal Peor (Numbers 25:1-9) to illustrate from the Israelites own history that their very lives depended on obeying and doing the Word of God. Only those who hold fast the Word of God with their life will live the blessed filled life God has planned for them. (II Timothy 1:13 – Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.)

WE NEED TO CLEAVE UNTO THE LORD (4:4 – But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.) – Those that rejected God’s authority were denied the freedom of the land. They died as slaves to their own unbelief. But despite their unbelief, God was still going to be faithful to His promise.

  • Central to our understanding of freedom, to living the lives God desires of us, to enjoying all the benefits of life, it is crucial that we hear, follow, and do the decrees and laws of God. God has not left us in the dark to determine how we are to live. We are not bound to an eternity of determining what is right and wrong. We are free from the pursuit of seeking God, for He has sought us and told us who He is and what He desires of us. His authority revealed in His law is our freedom.
  • How do you cleave unto the Lord? – By loving His Word, by doing His Word. The Word of God is our life as Christians, and obeying God’s Word keeps us in fellowship with Him. God’s people need to be careful about not becoming too friendly with the world; this can lead to loving the world, letting ourselves be molded by the standards and wickedness of the world. This kind of lifestyle lived out by a Christian invites the chastening of the Lord into their life. (Hebrews 10:30-31 – For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.)
  • We need to be cleavers to the Word of God and not leavers of the Word of God and its teachings.

WE NEED TO LIVE OUT THE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE ABOUT GOD IN OUR LIFE AND DO IT. (4:5-6 – Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.) Why do we need to do this?

  • Because – we have been taught it and commanded to do so by God.
  • Because – it will help lead you to wisdom and understanding. (4:6a)
  • Because – living out and doing the Word of God will give you a good reputation to those around you.(4:6b)
  • Because – Time is short. There is an important reminder in these verses for us, with regard to the authority of God’s Law, with respect to those who have heard and are following God’s commands and those who are not.
  • Because – Of the twofold benefit that happens when we are obedient to God. Our obedience shows wisdom and understanding. When others see that, they see the character of God. Wisdom is found in conformity to God’s authority. We get the benefit of being seen to possess wisdom and understanding, and God gets the benefit of a good Christian testimony on display for others to see and for God to use as a tool to help bring others to Him.

CONCLUSION: Deuteronomy 4:14 “And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.” We need to always be doing the will of God. We need to learn His Word, learn His teachings, learn His principles, and we need to keep all that we have learned and to do what we know.

Moses’ encouragement to Israel is to make sure they listen closely to the statutes and rules he commands them. They must remember to obey with exactness. This should not be confused with perfect law keeping. The entire reason the Mosaic sacrificial system was in place was to cover the sins of the people. Moses’ specific concern is seen in verse two. He does not want them to add to or take from the command of the Lord. Why is it so important that they keep the entire law in this way? Notice verse one. It is so they can continue to have life and take possession of the promised land. We too can take possession of the promised land God has planned for us. We, as the Lord instructed the Israelites to do, must do the Word of God in our life. We must live it out, keep it, know it and share it with others. Then by doing so we will open up our lives to see the promised life God has planned for His obedient children.

WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

(Mark 7:6-9, 20-23)

Mark 7:6-8 – “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.”

Philip Doddridge said this about this passage “Notwithstanding all your talk, then, of strictness in religion,  yet as this appears to be expressive of your real character, the doom of hypocrites belongs to you; and God may justly affirm of such, (as it is added there,) “In vain do they worship me, while they teach doctrines or lessons {that are} merely human inventions and injunctions, being only the precepts of men, that have no stamp of the divine authority upon them,” which yet they would insist upon as necessary parts of religion, and would impose them on the consciences of others.

We need to make sure our heart is where God wants it to be. We need to make sure our heart is focused on God and making ourselves more like Him. The outward appearances of man, the way we dress, the way we act, the things we do are all important, but the most important is to have our heart right with God. Where is your heart? Is it right with God? Being hypocritical, pretending to be right with God and considering and judging others to not be right with God just because they are not adhering to the same religious checklist you are adhering to, like the Pharisees were doing to Jesus, is wrong and spoken strongly against by our Lord in this passage. Where is your heart? Is it close to Jesus or far from Him?

INTRODUCTION: Where is your heart? Our heart can be many different places but the right place. Is your heart centered on God and His will or is it centered on yourself and your will, your thoughts, your desires? Our Lord Jesus says in this passage “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:” Is some of this what is going on in your heart today? The heart is an interesting place, it can be a most evil, wicked, and defiled place but you can put on a good front and fool people as to the true nature of your heart. What is your heart condition today? Where is your heart? (Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)

“HEART IS FAR FROM ME” vs.6The Lord Jesus in this verse reproves them for their hypocrisy. They were pretending to honor God with their life, but internally they were living very wickedly.

“As a corrupt fountain sends forth corrupt streams, so does a corrupt heart send forth corrupt reasoning, corrupt appetites and passions, and all those wicked words and actions which are produced by them.” – Matthew Henry.

  • Where your heart is at spiritually will eventually show itself, in your choice of words, in your actions, in your attitude or other areas of your life.
  • A carnal mind and heart, a heart full of sinful thoughts and desires renders your spirit unfit for communication with God. If you continue in this state of sin and defilement in your heart it will produce hardness in your heart and a stain on your conscience. The longer you let you heart remain away from God the harder it will be to get close to God again. (Proverbs 28:14 – Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.)

A HEART THAT WANTS ITS OWN WAY vs.7The Pharisees here wanted to do things their own way. They wanted to work out their religion their own way not Gods way. One of the biggest problems man faces is a heart that wants its own way. Christians will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all areas of life and the world except their own hearts. Who is the sovereign of your heart is it the Great I AM, (Yahweh) GOD or do you say “I am” the sovereign of my own heart. Do you humble yourself and surrender yourself to the control of the Lord or do you think you should be calling all the shots in your life.

Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said “The Devil did not tempt Adam and Eve to steal, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery; he tempted them to live independent of God.”  (Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;)

  • Man’s heart wants its own way in opposition to Gods way. Let’s look at what the Bible says about mans “own way”.
  • In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
  • So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” Psalm 81:12
  • “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:7
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15
  • “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26
  • “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:21
  • “Be not wise in your own conceits.” Romans 12:16
  • This “own way” tendency this “I am” sovereign of my own heart not God, this attitude, this heart condition is the culprit in our hearts not being near unto God like they are supposed to be and should be. (Acts 8:22 – Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.)

A HEART THAT PUTS “ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD” vs.8Christ in this verse is criticizing the reinterpretation of the commands of God to fit your own thoughts or ways of living or being “religious”. Christ preached against putting more emphasis on the traditions of men to the ignoring and downright twisting of God’s word to fit them.

  • The emphasis of our life should be on our heart and living out God’s word because out of the wicked imaginations of the heart is a man’s life defiled. (Mark 7:20 – And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.)
  • The emphasis of our life should not be on what men say if that is against God’s word, but it should be on what God commands us and instructs us to do in His word. (Mark 7:9 – And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition)
  • Jesus made it clear to us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that real holiness is a matter of our inward affections and attitudes and not just our outward appearances, actions, associations, religious checklists or traditions we keep.

The pious Pharisees thought they were holy because they obeyed the Law and avoided external defilement. Jesus taught that a person who obeys the Law externally can still break the Law in his heart, and that external “defilement” has little connection with the condition of the inner person” – Warren W. Wiersbe

  • An example of looking externally pure but being internally sinful is what Jesus had to say on the subject of adultery – “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” Matthew 5:28
  • Where is your heart? Is it thinking pure thoughts? Or is it thinking wicked sinful thoughts?
  • You need to be internally what you pretend to be externally. We all need to be genuine Christians.

“Many of us who profess to be Christians are so busy with the mechanics of our religion that we have no time left for the spiritual part of it.” –Martin Luther

A HEART THAT WORSHIPS GODTrue worship must come from the heart and not from mans ideas or traditions. True heartfelt worship is directed by God’s word. God’s word working in our hearts leads to right worship and right living for our Lord. Our worship must always be heartfelt and heart genuine or we will be “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” Mark 7:13a.

People who revere man-made traditions above the Word of God eventually lose the power of God’s Word in their lives. No matter how devout they may appear, their hearts are far from God.” Warren W. Wiersbe

  • True holiness is a matter of the heart. It centers on a right relationship with God through our faith in Him. We need to trust Him by faith for our salvation, our worship of Him and for our everyday lives. (Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen)

“An excellent description of faith is by the effects, because it represents things which are but yet in hope, and sets as it were before our eyes things that are invisible.” Geneva Bible Notes 1599

  • There is scarcely any verse of the New Testament that is more important than this, because it states what the nature of all true faith is. Eternal life depends on the existence and exercise of faith, (Ephesians 2:8 –For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:) and therefore it is vitally important for an accurate understanding or what true faith is.
  • God wants our love, obedience and worship to come from the heart. He does not want it if is not genuine. It order to please God with our service for Him and to make it count for an eternal reward it needs to come from our heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5 – And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.)

THE HEART OF MEN (Mark 7:21-23 – For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.)

  • The heart of man is not pure and holy and righteous by nature. We are born sinners. Our hearts are sinful by nature. (Genesis 6:5 – And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually) We have to be diligent regarding the whereabouts of our heart. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts pure. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts immersed in the study of the Word of God daily. We need to fill our hearts with the teachings and preaching’s of the Word of God. Do not be filling your hearts with the filth of the world. Don’t let your hearts become like the world. We should be striving to be more like Christ every day.
  • The Bible says man’s heart is deceitful and wicked and not to be trusted. Some people will say “I have to follow my heart” you need to be following the Lord and not your heart. Your heart cannot be trusted. (Ecclesiastes 9:3 – This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.)

MANS HEART EXAMINED BY GOD (I Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.)

  • What does the Lord see when he examines your heart? Does he see a heart that is right with Him, does he see a Christian on fire for Him, does he see a heart with all known sin confessed, does he see a heart that works hard at avoiding sin? Or does he see a heart that is full of pride, rebellion, anger, lust, sinful thoughts a heart that is filthy and full of dirty rotten sin? (Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.)
  • We need to surrender our hearts over to the Lord. Confess our sins to Him. All the things we need to get right; get them right with the Lord. Don’t let anything be between you and the Savior. Get your hearts right, keep them right, guard them with all your might. Where is your heart today? Is it in the will of God? Is it in the hand of God?

WHAT CAN A HEART THAT IS TOO FOCUSED ON THE OUTWARD MAN AND NOT THE INWARD MAN LEAD TO? – THE ANSWER IS WHAT IS CALLED LEGALISM.

“What does the Bible say about legalism? How can a Christian avoid falling into the trap of legalism?”

Answer: The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24 – Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.).

True believers can be legalistic. But we are instead instructed to be gracious to one another: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Romans 14:1. Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines, traditions and rules that they will run others out of their fellowship, criticize them for not fulfilling a religious checklist test, and not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism.

Demands of legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply check off all the boxes on some sort of fundamental Christian check list. The truth is fulfilling these checklists are no guarantee of spirituality, and remember we learned that God looks on the inward man, in our hearts, not on the outward man to see our true spiritual condition. (Mark 7:8-9 – For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.)

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism. (Colossians 2:20-23 – Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.) Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

Avoiding the trap of legalism. To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10.

A word of caution is necessary. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.

IN CONCLUSION: Where is your heart? Our heart can be many different places but the right place. Where your heart is at spiritually will eventually show itself, in your choice of words, in your actions, in your attitude or other areas of your life. One of the biggest problems man faces is a heart that wants its own way. Christians will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all areas of life and the world except their own hearts. Who is the sovereign of your heart is it the Great I AM, (Yahweh) GOD or do you say “I am” the sovereign of my own heart.

You need to be internally what you pretend to be externally. We all need to be genuine Christians. True holiness is a matter of the heart. It centers on a right relationship with God through our faith in Him. It does not center on the outward appearance or actions but on the inward condition of the heart. Though with a heart that is right with God our outward appearance and actions will be changed and we will have visibly good testimony to those around us.

Don’t be guilty of legalism. Don’t be guilty of imposing your opinion on others or judging others based on your opinion on a matter. That is what the Pharisees did in the New Testament and we examined what Jesus had to say about them in our text, it was not a flattering account, but rather a stern condemnation. (Mark 7:6 & 9 – He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.)

We have to be diligent regarding the whereabouts of our heart. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts pure. Make the decision to dedicate your heart to the Lord, to surrender your heart to the service of the Lord. Confess your faults and sins to the Lord and set your heart on a new right path in the light of the Lord.

A FACTUAL & HISTORICAL FAITH

(Luke 2:1-5 & 3:1-2)

Luke 2:1-2 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” & 3:1 “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,”

Notice the appeal of the writer to time, places, people, and events that actually existed, took place and are verifiable. Christians are commanded to be ready to give an answer (I Peter 3:15) and we can give an answer about an actual, factual and historically verifiable faith.

INTRODUCTION: I Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” Christians are to be ready to make a defense of the hope that is within us. Now more that ever we need to be ready to make that defense of our faith. The word translated as “answer” in I Peter 3:15 has the meaning of a plea or a defense or making a speech in defense of an action or a truth. We as Christians have a factually based faith. Jesus did exist, He was born, He did die and He did rise again. There is an empty tomb. He did ascend up to heaven and He is sitting on the right hand of God. “Ready” in I Peter 3:15 means to be prepared and to be fit or knowledgeable. We are to be prepared to defend our faith. We therefore need to go about preparing ourselves and be willing and bold about the defending when the time comes.

OUR FAITH IS RATIONAL AND INTELLECTUALLY SOUNDThe Christian faith appeals to the mind as well as appeals to the heart. God wants and expects us to use our minds. It has been said by those who want to degrade and insult those that live by faith in Christ, that in order to do so one has to commit “Intellectual Suicide” – this statement could not be further from the truth! Jesus tells us and wants us to involve our minds in our faith. (Matthew 22:36-38 – Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. & John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)

Our hearts need to believe and our minds need to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith. One cannot reject Christ in his mind and accept Him in His heart. Therefore, we need and are blessed with having a rational and intellectual faith we can rest in.

We need to have a strong faith; and having a strong faith requires both heart and mind. So it is important that we present reasons as to why we believe what we believe in an intelligent, logical and thought out manner. God is not the author of confusion and we should strive to not create confusion in our manner of defending of our faith and in how we share and witness of this faith with others. (I Corinthians 14:33a – For God is not the author of confusion, & I Corinthians 16:13 – Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.)

Christianity’s most powerful cognitive weapon in a pluralistic world —- (is) the factually attestable sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” – John Warrick Montgomery

Do we have 100% proof? – No, but there is virtually nothing of which it can be said that there is 100% proof. We often make 100% commitments without being given 100% proof. Driving in a car for instance. We cannot have 100% proof we will make it to our objective or make it there safe, but by statistical evidence and personal experience of ourselves or perhaps someone else sharing a personal experience, we can be certain enough to make that 100% commitment to traveling in the car and expecting to arrive at our destination and arrive there safely.

We don’t have 100% proof but this is where faith comes in. We ultimately believe in and accept Christ by faith, not by proof. (Ephesians 2:8 -9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.)

OUR FAITH IS A HISTORICAL AND FACTUAL FAITH (I Corinthians 15:3-8) – This passage gives us a historical and factual account of the many witnesses of the resurrected Christ. We have a faith that is as historically verifiable as other historic events that historians take for granted as fact but then they go and doubt the resurrection accounts and other Biblical accounts with as much or more factual evidence to back them up as the historical accounts they take as fact.

Christianity is a historical faith that appeals to certain historical facts and events, not to man’s philosophical proclamations, not to myths, not to legends not to men who claimed a level of deity and are still in their graves; but to a historically provable risen Savior that died for the sins of all mankind.

“The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of ‘religious’ fact.  They are the cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based.” – Charles Pinnock

The New Testament does not try to prove Christ or prove what it is saying. It definitively presents the Christian faith as a matter of concrete, cognitive truth. (John 14:11 – Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.)

OUR FAITH IS AN OBJECTIVE FAITHOur faith has an object; our faith is in the Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Historical facts about Christ: He was born in Bethlehem; He was the earthly son of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesus would have trained and worked as one too. He lived to the age of about 33 & 1/2. He died in Jerusalem by crucifixion. While hanging on the cross the sky turned dark at noon and stayed dark for three hours (Luke 23:44-48), the veil in the Temple ripped in two (this alone is a miracle the veil was made very thick there is no way it just rips in two on its own), there was an earthquake. All these facts are historically verifiable by the many accounts of them. (II Peter 1:16 – For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.)

We have faith in who Jesus of Nazareth is and what He did – The Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of all who would believe and accept what He has done for all by His death, burial and then resurrection the third day by faith. How He has paid the sin debt of all mankind and all we have to do is repent and accept this payment on our behalf by faith in His shed blood and death on the cross. (Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

Just having faith is not the most important thing. Muslim’s have faith in Allah, Buddhists have faith, Atheists have faith in nothing (which is actually faith in a conclusion that faith is not necessary) Evolutionists have faith in their theory; faith in and of itself is not the important part but eternal life and death, joy and torment is based on what you place your faith in. Is your faith placed in the Solid Rock of Christ or a “cunningly devised”, by man, object of faith such as Muslims, Buddhists, Evolutionists, Atheists and others believe in? Jesus said in John 8:24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”The object of our faith must be Jesus or we will die in our sins and face an eternal torment in hell.

OUR FAITH IS BASED ON TRUTH NOT FALSIFICATIONUnlike other faiths such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s witnesses, the Christian faith is open and honest, nothing is kept hidden and it is based on solid truth; it invites others to examine it and consider it. (Acts 26:24-26 – And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.)

The Christian faith invites examination of it. If you use the same criterion, the same processes, the same verifying “tools” historians use on other “facts”, you cannot come to any other conclusion accept that Christ did exist, He was born, He did perform many miracles, He was crucified and He did rise from the dead the third day. Christianity is not just a matter of feeling or even action, but it is a religion of factual belief (the Biblical accounts really happened) this factual belief, if tested with the same historical means as which other historical events are examined, would yield even better results than other historical facts already accepted as such.

Christianity in the New Testament is presented as the truth; belief in Christ is presented as the only means of redemption and eternal life in heaven. (John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) Christ’s resurrection, for example, can be examined by non-Christians as well as by Christians. The factual character of it, when considered with the claims of One raised from the dead, does not point to a multiple of different possibilities to explain it; but points to a single “best” interpretation of the data available to lead any objective examiner of the facts to that Jesus really did die and really did rise from the grave the third day. (John 2:18-22 – Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.)

OUR FAITH IS OFTEN REJECTED OR DISMISSED BY OTHERS – WHY?Why do people reject Christ? It can often be broken down into 3 main areas, though there are other reasons.

Ignorance or a lack of information about Christ. This reason can be their own personal fault for not wanting to listen to information about Christ, it could be the fault of false religions or false so called “Christian teachers or teachings” or this could be the fault of Christians. It could be our fault for not going out and sharing the Gospel like we are commanded to do by Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Pride. (John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.) – They cared more about how they looked to their peers than where they would spend eternity. Pride can be stronger than common sense sometimes. Pride can also cause people to dismiss Christ entirely because they feel they have no need for Him because they feel they are superior in some way to Christ. Pride may cause someone to think they only need to rely on themselves and no one else, not even Christ.

Moral problems. (John 3:19-20 – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.) – Some people reject Christ because that would mean they would have to give up their pet sins or leave their sinful lifestyle.

CONCLUSION: We have just seen how the Christian faith is a rational and intellectually sound faith. It is a faith that invites people to use their minds, to examine the Bible, to examine its teachings to examine its historicity and let the Spirit lead them into faith in Christ as their Savior. We’ve seen how the Christian faith is a factual faith. It is based on real people, real events, real places the accounts actually took place and our part of the history of the world. We have seen how the Christian faith is an objective faith. With the object of it being the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. How He is the Son of God, how He is the Savior of “whosoever will”. The Christian faith is based on truth not falsifications like other religions. It is based on truth not myths or made up stories; unlike how the world likes to sometimes paint the Christian faith as being. Yet despite all of this, the Christian faith is often rejected my men. It is rejected for many reasons including ignorance or a lack of knowledge of Christ (this reason may be partly the fault of Christians) they also reject the Christian faith because of their own pride and because of moral failings.

We as Christians need to rest assured that our faith is based on true historical accounts; many of which if held up to the same criterion and standards as other historical “facts” would come out looking stronger and more reliable than them. We as Christians need to understand we have a faith that we need to be ready to defend. We need to have at least a general understanding and knowledge of the pressing issues, questions and challenges to our faith today and how to give that Biblical stance to those issues, that Biblical answer to those questions and that Biblical defense to those challenges. We need to boldly stand for Biblical truth while doing so with a meek and humble spirit. (I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear)

ACHAN – THE POWER OF SECRET SIN

(Joshua 6:18 & 7:1-5, 14-26)

Joshua 7:1“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.”

The command to abstain from the spoils of Jericho having been secretly violated, a curse is brought upon the Israelites, who are defeated in an attack on Ai (Joshua 7:1-5). Joshua, alarmed at the defeat, turns to the Lord for answers as to why it had happened. The Lord informs him of the cause of the disaster at Ai. This leads to the discovery of the perpetrator, his confession and then his punishment.

INTRODUCTION:  Achan was evidently the only offender in this matter among all the thousands of Israel—a wonderful instance of religious discipline and obedience. Yet the whole nation became implicated in the consequences of his transgression, a principal we can get from this is we do not sin in a vacuum, our sin does not only affect us; it affects those around us as well.

The fall of Jericho had been followed up by the temporary fall of Israel as the result of the sin of Achan. There are still Achan desires lurking within the hearts of men today; desires for forbidden and accursed things and sins. Desires that need to be combated and defeated through the power of Christ in the life of a believer. Sin always leads to failure, to lost fellowship with Christ and lost testimony for Him. We are going to examine seven stages of secret sin and look at what the end result of secret sin is in the life of a believer.

DESIRE – “I saw… then I coveted them…” Joshua 7:21. The first stage in secret sin is desire. Achan first had a desire; he first coveted what he eventually took.

  • Achan’s sin lay not in seeing the things that he eventually took, perhaps he could not help but to see them; but his sin lies in the coveting of them once he saw them. We all may see something sinful for an instant. We should turn our heads and avert our gaze after that. The sin lies in when we keep looking at the sinful thing and then begin to covet after it. (Luke 11:34 – The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.)
  • The pleasures of sin will be attractive to us. Christians have a great need to watch and guard their hearts from the attraction of sin. Certain circumstances and certain sins we may give into can lead to disastrous results in our life. We need to learn and to practice to bring every thought in our life into the captivity of Christ and His Spirit. (II Corinthians 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;)

DISOBEDIENCE – “He took of the accursed thing…” Joshua 7:21. God had warned the Israelites in Joshua 6:18 to not take of the accursed thing. Achan knew of the warning, Achan sinned willingly, not ignorantly.

  • The fact that Achan hid what he took proves he was conscious of the sin he was doing. He knew it was sin, he knew it was wrong and he did his best to hide it from everyone. (John 3:19 – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.)
  • Do you have something in your life that you do your best to hide from everyone? Do you not want anyone to find out about it? Do you hide it from your parents? Your siblings? Your family? Your spouse? If you are hiding the sin it means you are abundantly aware of the wrongness and sinfulness of your actions.
  • Do you try to keep up the appearance of godliness to those around you while keeping the secret sin in your life? This is the epitome of hypocrisy. You are putting up a show of being one thing while actually being another thing. You need to confess the original sin along with the sin of hypocrisy and turn to God and start living for Him like you should. (Matthew 15:7-8 – Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.) – Where is your heart? Is it right with God? Or is it just pretending to be?
  • The Bible tells us not to love the world. It was a love of the world and things it could offer that led Achan into his sin. Are there elements of the world that you love? If there are, confess that to God and seek His help to rid that affection for worldly things out of your life and instead seek those things of God instead. (I John 2:15-17 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.)

DEFEAT“they fled before the men of Ai …” Joshua 7:4. Sin will always lead to defeat. You cannot live a victorious life for Christ while carrying around the burden of a secret sin in your life. There may be a temporary satisfaction or a temporary victory associated with sin, but in the end sin will always lead to defeat. You cannot have true victory in your life while harboring sin in your life. Sin brings defeat, sin brings heartache, sin brings guilt, secret sin brings paranoia, and secret sin will lead to depression in the life of a believer. There is no long term good, satisfaction or upside to having a secret sin in your life. (Hebrews 11:24-26 – By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.)

DEPRESSION“the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” Joshua 7:5c. Secret sin in the life of a believer will lead to depression and defeat. Secret sin does not benefit you at all, it only leads to paranoia and living in perpetual concern of being found out which leads to depression and the absence of true joy in your life.

  • Secret sin will lead to unexpected defeats in our life.
  • Secret sin will lead to depression where it feels like everything is crumbling down around us and there is no hope and no way to get victory.
  • God’s hand of blessing will be removed from the life of those living in secret sin. For awhile it may go unnoticed but eventually you will cease to see God’s hand of blessing in your life. Eventually your secret sin will lead to your depression and living in a defeated and hopeless state of mind, but if you repent of that sin the Lord will begin the healing process in your life. (Psalm 32:3-5 – When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.)
  • To get a solution to depression you have to first acknowledge its cause. In the case of secret sin, you have to acknowledge it to God and confess it to Him. Then remember all the promises of God and how He has said He can help you in whatever situation you find yourself in, whether it is your own doing or not. He will always be there for you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5b – for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)

DEBILITATION – “could not stand before their enemies…” Joshua 7:12. Secret sin leads to weakness, it leads to lack of motivation, it leads to an uncaring attitude, and it leads to a defeatist attitude. Secret sin, as it worms its way into your soul, debilitates you and leaves you unable to defend yourself from further attacks of the devil and causes you to be easily defeated in other areas of your life. One secret sin in your life is the gateway to countless other sins creeping into your life.

  • Harboring sin in your life breaks your fellowship with God, because the Bible teaches us that God cannot look upon sin. If we have unconfesed sin in our life our prayers go unheard, our communication line with Christ is broken.
  • Without a good prayer life our hearts too will melt under pressure when situations get difficult, our spirits will weaken under the stresses of life, our strength will wane, our ability to handle new attacks from the devil will be non-existent because our source of strength is the Lord, and when we have cut off that source by our secret sin we will not be able to renew our strength for what lies ahead. We won’t be able to stand before our enemy. We need to Lord and His strength in our life to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Psalm 28:7-8 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.)

DETECTION“and Achan… was taken” Joshua 7:18. Be sure your sin will find you out, no matter how skillful you think you are at hiding it, it will eventually find you out. Among the thousands upon thousands of Israelite’s at this time, Achan’s sin was discovered. Achan’s sin was found out because nothing is hidden from God. His sin was exposed to all the eyes of the whole nation. It was no longer secret, now humiliation and the most dreadful shame fell upon Achan, this shame must have also fell upon his family too. Every hidden thing will eventually be brought to light. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

  • (Joshua 7:16-18) – It was strange that Achan being conscious of his own guilt, when he saw the lot come nearer and nearer to him, did not either make an attempt to escape or try to get grace by making a confession of the sin before the lot fell upon him.
  • This lack of confession shows the hardened heart that Achan had as a result of unconfessed secret sin. Keeping secret sin in your life and not confessing it and seeking forgiveness will lead you to have a hard heart to God and the things of God. Once a heart is hardened it can be a very difficult thing to get reversed.
  • You can imagine the moment Achan was singled out as the trespasser to all the nation of Israel. He had been found out; the secret sin was secret no more. Can you imagine the panic that must have went through him, the horror that must have instantly hit him? If only he had not coveted after that sin, if only he had not deceptively hid that sin, if only he had come clean about that sin and confessed it on his own and not had waited until he was found out, what a difference in his life it would have been.

DESTRUCTION – “And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” Joshua 7:25. There is no way to escape the consequences of your sins. If you are God’s children He will chastise you as you sin. Yes, Christ paid the eternal penalty of your sins on the cross, but there is still earthly chastisement from Him for sins you commit. The Bible teaches us that if fathers love their children they will chastise them and rebuke them when it is needed. So too does our heavenly father love us, so He too will bring chastisement into our life as a result of our sin. (Hebrews 12:6-7 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?)

  • What a contrast we can see between Rahab the harlot’s life, verses Achan the Israelites life. The one was saved along with their family and possessions; the other was lost along with their family and possessions. The faith of one, Rahab, made all the difference; and we learned how the disobedience of one, Achan, made all the difference.
  • Not just Achan suffered the consequences of his sin. (Joshua 7:24 – And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.)
  • Can you imagine the guilt of Achan knowing his sin was responsible for the premature death of his own children?
  • Achan did not intend anyone to get hurt from his sin. He did not intend for the thirty-six Israelites to die when they first tried to take Ai. He did not intend for his own family and children to die as a result of his sin. When we sin we do not intend for others to get hurt by our sin. We do not think our sin will affect anyone else but us, but that thought is not true. Your sin hurts more than just you. Your sin hurts and affects those that love you. Your sin hurts your family, your church and can even have an effect on your future children.
  • You need to keep the consequences of sin not just to you personally, but the consequences of your sin to others in the forefront of your mind. You do not ever want to experience the guilt and utter horror that Achan felt knowing he was responsible for the death of his children and knowing that his own children knew they were dying because of something Daddy had done. God forbid anything like this ever be true of anyone of us.
  • What will be your end? Will it be one of faith and obedience? Or will it be one of disobedience and destruction? Your future, your family’s future can be on the line all because of your secret sin. If you have a secret sin, run from it and run to the Lord and repent of it and seek His immediate forgiveness and grace only He can provide. Seek His comfort, seek His guidance and seek His wisdom in overcoming and conquering the desires in your life that may be leading you to commit your secret sin.

CONCLUSION:  Secret sin in the life of a believer is destructive. (Joshua 7:26 – And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.) Secret sin can destroy your reputation and your testimony. Look at what we know about Achan, he may have been a great man up to, and except for his secret sin, but do we know him for any of that other good stuff he may have done? No! We know him for the secret sin he committed. We know Achan for the shameful sin he perpetrated, for all the death and destruction that resulted from that sin.

Guard your life, guard your decision making. Make sure you are living for God in all areas. Cleanse yourself of any known sin in your life. Carefully examine your heart and your mind, seek to find out all the sin and rid yourself of it, repent of it and turn to God. If you have a secret sin or sins in your life, confess them right now, seek forgiveness right now, seek grace while it is available, and don’t wait to be found out like Achan did. That brings destruction; seek forgiveness and receive grace from God.

The heap of stones left in the valley of Achor would be a reminder that God expects His people to obey His Word. God expects His people to live by His teachings and truths. God did not put that heap of stones in the valley of Achor just for the Israelites; it was put there for us too; to remind us that there really is no such thing as a secret sin. To remind us that God knows everything we do. We cannot hide anything from God. To remind us we need to do all we can to live our life right and good for the Lord. Harboring a pet sin, harboring a secret sin in our life does not pay in the long run and can cause much anguish and pain not just to the person committing the sin but to their family and friends as well.

Do you have a secret sin in your life? Do you have a pet sin that is unconfessed? Do you have a sin that so easily beets you? You need to get that right with God. Don’t wait to be found out. Do the right thing, don’t be an Achan and seek to hide it until you are caught, but voluntarily confess that sin and seek grace and forgiveness, and move on in your life, living it to the fullest for the Lord! (Hebrews 12:1 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,)