If you have been following us this week, you know we have been talking about the wide gate convert. We have been looking at the difference between false converts and true converts. The false convert is following a religion, thinking that it will get them to Heaven. The true convert is one who is truly born again through faith in Christ.
Today I want to look at sin, and show that it is more than just making a mistake. Later I want to look some quotes from preachers of yesteryear. The preachers of times past understood the seriousness of sin. They preached the judgment of God and that Hell was hot. Their preaching told of the wrath of God against sin, and the fear of God was upon those who heard.
Today we have thrown this kind of preaching out the window. The church growth gurus have told us that we can’t grow churches with “negative preaching.” They tell us not to preach on God’s judgment and wrath and make people afraid of God.
When I was in Bible College we were told, if you can learn to sell Jesus like you sell soap, you will build a great church. We were told to take away the offense, remove anything that is offensive. Don’t tell people what they are, tell them what they could be. Always focus on the positive.
I believe this kind of teaching is the reason are churches have so many false converts. They are full of people who have been reformed, but not transformed. As I said earlier this week, it is like taking a dirty shirt out of the hamper, starching it, ironing it, but it is still a dirty shirt.
We need to understand that when a person gets saved, they don’t just act differently, they become something new.
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The life-enhancement gospel says, turn to Christ and He will make everything in your life. You put on Jesus and all will go well.
There is also the easy believeism gospel that I call easy prayerism. It is where prayer is treated like a magic incantation. This is where you say the “sinner’s prayer,” and abracadabra, you are a child of God. The person has no real understanding of their sin. Sin is just a mistake to them.
You can tell how serious a crime is by the punishment. If a man who is guilty of a crime is sentenced to a $50 fine, we might think his crime was not really that bad. However, if the sentence was death by hanging, we would think the criminal committed a dreadful crime.
We can tell that sin is a serious crime because of the sentence God has place upon it. The sentence is an eternity separated from God in a place of fire and torment. It is called the second death. Does this give you some idea how seriously God sees sin?
Let’s take a look at the Ten Commandments. The tenth commandment is the sin of coveting. It is a sin of the imaginations of the heart. It is not committing an act, it is just wanting to do so. It says “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.” Coveting you neighbor’s wife is a desire to steal that which belongs to your neighbor, and the imagining of having the pleasures of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye. Jesus equated this with adultery.
This shows us how wicked man is. If we could get away with the things we imagine, we would do them. The only thing that keeps us in check is the fear of punishment. This is the fallen nature we are all born with.
We need to be preaching the law of God, and the judgment of God for breaking His law.
We want the love of God, we don’t want to hear about His judgment. How many times have you heard it said, “we are not under the law, we are under grace.” Are they saying we don’t need to follow the law today? Are they saying that because of grace, we can sin as much as we want? Is it now OK to commit murder? Listen to what God has to say about this:
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)
The law still applies today. We are not under the law for salvation, but we are still to live according to the righteous precepts of God, the law.
Listen to what the preachers of yesteryear had to say. You will see how they saw the value of using the law in their preaching. They understood that the law is a schoolmaster that gives us understanding of our sin and leads us to Christ. Paul said:
What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Romans 7:7)
John Wycliffe – English Bible Translator in the 1300’s
“The highest service to which a man may obtain on earth is to preach the law of God, because it will drive sinners to faith in the Savior, to everlasting life.”
Martin Luther – German Reformation Preacher in the 1500’s
“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.”
“If you do not use the law in gospel proclamation, you will fill the church with false converts.”
“Satan, … has raised up a sect such as to teach that men should not be terrified by the law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ.”
I am not a great fan of Martin Luther, but I sure agree with him on this. If he were alive today, what would he think about what we find in all of the church growth manuals?
John Wesley – English Reformation Preacher in the 1700’s
“Before I can preach love, joy and peace I must preach death, sin and Judgment.”
“Preach ninety percent law and ten percent grace.”
Charles Finney – American Revival Preacher in the 1800’s
“Evermore the law must prepare the way for the gospel. To over look this in instructing souls is almost certain to result in false hope; the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the church of false converts. Time will make this plain.”
He was right, time has made this plain. Just look at our churches today.
Charles Spurgeon – English Baptist Preacher in the 1800’s
“I don’t believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man’s heart unless you first send the needle of the law to make way for it.”
If you went to the doctor and he took the time to explain to you that the tests show that you have cancer, and finished by telling you the good news that it can be healed, he wouldn’t have to spend much time convincing you to accept the treatment, would he?
We have to get to the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is man’s sin. Most people don’t recognize their sin. They are filled with their own self-righteousness. The think they are good people. They will admit that they have sinned, but they just consider their sins as little mistakes. They believe that their goodness will cover those mistakes. They think that their sin is not before God, and that it is not worthy of God sending them to Hell.
When a person finally comes to the recognition that their sin is vile and wretched before God, they naturally become remorseful, ashamed, and fearful. They then understand that God has every right to pour out His wrath upon them. He has every right to throw them into Hell and throw away the key. When a person comes to this place, he is ready for salvation.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation. Have you come to this point? If not, would you repent and turn to God for mercy? Do you recognize that all your sin is against God? Your sin is vile and wicked before God, and His holiness requires Him to cast you into Hell unless you come to Him with a broken and contrite heart, a heart full of repentance. If we come to Him with a repentant heart, He will point us toward His Son, Jesus Christ, and His work on the cross. When you put your faith in Him for salvation, and turn from your own efforts to save yourself, He will forgive you, and make you a child of God.
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Think about what I have said today, and act upon it.
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