Sin, Part 2
We will continue with our series on sin. Today I want to ask the question, “Why do we deal with sin, what’s our real motivation?” Let’s review something we looked at last week.
Acts 17:28 – “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”
We are literally a part of God. He made us in His image. This is one reason why we can never win. Even Satan is a part or an extension of God, and so he can never out scheme God in any form or fashion. Can your finger decide to do something without you knowing that it’s going to do it? No, you would know before that finger started what it was going to do. It would be you thinking and the finger coming back at you to try and do something. You could outmaneuver it.
Let’s go out a little bit into some deep water. By that I mean I can probably get in trouble by going into this area, by even stating the fact that we are a part of God, and getting into that whole business of we’re an extension of the Lord. Then people will begin to say, “Well, then you think you’re God,” and all kinds of nonsense. This isn’t a Mormon doctrine that we’re moving into. It is, nevertheless, the truth;
John 10:33 – “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews.
They came to Jesus and they were extremely angry. They said;
John 10: 33 – “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
When we sin, we sin against God Himself because we are an extension of Him. We are made in the image of God, and we walk within God, finding our being within the Lord. In verse 34 Jesus went on to say:
John 10:34 – Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law
Jesus demonstrated from the Law, from that which God had given, and this is what He said.
John 10:34-36 – “I have said you are gods”? If he called them “gods,” to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”?
There’s something deeper when we come to understand what it means to find God as our source of being, that which gives us strength and life. Jesus probably quoted Psalm 82:6. The Mormons will often quote this passage proving that somehow they will be gods over their own world someday having many wives and bringing forth babies to populate that world—we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about us being made in the image of God and moving within that and finding and having our being literally within God. So when I sin, I sin with a portion of God, I sin with a portion of who He is. Psalm 82:6 says this simply.
Psalm 82:6 – I said, “You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High.”
We were literally made within His image. We are a reflection, a part of Him who is eternal. Let’s go to Genesis to see this. This is very important because we need to understand the seriousness of sin. You’re not sinning just against yourself or against your neighbor, but you are sinning against the very character and the very person of God, in a very personal way. More personal than a man could sin against himself. Because in order for you to sin, you have to use God. In order to commit the evil things that we do and to think the thoughts that we think, we have to use the very life of God.
Genesis 1:23-24 – And there was evening, and there was morning-the fifth day. And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.
Now notice verse 25. Over and over again Scripture will say, “According to their kind.”
Genesis 1:25 – God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Now verse 26 begins to talk about man, and there’s something distinctly different about man.
Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image . . .
We literally walk and move and find our being within God. We are a part of God, and we reflect His glory, His power, and His life.
Genesis 1:26-27 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And so why did Jesus say to the Pharisees that their own Law says they are gods? Why did they condemn Him for saying that He belonged to God in a special way? Because we ALL belong to God in a special way. The important thing to learn is not some deep theological discussion, but a hard-core reality that when I sin, I take the very person of God and use Him in order to achieve my selfish end. And when He purges wickedness from Himself, when He purges sin, I will reap judgment if I’m not found in Jesus Christ.
Genesis 9:3 – Everything that lives and moves will be food for you.
God spoke to Noah.
Genesis 9:3-4 – Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.
He talked about the fact that the life is within the blood and by the blood of Jesus Christ we experience forgiveness. We should not eat any meat that still has that lifeblood within it.
Genesis 9:5 – And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting.
God will want to know, “What did you do with the life that I gave you? I gave you a part of Me, I gave you My life, I gave you My existence, I gave you who I am. I created you out of nothing, and your life is an extension, a part of Me. What did you do with that life? What did you do with that part of Me? I gave your life as a steward, what did you do with it?”
Genesis 9:5 – I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
Let’s look at the reason why we should deal with sin in our life. Remember Genesis chapter 4 where Cain said to God…
Genesis 4:9 – Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
God reminded Noah that we are responsible for our fellow man, and the reason we should deal with sin so seriously is not so much because of what it does to us, but what it does to others. Again in Genesis 9:6 as we read on, God reminds us of the image in which we are made.
Genesis 9:6 – Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
Literally when I kill a man, I’m killing that which God has created and I kill the life which God has given to a man. I strike at the very heart and the very person of God because I’m taking that which God gave me, and I’m striking another man made in the image of God, and I will reap a judgment, because of my anger. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:18 says this about sexual immorality:
1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body
If I kill another man I’m striking away from my body and sinning out there within the world. But when I sin sexually, when I take my body and use it for sexual indulgence with somebody else, to please myself, I sin against the very image of Christ, or the very image of God.
1 Corinthians 6:18 – All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
He sins against the very person of Jesus Christ, the very power of God. So over and over again what makes sin so serious is that I’m taking the very power, the very image, the very personality, the very strength of God, and using that to achieve my sin. But when God talks about dealing with sin, He’s talking about dealing with and purging the sin within Himself. When He talks about sending someone to hell, He’s talking about purifying and purging from Himself those things that are cancerous, those things that are a plague, those things that are a disease, and He seeks to burn them. Most people deal with sin because the sin makes them miserable. Most people deal with sin because they don’t want to get caught in their sins and they want to think they’re forgiven. Very few people that I know deal with sin for the reason we should deal with sin.
Luke 17:1-2 – Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”
Better to die early, to have a large millstone tied around someone’s neck and thrown into the sea than to cause another person to sin. When Scripture talks about dealing with sin, it’s always within the context of what it does to everybody else, and what it does to my relationship with God, not something that has to do with my personal discomfort or giving up the sins that I don’t like.
Luke 17:3-5 – So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
“Increase our relationship with You. Give us a deeper understanding of the nature of repentance. Increase our faith.”
Luke 17:6 – He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…”
So often people totally misquote and misuse this passage. People talk about it in terms of raising the dead, or achieving some answer to prayer, or getting some blessing. But what context did Jesus use in this verse? It’s in the context of repentance and forgiving your brother.
Luke 17:6 – He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
They asked for an increase of faith when Jesus talked about forgiving your brother seven times seventy. If you go to a brother when he sins, and he says he’s sorry, you need to forgive him for these sins. We need the kind of faith that takes sin seriously, though we hear someone come to us time and time again everyday asking for forgiveness, we forgive them, knowing how serious it is to deal with sin.
Matthew 18:4-6 – Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
Again Jesus teaches us to pay attention to what we cause other people to do. All other sins that a man commits are outside of his body. He causes other people to participate in sin, or to increase sin in their life. Jesus tells us to watch ourselves in terms of who we cause to sin. You might sin against yourself sexually, but that is against your own body, that is a personal thing. All other sins, all the other things that you commit cause other people to sin.
Matthew 18:6 – But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Better that he were cast into the depth of the sea and never to rise up to have life. Sometimes God allows a dictator to live a long time in the world or he allows a man to indulge his sin until he’s eighty or ninety-years-old. Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever noticed how so many people involved in sin seem to live so long? This is God’s wisdom as both an act of judgment and an act of mercy. When God allows a man like Hugh Hefner to indulge in his sexual immorality, causing other people to do the same thing, and live for a very long period of time, He’s not only trying to give him an opportunity to repent, but He’s also working a divine judgment. Because the longer he lives, the more he causes other people to sin. And it would have been better that many years ago a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were tossed into the sea.
Matthew 18:6-7 – But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
All other sins that a man commits are outside his body. How do we affect one another? When it comes down to repentance, when we bend our knees in the prayer closet, when we ask God to forgive us, we should think about how we have caused other people to sin, not just stumble. Think about how you’ve affected other people who believe in Jesus Christ to either grow in faith or not grow in faith or how you’ve encouraged them or discouraged them in their walk with the Lord.
Matthew 18:8 – If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.
In what context is Jesus talking about us taking this kind of violent action to deal with sin? How it affects other people. Back up and look at what Jesus Christ just said. The reason that I would cut off my hand is because of what it does to somebody else, not because of what it does to me. The reason that I would cut off my foot is not because of what it does to me personally, but because of how it causes somebody else to sin, and I’ll pay the price for causing them to sin.
Matthew 18:8 – If your hand or your foot causes you to sin
What sin did Jesus talk about? Sins that cause other men to sin. Like when somebody lives a sloppy Christian life, or when somebody is a hypocrite, what does that lead to but a whole church of hypocrisy? When men pursue righteousness and holiness, often you then find revival and people seeking God. Watch what you cause other people to do, what you approve of, what you say is okay in the Lord, your justifications whitewash. When you come up with an excuse for sin, and give that excuse with all kinds of flowery sounding words, when you tack on the name of Jesus Christ, when you “pray” about it but really it’s nothing but total sin, then you teach somebody else to do the same thing. Then when they go into the prayer closet, instead of knowing how to search their hearts, instead of knowing how to examine their real motivations, they tack on the name of the Lord and pretty soon you’ve got two people justifying sin. But you’re not responsible just for your sin. You’re responsible for the person you caused to sin, to misuse the name of the Lord, and to blaspheme in that manner.
Matthew 18:8 – It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
When we fail to live the Gospel call, when we fail to be a church that has all things in common, when we fail to love one another, and be pure in everything that we do, we cause other people to sin.
Matthew 18:9 – And if your eye causes you to sin,
Remember the context. Remember that Jesus says woe unto the man who causes others to sin. But usually we’re so self-centered; all we’re worried about are our own little sins and personal battles, and the things that cause us turmoil. We think very little about what it causes in somebody else’s life and how it affects them. I know that when I began to take sin a lot more serious in my life I finally noticed how my sin grew within my children. When I talked to them about the need for righteousness and holiness, and then I would see them copy the things that I do or did in the past, then I began to hurt deep inside, knowing that my sin was allowing them to do that. And there are many times as I look at my life and my lack of example in Jesus Christ, and I see somebody else doing the same thing. I see my sin reflected in them. And so I take violence against my sin. Not because it personally bothers me anymore, not because it causes me trouble, but it will cause somebody else to sin. It is the grossest lack of love to not be concerned about how your sin, your flesh, your excuses, and your lack of righteousness affect somebody else.
Matthew 18:9 – And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
I don’t throw away bad movies only because they’re bad and they cause me personally to stumble. I throw them out because of what they cause somebody else to. Does it build them up in Jesus Christ; does it cause them to pursue righteousness? How does it affect somebody else? Jesus Christ draws us to the selfless kind of love that will do anything for somebody else, not because it just personally affects us in some way. We should repent because of the way it affects others.
Matthew 18:10 – See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.
Be sure that you don’t look at somebody else and think “Well, they’re of no significance. It’s not that big a deal, and it won’t really affect them. They’re weak in Jesus Christ anyway.”
Matthew 18:10 – For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
Those of us who belong to Jesus Christ have angels watching. No matter who we are in Jesus Christ, no matter how small we are, they always look at the face of God, because we are an extension of God. We are a part of Him, we move and work and live within His being. And when we take the very being of God, the very person of God, and we use that to sin, we cause other people to sin. We affect other parts of God Himself. It’s not just a matter of what we do that is wicked. I know many people who will give up many things that are wicked. I know people where I can sit down and say, “Okay, this is wicked, and that is wicked. You need to change this. This is against Scripture, and you need to give that up.” And they’ll obey, but they are far from pursuing righteousness. They won’t go on to do what is needed to be done, far beyond wickedness.
Matthew 25:32-36 – All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”
All of this has to do with doing something else to somebody else. Nowhere in here do you find Him saying, “You got your quiet time on a daily basis. Come on in,” or “You kept the law so come on in.” Everything here has to do with reaching out to somebody else and serving them.
Matthew 25:36-37 – “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?”
When I give somebody something to drink because of Jesus Christ, because I am in Him, I am literally giving Jesus Christ a drink of water. Because in Him we live and move and have our being. When I clothe somebody else, I am literally clothing Jesus Christ because they are made in the image of God—they are a part of God. And they’re part of the manhood of what God created in terms of man.
Matthew 25:37 – Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?”
What a selfless kind of love that doesn’t even notice what it is doing. That’s why in Matthew 6:3, Jesus said,
Matt 6:3 – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Over the years I’ve had people ask me the question of how you can achieve that. How can you get to a place where you literally don’t know what you’re doing? I know many people who know exactly what they’re doing and when they give. They keep an account of it. We don’t have time to look at exactly how, but only the message of the cross can make a man so selfless that he will repent, he will give, he will serve, and he will pursue righteousness, not for his own sake, but for the sake of others.
Matthew 25:38 – When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
Jesus Christ says, “You did all of these things to other people, come on in.” It has to do outwardly with giving to other people. And it’s in the small things.
Matthew 25:38 – When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
We took you into our life. We were inconvenienced in meeting others’ needs.
Matthew 25:38-40 – “…or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
In a theological sense, you so easily can see the reason why we’re doing it literally to Jesus Christ. We’re all made in His image and we walk within Him, having our very being. But even more than that, we’re literally serving Jesus Christ because He literally lives in each person.
Matthew 25:41 – Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Let’s talk about hell for just a moment. Hell was never prepared or made for you and me. What does scripture say hell was prepared for?
Matthew 25:41 – …into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
We were never meant to go there. It was not made for us. But those who want to do the will of their father Satan, those who belong to him and practice deceit; they will go with him to hell. Now I want you to consider something very carefully. Satan is far more powerful a being than any of us. His angels who belong to him were made within the power and the glory of God in heaven; they have seen things we do not see and have powers that we cannot overcome except by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. Hell with all of its fire and power was made to torment those kinds of beings. If they do not want to go there because they are terrified at the horror of hell, how much more will you and I be tormented within that fire since we are weaker than demons? Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, we were not meant to go there and woe unto us who do.
Matthew 25:42 – For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat…
You didn’t act on anything. Situations came by and you could not see to act. You were busy praying, getting your quiet time, or struggling with sins. You were busy doing all of these outward things that make you feel good in Jesus Christ, but you never did what God put right before you.
Matthew 25:42-43 – For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in
God brought all of these circumstances and put all of these people in your life, but you didn’t act on those things. You were too busy becoming spiritual, justifying what you wanted to do, or praying about the things that you would like to do and tacking on God’s name.
Matthew 25:43 – I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
How many people do you know that are busy doing the Christian thing, but they don’t even love their own family? Wives not even loving their own husbands and husbands loving their own wives. Mothers and fathers not even loving their own children while they’re busy praying, giving, serving, repenting, and doing all kinds of other things. The thing right there before them that God has chosen for them to do, they do not act upon. They are the goats.
Matthew 25:44 – They also will answer, “Lord…”
They’re calling him Lord. They acknowledge who He is. They give Him His rightful due.
Matthew 25:44 – when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?
I didn’t notice. I didn’t see. I wasn’t aware of those things. And so I want to repent of the things of the world, the things that charm me most, as the hymn says, because when I am charmed by the things of the world I can’t see those things around me. I can’t see the hungry and those who are chained up in prison and suffering. I want to repent of sin, because sin makes me self-centered in every fashion. And so I want to repent of sin because when I do, it makes me selfless and then I will meet the needs of other people. I hope one day I might say with a pure heart as Paul did that he was willing to be cursed and separated from God if he could save his fellow Jews.
Matthew 25:44 – They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”
They’re too busy, too lazy, and too interested in their own lives. They’re too absorbed in their own spiritual growth, to perceive the very needs of Jesus Christ right in front of them.
Matthew 25:45 – He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
We are not only judged for the wrong we do. We are also judged for the good that we did not do. The book of James says the man who sees the good that he ought to do and does not do it, sins. We repent so often of the sins that cause us misery. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to wake people up and move them past their petty sins. If I know you have a struggle, we’ve prayed about it, wrestled through it, dealt with it, and then move on to selfless love.
Matthew 25:46 – Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
It comes down to what we do, and do not do. So the solution, the motivation, the reason we should deal with sin is because when we hold on to our sin. When we hold on to our lives, we’re unable to love other people, and we’re unable to love Jesus Christ. That’s why in Galatians 6:10 it gives us something positive to do. It commands us to move forward, to pursue righteousness, to hunger and thirst for righteousness as Jesus Christ said.
Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity,
Remember all the Scriptures we just looked at—those people had opportunities. The naked were there, the people in prison were there, the opportunities and situations were available.
Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
Repentance lets us become selfless people, able to meet the needs of other people—down to glasses of water, clothing—little things—down to being inconvenienced in the everyday things of life.
Galatians 6:10 – let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Don’t even tell me you don’t have an opportunity; just look around at this body right now. Everyone in this body presents an opportunity to do good to them. But when we stay self-absorbed and comfortable, when all we can see are our petty little sins, we can’t help anyone. When all we can see are the things that we struggle with, and hope that someday we’ll overcome, but we don’t pursue to do good to other people in the body, we remain locked in that sin. We are not free at all. We are self-absorbed in our self-absorption.
I ask you as we look at all of this. Do you cut your hand off because it will enable you to serve your brothers and sisters better? Do you cut off your leg or pluck out your eye because it will enable you to love other people more perfectly? If not, your repentance is shallow. And at best it may not even last and you’ll find yourself judged in the end. To think that a man can pluck his eyes out and it will enable him to see better the needs of Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 27:9 – Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
They are a fragrance. You smell the perfume and the incense and it brings joy deep down into the heart. Now look at what it says in the next part.
Proverbs 27:9 – …and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
In other words what kind of friend are you? What kind of zeal does your counsel come forth with? Are you reserved, are you quiet, are you laid back, are you lazy? Are you doing your Christian thing?
Proverbs 27:9 – and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
A friend has a lot of zeal when it comes to giving counsel in love. He just doesn’t greet you, he greets you with a holy kiss and a warm embrace. He just doesn’t bring you a Scripture; he brings you a Scripture with emotion. He doesn’t come to you out of his laziness or what’s convenient and easy for him. He comes with hope and zeal. He comes with a caring face, with incense, with perfume. He comes with all that he is and lays down his life. He comes with thankfulness, he comes with grace, and when you see him your face lights up because you know he is zealous for you. But we are so comfortable, we are so laid back, we are so concerned about our own problems, we’re so busy protecting ourselves, we can’t love other people. We are at best lazy lovers.
But we want friends who will be zealous, who pray for our needs as their own needs, and when the prayers are answered, rejoice as if it were their own answered prayers. True, selfless love for one another. The reason that I want to cut off my hand or pluck out my eye, the reason I want to purge sin from my life is because sin keeps me from just laying my life out open and giving full zeal to other people. It keeps me from loving them to the depth of my heart and all that God would work in terms of love.
How much emotion do you show? How much is in those hugs? How much is in your embrace? How much heart is behind it? Or is it talk or words or laziness that embrace? What do you communicate to somebody else? When they hug you, do you sense behind that hug an honest love, or do they hug you for their own benefit—to make themselves feel spiritual and comfortable, because they want some friendship back?
2 Timothy 1:4 – Recalling your tears…
Why do I repent? So that I might weep in some man’s presence. So that my pride might be crucified and I’m willing to weep in front of another person, because I love them so much. But I’m reserved, and I hold back. That’s my nature, that’s my character, I hold things deep inside. And so I repent and I pluck out eyes and I cut off hands and arms that I might love.
2 Timothy 1:4 – Recalling your tears…
Whose tears can you recall? Have you ever loved like that or been loved like that? This is what Jesus Christ came to bring.
2 Timothy 1:4 – Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.
I repent of sin not because it’s right to hate sin. I don’t repent because my life is miserable and I’d like to get rid of sin because it causes me a lot of turmoil. I repent of sins because while I’m indulging in sin, while I’m thinking about sinning, I cannot love somebody else. When my mind has been on unholy things and somebody comes into my office, it’s hard to fellowship. I can hardly come out of that sin in order to embrace them, love them, and give them what they need. I can’t hear from the Holy Spirit how to speak to them and how to lay down my life.
2 Timothy 1:4-5 – Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith
He doesn’t discuss the Trinity with Timothy. He doesn’t say Timothy’s doctrines are correct. “I recall your tears, and I see your sincere faith because you weep, because you love.” I repent of sin because sin robs me of a relationship with Jesus Christ and in doing so it robs me of a relationship with somebody else.
2 Timothy 1:5 – I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
If heaven is filled with the typical people in most churches, I don’t want to go. Their love is cold. It is at best lazy, it is self-centered, it is convenient, and it is comfortable. Nobody takes risks, nobody rebukes anybody or loves anybody with any type of depth, running the risk that somebody may hate them and have to struggle with those sins. I don’t want to go to heaven if they go there. I want to be with people that I can say, “Recalling your tears.” A people emptied enough of self who are willing to love more than they are being loved.
And it comes down to small things, not things you can make a big show of.
Matthew 10:42 – And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water…
We are down to small things the world says are insignificant.
Matthew 10:42- And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple.
The world doesn’t get any reward, only disciples.
Matthew 10:42 – I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.
If you serve somebody else, if you give to them because you know they belong to Jesus Christ, you will not lose your reward. It comes down to small acts of grace that refresh one another. It comes down to what we did and did not do. It reminds me of the story about Lazarus and the rich man.
Luke 16:22 – The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
Again we notice who lived the longest—the rich man. The rich always seem to live a little bit longer, but not in every case. God tries to give them a chance to repent, and He’s also working a divine judgment.
Luke 16:23-24 – In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
My point is that now is our time to give cups of cold water, so that we don’t go to a place where we would long for somebody to take their finger, dip it in some water, and just give us one drop. It comes down to a selfless love, of noticing the beggar at your gate, at your doorstep. In the things that God puts right there in front of you. Its fine and dandy to send money to poor people overseas, but what about someone outside your door that God is calling you to meet their needs and to be involved in their life? Give them a cup of water because you belong to Him.
I want to draw us again back to our fellowship with one another. Let’s begin with one another and then we’ll be able to love even the world more deeply. Let us pursue righteousness that we might love one another. Not that we can have a building or a project or anything else.
1 Corinthians 16:18 – For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.
Now look at what Paul said about these men. Look at who he said needs recognition. If we gave out awards, this is what we should give an award for.
1 Corinthians 16:18 – Such men deserve recognition.
Those who refresh the saints in Jesus Christ, who give a cup of cold water, those dead enough to themselves to meet the needs of somebody else in the smallest of ways deserve a certificate that says, “We recognize you for being a source of encouragement and refreshment for the saints.” Obviously one of the reasons for this is the simple fact there are so few brothers around. And most people give you a glass of water—if they give you anything at all—for their own benefit, and their own pleasure. Proverbs says that if you sit down with a rich man who gives you food, but he’s greedy, you’ll vomit up what you’ve taken in. I know a lot of people who embrace me or give me all kinds of things “in Jesus Christ” but they do it for their own benefit. They do it to make themselves feel spiritual or to hear me say, “Oh, well, thank you very much.” And I’ll walk away from those situations disgusted because I know why they’re doing what they’re doing. I know why they embrace, why they give a hug, and why they talk to me. I know why they share Scripture—for their own benefit. I don’t want to show them grace, or mercy; I don’t even want to make eye contact with them. I want to vomit up what little bit of “kindness” they present to me, because it’s done with selfish motives. It’s done so they can get. Their love is merely to take. It is greed disguised as love.
1 Corinthians 16:18 – For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.
Men who refresh others in Jesus Christ. Like perfume—like incense—is a man’s zeal in terms of counsel and of friendship.
2 Corinthians 7:13-14 – By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
When the saints come into your presence, and they leave your presence, are they more refreshed in Jesus Christ than when they first came in? Or are you the mopey one, are you the one who is down, are you always struggling, are you the one who is always self-centered and always taking? Are you the one always repenting of sin? Or when the saints leave your presence do they go away skipping, going on to pursue Jesus Christ and righteousness? And I don’t mean flattery or any of that nonsense; I mean deep-seated love and zeal. Why do you repent of sin? It should be so that the saints are refreshed. So that men are built up in terms of righteousness. Paul was happy that others are made happy, and he said the kinds of men that make other men happy should be recognized in Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 1:16 – May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus
Maybe Onesiphorus was shown mercy and grace because he gave a large donation? Perhaps he did some massive work or brought some Scripture or revelation? No, it says this:
2 Timothy 1:16 – …because he often refreshed me
Onesiphorus was pure in his love. He was selfless in his giving of himself. There was no hidden motive. He wasn’t trying to get something out of the relationship. He wasn’t trying to impress. When he came in and loved Paul, he had cut out his eyes and cut off his hand. He was pure in the relationship and there was no hidden motive or agenda.
2 Timothy 1:16 – …because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
Onesiphorus wasn’t embarrassed about the message of the cross. He wasn’t ashamed of the way that it comes. He was not ashamed at how it manifested itself in a man’s life. He wasn’t embarrassed that he wasn’t a certain way or that Paul looked weak. But he came in joyfully and pure; he came in pursuing righteousness not for his own sake, but that he might love. What is heaven but a group of people together who decided to love one another selflessly, to pursue righteousness selflessly, to give and refresh others not expecting anything in return?
Philemon 7 – Your love has given me great joy
What gives a church great joy today? Answered prayer, expanded territory, spiritual blessings, ministry callings, insight and knowledge, tongues, dreams, prophecies. But you don’t ever hear it said your love has given me great joy.
Philemon 7 – Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Over and over again we find this hidden through Scripture—what kind of zeal do you have, what kind of friend, are you? Do you repent that you might be a friend? Do you go back into the prayer closet and get sin dealt with so that when you come out of the prayer closet you don’t have anything to deal with and you can go out and love other people? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t confess our sins to one another, but there comes a point, brothers and sisters, when we’re nothing more than self-centered in our confession of sin. There is a time to rise up, to have some faith, to come out of ourselves and literally lay down our lives for one another.
Philemon 7 – Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
One day I was with a brother in the store sharing with him what perseverance he had in trying to get to America to visit us. He went through many trials and struggles in order to get to this place. And then I went on to tell him, “I wasn’t planning on coming back to visit you. Joshua ,Carla, and Kerry were going to go overseas to see you. But when I saw your perseverance, when I saw your zeal, I couldn’t help but change my plans.” And as we walked along, all of a sudden out of the clear blue, he just turns around, grabs me, and kisses me on the side of my cheek. That’s the kind of love Jesus Christ is looking for. It springs from the heart—it doesn’t care what other people can see, it just responds.
Philemon 7-8 – Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,
I could have come in Law, I could have come in terms of Scripture. I could have come in terms of right and wrong, I could have laid out all the ink on paper. I could have come in terms of logic, but I don’t appeal on those things.
Philemon 9 – …yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—
Some of you are not making headway in terms of repenting of sin, and you struggle with the same sins over and over again, because the only reason you repent is so that you might feel better about yourself. And you will always fall short. You will never quite cut off the hand, you’ll never quite pluck out the eye, you’ll never quite bring down the axe in order to deal with the sin, because all you really care about is your own comfort, your own protection, and feeling and looking righteous to other people.
Let’s look at a man that was a source of trouble for Ananias and Sapphira.
Acts 4:36 – Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas…
Joseph had a worldly name, he had a name that came from his parents and had an earthly kind of lineage. But the apostles, those in leadership, looked at this man and they called him something else. They called him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. He strengthened the saints. His faith, his sacrifice, and the purity with which he lived caused other people to be encouraged in their walk in Jesus Christ. And so many of you are just sitting at home in your sin and wallowing in it and dealing with it, writing e-mails about it, confessing it, on and on we go, over and over again. And we begin the cycle, back and forth because your ultimate motivation is not to love other people but to feel better about your day. Verse 37 tells us what the Apostle called Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement did.
Acts 4:37 – …sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
This man, the Son of Encouragement, was the death of Ananias and Sapphira. Do not attempt to go out and mock what I’m talking about today. Indeed God cannot be mocked. Don’t attempt then to try and play the game and act like you’re cutting off your hand so that you can love and try to get the words all right. If you’ve been in that mode, don’t even try to take this and do it. You will go to your own destruction. We’re talking about selfless love, where your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing. Where you embrace and you hug somebody else because that’s who you are, it’s in your heart, not because of anything you try to do, or to manipulate, or to store up Scriptures so this can happen. We repent of sin, we deal with sin, we hurt over it, we wrestle with it because it robs us of a relationship with God and then it robs of a relationship with one another.
In Numbers, they had just come back from the Promised Land, looking at the Good News of the Gospel.
Numbers 13:30 – Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
We should live this message; we should put it into practice. People whine all the time, “This is difficult—this is hard!”
Numbers 13:31-32 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.”
How many times have you heard, “That’s for the Old Testament,” or “That’s for the New Testament,” or “We live in different times. It’s too hard, it’s too difficult—a man can’t live like that”?
But we do the same thing when we whine and complain, and confess sins over and over again, but never overcome. We never really change. We say “It’s too difficult and it’s too hard.” We claim God is really showing us a sin over and over again, but we never change. We do not say, “I can pursue righteousness and I can overcome. I can overtake this sin, and I can get it out of my life. I can pluck out my eye, and cut off my hand. This can be done by the grace of God.” Where is the faith that rises up, that repents of sins? We whine, groan, and complain but who rises up to say, “I will be a different person than I was yesterday, and I will do it by the grace of God.”
Numbers 13:33 – We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.
It always looks taller than we are. We act like each sin is a new revelation or a new giant that’s too big to conquer. People come to me, time and time again, and say, “I don’t know why I do what I do.” Let’s have a new discussion. Let’s look up at another giant, and see how tall he is. Look, we’ve already determined they’re giants. We already determined they’re taller than we are. Do you want to get into a place where you deal with sin, so that you can love other people, or do you want to wallow in the things that you’re not able to do?
Numbers 14:1 – That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.
You can just hear them talking to one another, causing each other to weep more and more. I was in a church like this once that finally destroyed itself. Everybody talked about how impossible it was. Everybody talked about how much hypocrisy there was and how everything needed to change, how nothing was right and nothing was proper, and of course the leadership was to blame for all of those things. Everybody talked and whined out loud where everyone else could hear. It was bitter roots glorified.
Numbers 14:2 – All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron…
That’s what it always leads to. First, we become angry at God, but since we can’t strike at Him we strike at those who represent Him.
Numbers 14:2- …and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt!”
They would rather be dead than die to self. They’d rather have this life and this world over with than give up a little bit of who they are.
Numbers 14:2 – If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!
How about right now? Rather than be crucified to self, rather than be in this desert and have all of this turmoil, we wish that we were dead. We are sick and tired of dealing with self, sick and tired of dealing with this problem. You see this in people who just lock their heels in and refuse to change.
Numbers 14:31-32 – As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you—your bodies will fall in this desert.
You’ll get your prayer. You’ll get your wish, and your desire.
Numbers 14:33 – Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert.
God cannot even move them to repent, because of how it affected their children. That’s how self-centered they were.
I’ve known people over the years whom I’ve tried to get them to deal with their sins. I’ve pointed out in meticulous detail how it affects their children. And they don’t repent. I know that when I walk away from a situation like that, when I’ve appealed to their children and their family, and I see no more pursuing of righteousness than when we started a couple of weeks before, that they’re not going to change. Because if you can’t motivate a man out of selfless love for his family, he obviously loves himself and his sin far more than even his family.
Numbers 14:33 – Your children will be shepherds here for forty years…
Instead of being in the land of promise, enjoying the things of the Lord and the promises of God, they’ll be shepherds wandering out in the desert, going nowhere. And they will suffer for the older generations’ unfaithfulness, until the last of their bodies lies in the desert. I cut off my hand, I pluck out my eye, and I deal with my legs that cause sin, not because the sins cause me trouble and torment me. Sure that starts my repentance, but I don’t stay there, and I don’t repent for the same reasons I repented twenty years ago. I repent because it affects other people, and it pains me when I see them suffering the consequences of my sin. Or when they try to pursue righteousness and something that I have allowed, or something that I think is okay hinders them in their walk for God—that’s why I repent. I don’t want to rob from them the joy of fellowship with the living God or with other people.
Numbers 14:34-37 – “For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you. I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die.” So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it—these men responsible for spreading the bad report…
Instead of refreshing the saints, they tore down the saints. Instead of bringing back a good report about the tremendous obstacles God had put in their way that they could overcome, they whined and complained. They talked about how hard the battle would be, and how difficult the road might become.
Numbers 14:37 – these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD.
Bad reports, whining, and self-centeredness in our repentance are like a plague. It doesn’t take much to spread to another person, just by contact, just being around them. They may not say a single word; they might be smart enough to shut their mouth. But their demeanor, their perfume, their spiritual qualities are really like a plague. It’s not what a man says that causes the plague to happen in the world, it’s the disease and the germs that he carries. In the same way a man may not say a word but he carries the plague. He carries the bad report. He hinders rather than refreshes. No man is neutral in this. In all of your repentance, in all of your changing, in all of the things that you deal with, if it doesn’t lead to refreshing the saints, you’re not repenting. You’re playing a game with yourself, and others. Indeed, I know many people that repent, but their repentance is a game and it wearies me, it doesn’t refresh.
Numbers 14:38 – Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.
Verse 39 shows something pretty interesting about godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. You remember when the bad report was being spread around, how did they do it? They raised their voices, and wept out loud. It was a big old kind of showy thing. But verse 39 shows worldly sorrow in action.
Numbers 14:39 – When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly.
They just went around moaning and whining. It was a bitter pill they had to swallow. They were down, they were depressed. But they were quiet about it. They didn’t raise their voices in repentance. They didn’t raise their voices and shout aloud that they all needed to change. They just went around moaning. This is the nature of godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow. The only reason they wanted to repent was so they could go on and take the Promised Land—not because of how it affected their children. They got caught and they didn’t like the consequences. And now for forty years they have to walk around in the desert. “How mean God is. How little understanding He has.” No doubt they said to themselves, “We’re trying to do the best that we can. Moses never seems to accept us. We never seem to get his approval, yet we’re trying the best we can. And out here in the desert we’re enduring all these things, aren’t we? But we never quite get his approval. We never get his smile. He never says everything’s okay.” How can he, when the repentance isn’t full repentance, unto God? It is repentance for their own sake.
Matthew 13:40-41 – As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels…
His angels will be looking for weeds within the hearts and within the lives of individuals.
Matthew 13:41 – …and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
We must be a pure and holy people or we will be weeded out. How do you know whether you’ll be weeded out? Are you a true refreshment to the saints? Is your faith sincere? Is the plucking out of your eye and the cutting off of your hand for the sake of others, or for your own sake? Because the only people left in heaven are those that refresh the hearts of the saints. That refreshes God himself.
Matthew 13:42 – They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
They will mourn bitterly.
Matthew 13:43 – Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Why? Because they refreshed the heart of the saints. The righteous were not ashamed of the chains or the message of the cross. They were sons of encouragement who did what they did out of selfless love. They gave themselves with full energy, and their counsel and Scriptures and prayers wore them out for other people. They didn’t just say, “I’ll pray about it,” and then go pray for two seconds, “Okay, Lord, be with so and so, help them out.” They took up a cause and took up a person’s struggles as if it were their struggle. They were as excited when somebody was blessed as if they were being blessed. Their zeal proves they are full of friendship. They will shine like the sun. They pour out warmth and give life and light. For they have been a friend. They didn’t just take. Think of the sun—it doesn’t take, it gives. And it radiates life and light. And Jesus said:
Matthew 13:43 – He who has ears, let him hear.
You have ears, don’t you? Listen up. We cannot repent over sin because we’re bothered by sins in our life. That’s only what gets you started. It has to lead to selfless love.
Revelation 21:23- The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
And if we are made in His image, if we are all sons of God, then our fellowship is Jesus fellowshipping with Jesus and selfless love bumping into selfless love. It is the servant Jesus Christ in all of His glory serving Jesus Christ. In Him we move and live and have our being. Heaven is only full of individuals who shine like the sun, who give selflessly, who risk all.
When we go on missionary trips, it is usually the individual we first encounter, the one who invited us to visit, that winds up being the one who betrays us later on. If I had my will and my choice knowing I’ll have to endure that every single time, I wouldn’t go. But love pushes, and love presses on, because I know somebody will love the Lord. And even if they don’t, I do it for His sake. Or maybe next time I’ll be wrong and every person we meet on our trip will love the Lord. Love compels and moves.
Revelation 21:24 – The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
All that is holy, and all that is good, and all that shines, and all who are pure.
Revelation 21:25 – On no day will its gates ever be shut…
There will never be a time when love ceases, or when fellowship stops. There will never be a time when you have to go home from church. And so I ask you a question, do you enjoy being at church? Or when I call a special meeting do you think that you’re in trouble? Then you need to repent. You need to repent to such a degree that when a special meeting is called, that you’ve repented before the Lord and you’re ready to go in. Never will the gates be shut, and never can you go home and escape from the light. I would never want to, nor would I have any desire for that kind of darkness.
Revelation 21:25 – On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
There will never be a place where I can go run and hide in the darkness, and I thank the Lord for it. I long for that time when I can’t even hide from myself.
Revelation 21:26-27 – The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it…
No one with a secret motive will enter in through those gates. No man will use the things of God and the very person of God to get anything for himself.
Revelation 21:27 – Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful
This excites me so much—there will never be a deceitful man within the house of God. Everyone who calls himself brother will be indeed be a brother. I won’t have to wonder if the first person I meet is just the tool which God uses to get the gospel to reach somebody else, because every one there will love the Lord. All that is glorious and all that is of His splendor will be there. I repent so that I might fellowship and share in this. I pluck out my eye, cut off my hand, and cut off my feet, that I might dwell and be in a place where there is no deceit, and nothing shameful.
Revelation 21:27 – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 22:1 – Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
It’s a pure river. It’s a pure stream always moving. So I ask you again, why do you deal with sin? What’s your motivation?
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, work within us Your righteousness and purity. Enliven our spirits, Father, and give us an upright spirit. Grant us a steadfast heart that pursues these things and will not let go. And may we, O Lord, become sources of refreshment to those within the Body and those who belong to You, and to be able to snatch others from the fire. Let us pour out our life and lay down our lives for them in order that they might be rescued. And deliver us, O Lord, from ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.