Not Even Death
Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)
Do not grumble that my sermons are long. True, long by today’ milk toast Christian standards, but not long when one considers the days are evil and ignorance floods the church. making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
Preach The Word
I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.
What I mean by sound doctrine
Stopping Your Sin
Preached Year 2005
We know there’s a teaching that says, “Come to Jesus and rest in your sins.” However, the teaching that comes from Jesus says, “Come to Him and then wrestle with your sins.” We need to actively deal with our sin. We should not just sit down, take life easy, and just rest in God’s grace, only dealing with sin when it comes to get us. Rather, we come to the grace of God and then God begins to show us the sins in our lives and then we pursue those sins and put them on the cross. We must run after righteousness and purity, which means, we will have to find areas where we are not pure. We will have to discover the parts of us that are unrighteous in order to make them righteous. So we’re never, ever to sit back in the grace of God, letting God somehow do everything for us as we sit in the easy chair. Now certainly God does everything, but He expects His people to get up and to begin to run after righteousness and take hold of the promises in Christ Jesus.
When the Israelites came into the Promised Land, God’s promises lay before them. God delivered them and they went across the Jordan to the Promised Land, but they had to take that Promised Land inch by inch and foot by foot. God just didn’t transport them and set them there with everything all taken care of. He said, “Now, there’s the land flowing with milk and honey, go in and take it.”
Jesus did the same thing for us. He says, “The cross of Calvary has already accomplished it, the power is there, but now you have to go in and take it foot by foot. You have to claim each promise for your life. You have to go in and begin to wrestle your sins down and lay hold of the new life that is yours in Christ Jesus.
But so often we sit back and let sin walk all over us. We deal with sin when it’s already consuming us, when it’s already working in our lives. If we’ll see our weaknesses and the promises before us, and lay hold of the promises, we’ll be a far more blessed people if we’ll cut sin off before it even occurs in our lives.
Peter wrote about how we’re to think the way Jesus thought and experience some of the things that Jesus experienced as He wrestled. His whole battle was against the evil one, His whole struggle was to come down and bring redemption to men, which meant He really had to suffer in His body; He had to hurt as He waged war with the powers of sin. When He stood before Pilate and made a good confession, He wrestled with sin. When He saw someone who had leprosy all over his body, He knew that was the work of the evil one. That was wrestling with the elements of sin. When He stood before the tomb of Lazarus, where Lazarus’ body was decaying, and He called Lazarus forth, He wrestled with him who holds the keys of death, which at that point was Satan. And God has won that victory, but we have to go in ourselves and wrestle and lay hold of the promises that are ours in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 4:1 – Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
As Christians, we’re not done with sin until we too wrestle in our bodies with sin. Until we resist the tugging we feel when sin says, “Come on over here and please yourself,” and we say, “No, I will resist that” and lay hold of the promises in Christ Jesus. A wrestling, a suffering, a hurting process takes place. We’re not done with sin yet. If you’re not wrestling with your sin, then it’s controlling you. When you know you ought to speak courageously and fear just wells up within you and your mouth won’t open, but in spite of that fear, in spite of what your body is telling you, you go ahead and speak, you suffer and you hurt. And you speak with a trembling voice. Men who take those kind of steps eventually become men of courage because they have wrestled with sin and they’re done with it. The sins you have conquered are the ones you have wrestled with and overcome. The odds are you won’t have to deal with those again if you maintain that growing place in Christ Jesus. I used to wrestle years and years ago with smoking a pipe. That was a wrestling process to give up. That was a real struggle. Now I’m not even tempted with those kind of things. I can almost look at that sin and laugh because I’ve overcome that sin. I still maintain a right posture. I never say that I’m beyond being tempted with that and I’m beyond falling back into that. But I have suffered and struggled and now I wrestle with far different sins than that. They go much deeper into the heart. I no longer wrestle so much the outward bodily things, although I struggle some in that area, but now I deal with the matters of the heart and soul and spirit and wrestling with sin out there in the world, not just sins in my own life.
1 Peter 4:1 – Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
Verse 2 gives us the result, the promise, of what happens if you’ll suffer with sin.
1 Peter 4:2 – As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Those who wrestle with their sins and those who have armed themselves with the same attitude as Christ Jesus will know His power. They’ll know the joy that really comes from the Holy Spirit. They’ll know the fruit of righteousness that tastes so sweet. They’ll know the victory that comes from living a self-disciplined life. As a result you will be full of good courage and strength. The promises of God will become closer and closer to you. They will become more and more precious to you.
You will find great peace and great rest, but only if you’re willing to wrestle and to suffer in your body with sin. In fact, you may grow to a point in Christ Jesus that you can say with Paul, “It’s better that I live for you than die.” How few of us can really stand up in front of a congregation and say, “You know, it’s better that I live right now for your benefit because I have so drawn close to Christ Jesus that I can show you the way. It’s better that I remain.” Very few of us have come to that point. Yet we can get to that point—it is within our reach—because God has given us the promises, He’s given us the grace.
We’re not willing to wrestle with the sin. Instead we ask God to bail us out when we’re being overcome. We ought to fight our sin, wrestle it to the ground, put it on the cross and see to it that it’s crucified. We need to do this long before it ever gets to us and long before it ever starts to overcome us. If we do that, we will discover the blessings in Christ Jesus. We will overcome our sins and the sins of this world and we can spread the message with joy.
Most of us, I think, throw flowers at our sins. Now they may be funeral flowers, but we throw flowers at our sins and that just makes it easy for sin to get to us. A lot of us do a lot of yelling at our sins. We scream at our sin, in fact, we tell other people, “Oh, I’m dealing with sin, I’m wrestling with sin,” but we never put it on the cross. We can come to church and look at the word of God, we can scream at our sin, yet still not ever put it to death.
As some point you must wrestle in your body. You see a chocolate chip cookie that you want. When God calls you to holy eating, you have to say “No” even when your body and stomach will say “Yes.” Or you’ve got a little bit of money in your pocket and you’ve been planning on spending it all week long. You just can’t wait until Monday because you have to rest on Sunday and can’t go shopping. So you hold on to that money and then a need comes up. The first thing that comes into your mind is, “Well, somebody else will give it.” But no, you begin to wrestle with those sins, you begin to say, “No, I won’t pay any attention to that,” so you give the money, trusting God, and doing without.
Somewhere along the line you have to begin to take the steps of dealing with sin in your life. Most of us just shout or we just throw flowers at it, but we don’t really take the sword of the Spirit and put it to death. Most of us use plastic swords. How do I know? Because a lot of people have come to me with their plastic swords to deal with my sins. We really don’t pull out that shining, double-edged sword that belongs to the word of God and just cut sin apart. Hebrews says that the word of God is alive and active, dividing soul from spirit. That’s why sometimes you can look at your own life and say, “I’m not in sin,” then we get the word of God out, talk for a little bit, get in the Lord’s presence and then you see it. Because the word of God can draw such a fine line between soul and spirit, bone and marrow. We can’t see that fine line between sin and righteousness, but the word of God can divide it. Even though we do all kinds of good deeds, God can show us the motives of our heart, whereas we only look at our deeds and not our heart.
Jesus will tell us how to deal with sin.
Matthew 5:29-30 – If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Now notice that Jesus says if your right eye and your right hand cause you to sin. Now what is so important about using the right eye? Why didn’t He just say, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out”? The right arm is your strong arm in most cases. The right eye is strong. Whatever you have been dependent upon, whatever sin remains the strongest in your life. If there’s a valuable part of your body, if there’s something that you really like such as your right hand or your right eye, if it causes you to sin, better to gouge it out and cut it off than to be thrown into hell. No matter how valuable or how useful, if it causes you to sin, deal with the sin. Get it taken care of.
Now let’s notice several things. He says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” You must to get to the point. You must look at your body and say, “Okay, I see sin there and cancer there.” You have to begin to call sin, sin. You can no longer whitewash it or make it look good. We have to say, “Okay, there is sin in my hand or there is sin in my eye.” You can’t call it anything else. It’s pretty graphic to come over with a saw and cut your hand off. Pretty graphic to take an instrument of some type and gouge your eye out. It would have to be a pretty serious thing before you do that.
Before I would ever willingly let anybody else cut my hand off or do it myself there would have to be something seriously wrong with me. We have to work hard in our own lives to see sin for the seriousness that it is. The reason why we fall in to sin, the reason why it has victory over us, we don’t see it for the seriousness that it is. Notice that you have to deal with sin powerfully and actively. He says, “Gouge it out and throw it away.” You have to make the effort. You have to be sure that your eye is gouged out. Take it and throw it away where you can’t ever get to it again. You have to move with purpose and action. Understand the race set before you and take action.
A lot of you think I’m too tough in dealing with sin. I’m not tough enough at all in dealing with sin. I can assure you I’m not that close to the Lord. I want to get there. Take the sin and throw it away. With purpose and action; deal with the sin. If you see a cancer in your hand and put off dealing with it day after day and never take care of, eventually it will consume the whole body. You can’t put it off and you wouldn’t want to put it off. If you go to the doctor’s office and the doctor says, “We found cancer. We have to put you in the hospital and take care of it today,” they don’t wait until tomorrow because it will destroy the whole body. You can’t look at 90 percent of your body and say, “Ninety percent of it is well; 90 percent of it is healthy; it’s only my hand that’s affected. No problem, don’t worry about it.” In the same way, if the Holy Spirit or a person comes to you and says, “This is a sin in your life,” you can’t say, “Well, look how much I’ve grown. Look how healthy I am.”
We don’t take sin seriously. If there’s one little tip of cancer on the end of my finger, it will eventually consume my whole body and better to discover before it ever gets into my body than to wait until the hand is consumed and the arm is consumed, and then pretty soon, all life is taken out of the body.
You just can’t look at your body and say, “There’s a little bit of fear of man within me.” You just can’t look at your life and say, “There’s just a smidgen of unsubmissiveness in my life.” What do you mean? That’s your death sentence. That’s the very thing that will destroy you. That’s what needs to be cut out and dealt with powerfully. It’s not enough for me to look and say, “But there’s only a small portion of my life not controlled by the Holy Spirit.” It’s a small portion that will destroy the parts of the body that are good. It’s not enough to walk into the temple of God and say, “There’s only one little idol standing over here on the table. All the rest of it belongs to God.”
If we are the temple of the living God, we can’t have a little idol sitting there. It has to be purified. We can’t say, “There’s only a little bit of yeast in my body, just a tad little bit of sin.” It has to be completely swept out. Otherwise the yeast, the leaven, works through the whole batch of dough. Don’t you get tired of people yelling, “Where is the grace? Where is the love?” The grace and the love is this—dealing with our sin. If it is true that God’s grace deals with our sin and we taste the fruit of righteousness, that ought to make us excited about God dealing with other sins in our life. If something tastes good, I want it more and more. So if I’ve tasted righteousness because I’ve wrestled with certain sins, then I’ll want to wrestle with more sins today and more sins in the future. I want God to place me in positions where I must wrestle with sin in order to gain righteousness in Christ Jesus.
Notice that these acts are painful. It’s no easy thing to have a hand cut off or an eye gouged out. It’s hard to throw something away that you’ve held on to for a long time. It’s your right hand; it’s your right eye. This process will hurt. You will suffer in your body. No one loves to have sin thrown away. I have confessed before how many TVs I’ve bought and by the grace of God I won’t buy any more TVs. But I’ve thrown them out and thrown more of them out, and sold some more at garage sales. I’ve spent a fortune on TVs. But you gouge it out and throw it away. You keep wrestling, suffering, and going back until you overcome. And then pretty soon you can yell victory.
Also take note that somebody else will surely have to help in this process. If I gave you a saw or an ax, go ahead and try to cut your hand off. As you start to bring the ax down, you will move your hand just before the ax hits. You’d have to be in an awful desperate situation before you could cut off our own hand. There’s too much self-preservation in most of us when it comes to sin. We might cut our hand off if we were trapped out in the jungle somewhere and the only thing we could do to get free is cut our hand off. But when it comes to sin, when it comes to something we love, if we can choose any other way, we’ll keep it.
Try and gouge your own eye out. Try taking a knife or something and put it up to your eye and poke it out. What does it take? It takes the Holy Spirit. If you put to death the misdeeds of your body by the Spirit, you will live. We have to ask God to do it, no matter how it hurts, no matter how we suffer, no matter how long it takes. The Holy Spirit has to be our guide in the word of God and He has to take us to the places where we can see the sin in our lives. God has to show us the cancer. But we make a very fatal mistake that keeps us on the low level of the Christian life. This mistake doesn’t allow us to go up on the mountain peaks, or even allow us to climb the mountain. We wait until sin gets a hold of us before we take it to God. We wait even when we know it’s a weak area in our life. We wait until the sin takes hold of us and then we run to the prayer closet and we say, “Okay God, deal with it and deliver me from it, I’m sinking fast.” Or we run to our brothers and sisters, or we do all these kinds of extra works in order to deal with the sin, but we wait until it is consuming us before we ask God to deliver us from it.
A lot of us have “Sin Welcome” mats at our front door and the door stands wide open. We haven’t closed the door and we don’t keep it closed. We leave that door open so that sin can get to us. We have a vacancy sign sitting out there. I think in a lot of cases Satan doesn’t need to go in the back door with someone; he just walks right in the front door. But we’re to cut Satan off and deal with sin before it ever gets to us. If you know there’s a weakness or sin in your life, now’s the time to deal with it, not when it’s getting to you. If you want to stop sin in your life, then begin doing it today before it gets a hold of you. When you pray and worship God this morning, pray now for a pure heart. Praying now for the power during the week. Don’t wait until Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday. Sometimes on Sunday I pray, “Lord, please give me the discipline to get quiet times all week long.” I know busyness and anxiousness about the duties of the world will tempt me to not get those times, but now I have the time, now I have the moment, so I ask God to keep me from being drawn to the world.
James 1:13-15 – When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Verse 14 says, that his own evil desires draw him away and he’s enticed. Then that desire gives birth to sin and eventually, if you let it go on, it gives birth to death. You know when most of us deal with sin? When desire has given birth to sin. That’s when most of us really get down and get serious; when we’ve finally tripped up and we’ve fallen into sin. We ought to be dealing with it way, way back here. We ought to think, “God, don’t even let me be tempted. Take away those evil desires that are in my life so that I’m not even dragged away and enticed.” We rest when we should be wrestling.
How many of us are dragged away hourly and weekly? We’re just drug away into our sins and enticed when Satan and the world say, “Partake.” Or our body, our stomachs or our mind tell us, “Do this” or “Please this.” How few of us can say, “I had four days of righteousness in the Lord this week”? The days of righteousness for some of us are far and few between because we deal with sin halfway.
James 1:15 – Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…
Once sin has come to life, once we’ve given birth to it, we finally start to deal with it. Yes, it can be dealt with. Yes, God gives us victory. I praise Him for that, but that’s not the victorious life. That’s not the joyful, overcoming life. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to wait until I’ve been drug away for a couple hours, enticed with sin, and then finally give birth to that sin, and then ask God to deal with it so I can overcome it. That’s not the joyful place to be. We can overcome hourly and weekly. We don’t have to be drug away and enticed. We don’t have to spend our time listening to Satan give the temptation. Jesus was taken before Satan and Satan gave Him all the temptations, then Scripture says. Luke 4:13: Satan “departed from him to look for another opportune time.” And as far as I can see in Scripture, there was never an opportune time. Never again do you read where Satan came to Jesus and tempted Him directly. Now he might have tempted Him through other people and through situations, but he never was able to come to Jesus again and lay a temptation, or take Him up on a holy mountain and say, “Okay, do it again.” He never lays a temptation again.
The victorious life is not even being drug away by temptation. Instead we take care of our sins when we sense the evil desire coming within us. We feel that flash go through minds that says, “Do this.” We cut it off there. We don’t keep bringing it in; we don’t keep drawing it in. We cut it off, we throw it away. We know our sins, don’t we? We know the weak points in our life. The Spirit has laid that clearly before us. We had enough sins we committed last week to know what we need to pray against this week. We know the things that bid fulfillment, they say, “Please, fulfill this.” We have to learn to practice birth control is what it amounts to. We can’t allow sin to give birth to life. Satan boasts, “I got one by the nose this time and I’m dragging him along. There’s no way out of it.” He drags us away and he says, “Look, taste, go on give in, be a little fearful, give in to doubt, get angry.” But the big temptation is, “Wait until later” or “You can reach out to them next week,” or “You can study in the word tomorrow,” or “You can pray more, but wait until later.” We don’t suffer in our bodies. The problem is we just don’t take sin all that serious. Satan says, “Sleep, take life a little more easy. Of course it’s not that bad; it’s just a little bit of problem, it won’t totally destroy you.” Or he does the positive thing, he says, “Oh, good job.” Better be checking where that comes from when you hear that. It may come from the Lord; it may come from the evil one. Satan comes up to you and says, “I turned those stones into bread,” and so we eat more than we should. Satan comes up and says, “Go ahead in that direction, God will be with you. His grace will cover you, go ahead, throw yourself off the cliff and I’ll quote you scripture and I’ll guarantee you that God’s angels will come down and lift you up.” Satan comes up and says, “If you’ll just bow down and worship me, I’ll give you that which you desire.” Let me tell you something. Satan’s awful stingy with his rewards. Satan has never come to me and said, “Tim, I’ll give you one million dollars today if you’ll bow down and worship me.” Satan doesn’t like to be generous. If he can get me to bow down for one dollar, he’ll do it. Not only does he tempt me, he tempts me with something that’s not even useful at all. He doesn’t give away temptations. Whatever he has to do to get you, he’ll do it. But he very reluctantly gives you the reward you ask for. That’s why I’m amazed when people leave the Lord for the smallest of things. They bow and worship the most insignificant gods, or the worst gods I can think to bow down and worship.
How can we keep from falling into that kind of situation? Look again at verse 14. “But each one is tempted…” Now why are you tempted? “…when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” There has to be a way to overcome that and stop it from occurring in my life. There has to be a place of victory somewhere. Surely that’s what Jesus came to bring, if I will walk as Jesus walked. I don’t see Him being tempted all along the way. I see Him dealing with sin and temptation right at the beginning of His ministry and then leaving it behind, pressing on, taking hold, and giving life to other people. I want to be like Him. I don’t want to stand up here preaching and yet have sins that drag me away. I want to say goodbye to the pleasures of what people are doing on Sunday and give life to other people. Let’s find the secret that will keep sin from even coming close to our lives. We don’t have to be dragged away in order to fulfill the sin. Let’s cut sin off right as it starts.
Luke 22:39 will tell us a secret that lies very, very close to the cross of Jesus Christ. You can only have victory over sin by laying before the cross of Jesus, because it’s at the cross that you can look at sin in your life and say, “Now that is sin, that is serious, that is death. That’s what crucified Jesus Christ.” If you can’t crucify the sin in your life, you will never be able to wrestle to a place of victory until you draw close to the cross of Jesus.
What’s one good test of how close you are? If you’ve done something wrong, do you use that three-letter word, “sin”? Do you say, “I sinned”? Is that the word you use or do you say, “I made a mistake,” or “I slipped up,” or “I didn’t mean to do that.” Do you say anything but the word “sin”? Do you look at your own life and say, “Now that is sin,” and understand the seriousness of it? I can’t stand it when people say, “We’re all sinners; we all slip and fall; we all sin.” Yet they say it with a smile, a relaxation in their spirit, they say it as if within the grace of God. They don’t realize the seriousness of what they just said. To say that we all sin, to say that I fell into sin, is the most grievous words that I can use. It requires that I cut my hand off or I gouge my eye out.
Luke 22:39 – Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
Notice first of all that Jesus went out “as usual.” As far as the disciples are concerned, there’s nothing extraordinary about the day. Jesus went to pray at His usual time. Just a usual day for you. You get up Monday morning at your normal time to face an average day. Nothing particularly horrible on the horizon; nobody arresting you, no great temptations coming your way as far as you know. Just an average, normal type of day. You will simply fix breakfast for the kids, clean house, or you will go to work. “…as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” You’re following Jesus, aren’t you? You’re right behind Him. It says they followed Jesus to the place of prayer. They get to the place of prayer, they get to worship, they put on the label “Christian”; they read the word of God, but they do it from a position of sinful rest.
Luke 22:40-41 – On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
At times the Holy Spirit will come to you and whisper in your ear just one little comment. “Pray that you will not fall into temptation today. Be very careful today.” Now we daresay the Holy Spirit comes to us daily and says that. “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” Temptation is the beginning of sin. You deal with it at that point and say, “Lord, I pray that I don’t even fall into temptation today.” Then sin can’t drag you away or even entice you. You’re not giving birth to sin, or even being tempted. This way you can approach the day from a place of victory. You begin the day by pleading the blood of Jesus and calling on the Holy Spirit. Jesus warned them like He warns us. The word of God warns us, servants warn us, books and tapes warn us. But do we listen to them? How many of us need to hear this sermon this morning? Praying against temptation should be one of the most natural things that we do. With all the things around us telling us to watch out for sin, we ought to wake up in the morning and say, “Okay Lord, I pray that I don’t even fall into temptation today.” A lot of us have been sleeping while sin grows. Or people have been telling us about sin in our life. “Yeah, I see it, I see it, I know it’s there. I’m dealing with it, I’m wrestling with it.” We see it intellectually, got it all down, and can repeat it to other people, but we really don’t see the seriousness of sin. And all the while we rest or just yell at our sin. I see the lie, the circling closer and closer, one little step at a time, very, very quietly. Yet we do nothing about it until all of a sudden, Satan pounces with a loud roar.
We need to pray and ask God to show us our weak points and our sins. Jesus did that for Peter, He did that for all of them. He said, “I tell you the truth, you all are going to betray me. I tell you Peter, you’re going to deny me three times.” He’d already told them, but they didn’t believe Him, they didn’t take Him seriously. God speaks to each of us about the weaknesses in our lives; He comes through the Holy Spirit, He comes through the word of God; He comes through your brothers and sisters; He comes to you and speaks those things to you, over and over again because He sees the lion coming. He sees that you will be dragged away and enticed and God is trying to tell you today—right now, this morning—that sin will come and try to get you. Today is the day to begin to pray that you won’t fall into temptation. You need to pray and ask God that you won’t even get into the situation and give in to the sin, that you’ll overcome in that situation.
By doing this, you’re confessing sin before it ever gets to you. Now to me, that’s a place of joy. That’s like, “Lord, I know these things are my life. I know that if I fall into sin, this will be my life. But I’m praying right now, this moment, that it will not come my way and You’ll be victorious.” Instead of waiting until you walk into the situation going, “How will I make it?” and then fall into sin, then you come back and say, “I blew it.” Instead we take steps now to cut off the power of sin in our lives.
Church, I guarantee you, you will have to see yourself clearly. There can’t be any more of this quick, “Yeah, I understand,” or “Yeah, I see.” Let your words be few and be silent in the house of God. Examine your heart. The Psalmist remembered God on his bed at night. Look back over the day. Examine what sins you fell into. There are times with my own children I can see them heading for a spanking, long before they ever get there and I tell them that. It starts off with one little smart comment and you worry, you tell them about it, but they keep going at it, keep living in it, until finally I give it to them. But I guarantee, if you ask that child, he won’t look back and say, “Yeah, I’ve been doing that for three days and now I see why I’m in that fix.” Sin starts off small. Take steps this morning to change those habits in your life that keep consuming you. Change those thoughts that keep coming through your head, whether that be thoughts of doubting God; whether it be thoughts of fearing man; whether it be thoughts of laziness or whatever it is, begin to change those things today before they ever get hold of you. Let’s get so busy with the things of the kingdom that we don’t have time to be tempted.
We will find out about an armor we can put on to even keep us from being tempted. Basically, God tells us to put on an armor of light. Something that will not only shine inside our hearts and keep us clean, but will keep something dark from entering in to us. So we’ll keep temptation twenty feet away from us and we’ll see it and we’ll put it on the cross before we ever get there and then just march all over it. We’ll take the land of the promise captive. Inch by inch, foot by foot, but we’ll do it. A lot of you aren’t rejoicing in the Lord because you’re not taking those steps, one step at a time, moving in to the Promised Land. Or you’re right on the border, you’re right on the edge. Some of you won’t move unless we physically take you and say you can’t come to church for three weeks and then you finally start to search after it. It’s like we’ve got to put you back in the walled country before you’ll ever learn to come in and take captive the promise before you. If God isn’t dealing with it in your life, you begin to deal with it before it ever gets there.
Romans 13:11 – And do this…
And do—change—get those habits going in your life.
Romans 13:11-14 – And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Basically he’s saying, “Get dressed.” Now brothers and sisters, if your brother or sister gets up in the morning and they don’t have on a shirt and they begin to walk out the door to go to work, wouldn’t you tell them to go back in and get dressed? If your brothers or sisters get up in the morning and they don’t have on the armor of light, tell them, “You’re not dressed; you need to go back in and get dressed. You’re not even prepared for today. Put on the armor of light, let’s be dressed and ready.”
Let’s look again at verse 11 “And do this…” Do it, actively pursue it, go for it, latch on to it. Understand the present time. Wake up from your slumber. See who you are in relationship to the grace of God. Wake up out of your sleep where you just lazily lay back instead of waking up and saying, “Look, there’s the grace of God. There are His promises. My salvation is drawing nearer day by day.” Wake up and understand the present time, understand what situation you find yourself in. Understand what thoughts, actions, and attitudes are drawing you down time and time again. Look at them square in the eye. You’ve been slumbering far, far too long.
It’s time for us to wake up as God’s people and say, “Okay, that’s a sin in my life, I will deal with it. I want to overcome.” What are the areas in Christ Jesus that you need to grow in? If it’s faith or love or purity, I’m sure we all need to grow in those things, but what tables in the temple need to be overturned? How do you need to be out serving other people more? God is trying to deal with in your life and you’re trying to sleep, saying, “Don’t bother me, I’m sleeping. I’m resting in the grace of God, now just leave me alone.” It’s time to wake up from that kind of slumber and get busy with the things of God.
Romans 13:12 – The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So what should you do?
Romans 13:12 – Put aside…
Find out what needs to change and put it aside. Gouge it out, cut it off, throw it away, do whatever.
Romans 13:12 – Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Most of us do this. Most of us will put aside the deeds of darkness, and perhaps cut off our hands. Most of us will gouge out our eyes, given enough pressure, situations, and sermons. We’ll eventually get rid of that evil thing. If I talk long enough about a certain topic and the rest of the body agrees, most of us will eventually go along with it. Most of us are willing to go that far because we like the approval of man or a lot of other motives or reasons. But very few of us go out and pick up the armor of light and put it on. That’s where we fail.
You’ll see your sin, confess it, and try to keep clean from it, but you won’t put on the armor of light and get busy with the things in the kingdom of God. You just won’t lose yourself in the light. Get so busy praying, studying, resting in God, waiting on Him, or reaching other people that you don’t have time to worry about being fearful of man. You don’t have time to worry about being lazy or worrying about eating because you’ll be so busy doing the work of the Father.
How many times do we read in the gospel where the disciples did not even have time to eat, or they forgot the food that they were to bring along? How many times do you read that? They’re so busy putting on the armor of light, they’re so busy discovering the things of the kingdom, they don’t worry about lunch. I don’t know about most of you—I take that back—I probably do know about most of you because I know my own heart. You get up and your plan is what you will have for dinner and it’s 8:00 in the morning. Or, “What will we do for lunch?” You need to be so busy in the things of God, down to the smallest thing in your life so that you don’t have time to worry. You don’t even have time to be tempted. You’re so busy putting Satan on the run, he doesn’t have time to come get you. Instead, he’s running backwards throwing flaming arrows at you, but you just hold up the shield of faith. Now that’s the victorious life. That’s picking up the armor of light. You’re marching forward doing warfare in this particular case. In fact, you can ask, “God, I want to be so busy in Your kingdom, I want to hold my sins up to You and just let You deal with those from the inside out. I want to be so busy just serving You and doing the things of You, that You begin to purify my heart and begin to take hold of my mind.” Put on the armor of light. Put it around your mind.
What’s the last verse say?
Romans 13:14 – …and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Okay, don’t think about the things that please your flesh. I don’t know what they are, but we could be here until Monday naming them. Put on the armor of light around your mind. Whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is admirable, think about such things. I don’t know about you, but the most noble thing I can think of is Christ Jesus. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus. Get dressed. Get ready for the day. Be dressed for good deeds at any moment. Get so full of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have to wait three hours to hear the good deed that you’re supposed to do. It’s already gone. Be prepared with love and quietness, with serving, with a hunger for God and prepared to go anywhere or do anything that God would call you to do.
Just this week, a brother came home and said, “I need to go down to this certain place and reach out to this particular church, to a guy that I used to know.” So he calls home and says to his wife, “You need to get ready.” She called back and said to Carla, “I’m not ready.” So we worked it out and prayed and she went and God was honored.
You can be ready at any moment in time. I don’t care how you feel or where you’re at or what’s going on; if God calls you to do it, be ready to do it. Have on the armor of light. In fact, get up in the morning and say, “God, I don’t know where it is, but I want You to put me in a situation where I can shine the light.” It’s not so much that she wasn’t ready; but that she should have been asking God to be there in the first place. They were praying for a year or so that God would bring us into confrontation with some of these dead churches in town and I’ll pray for five years if I need to. But I won’t just sit back and wait and say, “God, please bless my day and oh, why are these things coming my way?” I want to take them captive. I want to be so busy attacking the sin that it hasn’t got time to attack me. Go to the Scriptures and search those Scriptures and say, “What new sin can I discover in my life that needs to be dealt with? What new things can be put to the cross again today? What new things can I confess?” That’s when the blood of Jesus becomes the dearest. When you can see a sin in your life, confess it before everybody and then the blood cleans you of it. Jesus doesn’t tell us to go away from Him, He says, “Bring your sin to Me.” The arms on that cross are wide open. The blood is flowing. It’s there for all of us; we just won’t go in and lay hold of it. We’re too prideful, we’re too defensive. We think everybody else will think we’re terrible sinners if we confess it. The truth is they already think that. Jesus already knows that and you’re not holding on to anything special. We can look at your eye and see the cancer, and we can look at your right hand and see it’s not doing what it ought to be doing, so why not run out in the light and get it over with and put on the armor of light? Let our song of labor be unto the glory of God. Ask God, “What more good deeds can I do today? What are they Lord, what can I do?”
In Romans one of the sins listed was dissension, and we know what problems we’ve had with dissension in the body, so if you put on the armor of light, that means you will move into unity with your brothers and sisters. You will take steps to serve them. You will take steps to being one in heart and mind with them. You just don’t wait until Satan plants those thoughts of, “I don’t like that brother,” or “That irritates me,” or “I’m jealous.” Don’t wait until Satan gets a hold of you. Instead, pursue love, pursue unity, and pursue covering everybody with grace. You will pursue all those things and not allow room for that kind of temptation. That is what it means to put on the armor of light.
Isn’t that what 1 John says, “If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another”? The armor of light consists in our fellowship with each other and the deeper and the closer our fellowship, the stronger the light. The stronger the love, the stronger we are against sin in our own life. You cannot be victorious in your own life from sin and be separated from your brothers and sisters. It will never happen. If you can’t love your brothers and sisters, if you can’t be in unity there, you’ll never conquer Satan in the world. He’ll walk all over you every single time.
Luke 21:36 – Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Most of us are praying “foxhole prayers.” We’re dying, we’re in the pit, we’re down at the bottom and then we cry out to God. Brothers and sisters, that’s how you start the Christian life. That’s not how you live it. Sure, you call out to God is when you’re in the pit, when He’s laid you down low, when He’s shown you where you are. He puts you down low so you’ll cry out to Him, but you’re not to live and dwell there. God did not bring the blood of Jesus Christ to leave you down in the pit to wallow down there every single day of our lives. Pray that the temptation doesn’t even come your way. Get out of the pit and walk up on the mountaintops. Eventually you can possess eagle’s wings and soar. “Pray that you won’t fall into temptation…” and then go further than that. “Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen…” Pray today about the evil that will come in the world in the future.
Jesus says that the love of most people for God will grow cold because of the increase of wickedness. We will come to live in a more and more wicked time. Pray now, today, that your love will not grow cold. You make sure those lamps are overflowing with oil so that when the Bridegroom returns, you can light your lamp. Pray that you can escape all that is about to happen on the earth. Pray and deal with the greed in your life before you ever get rich. You pray about any sins in the world before they ever come in your front door. Pray that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
“Now wait a minute,” most people say, “I’ve got the grace of God, I’m able to stand.” Well, if that’s the case; if that’s all there is to it, then why did Jesus say, “pray … that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”? Yes, we received the blood, but we’ve got to wash our robes. We have to suffer in our body to be done with sin. We have to pick up our cross daily and follow God. We have to put our hands to the plow and not look back. We have to put on the armor of light. We have to overcome the beast and his image. Pray today, that when you die, you will be able to stand before the Son of Man. It’s important to be praying today that you will be victorious when standing before Jesus. I won’t wait until I’m on my deathbed, getting ready to die and say, “God, I hope I’m ready.” I’m praying now—today, while I’m assuming I will live a little bit longer—that I’ll be able to stand before Jesus Christ. And I certainly need to pray that I’ll be able to escape all the corruption that will come in the world.
The corruption to come will be so wicked and so gross and so filthy, that the love of most people for God will grow cold, will completely burn out. I’ll be able to overcome the temptations today because I’m praying about those in the future which will be the worst that the world has ever seen. Scripture says that nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again. And if I’m praying to overcome those kinds of things, to be victorious in that situation, then I will be a man of faith today. I will be a man of God today because I’m praying about the future.
Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” The way things are going, I don’t think He will. Oh there will be a little bit, but just look at the church and the way things are going. The faith of most people in God is getting very, very low. Oh, they trust God for their possessions or to be made well, but I mean a real, overwhelming faith in God, a real surrender that He’ll lead everything in laying down your life. I don’t mean just believing in miracles or healings even though that’s a part of it. You start denying that, then you will back up and start denying everything else eventually. So I’m praying now—today—while things are still warm, while the fire still burns, that when everybody else grows cold, when that faith is gone, that I’ll be a man of faith and that I’ll be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Let’s read on.
Luke 21:37-38 – Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
When did they come to hear Jesus? Early in the morning. If you wait until 10:00, if you wait until 12:00 if you wait until 1:00, Jesus may not be teaching. I bet I know what He is doing though. I’ll bet He’s working. I think He teaches in the morning and He works in the afternoon, what do you want to think? I’ll bet He gets up and He lays forth the word of God and the will of God and then we’re supposed to be busy doing the things of the kingdom in the afternoon. You get up in the morning and you say, “God, I pray that I won’t fall into temptation. Show me Your will for my life. Bring me the Word in such a way that I’ll be able to do the things You want this afternoon.”
Just take one scripture, take one thing in your life that you need to deal with and begin to go after it. Most of us are dealing with fear of men right now. Just take one passage that talks about being bold. “… the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1b). Put that in your heart and say, “Okay God, today I will live this all day long and I pray that I don’t ever fall into temptation with it.” And eventually you’re walking in it. Then you go on to the next thing and the next thing and then slowly but surely you’re out in the middle of the Promised Land. You’re in the middle of the land flowing with milk and honey. Not over here on the border, not just scared of moving in, but step by step you’ve taken that process, you’ve learned to trust God.
Let’s pray now that we’ll be able to stand before the Son of Man. Let’s cut our sin off before it ever gets a hold of us and let’s begin to enter the tents of the wicked and slay their sins for them instead of always having to be dealing with our sins so that we can’t even help anybody else. Let’s be so full of boldness and courage because we’ve suffered with our weaknesses and our sins and learned to trust God that we can go out and slay the sin that’s around us. So when God says, “Go in and take it captive,” we’re not all fearful.
When someone’s heart is wicked before you or they’re covering something up or they need the words of life told to them, you just speak it because you’ve been dealing with the fear long before it ever gets a hold of you. That’s how we stop sin, how we even keep it from occurring. So let’s do it, let’s run with it.
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.