Sermon: Wise and Foolish Virgins

Written by Timothy

Wise and Foolish Virgins

We will talk about virgins today, the wise and the foolish. I want to read through the parable first and then we will go back and look at it in detail.

Matthew 25: 25:1-12 – At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!” But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”

Verse 1 tells us they are all virgins.

Matthew 25:1 – At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

These were not pagans or unbelievers; they were actually closer disciples than the average churchgoer. They kept themselves pure, that’s why they are referred to as virgins. They were separated from the world. They agreed on the commandments of God. They loved to fellowship with other virgins. Their light seemed to be the same, burning from the same oil. They agreed on many things; that Jesus is Lordobviously. They agreed Jesus would come back. They agreed a great wedding will take place. They eagerly anticipated it and wanted to be a part of it. They were virgins in every sense of the word; in keeping themselves separate from the world and letting the world go by. Indeed, so much so that they all fell asleep, letting the world go on its merry way doing whatever it does. These virgins agreed that prayer, denial of self, and the crucified life are necessary. They certainly all agreed the Bible is true. They followed what scripture had to say because they were there to meet the word of God; they were there to meet Jesus Christ. They certainly believed that denying self is a part of the crucified life of following Jesus Christ because you will see they would all rise to trim their wicks, to prepare themselves to burned up more for Jesus Christ. They certainly enjoyed the word of God. Five were wise and five were foolish. The lamps they held were the word of God and all the virgins enjoyed that word. They all rested in the word and participated in the light. David said in the Psalms:

Psalms 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

These were virgins with light. They had the word of God. It was right in front of them. They enjoyed the glow of that light, the word, and the fellowshipping. It’s just like this body here. All of us have decided we want to be pure in Jesus Christ, that we want to be virgins waiting for him. We all rejoice in the word of God and so we come together to do that. We share and rejoice in that light with one another. We rejoice in denying ourselves. Jesus said in Mark 8;

Mark 8:34 – Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

I mention that because many churches out there don’t even qualify as virgins. They don’t agree we need to deny ourselves. I was on the radio this week. The two hosts were very hostile to the whole concept of denying self and as I talked and debated on the radio with them, they literally could not understand what I was saying. Of course, it eventually came to a point where they refused to understand what I was saying, but in the beginning you could tell they were honestly dumbfounded. They asked me at one point if this was a new revelation, or something that I just came up with. The whole concept of denying self was completely foreign to them. They weren’t even virgins waiting before God. I’m emphasizing this over and over again, but the virgins are people who we would call disciples, or brothers and sisters. We would look at them and say, “We’re united together and marching for Jesus Christ in the name of the message of the cross.” They enjoy and rejoice in the offensive message of the cross, but five of them are wise about the message and five are not. The problem with the foolish ones is simply this: A man may choose to enjoy the message of the cross, and participate in the good things of the offensive message of the cross, but be completely foolish in applying them to his life.

Proverbs 10:4 – Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

The reason I show you this passage is simply this. Anyone in the world can take this proverb, apply it, and find it to be successful for work. If someone is lazy, they don’t do anything, so they won’t succeed. But even in the world those who are diligent, put forth effort, and all the strength they have, will probably succeed in what they seek to do. So this is a true proverb. If worldly men will take certain aspects of scripture and apply them and enjoy them, they are a success. This is part of the delusion of the foolish virgins who take part of the word and put it into practice. They’ll see the success that comes from those scriptures—they have something that the wise have. Just because you live scripture and rejoice in the word of God (A lot of people tell me that), just because you’re obedient to some things in scripture and they turn out to be successful, doesn’t mean you’re wise. You may indeed be a foolish virgin who is taken in by applying the scripture by their own strength and effort.

One thing separated the wise from the foolish. We all need to look at our life and ask if that one thing is there or not. This will determine whether we are wise or foolish.

Matthew 25:2-3 – Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps . . .

But something was missing.

Matthew 25:3 – The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

They had no extra reserve of oil.

Matthew 25:4 – The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

They had the lamp, the wick, were in a place of obedience, but they did not have the oil or the Holy Spirit that would come alive and produce light when darkness comes on the scene. We’re talking about not just the oil or the Holy Spirit, but the oil of obedience. An obedience that comes from the Holy Spirit is by the power of the Holy Spirit, but is a life of rich obedience. The foolish virgins went out to meet Jesus Christ, but they were not in a position where they followed the Holy Spirit in their daily life. They might read scripture, they might rejoice in the things in the Bible, they might do what their church had to say, but they did not follow the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ had the kind of humility we’re talking about. In Mark 1:10, Jesus was baptized. “As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.” Heaven itself was torn, as the Holy Spirit could not descend upon Jesus Christ quick enough! You could see the power of the Holy Spirit rushing to gently land upon Jesus Christ. He couldn’t wait until Jesus Christ was baptized, until he was in a position where the Holy Spirit could come sweeping into his life. In the same way, where we find the difference between a foolish virgin and wise virgin is simply this; our attitude of obedience toward Jesus Christ. Is the Holy Spirit constantly forcing himself upon you to get you to do something or is heaven itself being torn open because it finds a ready vessel to fill? The foolish came out with the lamp, the wick, but they had no jar to contain the Holy Spirit. Those who come before God and are wise have an empty jar. They hold up the empty jar to God. That empty jar is called obedience, it’s called humility, it’s called a receiving of grace. When the Holy Spirit sees that, it tears heaven open to fill that jar, so that there is more than enough oil for the night that is to come. Paul said this in Acts 5:32.

Acts 5:32 – We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

We lie to ourselves so many times. We like to believe that God will give us his Holy Spirit apart from a life and a heart of obedience toward him. But it is a lie—a complete delusion. If I expect God to give me the Holy Spirit, and be a wise virgin, then I must stand before God with a humble and contrite heart; with an obedient spirit which is empty; a jar of clay held up to God so that he will fill it with the Holy Spirit, saying, “I will be obedient to you in everything you call me to do. That is what made the five wise. They were willing to be obedient. The Spirit could move them. They could go from room to room or be told to go here and speak this or say that. They could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. The five foolish virgins enjoyed the light, the lamp, the fellowship, but they had nothing to be filled. They didn’t even have a jar there to hold up to the Lord. What they do, they do by brute force or association. They don’t do it by grace or moving by the Holy Spirit. As Paul said, he preached a message that called everybody to obedience, an obedience that comes from faith. What makes one a wise virgin is simply this; an attitude of humble obedience to what the Holy Spirit leads us to do.

Exodus 25:1-2 – The LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.”

Romans 12:1 – . . . offer your bodies therefore as a living sacrifice to God.

“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.” These are wise virgins who come in before the Lord and ask, “Here is my body, here is my life. Will you fill it with your oil? Here’s the empty clay vessel. Give me your Holy Spirit. I will be obedient to what your Holy Spirit calls, works, and wills in my life.” That’s the difference between the two.

Exodus 25:2 – Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.

You see the five foolish would have liked to have the rules down. “Be sure and bring a jar with you. Be sure it has oil in it. Be sure you’re waiting over here for the bridegroom to arrive.” But God looks for the prompting of the heart. He looks for those who come with a jar, an extra amount in the jar, not just the lamp or the little bit of oil in the lamp, but an extra jar totally reserved so that lamp can keep going and going. Not just the requirements of the law, what you’re being told to do, or just to get by, but a jar that says, “I have exceeded that which is demanded of me.”

Exodus 25:3 – These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze. . .

We know the giving up of everything that Jesus Christ calls us to do. “…blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair. . .” We know how we should be dressed. We know how we should obey. We give everything to God. “…ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows ; acacia wood; olive oil for the light. . .” Olive oilit is oil that is pressed out. As we will see, Jesus Christ was betrayed in an olive garden. It is the message of the cross that gives us the oil that should be in the jars. “…spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.” Look at verse 8. This is the goal of all of these things, the hope of why we are waiting for Jesus Christ, of what we long for and say that we want in our daily life.

Exodus 25:8 – Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

The five foolish virgins don’t really care to go in and sit down at the banquet. They have other motives and reasons. They do just enough to be there, to be invited, to think they’re going. But the five that are wise are in love with Jesus Christ and they will say and do things that far exceed what is that demanded for the situation. They will speak to men at a cost, not because they are told to speak, but because they want to speak, they can’t be held back.

Let’s look at the olive garden and where we need to go in order to receive this oil. We too need to go in to the garden. We too need to go in and face men in this world. We too need to cry out for that righteousness if we are to be wise. In John 17:25 Jesus Christ begins with the word “righteous.” It is holiness and obedience that we are talking about by the power of the Spirit.

John 17:25 – Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.

There’s a secret relationship going on. The five that are wise have a relationship with the living Father. They have received the oil from the Father. The five who are foolish don’t even know they need jars. They look at the wise and think they have exactly what the wise have because they see perhaps a little of the effect. Their lamps may be able to burn a little bit, they have the same equipment. “We’re the same,” they say to themselves. They don’t even notice that the jar isn’t there.

John 17:26-18:1 – “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove . . .

This is where we burn. The oil is found in wrestling with God in the garden. It is found confronting the world head on. It is found embracing the message of the cross and when the waves of the world come against us we choose not to go that direction. Romans 12:1 again says “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” and “do not conform to the pattern of this world.” That’s exactly what happened. Jesus Christ stood there before Judasbefore the worldand said. “I will not go according to that pattern, whether it’s the religious world or just the world.”

John 18:1-2 – On the other side there was an olive grove and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas. . .

Judas met him in the olive grove to take him to the cross. If you want the oil, if you want to be a wise virgin, you have to be crucified with Christ. You have to go there on purpose. Jesus Christ knew what would happen that day. God told him clearly what would take place and Jesus Christ chose to walk in obedience and allow it to happen. A lot of us run and hide, waiting for God to find us in order to crucify us. We hope that it will pass by. That makes us foolish virgins. We would do well to get into the prayer closet and say, “God, here is my body. Tell me where to go that you might crucify me. Tell me what to say even though my lips do not want to say it, to do what my flesh does not want to do. Then take steps to move into a position where God can lay a hold of you to crucify you. Most of us are so busy offering justifications for our sins, or repenting with a measure of whitewash, or doing only what is required of us. We are the foolish virgins doing what we do, thinking, “Oh, I have the lamp, I have the wick, I’m hanging around with so-and-so,” but we are foolish in thinking that just because we’re waiting for Jesus Christ, that we are prepared for his coming.

John 18:2 – Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

Jesus Christ wants to take you to the olive garden because that is where your oil is found. In those quiet times or the times when you walk alone, or God speaks to you and his conviction is there; he’s trying to take you to the olive garden. When he convicts you, or he talks to you on the way, he’s trying to show you your sin. When you do the work on a daily basis and Jesus Christ turns to you and says, “Get behind me, Satan,” or shows you some things in his word, he’s trying to press more self out of you so there can be the oil that will light the lamp. Heaven itself can be torn open so that we might be filled. We are foolish virgins if we just sit there and listen to what Jesus has to say, but have no jar to contain these things. A lot of you are getting by, day by day, and surviving just for the day. I guarantee—you are a foolish virgin. We have to become mature with extra jars on the side that have more than enough on reserve for our daily problems that day. Foolish virgin just survive to get through their problems, to deal with their sins, and be convicted of what is wrong just to survive the day. If your grand triumph at the end of the day is to say, “I did this grand thing over here,” “I fixed dinner,” “I drove over here” or “I was nice to somebody on the phone,” if you do what the world does on a daily basis and that is your grand victory in Jesus Christ, you are indeed a foolish virgin. We should not only have enough oil for our own problems, but a whole reserve of death to self in order to heal other people, glorify God and be a lamp for Jesus Christ. It is really that simple. Jesus often took his disciples to the olive garden, and Jesus Christ will often take you there. I pray he doesn’t have to drag you there. I pray each time he calls you to go there, you don’t have some other excuse, go back to sleep, or take it a little bit easier and ignore what he’s trying to tell you. I pray that you become so soft-hearted, you can hear him dragging you there. If it is to weep and wail, it’s to weep and wail. If it is to rejoice, then it is to rejoice, but go into the garden where he will press self out and the oil of life might be there.

2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness . . .”

We’re talking about olive oil that is pressed out for the lamp in the sanctuary. We’re talking about life and olive oil, light in all of these things.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 – “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay. . .

So what do the wise virgins have? They are emptied of self and the Holy Spirit’s oil has filled them up. They have brought the jar of self, we’re either full of ourselves and who we think we are, and the foolish virgins no doubt look at themselves, thinking they are fine and dandy, that self is just in its proper place. But the wise are emptied and crucified, and have gone into the garden. Self has been removed. They’re soft, teachable, their will is being crucified, and the Holy Spirit is able to fill up that jar with the treasure of God.

2 Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

How do I know if you are a wise virgin? If I can step back and see that what you do is beyond who you are, then I know that God is filling you. But if you do that which is normal and everyday, that which everybody would do in the world, then you’re not beyond Jesus Christ, you’re not even in him. You have not gone beyond what he requires. Paul said, “…this all surpassing power is from God.” What all-surpassing power? If you see me being nice to people, loving people, laying down my life, it should be far beyond what the world is able to do. You should be able to see it’s an all-surpassing power that the world doesn’t have. It comes from some other source besides Tim Williams. That’s the whole point, Tim Williams has been crucified, emptied and what reserve is in the jar comes from the living God. It is a jar emptied of self and filled with oil. Verse 8, “We are hard pressed on every side. . .” If you want to get oil out of olives, you have to press them, you have to go into the garden. “. . . but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” All of the problems you share with me are your everyday problems. I see nothing reflected in all of these things. There’s a lot of discussion about telling you where you’re at in Jesus Christ or what you need to deal with. Get in there and get pressed out! Get more than one thing you can handle at a time. I know that you are in charge of your own life because you’ve got one issue, one thing that you’re trying to deal with and we’re trying to get the word of God in there, and we’re constantly dealing with this one little thing. If something else tries to get in there, you’re overloaded. That’s a foolish virgin with one lamp, dealing with one issue at a time, looking at the lamp, trimming the wick, and getting everything in place, but how dare any darkness or some other situation come in. A Christian should be “. . . crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned,” wrestling with all of these things, being crucified to self, dealing with this or that problem. There ought to be times when you just stand still saying, “I can’t make any sense of all of this,” yet you’re not in despair. You have to go into the garden. For some of you it is a matter of making your bed, that’s the big goal you have in the day. Jesus Christ comes along and says, “You’ve got to live a self-disciplined life,” so you’ve been working for the last six months to get up and make your bed. That’s a foolish virgin. How simple that is to do. If you can’t do that in the Holy Spirit, if you can’t be crushed out of self to do the basic things of life, how can you ever talk about being a wise virgin? If you can’t pray beyond your own prayer needs and concerns, how can we talk about being wise and having a reserve? If at the end of the week we’re all drained out and burdened, if we aren’t able to love, move, act, and have fire, then how can we talk about being wise? We need to become wise. We need to set our goals high.

This just can’t be any oil. You can go out and buy anything that can burn, but not just any oil is acceptable before the Lord.

Exodus 27:20 – Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil. . .

It has to ring of purity.

Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

The wise are there not because they want to be wise or go to heaven. They are wise because they only want to be with Jesus Christ. How does a man get that pure? How does he reach a place where self is gone? He has to go to the olive garden. He has to get pure oil. He has to purify it. He has to figure it out and put forth some effort.

Exodus 27:20 – Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives . . .

You have to press it out. The pressure has to be on. When you feel the weight of that cross, rejoice in it and allow God to do his will. Move into a position where God can do the work. Stop running, hiding, excusing, whitewashing, justifying, and trying to snow us with all of your grand reports of how God has done all these wonderful things or how he showed you your sin. I want to see it pressed out unto death before we celebrate. I don’t want to see it with just one issue that we’ve been trying to get you to deal with for two years. I want to see a reserve of oil so that God could come to you and say, “Go do this job.” You would not need one piece of advice not one scripture to be shared, or not given any directions. I want you to hear the Holy Spirit, and be moved in the right direction in order to finish the job. Jesus Christ looks for wise virgins who know how to move in every direction and filled with the Holy Spirit no matter where he sends them.

Exodus 27:20 – Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.

We are to be consumed with the Holy Spirit burning the light we have, burning the oil within us.

Exodus 27:20 – Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.

Leviticus 24:2 – Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually.

In other words, the wise virgin receive the oil, and when the lamp burns while they work on something new, it does not go out and the oil isn’t consumed. It continues to burn. Those who are foolish gain the one victory they want in Jesus Christ. They want to get rid of this one particular sin, so they overcome a little bit in the Lord and they get happy with that while they go work on something else, but in the meantime, they really love self. So what they overcame was overcome again, and they lose the light they had. This is to be a light that continues to burn. Self can only be burned out so much, so I need to build up a reserve of oil that will burn for the Lord continually.

Leviticus 24:3 – Outside the curtain of the Testimony . . .

This light burned outside the curtain of Testimony. Anyone who says, ‘I have a lamp that burns for Jesus Christ,” or thinks that they are wise, must have a testimony of the crucified life. That is often missing. People will testify they have a light but it doesn’t come from a testimony of the cross.

Leviticus 24:3 – Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting. . .

That’s where God will meet you.

Leviticus 24:3 – . . . Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.

The pure gold lampstands before the Lord were tended continually. You can never rest from the message of the cross. When you take a day or an hour off, when you want to shut down, that’s when you start pressing forward by grace. Aaron watched over these lamps and made sure they burned properly. Husbands make sure your lamps are burning properly with everybody in your household. Keep them trimmed. Make sure a supply of oil is always there so that they may never go out. In your Christian walk, make sure that self is always being put on the cross to be crucified. Make sure you’re always offering yourself to the living God. Make sure the oil is built up.

Let’s go back to the bridegroom. Again this is a fire that should always burn, not a fire of excuses, justifications, laziness or being slothful, but a fire that speaks of the heat and the light of God—a lamp that burns for him.

Matthew 25:5 – The bridegroom was a long time in coming . . .

It’s not a quick easy message. It doesn’t happen in one day.

Matthew 25:5 – The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy . . .

Remember the zeal you had when you first came to Jesus Christ? People held you back and tried to stop you for the most part. As you press on with this, you start to get a little bit drowsy with the whole issue. They all went to sleep, both the wise and the foolish. As I was praying about it this week asking, “Lord, why would they all fall asleep?” That doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. But the foolish fell asleep for a different reason than the wise. The foolish virgins watched the wise go to sleep so they soothed their own consciences. They said to themselves, “Well, they’re going to sleep.” So the foolish lulled themselves to sleep, not realizing what was behind the scenes. They didn’t realize that the wise had jars. They thought they were wise like the wise virgins. The difference is; the foolish virgins were satisfied with themselves. They had their lamp and wick, the potential for light, and they were satisfied. They were comfortable and dozing. They were satisfied in going to the right church, and with where they’re at. People often say to me, “I’ve grown so much! God has changed me in these things.” Recently, I spoke to somebody who talked about some sins and things he needed to deal with and he said, “God has changed me in so many ways.” And while that is true and there are times to rejoice in that, that wasn’t one of those moments. When Jesus Christ shows us our sins, and calls us on to be perfected, if our response is, “Lord, I’ve changed already in a lot of things,” then we’re foolish virgins. We put ourselves to sleep. We’re satisfied with the grace that has been given. We’re satisfied just to be virgins. We’re satisfied with getting through the day. We’re satisfied with a little bit of the measure of what God has done with us. We’re satisfied with the basic things of what we need to do without pressing way beyond. The wise fall asleep for another reason. They fall asleep because they’re worn out. The wise fall asleep because they have been doing more than what was needed. The wise fall asleep because they have been giving, serving, loving, praying, pushing, and doing all the things that a man can do, but he wears himself out in the process. They’ve been dealing with more than their own problems, sins, or struggles. They’re weary at the end of the day. Not doing just what is needed, but going beyond what is needed. They’re tired from working out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Psalms 119:139 – My zeal wears me out . . .

They fall asleep because their zeal has pushed them to the point of exhaustion.

Psalms 119:139 – My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.

Do you understand why the writer of Psalms was worn out? He was shouting, “This is what scripture says! This is what the Bible says! This is what God commands! These are his ways!” He talked and talked and everybody ignored him. You know how frustrating and wearing that is. They begin to fall asleep because they poured themselves out. They are tired as they go, but they can’t shut up or be silenced. When you reach this point, when you’re at this level, then you might begin to talk about being wise.

Psalms 119:131 – I open my mouth . . .

“I bring to you my jar,” he says. Does he pray for wisdom, or come with eloquent prayer? Does he come in a proper way? Does he have everything outlined?

Psalms 119:131 – I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.

There are no more words. There’s nothing left to be said. Their energy is gone. You know what it is to see an animal that pants. One time someone ran their dog and all that dog could do was lay on the floor and pant—he was ran out. That’s all the energy that was left. When you’ve worn yourself out preaching the gospel that way, when you’ve worn yourself out reading scripture, when you’ve denied yourself (not because you’ve been told to give up a movie or watch TV), when you’ve worn yourself out, when you can’t do anymore thinking, when you can’t look at scripture anymore and you still stand there with your mouth open before God and say, “I long for your commands. Give me your commands,” when you can’t even say those words anymore, then you can talk about being wise.

Psalms 119:131 – I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.

So many foolish virgins have to be forced to have the commands of God in their life. You have to pound it in, box them in, show them all the wisdom and reasons why they should do it, and give them every perspective associated with the word of God, then they might, if you’re lucky, be obedient in something. However, the wise who stand there with no strength, maybe have no grace, having nothing, just physically standing there, not wanting to go anywhere else and just pant for God to give them a command. That’s oil in reserve. That’s worn out from loving God. It’s being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, it’s participating in the suffering of Jesus Christ and following him all the way into the Garden. It’s standing by him like Jesus told the disciples in John. It’s being sorrowful with the sorrows of Jesus.

Luke 22:45 – When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.

They couldn’t get up because they were sorrowful in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Oh, the wick needs to be trimmed, there’s more self that needs to be crucified, but at this point, at this stage, they’re exhausted in Jesus Christ. They followed Jesus Christ, and walked with him, but they can’t get up, they can’t do anything else. He had to restore and strengthen their souls. They were worn out. Jesus Christ moved so fast, taught so many things, and dealt with so many sins in their life. They watched what he went through and who he is, and they finally collapsed.

Luke 22: 46 – “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

It’s amazing! Jesus Christ did not even show them compassion at this point. Understand that Jesus Christ brings us to the point of crucifixion when we’ve had enough, when we are exhausted, when we look back and say, “I’ve done all these things”? You lay there on the floor and your secret pride says, “Oh, I’ve been suffering with Jesus Christ.” Jesus asks, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray.” What is our reaction? Do we respond, “I’ve done all these things. I’ve accomplished this. I’ve come so far.”? Are we so exhausted that we say, “Yes Lord,” wanting to pray, but cannot pray. Is Jesus Christ really able to tell us that the flesh is not able to do it but the spirit is willing? The cross of Jesus Christ is unmerciful, brothers and sisters. You might think you’re exhausted in the garden having done everything you can—I’ve heard it a lot of times. People come to me saying, “I’ve been praying about it. I’ve been crying out to God in that.” And we keep putting out the self that is here or go back and pray about it. You become indignant and frustrated as if you’ve done everything you know to do. We need humble, empty hearts, so Jesus Christ can turn to us and say, “Get up and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation,” When you are exhausted, that you won’t kick, fight, and get angry, but say, “Yes Lord.” Every time we justify, we make ourselves a foolish virgin. Every time we act like it’s God fault; “I’m doing the best I can” or “This is the most I can endure.” When Jesus Christ tells us to get up and pray, we make ourselves fools. He has not even begun to deal with us. When I look at my own life and I pray about all God has brought me through, it’s nothing. I shudder to think what he will demand and what’s out there before but I don’t want to run from it, I don’t want to pay attention to my flesh that tells me to avoid it. As I’ve shared with brothers and sisters in this body, this time of peace is difficult.

We are in a time of peace right now and that’s when everybody goes to sleep. Had the persecutors been outside the door, the virgins wouldn’t have fallen asleep. Had they known that Jesus Christ was right there, if they knew the time and the hour, they wouldn’t have fallen asleep. They would have been nudging each other, doing whatever they could do. In fact, once the cry goes out at midnight, they all wake up and they don’t have any problems staying awake at that point. This isn’t a fight against the peace of God, but to say this is your time to become wise because, brothers and sisters, there will come a testing point. I can predict with some of you almost exactly, if you continue on the course that you are moving on, where you will come out.

Acts 9:31 – Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.

I praise God for the peace. I am thankful for the peace. It allows us to work, labor, and preach, but I’m also fearful in that peace. I tell my flesh constantly, “Don’t you get used to this. This is not what it’s about. This is not what will happen. I won’t go to sleep. I may go to sleep, but I want a jar next to me when I do. I will fight to the last breath.” I’m going to hold my mouth open and pant.

Acts 9:31 – . . . It was strengthened;

Right now, God is trying to strengthen the message of the cross in us. He’s trying to make these things clear to you. He’s trying to tell you, “This is what the message of the cross is about” and if you’re having a hard time getting a hold of it and fighting against it now, what will you do when the time of being pressed out in the garden takes place?

Acts 9:31 – It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

God has granted us a time of peace in this body so that one thing might happen; that we might become afraid. That we might actually be quiet and consider who God is and say with the Psalms, “Who knows your indignation? You’re so holy, you’re worthy of the fear that is due your name.” To look at the message of the cross and get very quiet in relationship to that message, allowing it to sink in and say, “Oh Lord. Oh Lord.” Not to analyze it or tear it down or go through all the things that we do, but to say, “Oh Lord,” growing in the fear of the God. There will come a time when he presses it out. There will come a time when he takes us into the garden. There will come a time when you would have fallen asleep and the bridegroom is almost there and it will be time to wake up. When you wake up, will the jar be there? Right now, brothers and sisters, things are easy. We share with you stories of things we have been through and you only know them as stories. We can’t say them enough, over and over again, how destructive to the flesh it is. Brothers and sisters, now is the time to be storing God’s word into your heart and getting that jar filled. Not just giving up movies because we’re fasting, but because you choose to do so. Not saying, “No” to all the other things that we do because we have been told to, but to pursue the things of righteousness because we want them. Do not relax in this time of peace, but grow in the fear of God. There are sins that God is confronting you with now, and he wants you to overcome. It’s not that he just want the sins to be overcome, he’s trying to teach you how he will overcome every sin in your life and every obstacle that comes your way. There are principals, ideas, and ways of God that he’s trying to teach you. So take whatever it is you’re struggling with and pursue and overcome it, but learn what you are being taught in terms of how to overcome it.

Matthew 25:6 – At midnight the cry rang out. . .

They will be awakened again. There was a cry once and they went out to meet the bridegroom. Then God got very quiet. You remember, don’t you, the first beginnings of the convictions of the message of the cross? There were those first convictions about how your life was undone, but things have gotten a lot quieter in those terms, haven’t they? That tells you your conviction is totally gone. But things have gotten extremely quiet. Don’t go to sleep. And if you go to sleep, you fight going to sleep and you make sure you have a jar as you’re dozing off.

Matthew 25:6-7 – At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

All the virgins knew what to do. They are what we would call “Disciples.” I want to emphasize this again and again. They knew the message of the cross. They knew the wick had to be trimmed, they knew they needed to deny self, and they went through the steps to do so. They could write books on how to deny self. They read books on the crucified life. They knew self must be put to death. Everyone was getting in the right position to light their lamps, but one thing was missing—the oil for the lamps to burn. The Holy Spirit wasn’t there. They mocked the message. They took the message that was given them, but not to the point that the Holy Spirit gave life in them. They had gone through the guidance and accepted the commands, but the Holy Spirit wasn’t inside filling, moving, and overflowing. It was too late to be discipled, the bridegroom was almost there. It was too late to be convicted again. I see foolish virgins in this: God will come along and try to convict you on something and you fight, kick, and struggle and then God becomes quiet, and you become happy. You think that because you’ve gone through the conviction, the debate, or discussion about it that somehow God has done something. Maybe you’ve gained a little bit of victory and maybe you didn’t. But God has to get very quiet because you get so argumentative and tough, that he has to back up and not do anything, otherwise he would destroy you completely. You’re becoming a foolish virgin. God may try to come again to convict you again about the same thing and to deal with the self that is there, but there comes a point in time when the bridegroom is almost at the door and it’s too late for that. It’s too late to be convicted and told again. If your brothers and sisters help you deal with a sin and they come to you one time, you need to say to yourself, “This is the only time that they’ll come to me and nobody will ever come to me again to tell me about that sin. I will remember what they told me. I will deal with that sin, wrestle, and fall to the ground until it is put to death. If they come to me again about the same sin, and again after that, I become a foolish virgin. I’m never pressed out. There’s never any room for the Holy Spirit or oil.” Sometimes you think to yourself, “Oh, I heard God’s voice” or you think you heard something. Self has to be crucified. You need to ask yourself how much self is being crucified. Don’t count on the number of times you heard God, have some answered prayer, receive his provision, or some other work of God, but how much of self has been crucified? How much has the cross done its work? How different are you? Can people look at you and say you are far beyond who you are? The foolish ones go to their usual remedy.

Matthew 25:8 – The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.”

That was probably the source of the whole problem; they always looked to somebody else for their wisdom and guidance. They always mocked the message, or took it from somebody, but never independently heard from God to do something or receive from the Holy Spirit what to do, how to do it, and act on it to the point that self was put to death. So they turned to the only remedy they knew—not the living God, not to the Holy Spirit—but to the wise and said, “Give us some of your oil.” Of course the wise say in verse 9, “No.” You see this is very unusual light in the Lord. You would think light could be shared. You’d think you could turn in generosity and tell the five that are foolish, “Look, I’ll light my lamp. You can stay here and share my light.” It’s not that kind of light. We are supposed to be children of the light, because it burns from inside. You can’t share it. You can’t give it away. Only Jesus Christ can see it. They turn to the foolish and say “No” because they know they can’t give it to them.

Matthew 25:9 – “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”

How many times do you come to us when we deal with you on a problem or issue and finally we turn to you and say, “No, you go figure it out”? We’re trying to make you wise. We’re trying to make you go back to the living God, hear from the Holy Spirit, and actually be crucified to self. We want self be put to death and fall to the ground so that new life might be in you. The advice had been given. This is the lamp. This is the wick. This is what you need. This is how you’re supposed to be dressed. This is where you’re supposed to wait. We wait for the bridegroom. All the doctrines are there, everything’s in place and you come to us on the most basic of things and we say, “No, you go back, figure it out, and wrestle it out before the living God and overcome it.” We’re trying to make you wise virgins! Not only will you go back and get from God life, but you will have an abundance of life that you can turn to other people to give. Usually the only time you like the word “No” is when you want to go off in your pride and think you can figure it out yourself, then you don’t come ask. But every time Jesus Christ moves and works within this body for someone who is spiritual to turn to you and say, “No, I won’t tell you.” Understand that God wants you to go back and become wise. How will we know whether you become wise or not? You will come back with your jar a little fuller and you’ll be far more excited than if I gave you a little piece of advice. We’re trying to increase your joy, not take it away. I could lay everything out and all the details—a lot of you try to force it from us—and sometimes we have to do that because there’s just no other choice. But when you figure it out and fellowship with the living God, when God gives you a little bit more of the Holy Spirit than you asked for, isn’t your joy more than getting the answer that you got? When Carla or I tell you “No,” you should say “Thanks” and go wrestle it out and then come back with the answer and share it.

Matthew 25:10 – But while they were on their way to buy the oil. . .

Now they will go out and pay the cost. They will give up everything at this time, but it’s too late. Brothers and sisters, there will come a time when this body will be disrupted, when we won’t be able to meet together either due to persecution or works that should be done. We won’t be able to spend time. We barely get time with one another as it is. There will come a time when that will be less and less. There will come that moment, that time when Jesus will just want you. He just wants to fellowship with you. He’s a jealous God. Will you be found with a full jar of oil and the lamp burning to go in?

Matthew 25:10 – But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

They knew where to buy oil and where to go. They knew all those things, but while they tried to get it all put together now, Jesus Christ shows up. Verse 11 reveals their heart. This is the truth. This is who the foolish virgins are.

Matthew 25:11 – Later the others also came.

What did they say? “Lord, Lord”? No, the truth finally prevails. They were desperate now and the truth flowed. When you become angry, upset, or frustrated, who you really are starts coming out.

Matthew 25:11- “Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!”

They couldn’t call him “Lord, Lord” because he was not their Lord. They weren’t obedient to his Spirit. They didn’t do what he commanded. They did law, they did the Bible and ink, they did the commentaries, and sermons, but they didn’t follow him. What they did do, was just for themselves. They never went beyond their own little personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They never repented more than what was required for them to be at peace for the day. Rightly so, they said, “Sir! Sir!” They didn’t recognize they were talking to the bridegroom.

Matthew 25:12 – But he replied. . .

They thought they were talking to a “Sir.” They didn’t recognize Jesus Christ.

Matthew 25:12 – But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”

It’s interesting, he didn’t say it like he said in Matt. 7:23, “I never knew you,” he just said, “I don’t know you.” These were brides waiting for the banquet, they were virgins.

Matthew 25:13 – Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

All you need to do is ask, “Have I fallen to the ground to self?” and “What has the Lord shown me today?” Brothers and sisters we need to start overcoming the things that are in our life now unto the point of death. You can just sit there not repenting. You can repent to the point of meeting your spiritual needs. You can play the word games. You can mock back scripture and try to fool us. You can seek God, but nothing beyond what your immediate needs are. You feel a little conviction so you’ll seek him to get peace and be happy. You need to love, “So okay, I need to show love. So I pursue love and I’m able to do it, and everybody is happy, I’m fine.” That’s no hunger and thirst for righteousness. The reason Jesus says, “No, I don’t know you” is because they were there for selfish reasons. They were there for the cake. They were there for heaven, but not for Jesus Christ. Now is the time for you to get ready. We can overlook a lot of things right now because you are being taught and this is your time of learning. But there will come a time when that won’t be overlooked.

Hebrews 5:12 – In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers

This will be the measuring stick. Someone who has their lamp, their wick, and an extra jar is able to teach other people. He is able to go beyond who they are because they mastered their topic. They have mastered their sin. They have mastered the crucified life, not made perfect in terms of mastering it, but they know how it’s done. They know where the garden is. They know how to persevere. They’re wise.

Hebrews 5:12 – In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.

You wake up out of your slumber and say, “Hey, I need some of your oil.” They didn’t even realize they needed oil until their lamps were going down and it was getting dark. They didn’t know they didn’t have a jar. That’s how stupid the foolish ones were. They weren’t even alarmed that they were in need until the lamp was going down. They were happy as long as their little light shined.

Hebrews 5:12-13 – . . . You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

If I have to spoon feed you the crucified life, if I have to tell you the basic things over and over again, you are not acquainted with righteousness. You don’t understand how to hear the Holy Spirit. You don’t understand how to sift through your flesh and all the things that encompass righteousness.

Hebrews 5:14-6:1 – But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death . . .

Let us be wise and let us be virgins.

Let’s pray.

Father impress these things upon our hearts. Make them real in our souls. We are slow, we easily fall asleep, and we easily excuse ourselves. How often Father we silence your voice.

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.

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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.