Today we’ll be looking at 2 Corinthians, chapter 5 verse 11. Let’s go back to verse 10 to get it in context because it says, “Knowing, therefore,” and the old adage is true—when the “therefore” is there it’s there for a reason, so it’s obviously speaking of something previous to it. Verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that which is done whether it be good or bad.” As Christians, we’re gonna stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Have we been good and faithful? Or have we been wicked and slothful servants? Have we been genuine in our convictions and walked in righteousness or have we been workers of iniquity? Then Scripture says in verse 11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men. But we’re made manifest unto God and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
The Irksome Task of Evangelism
This message is entitled Evangelism Is as Exciting as a Root Canal. I mean that. I was so delighted to find a quote from Spurgeon where he referred to evangelism as an irksome task. When something’s irksome, it’s really annoying and I appreciated what Spurgeon said because I don’t find it, evangelism, exciting, in the sense that I don’t love evangelism and I’m going to give you a reason for it in a minute. I’d rather be home with my wife, rather be watching an old movie on television than involved in the annoying, irritating, tiresome, irksome task of evangelism. Because to those that are in the world, you and I are the ultimate wet blanket on their pleasures and so the world is going to reject us, it’s not going to like us, it’s going to hate us and Jesus warned His disciples. He said, “The time will come when people will kill you thinking they’re doing God a favor.”
“I’d rather be home with my wife, rather be watching an old movie on television than involved in the annoying, irritating, tiresome, irksome task of evangelism.”
So why would anybody in his right mind involve himself, devote his life to the irksome task of evangelism? Surely it’s more sensible to become involved in friendship evangelism, relationship evangelism. It’s a personal thing, keep it to yourself. Just do good things for good people, have a bake sale, wash cars, let people know that we love them as Christians.
Let me give you the full quote from Spurgeon, this is what he said: “We must school and train ourselves to deal personally with the unconverted. We must not excuse ourselves but force ourselves to the irksome task of evangelism until it becomes easy.” Why would we do that? Well because Jesus said to. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Scriptures say, “Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season.” That’s the only two times we should preach, in season, out of season.
Why should we do it? Because we have a moral obligation to do so and for me to be silent would be to be a Judas to the cause of Christ. It would be like being a doctor who lets his patients die or a lifeguard who watches people drown when he could save them, or more applicably, a fire fighter who watches people burn when it was in his ability to save them. I’d be the worst of all hypocrites because I would profess to have the love of God in my heart but my inaction would show that I’m cold-hearted and selfish, a wicked and slothful servant.
We Can’t Consider Ourselves
Some time ago I was eating some cereal and I thought, “Hang on this isn’t Grape Nuts, it’s some stones in my cereal. Tiny stones.” And I thought, “What is going on? Are the makers dropping some tiny stones to make their cereal taste like those Grape Nut things or what?” And I realized that one of my fillings decided it was going to leave. It just dropped out. So I called my dentist, told him the good news. I was coming in so he could do some filling and fill his wallet at the same time, so it’s good news for a dentist.
Some of you may know I put out a dentist survival kit. It’s little cards that you can actually take to the dentist. It’s everything you wanted to say to your dentist but couldn’t because he had his hands in your mouth. It’s little cards that say, “Your knuckle is crushing my face.” Ever had that? Another card says, you know the machine that makes that loud sucking noise on the back of your tongue, little card says, “Your machine has just sucked off my tonsils.” Or you’ve been sitting in the dentist chair and you think, “Where is the guy? It’s been like eternity. Where is he?” There’s a little card that says, “Enjoy your game of golf.”
So this was a new dentist and so I decided to do what I do with all dentists, I took my little plastic cockroach and put it on my tongue. There’s a reason for this. Dentists feel down in the mouth so often I decided I want to raise him up and just cheer up his day. So I check with his assistant, said, “Plastic cockroach on tongue.” It cheered up the Indian gentleman, who had a very delightful Indian accent. And so he came in, he said, “Open up,” and there it was. “Ooh! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that.” And he got all excited. This is my dentist. And he begins telling me about some lady that super glued her dentures to her jaws trying to keep them in and she freaked out. He says, “I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t know what to do!”
So anyway, he looked at my Grand Canyon and then informed me, “You need a root canal.” I said, “I do not need a root canal.” He said, “Yes you do.” And he showed me some little x-rays that he took. You know it’s such a faith thing. We’ve got to so trust that, I didn’t have a clue what he was showing me. Is that my teeth? Oh yes. Yes they’re my teeth. I recognize them. No I didn’t know whose teeth I was looking at. I just had to believe the guy. Yeah. Oh I see a root canal. And then he said, he informed me, he said, “This is quite amazing.” He said, “You should be in tremendous pain right now.” He said, “But I think the roots must be dead.” And it’s true I’ve got very sensitive teeth. If you chew ice in front of me you’ll set my teeth on edge, I’m serious. This deep hole in there. I could suck in cold air, I still haven’t had it filled, suck in cold air, no pain.
The Key to Evangelism
But that’s the key to this irksome task of evangelism. We don’t feel the pain when it comes to this irksome task because the task to which you and I are called is so important we can’t even begin to consider our own well-being. Imagine, it’s early on a Saturday morning, real early. You’re driving your car and you look out the right-hand side, you see this huge wooden house sitting right back on a huge lawn and there’s a long driveway, really early Saturday morning. You see a sight that warms your heart. You see a gentleman out on a balcony, third floor, come out on his balcony. He’s wearing a white robe really early in the morning, he’s got a cup of coffee in his hand and he’s enjoying the sunrise. It just warms your heart to see that sight.
And suddenly as you drive past you see something that horrifies you. You see smoke coming out of the basement of that house and then you see flames begin to lick out the windows and suddenly you think about the fate of that guy and perhaps his family that’s still asleep and his animals, his kids. So you turn up his driveway, you drive up like a maniac, your tires screech, you open your door, run on to that big lawn and look up and say, “Sir!” And he says, “Get off my property or I’ll call the police.” That’s his reaction. His reaction’s understandable. You’ve gone onto his property, what are you going to do? It makes sense. So what are you going to do when he says “Get off my property”? You say, “Oh yeah. Okay sir. Have a great day.” Could you do that? Of course you couldn’t. You’d stand there and scream at that man to come out.
You and I are stepping onto the world’s property. We’re a threat to their pleasurable lifestyle. But I don’t care what the world thinks of me, I don’t care about their stupid names they have, I don’t care if they spit on my face; I’m going to stand there and I’m going to warn them to flee from the wrath that’s to come. It’s understandable that they mock us because of the threat we are to their lifestyle. Listen to what Scripture says. In the face of the anger of the world, Paul says, “None of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear to me that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I’ve received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” He said in the face of adversity, in the face of hatred and persecution, the face of death, Paul says, “None of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear to me that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I’ve received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
The House Is on Fire
Jude 22-23, it says this. “And of some have compassion.” Why would I drive up that guy’s driveway, run onto his lawn and scream at him? Do I want his money? Do I want his kids, his house? No. I know that that building is going to be an inferno in minutes and so I’m motivated only by compassion. Then it says, “Others save with fear, pulling them from the fire.” You know if that guy says, “Get out before I call the police,” I’d say, “I’m coming into your house. Right now. I’m going to open the door. Your place is on fire. I’m going to pull you out of this place and your family. I’m going to awaken them. I’m not leaving because you’re in terrible danger.”
“Others save with fear, pulling them from the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Pulling them. That’s not passive evangelism. That’s not relationship evangelism. That’s in-your-face evangelism. That’s confrontational evangelism. That’s warning every man that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus because they have to face a holy God on the day of wrath. There’s a very real Hell and a very real fire, a lake of fire.
I hate that saying that’s been attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” But sir, sir…this house is on fire. I’m going to use words. I’m going to lift up my voice like a trumpet. And we’re told to use words: “Preach the gospel to every creature.” The disciples couldn’t but speak that which they’ve seen and heard. I wrote an article called, “Was Saint Francis a Sissy?” I studied the guy’s life and he wasn’t. He was openly evangelistic and there’s nothing in his writings that attribute that saying to him, “When necessary use words.” How will they hear without a preacher?
Too Much Talking, Not Enough Doing
Just recently I heard some well-known person somewhere in the States, worried about America’s woes, financial woes, what’s happening to the country. And so they’re trying to gather together people to pray, ten, fifteen thousand Christians to pray. Well that’s great but I’d rather gather ten, fifteen thousand Christians to preach. We’re not short of people who’ll pray. It’s easy to pray, it’s easier to talk to God about men than to talk to men about God. Listen to what A. W. Tozer said about praying: “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late and how little revival has resulted? The problem is that we’ve been trying to substitute praying for obeying and that simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and to get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”
“It’s easier to talk to God about men than to talk to men about God.”
That’s why I’m so pleased that so many of you are out today because you don’t want to just pray, you want to put legs to your prayers. You want to lift up your voice like a trumpet. Ladies, don’t you let anyone convince you the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature is just for men. You lift up your voices like a trumpet, you be a witness of Christ. We’ve found everlasting life in Jesus Christ. We need every laborer that we’ve got. Jesus said laborers are few and they certainly are.
Learning from the Past
Romans 15 verse 4 says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” So what we’re going to do today is look at three men of God and see what we can learn about them in relationship to evangelism. First one I want to look at is Adam. Now, back to the root canal. I don’t know what you’re going to do when you get to Heaven but I’ve had this thought especially when that drill hits a raw nerve in my tooth. I thought, “Well when I get to Heaven I want to say hello to John the Baptist and then I want to smack Adam in the face.” It hurts. And everything miserable in this life traces itself back to Adam and his transgression, everything. But he was my first father so I have to honor him, so that feeling goes away after the drill goes away.
But, Adam’s transgression gives us a wonderful lesson. It shows us that sin is to be looked upon with the utmost solemnity. Sin is desirable in this world; they love it. They live for it. You and I have escaped the corruption that’s in the world through lust. The world lives for the pleasures that come from sin. We’re told in the last days men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. But for the Christian, the moral Law has shown us the smoke in the basement. We know sin has pleasure but we know that it brings forth death, damnation in the place called the lake of fire.
You know, when we say God is absolute moral perfection it’s very hard for us fallen creatures to actually comprehend the depth of those words. But think of it like this: We can see how serious a judge looks upon crime by how he deals with the criminal. Okay, you’re reading the newspaper. Judge so and so has just dealt a criminal with a fine of five dollars. Oh okay, five-dollar fine. The judge mustn’t think it’s a very serious crime. But if you look and see the same judge gave him three lifetime sentences, you go, “Whoa, whatever that guy did must have been very serious in the judge’s eyes, three multiple life sentences.”
Think about Adam’s one seemingly insignificant transgression ushered in, for you and I, pain, insanity, suicide, thousands of deadly cancerous diseases and other diseases, killer tornadoes, devastating hurricanes, massive floods, frightening tsunamis, man-eating tigers and sharks, poisonous snakes and spiders, alcoholism, starvation, wife-beating, drug addiction, demonic possession, loneliness, fear, hatred, rape, abortion, blasphemy, murder, torture, wars, theft, racial prejudice, genocide, pedophilia, aging, death, Hell, and damnation in the lake of fire. I’ve just skimmed over the top, the tip of the iceberg of human misery. It’s all because of one man’s transgression against his Creator’s moral Law. That gives us a glimpse of how holy God is. If God wasn’t rich in mercy, we’d be struck by the lightning of His wrath for the mere entertainment of sin within our minds. The psalmist says, “He shall take away the wicked as with a whirlwind as in his living and burning wrath.”
Take God’s Wrath Seriously
So how soberly should you and I preach about sin and judgment? “Therefore knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Why don’t we have more people involved in evangelism? Why is there such a low percentage? Why have I gone for nearly 40 years without anybody ever even once trying to witness to me in my whole life? Nearly 40 years. Nobody’s ever come up to me and tried to witness to me. There’s such a dearth of laborers in contemporary Christianity. Why? Because they don’t know the terror of the Lord. Many of our preachers have become nothing but motivational speakers. They don’t speak of sin, righteousness, and judgment. They don’t thunder out the Commandments from the pulpits and let the lightning put the fear of God in the hearers. So consequently we’ve become a nation that’s given to idolatry.
“There’s such a dearth of laborers in contemporary Christianity. Why? Because they don’t know the terror of the Lord.”
Our concept of God is erroneous. We have no idea of the holiness of God. God is seen by many as just a divine butler. Just one we go to when we’ve got problems. Click our fingers and see if he comes running like America clicked its fingers after 9/11 and our churches filled up for about a week and then back to sin. Why? Because we’re just like Israel of old; we keep going back to idolatry and coming under judgment. I believe God is raising up a generation that will preach the wrath of God, the justice of God, the righteousness of God, the holiness of God without compromise, without fear of consequence because they’re motivated by a compassion that will swallow their fears.
Nathan Spoke the Truth
Which brings us to Nathan, the prophet. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 1 and 2. Uh oh, here we are starting with a “therefore” so we better go back to verse 18: “But we all with an unveiled face beholding in a mirror as it were the glory of the Lord.” God’s glory is interwoven with His justice and truth and His holiness. That’s His glory. His throne is established in righteousness. “We behold that and are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we don’t faint.” I’m not going to stand on that guy’s lawn and if he won’t come out just say, “Oh I just can’t handle this.” The stakes are too great, I can’t faint.
“But having renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” That’s what keeps me on the straight and narrow. That’s why when I’m tempted not to talk about Hell or judgment or righteousness when I’m open-air preaching, I know that I speak in the sight of God. He’s watching everything I do, everything I say, everything I think. I’ve got to be true and faithful. I’ve got to fear God more than I fear man. Not handling the Word of God deceitfully.
You know Nathan is very admirable and I was thinking about the fact that we’re not told that much about Nathan, not given insight into his character or his fears. When God commissioned Moses, Moses whined. “Oh I can’t go I’m just scared.” Jeremiah whined, “I can’t go I’m scared.” Same with Gideon, he did a little whine. But we’re not told that Nathan whined, but I can imagine him getting upset and saying, “Whoa. You want me to what?” I mean David had committed adultery, had committed murder. He had violated the commandments and God said, “I want you to go and reprove him.” He says, “Lord, I can’t do it. You want me…?” Remember what Ananias said to the Lord when he was told to go meet up with Saul of Tarsus? He says, “You’re kidding, Lord.” I can imagine Nathan saying that. “This is David you’ve just told me. He’s already a murderer, he took the head off Goliath. One nod of David’s head and I lose mine.” Oh what are you saying there about the man? Take him away. It’s all over.
So what did Nathan do? Imagine if he did this. He’s told to reprove David for his murder and his adultery and all the other commandments he violated. He comes in and motivated by his own sense of wellbeing he says, “David. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life but there’s something stopping you enjoying this wonderful plan. It’s called sin but nevertheless all men have sinned.” Why would he do that? The king is a murderer. He’s a criminal. Why would he, instead of reproving him for violating the Commandments, suddenly talk about a wonderful plan? That’s crazy when you think about it. Imagine a prosecutor with a guy like Charles Manson, a mass murderer. He’s up for serious crimes and the prosecutor turns to him and instead of pointing out his crimes and bringing evidence to him, he says, “Hah. The judge has a wonderful plan for your life.” Doesn’t make any sense.
No, Nathan was motivated by fear of God, he was faithful to his commission. He didn’t change the message, he didn’t change the words. He told him a story about a little man who took a little lamb and took it for his own and killed the lamb and David stood up in his hypocrisy and self-righteousness and said that man must return four-fold and he’ll die, and then Nathan said, “You are the man. Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord?” And David says, “Oh I’ve sinned against Heaven.”
“You are the man.” David had despised the commandment of the Lord. He’d committed adultery, violated the Seventh. He committed murder, violated the Sixth. He coveted his neighbor’s wife, he stole his neighbor’s wife, he lived a lie, he dishonored his parents, he dishonored God, he was an idolater. He made up a god in his own image so he could carry out on his own sins, follow after his flesh. He had no fear of God before his eyes. He caused the name of God to be blasphemed because of a sin. You think David’s going to cry, “I’ve sinned against God,” with some wonderful plan being offered to him by the prophet? That’s why people don’t cry, “I’ve sinned against Heaven,” because modern evangelism has handled the Word of God deceitfully. They’ve changed the message talking about a wonderful plan, spreading out sin by saying, “All of us sin.”
Sin Is Personal
No, sin is personal. “You are the man. Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord?” And we see Paul doing this in Romans chapter 2. He said, “You who say you shall not steal. Do you steal? You who said we should not commit adultery. Do you commit adultery? The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Sin is personal. We’re dealing with criminals. We are a blasphemous nation. We blaspheme the name of the God who gave us life. We blaspheme the name of the Savior as though it’s a filthy word. We’re a nation of idolaters, we’re a nation of adulterers, a nation of thieves and liars. Guinness Book of Records says the average person tells something like fifty something thousand lies in their lifetime. And what does the church do? Takes the message of a wonderful plan to a group of criminals and we wonder why the church has lost its power.
The amplified Bible says, “We refuse to deal craftily to practice trickery and cunning or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God but we state the truth openly, clearly, and candidly.” Let it be like Nathan. We need to preach the disease, diagnose the disease before we preach the cure. That’s biblical evangelism. I was having lunch with a guy yesterday. He says, “What’s biblical evangelism? Why do you talk about that?” Biblical evangelism is to follow in the steps of Jesus. It’s to preach Law to the proud, grace to the humble. If someone comes to you and says, “Oh. What should I do? I’ve sinned against God. I’m an adulterer, I’m a liar. Oh, what should I do?” Give them grace. Those sort of people are about as rare as hen’s teeth. You don’t get many people coming to you saying, “What should I do?”; they have no knowledge of sin.
Paul says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Law makes sin exceedingly sinful. It shows it in its true light. And without the light of God’s Law, men are in darkness. They stand on their balcony gazing at the sunrise enjoying the pleasures of sin, not aware that their house is on fire. We’re talking about their eternities and they need to be awakened and the awakening thing is the Law. Because when you preach the Law it appeals to a man’s conscience. It stirs up a man’s, a woman’s conscience. The work of the Lord is written on their heart. Conscience means “with knowledge” and so when you take those commandments and say to someone, “How many lies do you think you’ve told? What does that make you? It makes you a liar. You ever stolen something?” Get them to admit their sins and suddenly they’ll begin to smell the smoke. This is what Jesus did.
Give Them the Law
Mark 10 verse 17, rich young ruler came running to Him, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus didn’t say, “Quick, say this prayer.” He didn’t preach the love of God, He didn’t preach grace, didn’t mention the cross. He said, “Why do you call Me good?” I mean this was a guy who ran to Jesus. He was earnest. He knelt down, he was humble. He said to Jesus, “Good Master.” He showed honor to the Savior and yet Jesus turned to him. He says, “Why do you call Me good? There’s none good but God.” The unregenerate mind of humanity has no idea what the word “good” means. Scripture says, “Every man is pure in his own eyes.” Proverbs 20 verse 6 says, “Most every man will proclaim his own goodness.” Ask someone if they’re good. They’ll say, “I’m a good person.”
Well then we need to do what Jesus did with them. If they think they’re a good person, He says, “You know the commandments,” and He gave them six commandments, one after the other. Why? Because the commandments give us light as to the holiness of God and our sinful heart. They give us a contrast, they give us an absolute, they give us an understanding of God’s nature and His character, that He’s going to bring everyone to judgment including every secret thing where there’s good or evil. He considers lust to be adultery, hatred to be murder, and He’s going to cause you to give an account of every idle word you speak on the Day of Judgment and you need a savior. A doctor gives a diagnosis of the disease so that the cure can be appreciated and appropriated. This was the way of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. All Jesus is doing through the whole Sermon on the Mount is expounding the Law, magnifying the Law, and making it honorable. Read it for yourself.
David Conquered Fear
Which brings us to David. Now what adjectives come to your mind when you hear the name David? Do you think courageous in the face of Goliath, lustful in the face of Bathsheba, or maybe forgiving in the face of Saul? We’re going to look at all three. Let’s start with David’s courage. We all know the story of Goliath taunting Israel for 40 years. David comes along, he’s just a little fella. He says, “I’ll handle this.” Goes and finds a sling and he’s got five smooth stones, takes a small stone and he leaves an impression on the mind of Goliath and then he took Goliath’s sword and hacked off his head. Nice bedtime story for our children. If you’ve got a passion for the unsaved, you’re going to be continually taunted by Goliath. Every time you reach out to the lost you’re going to have to battle the giant.
Fear is going to come at you but I want you to listen very carefully. It is not your fear. It’s not your fear. The Bible speaks of the spirit of fear; it’s not from within, it’s from without. It will come to you every time you go to do the will of God from your heart. There is a fear that has torment and if you listen to it, it will paralyze you. It will have you super-glued to the pew; you won’t do anything, you’ll just be an inactive Christian praising the Lord but not doing what He’s told you to do. So what you’ve got to do is take the sword and cut the head off that giant. Say, “I will not listen.”
Someone mentioned to me that the first time he got to open-air preach, he was terrified but he said it was as scary, if not scarier, than going into a dark alley with guns drawn looking for some criminal. My friend Chad who preaches with us, he’s a Navy SEAL, ex-Navy SEAL, he’s jumped out of planes. He says open-air preaching terrified him more than jumping out of the plane for the first time. Why? Because it’s an outward fear that has torment.
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
Maybe years ago I was walking my kids when they were little and I was down this path in some forest somewhere and I saw two Dobermans running toward us. These black dogs. And they were running right toward and I remember just grabbing my kids and I just put them behind me and I waited for those dogs to come and I thought if those dogs go near my kids I’m going to…I know how to kill dogs.
You know how to kill a dog? They taught the Allies how to kill Dobermans in the War because the Germans used to use them. All you do is grab the front legs and pull them up because the dog’s got shoulder blades on each side of the heart. That’s why you don’t pick a dog up by the front, it doesn’t like being picked up by its front legs. Don’t do that. Dog doesn’t want to have its heart crushed. Okay? Please don’t do this. It might bite you if you try to lift up the front legs.
And as those dogs ran toward us, I just felt courage that I’ve never felt before. There was no fear at all. Dogs ran right past us, didn’t even notice us. I was kind of disappointed. But it gave me a glimpse of the power of love. If there had been lions running towards my kids I would have done exactly the same thing. Perfect love casts out all fear and we have a sobering irksome task to do and we’re to have compassion and not listen to our fears because they’re not our fears, which brings us to David’s problem with lust.
A Lack of the Fear of God
David should have been in the heat of battle, but he wasn’t. He was walking his rooftops, gazing at his neighbors’ wives. The Devil has a use for an idle eye. It wasn’t long before David desired his neighbor’s wife and lust brought forth sin. My whole thought was, “David what were you thinking? Where was your fear of God? What do you think God was doing while you were lusting after a woman and then taking her for yourself, committing adultery and then killing her husband? Where was God in this whole thing? Where was the God that was with you when you faced Goliath? David?” And you know what it is, to give yourself to lust you first have to give yourself to idolatry. You have to create a god whose eye isn’t in every place beholding the evil and the good.
You know when I meet a Christian who says, “I’ve got a problem with porn,” I think, “That’s not your problem.” If you call yourself a Christian, you say you’ve got a problem with porn, your problem is not with porn—it’s with a lack of the fear of God. That’s what your problem is. A lack of the fear of God. They say, “Why’s that?” Well let me ask you then, would you take pornography into a worship service? Would you look at pornography in the back of a worship service? Say, “No, I couldn’t do that because that’s a house of God.” What are you talking about, it’s not a house of God, it’s a building. God dwells not in temples made with hands. We call them churches but God is omnipresent. He’s in your bedroom as much as He’s in this place we erroneously call a church. The eye of the Lord is in every place beholding the evil and the good and it’s the fear of God that keeps me from sin. I know sin has pleasure but I know the eye of the Lord is in every place beholding the evil and the good.
“To give yourself to lust you first have to give yourself to idolatry. You have to create a god whose eye isn’t in every place beholding the evil and the good.”
We have escaped the corruption that’s in the world through lust, that’s what the Scriptures say. The corruption that’s in the world is through lust. You’ll see Bathsheba everywhere you look guys. She’s on billboards, she’s in magazines, she’s in movies. Anywhere you look, she’s selling cars, she’s lying all over the hood of a car. She’s there. She’s on political programs. Bathsheba is your weather lady in a little short-skirt. She’s on those other programs, the panels where they have blonde bombshells and low necks and short-skirts and low camera angles because Bathsheba is everywhere. She wants to catch your eye. She wants to get into your heart and so guard your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.
How to Avoid Sin
And let me tell you a principle of keeping your heart free from sin. When I’m doing nothing, I want to eat. You have that problem? Seriously. If I’ve got a day, like if it rains on a Saturday, oh God forbid, that means no preaching at Huntington Beach on a Saturday. A whole Saturday. We’re going to have to find something to do when it’s raining. I’d go and preach in the rain, maybe talk about Noah and the flood or whatever. People don’t gather around. I’d give out umbrellas, whatever. I would. But people don’t gather so I say I’ve got a Saturday at home. What will I do? I’ll eat. And so I find myself standing at the refrigerator, I’m not even hungry. Fill your mind with good things because I know I don’t eat when I’m real busy. If I’m writing I want to write an article, I don’t even think of food. So busy yourself, concern yourself with the unsaved. Always abounding in the work of the Lord if you know your labor’s not in vain, always abound.
You know how many guys hate gardening? I don’t like gardening. I think gardening is a waste of time. The only thing is, I like flowers, I like gardens, but I don’t like gardening. I don’t like getting dirty hands and worms and…so here’s something for you guys who don’t like gardening and I’ll tell you how to get out of gardening. I got out about 40 years ago, haven’t done any gardening for about 40 years and this is what you do. You bend down with your newly married wife as she’s planting her little plants in the garden. You say, “I’ll help you honey,” and you pull out some weeds and then you start pulling out some of her plants. She’ll turn to you and say, “Get away! Never touch this garden again.” Well that’s it.
Same principle with mowing lawns. We used to have this hand mower and I just hated going up and down, up and…the futility! It’s going to grow again, what’s the point? Seriously. I thought about spraying it with some spray or some sort of rubber green stuff that would just…but I never invented it. So what I did instead of going up and down once I just got a lawnmower is I went around, around, around, around. When I finished it looked awful, so that’s when we hired a gardener and I haven’t been mowing lawns for years. I’ve been doing things like busying myself with things that are eternal.
But if you want to get out of gardening that’s what you can do and to stop yourself having to do gardening, fill your garden up with plants so there’s no room for weeds. That’s the principle for keeping your mind free of lustful thoughts. Spurgeon said, “We cannot help birds flying over our heads, but we may keep them out from building a nest in our hair.” Vain thoughts will knock on the door but we must not open to them. Those sinful thoughts arise, we must not let them reign. He who turns a morsel over and over in his mouth does so because he likes the flavor and he meditates upon evil, loves it, and is ripe to commit it. So guard your heart, your thoughts, with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.
Battling the Enemy
Which brings us lastly to David’s forgiveness. You know David’s being called a man after God’s own heart and yet he was rebuked for being a bloody man and he had the sin with Bathsheba and all sorts of horrible things, but I think he was. I may be wrong, but I call him a man after God’s own heart because he was incredibly forgiving. When you read the story of his dealings with Saul, he could have killed him and Saul was out to kill him. He could have said, “Yeah he’s out to kill me. It’s all over,” but no. He had this merciful grace and forgiveness toward his enemy that was trying to kill him.
We need to walk in the same steps. As a soldier of Christ who does the will of God, you are going to have enemies. Satan hates you and has a rotten plan for your life. He came to kill, steal, and to destroy. That’s his will for you. If he can’t kill you, he will seek to seriously wound you, so you’ll not be an effective soldier of Christ. You’re going to be hounded by the enemy as David was hounded by King Saul. Like David, you may even find yourself fleeing from your own family. Jesus warned that the time will come when people will kill you and family turn against you, your mother and father turn against you. Maybe your spiritual family, your own church might turn against you. Your pastor might turn against you and say, “Look, you’re a bit fanatic. I don’t want you preaching that stuff in here. Okay?” And you feel wounded and you end up in a little cave by yourself. Now the enemy wants to make you bitter and resentful.
“Satan hates you and has a rotten plan for your life. He came to kill, steal, and to destroy. That’s his will for you. If he can’t kill you, he will seek to seriously wound you.”
Remember, Scripture says in reference to that in one of the epistles, “We are not ignorant of his devices,” and one of his greatest devices is to have you justifiably bitter because someone has done something wrong to you. You can’t afford to let that happen. Don’t harbor the poison of bitterness or resentment or anger against anybody that’s done anything against you. Give it to God and then move on and pray for those that despitefully use you and persecute you. Love your enemies. When someone does something wrong to me, I pray for them. Praying for them really will help you. Remember attacks come from where you least expect it. It was Peter that said to Jesus, “Don’t get on the cross.” And Jesus just turns, “Get behind me, Satan!” Satan can come and speak through a place you’d least expect to come from.
But that’s the principle of warfare, it’s called “surprise attack.” Modern warfare calls it some oxymoron, friendly fire. “It was a friend that killed me, that makes it okay.” Friendly fire. That means the difference is that the fire that hit you in the back, the bullet that hit you in the back, came from your own side and that’s what will often happen to soldiers of Christ who are concerned with the irksome task of evangelism. Listen to what Jesus said: “Blessed are you when men hate you.” You’re blessed if someone hates you. “How are you?” “Blessed. People hate me.” And when they exclude you and revile you, that means they look down upon you, scum. And cast out your name as evil. He said, “Blessed are you because this is happening for the Son of Man’s sake.” Rejoice in that Day. And then He said, “Leap for joy. For indeed your reward is great in Heaven for in like manner, the Father did to the prophets.”
Are You Rooted in Scripture?
Let me just close by asking you something…do you read the Bible every day without fail? You know when I first started asking that question years ago, I found that only maybe one or two out of every hundred Christians read the Scriptures daily. I was horrified. And you’ve got the promise in Psalm 1, “If you meditate on the law of God both day and night you’ll be like a tree planted by rivers of water, you’ll bring forth fruit in season, your leaf won’t wither, and whatever you do will prosper,” because you meditate on the Word of God, the law of God both day and night.
So principle of warfare, the principle of being a soldier of Christ is the foundation principle of discipline. Always feed upon the Word of God every day without fail; no Bible, no breakfast, no read, no feed, esteem the words of His mouth more than your necessary food. Don’t worry about your feelings. I can wake up in the morning sometimes and kill a houseplant at 14 paces with my breath. My face is pale, my hair is outstanding and I don’t feel like reading the Bible. But I don’t go by feelings, I’m a disciple of Christ. I’m a soldier of Christ. And so I do, so that I can stand firmly upon that promise of God and “Whatsoever he does, it shall prosper.” And everything about prosperity that we hear from pulpits just push it aside and say, “Of all the things that I want to prosper, it’s my evangelistic endeavors because the stakes are so high.”