Thursday, August 30, 2012

ARE YOU SERMON PROOF?


“There is nothing that moves them!” This common expression is often used of people who are stoic in their attitude or emotions. Sadly, it is also true of people who sit under the preaching of God’s Word week after week and are unmoved by its truth. They may even seem to enjoy going to church or entering into discussions about spiritual matters, but there is no sorrow over their sin; there is no repentance.  It was said of King Herod that he enjoyed hearing John: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (Mark 6:20). Such was also the case in the days of the prophet Ezekiel, who ministered to the Israelites in the Babylonian captivity. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Ezekiel received word of what had occurred back in his homeland. He had been deported prior to the fall of Jerusalem.  Although he had preached hard against the sins which led to God’s judgment, those who remained in the land were still in rebellion to God. Was it any different with those taken to Babylon?  The answer is no!  Ezekiel had a congregation who loved to hear him preach, and they offered their pious praise, but that’s as far as it went: And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” (Ezekiel 33:31, 32). This is exactly what James warned against in his New Testament epistle: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:22-24).
 
Hearing but not doing is the mark of men and women who trifle with God’s Word. They may be entertained by it, but they refuse to change their ways. This is a dangerous condition for anyone to be in. Jesus uttered woes (divine judgments) upon some of the cities of Galilee because they had witnessed the power of God in miracles and heard the words of wisdom of spoken by Jesus but remained unconverted: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matthew 11:21-24).
 
What will it take for godly repentance to happen in response to the hearing of God’s Word?  It will take surrender to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7, 8).  Pride, however, is a great obstacle to genuine conversion. Indifference is another. For a spiritual awakening to occur there must be a humble admission of the grievous nature of sin in light of the holiness of God and the judgment of sin which fell upon Christ. “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NKJV).
 
My prayer for those who hear the preaching of God’s Word and the gospel of grace is that they will not remain “sermon proof.”  Hardness of heart is like a spiritual Kevlar (bullet proof) vest that resists the truth. But the truth is what sets a man free from the clutches of Satan and the bondage of self-deception (John 8:32).
 
If you are like the crowd in Ezekiel’s day which heard but did not obey, you must turn to the Lord for forgiveness.  It may be that you are not saved and need to be born again. Look to Jesus who died for your sins, and He will give you the gift of eternal life (John 3:16).  Don’t remain “sermon proof”!
 
Pastor Tom