This is a message I preached to the awesome CRCC men's fellowship, known as BROTHERHOOD!! But it applies to all! Hope you enjoy!
John 3:19-21 ESV - And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (20) For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (21) But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."
In this text, Jesus rebukes the hard-hearted individuals who are shown the light but hate it; people who are given light but prefer darkness; people who refuse to come to Him because of a love of sin. Friends, He is addressing “hard-heartedness,” otherwise known as rebellion, being stiff-necked, and stubbornness. Ezekiel echoed the same concerning Israel:
- “But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.” Eze 3:7 ESV
Paul preached the same to the church in Rome:
- Rom 2:1-8 ESV Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (2) We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. (3) Do you suppose, O man--you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself--that you will escape the judgment of God? (4) Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (5) But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. (6) He will render to each one according to his works: (7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; (8) but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
This theme is SO consistent throughout Scripture it would be hard to list the references! Here is a prophetic example that sums up the mindset…
- Rev 16:8-11 ESV The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. (9) They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (10) The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish (11) and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.
I have a question: is America Gospel-ignorant or Gospel-Hardened? Sure, there are BOTH kinds of people…but I’m talking “predominately.” The answer to this question is critical!
- The biblical prescription for breaking hard, rebellious hearts is a bit different from the prescription that mends the broken heart.
- Jas 4:6 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." So we see that grace is for the humble, the broken, the repentant.
- Isa 66:2 ESV All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
- But the Law is for the rebellious, the hard-hearted, the stubborn…
- 1Ti 1:8-11 ESV Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, (9) understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, (10) the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (11) in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
- I believe our Nation’s desensitization to sin is and her rejection of the laws and ethics of God are THE critical issues.
Paul speaks of this to the church in Ephesus:
- Eph 4:17-19 ESV - Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. (18) They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (19) They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
My personal belief is that we are gospel-hardened now. Not ignorant. Our blatant sin and rebellion and MOCKERY of the Word, the Church, and the things of God is a dead giveaway. In the book The Way of the Master, Ray Comfort quotes Paris Reidhead:
- “If I had my way, I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of “the plan of salvation” in America for one to two years. Then I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God and the Law of God, until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ Then I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them. Such drastic action is needed because we have gospel-hardened a generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding of why they need to be saved. Don’t use John 3:16. Why? Because you tell a sinner how to be saved before he has realized that he needs to be saved. What you have done is gospel-hardened him.”
He also quotes DL Moody who said, “It is a great mistake to give a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The Law is what he needs…Do not offer the consolation of the gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the Law to take away self-righteousness. I pity the man who preaches only one side of the truth-always the gospel and never the Law.”
I believe that we have over-emphasized grace to make it almost meaningless, or to fill it with consumer expectations. The grace we have preached is a sin-affirming grace or a sin-ignoring grace. That isn’t biblical grace…
- Rom 6:1-2 ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
What I’m asking the people of this church to do as we start the year is to consider the Law of God in light of His mercy and grace, and help me cultivate both a fear of God and a love of God in our church, our homes, and our evangelism. My hope is that in doing so, we’ll collectively see that our National problem (and local problem as well) is rebellion, and that true love “keeps the commandments” of Christ. (Jn 14:15) Never forget that our God is a consuming fire! (Heb 12:29)
- Heb 10:24-31 ESV And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (25) not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (26) For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (28) Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
- “Nothing reveals Calvary like Sinai. Nothing exalts unconditional mercy like fierce and holy wrath. If the Law didn’t demand death for sin, we wouldn’t need a Savior! The true convert comes to the Savior to satisfy the demands of the Law and flee the wrath to come.” –Ray Comfort
- The Law is the hammer, the schoolmaster, the needle, and the hoe that prepares the heart for grace. “Even a “no-compromise” gospel will not awaken sinners. That’s not its function!” –Ray Comfort
- “The Law is the rod and staff of the shepherd to guide the sheep to himself. It is the net of the fisherman, the plow of the farmer. It is the ten golden trumpets that prepare the way for the King. The Law makes the sinner thirst for righteousness, that he might live. Its holy light reveals the dust of sin on the table of the human heart, so that the gospel in the hand of the Spirit can wipe it perfectly clean.” –Ray Comfort
Finally, look at these sad verses from Zechariah. May God bless America to turn and repent…
Zec 7:8-14 ESV - And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, (9) "Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, (10) do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart." (11) But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. (12) They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. (13) "As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear," says the LORD of hosts, (14) "and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate."