July 12, 2015
Start at the beginning in Galatians 6:1 where the Bible reads, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." This morning I want to preach a sermon called restoring the repented. Here it says, "If a man be overtaken in a fault..." this is someone who done wrong, they've committed sin, and the Bible says that, "Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." Now, what does it mean to be meek? That has to do with being humble, not being puffed up or arrogant, prideful, over-confident. He says "restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." There are a few different things we can draw from that. First of all, when it says "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted", I think the temptation that's being warned about here is becoming puffed up, prideful, arrogant, thinking that you're better than other people. Because He says do it "in the spirit of meekness", considering yourself. You don't want to also be tempted, you don't want to get into sin in the process of trying to help someone out of their sin. And I think another meaning that's there when He says, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted", we never want to lead ourselves into temptation in order to try to help restore someone else. Meaning we're not going to go into the bar after you if you're a drunk, we don't want to go in there and sit down and have a beer with you and let's talk and we'll get you restored and get you back in church. We need to consider ourselves lest we also be tempted. There are pastors out there who want to restore other people's marriages and try to restore people who have committed sins like adultery and then they'll get in these in-depth counseling sessions with estranged women and they're not considering themselves - they could also be tempted and led into sin with the things that they listen to and people they become too close with and so forth. Our job as spiritual Christians is to restore those who have committed sins, try to get them back on track for the Lord, try to get them back in church. That should always be the goal but we also need to make sure that we don't allow other people to drag us into sin and we need to make sure that we don't get puffed up, arrogant, prideful, thinking about what another person's into and thinking that I'm doing way better than them, and get a bad attitude like that.
Go to 1 Corinthians 5: this is great example of this, a famous example which most people are familiar with, especially if you go to church here you'll have heard me preach on this passage many times because I think it's an important passage that needs to be preached. And this passage shows us a nice balance between two wrong extremes. On one extreme, there's the group that says, "We're so into forgiveness and restoration and we're so into being humble and meek that basically we'll just allow sin to run rampant and not even call it out." And that's where a lot of churches are at today; just come as you are, leave as you came and good sin, good devil, cold hell, everything's fine, and anything goes and just allowing fornication and drunkenness to run rampant. That's one wrong extreme that doesn't deal with sin and doesn't rebuke the sinner. Then another wrong extreme that basically will punish the sinful and then never let them live it down and forever stigmatize that person, and that's also wrong. Look what the scripture says here in 1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you," that's pretty sad when the testimony of the church is that everybody knows that that church has fornication going on. What is chained to the name of Christ? What a cause for the enemies of the Bible to blaspheme when it's just commonly reported that there's fornication. When fornication and adultery and drunkenness are going on in the church, it's going to be commonly reported. People love to repeat stuff like that unfortunately and so they're for it to shame and blot on the cause of Christ. Keep reading it says, "Such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife." So, this is fornication and it's even more obscene because the fornication is taking place with this man's father's wife. It's not his mother, but it’s his father's wife. We don't know perhaps the father's is dead because he does use the word fornication and perhaps this is talking about the fact that the father is dead and now he's with who used to be his father's wife. That's probably what's going on in this story. But either way, it's a major wicked sin. Even any fornication, as we'll see later in the passage, should not be acceptable within a church but he's saying that this is even more scandalous, this is even more shameful because of the circumstances. I think that the Bible is purposely, think about this, giving us an extreme example and it says in verse 2, "And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you." What's interesting here is that by allowing this sin to go on in the church, Paul accuses them of being puffed up because he says that this is just going on, you're allowing it to happen and he says "ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you." It's interesting because if you think about it, both of the wrong extremes we talked about, both come from being puffed up and prideful and arrogant. Because on the one extreme that anything goes; those people are very arrogant and puffed up like "look how forgiving we are, look how accepting we are", as they accept that which God does not accept, as they forgive that which God has not forgiven. They lift themselves up to where they're even more passionate that what God is, they're sweeter than God is, and they’re nicer than God. That's puffed up and arrogant to think that you're nicer, more loving and kind than God is. If God condemned it, judged it, then who are you to say, "Accept my forgiveness, love and compassion." No. It's a puffed up attitude amongst these churches that have this anything goes, freak-show going on. If you allow fornication in the church, drunkenness, all the thing that He says not to allow, they will happen in the church. And I've been in Baptist churches where a Sunday school class was being taught by a guy who's living with a woman that he's not married to - the Bible study's over at so and so's house, and they're living in sin together, in fornication together. This is wickedness, not acceptable and God says that you are puffed up, you need to mourn, you need to be sad and weep that this wickedness is going on and that this guy should be taken away from among you.
Try to have an open mind this morning if anything I preach goes against the grain with what you think, let's just see what the Bible says - I think I'm being really faithful expanding on what the Bible says this morning as we read this. It says in verse 3, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already..." Don't judge! Paul says I wasn't even there and I judged. When fornication is commonly reported, I'm going to judge that. Paul's not the fornicator so he can judge this. "Judge not that you be not judged" is about hypocrites who judge people on things that they themselves are guilty of, which is why he says, "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Paul doesn't have a beam in his eye here; he's not living in fornication so he's able to cast out the mote out of his brother's eye. It says he's judged already verse 3, "...as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh..." Doesn't that sound pretty harsh? But look at the last half of the verse, "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." So at the end, what's the goal? The goal is actually do something for this guy's own good. Even though it seems harsh, "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh...” the goal is that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. So honestly, Paul is doing this out of love, not just for the church, but even for the love of the one who was caught in the sin because he's going to be better off being judged than if his sin is tolerated. Look what the Bible says in verse 6: "Your glorying is not good." What's glorying? Glorying is boasting and being puffed up. So this goes back again to the fact that the anything goes church is puffed up when they think that they can allow fornication of the church and it won't affect them. No. He says, ""Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" You're not above being dragged into sin, your children are not above being influenced by that example. Think about it, if we have people in the church that are living in sin, living in fornication, what example does that show our children? But if someone's living in fornication and then they're thrown out of the church, then that's a good example for the children - this is not something that's allowed or tolerated. So he says, "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world." I don't want you to misunderstand me, I'm not saying that you can never be in the company with a fornicator because then you would have seclude yourself and isolate yourself from the world because the world is filled with fornication. But what he's saying now in verse 11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator". See, it is acceptable for you as a Christian to interact with, go out to eat with, to spend time with an unsaved person, an unbeliever that's a fornicator because that's just interacting with unbelievers. Most unbelievers are fornicators, they are the things on this list but God says that if they're called a brother, and they are these type of things, that we should not even eat with that person. Why? Because you're much more likely to be influenced wrongly by a fellow Christian that's in sin than by an unsaved person that's in sin. Unsaved people who are in sin, you just look at them and think they are an ungodly person, of course they're acting this way; they're not saved. But when you have Christians around you that are living in sin, then you start to think that other Christians are doing this stuff and it's not a big deal. We're all sinners so what's the big deal? And this garbage is being taught to everyone that all sin is equal. If all sin's equal then why does Paul single out certain sins? He singles out certain sins, saying that if it's these sins, don't eat with that person. He's not saying that you shouldn't eat with any Christian who has any sin in their life because then you could never eat with any Christian; every Christian has sin in their life. Who here is without sin? No one. But there are certain sins which are more grievous and more infectious. He says that you can't allow these thing in the church; you can't hang around with Christians who are doing these things or it will rub off on you. Don't be puffed up, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." You need to distance yourself from Christians that are involved in these types of sins. He says, verse 11, "I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator”. If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." I don't want to make the whole sermon about this but just really quickly: a fornicator is someone who is having you-know-what with somebody else outside of marriage. They're having the marital relationship, outside of marriage before they're married. When the Bible says, "covetous", this doesn't just mean in somebody's heart they want something. If the church is punishing it, it something that's openly known, it's something that's openly seen so basically I think this would be the person who shows up and just all they want to talk about is getting more money, getting more things, some kind of outward show of covetousness - being very materialistic and dragging other people into that. Have you met people like that? All they want to do is brag about the new boat, brag about the new house, the new car, the RV - that's a covetousness person. It rubs off on you. When you get around people like that you start thinking that maybe you should upgrade my home, maybe I need to upgrade my car, maybe I need to get nicer clothes, maybe my wife needs that Dooney & Bourke purse. Basically that be an infection when you get around people who glorify possessions; covetous people. And then it says also an "idolater" and this is basically someone who has statues; they're worshiping statues. This isn't as big a deal in our Anglo-American culture but in other cultures, this is a big deal. For example in India, the Hindus have all kinds of graves and images and then they'll turn unto Christ and they'll want to keep the idols - they won't get rid of the idols even though they've been saved. The Bible is saying that you have to draw a hard line and Christians have to get rid of all idols. But then also we do have amongst the Catholics, idolatry of statues of Mary, statues of Jesus, of the Saints, those are idols according to the Bible. Those are grave and molten images. The Bible says a "railer". What's a railer? Every time you see the word "railing" in the Bible it's talking about railing accusations. This is a person who is basically a false accuser, someone who goes around lying about other people, starting fights with people, causing discord in that way. Then it says a "drunkard". Obviously we know what a drunkard is. This isn't a person who drinks one beer - I don't approve of drinking one beer, I've never tasted beer in my life but a drunkard is somebody who obviously is doing a little more drinking than that. Somebody who is either drinking every day or binge drinking, drunk driving, people who are obviously drunks. That's where alcohol eventually takes you anyway. And then the Bible says, an "extortioner". Extortion is when you threaten someone to get money or favors, or goods from them. These are pretty big problems in people's lives. The one that might throw you for a loop is covetousness but remember the love of money is the root of all evil. So you can't have these money-obsessed people around blowing off their mouth and all their fancy clothes and talking about all their fancy stuff. It is the root of all evil so it's a big deal. The rest of these are obvious that we wouldn't want having an extortioner in the church. You want to feel safe going to church without having someone extorting money from you.
There are reasons for these things. Verse 12, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?" So he's rebuking them for not judging within the church on these issue. "But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Very clear - he says that if a brother in Christ is involved in these particular, major sins then you need to "put away from among yourselves..." It doesn't say to cross their name off in the office on the membership roll so they're not technically a member. This is the hypocrisy of Baptist churches today. They say that anybody can come to the services but they're just not a member. Where does the Bible teach that? Show me in the Bible some membership roll where names are being added and subtracted. It's just made-up and it's hypocrisy when the Bible says "put away from among yourselves that wicked person". It means you physically get rid of them out of the church. They're not allowed to come; they're not allowed to fellowship. You may say that's harsh, mean, and hateful but actually it's not because the Bible says that this is the goal to restore that person. That "the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Look at 2 Corinthians 2. Because keep in mind, 1 Corinthians is written as a letter to the Corinthians from Paul, then 2 Corinthians is written to the same church later. So in 2 Corinthians, we're fast-forwarding in time; they've already gotten the letter of 1 Corinthians. The question is: how did they respond to it? Did they obey Paul? Did they disobey Paul? Because he told them what to do, and the answer is they did exactly what he told them to do and we get to read about it in 2 Corinthians; we get the follow-up and the aftermath of the situation that took place. It says in 2 Corinthians 2:4,"For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you..." He's talking about writing first Corinthians. "I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you." Was Paul just trying to be a jerk, trying to be mean and draw a hard line? No. He did it out of love, he did it out of tears; it grieved him to do it. "But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all." Look at verse 6: “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many." He's saying that you guys punished the fornicators so they obeyed him, they did what he said. But he said that sufficient to that man is the punishment "which was inflicted of many, so that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." Remember when it said to "restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted"? Who's the tempter? Satin. And the Bible says here that if we don't forgive people and restore people, that Satan will get an advantage of us for we're not ignorant of his devices. So, we need to be careful to get both sides of the equation here. When people do wrong they need to be punished. When people commit these major sins, they need to be thrown out of the church. But when they repent, they need to be restored to fellowship. And that should always be the goal.
Showing people tough love is sometimes what is necessary in order to get them back on track. It's the wake-up call that they sometimes need. People often think that they're doing people a favor by allowing fornicators to come to the church because that way at least they get that preaching. No. Because the preaching is going in one ear and out the other but what will sometimes wake-up is that wayward young person, wayward teenager or young adult when you say that you're not welcome coming to church anymore. You can’t come to church until you get out of fornication, until you stop living with your boyfriend or living with your girlfriend. You can't come. You're not welcome. That makes people think this is a grievous sin where otherwise they'll often try to downplay their sin, especially in 2015 and the world of "all sin is equal". It' a lie. It's not all equal. There are big sins and little sins. There are sins of presumption and there are sins of ignorance. There are all different types of sin in the Bible and there are different punishments, different repercussions and if you go out and commit a big sin, God's going to give a big punishment. If you commit a little sin, God will give you a little punishment. You're still going to get punished. What if all crimes were punished equally in the United States? Running a red light is like shooting somebody in cold blood. That wouldn't make any sense would it? That would be stupid. But people say that's just because we're human; this is how God thinks. No. God's not a psychopath up in heaven that thinks that taking a pencil from your job is the same as being a mass-murderer or rapist. People are nuts to think that; you literally have to be insane to think that all sin's equal. Because it just defies all logic. That's like saying one dollar bill is the same as a hundred dollar bill. They don't have the same value; they don't have the same equality. In the Bible we see that Paul, rattling his cage, and saying, "I judged! You guys need to be judgmental. You need to judge, you need to throw this guy out and deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh!" What did it do? It worked. People get mad at you for preaching hard. They say that you're not a loving preacher, you're hateful, you preach so hard and you're burning people and turning people away. No, it's what causes people to get right with God: hard preaching works and the reason why we have so much sin and filth and inequity running rampant, not only in the world today but even in our churches, is because the hard preaching is not happening. And we need that hard preaching to walk people up and make sin seem exceedingly sinful. You have to demonize sin to people so that they'll realize the seriousness of what they're getting involved in. This is a great example of that kind of preaching working and the church doing what they're supposed to do and the guy ends up being restored. He's repented. He says "confirm your love toward him" now; don't let him be "swallowed up in overmuch sorrow". It's good that he sorrowed because you ought to sorrow if you've been living in fornication, in drunkenness or other things. On the list, fornication's probably the worst one, which is why that's the example he uses - he wants to show us an extreme example. And what he's saying is that we need to restore this guy, love this guy, we don't want him to be swallowed up in overmuch sorrow. "Overmuch" means too much. Too much sorrow is where you throw in the towel and give up. Where somebody gets so depressed and says that they can never live for God, I've messed up my life too much, I've committed too much sin and God's just through with me. That's too much sorrow. The right amount of sorrow is the type of sorrow that says, "I'm an idiot, I made a huge mistake, it's my fault, but I'm sorry and I want to fix it and I want to do right from now on. I'm going to repent" - repent meaning turn from that - "and I'm going to do it right now and I'm going to live right now." That's the right amount of sorrow.
Go to 2 Corinthians 7 because he touches on the same subject later. It says in verse 8, "For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent..." You must be thinking what does that mean? First I did repent thought I didn't repent? Here's what he's saying: when he says I don't repent, he's saying basically I don't think I was wrong to have written that letter. I wouldn't go back and change it; I haven't changed my course or changed my mind. I still believe what I believe when I wrote that letter. But he says although he did repent. What he's saying is that he wrote the letter and it was harsh and he sent the letter and went through a period when he thought I shouldn't have written that. He had doubts in himself and in what he had written. But then once he thought about it further he thought no, I don't repent. I did feel that way but not anymore. Because he says, and this is why he doesn't repent, "For I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry..." He's not just happy that they were depressed, they were sad - "not that ye were made sorry but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing." He's saying that there are different types of sorrow here. There's the sorrow that leads to repentance; Godly sorrow. This is when you do something wrong and feel bad about it and say that you aren't going to do that anymore. Because what does sorrow mean? Sadness. It's where you're sad and you sad that you blew it, you sinned, you were wrong and you shouldn't have done that and you're going to make it right. That's Godly sorrow. Look what the Bible says in verse 10: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." There's another type of sorrow: the sorrow of the world that brings death. The sorrow of the world is the feeling sorry for yourself. The guy, if he had been swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, which kind of sorrow is that? That's the sorrow of the world that says, "There’s no use in trying anymore, there's no use even going to church because I'm such a loser." Often when people are confronted with their errors, they'll have this sorrow of the world mentally where they basically feel sorry for themselves. A lot of times children, when you rebuke them and they start crying, they not crying because they can't believe they let mom and dad down - that would be Godly sorrow if they felt that they loved their parents so much and it hurt the to see them like that. The toddler who gets caught is usually more of the sorrow of the world - "Why are you going to punish me?!" They feel sorry for themselves and then they'll be down in the dumps afterwards. That doesn't help anybody, that stupid attitude. If you've done wrong, don't just go around like you're such a loser; that's dumb. You need to get an attitude that says, "I'm sorry so I'll change, I'll fix it." That's the Godly sorrow that fixes things and changes things. Verse 11: "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." Whose sorrow are we talking about in these scriptures? When we talk about, "I made you sorry, you sorrowed after a Godly-sorrow, you've cleared yourselves..." Have you noticed that none of this is directed toward the guy who was fornicating because when the Bible uses the word "thee" and "thou", it's singular. When the Bible uses "ye", "you" and "your" it's plural. So in this passage, he's not talking about the guy who committed the fornication because he did talk about that guy back in chapter 2 when he said he should confirm his love toward him, forgive him, and love him. But here, it's all plural and it's all talking to the church and must notably, to the leaders of the church - what was their sin? Their sin was not fornication; they weren't with their father's wife. The sin was that they were allowing fornication. That was the sin. They were puffed up and didn't mourn that "he who had done that deed should be taken away from among them." That's why it's all plural: "YOU sorrowed unto repentance", "YOU have cleared yourselves in this matter". Look at the end of verse 11. He lists "vehement desire", "zeal" and "revenge". What does revenge mean? They punished the guy. That's how they cleared themselves. Their sin was allowing it to go on and how did this fix it? By punishing the guy, throwing him out of the church. Judging him publicizing and rebuking him and throwing him out. What's funny is that all throughout the Bible, we have hundreds and hundreds of verses and I'm not going to preach them this morning for sake of time as I've done it many other times that teach that salvation is by faith. Everybody knows John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Well, there's work too. No, the Bible say not of works. The Bible even goes further and says, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." That's a whole other sermon to go through the hundreds of times that Bible teaches that salvation is by our faith, not by our deeds and he also many time in Galatians, teaches that it's not by our adherence to the law, so it's not just saying that it's not by doing good works, but also not by the righteousness that comes through the law. The keeping of the law, the keeping of the Commandments. So basically, it's not through not sinning. "But you have to stop sinning, stop lying, and stop fornicating..." No, that's also another kind of salvation by works; that's called the works of the law. The Bible teaches that it's our faith that saves us, not our deeds, not our following the Commandments, it's a through the blood of Jesus and it's applied by Grace through faith - Grace being something that we don't deserve. But what's funny is that people will take this as a proof text and say this proves that you have to be really sad when you get saved and you have to repent of your sins when you get saved - that's what they try to teach from this passage. That's not Biblical; they're adding to the Gospel. The Gospel is known as the Good News, Glad Tidings, and often when you give people the Gospel, their reaction is joy. There's no sorrow. A lot of times they think it's great news that Jesus paid it all, that I can be saved through Jesus just by believing in Jesus. He loves me that much! Isn't that something to be happy about when you find out how much God loves you? And when you find out that God is willing to accept you. And you find out that salvation is free and it’s eternal life and that God promised it before the world began and that God can't lie. Those are all joyful, happy things so some people's reactions are all joy. Other people will sometimes have a sorrowful reaction, realizing that I've been so wicked and God still loves me even though I've been such a horrible sinner and they'll break down crying. Who's been so happy that you break down crying? And who's been soul-winning and had people who are just so happy, they're not sad at all? People will try to say that you've got to be broken, you've got to be sorry and here’s what they'll use to prove it - "Godly sorrow, worketh, repent unto salvation!" Here’s the problem with that. No.1 is the context. The context is not about people being saved from hell and going to heaven. These are people who were already saved because they're the leaders of the church. Otherwise, this church has bigger problems if all the people running it are not even saved and throwing out a fornicator is what got them saved? No. That's not what this is about.
When he says in this verse, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of..." In this scripture we're talking about the church being saved, the salvation of the church, not talking about individuals going to heaven or hell. But look, a church can be destroyed, a church can fail, can fall apart, can become a wicked place, can have the candlestick removed or a church can be saved. It's like if somebody'd drowning and we save them, does that mean they're going to heaven now? So you have to understand when the Bible says saved or salvation, it's not always talking about heaven or hell. A lot of times it's talking about physical salvation. David says "saved from mine enemies" - "I will call upon the Lord I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies." He's talking about going to battle and coming out with his skin. When Peter is in the water and sinking and drowning and he yells out, "Jesus, Lord save me!" He's not trying to get to heaven right there - he's trying to get out of water. And here, this context has nothing to do with anyone getting saved in the sense of going to heaven. It has to do with the church being jacked up, the leaders are all messed up; they got it right. Let's pretend for a moment that this verse really were about salvation as far as getting to heaven. Let's pretend that the context doesn't exist and we just have this verse by itself, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of..." Is that saying that you have to have Godly sorrow in order to be saved? No because, let me give you an illustration. What if I said this: “Tylenol worketh toward fixing your headache." Does that mean that nothing else works toward your headache? Does that mean aspirin doesn't work? Does that mean Advil is not going to work? Does that mean that the headache medicine Excedrin is not going to work? Because I said "Tylenol worketh toward your headache"? I don't take any of it. If I get a headache, I eat, drink and sleep and it goes away. But those are the three-fold cure that will fix any headache: you eat and if you have worse headaches, don't get angry at me, I'm just saying that it works for me. "You don't understand the migraine", I'm sure there are horrible headaches out there, thankfully I don't get horrible headaches like that. If I get a headache it's usually because I didn't eat, didn't drink or didn't sleep so if I do those three things it fixes it. But if I say, "Tylenol worketh toward headaches!" Does that mean it's the only thing that works towards headaches? No. So it's stupid to take this verse and say, "this is the proof that you have to..." That's not even what the verse is about, but even if that were what it's about, if it says "Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation," does that mean nothing else can work toward salvation? Nothing else can get you saved. That just makes no sense. Even if you applied it that way, this could be how some people get saved. Because salvation is the same for everybody in the sense that it's believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved; that part's the same. But how people get to the point of trusting Christ as Savior is different person to person. Some people just grow up in a Christian home, hear the Word of God preached, believe it and get saved - that's me. I didn't go out and live a life of sin and whatever. I got saved as a six year old boy - is my salvation invalid? Because I grew up in a good Christian home and was taught the Bible and as a child I knew the Holy scriptures which were able to make me wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus? Is something wrong with that? It's great! I hope that all my children and all your children have the same testimony that they get saved as little kids and never have to go out an experience a wicked life of sin. Praise God. That's great but then other people they hit rock bottom, don't they? They hit rock bottom and maybe they are strung out on drugs, drunk, destroying their marriage, their jobs, they get their fifth DUI and break down and realize they need Jesus in their life and then they go to some church and somebody presents it, is that not valid? That's valid too, right? I know a guy who got saved because he went to a gay pride parade - this is what he told me. This is a guy who I knew real well and this is what happened: he had a girlfriend, he was an unsaved, worldly guy, no interest in church. He had a girlfriend and his girlfriend took him to a gay pride parade. He didn't know where he was going or what he was doing. And she announced to him that she was a sodomite. And he was so disgusted by that parade and so disgusted that he had been with this girl who was a sodomite that he literally was like, "I need to find religion". He felt so defiled that he wanted to go seek after religion and then he ended up going to church and a guy that he worked with...I forget exactly how he ended up getting the Gospel but he got it through a church and he got it through being a Christian. So sometimes weird things can get people to a point; seeing the filth of the world, woke that guy up. He found Jesus, he found salvation, and he found the Gospel. I know another person who was a devout Catholic and went over to someone's house who was a fellow Catholic and they were all Catholics together, young people. And all these Catholic young people got together and watched some movie about sodomites or something. Some filthy Hollywood movie that had a bunch of sodomites in it and all the Catholics, they all thought it was great and funny and didn't see the wickedness in watching this sodomite film. This girl basically said to herself, "you know what? This is the wrong religion. Why are all my fellow Catholics okay with this? Something is wrong with this picture." And that caused her to go seek out more truth and see ended up being led to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through faith, not through the Roman Catholic Church but through faith in Jesus and the Word of God. So you see how people can get to that point in different ways. I know another lay got saved because she had no interest in the things of God, no interest in church, then she had a daughter who was born with Down Syndrome and that was kind of a wake-up call to her. It made her think about things. A lot of people just having children in general in a wake-up call because they think to themselves that they don't know how to raise their child. They don't know what to teach it and that causes them to go looking for stuff to try to find answers. So the bottom line is, a lot of different things can lead people to the place where they're ready to believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior. So don't have this one-size fits all in the sense that you have to go be some broken sinner in the gutter, crying and weeping and so sorry for ruining your life. I didn't do that when I was six. I didn't break down and wail that I had been so wicked my whole life. I knew I was a sinner, I knew I had done wrong, I had disobeyed my parents and lied. But that's enough. That's all I needed to know that I'm a sinner and I believed in Jesus and I asked Him to save me and I put my trust in Him. Do you see how the scripture is being really twisted? Big time - anyway you slice it.
Like I said, the context is not even about going to heaven vs. hell anyway. Even if it were, the verse would not hold water. People need to use a little more logic when they're reading the Bible. Just because one thing works, doesn't mean that nothing else works so you have to think about these things when you read the Bible.
Go to Job 13, I'm going too slow in this sermon, I have to hurry us because I've got more important material. Those are real extreme examples. We're talking about some guy committing fornication with his father's wife. And even the other things on the list are example examples, drunkenness, extortion, just railing accusations. But what about this? What about people who commit sins that are more minor than that, sins that don't even get you thrown out of church? Just people do you wrong, people do wrong things. We need to be ready to restore people who do wrong. If a brother be "over-taken in a fault", and we're not just talking about the big ones from 1 Corinthians 5, if a brother be "overtaken in A fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness..." When people do us wrong or when we see people do wrong to others or when people do wrong in general, we should always be ready to restore the repentant. If the Corinthians could restore a guy who's fornicating with his father's wife, then can't we restore people that have done lesser crimes and lesser things and have done us wrong? What am I saying? That people should be able to live down the wrong things that they've done in the past and that these things from their past should not be brought up and thrown in their faces. They should be able to live it down. Look what the Bible says in Job 13:23. Remember Job's friends are railing on him and accusing him falsely, they don't want to restore him and he didn't even do anything wrong. But look what it says in verse 23, "How many are mine iniquities and sins?" so he's getting angry that they're confronting him with sin and so forth which he wasn't even guilty of. "How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? For thou writest bitter things against me, and" - watch this - "makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth." Now look what he's saying: don't make me to possess the iniquities of my youth. He's saying look, I'm looking for God now, I'm serving God now, I'm not in sin now, why are you making me to possess...what's possess? What's another word for possess? Why are you making me own up to the iniquities of my youth? Why is that relevant? Don't make me possess the iniquities of my youth. Go to Psalm 25, just a few pages to the right in your Bible, the book of Psalm's. Psalm 25:6 says something similar - "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth" - do you see that? - "nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way." What's he saying here? God, don't remember the sins of my youth, just teach me how to do it right. Just guide me in the right way. He's saying restore me, God, help me to do it right and you are wicked if you are going to hang over people's heads sins that they committed a long time ago, especially when they're a kid, when they're a teenage, when they're young adults, long time ago. That's wicked to bring that stuff out and try to hang that over somebody's head. You have to let people live things down or else they're going to be swallowed up of overmuch sorrow. Otherwise, they're going to feel like they will never live this down and then they'll give up. Go to Ephesians 4, I think it's the best scripture on this. While you're turning there I'll read to you from Lamentations 3:21, "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." Now what are we talking about here? Having hope for people. People who've messed up their life in the past, they need to have hope, meaning that they need a path forward. They need something that they can do to make thing right and live their life, not just be told you screwed up, you're done. No, give them hope he's saying. "Therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." SO we need to extend that same compassion and mercy unto others. Now look at Ephesians 4:25. Now this passage is all about that through to 32. It's all about people changing and people doing it right and people being forgiven and living it down and moving forward and being given hope. That's what the Bible's teaching here: "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor." Now isn't that somebody getting thing fixed in their life. Instead of being a big-time liar, they're going to start telling the truth now. Good change right? Look what it says: "for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." Now what did the Bible say that we're doing when we don't forgive people? Remember he said that you're letting Satin get an advantage of us for we're not ignorant of his devices? Notice the same thing here: he's saying that if you let the sun go down on your wrath, you're giving place to the devil. "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." He's saying give people a path forward, "Let him that stole steal no more," let him that was lying start telling the truth. He says get angry! If somebody lies to you, of course you're going to be angry. If somebody steals from you, get angry, but don't let the sun go down on your wrath; forgive that person and move on, or else you're giving place to the devil, you're letting Satin get an advantage of you. So God's not saying that lying is fine, don't let it get you mad. No, get mad. Of course you're going to get mad about lying. We have to get mad when lies happen but at the same time, when the person who's lying decides to start telling the truth, we need to be ready to forgive and forget and restore that person in a spirit of meekness. Welcome back to the fold: it's forgiven and forgotten. If you don't forget, then you didn't really forgive. To forgive is to forget. When God forgives us, he forgets. The Bible says, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." And the Bible says here to put away lies, speak the truth. Get angry but don't let the sun go down on your wrath and don't give place to the devil, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor". Our society doesn't let people live that down, do they? If you steal in our society, you'll never live it down. And then it's hard for you to go labor and do that which is right because you carry around the stupid, criminal record and it's unscriptural and it's ungodly and it's un-Christian. It shouldn't surprise us that our society is un-Christian, but let me tell you something: we as Christians shouldn't have a record on people of what they've done in the past. This thing of a criminal record is garbage. They say we have to have it to protect us from dangerous predators. No, dangerous predators should be killed, that's what the Bible says. Some pedophile, some pervert, should be killed. They say we can't have these people working around children. Look, child molesters should be shot and then we wouldn't have that problem. But somebody who steals, somebody who smokes pot, somebody who sells pot, somebody who commits sin should be punished in accordance with the law and once they've done the time, we should forget the crime. Think about it: how can you sit there and punish somebody and then it's not really forgiven? I'm not saying, don't punish people. If somebody commits a crime, punish them.
If it's a real crime. I've got jury duty coming up and don't tell them that I believe no harm, no foul, no victim, no crime because I'm about to do some nullification. Here's the thing though: if somebody steals, they should be punished but after they're punished, forgive and forget. And when you punish your children, forgive and forget. Move on, don't keep bringing it out, and "what about what you did back then?!" That's ungodly and un-Christian. It's not right. Criminal records should not exist. Then people can't even get a good job and what do they do? They go back to a life of crime because they get swallowed up with overmuch sorrow and then they can't own a gun and sometimes they might even live in an area where it's not safe to not have a gun.
Look at verse 29. It's funny because verse 29 is often taken out of the context of this passage but actually understand it without the context of the passage. He says this: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying..." Edifying is what? Building someone up, "that it may minister grace unto the hearers." What is grace? Extending mercy that people don't deserve, extending favor that they don't deserve. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness..." What's bitterness? When somebody does wrong and you don't forgive them and you're getting bitter about it, "Let all bitterness and wrath..." What's wrath? Extreme anger - let not the sun go down on your wrath. So you see, get rid of the bitterness, get rid of the wrath, he says, get rid of the anger. Isn't this all about the same subject? Don't let the sun go down on your wrath, let him who stole steal no more, him that is lying let him start telling the truth and then he says, don't let corrupt communication come out of your mouth but that which is edifying that will administer grace to the ears. He says to put away the bitterness, the wrath, the anger, what's "clamour"? Complaining about people, talking about people loudly, that's talking bad about people for what they've done in the past. "Clamour and evil speaking", what's evil speaking? Speaking to the harm and ill of someone else. That's the context here. He says it's altogether, it's all connected, bitterness, anger, wrath, clamour, evil speaking - "Put away from you, with all malice..." Malice is where you have ill-will toward someone else. Malice in your heart means you want to harm them. "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." So what is the corrupt communication of verse 29? When you actually get the context of the passage, the corrupt communication is talking bad about people for wrong stuff that they've done in the past, going around complaining about people or bringing up an evil report or repeating negative things about other people after it should have be forgiven and forgotten. That is the evil speaking, that is the corrupt communication, that it the clamour, the bitterness, the anger, you're still mad about it. See how the passage all fits together? It's all one subject. And the whole subject is teaching to let people live things down, let people move forward, get on with your life and don't sit there and hang it over people's heads. Especially things that people have done in their youth. It's unbelievable to me how people will sometimes bring out something about someone that I know or something. I thank God for a couple of things. Number one: I thank God that I grew up in a Christian home so I don't have skeletons in my closet from the past. When people attack me, they attack me for the present. That's not hard, just know how to use Google. They attack me for the present and the stuff they attack me for is not really hidden, it's stuff that I posted. "This guy hates homosexuals, this guy wore a 'Free Palestine' shirt to Dearborn, Michigan..." Yeah I know, I posted the video. I thanks God that I grew up in a Christian home but I can't get puffed-up and glory in that and then look at some other preacher or other person who had a wicked past and say that I've never been in place you've been. Wouldn't that be a wicked and Godless attitude? And is it really because I'm just so wonderful, or is it just because I was blessed with Godly parents? So can I really just take credit for that fact when I was born and raised in an independent Baptist church from the time I was born? Can I really just glorify myself saying, "I just stayed away from the stuff you were into..." when a lot of people didn't have that background. So number one, I thank God that I grew up in a Christian home but you know what else I thank God for is that I lived before the Internet. Because when I did stupid stuff, it wasn't just forever immortalized on the Internet. I never got into drunkenness or fornication or anything like that but we've all done stupid things and all the stupid, idiotic things I did as a teenager were done before the Internet. But listen kids, you do stupid, idiotic stuff now, it's engraved in stone and then lead. Because now, you post that picture, you post that story, you post that video, that thing will never go away. Once it goes online, it'll never go away so keep that in mind before you do stupid things. Because I'm preaching this morning about letting people live things down, I'm preaching about forgiving people, I'm preaching this morning about restoring people in the spirit of meekness and forgiving and forgetting - these are all Christian virtues and I have pages more of notes that I'm not going to get to about how bad it is to be a tail-barer and to dig up evil and to try to burn people with the sins of their past, how un-Godly it is and how God's going to punish us for not forgiving. I have pages on that that I don't have time for this morning. But let me just end on this note: I'm talking about how we as Christians need to restore people, need to forgive people, especially for things that were even smaller than the big sins we talked about. Somebody yelled at you, somebody said something that you didn't like, somebody talked bad about you, somebody did something wrong to you, you need to let that go and move on and not just sit there and hang that over people's heads. Or somebody used to believe in false doctrine, now they got the doctrine right, just rejoice that they're right on that now. Not saying that he was wrong about that all those years, what an idiot. No, just be happy that he's got it right now. "Remember how that person used to be just a total drunk?" Why are you bringing that up? Let it go. Give the person a new way forward. So we're talking about the Christian virtue of restoring people in a spirit of meekness and even when we so show people some tough love and when we do have to cast someone out, we do it for the goal of salvaging their life. But secondly, here's something to keep in mind that guess what? - Most people aren't going to do what I just said. Is it Christ-like to forgive and forget? Yes. Should we as Christians restore people? Listen, it is possible to completely forget the sins of others, it's possible. And here's how you do it: you never think about because the only way you remember things is by thinking about them over and over again. I've had people come up to me and apologize for stuff and I literally have no clue what they're talking about because I simply pushed it out of my mind. It's possible to just forget stuff. Your marriage - this is really important because what does the Bible bring up about marriage? "Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them". What's he saying? Don't hold up a list of grievances in your mind, in your heart and ladies that goes for you too. I know how ladies just never forget things, never want to let it go but it's Christian and Christ-like to let it go. It's what the Bible teaches, but hold on a second, here's the reality: most Christians are not going to follow what I'm preaching in this sermon. Most people in this world are not going to follow what I'm preaching in this sermon. The criminal justice system is for sure not going to follow what I'm preaching in this sermon and you know what that means? Don't do stupid stuff. Because there are some stupid things that you do that you will never live down in this world unfortunately. We as Christians, we should forgive you, restore you, help you live it down, but you children that are listening to me, just don't take this sermon and say "Oh, cool, I can go out and do whatever and I can always get restored later and live it down later." No, because when you do stuff, there are going to be people who will never forgive you. There are going to be people who will never let you live it down. There are going to be videos or pictures or thing floating around the Internet that will never go away. Are you listening? And there are going to be even Christians, even church members, who will never let it go. Are they wrong to never let it go? Yes. But we're talking about reality my friends. So you need to think twice before you commit major sin or any sin and realize that there are repercussions and so if you've done wrong, you can't just say "Well, Pastor Anderson said and the Bible said..." You can huff and puff all you want but there are some people who are just never going to let it go. And that's between them and God. And God's going to deal with them on that because God treats us the way we treat other people. The Bible very clearly says that if we forgive others, He'll forgive us and so forth. But that's between them and God. The reality is though, when we make big mistakes, we dust it off, we go forward and there are going to be some people who follow Christ's command and forgive us and there are going to be some people who let us live it down. And there are going to be others who don’t. So what do we do? We just live with the consequences of our actions; that's life. But we need to make sure we're never the one who is bringing up some Christian's past to them and throwing it in their face or using that to bludgeon them. Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer.
Father, we thank you so much for your forgiveness, Lord, the ultimate forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ as for our salvation, Lord, and we thank you that you also on a daily basis are kind unto us and you are giving us new mercies every morning, the Bible says. Help us to be the same way and Lord, I know that from time to time even in our church there are people who get angry at another church member or get bitter toward another church member or get upset toward another church member. Lord, help us is there are any grievances like that and if there's anybody under the sound of my voice this morning that has bitterness in their heart toward someone or thinking to themselves, yeah that person, that's just how they're always going to be, Lord help us to get that out of our hearts and forgive and forget and to give people a chance to move forward whether it's the fact that they've stolen, lied or whatever they've done Lord, help us to give people another chance. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.