Soteriology 0271 Corinthians 9:24-27 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 14, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 27, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
August 14, 2016
Let’s pray. Father. We’re grateful for today and this is the day that You have made and you have told us to rejoice and be glad in it, and there’s many people around the world that didn’t get a chance to see today, they could have died last night in a car accident or a heart attack but You’ve sovereignly allowed us to see another day and so we thank You for that. We pray that we’ll make the most of this day to worship You and glorify You which is something we need to get used to doing since we’re going to be doing that for all eternity. So I pray, Father, that You will be with our Sunday School class today and the worship service that follows, and that Your name would be lifted up and magnified and glorified at Sugar Land Bible Church. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory; we lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said Amen.
All right! Well, if I can direct your attention to 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, and if you’re looking for a handout call the government… just kidding. If you’re looking for a paper handout we have those coming around, maybe you could put your hand up if you need a paper handout, Ron has some there in the back.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15, and I want to thank Jim McGowan for subbing in last week, I appreciate that, I’m sure you enjoyed his ministry. We were spying on you all in California through the mark of the beast technology we now have set up here at Sugar Land Bible Church, I can monitor everything. No, actually I woke up a little late but I caught the tail end of Jim’s lesson. I was too sleepy to know what he was saying but he sounded good as he was saying it. He looked good, all you need is the three G’s, the gift of gab, good looks and a guitar. You do the guitar too? And he’s bilingual, most people didn’t know that, he speaks fluent Spanish so that’s a pretty impressive four part combo. I don’t know about the guitar, I’ve never heard him play the guitar but I don’t doubt he could do that.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15, we are in the midst of a study on the doctrine of eternal security, so we’re here in Roman numeral VII, we’re spending the summer months on this critical doctrine and eternal security, as you know, is the idea that once you’re saved God’s grace that saves you keeps you so there really isn’t anything that you can do to deactivate salvation. That’s what we believe here at Sugar Land Bible Church, and we believe that this doctrine is true because it’s found in the Scripture. And I’ve given you about thirteen arguments, and next week, if everything goes as planned I’ll start looking at the passages that pose a problem for eternal security.
But I won’t reread these thirteen arguments to you, we’ve reread them a number of times but we are going to finish up today, God willing, number 13 which is this: and people always ask this, well, what about the believer that’s in sin, what about the believer with the unfruitful life, and what you’ll notice is the Bible does address that issue very clearly but it never holds out a loss of salvation as a consequence of being in that condition. So that, in and of itself, is, to my mind, a very powerful argument for eternal security. So believers with unfruitful lives still have salvation, although as we’re going to see today they lose rewards at something called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
And I have these charts here because I’m trying to show people that we take sin very seriously because the Bible does. A lot of people, when they hear our position on eternal security are kind of the mindset that we don’t take sin seriously because in their minds you can’t take sin seriously unless you threaten people with hell every week, which we don’t do. We do that to the unsaved but not to the saved. But even though we don’t do that we do look very carefully at the Bible and we have noticed that the Bible takes sin in the life of the believer very seriously; it leads to all kinds of what we would call temporal consequences that don’t necessarily relate to heaven and hell, lack of power, grieving the Spirit, loss of joy, loss of spiritual sight, lack of growth, carnality, unfruitfulness, lack of purpose, lack of stability, conviction, divine discipline, and even premature death. Does that sound pretty serious; it’s a pretty serious list.
And we left off last time at this one here, loss of reward. So notice, if you will 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. And what you have to understand is that the Corinthian church, you know Ray Stedman used to call 1 Corinthians 1 Californians, and I was just on the west coast so a lot of that’s reverberating in my mind, but it was the most carnal church of the first century that we have record of. Other than Laodicea I can’t really think of a worse church off the top of my head. And one of the things Paul doesn’t says is you guys are going to lose your salvation. What he does is he gives the most graphic description found anywhere in the Scripture of the loss of reward.
So notice what he says, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. He says, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
So following the rapture of the church what is going to happen is we’re going to appear before the Lord and we’re going to be put through a judgment. This is a judgment only for the Christian or the church age believer. We’re not going to be tried as a group, we’re going to be tried as individuals and the Scripture is very clear that WE will not be put through a fire, as you read this, it says any man’s “work” is put through a fire. So the fire is there not to determine heaven or hell, that issue was resolved the moment we placed personal faith in Christ. The issue here is to determine rewards above and beyond salvation. So all those who are rewarded are believers but not all believers are equally rewarded and not all believers are even rewarded. And that’s the clear teaching of these verses, of verses 10-15.
So what Paul is saying, and this is his warning to the Corinthians, he’s saying look, you all are building on a foundation, the right foundation, which is Christ. But every day of your life you have a choice of what building materials you’re going to use. You’re either going to build with wood, hay and straw, and what do all those have in common? They’re combustible. Or you’re building with gold, silver and costly stones. What do all of those have in common? They’re non-combustible. The only thing a fire can do is purify those elements, it can’t destroy them. So what Paul is warning the Corinthians about here is look, you guys are in Christ but you’re living in a very carnal manner; you’re on the right foundation but you’re building with the wrong materials. And the day is basically going to come where God is going to put all of our work to the fire to test what quality it is; is it wood, hay and stubble or is it gold, silver and costly stones?
So the things that we do as Christians that are carnal in nature is analogous to the wood, hay and stubble. So if I get up to teach a Bible study with wrong motives, if I get up to teach a Bible study through my own power, for example, that would be wood, hay and stubble, and it’s going to be exposed for what it is because that’s the fire’s job. But on the other hand, if I get up to teach a Bible study under God’s power and I do it for His glory rather than self-glory then that’s gold, silver and costly stones. That too will be put through a fire but it will survive the fire and whatever is finished after the fire finishes its job is part of some sort of reward that I will receive, you will receive, above and beyond salvation.
And it’s very interesting here, he talks about people whose whole life is consumed, in a sense, all of their works are destroyed, but they’re clearly Christians because verse 15 says “he himself will be saved… as through fire.” It’s like they are in heaven but they can kind of smell the smoke on their garments. And you’ll notice here it’s very clear that they will suffer loss. I don’t know how severe that loss is, but you think of losing a job, losing your health, losing a home, or if you’re writing something, like I’ve done, and crafted a beautiful piece of writing and then it’s been deleted; you feel a loss because you’re a klutz with computers, like myself, your whole day’s work is gone, you know, you suffer this loss at the end of the day. I mean, it’s very clear that there are Christians in heaven that will suffer some form of loss. I mean, that’s the clear teaching of the Bible. And that’s the warning that he’s giving here to the Corinthian church. And so living in carnality, living in the flesh, going back to the old nature does have a consequence in terms of loss of reward.
Now go over to 1 Corinthians 9, verses 24-27, and what you’ll discover is this doctrine that I’m describing here that Paul has explained to the Corinthians is something that motivated Paul every single day that he had in ministry. Look at what he says there in verses 24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?” We get that. We’re having the Olympics now, we know the difference between a gold medalist, silver medalist, bronze medalist, someone who’s a non-medalist, (if medalist is a word) you get the drift. And Corinth was very hear what’s called the Isthmian Games, which is a prototype of our modern day Olympics, where people would receive crowns and prizes for participating in athletic contests.
So Paul says, “Do you not know” and I think Paul was a sports fan to a very large extent, a lot of his analogies that he uses come from the sporting world that the Corinthians knew a lot about. He says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” So we’re not in this race to get some gold medal that’s just going to fade over time. We have the prospect at what’s called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ of receiving an incorruptible crown.
Paul says, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” And people look at that and they say well, Paul was afraid of losing salvation. Let me tell you this real quick, if Paul is expressing a fear of loss of salvation here he is contradicting everything he said elsewhere in Ephesians, Galatians, Romans, because salvation itself is always acquired by what? By faith alone in grace alone in Christ alone! So Paul could not be saying I beat my body and make it my slave so I don’t go to hell. That would be works and it would be a self-contradiction in Paul.
Rather what Paul is fearful of is he himself, after teaching this doctrine to the Corinthians, he himself being disqualified for the prize at the Bema Seat Judgment. He is afraid that he himself, the great Apostle Paul, could be building with the wrong material. He says I’m very fearful that if I preach this doctrine to others I myself may end up being carnal myself and I’m not going to hell but I’m afraid of an unfavorable ruling at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. And this is one of the things I so appreciate about Paul is when you study him you’ll see that whatever doctrine he laid out for other people He himself lived by.
So it is true, quite clearly, that you can forfeit rewards and lose rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. Paul is not the only biblical writer that speaks of this. If you look at 2 John 8, John the apostle writes, 2 John, just one chapter, verse 8, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.” Same doctrine.
And then notice the book of Revelation, chapter 3 and notice verse 11, Jesus articulates the same doctrine, He says there to the church at Philadelphia, “I am coming quickly; hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your” what? “your crown.” So these are all verses that clearly teach that the loss of salvation is not a possibility but the loss of reward is.
Going back to 1 John for a minute, take a look at 1 John 2 and notice verse 28, “Now, little children,” so is he speaking to believers or unbelievers? Believers! “Now, little children, abide in Him,” now “abide” is fellowship, “so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” So wouldn’t that be sad, to get to the end of your Christian life and Jesus comes back and everybody else is greeting Him and you’re kind of in the corner ashamed because you’re going to suffer a loss at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ because you missed prioritized and miss invested your earthly life. See, that’s what all of these biblical of these biblical warnings are about; these aren’t loss of salvation verses, these are loss of reward possibilities.
So at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ there is going to be five crowns given, at least five that are mentioned specifically in the Bible: the incorruptible crown for the believer that gains mastery over the flesh, we don’t conquer the flesh through human power, we conquer the flesh by tapping into God’s resources that He’s given us. We’re not perfect, we’re not sinless but hopefully we’re sinning less. If that’s true then you gain that crown.
There’s the crown of rejoicing, at the end of 1 Thessalonians 2, for the soul winner. There’s the crown of life, it’s mentioned in James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, for the believer that endures trials. [James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”]
It’s interesting that you can go through a trial and learn things from the trial and have the right attitude and God rewards the believer just for that. You know, our trials do two things, they make us better or they make us bitter. And the Psalmist, you can look it up, I didn’t have it in my notes, just in my brain box this morning, but the Psalmist, one of the Psalms talks about how the Lord saves our tears in a bottle. [Psalm 56:8, “You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”] So all the suffering that we go through in life there’s a record kept of it by God and He wants to reward us in the next life, at the Bema Seat Judgment.
In 1 Peter 5:2-4 there’s the crown of glory for the believer that faithfully shepherds God’s people. I don’t really see that as a pastor only gift or reward. Any time you shepherd somebody with counseling, teaching Sunday School, teaching Jr. High schoolers, I think you become a candidate for that crown. [1 Peter 5:2-4, “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;  nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”]
Then there’s my favorite crown, the last one there, 2 Timothy 4:8, the crown of righteousness for longing for His appearance. I am so ready, I mean, I wish the Lord came back yesterday. Anytime Lord, I just look at the world and its unsolvable problems and I’m so yearning for the kingdom to materialize, and what you’ll discover in Christian history and Christianity is not all Christians think that way. They’re very comfortable in the world, they’ve made the world their home, they’re trying to save the planet because this is all they see is this present earth. And when you start talking to them about the rapture, the return of Christ, they don’t really want to talk about it because they’re into long-term social progress. I’m in favor of trying to help society wherever we can but beloved, the ship is going down. I mean, are we going to sit around and rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic or are we going to be getting people off the boat.
Our primary calling is not to fix this world. I don’t mind being salt and light where we can but our calling is to reach and teach. The great commission is not go and bring social justice to the earth. Social justice is something that Jesus is going to do once Israel repents in the Tribulation and Jesus returns at the end of that Tribulation and sets up His kingdom what will last a thousand years. In fact, that thousand year kingdom is going to be so effective that the devil is going to be put under wraps for a thousand years. And even man’s sin nature during that kingdom is not going to get out of control because anybody that steps out of line there’s immediate justice.
So there’s a crown for the believer that thinks that way. And by the way, people look at these crowns and they say this is the most crass capitalistic materialistic thing I’ve ever seen, what are you talking about crowns; I mean, you’re going to get a five rise apartment and I’m going to get a one room over here in the corner; you’re going to be in a Lamborghini and I’m going to be in this little beat up Volkswagen, I mean what are you talking about, these rewards.
So people resent the doctrine of rewards but they don’t understand that rewards are opportunities to glorify Christ because if you take a look at Revelation 4:10, it says, “the twenty-four elders” now “the twenty-four elders” represents the church, and you say well how do you know that? You just have to take my word for it right now, it just takes too long to explain why; “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their” what? “crowns before the throne.” There’s even a band, isn’t there, called Casting Crowns. I think it’s probably where they got that title from, a Christian band.
So, you gain a reward, you have… it’s sort of like, was it Mary, one of the sisters that broke the alabaster oil and began to pour it on Christ’s head, expensive oil, and Judas, you know, was unregenerate and got upset about that. But you get a reward, you have this ability to not pay Jesus back for salvation but magnify Him, worship Him. And if there’s no reward in your hand because you’ve mismanaged your Christian life you have really nothing to glorify God with. You’re thankful to be in heaven but there’s no worship experience that you could have had. And so these rewards are not strutting around, I’ve got this, I’ve got that; that misses the whole point. It’s a capacity to glorify Christ. So there is that consequence in returning to the sin nature.
Another consequence beyond loss of reward is a loss of fellowship. There is a big difference between position and fellowship. I was just with my family, immediate and extended, for about two weeks, so let me just put it this way, there was a lot of opportunities to get out of fellowship with my family, particularly… my mom listens to this so I’ve got to be careful what I say, she is just totally on the Donald Trump bandwagon, which is fine, I’m not, and so, you know, you run into these little frictions in the family and you’re so tempted to want to speak your mind and say angry things, particularly when political subjects come up. And you can get into these situations with your family where you’re still family, right? I mean, family is not like baseball, you know, baseball you can make a trade, with family you’re sort of stuck with what you got, right? I’m thankful for the family I have, a terrific family, but your family, you get into tension about something, an argument about this and that, and there’s a breach, not in the position of the family but in enjoyment with each other, and fellowship with each other.
So every moment we go back into sin is a moment… the Bible isn’t saying we’re unsaved, we’re out of fellowship with Christ. Our position is intact but the moment by moment enjoyment that we have with each other, us and the Lord, is jeopardized. And that is what 1 John 1:9 is about. Look at that real quick, because people misunderstand 1 John 1:9. It says, “If we confess” and notice the word “our” so John is admitting he’s in this class of people. Was John saved? I think so! So the people he’s addressing here are saved. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you go to chapter 2, verse 1, it says, “My little children,” indicating he’s writing to who? Believers.
1 John1:9 is not in the Bible to get folks saved; 1 John 1:9 is in the Bible to restore broken fellowship. Broken fellowship happens with unconfessed sin; it doesn’t change our position in God but it does change our moment by moment abiding and enjoyment with Him. And that’s the position David was in, the second King of Israel, when he hid his sin from the Lord, adultery, murder, lying, and he just swept it under the rug and pretended like it wasn’t happening. And you study David in the Psalms in that condition, he says the heavens become like grass. So what he’s talking about… and that’s why he says “How blessed is the man whose sin has been forgiven,” he’s not talking about getting saved; he’s talking about the restoration of broken fellowship and that fellowship is broken all of the times that we have unconfessed in our lives.
And there’s a tradition in some of the Bob Thieme, Berachah Church, and many of the churches here in Houston that were planted through Bob Thieme’s emphasis and focus and they always begin with… any Bob Thieme church that I’ve ever been in they begin this way, they begin with a moment of silence and what they’re doing is they’re giving people an opportunity to get back in fellowship with the Lord because we all know that we sin during the week and you’re not going to hear from the Lord during the worship service, or really respond well to the teaching of the Word of God unless you have a chance to restore broken fellowship. And a lot of times when you’re in these churches they do this and sometimes they explain why they’re doing it, sometimes they don’t, but that’s basically why they’re doing it. And maybe it’s something we ought to start here; I’m always afraid of starting traditions because what happens is the tradition takes over and you forget why you started the tradition to begin with. But in this case I think this tradition is a healthy one and it’s connected to the Scripture. So loss of fellowship is another issue.
Another problem you run into through unconfessed sin is the possibility of excommunication from the church. Take a look, if you could, at 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, Paul says, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,  I have decided” he’s writing here as an apostle, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh,” now “flesh” there I don’t think is the body. The Greek word for flesh is sarx, it’s talking about the control of the sin nature is what it’s talking about, the control that the sin nature had over a certain believer, “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” And you say well what is the problem here. Well, if you go back to chapter 5 and verse 1 he says, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not even occur amongst the pagans” or the Gentiles. See, there’s proof right there in the Bible that an out of fellowship believer can sometimes out sin an unbeliever. Paul says the pagans don’t even act the way you all are acting here in Corinth.
And so what’s going on? He says, “…someone has his father’s wife,” so it’s incest, that’s what’s happening. And everybody in Corinth is just kind of going [Andy whistles several notes] you know, pretending like nothing is wrong. And Paul is basically saying here you should have kicked this guy out of the church a long time ago; that’s my ruling on the matter. And what you need to do is you need to go through the steps of church discipline, you know the steps, right? They’re outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 where you confront someone one on one about a sin issue, and then if that person won’t listen then you bring two to three witnesses; if that person won’t listen again then you announce it to the whole church, and you say So and So is living in sin and the rest of the church is not to have fellowship with this person.
[Matthew 18:15-17, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”]
I have been in churches where this has been done really well; I have been in churches where it hasn’t been done that well; most of the churches I’ve been ignore this and don’t do it at all because when this happens there’s not a dry eye in the house. It’s a very painful thing to have to go through. But the goal of church discipline is not to destroy the person; it’s to destroy the flesh or the sarx, or the sin nature because the idea is you’re trying to shame them into repentance.
Now you have to understand that if you were kicked out of the Corinthian church you couldn’t go down the street and join another church. Today in America if I get kicked out of First Baptist I’ll just join Second Baptist. If I get kicked out of Second Baptist I’ll just join 300th Baptist. So it’s kind of hard to use it exactly the same way it was spoken of in the New Testament but in Corinth, if you were kicked out of the Corinthian church there wasn’t any alternative to go to. There was no Corinthian satellite service, there weren’t even mega churches. Today you can be totally anonymous and go to a megachurch. You didn’t have stadiums full of people (like we have today in some of our churches) back in the first century. And it was a shameful thing. I mean, you were kicked out, you were cut off from the body of Christ, and this is the final step of church discipline and the goal is not to destroy a person’s life; it’s not to punish, it’s to shame them into repentance. And then once the person has repented and is no longer involved in incest (in this case) then guess what, you let them back into the fellowship and that’s the goal.
The problem with the Corinthians is they wouldn’t kick this guy out. Now in 2 Corinthians, around chapter 2 I think it is, the guy repented. I take it as the same guy. And they wouldn’t let him back in. So they either wouldn’t deal with the sin issue or when they finally got around to dealing with the sin issue they came on this guy like a ton of bricks with the goal of destroying the person, when that’s not the goal at all, it’s to restore them back into fellowship and get them to leave this life of sin. Why? So they can have a favorable ruling at the Bema Seat Judgment as well, is what Paul is getting at here. So if you go back into sin and you live there you become a candidate, depending on if your church is aggressive about this or not; you become a candidate for church discipline which is always unpleasant.
Another consequence of living in the sin nature is you become subject to the law of sowing and reaping. Take a look at Galatians 6 for just a minute. It goes 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and then right after 2 Corinthians you should run into Galatians 6 and verses 7-8. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows,” this is an agrarian society so they understood a lot about planting and harvesting, “whatever a man sows this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh” that’s the word sarx or the sin nature, “will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Most people disconnect this from the context. What’s the context of this. Go back to verse 6, I like this verse, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” What does that mean; it means pay the preacher is basically what that means. What that means is church is not free; the gospel is free, church is not free. Those that have been blessed by the Word of God are expected, in God, to financially support whatever institution, church, they are at where they are being fed the Word of God. Well, I don’t want to spend my money that way, I want to go out to South Coast Plaza there in Orange County and spend my money like a drunken sailor. Paul says well, you’re going to reap what you sow. If you won’t support your local church then you’re not going to have a local church and you’re going to have a very poor quality of teaching and doctrine and you’re never going to really arrive at the middle tense of your salvation the way God wants because you don’t know how to live as a Christian because you need to support the teachers that are teaching you the way of truth.
So Paul, in this context says you reap what you sow. And as he’s talking about reaping and sowing he unleashes a principle of God that is binding on the Christian and non-Christian alike, and the principle is this: Whatever you put into the ground is going to come back, so if I put apple seeds in the ground I’m going to get a what? An apple tree. If you put orange seeds in the ground I’ll get an orange tree. And if I put poison ivy in the ground I’m going to get poison ivy. I don’t know if there’s poison ivy seeds but you get the idea. (There it is, Eric is nodding, he’s the agrarian here, he’s the one out here cutting all these hedges and everything. See, I just took his reward away because I glorified Eric so sorry Eric. You can share Jim’s reward, if he’ll let you do that.)
If I don’t put anything in the ground I get nothing back. So there is this principle of sowing and reaping. If I cruise in here… not cruise in but speed in at 80 miles an hour and I get pulled over and the police officer shows me, through is radar device, how fast I’ve been going I can’t say to the police officer well gee, officer, you know, I’m a Christian, I’m even a pastor and Romans 8:1, in the Bible says there’s “no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” How far is that going to go? Obviously I’m subject to the law of sowing and reaping just like anybody else. Romans 8:1, the only thing it promises is that the eternal consequences of my sins are removed. But there’s no promise in God that the temporal consequences of my sin are removed.
So, you know, if I eat like a pig and drink like a well and cuss like a sailor and I abuse my body my whole life guess what? I’m going to have heart disease, I’m going to have cardiovascular problems; just because I’m a Christian doesn’t exempt me from that. And if you want an example of somebody whose ministry had to be sped up because he mentally acknowledge, and you can hear this in his teachings, the law of sowing and reaping, I don’t know if you all listen to J. Vernon McGee on the radio, great, great Bible teacher, expositor, but if you get into some of his lessons what he starts to talk about is cancer; he had cancer hanging over his head and he actually, a couple of times I recall called that the judgment of God on his life because he put himself in that condition through chain smoking.
In fact, in the old days he was brought out as a chapel speaker at Dallas Seminary and he would just sit there on the bench and light up and it was like such a problem, the administration didn’t know what to with this, bring in a chapel speaker and he’s lighting up a bunch of cigarettes and things as he’s sitting there near the chapel, after speaking or getting ready to speak. And J. Vernon McGee recognized that because he kept doing that he cut short his lifespan. That’s why his ministry is called Thru the Bible in Five Years. I don’t know if “Five Years” is in the title but the emphasis is five years. I mean, why did he want to rush through the whole thing in five years, I can’t even get through John in three years. Well, because he had a sentence hanging over him which he acknowledged that he deserved because of this law of sowing and reaping.
So you can go back to sin if you want to, and live there, you’re still going to heaven but nothing good is going to come out of it because the law of sowing and reaping applies across the board. It applies to unbelievers, it applies to believers.
Another consequence associated with sin is unanswered prayer. Notice Psalm 66:18. Psalm 66:18, David, the author of this particular Psalm, writes this, Psalm 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my” what? “heart, the LORD will not” what? “hear.” See every moment I spend out of… and this is why David said the heavens became like brass during all of that time of his unconfessed sin. Every moment I spend in sin, without confessing it, is a short circuit to the effectiveness of my prayer life. That’s why the book of James, chapter 5, [verse 16] says, “the prayer of the righteous man availeth much.” Is that talking about practical righteousness or positional righteousness? I think it’s talking about practical righteousness because that’s the whole context of the book of James. The book of James is not a book about how to gain positional righteousness through personal faith in Christ, it’s a book about practical righteousness.
So what kind of person does God answer? He answers the person who is one of His children, who is keeping short accounts with God through regular confession of sin, so that he or she can abide in Christ, so that their prayers can be answered. So God is interested in answering the prayers of a person who is not sinless but is sinning less, is making progress in the middle tense of their salvation, and is keeping short accounts with God when we do fail, 1 John 1:9. That’s the kind of prayer that God answers. That’s what David is saying here. If I’m covering my sins, pretending like they’re not there the Lord doesn’t hear.
Well, pastor, do you have any good marital advice for us? Yes I do, the Bible does actually. Notice 1 Peter 3:7, see, this affects your marriage, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker,” now I know there are these amazon women that you watch on TV the WWF wrestling that can put men in a headlock and pound them; that’s not the norm, okay. He’s not dealing with every exception of planet earth. I mean, if you take a men’s football team and a woman’s football team if I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’m placing my money on the men’s football team because men are naturally stronger than women, with some exceptions. A woman will be reduced emotionally faster to tears than a man, that’s just a fact. It’s not saying that men are invulnerable but the woman has a more delicate composition as ordained by God Himself. It’s not saying that the woman is less valuable than the man; it’s not saying that the woman is not as smart as the man; it’s saying just by definition the woman has a tendency to be weaker physically and emotionally.
So the husband needs to understand that and not treat her like one of the guys or like he’s barking orders at his subordinates at work. That’s not how he’s to treat her; he is to honor her as the weaker vessel; that’s how God made her. Well, what if he doesn’t do that? What if he just runs right over her roughshod? What if he’s a male chauvinist pig? What if he looks at her as a slave? Then what? What does the Bible say here? “…so that your prayers will not be” what? “hindered.” So if there’s unconfessed sin in a marriage that damages the effectiveness of one’s prayer life as well. Do you see that? Two more and we’re finished.
Another consequence of unconfessed sin is a loss of testimony. Notice Genesis 19:14, this is Lot, who we’ve defined in previous lessons as a believer. How do I know he’s a believer? Because he’s called righteous Lot three times in 2 Peter 2:7-8. [2 Peter 2:7-8, “and if he rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men  (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds,”]
But as you look at this guy’s life as he’s dwelling in Sodom and Gomorrah he doesn’t look very righteous, does he? So what is Lot? Lot is a person who is saved positionally but he’s not making progress in the middle tense of his salvation, practical sanctification. So Genesis 19:14 says this, and this is where Lot gets serious after living in carnality. He knows Sodom and Gomorrah is about to be destroyed, so he’s trying to get his relatives out of there and it says, “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters,” so he’s speaking here to his own family, and then he preaches a sermon, he “said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.’” A pretty serious sermon, right.
Did you catch the next line, “But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” To my knowledge that’s the only time in the Bible where the word “jesting” is used; when the guy finally gets serious his family looks at him and says oh, there he goes again, joking around when he wasn’t joking here. Well what happened? The guy had no credibility any longer; he had shot his credibility because of his open carnality against God. You know, this is the guy who is offering his virgin daughters to the mob; this is the fellow who at the end of this chapter is drunk with his daughters and in an incestuous relationship with two of them. It’s not a man that’s really walking out the spiritual life. And when the time came for him to be serious and to tell people here’s what’s going on, God is going to destroy the city, the man had no credibility.
So you see, that’s what happens to us when we go back into sin and live there as Christians; yeah, you’re still going to heaven but your sphere of influence just shrunk. And I remember very clearly the televangelist scandals of the 1980’s, that caught all of these preachers and teachers on television in moral sins, financial sins, and all kinds of things. And I remember before those scandals hit, I remember just as a kid looking at the TV, seeing Jimmy Swaggart preach, I don’t agree with everything Jimmy Swaggart says but my own opinion is I believe that Jimmy Swaggart is one of the most gifted orators I’ve ever seen. And I remember seeing, through the television camera, just a packed house. I mean, Jimmy Swaggart was like on every television station you can imagine, and every book store and all that stuff happened to him where he was caught in financial and sexual scandals (along with others) and it was so sad to watch his whole ministry shrink to almost nothing.
And today he’s on a few stations; you look at his audience and it’s like they have to just keep the camera rolling with people in the front row because the whole place is empty when they actually scan the stadium with a camera. And to this day I’ve seen Jimmy Swaggart post all of that stuff, preach, and I see the exact same gifting in Jimmy Swaggart. I still think Jimmy Swaggart is a very gifted orator. But the fact of the matter is, you mention the name Jimmy Swaggart today and it’s a joke, it’s a laugh. The only thing that he’s good for, to some extent, is to be made fun of by sitcoms and things like that. I believe Jimmy Swaggart is a Christian, I believe he’s gifted by God, I believe God has used him, but where is his influence today? It’s shrunk.
My prayer and hope for somebody like that is he could go to some place where nobody has ever heard of this stuff, these scandals, and start some kind of ministry somewhere, in some part of the world, where no one even knows about what happened here and that he could still bless people, because that’s how God works. God still wants to use us, even when we’re a disaster. And we shouldn’t point our fingers too severely at Jimmy Swaggart because but for the grace of God there go I. All of us have the same sin nature that Jimmy Swaggart has and all of us can be pulled right back into sin and we forfeit a sphere of influence when we do that. So that’s what I mean by loss of testimony.
The last one I’ll share with you is loss of leadership privileges. Look at 1 Timothy 3 just very quickly; 1 Timothy 3:1-13, there’s kind of a mentality out there that we’re all leaders, we’re all called to lead. And that is just so unbiblical. When you look at the qualities for leaders of elder and deacon you’ll see that leaders are supposed to have a particular quality about them. And it’s interesting that when Paul gives these qualifications he’s not talking about talent. See, we’re totally focused on talent people have; Paul doesn’t even mention talent here except one little time, he says they have to be “apt to teach.” But when you go through these qualifications, above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, apt to teach, not addicted to wine, pugnacious, gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money, you drop down to verse 8, he begins to talk about deacons, this is why we have you, as a congregation, say yea or nay on people that we’re putting on our elder board and deacon board, because you might know something about their character that we elders don’t know about and we want to know about it.
Deacons, likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, addicted to much wine, not fond of sordid gain, it goes on verse 12, good managers of their family, their household. What do all of these characteristics, what are they talking about? They’re talking about progress that people have made in the middle tense of their salvation. These are character issues. And we’re living in this culture today where people say character doesn’t matter. Well, to God it does matter. God cares about character because if a man is not going to be faithful to his wife how can you trust him with church money and finances. And people all the time are on my case over this Donald Trump issue because they’re saying well, Andy, we’re not electing a pastor you know. Well, the fact of the matter is if a man is a flagrant adulterer and has had five children through three different women and brags about it in his book and calls his personal Vietnam his ability to avoid venereal diseases how am I supposed to ignore that? If a guy can’t be faithful to his wife how can I trust him with the United States of America. People say well, you’re for Hillary. I’m about as anti-Hillary as you can get; I’m anti everybody, I don’t know my problem is this time around. But you see, the fact of the matter is character matters.
Character matters! It’s not about just talent, it’s not about starting a business and getting the job done, it’s about character. God says character matters. So before you appoint someone to a position of authority in the church you have to look very carefully at their character. What kind of character do they have. So if you… and by the way, David, 2 Samuel 12, lost his position as leader over Israel for a season, because of character. He was removed from his throne when he went back into lying and adultery and murder. So this idea that we’re all leaders, we’re all qualified to lead, that’s just a bunch of nonsense. This idea that character doesn’t count, that’s just a bunch of silliness; that’s anti-God thinking. And so when you wander back into sin you forfeit leadership privilege.
So can a believer lose their salvation? No they cannot because of number 13, believers with unfruitful lives still have salvation although they forfeit a lot of rewards and temporal consequences at the Bema Seat Judgment. Anyway, I went a little long so we’ll open it up for questions.