“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:1-2.
“Know, therefore, and see that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.”— Jer. 2:19
You have perhaps at times wished to know who were your enemies and who were your friends — whom you might trust and whom you were to shun. I have to tell you, that you have one great enemy, and that is sin — one real Friend and that is God. Have you ever thought on this? Sin is your soul’s enemy, and God is your soul’s friend. That sin which is many times so sweet is your bitterest enemy? Sin which at the time is so enjoyable and pleasant, even attractive turns out to be the worst poison of your soul. Though it may caress you, it is just to lure you into the slaughter. Although it may turn up as the angel of light it is the wicked enemy of the souls of men. I bring up this subject to you because we live at a time when sin is not taken as seriously as it should. We are supposed to be those who know the seriousness of sin and shun it, and flee from it, and mortify it, as to kill it! This war with sin is trick and difficulty but we must win it.
This is the quotation from one of our young men commenting on sin that prompted this sermon, “… the main thing that I realized is that when we use the word war at times we don’t realize what it is meant to portray. War is not a minor disagreement, neither is it a difference of opinion. It is an all out effort by one party to wipe out the other, it is savagely brutal”. So wipe out sin or it will exterminate you!
The second point I want to point out to you is that, God whom you might have forsaken is your truest, the most genuine and most caring Friend! You have none in heaven or on earth like God; not one who takes such a deep and sincere interest in your welfare! You might have forgotten Him, but He has not forgotten you. You always forget Him because you have loved sin that He hates. May I point out to you the enemy that you are to fight – SIN!
Sin is your enemy because it separates you from God
The Bible calls people ‘haters of God’! (Rom. 1:30). Sadly, while we hate God, we love His enemy – sin! This is why we need to very clearly see for sure the enemy that we are to deal with, whether in our flesh or in our neighborhood. Whether with our mortal bodies or within our brothers.
Believe me — it is sin that is your real enemy! Such an enemy who tells you to forsake your Maker and your Creator, your Saviour and your God, Your Lord and your King, your Prophet and your Priest. I tell you, it is an evil thing and bitter to forsake God (Jer. 2:19). The way of transgressors is hard! — Oh, how hard – to leave and forsake the One who gives life! Their cup is gall and wormwood.
Look throughout the history of the world from the very beginning. It was sin that first drew Adam from God and drove him out of Paradise. It was sin that brought the flood of waters upon the earth. It was sin that called down fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. It is sin that has filled the earth with misery and pain — with sorrow and sighing — with weeping eyes and broken hearts – with diseases and with death. It was sin that dug the grave and kindled hell, and brought man under the power of the devil. I ask you, is there a greater enemy of man than sin?
It is sin that separates us from God, and disqualifies us for enjoying Him. God created man that he may glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, but sin would not let him do either of this. There is such a big chasm created by our sin between us and God. It is as wide as heaven and earth. It is as deep as the abyss and it is such high monument that we cannot see God. It has completely obscured and obstructed us and hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Your prayers will go unanswered by God because of sins.
It is sin that robs our souls of peace. It is sin – not poverty or diseases, which spoils us of happiness, and fills us with full misery. It is sin that poisons the soul — that letting loose our passions and inflaming our lusts.
It is sin that disturbs and defiles the conscience, making us a terror to ourselves, and pressing us down with a burden too heavy to be borne. All who have not known the grace of God that is Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins are burdened and heavy laden with sin. This is what the Lord Himself says in Matthew 11:28. There can be no rest for one who is carrying his own sin. This is why Augustine prayed for sinners that they are to have no peace until they rest in Christ. There can be neither joy nor peace until one has known the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ. There is a constant torment of the soul and the conscience for everyone whose sins are on himself.
Do I need to tell you further how much an enemy you have in sin? Yes, I believe I do, because we have so much to learn from the Bible about the dangers of sin. It is sin that grieves, annoys, and quenches the Holy Spirit. It is sin that blinds us from living for eternity, but only makes us to live for today, eating and drinking, for tomorrow we die. It is sin that makes us not to see Christ. Yes, because of sin we are unable to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. We are utterly unable to set your minds on things that are above. We keep on groping in the dark for only the things that are on earth.
It is sin that takes away our delight for spiritual things; our power of realizing God and holding fellowship with Him. It is sin that darkens the mind and hardens the heart, till we lack genuine feelings toward God and so hate His light. Yes because of sin either within us or brought by others, we don’t pray as we ought, we fail to have our personal devotions, we are not interested in fellowship with other believers and so we miss worship services to attend to our earthly duties that could have done in six days. Yes! because of sin we over-indulge ourselves and so give towards the work of the Lord so little. We do not love our brethren neither do we help them. We tell those who are angry be fed instead of giving them food we promise them prayers. We fail to know to the truth that, the Lord does not lift our income to so that our living standards may go up but rather so that our giving standards may be higher. Yes it is because of sin that you are increasingly happier with unbelievers instead of the saints. Oh, then, must not sin be our real enemy? Could we have a worse enemy than this?
Look God is always after you despite your attitude and actions. His thoughts towards you are still most tender and kind. Perhaps you think that the very reverse of this is true. Or at least, if you do not think so, you act as if it were so. You act as if God were your greatest enemy, and sin your peculiar friend. You do not love God. You hate God. You suspect God. You turn away from God. You distrust God.
You discredit all His words and professions of friendship and goodwill. You forget Him days without number. Could you do more to Him were He your bitterest enemy? On the other hand, you follow sin; you cling to sin; you delight in sin; you will part with heaven, with God, for sin; you will sell your soul for sin. Could you do more, were sin your best and truest friend? Your thoughts, your words, your feelings, your actions every day of your life, show that you really in your hearts think sin to be your real friend, and God to be your worst enemy. How fearful a state to live in!
God is the truest Friend that you must seek at all cost
I want to assure you, with the most reverent words that it is God who is your soul’s true and real friend. His thoughts towards you are most gracious and compassionate. He is the enemy of your sin, but not the enemy of your soul. You admit that He has the power of befriending you, and that all fullness of blessing is with Him. Look, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear. But perhaps you doubt His willingness to bestow His gifts. You suspect His heart. You will not believe that He has any friendly thoughts or wishes towards you, till you can bring a price in your hands, and prove that you are not altogether unworthy of His friendship.
You think that He is the enemy of your soul, and will remain your enemy till you have made yourself fit for becoming the object of His regard. Now, let me ask, has God deserved this at your hands? Has He deserved to be doubted, and to be suspected thus? Are all His professions of friendly concern for us insincere? Are they mere random declarations — mere words of course?
No — my friend — no. God is your real, your true, your only friend. Always remember that neither is His hand shortened, nor is His ear dull. He is willing – -in fact more than willing. His interest in your welfare is unfeigned and true. In clinging to sin, you are cleaving to your worst enemy and consequently alienating yourself from the One who is both willing and able to bestow the highest blessings and honor to you. In turning away from God you are forsaking your truest friend. Look,
God did not send you to hell when first you sinned; He still keeps you out of hell, and gives you time to repent; He pities your misery and has no pleasure in your death. What greater proof of His tender mercy could He give, than in sparing you even for an hour? “Account that the longsuffering of our God is salvation” (2 Pet. 3:9, 15). He waits to be gracious to you; He longs for the return of all His prodigals — of all His wandering sheep. Does not this wear a most winning aspect towards you, even as you are?
Has God not given His One and only begotten Son? Have you not known that the Son of God Jesus Christ has been by God to the sinners. Do you not know that all that you are required to do is put your trust in Christ and you would obtain mercy and pardon abundantly for your sins? Do you think God wants you to be better so that you may enjoy the blessings of redemption? No my friend, all that you ought to do is to confess and repent of your sins though they may be as red as crimson or as black as soot – the Blood of Christ can make them whiter than snow. The shed blood of the Lamb of God takes away all sin no matter how terrible they may be. Go to Christ as you are and you will find the forgiveness of all sins that you previously committed; yes, by His sacrifice all sin including the future sins are atoned. Do not doubt tell Him to show you His grace and He is willing because He has said that no one will come to Him that He will cast out.
Has He not sent His gospel to you? — the glad tidings of great joy. He “publishes peace” to you through the blood of the cross; He makes known to you the work of His Son, in whom there is redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. He throws open to you the “new and living way” into His presence, a way in which there is not one stumbling-block, one hindrance — He proclaims to you the infinite fullness of Jesus, that out of that fullness you may receive, and grace for grace! What more could He do? If He be not a friend, who can be? Has anyone, either in heaven or in earth, done so much as this, or shown such goodwill to you, such an interest in your welfare?
Does He not strive with you in your heart by His Holy Spirit? Awakening strange desires after Himself and after heaven — or filling you with terrors as you think upon eternity and the judgment to come. He knocks at the door of your heart. He knocks unceasingly, day and night, that He may persuade you to open and admit Him that He may come in and dine with you, and you with Him? Would an enemy do this? Would any but a real friend show such long-suffering love — such tender concern for you? How many sermons have you heard? How privileged are you to hear faithful preaching of the gospel! How gracious is the Lord that He longs to make you holy; to renew you in the spirit of your mind. He cannot bear your unholy ways, and He would want you become holy and blessed. If you would but allow Him, He would do this for you; He would give you His Holy Spirit to take old things away, and to make all things new. Would an enemy do this?
He would rejoice over you if you would but turn and seek His face. It is said of the prodigal son, that when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, welcoming him back to his house with joy and singing, “This my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.” Would an enemy do this? Are not these the actions, the feelings of a true and tender friend — a friend whose love has been sore tried by your neglect, and coldness, and hatred, but who yet has never ceased to care for you, never ceased to yearn over you with the bowels of tenderness and compassion.* Did not Jesus pray for His murderers, and was not that the prayer of a friend — of one who really cared for their souls?
Did not Jesus weep over Jerusalem — and were not His tears those of real and tender pity? Did not Jesus say, “Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life”; and did not that show that He really wanted to give them life? Oh, reader, have you any reason for saying that God is your enemy, and desires your death? Has He ever been to you a wilderness or a land of darkness? (Jer. 2:31). Have you any reason for thinking God’s thoughts to you are not thoughts of tenderness — the thoughts of a real friend?
My friend, God is making proposals of friendship to you! The Most High God is asking you to become His friend! These proposals are sincere! He is really and truly seeking your friendship, and offering His own in return! Precious offer! To a worm of the dust! To a sinner, a rebel, a hater of Himself! He asks no price, no gift, no bribe! He tells to go to Him as you are! All He asks is that you would take His offer — accept His proposals, and become His friend and have eternal life through His Son. Yes! He tells you to believe in Christ. He tells you to go to Christ in repentance of sins and obtain mercy and forgiveness.
It does not matter how far you have strayed, or how guilty you have become! It does not matter how long you have slighted His proposals, and rejected His friendship. It does not matter how many times you have blasphemed or persecuted Christ. Whether you may be the chief or the king of sinners you are called to the richness of the grace of God. You are invited to the banquet of God you are invited to come to come for the eternal inheritance in Christ. You are called to come to be with God in heaven forever. And would you not come today – the day of salvation? Would you not turn and take such a handsome proposal?
The gate is wide open to you. The welcome is sure. “Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to Me says the Lord” (Jer. 3:1, 4). “Wilt Thou not, from this time, cry unto Me, My father, Thou art the guide of my youth.”
Be reconciled to God because in Him you will find rest everlasting. To be reconciled with God you will need to come with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who has shed His blood and brought you near to God. You need to trust Jesus Christ to take you to the Father because otherwise you can’t reach to Him by yourself. No matter how much hard you may try, no matter how many times you will do it, no matter how clever you may be or no matter the technology you may employ, the only one that will work for you is to believe in Christ.
What a great and wonderful blessing it is to be in Christ, to be the sons and daughters of the Most High God! How blessed are we to know that we are indeed saved – yes saved for real! What a joy and peace and everlasting comfort in God for those here who belong to the family of God – that though the fiery darts of temptations to sin may come we know that the Lord will keep us from stumbling. We know that neither sin nor the devil, neither the flesh nor anything whether invisible or visible is able to take us from the Hand of the Lord because He is able to save and keep those He saves to the last day. Sin and its effects – death, have been completely vanquished! We know whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which we have committed to Him until that glorious day when we shall be forever with the Lord. Amen!