from a sermon by Tom Pricskett on July 3, 2002
We all would agree there is good and there is evil in our present world. Where did the right side and the wrong side begin? Genesis 3:1-5 explains the origin of sin very well. It reads, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Right from the beginning, we see that Satan attacks the faith relationship between man and God. That is the first step of the enemy—to break down this relationship. Adam and Eve had a very simple life with everything they needed, but the serpent inserted the thought that something was missing. Not much has changed in 6000 years. Satan is doing the same thing today—trying to insert the thought that one is missing something by not partaking of sin in some form or another.
We know from Scripture that Eve believed what Satan had to say, acted upon it, and sinned. Generally, when you yield to a forbidden command, you do not want to act alone, and Eve invited Adam to join her and be a partaker as well. Misery loves company, and that started early. But notice that Satan’s primary concern, even with us today, is to unsettle our faith connection to God. If Satan can deal with that issue, he will have us on the run. Faith in God is the area we want to protect and keep very much alive continually. Keep faith connected! We do not want to give Satan good ground for planting doubts in our minds.
In the Scriptures we want to look for the good. In Romans 6:23 we read, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” A life of sin will end in a terrible payoff—eternal death. But God is good in that He provided the gift of eternal life through the shedding of Jesus’ own Blood Calvary. He paid the full price so we can have redemption. While the wages of sin is death, there is hope.
In Isaiah 59:1-2 it says, “BEHOLD, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” There is an embarrassment that comes along with sin. You do not want to see the person who knows about it. You do not want to face them and look into their eyes because you are afraid of the consequences; you know what you did was wrong. Isaiah is trying to encourage mankind by saying that the Lord’s hand is not shortened. God still loves you. He wants to make a change in your life. But the problem is that your iniquities have separated you from God.
Adam and Eve’s sin had separated them from God. There was a great divide between them and God at that point. Their sinful act had disrupted their simple existence and created complications. Sin always creates complications. Sin hurts! It is not in our favor; it is against us, and according to Isaiah, God cannot hear us in times like that. He says, “He [God] will not hear.”
Thankfully, if the right prayer is prayed, God will hear. We know the prayer that was prayed by the publican: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” God heard that prayer. We thank God He heard many of us when we prayed a similar prayer. A sincere prayer, whether complicated or uncomplicated, God hears and responds to. He changes lives for the good.
In Acts 16, the incident between Paul and Silas and the jailer is proof of the fact that sincerity in our request reaches the ear of God. When the prison was shaken by an earthquake, and the doors were opened, the jailer thought he would pay with his life. When he found out that the prisoners had not escaped, he cried out to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Sometimes the simplest question will receive the simplest answer. He did not say, “What must my neighbors do,” or “What must my family do?” God will show you what you need to do. It will be personalized for you and it will be in a language you understand. Their answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Think again of what was lost in the Garden—the faith relationship between God and man. In the New Testament era we are still dealing with faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can expect results and victory in Jesus if we know that we believe God and that we are putting our faith and confidence in Him. You can even believe your brothers and sisters in Christ. They would encourage you to do the same thing—believe God and confess and forsake sin. They are not trying to trick you, hurt you, or take away your fun. No! They are trying to encourage you to find the thing that will benefit you the most, and that is faith in God
In John 3:19-21 we read, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” If a person is “pro-sin,” he is on the side of loving darkness rather than light. A certain comfort zone is created to accommodate their deeds which are evil.
Going to church is not part of that comfort zone. Even meeting people who hand out Gospel tracts is uncomfortable. There was a man in the town I grew up in who handed out tracts. I did not really know what a tract was even though I was a church member. However, I would see this man on the streets of our small town, and I would cross the street just to miss this guy! How was he going to hurt me with a piece of paper? Try to figure that out. However, men love darkness rather than light and my behavior was an example of that. When you are wrapped up in your sins, you do not want to see people who have light! You want to avoid them. You want to get away from them. When men want to do evil, there is a hatred for the light. It may vary in intensity, but it is there.
We want to appreciate the light of the Gospel message and say, “Tell me what I need to do to be saved.” John 3:21 says, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” We want that light to expose anything in our lives that might not fit with the Gospel. It is important to come together in a Gospel setting where we can pray one for another and be instructed by God’s Word. We want that exposure. Let us submit ourselves to God and pray, “God, is there something that should not be in my life? I do not want to be on the pro-sin side. I want to be on the pro-holiness side—the side that You are on. I want to walk in the light.” You will find yourself growing spiritually to the place where the Lord can use you for His glory.
When one is in sin, there is a degree of pleasure. It is not the right kind, for sure, but there is a reason that people stay in their sins. One reason is that it can be comfortable! You do not care to rock the boat, because you are comfortable and are enjoying yourself to a certain extent. It is a dangerous place to be. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, we read, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” We do not want a delusion. We want to love the truth! Faith is critical and we do not want to get into that place where God is allowing you to accept a strong delusion and believe a lie! That is a scary place to be. We want to believe the truth. We want to run from sin. We want to flee from iniquity and draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to us. We can do that by loving the truth—the Gospel truth.
The Apostle John had found the Good News. It had changed his life and he was passing it on. We read in 1 John 1:3-5, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” What an incredible experience to have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ! Do you not want to tell that to others? We tell our friends good news on a smaller level. If you got a good deal at Wal-Mart, you probably told somebody, right? It seems to be our human instinct to pass on good news or bad news.
In this case, the Apostle John had found good news! There is real joy in the Gospel; there is genuineness. It is pure, it is just, and it is right. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). There is no sin connected to God. You do not have to fear to run to the light. You do not have to fear that you will be exposed for who you really are if you are walking in the light.
So, if we are not pro-sin then we must be pro-something. What about pro-holiness? I want to be on the pro-holiness team. I want to be for that which is pure, that which is right, and that which God ordains. I do not want to be on the wrong side of God. And pro-holiness works! In Romans 6:1-2 we read, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” The answer is, “God forbid.” We do not want to continue in something that we left behind. Verse 2 continues, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” We do not want to go on living in sin once we have been delivered from it. We have been set free! We have found a Friend; His name is Jesus. We have found something good and we want to stick to it!
Yes, Satan is always sneaking around in his subtle ways trying to disrupt God’s people. I suppose he does not spend a whole lot of time working with sinners; they are already lost! Sinners get involved in their “thing”—all wrapped up in a safe cocoon. Well, if you are a sinner, let the Lord blast you loose! Submit yourself to God. Talk to someone who is connected with God. Tell them, “I am not saved. Pray for me.” You will begin to feel conviction for your sins and that is a good thing because God is dealing with you! He does not want you to be on the wrong side. He wants you to be on the pro-holiness side—the victory side!
In Romans 6:16 we read, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” We yield to one side or the other. We either yield to sin (and the end of that is death), or we yield to righteousness. The end of that is eternal life! We want to be yielding to the right side.
Committing ourselves to the pro-holiness side has to be a deep, personal conviction. This resolve cannot be something we do just because our parents want us to, though they surely do want that for us if they are living for the Lord. It has to go deeper, to the point of surrendered sins and a love for righteousness that we do not want to forget. Verse 17 continues, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” You have been delivered at the heart level. I like the fact that this says that you “were” the servants of sin. That is past tense; that is over and done; that is behind you and you are thanking God that it is past history. Sometimes in our testimony we go way back and reflect on where we were, but do not stay there very long. We move quickly into the present tense. We say, “ I thank God I am saved! I thank God I am on the victory side.” It is okay to remember where we were; we just do not want to go back to where we were. We want to stay away from there.
What if I were to apply for a job by presenting an attractive, well-written application? The resume is incredible, my job skills are top notch, and I get the job. However, I am late for work on my first day. On the first Friday of my employment, I leave early. I am also late the next two Mondays. If you were my employer, what would happen to me by the third week? I would be fired! What about the Gospel? Once we have surrendered our lives to God, are we safe no matter how we live? That thought doesn’t hold true in this world or the next! If we go back on our promises to God, we are not on the victory side anymore; we are on the wrong side. God is merciful. We thank God He is not like employers who seldom rehire a fired employee. He will bring us back but we have to come back the same way: we will need to begin again by surrendering our hearts to God.
In 1 John 3:7 we read, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” Isn’t that plain? God can make His people righteous and He can keep them righteous. He is a big God; He is able. “He that commiteth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” Satan has had a lot of practice, and he wants followers.
Scripture is very clear: If you commit sin you are of the devil. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil” (verse 8). That is why Jesus had to come—that He might destroy the works of the devil, all of them! Can you imagine if you had to go through life with part of your old life and part of your new life? Talk about a split personality! You do not want to do that. You want to live wholly for the Lord, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (verse 9). This does not mean we are not capable of sinning. We have that capability, but there is nothing in us that wants to do that. We simply cannot endure the thought of going back into sin. A poor employee is capable of doing the wrong thing but is also capable of doing the right thing within the parameters of an employer/employee relationship. Better yet is our relationship with the God of Heaven and wanting to maintain our fellowship! We thank God for it. We do not want to lose it. We want to be on the victory side.
Remembering was a problem for Israel, and it is a problem today. People forget quite fast. We read in Deuteronomy 6:10-12, “And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” He was not concerned about all the prosperity that was upon Israel. His concern was, “Lest thou forget the Lord.” They were to beware that they did not forget the One who had brought them “out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:12).
There is a big difference in how you feel about food before you eat and after you eat. Before you eat, everything looks good. After you eat, nothing looks as good because you are full! Did you ever notice the placement of pictures in fast food restaurants? They call it marketing—they place their picture of food where they will be noticed on the way into the restaurant…before a person has eaten. After you are full, you tend to forget about being hungry. The Children of Israel were cautioned not to forget.
I ask people from time to time, “Would you want to go back into sin?” I never hear anyone say that they do. They are glad and thankful to be delivered from their sins, and are happy they are are free to go and sin no more! It feels good and it fits with a pro-holiness Gospel! In 2 Peter 1:9-10 we read “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” That is a different kind of eternal security, is it not? We do not want to forget where we have been, but we want to remember where we are. We want to continue to walk with God, knowing that as we do, we need not fall back into sin.
We are thankful that we are on the victory side. Are you for sin or for holiness? We want to be on the pro-holiness side; that is the right side. It is your choice; it is free; you can choose. We can all make up our own minds. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Marvel not that that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” That still stands true. We must!