Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 5-6, 2 Corinthians 5:17
The Cross: The Basis For MoralityDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | December 1, 1996
Selected highlights from this sermon
Many people are praying for a rekindling of Christian morality in our nation. While we should desire righteous living, does teaching morality to the unsaved truly lead to a changed heart? No.
Corinth was a sinful city, yet Paul didn’t demand morality in the city. Instead, he wanted the church clean up its act.
Let’s clean up the world by cleaning up the church first.
Well, I know you won’t believe this. In fact, you’d better not believe it, but I still remember the days when there were these locomotives that used coal. In fact, when they pulled into town (a town of about 100 people but with several elevators filled with grain), even though we lived six miles from the town, we could, on a clear day see that the train had arrived. Especially when it started up. With every one of those chugs there were just billows of smoke. I don’t know where the EPA was in those days, but the atmosphere was polluted.
One of the things that the engineers used to say about those trains was that it would take several miles to stop. Once they had about a hundred boxcars filled with grain and going about 55 or 60 miles an hour. Just the inertia of the weight on those iron railings would keep the train going. Long after the motor could be stopped and the engine come to a halt, the train could still go along the tracks.
As we look at America today, we can see that the train, the Judeo-Christian morality that many of us grew up with, seems to be stopping. The motor seems to have come to a point where it no longer generates the power and the steam. And what you have in society is the memory of a Christian consensus, to quote the words of Francis Schaeffer, “where people know that at one time we really did, as a nation generally speaking, believe in absolutes.” It’s not that everybody agreed as to where the line should be drawn, but they knew that somewhere there was a line that should be drawn. And even though the Bible was not widely believed, it was, nevertheless, widely respected, and there were certain expectations that we had of people, and of course they frequently disappointed us. But still everybody knew what the standard should be, even if they didn’t live up to it. And now the train seems to be stalled on the tracks and everybody is wondering how in the world we can get this engine going again. How can we reverse directions and turn this country back?
I think that one of the evidences of the confusion that exists in today’s world is the increasing role of law in the United States in our courts. Let me illustrate it to you, and it’s hard for me to say it exactly, but maybe some illustrations will get at what I mean. On the one hand you have radical individualism fueling every ambitious, every greedy desire that the human heart might have, and encouraging us to go for it. On the other hand you have the courts constantly being brought to play to douse the fuel of this individual passion, the “if it feels good, do it” crowd. And so you have the conflict there that takes place.
Did you read this past week about the couple that killed their newborn baby, crushed its skull? A little baby born in a motel room with the father and the mother present – the unmarried father and mother. I mean, I don’t know how you felt but I was shocked when I discovered that not only were they be going to be tried for murder, but if they are correctly found guilty, as it appears that they are, they might receive the death penalty. I read that and I was surprised. Were you surprised? I mean, they could have killed this baby a week before and done so legally.
So, on the one hand you have the abortionists who say it is legal to have an abortion whenever you want it for whatever reason and at whatever point of the pregnancy. So, on the one hand you have that fueling society, and then on the other hand you have the law suddenly coming up and saying, “Now, you committed murder.” Well, logically you might say, “If it was murder an hour after the baby was born, why might it not be murder a week before it is born?” But you can’t ask those kinds of questions in our society. And so what you have on the one hand is this fueling of individualism with its arbitrary morality, and then suddenly it is doused by law that comes on the other side. Maybe that helps you understand what I’m getting at, but perhaps not yet am I clear.
What we [don’t] have in society today is this middle point that existed in America – this middle area between law and freedom where people were able to resolve their own tensions and their own problems, and only occasionally resort to law. That middle area has now been squashed. In many instances it no longer exists. People can’t resolve their own differences anymore. The law has to be brought in.
Did you read the front page of the Trib (Tribune) – today’s newspaper? Here’s a man who is harassed sexually by other men at work. He goes to the management. The management won’t do anything about it, so now he has a court case and the judges are looking at it and they are beginning to prosecute in such instances. And you say to yourself, “Why can’t this just be resolved? Why can’t there be compromise? Why can’t there be understanding? Why can’t an organization (a factory in which he works) have some rules? And why do the courts have to be brought into it? The problem is that America has so smashed character; it has so depleted those resources between relationships between people where it used to be able to solve those problems, where reasonable people could come to some agreement. Now it is being thrown to the courts.
I think that we should have guessed, should we have not, that a society of a country that has 70% of the world’s lawyers would eventually take every single desire and turn it into a right? And so you have reproductive rights, and you have group rights, and you have P.C. (politically correct) rights. They found a new right in the constitution. The new right is that nobody should ever have to ever hear something with which they disagree. And so everybody has to say the same thing. Everybody has to approve of various kinds of behavior, and what you have in society therefore is an enforced tolerance. And as a result of that, people are beginning to ask the question, “Where do we go with this intrusion of the courts into our lives to resolve what should be disputes that reasonable people should be able to deal with?”
Did you read in the newspaper some time ago where a judge issued a restraining order to a 3-year old boy in a sandbox who was harassing a 3-year old girl? I’m not making it up. I wish I were. How can you have that? It used to be that two mothers used to be able to work something out, and if the mothers couldn’t do it, the fathers did it. And if the fathers weren’t around, maybe the church resolved it. And now a judge has to adjudicate between two toddlers in a sandbox. It is evidence of the decadence of our society that no longer can reasonable people work out even the most basic human relationship problems, and they have to resort to law because character and reasonableness and trust and decency no longer exist, at least not in large quantities. It is there, but the public square has been depleted so often that we have to go to the courts.
Well, understandably people are concerned, and some of you parents are concerned about what teachers are teaching your children in school, and you ought to be concerned, and you ought to be involved. You cannot throw your children to those who would teach them how to be immoral, and teach them some of the things that are going on in the schools, and so you are involved. But then the larger question is asked. What about the whole nation, and you have groups today who say, “We need to reclaim it morally.”
I wish I could find it but I have the habit of receiving things which disappear on their own somewhere in the mountain of information, but this week I received a brochure from a very reputable minister, having another meeting on how to reclaim the moral ground that we have lost. I don’t object to that. There are things that we can do together, even with non-Christians that are important. I think that in Cincinnati there are no adult bookstores. No x-rated videos are sold. That would be wonderful if that were to happen in the city of Chicago, but it would not be a victory that would be that great because there are a lot of other things that can be purchased here in the city that would soon take the place of those videos and magazines.
Years ago my wife and I in our home had ants. I don’t know if you’ve ever had ants in your home, but it’s not something that you want to necessarily go out and campaign in behalf of. I mean we discovered that if you closed the basement, they’d come through the door. If you closed the door, they’d come through the attic. We don’t know where in the world these ants came from. We’re just glad that they aren’t there anymore.
You know, that’s the way it is with sin. You block this door and it comes through here. During the days of prohibition they said, “No whiskey!” Well, whiskey was bootlegged, and people got it from here. And if they weren’t able to get it from here, they stole it from there.
It’s a tough world out there, and when you’re all finished, you wonder whether or not it was worth the effort, because unless you keep up some kind of a campaign all the time, your gains first of all are minimal. They don’t last long, and they never really change the human heart.
Now what I need to tell you today is that if we want to put fire back into the train, if we want to re-stoke that old locomotive, we have to buy into some biblical propositions, and let me give them to you today. The first is this. Morality is based on God. You can’t have morality without God. It’s like asking for leaves without a tree. It’s like asking for petals without a flower. It just does not exist.
Now this would take one separate message. I could probably do it in 45 minutes in a lecture (but that’s not what you are getting today) to prove that out of atheism no morality whatever can arise. None! Now the minute I say that, you say, “Oh, I know an atheist who is trustworthy. We even give him our keys when we go on vacation.” Yes, of course, because atheists too are created in the image of God, and therefore they have a sense of rightness and wrongness. Augustine referred to them, as well, as those who were virtuous pagans, and there are such, but their morality arises out of the fact that they are creatures created in the image of God. It does not arise logically out of atheism [from which] no morality whatever can arise.
Morality is tied to God. When God said, “These are the Ten Commandments, He meant, “This is what I am like. You look at those Commandments and you get a glimpse of Me.” Do you remember the liberals who thought that they could do away with the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and still keep the Sermon on the Mount? Boy, I’ll tell you that didn’t last long, because once they got rid of the supernatural Jesus, and once they got rid of a transcendent God, they were left with the Sermon on the Mount that nobody wanted to obey. And so it was constantly rewritten to fit the fallenness of human nature because you cannot have morality without God.
Secondly, morality ultimately is changed through the transforming work of Jesus Christ. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new.” It is the transforming work and that is the unique message of the Church that you can’t find in any of the political parties. And that’s not wrong. I’m just simply stating a fact that there is a transformation of heart that God wants to bring about.
And then there’s a third supposition that I want to give you today that is the most direct to us, and that is to say that we clean up the world best by cleaning up the Church first. Take your Bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians 5. Corinth was a culture much like ours. We’ve been to Corinth, some of us, and we remember the temple up on the hill, which was dedicated in those days to a thousand prostitutes. Homosexuality was rampant. As a matter of fact, as Paul sat down to write this, Nero was about to marry a boy by the name of Scorpus [Sporus], and it is said that 14 out of the first 15 Roman Emperors were either homosexual or bisexual. So you have all kinds of permissiveness. You have adultery. You have fornication. You have everything that you could possibly think about sexually, and other kinds of sins, in this pagan Corinthian culture, and Paul was writing a letter to the Church. And he says in verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 5, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife.” Very probably she was a stepmother. His mother probably died. His father remarried and so the son and the stepmother are involved sexually. And Paul says, “You know, things are bad in Corinth but you don’t even hear of that. Even the pagans draw some kind of a line in the sand.”
Now this is a good time for us to pause for just a moment and to realize why it is we should be so careful when we point our fingers at the world. And one of the reasons that we should never come off as self-righteous, as Pharisaical, as on a pedestal, pointing our fingers to all of the people of the world who disobey God’s laws is because the very same sins frequently exist among us. And that’s why Paul is writing this. He is saying, “This should have humbled you, and yet you’ve become proud and you’ve ignored it.”
Look at the sins that destroy society whether it is abortion or divorce, or homosexuality, or alcoholism or drugs. You name it and it is within the Church. It happens among us. And what Paul is saying is that those are the kinds of things that must be taken care of.
Now, it’s not wrong to say that this was in people’s past. In fact, as we shall see in a moment, that’s going to be Paul’s emphasis - that people are converted out of all kinds of different sins. And that is understandable, and that’s why a church body, such as ours or any other church in America, is a collection of people who have been saved out of some very, very damnable sins and iniquities, and that’s the way it should be.
But I’m talking about people who claim to be believers, people who say, “Yes, I am a follower of Jesus,” and they continue in their former lifestyle. So what the Apostle Paul is saying here is that “I’m not interested in what happens in other parts of Corinth. I want to know what’s happening in your assembly.” As a matter of fact, Paul says that the whole body is affected by what this one person is doing. The last part of verse 6 says, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” In other words, “Don’t you know that a little bit of immorality in a church actually poisons the whole church?” You take some leaven and you mix it in the dough and pretty soon the bread expands, and just a little bit of it (a cup of it or whatever) expands the whole loaf. And Paul says, “In the very same way this one man’s compromise and sin affects the testimony of all of you. All of you are compromised by it.”
You see you can’t quarantine sin. You can’t cut it off. You can’t say, “Well, here it goes, and no further.” I mean it’s like trying to burn incense in a dormitory room. No matter how many towels you put under the door, somehow it will waft into the hallway and up the elevator shaft, and soon they can smell it on the second floor. You just can’t keep it neatly contained. And Paul says, “That’s my great concern.”
In fact he says in verse 9, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people,” and some people evidently misunderstood it and said, “Well, if that’s the case, we’re going to have to go live on an island somewhere.” He said, “I did not mean the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” You’d have to live with yourself, I guess.
You know, I have a friend, bless him, who doesn’t think that he should attend [eat in] a restaurant where liquor is served because he’s contributing toward the liquor. Well, that’s fine that he has that conviction, but I wonder what happens when he eats somewhere else. How does he know how the money that is being given [spent] is going to be used? If you have that view that you are not going to associate with idolaters and swindlers and immoral people, then you are going to have to go to northern Wisconsin and buy a little plot of land and a little bit of acreage, and not see anybody for at least 5 years. But watch carefully the man from whom you purchase that plot of land. He might misuse that money for immoral purposes.
“No,” Paul says, “that’s not what I am talking about. Of course you have to do business with these people.” Verse 11: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” He says, “That’s your responsibility. You are pointing your fingers at them and you haven’t cleaned up your own act?”
“But God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’” You see, what Paul is saying is, “I didn’t come here to Corinth with a morality campaign to clean the place up because I know that number one, it won’t work, and number two, even if you got them cleaned up morally, unless they were rightly related to God, you would not be doing for them anything that would be of eternal significance and consequence. You would be imposing an outer law upon them without an inner transformation of heart, and that won’t go anywhere.” That will not fuel the stalled train along the tracks.
So Paul says, “First of all, what you need to do is to take care of the sins of the flesh.” In chapter 6 he goes on to say you should take care of the sins of the spirit. And sometimes we emphasize one and we say nothing about the other. What is it in chapter 6? Well, he’s talking about some of these people who are going to court. You know, we think we live in a litigious society, and we do, but evidently at Corinth there were perhaps a number of attorneys who also majored in disputes. And here brothers are going to court among brothers. People from the same church are going before ungodly judges trying to resolve these disputes.
We’ll pick it up in verse 3. Paul says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” And I can just hear the people say, “Yeah, but my rights! He chiseled me out of the inheritance. He didn’t give me what’s coming to me, and we need to set the record straight.”
You can always find those who believe that the whole cause of justice rests with them. Every single wrong done has to be pursued legally so that they bring justice to every situation. You can’t do that in the world. In fact, you can’t do it in the world and you shouldn’t. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves. Vengeance is mine. I will recompense,” says the Lord. But as we rear a generation that has long since lost confidence in God’s ability to handle things, we therefore think to ourselves, “We must handle it in our way, and we are going to get the utmost farthing of what is coming to us no matter how ugly it all looks.”
Paul says, “Clean up your act.” And then what he goes on to say are these very famous words. Verse 9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Now that can mean a) that they will not be in heaven, and certainly there is good evidence that that perhaps is what he meant. On the other hand there are those who say, “No, there are people who are involved in these kinds of sins who are Christians, and they will get into the Kingdom but they will not rule with Christ in the Kingdom. They will not inherit the Kingdom.” Either way, what the Apostle Paul is saying is that you take lightly what God takes very seriously, and now he lists ten sins. Five of them we could say are the sins of the flesh. The other five are sins of the spirit. Four of them are sexual.
“Do not be deceived (and how easy it is to be deceived when we want to do our own thing): neither the sexually immoral (that usually is immorality among the unmarried), nor idolaters (and I’ll tell you that Calvin said that our hearts are idol factories; we have all kinds of idols that are in our minds oftentimes), nor adulterers (married unfaithfulness), nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Don’t ever think they will. What a statement!
But then he goes on to say in verse 11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice a couple of things about this verse. First of all, he not only lists the sins of the spirit, and I mentioned some of those, but notice he says revilers. Have you ever met a reviler? A reviler is someone who gives you abusive speech – normally angry people, and people who always think the worst of every situation. They prejudge everything and they make it the very, very worst, and only when they are convinced otherwise do they give somebody the benefit of the doubt. He says, “Don’t think that a person like that is going to inherit the kingdom of heaven. But don’t be deceived because it’s easy to excuse it and to think that they will.”
And he goes on to say, “Yes, swindlers! You know that there are those who are dishonest in business, always chiseling somebody, always trying to get the best deal, always trying to make promises, and then thinking of ways that they can get out of those promises. And he says “the covetous.” In fact in chapter 5, verse 11, you remember he says, “If someone is covetous and claims to be a believer, don’t even eat with him. Don’t associate with him.” I’ve seen discipline of the church for a lot of different things, but I’ve never seen it for covetousness. But Paul says, “Let’s put that sin on the list along with all the others that are more noticeable.”
But then he says, “And such were some of you.” That’s your past behavior. “But you are washed.” Now if we were writing this we’d have said, “You are justified, sanctified and washed,” But Paul begins with their experience first and says, “You are washed.”
Are you all following me today? I want you to know today that the world has no answer to the problem of guilt, none whatever. You either do one of two things. I learned it in the university psychology class. You sublimate it. I don’t know exactly how the prof told us to do it, but that’s what he told us to do. You try to work it into your psyche. You try to ignore it so that it no longer really causes you any trouble. That’s, I think, what sublimate means.
You know, my wife and I had an alarm clock, one of these that beep, one of these digital gadgets. And it was beeping in our bedroom every hour, and we toyed with it, and couldn’t get it to stop beeping, so I said, “I’ll put it in my study.” That was about five or six months ago. Now every hour on the half hour I still hear the beep, but do you know what? It’s not very loud anymore, and one of these days that battery is going to give up the ghost and say, “I’m finished.” That’s the way the world says to handle your conscience. You know, you feel guilty. Let it die like a battery so that you no longer hear its screams or its whistle. Learn to live with it. Become hard. Just do it. Actualize yourself. That’s one way. The other way, of course, is to drown it with drugs and alcohol.
You know that Christianity says that there is a way to be washed. The nature of the cross that we take into the world actually does cleanse the conscience. I mean imagine having committed these sins. You know, these are terrible things and there are people who are listening to this message who have done some of these things, and maybe even worse things. And imagine being washed by God – cleansed. You can get up in the morning and you can look into the mirror and you can see yourself because inwardly you have been made clean. Now where can you find that in our political agendas here in America? You can’t find anything like that. That’s unbelievable – I mean that you will be washed.
Some of you, bless you, live with fear that someday your past life is going to come up to haunt you, and you wonder who knows now, and who might find out. Once you have been washed you give all that to God, trusting Him that even if the lid is blown off your life He’ll walk with you through the experience because He really does love you. And if He washes you, you are clean.
“You are washed,” Paul says. “You were sanctified.” That is to say you were set apart. Imagine people having committed these kinds of things, and they have a mark on them that says, “Set apart by God for God – special handling.”
Jesus said in John 17, “I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Set apart by God, and then He says, “You are justified. You are declared as righteous as God, thanks to Christ. You gave Him your sin, and He gives you your righteousness, and you make it into the doors of heaven, welcomed by Christ Himself.”
I love to tell the story of Roger because he was with us. Actually I looked up the date. It was about six or seven years ago when he came to Moody Church. He had been a homosexual prostitute. He estimated 1,500 different partners at least. He was dying of AIDS. He married a young woman and miraculously she did not catch that virus. But I did an interview with him because I found his story so fascinating as to how God saved him out of such a life. He was gloriously converted, and then it took him two years before the Word of God cleansed him so that he was able to give up totally his desires that he had had in his unconverted days. And now he radiated the peace and the freedom of God. That refers to him. “And such were some of you.”
He died later of AIDS. He had it when AIDS was the kind of thing that if you had it, it was a two-year death sentence basically. And now he is gone, but I imagine him coming into heaven not through the back door, but welcomed through the front porch by God, declared as righteous as Christ. What hope! What a Gospel that we have to carry into the world that is so much better than simply trying to get people to change their lifestyle, however important that might be. The fact is, how can you reach inside and change somebody who perhaps doesn’t want to be changed, who has been told that he can’t, and who feels the sense of self-condemnation about the kind of secret life that he is living. And now suddenly God comes and washes him and sanctifies him, and declares him righteous.
What is the bottom line that I am trying to share with you today? It is simply this. If we want to change the world, it will happen through the proclamation of the Gospel outside these walls, and the purification of the church within these walls. You see, not all of the problems in America are really the fault of those humanists and those liberals and those Supreme Court justices, and all the people that we target. It could well be that the problem is much closer to home.
Do you remember when Jonah was out on the sea and he encountered there a mighty big storm and the ship was battered, and they didn’t know what in the world to do, and so they decided to toss this guy over. Actually he volunteered. Jonah had a suicidal streak in him anyway. Later on he wanted God to kill him because he didn’t have the nerve to do it himself. He said, “Lord, smite me dead. I can’t take all this grace that You are giving to other people.”
But you know it’s interesting that the storm was not the result of the pagans. It was not because these pagans were worshiping their pagan gods and God hurled the storm out of heaven because He wanted to teach them a thing or two about those awesome idols and those gods. That’s not what happened. The reason for the storm was because there was a disobedient prophet who was going in the wrong direction when God gave him clear guidance as to what His will was.
You know, Jonah was not one of those kinds of guys who would look to God and say, “God, I’d do your will but I have no idea what it might be.” Many of us say that, but God said, “Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh.” That was very, very clear, and Jonah said no. And God said, “Because of you, My servant, the storm is coming.”
And that’s what the problem may well be. And while we expend a lot of energy trying to clean America up, God says, “I want My people who are called by My name to be cleansed and to walk in freedom, and then you’ll be in a position where you will have a significant effect in your society.” If it is true that one immoral person can infect a whole congregation, and a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and you think that’s a bit unfair, let me say that the reverse is also true. Sometimes righteousness on the part of one congregation can have an impact that is much bigger than one might think. And that ought to be a cause for optimism.
One day God said, “Joshua, I want you to conquer Jericho, but after Jericho is conquered I want you to burn everything. This is the first victory we are winning in the land, and I don’t want you to spare anything.” There was a guy by the name of Achan who had a better idea. Achan said to himself, “Ah yah, but what am I going to do? Here’s some silver. Here’s a good coat. It’s too good to burn up.” And so he took them and hid them in his tent.
The next battle they came to was Ai, and lo and behold, 36 men die on the battlefield and Joshua is crying up to the Lord and saying, “What went wrong? I thought you were on our side. What’s the big deal? Why do you allow these pagans to win the war?”
God says, “Joshua, get up. Stop praying.” You know, there’s a time to quit praying. He said, “You’ve got a problem. There’s a guy by the name of Achan who hid something in his tent.” Well, God didn’t give the name but he said, “There’s somebody that’s got a problem and you’d better find out whom it is.” And you remember the process that they went through, and Achan was finally uncovered, and he said, “You know, I saw this Babylonish garment, and I saw the silver, and I coveted it, and I took it.”
Now I have a question for you. Let’s suppose that after the defeat of Ai you asked a military commander why Israel lost the war. He wouldn’t have said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. There’s this guy back there who’s got something in his tent that he shouldn’t have.” That wouldn’t have even crossed his mind. He would have said, you know, “Bad strategy, not enough men! What you need to do is to think more carefully as to how you are going to attack the enemy. Better weapons!” That’s what he would have thought of.
Let me ask you. What is the connection between something that is hidden in a tent and defeat on the battlefield? The answer is there is no logical connection between those two events, except that God decided to make a connection between them. And God says that as long as you don’t clean up your act, you won’t win those battles that you become so angry about that you think we should be winning. And the problem is not so much outside the walls as it is within the walls.
Who knows? Who knows but that God might yet grant us the gift of repentance and purity and humility? Who knows but that we might yet influence our Corinth if God is gracious and we look into our own hearts and see the sins in our own hearts that we so readily condemn in the world. It is then, you see, that the Church, having evaluated itself, makes its greatest impact upon society.
How do we get the engine going? The engine is fueled by the cross of Christ who reconciles sinners to Himself in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, who sets us on fire for Him. That is the answer ultimately to our predicament.
I end with a note of optimism. It was Solzhenitsyn who said that it’s possible sometimes to shout in a valley, and your shout begins an avalanche. Who knows but that God may yet be gracious to us, but He says, “Judgment begins at the house of God.” It begins with us before we can see the transformation of the world.
So where are you at today? There are two categories of people to whom I speak. Number one, there are those of you who have never personally accepted Christ as Savior. You have not been washed, sanctified, nor justified in the name of Jesus. Today you can reach out in faith to receive that gift. Humble yourself. Admit your need. You’re not going to save yourself. God is the one who saves.
The second category! You are concerned about America and you know Christ as Savior. You begin where you are. You begin sharing with your neighbors, with your friends. You begin with your own life, and you recognize that the best way for us to clean up the nation is to begin with ourselves first. Whatever God says to you and to me, may He grant us the grace to follow through in obedience!
It’s not important that you listen to this sermon, though I hope that you did. As I look at you I think that some of you did. Maybe some of you didn’t. What is important is that whatever you heard you obey to the very end.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank You today that we have a Gospel that changes people. We thank You for that fuel that can fire up the locomotive. We thank You today that You have supplied us with the ability and the strength to touch this mighty nation for God. We only pray, Father, that You might begin with us. Teach us that, Father, we pray, and that the power of the cross will be clearly seen in our lives before we transport it to the world. Blessed Holy Spirit, come and do Your work until You have blessed us and brought us to the point that You desire. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.