Online Text Sermon - The Christian's Wardrobe, Colossians ch.3 vv.8-10
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Christian's Wardrobe|
|Text||Colossians ch.3 vv.8-10 |
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"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3,8-10).
"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth" (text).
1. There is a new man
2. Who behaves like himself
3. And cooperates with the Spirit of God
1. THERE IS A NEW MAN
This portion of the Word of God has sometimes been referred to as 'The Christian's Wardrobe'. It is, of course, an illustration, and an appropriate one. The Apostle is dealing with the whole subject of 'putting off', and then of 'putting on'. He uses both of these phrases, as you will have noticed, in this chapter. We are to put off certain things, and other things we are to put on. He is dealing with the question of the Christian's growth in holiness. We refer to that subject as sanctification. Sanctification is not the making of bad men good, but the making of good men better. He is dealing, therefore, with Christians and he is speaking in terms of the things which we are to put out of our lives; and then, positively, the things we are to put on in our lives.
It is a familiar illustration. After all, every day of life, in the morning, what do we do? We put on our clothes. And of course we have different kinds of clothes. We have what we call 'working clothes', and then we have what we often call our 'best clothes'. Now then, what the Apostle is referring to is: we are to put off the clothes (as it were) which belong to the old way of life, and we are to put on the new clothes: our 'Sunday best'. to use a phrase that our grandfathers used to have. Our grandfathers kept their best clothes, as you may remember, for going to church - Sunday best - and these clothes were kept in a special place. They were clean, and ironed, and starched, and on a Sunday morning they put on these clothes. Well now, that is the illustration, if you like, that the Apostle Paul is using. We are, as Christians, to put off those clothes which were dirty and belong to the ancient style of life that we used to have before our conversion, and we are to put on the new clothes of grace and sanctification.
Now, I must explain in connection with this exhortation of the Apostle Paul, first of all, that he tells the Christian that he is a new man. The Christian, he says, is a new man. Look at verse 10. He says, and ye have "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him".
So, then, we are to first of all study: What is meant by putting on the new man? Well, he means this: that his command to put off the old clothes, and his command to put on these new clothes, is a command which is not being addressed to unconverted persons. You see the great mistake that all religions make, apart from Christianity, is this: all religions apart from Christianity tell people to be good. This is the message of Islam, and of Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and moralism of every kind. They say to the people, 'Be good. You must be good.' But that's a worthless thing to say to unconverted people, because they have no desire to be good. They have no wish to be good. Still less have they got any power to be good. To tell unconverted people to be good is futile. You might as well get a classroom of monkeys and tell them to sit still. It's a waste of breath. Monkeys never sit still. And unconverted people are never good. So, religion that tells the unconverted to be good when they cannot be is a waste of breath. So the Apostle has to explain to us he is not speaking to unconverted people. He is addressing those who have been changed by the power of God. 'You are new men,' he says; 'you have put on the new man.' Now, in what respect is the Christian a new man? There are two points to be made in this connection here.
The Christian, first of all, is a new man because of his union and his communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian has entered into the benefits of the activity - in life and death and resurrection - of the Lord Jesus Christ. You'll see a reference to this at the beginning of the chapter. He puts it in these words, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3,1-4). It's very clear, is it not, that he's telling us there's a connection, an intimate connection, between the state of soul of a Christian and what Christ has done in death, resurrection, and ascension.
What is the connection? Well, it is this: that what Jesus Christ did historically by his death and resurrection and ascension, is something which is true experimentally in the life of a believer. When Christ died for sin on the Cross, and rose again, and ascended, He did something historical. It is literally true. That is something He did, 2000 years ago. But when I am converted, and when you are converted, all that our Lord did historically becomes true in our own lives redemptively. We also die - to sin - as He did. As Romans 6 puts it, we become "buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6,4).
So in that sense, we are new men. And in a second sense, we are new men. We are, of course, new men in this sense: that, if we are Christians, we are born from above; we are converted; we are changed; we have had a second birth, a new birth.
Now, people have sometimes asked the question: 'Is it true to say of the Christian that he is both a new man and an old man?' And the answer to that is: if we want to talk in the language of the Apostle Paul, we can only give one answer to that question: it is no! no! Nobody can be two men at once. When the Apostle Paul refers to the unconverted man, he calls him the old man. The old man is the man that we used to be in Adam, before we were converted, and, of course, as an old man, you and I loved the things of this world. We were in love with sin and the pleasures of life. But conversion alters our affections. It changes our will. We become dead to the things of this world; to the sinful world we become dead. We become a new man, a man that loves the things of Jesus Christ. Set your affection, therefore, he says, on the things that are above where Christ is seated (Colossians 3,2).
I must say these things to make it clear that his address to us to put off the old and to put on the new is an address and an exhortation made to us not as those who are unconverted, but to those of us who are converted. It is impossible for the natural man to do the things that are referred to here. Those who are unconverted love their sin, and until a person has a new heart created within them, they will go on loving sin, pleasure, and the world. But when a person has been brought into Christ, spiritually baptized into Christ, regenerated in Christ, immediately what happens is he comes into union with Christ, and all that Christ has done historically becomes true for us redemptively. We die to the love of sin. We become resurrected to a new life - the life of holiness, and the love of God, and of patient waiting for Jesus Christ.
Now we must make that point strongly because Christianity is not moralism. Moralism is the attempt to make bad people good - without the grace of God. It is a futile, worthless exercise which all religions have been trying from the beginning of time, and all religions and philosophies have utterly failed to succeed in doing. You can never make a bad man good except by bringing him into union with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection through faith. Once a person has come into Christ by faith in Christ, at once he is a new man, a new creation. "Old things have passed away" (2 Corinthians 5,17). There is the expulsive power of a new affection! That is what conversion means. It means that the man looks the same, talks the same, dresses the same, perhaps, but he is a new man. Christ is now in him. Christ is his life.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ makes an illustration of this so that we might understand it the more clearly. He says it's like a tree and its fruit. Supposing, now, here we have an apple tree, and here, let us say, an orange tree. You will never get apples from the orange tree, nor oranges from the apple tree. Even a little child soon learns that. As the tree is, so is its fruit (Luke 6,43-44). As the man is, so is his life and conduct. If a tree is good, it brings good fruit. If a tree is rotten, it brings bad fruit. So am I. So are you. Before we can do anything good, therefore, it's necessary to have the tree made good (Matthew 12,33). The heart must be changed. And that is what happens when we come, by faith, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In union with Him, we are made good. And it is then that we are given this exhortation in the passage before us, that when we are new men in Christ we must put off that which is old, and put on that which is new.
That's the first thing that we must look at, and I pass very quickly now to the second, which is this.
2. WHO BEHAVES LIKE HIMSELF
Because the Christian is a new man in Christ he must behave like a new man. Now that does sound a little strange at first, I admit. It does sound almost a waste of breath. You might say to me, 'But if a man is a Christian surely he will behave like a Christian'. Well, often he will; but sometimes, sadly, he will not. How do we explain the fact that Noah, a great man, once got drunk? How do we explain that Samson, a great man, had a weakness for the opposite sex? How do we explain that Peter, the great man, once denied our Lord three times with oaths and curses?
It's the case that within a good man, in this world, there are still the principles of evil. When a man is converted he is a new man. He is not both an old man and a new man. He is truly a new man, in the thinking of the Word of God. But, as long as he is in this life there are the remnants of sin within him. We refer to these remnants of sin as indwelling sin; all the roots of sin are in the heart of a new man. Even though he is renewed by grace, even though he is now united to Christ and an heir of God and he loves the things that belong to Jesus Christ, yet, in spite of that, the roots of all his sins are still in his heart, and occasionally (if he be not watchful) sin within him will gain the mastery over him.
Let me use the illustration of a balloon. There are young people here, I'm glad to see. You know, children, about a balloon. I'm talking not about the little things you buy in the shop to entertain yourself with, but these huge balloons that men make to go up in the air and to travel by the wind's power. They're often powered by hot air. You have a sort of a blowlamp, and the men sit in a cage, or like a basket, and it's tied to a huge balloon. And then they start this fire, and then the jet of flame creates a gust of hot air which goes into the balloon, and the balloon goes up into the air. Now, if they want to make the balloon go higher and higher they keep forcing the jet of flame so that the hot air keeps carrying it higher. But if they want to come down again, what they do is they stop the jet of flame, and they rely upon the ballast, heavy bags of sand that they carry with them. Now if they want to go higher still, they throw over the bags of sand.
Now, so it is with a Christian. There are two principles within the Christian. There is the grace of God which carries him higher, and higher, and higher. But there are the bags of sand - indwelling sin, and wickedness - and this principle, like gravity, drags the Christian down. So there's a principle in the Christian lifting him up, and a principle dragging him down. The Apostle Paul tells us that that was true in his own experience. The very famous chapter in this regard is Romans 7, of course, where the Apostle Paul says this. He says: "the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. When I would do good, evil is present with me. O wretched man that I am! With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7,19-25). Now, that is the experience of every true Christian. It's not the experience of an old man, a godless man, a man without Christ. A man without Christ has one principle: it is the principle of the sandbag ever dragging him down. And it will drag him down to lowest hell, if in this life he does not repent of it and find forgiveness. But when a person is converted and becomes a new man united to Christ, he rises up to high and holy ways, and practices. He loves the things of Jesus Christ - but not perfectly. Indwelling sin is in his life, and he must, therefore, take care to watch his own heart.
You can compare all of this to a fight, or a battle, in a war. Let us imagine that there is a war between two armies. The allies are fighting the enemy, but the allies have a decisive battle and in this battle the allies are victorious and the enemies are crushed, but many of the soldiers still remain alive, and although they've lost the decisive battle of the war, yet, they flee into the mountains, and into the hillside, and into the forests, and there they still go on shooting at the allies, smiting at them; conducting what we might call guerilla warfare. And what has to happen is that the allies have to 'smoke them out', and they have to muck them up, and destroy them.
And that's what goes on in the Christian's life. The Christian is called upon to put off all that belongs to the worldly life, to put off all that belongs to the sinful life, and to make sure that he puts on this new man as he is in Christ.
So, when the Apostle Paul tells the Christian that he is to put off the evil that belongs to the old man, and to put on the new man, he is telling the Christian to behave like a Christian always. Now, there's something quite clear about that; something we're familiar with. You know if a child has grown up. Sometimes a child when he grows up he forgets himself and he behaves again like a child. He starts to cry, like a child, and his father or mother have to say to him, 'Now, now, John, don't behave like a child. Be your age. You're now half grown up. Don't behave like a child anymore. Be yourself. Behave as you would do to be consistent with yourself. Act like the person you are. Be what you are.' And that's what the Christian needs to be told.
The non-Christian, of course, will never attain to this because he has no power. This is the cruelty of going to a monastery, or a nunnery, or becoming a priest. You see, in the monastery, or nunnery, or priesthood, the idea is that in these places you can become more holy than ordinary Christians - but it doesn't actually work out in practice, and the reason why, is this: that if you're not converted, you take your own wicked heart with you. It doesn't matter how much you fast, and pray, and read, and meditate, if you take your own wicked heart with you. You will still have the problem. A very famous man who became a monk, and who went far away from human society, all on his own, this is what he said of himself (he was an honest man, and I believe he was a good man, too; a Christian man), he said this: that when he was trying to meditate in silence upon God and upon Christ, in front of his imagination came the pictures of dancing, and young women, and all the things that he was familiar with in his unconverted days. So, you see, that's the problem: you can't put these things to death apart from by the Holy Spirit of God. With the Spirit we can put off the things that belong to this world, and to this life. And the Christian, therefore, is commanded to be himself - to act always as a Christian.
That's the next thing, and I come now to the third point, which is this.
3. AND COOPERATES WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD
That in the Christian's progress in grace, holiness, and sanctification, the Christian cooperates with the Holy Spirit of God. The Christian is called upon to cooperate with the Holy Spirit of God. Now, sanctification is the hardest thing in the Christian life. A great man (John Owen) said this, to the Christian, he said: "O Christian, be mortifying sin, or else sin will mortify you." You say, what does mortify mean? It means to put it to death. You know what you do if, let us say, you see some dangerous animal coming towards you. You know that it can claw your eyes out. Well, what do you do? Well, you get a hammer, or you get an ax or something, and you go after it and you kill it! It's a matter of self-survival: it will claw you, if you don't kill it, so you have to get this implement and you kill it! and you hit it hard!
Now that's what we must do with our indwelling sin. We must never feed it, never parlay with it, never give in to it; never try to compromise its demands. Now, I'm afraid I have to say that good Christian people have sometimes developed very wrong ideas of sanctification. I'm going to mention two very briefly in passing on.
The first one is the theory of John Wesley. Now, John Wesley was a great, great man but he had a very wrong idea of sanctification. Even his friends disagreed with him at this point. John Wesley's idea was this, 250 years ago. He said, 'It's possible for a Christian man to attain, in this life, to perfection'. He never claimed to have got there himself, but he did claim that others could do and, perhaps, had done. But, no, no, that's impossible. In this life we're never going to reach perfection. We ought to be striving towards it, but we'll never expect to get there in this world.
That's one mistake, and the other one is this. This is the theory of the Keswick Movement. You know the Keswick Movement that used to hold conventions in Keswick, in the Lake District every year, and used to have a lot of satellites and conferences too in Strathpepper and Llandrindod Wells, and many other places all over Britain. Now, they had their own peculiar view of sanctification. It was their own distinctive idea, and it was quite different from that of the Bible, as I'm going to tell you, but this was their idea. They said: 'Sanctification comes about not through striving, and effort, and labor, and toil on the Christian's part. Sanctification,' they said, 'comes about when you sit down quietly, and you let go and let God'. That was their slogan: 'Let go and let God', by which they meant that you don't have to fight, and warfare, and strive, and struggle. Let all that go by; just relax in the Spirit of God and He will carry you through.
It's pure passivity. Unfortunately for their theory, it doesn't square with the teaching of the New Testament. The Apostle tells us there are things we must do if we are Christians: we must mortify, we must fight the good fight, we must lay hold on eternal life, we must put off the old, and put on the new - and you don't do that by letting go. You have to use energy, and power, and effort, and strive with all your might and main.
Now I've just said this, haven't I, that sanctification in the Biblical teaching involves cooperation; we are to cooperate with the Spirit of God in this world, and I'm now going to place the question: In what ways are we to cooperate? and I'm going to talk about two ways in which we are to cooperate with the Spirit of God.
(a) BY PUTTING OFF THE OLD
The first one is this, in putting off (its the negative): We are to put off all that belongs to the old man. And at verse five the Apostle tells us what these things are. Listen: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds" (Colossians 3,5-9). Notice that in verse nine: seeing ye have put off the old man. You see, the old man is gone. He's gone. It's not that Paul is saying that we are two men. He's says that we are a new man (verse nine), he said that "ye have put off the old man with his deeds," (in verse ten) and "have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."
That doesn't in any sense deny that as new men in Christ Christians still have this indwelling sin, and this principle of evil, but the man himself is renewed in the whole man after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.
Now what, then, are the practical things connected with this duty of putting off? Well, let me take some of the practicalities relating to this.
My friends, if we are to take seriously what is being said here, we have to watch very carefully everything we see, and everything we read; we have to watch our television viewing, otherwise we'll be giving fuel to the fire of our own lusts. This is what so many books, and magazines, and papers, and stories, and programs, and videos are all about - stoking up our lusts, suggesting ideas to our imaginations so that we can feed upon these things in the silence of our own times of meditation and thought. This, of course, is why today there's such a spate of extreme vice and wickedness. Why are there so many people taking drugs? Why so much sexual impurity? Well, it's because people are watching it! and being fed with it, and the suggestions are coming to them from many, many sources of 'it's all right to live like that'; 'this is the way I want to be'.
But the Christian must say to himself, No. Bring me that ax. I shall chop the head off these evil things. If that's what they want to show me on the screen - off goes the program. If that's what the book is talking about - throw it in the fire. If that's what the magazine and newspaper are teaching me by their reports - into the bucket. We must be rigorous. We are to put off everything.
Especially, we are to put off things that feed our thoughts. Thoughts are the things we need to take most care over: the secret lusts of the heart. That's what these words 'concupiscence' and 'covetousness' mean: the things we think about when there's nobody watching. What do you think about in bed at night before you go to sleep? You know, even children can think about the most terrible, dreadful things. Children can have the most unclean thoughts, let alone those that are grown up, with more experience. Well, if we're a Christian person, we are to cut off those thoughts. Put to death, mortify, these evil practices. Cast off everything that belongs to the old life. Incidentally, I recommend that as you are dropping off to sleep at night what you should do if you're wise and you're a Christian person, is go over one or other of the Psalms or a passage of Scripture. Revise the Psalm - Psalm 23, Psalm 100, Psalm 103 - and memorize the Psalms, and before you go to sleep go over them and over them, until, graciously, you drop off to sleep and these evil thoughts do not come.
So the first duty in our sanctification is we are to cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting off, and this cooperation is something which doesn't leave us entirely passive. We are to be actively engaged in it. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2,12-13). It's all the work of God, and all the work of man; both are in cooperation.
You see, God moves the unconverted man as you and I have to move a heavy stone. If you have to move a heavy stone, it has to be done with sheer force, because the unconverted man resists God 100 percent, and God has to move him with sheer power - to do anything! Take Pharaoh. When God through Moses said to Pharaoh, "Let my people go", what did Pharaoh say? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel go (Exodus 5,2). And God had to move him with brute force until he did let Israel go. It had to be the death of the firstborn sons, and all the other plagues.
Now God moves a converted man like a wheel. You know if you have a wheel you don't need to use brute force to get it to move. You give it a touch and it spins! for some time, on its own. That's like the Christian man. The Christian man is like the wheel: give him a touch, and he will go - because he cooperates with God. He can't go on forever in his own strength, but, you see, there is a difference.
(b) BY PUTTING ON THE NEW
So, the first duty is to put off. What, then, is the second duty? Well, of course, it's the opposite: to put on. We are to put on, as Christians, a new suit of clothes, and this is referred to in verse 10, "and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him". Verse 12: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity (or love), which is the bond of perfectness" (verse 12-14).
The bond, really, is a belt, and in oriental dress wear, when you had put on your tunic (like an underwear), and then you put on your outer robe round your waist, you put on this belt, and you tighten it; and that was the bond, or the belt. And love is what binds together all the graces of the Christian's soul. It is what causes everything else to hang sweetly together. So then, we are called upon to put on these things. And you notice about these things we are to put on - they are all patterned after the character and image of God. This is the point that Paul makes.
So the Christian is a man who has a passion for truth! "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds: and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" - God! (Colossians 3,9-10) And then, what else are we to do? Well, we speak the truth, every man with his neighbor, and then, he says we are to be forbearing, forgiving, kind, bowels of mercy, piteous, tenderhearted; we are to be affectionate, considerate towards one another. Anything else? Yes. We are to have a passion for righteousness, and holiness, and godliness. We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Now, all of this is elementary New Testament teaching. But I would like to suggest it's entirely appropriate that we should go over these things again, and again, and again in our lives.
These things are being forgotten! These things are not being applied! In our generation, I'm afraid we're seeing too many Christians slipping into slovenly, unspiritual practices. What's the good of Christianity if it doesn't make us different? When you have ministers drinking like the world? and professing Christians dancing like the world? and you have professing Christians taking a profound interest in professional sports and craving to know what the scores of this match and that match are? You ask yourself the question: 'What has Christianity done in the lives of these people?' It's left them like the rest of the world! But real Christianity never does. A real Christian is a man or a woman who's changed. He or she has a passion for truth, as I say, and righteousness, and God and His cause, and, he is affectionate and loving.
Now, all of this might leave you with this question: Why did God leave these sins in the life of a Christian? Why did not God make a perfect job of it at our conversion? Why did He not make us absolutely perfect at a single stroke? If He'd have done that it would have been much easier for us, perhaps. We wouldn't have had all this fighting to do. There would have been no need for putting on and putting off, because in heaven you don't need to worry about that. Everybody in heaven is perfect. There's no problem with indwelling sin in heaven. Why then didn't God make us as perfect here on earth at our conversion as He makes His people in heaven?
Well, there are no doubt many reasons for it, in the wisdom of God, but I suggest one, as I move on quickly, and it is surely this: God has left the roots of sin in our lives as Christians so there might be room for us to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, because the measure in which you and I grow in holiness will be the measure in which we shall be high in heaven, or less high in heaven. This is what Christ is talking about, surely, when He says, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6,20). He means: the better you are here, the higher you will be in glory. The more grace you have now, the more glory you will have hereafter, because grace is glory in the bud, and preeminent grace is outstanding holiness and it will be outstandingly rewarded in heaven.
And, my friend, if you want to be something of note and glory in heaven, then, I say: Study sanctification. Study to be holy. If you want to leave a mark upon your generation: Study to please God with all your power! Don't be third rate, and fourth rate, and tenth rate. The trouble with our country today is a whole lot of tenth rate Christianity, which is like counterfeit money: hardly worth putting in your wallet. What we need now is a generation of Christians who will take God seriously! And what does that mean? Well, it means that we are to be killing sin, or else sin will be killing us.
It's futile to be telling unconverted people to 'be good'. It's rather like King Kinoot. Do you remember that king in the Middle Ages? He was told by his people that he was so important he could even stop the waves from flowing in. And he didn't believe it, and to prove it he had a seat put on the sand, and as the tide was coming in he commanded the waves to stop. He said, 'I am the king of this country, I want you waves to stop'. But surprise, surprise, they didn't pay any attention to him and he proved his point that waves have no interest in obeying kings.
So it is with unconverted people. You can tell unconverted people to be good, and to be good, until the cows come home - it's a waste of breath. They can't. They don't want to do. And if you're an unconverted person, this, I'm afraid, my friend, is your problem. If you're not a Christian, your problem is you don't want to be a Christian, do you? Come on, let's be honest; let's talk to one another. If you're not a real Christian here tonight, your problem is not that you need more sermons, and more sermons again, and still more sermons. It's not that you need more books to read. Your problem really is you don't want to become a Christian. Isn't that true?
I remember there was a preacher in London, a very eminent man, and he spoke to a certain student at the university, and this student, no doubt, was a very intelligent man. And this minister said to the student, "Ah," he said, "now have you any problems about Christianity?" "Oh, yes," said the young fellow, and he brought out this, and this, and this. He had quite a lot of problems about Christianity. He couldn't believe in Christ, he said, because there were all these problems. So the minister looked at him (in the eye), "Now," he said, "young man, if I were to answer all your problems, would you want to become a Christian?" "No," he said, "I wouldn't." You see, he was honest: That's your problem.
If you're unconverted, your problem is you don't really want to become a Christian. Isn't that true? And all the sermons in the world will not change that. Your problem is desperate. Do you realize? you're in the grip of the power of the devil. You're in the grip of the power of unbelief, and you'll never break it of yourself. You have to realize your terrible plight, and cry out to God for mercy, because any day your life could come to an end. God could cut off your tin spun life and you'll go into that place of eternal darkness, where there's no more preaching and no more hope.
Oh, my friends, it couldn't possibly be more serious. Won't you heed a preacher's affectionate exhortation to you tonight? Will you not take heed to the tremendous need you have, unconverted friend? Why do you choose the side of the devil against God? Why don't you rather say, Tonight, this very night - young man and young woman and other person - why don't you say, This will be the turning point in my life. From this moment onward I shall seek God with all my powers until I find Him.
As I close I'm reminded of the great J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool some hundred years ago. He came from a brilliant family. He was an extremely clever man; took first class honors at Oxford University which was a tremendous achievement, from anyone. He was a very wealthy man, and his family were bankers, as I remember - but he wasn't a Christian. And one day, he went to church, and the preacher wasn't even very well qualified. I don't know whether he even preached a sermon. But he did read a chapter of the Bible, and he read it very well, and very clearly. And when Ryle heard the Word of God he said to himself, 'I am not a Christian after all. I must seek God'.
My friend, that's your position. And when you have found God, then take to heed what the Apostle says. You must put off that which belongs to the old, and put on these new clothes which God has given to Christians to wear.
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