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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1204

The Truth About Ourselves
Part One

November 1, 2015

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1204 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: I don’t know, I’ve had thoughts that I set out, oh, within the last few days, thinking in terms of, well, this is something I’m gonna write about, and it may still be, but I just haven’t been able to get them off my mind, and so I’m just gonna trust the Lord to help me this morning, which is what I need to do every time, of course.

But, there’ll be a lot of ground that we covered, even last week and other times recently, but I think the emphasis is different. And, I believe there is a truth that affects every one of us, and if we are going to really understand about ourselves and about what God is looking for from us, it’s a truth we need to really understand, not just intellectually, but in a very personal way.

And, I preached on this basic subject awhile back and I’m gonna begin with the same verse I did then, in Luke chapter 11. But if I were gonna title this, I’ll go ahead and give it a title ahead of time and we’ll see if it holds up, but “The Truth About Ourselves” would be a title. Because if we don’t understand the truth about ourselves, we really have no foundation for a relationship with God. It’s that foundational, it’s that important.

And anyway, this is an occasion when Jesus was questioned by the disciples about, Lord, teach us to pray, and He gives them what we have called “The Lord’s Prayer” and then He begins to encourage them with truths that would encourage us who read these things to know that God values persistence, He values a heart that is dependent, that looks to Him, that has a sense of its own need, but that comes to Him with, “oh, God, I’m gonna stay on You until You answer my prayer.” He honors that kind of heart. He’s not looking for the casual seeker, He’s looking for the heartfelt seeker.

But in the course of this, He makes this statement or He poses this question. “Which of you fathers…” in verse 11, “…if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (NIV). And then He makes this statement. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Now I can just hear the modern audience reaction to that. They would stop and say, wait a minute, what did you just call me? I mean, they would be highly offended at the very notion of what Jesus said. But He said — and it was just a parenthetical statement, “though you are evil.”

So here’s Jesus calling, not the sinners, not the people who are out and caught in what we think of as sin, He’s not just calling them evil, He’s looking at His disciples and says, “though you are evil.” And there’s a truth wrapped up in that that is absolutely, as I say, it’s critical. It just couldn’t be more critical that we understand the truth about ourselves.

And Jesus wasn’t saying this in a spirit of condemnation! It was simply a matter of fact. It was something that God in all of His reaching out toward us reckoned upon. It was not something that He got here and was surprised by. It was, I know the true condition of the human race, I know what the deal is, I know what’s going on, and I’m here in the light of what I know, I am coming to their rescue.

And so anyway, I feel like it would be just good to go through this truth a little bit, but I want to see particularly — where I want to get with this is how this affects us. And if we truly understand this, what are the implications for our lives — because they’re important ones!

And I hope as we go, you’ll realize that it’s not just an academic thing. We can’t…you know, you have this doctrine of “the depravity of man,” and if you learn orthodox theology, that’s part of it—that’s a key part of it, and it is! But I dare say that few of us look in the mirror and say, boy, you are evil. I mean, to really understand what that means, but to be able understand it without a sense of condemnation, but as a matter of fact, as Jesus basically explored it. And, I’ll just refer to a few scriptures that we know.

You know, we have Romans chapter 5, and I’ll just refer to the scripture there briefly, where Paul is describing how sin entered the world. He’s unfolding the Gospel throughout the Book of Romans, but he gets to the point in verse, what is it, 12? He says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men…” Now if you put a period there, it would almost sound as though Adam messed up and we all died because of it. But that isn’t the end of the story. The end of the story goes on to the next few words. It says, “…Because all sinned….”

The fact is, we did…there is a principal that has infected human nature. It has rendered it incapable of anything that is good. Now this is from God’s point of view. Human nature is incapable of anything that God would label as good, as right, as, this is what I’m looking for. Oh, people hate this—people hate this! But it’s the truth!

The fact is that we don’t die because Adam sinned. We die…if we do, we die because we give vent and give expression to that nature. It’s simply what we are. In other words, we are not sinners because we commit sins. A lot of people think, oh, I’m good, but if I commit a sin, that’s makes me a sinner. No, it’s the other way around. We commit sins because we are sinners. It simply is an expression of what we are.

And if you’re not actually committing a sin, you’re repressing something, because if you gave free rein to what is in the heart of every single one of us, there’s no telling the ugliness that would come out. It’s there.

And, having a relationship with God, we have to reckon on this truth, folks. We can’t come and imagine that there’s something good that God has found in us and that’s why He’s shown us favor. No way! No shape or form.

And you know…well, let’s go back to a scripture in Genesis that I’ll just refer to in passing. You can look it up. It’s in Genesis 8. But, we know how the progression of history went, we’ve talked about it many times of how God dealt with Adam and Eve and then there was a handful of people that served Him until the world came to a point where the inclinations of everybody’s heart was evil, and God’s heart was filled with pain as a result of it.

And there was a great flood of destruction, of judgment. And, then He came out and He made a fresh covenant with Noah. But one of the things He said was this. He said, no more am I gonna curse the ground for your sakes, even though the inclination of everyone’s heart is evil from youth.

So you see what God is looking at. He’s saying, I’m gonna hold back. I’m not gonna bring this kind of judgment again, where I’m gonna destroy everybody with a flood. I’m gonna let your crops grow in spite of the fact that every inclination of every person’s heart is, what? It’s evil from youth. So you see what God is dealing with. He’s talking about human nature…that it is absolutely unfixable, unredeemable.

You know, I’ve used the illustration before of sour milk. There’s no way to un-sour sour milk. You don’t go in there and take out the sour. It’s been spoiled. There’s something that has infiltrated every molecule of that milk to the point where it’s gone, it’s changed, there’s no way to redeem it. You’ve just got to go buy another bottle if you want milk. And that’s the condition that we have.

And we know the scriptures very well: “…All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But think of the words of Jesus when He was confronted by the guy that we call the rich young ruler. And the rich young ruler came to Him and called Him, Good Master. And how many of you remember what Jesus said in response? He said, there’s none good.

So Jesus didn’t come into the world with any illusions that He would find goodness in some of us. He said, there’s none good — none! That means you, that means you, that means me. “There is none good but one, that is, God.” (KJV). So, we have got to come to a point, every one of us, where we see ourselves in our true light, and the world does not want to deal with that. But a relationship with God is impossible unless we reckon honestly with this truth. Praise God!

But you think about what the world would be like…I think I said this, probably last week, but certainly before. What would the world be like if God did not intervene, if He simply allowed human nature, unfettered freedom to just do its thing? It would be hell on earth.

( congregational amens ).

But the very fact that there is any kind of restraint at all upon human nature is a testament to the mercy of God, that God has not left us without hope, without a witness. He’s given us the witness of creation itself. I mean, it’s amazing…it’s a testament to the willful blindness of people that they can look at the glories of creation and not see the God who is behind it.

But He has left us an unmistakable witness that everybody is going to face, that He is real and we know He’s real. He’s left us the witness, and this is a big one, of a conscience! Every single one of us has a voice on the inside that reproves us when we do something wrong. It runs counter to this nature and it’s not coming from us. You can’t say, oh, the conscience is just part of human nature, it’s the good part. It’s something God put there. God has given us an internal witness that tells us when we’re doing right and we’re doing wrong, and we sense it. Now, you can stomp on it. You can silence it over time, but it’s real and it is God’s mercy to restrain!

You know, sometimes God intervenes in judgment in a way that’s unmistakable. Think about what He did in Egypt when He rescued His people. People from the ends of the world heard about a God who judges, a God who’s in charge, a God who fights for His people, and they knew that there was a God with whom they had to reckon that wasn’t like their gods. This was ‘the’ God.

And so God has so many ways of confronting people, and certainly the greatest is the preaching of the Gospel, because these other things will let us know that there is a God. But I mean, you want something specific? You think about Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost and, he preached and he gave out the Truth and he did it with divine anointing, but I’ll tell you, it was the Spirit of God that confronted the hearts of those listeners to the point where they were cut to the heart!

It wasn’t just the voice of conscience now. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit. This is God touching, just penetrating past every defense and saying, you-are-in-trouble, you need this God. You need this message. You need to turn from the way you’re going or you’re going to perish! There was a voice that was real!

You know, Jesus said, I believe it’s in John 16, part of the last words to His disciples before the cross. He talked about the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And He said the role of Comforter is going to be to reprove the world. Now, ‘reprove’ is a voice that is against, that corrects, that says, this is the way you’re going, but you’re going the wrong way. “…Reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

So there is a knowledge that God has imparted to everyone who will in any wise open their ears to listen. There is a voice that restrains. There is a voice that would turn us from the way that we would go, that would turn us to the ways of God. So here is our condition and here’s God working to change all of that. But listen to what happens to humanity as a result of this. How do men respond? Think about this. One of the natural responses to this voice that would reprove, that would say, hey, you’re doing wrong…one of them is the one that is listed there is Romans chapter 1, isn’t it?

And you read the description there. I’ll just go over and read this again. We’ve read it many times, but it talks about in verse 21, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile…” (NIV). Worthless, pointless. “…And their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” And it goes on and on to describe what happens.

What you’ve got here is man being confronted in various ways by God, but his response is one of defiance. God, I will not yield! I will serve, I will do what I want to do! I am god of my life! I will decide what is right and I will decide what is wrong, and you have no part in this. And if I feel an inclination in my spirit or in my body, or whatever to do a certain thing, then as far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing, and You have no right to say different. I’m gonna go that way. Period! End of story.

So one of the responses of the natural man to the voice of God who would deal with them in the world is certainly one of defiance, isn’t it? I reject, I’m gonna give vent to my lusts, forget about it!

But there’s another one that’s a lot more subtle and I believe it’s a lot more confusing. And that is when man begins to try to work out his own righteousness. He has this inward sense of right and wrong and instead of just rejecting it, he begins to try to work out ways where can, at least in his own mind and perhaps in the minds of others, he can appear to be good! If you ask the average person, is man completely and wholly evil? He’d say, no, there’s good in everybody.

( congregational response ).

Yeah. I’ll guarantee, just my saying this right now, there are plenty of people here who, there’s something in you that rises up when I would say something like this. You’d say, no! There are good people! Many of you perhaps remember what I’ve referred to before. But after 9/11 somebody asked a prominent Christian leader, why do bad things happen to good people? And their answer was, there are no good people.

And again, that depends greatly upon your point of view. If you’re looking at it from God’s point of view, this is not about God rewarding goodness, some goodness in man. God doesn’t go looking for goodness in you and say, hey, there’s a spark there. I’ve got to fan that into flame and we’ve got to make that live and kind of push the other aside. That’s not what salvation is about. There is no goodness to be fanned into flame in any one of us. And the first step—the very first step in coming to God is coming to a realization of this truth!

Now I realize that the unfolding of it, the understanding of it is something that happens over time. We find Paul discovering more and more things about himself as he went along. But, I mean, there has to come a point where we realize that we are nothing, we have nothing. We can bring absolutely nothing to God, and based upon that, demand that He accept us, or expect that He would show us favor because He finds something in us.

The very first step in coming to God is to absolutely reach a point where we ‘know’ we need a Savior. We know that the only hope we have is to come to Him on the foundation of His mercy and His goodness and His promise. It is not, as some suppose, reaching down and finding some noble thing in us that would cause us to evaluate what God is offering and choose that. Oh no! There’s no goodness. It is the abandonment of all pretense…

( congregational amens ).

…Of worth, of goodness. And I’ll tell you, it’s God’s mercy to bring us to a point. And I’ll tell you, the effects of that…when God is really at work, what does that look like? You’re gonna find people who have had this deep sense of shame, of guilt, they’re not gonna be thinking about somebody else and how they are at fault. They’re gonna be thinking, oh God, You loved me and how can I be like I am? How can I possibly react to You and respond to You, in the grace that You’ve shown me, how can I be this way? Oh God, I see the wickedness of my own heart! Oh God, I need help!

( congregational amens ).

And for that to happen, there has got to be…I know this is covering ground we covered last week, but that’s all right. There has got to be a personal confrontation between the heart and God, where we encounter, not just doctrines about God, but there’s a direct encounter where we see ourselves in His light.

And the obvious example is Job who said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (KJV). What was his response? “Wherefore I abhor myself….” That’s about as negative as you can get. I abhor everything about me. I see the corruption of my own nature. I abhor myself and I repent! I turn from it! I don’t just say, I’m a bad person, but I don’t want to be a bad person! I turn from that, oh God! What was it that caused him to do that? It was a revelation of God, as it was in Isaiah’s case, as it was in Moses and David!

Think about David when God confronted him about his sin. He said, I was conceived in sin! I was born in sin. From my mother’s womb, I came forth speaking lies, oh God! Oh, help me, Lord. There’s this sense of what he was. But oh, what a glorious thing it was that he realized that God wasn’t gonna leave him there and just grind him into the ground and condemn him over it. But there was an honesty about him. And do we not see God responding to that honesty?

See what I’m saying about this being the foundation. And you can go on right through the scriptures. Look at what God did for Peter, allowing him to experience his own corruption, his own utter weakness, his own utter failure, and to do so without being rejected. But Peter came to the point where all that self-confidence was gone and he knew…you remember…I’m trying to remember which occasion it was, but there was the one occasion, I think it was after the resurrection…it might have been earlier, but anyway, when the Lord had given them a miraculous catch of fish. They were out there fishing and He said, cast your net, and they drew in all these fish. And he went to the shore and fell on his face before the Lord, or on his knees before the Lord, and said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man.”

Now you think about that. Here’s the Lord just making it evident…all He did was give them a miracle there! But something in that confrontation caused Peter to see himself in a different light, caused him to say, oh God, I’m a sinful man. Folks, if you’ve never had a confrontation in some fashion where you felt your need, you don’t know Him. This is foundational.

( congregational response ).

We cannot possibly have a relationship with God until we realize the depravity and the emptiness of our own heart, and our utter inability to produce anything that resembles goodness…not in God’s eyes. This is foundational.