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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1361

God’s War Against Sin
Part One

November 4, 2018

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— Brother Phil Enlow: I’d like to turn, if you will, to a familiar scripture and I think the Lord will bring out a different emphasis this morning, and it’s Hebrews chapter 12. We’ll begin with the very familiar part of it. Well, I’ll just read the first part here particularly and then we’ll just go on from there.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NIV).

And you know, as I was reading and thinking about this, I felt, I had this sense that we need to go back and really see what this is about. A lot of times we think about this as, well, we have trials, God wants to grow up our faith and all of that. But what’s the underlying issue here? The underlying issue is God’s war against sin—God’s war against sin!

And that is the essence of what salvation is about. I mean, if we’re not — deliverance from the guilt of things that we have done is wonderful! That only sets the table. As we’ve said many times, that just brings us to a place where Christ can come into a vessel that has been cleansed, not because we did anything to do it, but because we abandoned all trust in self. We came to Him with genuine repentance and faith, not in ourselves, but in what He did, so that our sins have been punished already in full.

He has finished a job that God gave Him to do in what’s described right here. He gave up His life, faced shame, faced all the things you and I would ever face to the nth degree. And so, that sets the table.

But a lot of people’s concept of salvation pretty well stops there. God’s delivered me from my sins, as in “acts” of sin. The problem is not just sins, the problem is where they come from.

See, sin is a principle. This really — haven’t we talked about this a lot lately? Hasn’t the Lord emphasized this, that there is that beast within every one of us, that thing that causes us to commit sins, that causes us to live in a way that’s totally out of harmony with God? And God, in all that He’s doing, He is at war with that. That principle will be done away with. It will not exist in the new heavens and the new earth. It will be gone.

And, Paul says in one place, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” There’s no way you can clean this up and make us fit to be there. There’s a radical thing that God has got to do in every single one of us. And that’s really what’s described here, because the war, the enemy that we’re concerned about is not just circumstances and feelings and events and things that come against us from the outside. It’s what’s going on in here. This is what God is focused on. This is what His grace is given to us to overcome. Grace is greater than…?

( congregational response ).

…Than all our sin. He’s not simply talking about God’s willingness to forgive sins; thank God for that! But he’s talking about the power of God’s Spirit that enables us, if we will, to learn to rule over sin and not allow that old life to dominate the new one.

If you’ve been born of God, there is an old you and there’s a new you. And as we’ve heard so much lately, the question is, who’s gonna be in charge in a practical sense? So this is what God is dealing with in every single one of us, in so many different ways. And it doesn’t matter the details or the circumstances, this is what’s going on. And you and I ‘are’ on the Potter’s wheel.

And God is going to conquer sin in every single one of us. This principle will be done away with. What He seeks is our cooperation with Him in the circumstances that accomplish that, because they will be lifelong. They will be varied. They will be suited to the individual that’s involved.

We’re all different. I mean, notice the point we’ve made many times, there’s a race marked out for us. And I believe that gets down to the individual where everybody’s race is not exactly the same. We’re not the same. And so, the issues that would arise in us, that would thwart God’s purpose, that would withstand it, that would be in the way, that God would have to deal with, they will be as varied as you and I are.

And certainly, there are broad principles that apply, but the individual things, you wonder why something happens to one and not another? God’s the Potter. He knows. He knows how to work on every single one of us.

But oh, how He wants us to be willing, cooperative, understanding in all that we do, so that we can run with patience and endurance! We can stand up to this and say, God, I get it. You know what’s in this heart of mine. I don’t even know what’s there, but I do know that what is there is against You and You’re working to root it out.

And so, Lord, my heart here is to cooperate with You. It’s when something happens, to stand in faith and keep going, keep looking to You, and trusting in You, trusting in Your strength, and putting one foot in front of another, knowing that Your purpose will be fulfilled.

And realizing, I didn’t come into this because of something in me. He’s the Author of my faith! Where did I get it from? God came to me! I didn’t go to Him! God came to me and convicted me and worked in my heart, and He gave me a knowledge of things I could not know naturally. And He showed me my need, and He brought me to my knees before Him, and putting my faith — seeing what He did for me at the cross!

And so, praise God! There’s that place of just humbling ourselves before Him and looking to Him and saying, oh God, finish what You started. You started this and You’re the One who’s promised that what You started, You will finish. You’re not only able to finish, You will, You’re committed to doing something that is eternal! Praise God!

We’ve signed on for something that is eternal but it’s not always easy. The process is certainly not always easy. We see how it was for Jesus. We’re encouraged to look to Him, to fix our eyes upon Him!

And, I certainly see this in two ways. There is the example part. We see the One who gave up everything, who was guilty of nothing, and yet suffered shame. You and I suffer shame deservedly, sometimes, many times, every single one of us. But He had no reason for it. He never did anything wrong and yet, there was that sense of just surrendering to the Father’s will, surrendering like a lamb, didn’t even speak out, didn’t rail against His opponents, didn’t do anything but just say, “…Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

What an example for us of what’s involved in letting go of self, letting go of this life, because the other is so incredibly worthwhile, so incredibly valuable! We see the purpose and the heart of God in all that He’s doing, so that it becomes so great in our eyes that we’re able to let this go.

Boy, that doesn’t come easy, does it? I think the people that have gone on the longest with the Lord know what I’m talking about. This is not some little thing you learn in a seminar and you say, oh, I’ve got that. I’ll just go on with my life. There are some hard lessons that come with this, and we, every one, can attest to that, I believe, who’ve known the Lord any length of time.

But, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” But not only are we to look to Him as an example, we’re looking to Him for our resource. Folks, there ain’t no way we can do this except we get everything from Him! And part of the — a major portion of the lesson that He teaches us in the circumstances of life, particularly the difficult ones, the lesson is that we need Him, that we cannot do anything without Him, that we’ve got to have His strength, that if we are going to do the will of God, we’re gonna have to do it with His strength. Praise God!

You know, I don’t know at what point this fits in, but I read something interesting. There’s a little on-line newsletter I get, and a brother expressed something that I thought was very succinct and clear. And He was talking about two of the false gospels that are out there. And one of them is the gospel of libertinism. Libertinism comes from the word liberty and it’s an unbalanced emphasis on freedom, the freedom we have in Christ, okay? But what it declares, essentially, if you boil it all down, is God accepts you and you don’t have to change. Now that’s the gospel of libertinism.

The gospel of legalism goes all the way into the other ditch and basically it says, God won’t accept you unless you change. Well, good luck with that, because that would be asking something of us that we’re powerless to do. We can change maybe some of our outward actions, but we cannot change what’s in here. Only God can do that.

So, the Gospel, the truth of the Gospel is God accepts us and changes us! So our place then is to surrender to Him and allow Him, cooperate with Him in the process of change. Well, we do that with varying degrees of willingness, don’t we? So anyway, that’s what’s going on here. This is a war against sin and you’ll see that in a second here.

But anyway, we are to, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Because this battle can be wearying, it can be something that is discouraging, at times, because what happens? We get out eyes off of Him. We get our eyes on the circumstance and we think, oh my God!

And of course, the Devil piles on, doesn’t he? He is wonderful about — wonderful is not the word. He is faithful to condemn, and to do everything he can to cause us to do the very thing we’re warned not to do.

But now, he comes to really the essence of it. Like I say, we often emphasize it up to this point. And we think, oh, I have trials. I need to learn to trust Him through the trials. Well, that’s true enough. But what is all that about? “In your struggle against sin….” This is the essence! This is the war!

See, we’re not just battling circumstances, we’re battling what’s in here. Circumstances come and go and many of them are going to be contrary. Some of them are — we’re gonna have a part in creating the circumstances. We all do it, one way or another.

But I’ll tell you, we’re gonna have to put the focus on here and realize that this is what God wants to change! He is looking to change me and my response to all of this…that I can come and say, like David did. I mean, David was a man after God’s own heart and he got in a very bad place.

But he also got to the place where he said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” See, he got the picture of how this fit. He didn’t say, I sinned against them, I sinned against — this was him and God. And he saw where the battle was really going on. And, thank God, there was a place of forgiveness, wasn’t there?

But in your struggle against sin, this is what it’s about, folks. Every day you and I get up out of our beds and we are going to have a battle with the old nature wanting to have its way, and we don’t even know many times that it is having its way. We are so blind to our own needs and our own conditions that God has to do stuff. He has to work, doesn’t He? He has to reveal to us the depth of our own need.

But, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Well, what’s he alluding to there? Because Jesus did! He stood against the very principle that dominates this world and He did it to the point where He shed His blood over it. He said, I want God, I don’t care what it costs Me. I don’t care if it costs Me My life, the scorn of men, whatever it is, I want Him! End of story!

I mean, what an example for us. In your struggle against sin: like I say, that’s the essence of what this is all about. Now, he gets into something else.

He says, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons.” Now, some of this does not sound like encouragement. But nonetheless, if we see it in its proper context, it is.

And he quotes here from Proverbs chapter 3. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

“If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time…” Well, duh!

( laughing ).

“…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So you see what he’s getting into here? The real issue, as I say, it’s God’s war against sin, and we are called upon to run our race with endurance. But what’s really going on is God training His sons. The word discipline is “child training.”

Now that involves all kinds of different methods that God has to use at times to train us. You know, you’ve got a little child and you see a behavior crop up that they may not even be aware of. They’re just acting out in their own nature. And you see some behavior and you know that’s going down a wrong road. If you’re a wise and loving parent, you’re gonna correct that.

Now, you might correct it with a word. And that doesn’t always work, does it, though? See, sometimes that works. Sometimes you correct them, but you do what it takes. And sometimes the effort needs to be a little stronger and a little stronger and a little stronger.

But if you’re a loving parent and you’re doing it in the right spirit, by the way…. This is not, I’m angry at you, and you’re messing with me, you’re bothering me and I just want to get rid of you here. This is, I love you enough to say, you’re going down a wrong road that’s gonna lead to a lot of trouble and I love you enough to say, I’m not gonna let you go down that road.

Thank God! He doesn’t just let us go! Because if He did, every one of us would be in a world of hurt! If He didn’t check us and put roadblocks in front of our lives, we would go down every wrong road there is! We’re all made of the same stuff, folks. There’s no — we might as well reckon on that. But oh, we’ve got a faithful Heavenly Father, don’t we?

And you know, it’s interesting to me that we love to quote Proverbs 3. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Praise God! Isn’t that wonderful?

This happens about a few verses later. This is central to it. God is absolutely — when He calls you and me into His kingdom, we are little children when it comes to the things of God. We don’t know! We have no more sense than does a little child as to what’s really appropriate, what’s right.

And, of course, we think we’re right. We reach a point where there’s nothing terrible outward going on. We’ve stopped robbing banks and that sort of stuff.

( laughter ).

I thought that would get a quicker reaction. I was hoping you were awake. But anyway, you know what I’m saying. We’ve stopped — there’s nothing terrible outward going on, and we think, oh, good. I’m good now.

Oh, yeah! You don’t know what we’ve got going on down in here that God’s gonna have to address. And I know many of you have gotten to the later years in your life and you thought, hey, I was kind of on track here. And what about that time the Lord really shined a light on something and you had to look inside and you had to come to a place where you surrendered to that and you said, yes, Lord. Truth, Lord. Truth, Lord. Oh God, help me.

And suddenly you wonder, how in the — I mean, the Devil piles it on and you wonder how could the Lord love somebody like me? Look at what I did. Look what’s going on in my mind and in my heart.

Oh, thank God for His mercy in intervening in our lives. He does it perfectly. He’s the Father of all fathers. He’s the One who knows exactly what it takes to bring us all the way to that kingdom, because, like I say, there’s none of this gonna be there.

So, how does He get rid of it? Is it some magic? He pushes a button and we leave this world and we’re all like what we’re supposed to be? No! God allows us to live in a situation where there are two lives competing for control of these vessels. And He is not — we’re not robots! We make choices!

You know, I heard another profound and simple statement the other day that we all make our choices, but later on our choices make us. There’s a lot of truth in that, isn’t there? God, help us to make the kind of choices that God wants us to make.

The Lord doesn’t just — He may speak a word, He may convict, He may do something to put a roadblock, but I’ll tell you, there are a lot of roadblocks we plow right through. There’s something that has got a hold in us. There’s a weakness, there’s a need that’s strong enough that we just find a way around that roadblock and we sort of justify where we’re at and we go forward.

God help us, because I’ll tell you, God’s gonna do what it takes. Isn’t that…what’s that song that Tim and Sherell sing? “He’ll Do Whatever it Takes.” Thank God He does!

You know, it’s easy when the sun is shining to say, oh God, do whatever it takes. But I’ll tell you, when you’re in that valley and you’re feeling your need, it takes some faith to say, yeah, God, thank You. Do what it takes, Lord. I want to be there and I realize that there are such needs in me that I don’t even know about, and just help me to see the things that You allow in my life in that light.

Now it’s interesting that he uses the word discipline which is child training. But then he uses the word punishment. And sometimes it gets down to that where there is something where God has to do drastic stuff in our lives to help us.

But I want to be careful and try to put this in a proper light. You could preach this in such a way that every bad thing that happens to me is God punishing me, and we think in a very humanistic term of an angry parent who’s just mad at us and just whacking us on the head because we messed up.

That’s not it at all. As I say, God is gonna put roadblocks in front of our path, seeking that we will stop and listen, stop, look and listen. Yeah — there’s a train coming. But stop, look and listen, and ask Him, Lord, help me.

That’s what He seeks is someone who is so tuned in that we could say, Lord, open my eyes, search me, oh Lord, as David did. Look into my heart. See the things that are there and help me to understand what I’m made out of so that I can — because I want to walk in the way that’s everlasting.

There’s a way in this world that does seem right to a man, as we’ve often quoted, but the end thereof leads to death. But there is a way everlasting and that’s what God seeks to lead every one of His children on and He will, one way or another.

Now if you’re His — He speaks in here of those who are without that. Man, I’ll tell you, you might think, oh, this has happened to me, that’s happened to me. God’s forever shutting me up and working on my life, oh how terrible. I’ll tell you, the ones for whom it’s terrible is when God doesn’t interfere with you.

If you’re somebody who can get away with stuff and just make your own choices in life, live according to your earthly desires and God never intervenes with that, you better cry out to God, because He describes that as illegitimate children. There are a lot of folks in churches today that can live their lives and find a way to mix it all together and their outward devotion to the doctrines of God and the practice of a church, somehow soothe their conscience that everything is all right when nothing is right in here. Nothing has ever really been changed. They’ve simply glossed over their natural life and their natural inclinations with religion.

But I’ll tell you, you sign on for this one, God’s gonna get down to the nitty-gritty because it’s not about changed behavior, it’s a changed heart that God is looking for. And I’ll tell you, He’s the only One that can do it. The only place we can take is, Lord, I surrender. Lord, I just want — have your own way, Lord.

Oh, the songs that were sung this morning were just right on the money in terms of what every one of us needs. Lord, I can testify that this applies. There are so many things that I’ve had to come down and face, and say, God, this thing is in me. It’s got more of a hold than I’d like to admit. God, help me! Lord, You’re the only One. I cannot beat this! I cannot tame this beast! I’ve got to have Your help! I’ve got to have Your strength! That’s exactly what He’s looking for!