I'm going to preach a message tonight that has angered many, many, many churchmen. It
has angered many of the older people. It has angered
many of the youth. Many of the youth that I've preached this to have become fiercely
angry, but the people that have become most angry at
hearing this message have been the parents of youth.
I have found that there is something quite amazing among parents that, if they can get
some sort of a claim out of their children that they
profess faith in Jesus Christ, they seem to hold onto that
and it gives them assurance and joy, and it seems that they're bothered any time someone
would come and question that claim. It seems we would rather hold onto a false
hope than to hear the truth.
There are many people who do not want to hear the truth because it will shake up the false
hope they have that they're going to heaven when,
indeed, they are not. There are so many people in
Christianity—American Christianity—that believe themselves right with God, that believe
themselves saved because they were told that by a preacher who should have spent more time
studying the Bible and less time preaching. I hear people all over the world—and especially
in this country—tell me that they're saved, and I
ask them how do they know that they're saved. Well, because they believe. And no one asked
them the second question: How do you know that you believe?
If we were to dismiss this congregation tonight and send everyone out to every part of this
city, we would find out that the great majority
of the people in this city believe that they believe. And
we know that's not true. If we were to go to taverns and crack houses tonight, if we
were to go to casinos anywhere in this world, we would
find people who believe that they believe. And the
question is—how can we be sure that we believe when so many people say they believe and we
know they don't. In America, we have combined two doctrines,
and we have lost both of them. There are two very important doctrines in the Christian
faith. The first one is commonly called—a name I do
not like but I will use here tonight—the security of the believer, that every person
who has truly believed in Jesus Christ is born again and
they are secure. The very God who saved them will
keep them saved----security of the believer. But there's another doctrine which we do
not hear much about. It's not just the doctrine of
security, but the doctrine of assurance. It is true that every true believer is kept by
the power of God. That's the doctrine of security, but
the doctrine of assurance is this: How can you be
assured that you're a true believer? How can you know that you are a true believer?2
I've had people tell me, "Well, I just know that I know." I tell them there's
a way that seems right unto men. It leads to death.
I've had people tell me, "Well, I know in my heart of hearts that I am saved."
The Bible says that the heart is deceitfully wicked. It goes
beyond knowledge in its wickedness. So, do you
really want to trust a mind that is faulty? Do you really want to trust a heart that can
be wicked? I've even had people tell me, "Well, I
know I'm saved because the preacher told me I'm saved."
Since when did men have such authority? And, then, the worst of all—"I know I'm saved
because I have walked with God." My dear friends, let me tell you this, if you are
not walking with God now, you can have no assurance that
you have ever been saved. We're not teaching here tonight that, if
you walk with God and you're saved and then you stop
walking with God, you lose your salvation. What we're telling you is this—we have
assurance that we have come to know Him not just because
one time we repented, but we are continuing to
repent today. It is not just that at one time we believed, but that we are continuing to
believe today. It is not just that one time we walked
with Him; we continue to walk with Him today because He who began a good work will finish
it. It says in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 13, verse
5, Paul had come to a church, many of them professing Christ, many of them walking in
carnality, and he doesn't ask them—he doesn't say
to them, "Let me ask you something. When was the time that you first asked Jesus Christ
into your heart?" He didn't even refer to their
conversion experience. He goes right to present tense
and he says this: Test yourselves—in verse 5—to see if you are in the faith. Examine
yourselves. Or do you not recognize this about yourselves,
that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail
the test. If I see someone who, let's say, for three
or four years seems to have walked with God, loved the
saints, endeavored to pray, to know the Word, to congregate with other believers, and all
of such, and then they begin to fall away gradually.
They begin to walk away. They begin to allow the
world and sin and other things into their life. They begin to enjoy the fellowship of
the wicked. I don't go to them and tell them, "You
know you're a Christian and you need to avoid
backsliding." I go to them and say, "You have made the
good profession. You have declared among many that
you are a believer, but now you are beginning to live like an unbeliever. It is very, very
possible you never knew Him, that up until this point,
it has all been a very deceiving work of the flesh,
because, if a work of God does not continue, it never was a work of God.
Now what does Paul say to this person? He says, Test yourselves. Test yourselves. Take
a test. Let me tell you something, my dear friends.
Heaven and hell, eternity and death may not be very
much a reality to you, but it most certainly is to this preacher. I could care less whether
or not your bank account is balanced or you have
self-esteem. My only thing----the only thing that
might keep me up this evening and steal sleep from my eyes is the fact that many of you
will die and go to hell.3
Test yourself! This is not just some whimsical thing. This is not just something to worry
about for a day. We're talking about eternity.
Is it well with your soul? If you test yourselves in the
light of Scripture, will you be found whole and complete, born again, kept by the power
of God? It's time to take a test and stop relying
on your emotions and stop relying on what everyone is
telling you and stop comparing yourself to other people who call themselves Christians,
because the great majority of people in America who
call themselves Christians are lost. Some leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention
have said this: If we take seriously what the
Bible says about Christianity, we would have to say that less than 10 to 15 percent of
all our membership is even saved. And don't think
that just applies to Southern Baptists. It applies to
you all. He said test yourself. Examine yourself. Not
just some light examination. Not just hear the
words of this preacher and walk out there and allow Satan to steal the Word of God from
your heart. While you're here and while Christ
is present and while the Word is preached, examine
yourself. It is a deadly thing. Sin waits outside this door. It is crouching and its
desire is to have you. While you are here and Christ is present,
examine yourself. So many times in South America, working in
the Andes Mountains, I would have to cross footbridges----gorges that you almost couldn't
see to the bottom. Test the ropes. Test the wood.
Is this a sound bridge? Examine it carefully. Why? You get out in the middle of that thing,
it breaks, you're dead. In the same way, that
salvation that you hold onto, that you trust in, it might
be like a horse's hair. When you swing out into eternity, many of you are going to swing
out on nothing stronger than a horse's hair and
when the fires of hell blast up, you'll wither and you'll
fall. Examine yourself. Take the Word of God and
what the Word of God says about a true Christian, and examine yourself in light of it. And if
you fall short of the test, repent and believe. Throw
yourself upon the mercy of God. Cry out to Him until a work is done. And that's another
thing, isn't it? A whole other sermon. Until a
work is done. This silly Christianity in America. "Repeat
these words after me." No, you might have to wait
upon God. You might have to cry out to Him until the work is done—a true work, a finished
work, a complete work. How can we take a test? How can we test our
life? How can you test yourself tonight to see
whether or not you truly are a Christian? We just have to go to the Word of God to do
that. Go to 1st John chapter 5.
First John chapter 5, verse 13. John gives us the reason in his Gospel. In John chapter
20, verse 31, he tells us why he writes his Gospel.
He writes his Gospel so that men might believe that
Jesus is the Son of God, that He's the Christ, that they might have eternal life. Why does
he write his epistle? He tells us here in 1st
John chapter 5, verse 13: These things----this epistle----I
have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God----those of you who profess
Christ----why?----that you may know that you have eternal life.4
You want to know whether or not you're born again? Read the book of 1st John, because
the book of 1st John is made up of a series of
tests, and we're going to take those tests this evening.
And I pray to God that God gives you ears to hear.
And I want to tell you something and I want to make it very, very clear. Do not listen
to your heart. Listen to the Word of God. Do not listen
to what your daddy says about your salvation. Do not listen to what your mother says about
your salvation. Listen to the Word of God. Compare what you know about your secret life.
Now, what did I say that for? So many of you young people, you have your parents so deceived
it's unbelievable, because externally you conform to their law, but it's not your
law. It's not in your heart. And in the secret place, you know
who you are. And then some of you who are not
children, but adults, teenagers that are older that are out in the world, you go out there.
You know who you are. Your mom and dad, they do
not know. Some of you adults, church members do not know, but when you are out
there by yourself, that's the person I want you to
compare to the Word of God tonight. Not the one in here that looks pretty, not the one
in here that's got religious makeup on. No. The
one out there when no one is looking. You take that
person and compare him tonight to the Word of God and see if he stands. See if he stands.
You say, "Brother Paul, you seem quite intense tonight." How would you expect me to be
if a train----a slow-moving train was going across
our path and to see my little boy just inches from
the wheel. Would you expect for me to whisper in his ear, "Back up, boy." Would you
expect for me just to not even make a commotion,
but kind of motion with my hand? Or would you
expect me to scream out, "No-o-o-o-o-o!" How would you expect me to preach about these
things? Let's take that secret life of yours and compare it to the Word of God.
First John chapter 1, verse 5. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce
to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no
darkness at all. What does that mean? As in all the writings
of John, he leaves things open. He leaves things
open. I believe that, as you look through this text, you will find out that there are
two things John is saying. First of all, whenever we're
talking about light, and we see this in John chapter
3, we're talking about holiness, righteousness. God is a holy God. He is a righteous God,
has no sin, no flaw, no shadow, no speck of immorality
in Him. God cannot be tempted. You can be tempted because there's still an element
of evil in you that is drawn to evil. God has no evil in
Him. Evil cannot draw Him. He disdains it. He despises it. He's holy.
But that's not, I think, John's primary meaning here. John is dealing with a group
of false teachers who basically are telling everybody
that God is a very dark and shadowy and hidden figure, and that knowledge about God is esoteric.
It is hidden and dark and only some people know it. And I believe that John is contradicting
these false prophets and he is saying this, and
you listen very carefully. This is what he is saying. He's saying God is Light. And
he means this: God has revealed to us who He is and
He has revealed to us His will. He has made it very
clear.5 Now, let me just say something about how that
would change everything in America if the media
truly believed that. What kind of God do we have in America? What is the god of the politician
in America? It's this kind of god----it's a god you can pray to, but you cannot define
who he is. It's a god you can talk about in a political
speech, but you cannot define what his will is. And
that's a good god to have. Why? Because you're no longer accountable to a god like
that. You don't know who he is and you don't know
what he wants, so you just do whatever your carnal,
wicked heart wants to do. That's a very convenient god, and that's the kind of god
some supposed Christians have.
But John counters that and he says this: No, my friend, God has told you exactly who He
is and God has told you exactly what He requires
of thee, old man. He's not a hidden god. Now,
learning that, let's go to the next verse. He says this: If we say that we have fellowship
with Him. . . . What does that mean? If we say
that we are saved is exactly what it means. If we say that we know Him, if we say that
we abide in Him. For so many years in America, because
of a certain seminary that has propagated this,
we have been taught and led to believe that 1st John is talking about the difference between
a Christian who walks in communion with God
or a Christian that does not walk in communion with God. They take this text to mean that,
if we say that we know Him, if we say that we know
Him, if we say that we know Him and yet walk in darkness, we're just a confused Christian.
That's not what this text means. What this text is saying is this: If we say
that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the
darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If we say that we are a Christian and yet
we walk in darkness, we are lying. Now, I know what's
going to happen in your heart right now. "Yeah, but you don't know my heart, Brother Paul.
I know that I know that I know that I'm saved."
I could care less, again, about your heart. Because that's not what John said. John
says, if we say that we have fellowship with God, that
we are a Christian and yet we walk in the darkness,
we are a liar. Now, what does it mean to walk in the darkness? Well, first of all, you need
to understand what darkness is. It's the opposite
of light. If we say we are a Christian and yet we
walk—now what does it mean to walk----peripateo----to walk around; a style of life. If we say we
are a Christian and yet our style of life contradicts everything God has told us about
Himself and contradicts God's will, we're a liar.
That's what it means. That's what this text is saying. It's as
clear as a bell. Now, listen to me. Listen to me. I'm going
to tell you again. Look at this, in verse 6. If we say
that we have fellowship with Him----if we say that we are Christian and yet we walk—we
lead a style of life----in the darkness, we lead
a style of life that contradicts the attributes and the nature
of God, what God has told us about Himself, our style of life reflects nothing of God's
character, and our style of life totally contradicts
what God has said to be His will, then we are a liar when
we say we are a Christian. We've got to understand this. Do you have
ears? You've got to understand it. There are so
many people walking around. You can see them. It is like a fog over their heads. That is
why religion is so dangerous. All these silly
little boys out here preaching that, if you repeat a prayer,6
you're going to heaven and the moment they pronounce that upon a person, it is like a
fog comes over them. But it's time to cut through
that fog with a deeper, greater light. And that is the
Word of God. My dear friend, listen to me. John is saying
that, if you say you're a Christian and yet your style
of life, the way you are, does not reflect His character and the things you do go against
His will as a style of life, he's telling you you
are a liar when you say you're a Christian. Now, let's go on. Here's the next test.
Verse 8. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving
ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Now, he said, if we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not
in us. There have been strains of Christianity or
marginal Christianity down through the history of the
church that believed in sinless perfection. Well, the Bible doesn't teach that. The
Bible teaches that even the most mature, the most godly
Christian is still susceptible to sin. What this is teaching us is this. One of the
greatest evidences that a person has truly been born
again, that a person is truly a child of God is that they will be sensitive to the sin
in their life and they will be led to repentance and confession
of that sin. Isn't it amazing—and most pastors, when
I preach this, they smile. They know exactly what I'm
talking about. Whenever I'm preaching in a church and there is a move of God and a
move of God with regard to sin, I find it amazing
that, when people start breaking and in American churches somebody is coming forward and praying,
I think it is quite amazing that it is always the most godly, most devoted, most spiritual
people coming forward, weeping over their sin and
it is always the most carnal, godless, hateful, spiteful, wicked church members that sit back
there, cold as a stone, as though they were perfect.
What you are seeing is the difference between the
lost and the saved in the congregation. A true Christian is sensitive to sin. Sensitive
to sin. Sensitive to sin. Let me ask you a question.
When was the last time you wept over your sin? That's frightening. When was the last
time you were broken over your sin? That's frightening.
Some of you don't even know what I'm talking about. When we are a child of God, God guards
us. He talks about his jealous love for Israel. Is
it not greater for the church? Does God guard you?
I can remember my great love for books in seminary, and I went to the bookstore there
in seminary to buy a book with a friend of mine,
and there were only two volumes left. There were
two and there were two of us. I pulled out the first volume, and I love books, and there
was a little tear on one of the pages. I swapped
books with him. I gave him that book and pulled out
the other one. We go to the counter. We buy our books. I go home the whole time as though
I had murdered a man—as though I had murdered
a man. And, finally, praying, having to call him
up, saying, "I've got to talk to you." "Well, what is it? You can tell me over
the phone."7 "No, I can't tell you over the phone.
I have got to meet you face to face." And then go before
him, weeping, and ask forgiveness. Why? Because I'm pious? No. Because God guards his
children. I see Christians, and it's amazing to me. . . ."Brother Paul, come and preach
for us. We want revival." And yet, before they come
to the meetings and after the meetings they go
home and sit in front of a television and watch all that filth. And they're not even
sensitive to the sin of it.
Are you sensitive to sin? Does it lead you to confession? Now, let me ask you, some of
you here, here's something you need to understand.
Just recently a man that I know was found in
grievous, grievous sin, and someone said, "How did a man like him fall into sin?"
And I said, "He didn't fall into sin. No man falls into sin. He slid there like
everyone else." Let me ask you—because some of you may be
Christians and you need to hear a warning. Are
you sliding into sin? Are you starting to do things now, gradually, gradually, that
you would not have thought of doing a month ago? And little
by little by little, you know what's going to
happen? You keep going, and it'll be evidence you're lost. If God pulls you back, it'll
be evidence you're saved.
You say, "Oh, Brother Paul, but you don't know me." I don't need to know you. I
know the Word of God, and I know it's the same for
Are you sensitive to sin? I want to read a passage to you just quickly. Just listen.
It's one of my--to me it's one of the most blessed
passages in all of Scripture. Let me ask you, is this your attitude? Has it ever been your
attitude? God says, For my hand made all these things,
thus all these things came into being, declares the
Lord, but to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit and trembles
at my word. Do you tremble at His Word or do you
look for loopholes around it? Do you excuse your
sin? Do you avoid the Word now because you know it's going to talk to you and talk
about you? People come to me all the time and say, "Brother
Paul, I have a new relationship with God." And I go to 1st John, chapter 1, verse 8.
I say, "Do you have a new relationship with sin?
Because, if you don't have a new relationship with sin, you don't have a new relationship
with God." Are you sensitive to sin?
Now, third test. It's found in verse 3 of chapter 2. By this we know that we have come
to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Now, listen
to this. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments,
is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Now, let's look at this test—by this we know
that we have come to know Him. You know, in America----I tell you what, I was talking
to a Scotsman awhile back in Peru, and he said, "You
Americans, your theology is 3,000 miles wide and a half inch deep." He's right.
Our Gospel here is pathetic. Our evangelism borderlines on heresy. How do you know that
you came to know Him? If you go to most pastors
in this city right now and you say to them, "I
don't know whether or not I'm saved," this is the question they'll ask you: "Was
there ever a8 point in time in your life when you prayed
and asked Jesus to come into your heart?" If you say
yes, they'll go, "Were you sincere?" If you say, "I think so," they'll say,
"Then you're saved and you need to stop the devil from bothering
you." There's not a biblical bone in their brains.
Look what the Bible says. How can you know that you're saved? How can you know it?
Look what he says. By this we know that we have
come to know Him. Because our heart tells us?
Because the preacher tells us? Because we just feel it? Look what he says. By this we
know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
And that keep there is in present tense, as well as many of the other things
here in this text. And what he's saying is, if we keep
on keeping His commandments, we know that we know Him, if we persevere in His
commandments, we know that we know Him. And then he goes on and says, the one who
is opposite doesn't know Him. Now, I want you to
look at something for a moment. What does it mean to keep His commandments? Does it
mean to walk in sinless perfection? No. Again,
it is a style of life. If we were to take your life out and
film it every day 24 hours a day, would we see a style of life that desired to know God's
commandments, desired to obey them, was growing in victory in obedience, and was also broken
when it didn't obey, would we see that in your life?
You say, "Well, I've kept the commandments before." You forget what he's saying.
If you keep on keeping ... perseverance. Why perseverance?
Because of the promises of God. He who began a good work in you will finish it, and
if the work isn't finished, He didn't do it.
Is your lifestyle marked by a keen interest in God's commandments and a desire to obey
them? Again, someone comes to me and says, "Brother
Paul, I have a new relationship with God." And I tell them, "Do you have a new relationship
with sin? Because, if you don't have a new relationship with sin, you don't have a
new relationship with God." And then I ask, "If you've
got a new relationship with God, well, tell me, do you have a new relationship with His
commands? Do you have a new relationship with his Word? Because, if you don't have a new
relationship with His Word, you don't have a new relationship with him."
Now look at verse 4. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep
His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is
not in him. If you've been in any kind of meetings,
especially among people who consider themselves to be super spiritual and vocal about it,
I mean, meetings will get going and the preacher
will start preaching or the music will get rolling,
and someone will jump up and say, "Oh, hallelujah, He's my Savior. Hallelujah, I know Him."
That's exactly what John is talking about right here. The one who jumps up in the middle
of the meeting and says "I know I've come to
know Him," but does not keep his commandments is a
liar. He's a liar. Now, again, look at this from the context.
John is the apostle of love.
Paul was known for his great mind, but I think John was known for
his great love, and, yet, this humble, broken apostle
is laying down the verdict. You are a liar. It's an amazing thing, isn't it.9
Now, it goes on. Let's go to another test. Verse 6 of chapter 2. The one who says he
abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner
as He walked. The Christian ought to walk as
Jesus walked, and you say, "Brother Paul, you've gone too far now. Who can walk like
Let me give you an illustration to try to explain to you what I mean. When I was a little
boy, my father was a very big man, very smart man,
and like all little boys, I wanted to be just like him.
Now, up north, we raised cattle and raised quarterhorses. We'd get big snows and my
dad would come into my room at five in the morning,
even when I was a little boy, and say, "Paul boy, get
up. No rest for the wicked." And when he said, "Get up," you got up.
And we would walk out there in the snow, and the one thing I can always remember doing
is—my father would take these big strides and leave these footprints in the snow. Now,
I wanted to walk like my dad walked, and so I would
try to stretch my legs out and put my foot in his
footprint, and I would stretch my legs out. Now, you can imagine, I was stretching out
farther than I could ever go. You can imagine I looked
ridiculous, and you can imagine I fell down, but
you will also know by looking at that picture that the greatest desire in my heart was to
walk like he walked. You could tell, looking at that
little boy, he wanted to be like his dad even though
sometimes he didn't look anything like him. Let me ask you. What's the greatest desire
in your heart? Is your great desire to walk like He
walked? To be like He was? Is that your great desire? Are you seeking to put your foot in
his footprints? Listen to me, man. Listen to me,
woman, because, if you're not, be afraid. A
reporter came up to me one time, and he said, "Why are you telling people to be afraid
all the time?"
I said, "Because they ought to be afraid." Again, this is the test. This is the exam.
If I were to look at your life, if I were to film the whole
thing, would I see since the supposed day of your
conversion this desire to walk like Him, or do you desire to walk like everybody else?
Do you desire to walk like the world and act like
the world and talk like the world and fellowship with
the world? Do you identify with the world? Or is it Jesus? Is it Jesus?
We're not talking about whether or not you need to rededicate your life tonight. We're
talking about whether or not you need to get saved.
Now, let's go on. The next test. Verse 9 of chapter 2. The one
who says he is in the Light and yet hates his
brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light
and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the
one who hates his brother is in the darkness and
walks in the darkness, and does not know where he
is going because the darkness has
blinded his eyes. Now, brother here is not referring to the
poor, even though we ought to love the poor. It's not
referring to someone of another race. I always thought that was a quite stupid statement
anyway because there's no more than one race, folks.
It's called human. Unless you've got a Martian
tucked into your pocket somewhere, there's only one race. We're to love people of all
different colors and cultures and all that. We know
that. But that's not what he's talking about here.10
When he says brother, he's talking about believers. If you say that you know God and
yet you do not love other believers in a real and
practical way and desire fellowship with them, you're
lost. Now, let me give you an example. Remember when Jesus said, I was in prison; you did
not visit me. I was hungry; you did not feed me;
I was naked; you did not clothe me. And guys who
do prison ministries will always use that verse saying, We need to go into the prisons.
Well, we need to go into prisons but that verse doesn't
really have anything to do with that unless there's
Christians in there. What this verse is talking about, and I learned
it quite well in Peru and in other third-world countries. In some third-world countries----my
friend, listen to me—you get thrown into jail, you
will starve to death unless every day somebody from the outside brings you food. You will.
They do not provide food for you. You will die. Now, let's say that someone is thrown
in prison, not for being an assassin or a thief,
but they're thrown in prison in the time of the apostles
for being a Christian. They're locked away in there. Now, they're going to die, they're
going to starve to death unless somebody else brings
them food. Now, that presents a problem because the authorities know anybody that brings this
guy food has to be a Christian. And so the one
who goes to take him food is in danger of being thrown in prison himself. That's what
Jesus is talking about—a love so great that you would
risk your own life to care for other brothers and
sisters in Christ. Now, listen to me. Do you love to be with
people who love to be with and talk about and
worship and serve God? Or would you rather be with people who have nothing to do with
God? Because you are demonstrating what you are.
Like I said, I was raised on a farm. You do not
see the chickens over there having a good time with the pigs. Chickens hang with chickens.
Pigs do their own thing. It's their nature. You say, "Well, I'm a believer but, man,
all my friends are, you know, they're. . . ."
Yeah, I know. They're lost. Do you love other Christians? "Well, I,
you know, I, I come to church." Big deal. The devil comes to church. What
do you do when you get here? What do you do outside it? Because the church isn't this
tent. It's not that building, it's the people. How many
Christians are you serving? How many Christians are you reading the Bible with? How many
Christians are you praying for? How many Christians are you loving? How many . . . .
I've got a dear friend in my church back home, and he know I'm here in Texas for
a little while. He's adopted my mother. He's cleaning
up her place; he's mowing her yard; he's doing all sort
of things. Why? She's a believer, and because of the will of God, her son's being sent
to Texas so he is taking over. That's what I mean.
That's what I mean. I've had both my hips replaced because my
bones are degenerating. You know how they got
replaced? I was a missionary. I didn't have a dime. How am I going to get implants? How
am I going to be operated on? A man in Austin,
Texas----Steven Whitlock, III----a young guy, 32
years old, but a brilliant man. He walks into his Sunday school class one day at a church
there in Austin, Texas. He hears people praying about
a missionary who can hardly walk up in the Andes Mountains.11
He goes, "Give me his name." He called me. He said, "Come. Come to Austin. I'm
getting the ticket. I'm getting the doctors. I'm getting
everything. Your hips are taken care of." That's
what I'm talking about. I was walking through the jungles one time, high jungles, in
Departmento Amazonas in Peru during the war with the Sendero Luminoso. We were in a place
the military wouldn't go, and we were lost----me and another brother. And we were traveling
through the night in the darkness. We had smuggled ourselves up there in the back of
grain trucks, and we were going to preach in the
place because the believers were just depressed and
torn apart and didn't know what to do and everyone's making fun of them. We knew we
had to go in there.
So we would get lost, and we're going through the jungle and, finally, we come upon this
village. We walk in there. We don't know where to go. We don't know where to spend
the night. We know that the terrorists can be
absolutely everywhere . We know we could be a dead
man, and Paco walks up to this person out on the streets, like almost midnight, and
he goes, "Á Hermanos por acá,"----Are there brothers
through here? And someone said, "That old lady over
there"----an old Nazarene woman. We knock on the door, and I said, "Soy pastor."
She grabs both of us, pulls us in, shuts the door behind us, sticks us down in the basement,
goes out, kills a chicken, fries up some yucca,
everything you can imagine. She's feeding us. She's
taking care of us. She's housing us. Could she get in trouble? Yes, she could.
And then you say, "Oh, I'm a Christian because I go to church." You've got to
be kidding me. That's love? To you? You need a new definition.
You say, "Brother Paul, you're using satire." Read the prophets. They did the same. Some
of this Christianity floating around America
is worthy of making fun of, and it ought to be exposed.
Do you love the people of God? You know, who are you with? Someone asked me, "How did
you know----young guys always ask me, "How did you know that Charo, your wife, was the
woman for you?" I said, "Real easy. I wanted to be with
her." "How'd you know you loved her?"
"I just wanted to be with her." How do you know you love them? You just want
to be with them and talk about Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Do you love?
Now, let's go on. There's much more here, but we need to continue on. I want to go through
another test. Chapter 2, verse 15. Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is
not in him. What is the world? Everything in this fallen
age that contradicts the attributes and will of God.
Everything that does not come forth from God and goes back to God in worship. That's
the world. You say, "Well, I love secular music."
Let me just share something with you. I don't12 care. I'm not going there. This is what
I'm going to tell you. It doesn't matter to me whether
it's secular or Christian. My question is—what's being said in those words? Because if what's
being said in those words contradicts the will of God, you're violating His will,
and you're loving it.
And the adults here are probably going, "Amen." Okay, let's talk about your television.
You watch things. You expect God to move? You
love those. You love their jokes, their off-color jokes, their humor. You find yourself laughing
in wickedness. And then you want God to move in your family and move in your life. Do you
love the world? My dear friends, yesterday I was
nine years old; today I am 43. Tomorrow I will be 90. Life is a vapor. It is fleeting.
Everything will die. All will pass away. We are to love
the things of God, the things that are eternal, and
one of the signs of a Christian is that they are not entrapped or enslaved to the things
of this present evil age, but they are set free to
see Christ in His glory and follow Him and follow hard
after him. Christ! I was preaching at a university thing about
a year and a half ago, and I noticed that everyone was
seated and it was about two minutes before it was all to begin. All of a sudden at a
side door in the auditorium, probably a group of 30, 40
beautiful girls come walking in and just kind of
walked down the front there and sat down in all the seats. I mean, it was designed for
them to showcase what they were. I looked at all of
them, and I said, "Young women," I said, "let me
give you a little bit of advice. I can see. I'm a man. Many of you are very, very, very,
very beautiful. One day all of you are going to
be terribly, terribly ugly." It's true. To the wind with your money.
To the wind with your beauty. To the wind with your
wealth. It will not remain. The only thing that remains is the glories of Christ. Death
is a present reality. You say, "Oh, how do you
know? You're not that old." My brother died. My father died in my arms.
I preached the funeral of my sister. I know about
death. And I know that it could come to some of you before I finish snapping these fingers.
You say, "Brother Paul, you're trying to scare
me." You have discerned correctly. Love the world? You love to listen to the
very things that nailed your supposed Master to the
tree? Come off of it, man. Become a hellion, give yourself to demons, run wild, but don't
come in here saying you're a believer and playing
that game. You want to dance with the devil, then
dance all night long, but don't come in here dancing with Christ for a moment and
then go back out there and share your love. We're talking
about loyalty. Love the world that nailed Christ to
a tree? Many of you, just by professing faith in Christ,
you crucify again the Son of God. You need to
realize something. This is the Christ. This is the Son of God. This is the Lord of Glory.
Isn't it amazing that we're going to have believers
from China, believers from Northern Nigeria that
have died as martyrs, dragged through the desert behind camels, some of them skinned
alive, but they would not deny Jesus. And here's all
these American Christians standing beside them that
couldn't even find enough of anything inside them to even attend church on Sunday morning.
Does anybody have a problem with that?13 One man can be skinned alive and not deny
Christ, and the other denies him in the smallest of
things. And yet, they're all born again? I think not, my friend. I think not. Do you
love the world? Look at verse 16. For all that is in
the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the [boastful] pride of life. . . . It is not from the Father, but from the
world. Sometimes I'll get seminary students, and
they've all got this great idea that they're going to go
out and do something for God. So, I'll stand before them and I'll say, "Okay, I want
everybody to breathe in." They all breathe in. I say,
"Breathe out." They breathe out. I say, "Theologically, from where did that breath
come?" They say, "From God."
I say, "Okay, you can't breathe on your own. Now, what are you going to do for God?"
The lust of the flesh, the pride of body. We live today
basically in the Roman Empire; can't you see that?
We have around us an empire of flesh and muscle and beauty and hair, and it will all rot in
the tomb. Rot in the tomb. The wealth and the
glamour and the glitter and all the things in which
people are investing their lives will all rot, but the one who does the will of God
will abide forever.
I look at my life right now. I'm middle-aged, and I think sometimes back. I think what if
I was not a Christian. What would be my attitude
now? Think about it. I'm 43. The days of my
strength are over. The days of my beauty—they're over. The days of wonder and dreams about
what my life is going to be—they're over. What's left for me? Just to grow older,
more tired, and die. And yet, here I am now, a Christian.
What does it mean? By God's grace, 22 years have not been wasted. In a meager, trifling
sort of way, maybe, but truly in a way, they have
been given to Christ and now the years ahead of me.
And you know what? I'm a boy of God. You're not a man of God till you're about 65. I
see men of God still alive and those that have
gone on before me. I listen to those old men at 85 and
90, barely can stand up in a pulpit and begin to speak and just glory all around them. And
I say, "Lord, is that's what's waiting me?"
I hear about the saints that are about to cross over and their eyes fly open and they
just cry out, "Glory, glory!" Lord, is that waiting
for me? It's going to get better. Just going to get better.
You say, "Well, your candle's going to be put out." Yes, my candle's going to
be put out only because the sun's coming up. This world
is passing away and I can tell you biblically that, if
you're living for it, you're an absolute fool. But the one who does the will of God
abides forever. And for those of you who are young,
oh, what a precious opportunity now to serve the
Lord. Now to serve Him. Many that were called and used mightily of
God were called as children in the Bible. Don't you
see that? How old was this Samuel when he began to hear the voice of God? You say, "Oh,
I must wait." No, you must not wait. Seek
Him now. Seek Him hard. If you seek Him hard, he
will let Himself be found by you.14 It goes on. Verse 19. They went out from us,
but they were not really of us, for, if they had been
of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that
they all are not of us.
Now, this does not mean, if someone leaves our church and goes to another, that they're
not a Christian; that's not what that means. What
it's talking about is this. The true Christian who has
entered into Biblical historical Christianity and then leaves, might go into some new stuff,
new Christianity, new teachings----they're
rampant; they're everywhere; every wind is
offered----leaves what is known as basic historic Christianity to go follow after some
new stuff that has very little to do with Scripture
and nothing to do with Biblical history. They've gone out
from us. They don't remain in the body. Or someone who comes in and they might be
with the group, you know, with the church, with the
fellowship, with the congregation for six months or a
year and then they depart and they stay departed and they don't go to another fellowship.
What does that mean? They went out from us. And
what is it showing? They never were of us. Because once you're in Christianity, you
stay in Christianity because He who brought you in
keeps you in. It wasn't Noah who shut that door behind himself on that boat. It was God.
I hear so many people that will say, "Oh, if I just make it to heaven, I'll be secure.
If I just make it to heaven, I'll be secure." Knowing
that, then where was the devil when he fell? It's not
heaven that's going to make you secure, my friend. It's being in Christ that makes
you secure. It goes on. Another test, verse 22, chapter
2. Who is the liar but
the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one
who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies
the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
The true Christian is going to embrace the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ. Now,
many of you are saying, yes, that is true. They are
going to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. Yes,
that's true. They're going to believe that God became man, that He was a real man.
Yes, that's true, but that's not all it means to embrace
the fullness of Christ's person. This silly little stuff
going around in America today that you can receive Jesus as Savior and not Lord is absolutely
absurd. The fullness of His person you believe in, you receive, you embrace. All of it.
Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus is the only prophet
who ever walked on this earth. Jesus is the only
King. Jesus is the only true Priest. Jesus is, again,
the only true Wise Man. Let me ask you, do you believe that? All right, how much are
you going to His Word to find His wisdom? Do you
believe He's King? How much are you going to
His Word to find His law? Do you believe He's Prophet and He knows about your latter days?
Then how much are you going to the Word to settle those latter days through your own
obedience? Now, finally, look in verse 29 of chapter
2. If you know that He is righteous, you know that
everyone who practices righteousness is born of God. Now what is righteousness? Everything
that conforms. Everything that conforms to the nature and law of God.
Do you practice righteousness? If we were to look at your life, are you practicing God's
law? Are you practicing God's wisdom, God's
Word, God's precepts? Are you? Is it a practice in15
your life, or are you departing from it? Does it have nothing to do----absolutely nothing
to do with you?
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, Depart from me you who practice lawlessness. That's
one of the most terrifying statements in the Bible
for American Christianity because basically what He's
saying is this: Depart from me those of you who claim to be my disciples and yet you lived
as though I never gave you a law to obey. I just
described most of what's called the church in
America today. "I'm a disciple." What's your relationship
to His Word? "I know Him." What's your relationship
to His Word? Are you seeking to know His wisdom, His precepts,
His commands, and to practice them? Is it a
part of your life? Now, let me tell you something, something----I think legalism is death.
Let me tell you that. I think it is. I think it's
death. But I want to tell you something. The Bible tells us
what we can think about and what we cannot think about. Do you know those commands? And
are you practicing them? The Bible tells us what we ought to watch and we should not watch.
Do you know those commands? Do you care? Are you practicing them?
The Bible tells us—now, listen to me—the Bible tells us what we can wear and not wear.
You say, "Oh boy, here he goes." No, listen
to me. I'm not talking about defining every last----crossing every T, dotting every
I, that you can't wear this. It is telling us this. Whatever
you put on your body better be decent. It better be decent and it ought to enhance the
beauty God's already given you. I look around today
and see what people are wearing, and it reminds me of the Communist countries I've preached
in right after their liberation. One thing about a communist country, the communists
come in Eastern Europe filled with all these little brick roads and beautiful little
stone houses and everything. The communists come in
and tear it all down, put in pavement and these ugly concrete blocks, and make everybody—they
take beauty and destroy it. Look at fashion today. Look at it. It's not conformed to
the will of God. God wants His people to be beautiful.
It's a God that also means modest and decent. But
He wants them beautiful. He wants them full of life, full of color. He wants them to be
a beautiful people, but what do we see? Grunge,
dressed in black, hanging over like this. I mean,
it's unbelievable. In a way, I think it's really, really good because, I mean, a man
who's godly no longer will have much temptation. The girls
are trying to look as ugly as possible. I mean,
that's not what God wants. Let me just—I know I'm kind of—I don't
have much time to preach to you, so I'm going to use
a shotgun approach here. Girls and guys, let me give you a thing that my wife uses, and
it's really, really good. It's this. If your
clothing is a frame for your face, it's of God. If your
clothing brings attention to your face from which the glory of God should be shining,
it's of God. If your clothing is a frame for your body,
it is sensual and God hates it.16 Now, I know they're kind of pretty broad
guidelines, but there they are. It doesn't mean you
have to dress like a Puritan and put buckles on your shoes or anything like that, but those
are the guidelines. Right there.
Righteousness. And why am I saying this? Because the Bible touches every aspect of our lives.
There's something in there for every area of our life, and what we need to do is discover
what that is and conform our lives to it. And you
say, "Oh, what a burden." You're lost, because the
Bible says the commandments of God for a Christian are not a burden; they're a joy. They're
Verse 3 of chapter 3. Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as
He is pure. Now, look at this. What is it talking
about? The hope for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Everybody now reading these Left Behind
books—the only thing left behind in the Left
Behind series was the Bible. But everybody's excited. You know----"I believe in the
Second Coming." "I believe Jesus is going to
come." "I believe in all this stuff." Okay, we'll see
whether you believe it or not, because it says in verse 3, Everyone who has this hope—what
does he do?—purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Now, here's something Christian. It's just going to blow your mind. You know, we
are told to purify ourselves, and some of you guys need
to hear this who are really, really theological. Not
only has God sanctified us in Christ; he calls us to strive to be holy. He calls us to purify
ourselves. Let me ask you a question. Could I sit down with you right now and you talk
to me—we're all alone—you talk to me about
the ways in which you are seeking to purify yourself? Can you?
Going into the book of Hebrews, could you sit down with me right now and we could open
it up, and I say, "Just share with me how this
affects your life." Could you sit down with me right now
and explain to me the ways in which you're striving after holiness? Do you see? Do you
see? This Bible is not poetry. It's not just
little maxims that are cute. It is your life. It is your life.
Everyone who has this hope—that hopes in Him—how do we know that we really hope in
Him? Because we're seeking to make ourselves
pure. We're seeking—we're striving after holiness.
We're striving after holiness. We really are. Are you striving after holiness?
My mom—she's almost 77, and she raised most of us kids by herself because my dad
died. Tough lady. She's Croatian. Her parents
came over through Ellis Island. She went through the
depression. She's a tough lady. She's from Detroit. It makes her mean. She'll
sit there sometimes----I'll be over there. I'll
go over to her house, pass by there before I go to the office in
the morning, she'll be over the Word. I'll look up at her and she'll just be broken.
She was saved when she was ten. She'll look up at
me with tears in her eyes and say, "I am just so
unholy. I am just—I just found—look at this verse. God's telling me my mouth, my
tongue—I spoke out of turn the other night. I've
got to go back and ask my sister to forgive me."
I'm going, "Oh, mom." She says, "Sometime I don't even think
I'm saved."17 I said, "Mom, this is the evidence that
you are." All these years of walking with Christ and yet,
still there, striving to be holy. Yes, resting in the finished work of Christ, yes, but striving
to be holy, to be righteous. Everyone who has this
hope is going to do that. Now, he says, verse 4, Everyone who practices
sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. What does that mean? I'll tell
you what it means. He's trying to show you how
horrible sin is, because we really don't get it. I love what Watson says in A BODY
OF DIVINITY. He's always saying this, he goes, "You
have not sinned against an inferior prince. You've not
sinned against a small mayor from a small village. You have sinned against the Lord
of Glory, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. You
know not what you've done. " Imagine this. Here stands God on the day of
creation. He looks at stars that could swallow up a
thousand of our suns. He looks at them and He says, "All you stars, move yourself to
this place and start in this order and move in a circle,
and move exactly as I tell you until I give you another
word." And they all obey him. He says, "Planets, pick yourself up and
whirl. Make this formation at My command until I give
you another word." He looks at mountains and he says, "Be lifted up," and they
obey Him. He tells valleys, "Be cast down," and they
obey Him. He looks at the sea and says, "You will come
this far," and the sea obeys, and then He looks at you and says, "Come." And you
go, "No!" Look at the horrid, wretchedness of sin, the
vulgarity, the prostitution of sin. It is a horrid thing,
not something to be trifled with. As I said, it is a beast, and it is waiting at the door,
and its desire is to have you. And anyone who practices
sin practices outright, open, clenched-fisted rebellion against the Lord of Glory.
Now, it's here. We all realize that the Bible's already taught us that believers
will sin, but there is a difference between a believer who sins,
confesses their sin, and going on to greater holy,
being disciplined of the Lord but going on to greater holiness, and someone who just
out and out practices sin as a habitual lifestyle.
Verse 5. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no
sin. He appeared to take away the very sin that many
people relish and love. Verse 6. No one who abides in Him sins; no
one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Again, it's talking about a style of life, of practicing
sin. Little children, make sure no one deceives you.
Now, I'm telling you this. Little children, adults, make sure no one deceives you. Make
sure some pastor doesn't deceive you, make sure
your momma doesn't deceive you, your dad doesn't
deceive you, or some well-meaning carnal Christian does not deceive you. He says, Little
children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous,
just as He is righteous; the one who practices
sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the
beginning. You practice sin as a habitual lifestyle?
You love what you can get away with? My friend, you're of the devil.18
Now, let's go back to verse 12 of the final chapter, chapter 5. The last test. There's
many more, but we don't have time this evening. He
who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son
of God does not have life. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus. Jesus. You know,
it's almost absurd to ask this question. We've actually come to believe in American
Christianity that you can be Christian and Jesus not be all
the world to you. Do you love Jesus? What do you think about
most? What do you think about most? I know men who love the ministry more than they love
Jesus. I know men who love the Bible more than
they love Jesus.
What do you think about most? Because that's what you love.
Now, my dear friend, listen to me. I've got to make a stop here, correct a few things.
There are some struggling believers here tonight that
need to realize something. Again, we are not talking
about sinless perfection. We are not saying that, if you're a true Christian, Christ
will always be at the forefront of your thoughts. We're
not saying, if you're a true Christian, you are always
going to be practicing righteousness. Again, what we're talking about is a style of life
and a struggle. I tell my mother, "Mom, the greatest
evidence that you're a Christian is the fact that
right now you're in the Word and God's pointing out to you your sin."
The mere fact some of you need to hear this. The mere fact that you struggle with the fact
that you don't love Him enough is evidence that
you're a believer. The mere fact that you look at
your own life and you realize you're not as holy or righteous as you want to be and
it bothers you is evidence that you've come to know him.
What I'm preaching against tonight is the person
who lives in habitual sin, who loves the world and all these different things, or a person
sliding in that direction, or a person who just—"Yes,
Jesus is a little accessory onto my life." The warning
is for that person. You know, I hear these preachers today and
they'll preach and they'll go, "Man, you've got it
all." I've heard them give this kind of invitation. "Man, you've got it all. You've
got a wonderful, beautiful family; you've got
your health; you've got a wonderful job and all these
things. You just lack one more thing to make your life complete. You lack Jesus."
Makes me want to vomit. My friend, He who has the Son has life; he who does not have
the Son has nothing. All your wealth, all your health,
all your relations, everything you have is dung if
Jesus is not Lord and Savior and Passion of your life. He's not an accessory that you
add on to an already great life. He is Life. That's
why He meant, you know, You drink my blood, you eat
my flesh. What was He talking about? He's not some accessory. He's the very source
of your life. Is he yours? Is he yours?
Let's pray. Father, we come before You in the name of
Your Son. And, Lord, this has been long and hard,
but I felt a measure of grace in it, Lord, and I pray, I pray, dear Lord, that You would
work in the hearts of people that You would save, that
You would convert; and that, Lord, even some of
Your people who may have been sliding into the things of the world, that this has been
used as discipline to turn them; to others, Lord,
who believe themselves saved, that this has been used to
show them they are not saved; and to struggling believers, that it has been used to show them19
that assuredly they are believers. God, use Your Word to do many more things than what
we could ever think or believe. In Jesus' name.