An Honest Search for Eternal Life
God makes Himself very clear to ALL MEN, everywhere, and those who don't respond or get ready or obey, WILL be in danger of hell. We are ALL accountable to God's Word. Jesus spoke of hell because He Sees it and wants to make sure we all See it clearly as it really is. You WILL die if you don't accept the cure for the terrible cancer of sin that courses through your veins.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity (which apparently is something different than sexual immorality), moral corruption, debauchery, idolatry (putting something, anything before God—in your checkbook, in your time, in your thoughts), witchcraft (that might include the newspaper column that tells your daily horoscope or playing with a Ouija board), hatred, discord, jealousy (something simple like jealousy is right up there with witchcraft and sexual immorality) fits of rage (temper tantrums…How are you doing on that one? Roommates, co-workers, traffic, children, parents, spouse), selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, (looking at other peoples’ things and just wishing you could have them), drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Be not deceived. If any of those things are a description of your lifestyle, your way of living, don’t think you will inherit the Kingdom of God. You can “go to church” nine days a week, and it won’t change that passage. We tend to forget to deal with our own lives and instead think that some form of godliness will save our souls. It’s just not so. It doesn’t say that. The word of God says, “Don’t think that anyone that lives like this can possibly go to heaven.” It’s impossible if that is a description of your life.
The reason that this is true is that there is a thing called sin, and the wages of sin is always death. That’s the nature of the universe.
Let’s say you were to find out today that you have come down with a fatal disease and you are going to die. You go to the doctor, and he says, “Take this medicine and you will be cured. Otherwise, you will definitely die.” Would you go home and think about it, and look at the medicine and say, “Well, I really believe this doctor is very narrow-minded. I don’t see how that could possibly be true. I don’t think I’m going to take this medicine.” If that happened and you died, would it be fair to say the doctor killed you? Of course not! The disease killed you. And you were foolish enough to not take the cure. That was your decision. You had opportunity. You didn’t have enough faith in the doctor’s prescription to do what he said.
You will not be able to go before the Throne of God and say, “Well, you never told me,” or “I didn’t have enough opportunity,” or “It’s not my fault,” or “How could you toss me into hell like that? That’s not fair. I thought you were supposed to be a God of love.” It’s not going to work that way. The disease is already at work in your body, and it’s fatal. It’s guaranteed. The wages of sin are death and all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. That sin is peppered through your life and there is only one cure. If you want to say, “You are just too narrow-minded and I’m not going to take that cure,” then you will die. And you won’t be able to shake a finger at the Great Physician and say, “How can you let me die this way?” It’s your choice.
That’s the opportunity that is in front of you and that’s the nature of the kingdom of God. You can deny it—that’s the first thing that happens with a cancer patient. They often go through five different stages. The first stage is always denial—”I refuse to believe that. That couldn’t be so. This is not cancer, and it is not fatal. I refuse to believe it.” That can be your response, too. “It couldn’t be so. It can’t be fatal. It’s not true. I’m as good as the next guy.” Line up your list of things to think about, but we have to be really clear about this, because believing that it is too narrow or wishing it weren’t so isn’t going to change the reality. We have to be honest with God in all these things.
So how do we get the medicine we need to save us from the disease of sin? In the Bible in Luke chapter 15 there is a well-known story of the lost, or “prodigal,” son, which really sheds light on this question.
“Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his Father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living…’”
He got as far from the Father as he could possibly get. He did everything he could do to please himself. He squandered his life in wild living. He gratified his sinful nature. He was going to do anything that felt good. He thought he had the right to do that. So he went off to a far country and lived. And it was great. No one could tell him he wasn’t having a good time. It was wonderful. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country. All of a sudden, it wasn’t so much fun anymore. It started to take its toll on his life and he began to have needs.
While he had blinded himself to all his needs before by squandering his wealth, now all of a sudden those needs were becoming very real. He began to sink inside and to feel the pain of those things. There was a famine in the whole country, so he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. This country is far away from the Father, and the primary citizen in that country is satan. This is exactly what satan does to us. He lets us enjoy ourselves and have a good time in his country and spend our wealth, but when he sees we are in need, he grabs us by the throat and says, “I have the perfect place for you. It’s in the pigpen. I’m going to throw you in with the pigs.” satan doesn’t treat his servants all that well after the initial honeymoon is over. Now the son is in the pigpen. It’s degrading. It’s pitiful. Now he is hungry, cold, lonely…and there is no way to get his needs met. His foolishness and his pride have now started to dwindle.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my Father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my Father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his Father.”
You can see the things that needed to happen in this man’s life in order for him to come to reality, to come to his senses. It says, “My Father’s men have food to spare and here I am starving to death.” In a sense, he’s just admitting, “I’m hungry!”
Jesus said, “Come to Me, you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Like the son in this story, we need to be honest enough to admit that we are hungry and that we don’t have it all together. That we don’t have all the great things going on in our lives that we lead everybody to believe that we do. Admit that you are hungry; swallow your pride. Jesus said, “If you will admit that and come to Me, I will give you rest. I will make a rest for you. My yoke is easy; My burden is light.”
The son came to his senses and said, “I’m starving to death and I know that my Father has food. What I will say to my Father is: ‘I have sinned against heaven and against you.’” He admitted his rebellion. It wasn’t simply a selfishness of, “I want God to meet all my needs.” It wasn’t, “God will give me a better deal than the one I have over here.” No, he also came to grips with the fact that he had sinned against heaven and against his Father and there was open rebellion in his heart, and he admitted that.
If there is something in you that can learn to hate sin, to call it what God calls it, to hate it like God hates it—whether it is an attitude, an action, talking about people, being selfish and self-centered and never doing anything for anyone but yourself, complaining about everything that goes on—no matter what it happens to be, don’t ever let it get to the point where you no longer can detect sin in your own life. Hate it with a passion. This man, as far off as he went in squandering all that the Father had given him in this far country, still could say, “I know very clearly that I have sinned against heaven and I have sinned against you, Father, and it’s wrong. I was rebellious in my heart.” I hope you never get past that point, and I hope that you will move ahead once you have discovered these things in your own life.
“He came to his senses.” He didn’t want to live in a pigpen. Can you understand that? He came to his senses. He realized that he was of the nature of his Father, and that the pigpen was not his home. He was longing to eat the corn husks. He was living like a pig in a pigpen, but something within him knew that it wasn’t right. He had the nature of his Father, and he was out of his element and hated being in the pigpen. He came to his senses. If you have the nature of a pig, you will find it very comfortable in a pigpen. If that’s the way you think about things and that’s all you want; you will find it very comfortable there. You will eat the corn husks and wallow in the mud.
But, if you have the nature of your Father (and there isn’t a person on planet earth that was not created in the image of their Father—in the image of God), then somewhere down in the depths of your heart you know that living for yourself is a pigpen. Your pigpen might have wall-to-wall carpeting, a refrigerator, and a microwave. It might have an office and a computer, but it’s still a pigpen if it is not in the Father’s House. And there is something crying out in your nature that says, “No! It’s not right. It’s not right. I don’t belong here. This isn’t my life. I won’t live this way. I have to get out of here.” And the Father will be gracious to give you that opportunity. But, you have to come to your senses.
“So he got up and went to his Father. But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, and threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Notice what the father does. He is watching for his son. He sees him while he is still a long way off. That’s what God the Father does for us, too. While we are still a long way off, no matter what we have done, no matter what we have gotten ourselves into, no matter how we have squandered our wealth, no matter how many corn husks we have stuffed in our mouths like a pig, it doesn’t matter. While we are still a long way off the Father is watching for us. He is leaning out of His window, watching to see whether He can see just the slightest glimpse of one that would return to Him, and when He sees us on the horizon, He runs to us. That’s the picture of this awesome God that we serve. He is watching for the slightest sign of us on the horizon, and as soon as He sees us, He runs to us. RUNS! He doesn’t wait patiently with words of rebuke to blow us away (“I told you that’s what would happen!”). That’s not our Father. Our Father has a love for us that is inconceivable and runs to us at full speed with open arms!
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your servant…’”
He can’t even finish what he had planned on saying. The Father interrupts him in the middle of his sentence before he had gotten his little speech out. The Father says to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!” They began to celebrate. They threw a party.
God rejoices like this every time a child of His that was dead in sin turns to Him and comes back to life again. Children who have squandered their lives, and allowed their minds to be captivated by all the trash in the world around us, who’ve wallowed in the mud until they come to their senses and say, “I’ve sinned against heaven, I’ve sinned against You, and I want to come back. I just want to be Your slave.” The Father doesn’t even let them get those words out. He says, “You’re still My child. I love you.” And he gives a robe for their back and a ring for their finger in spite of the fact that they might have squandered all the wonderful things that He might have done for them in the past.
The prophet Isaiah said it this way: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” Seek the Lord while He is near, while you have this opportunity fresh in your mind, while His thoughts are very close to you. Seek Him while He is near. If you turn to the Lord and away from your evil thoughts and your wicked ways, He will have mercy and He will freely pardon.
Micah said, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all of our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Who is a God like this that runs after His wicked sons and daughters? All He wants is the slightest inclination that we are willing to turn from our evil thoughts, from our trashed minds and from the lives that have defiled His holiness…just the slightest inclination that we are going to turn it around and give our lives to Him.
Who is a God like that, who pardons sin, forgives transgressions, does not stay angry forever, delights to show mercy? It’s His pleasure. It makes Him excited to be able to show mercy to us. He delights in that. He takes our sin and throws it out into the depths of the deep blue sea, never to be discussed again, never to feel guilt over again, but forever gone. Forever dealt with. Forever drowned under the ocean of God’s love and forgiveness. That is the Father calling you and searching for you on the horizon to come to your senses and to leave the pigpen behind.
That’s what I want to offer you as a decision—very serious decision. Don’t think, “I’ve got a few more years to get my life in order.” God may say to you, “You fool. Your life will be required from you this night!” It is foolish to operate in the future. Call on Him while He is near.
Father in heaven, we bow before You now. You are the Great I AM, the conquering King of this universe. We ask for Your forgiveness in the name of our Lord Jesus. And we are unworthy to be even a hired hand. We don’t even ask for sonship, and yet the reality is (and we know it is true because You said so), that You want to throw out our sin of the past few minutes and hours and days and years—to take all of that and tie a millstone around it and to sink it into the bottom of the ocean of Your love.
Our Father, we don’t know how to comprehend having a celebration for simply our humility and admitting of our rebellion. But, You said it’s so, and we will join in that celebration with You. We will accept Your forgiveness, we will accept Your love, and we will walk humbly with You all the days of our lives. Father, we don’t want the pigpen; we never want to return there. You have been good to us. You have received us back with open arms and You have run towards us. I know it’s hard to look You in the eye and to receive that type of grace, love, and kind treatment, because we’ve been so slow to offer that to those who have offended us in small ways.
Father, we pray that You will open our eyes to Your goodness, to Your love, to Your mercy. You let us see a God who is forever forgiving—a God who is pardoning us all the way to the soles of our heels. And so we can walk with You in love and absolute forgiveness and purity. Our robes washed as fine linen.
Father, we pray that the fragrance of Your life will soon become, with ever-increasing glory, the fragrance of our life. We pray that Your love that You have showered on us, we will shower on our roommates, our children, our spouses, our friends, our co-workers, our bosses, and our subordinates—that we will shower them with the love that You have given to us. Unworthy as we are, we accept all that You have done for us. You have reached out Your hand to receive us, and we can do no less than to walk into Your arms. Father, as a people committed to Your purposes, we ask that You send Your Spirit to wash away the guilt in our consciences as well as the guilt in our lives. That You revive us and give us a spirit of freedom and sanctification and inner strength and inner beauty that comes from Jesus Christ being in us.
Father, we ask that You raise us up as a people who are secure in the love that You have offered to us. That we would be secure enough in Your love to look our friends and our relatives and the people around us in the eye, showing them the same uncompromising love that You have given to us. Father, I ask that You give a love, a contentment, a peace, and a rest in Jesus Christ to those that have opened their lives to You. Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit and allow us to walk in the beauty of holiness. We pray this prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.