Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 20:45-22:22 / Hebrews 10:19-39 / Psalm 123:1-4
There are many “firsts” in life that we never forget. We remember driving a car for the first time, our first day at school, our first date, our first job or our first love. I remember the first sermon that I ever preached; it was at my home church in Highland Indiana. I was about 20 years old and Pastor Johnson asked me to preach in a Sunday evening service.
I was excited about the opportunity but also very nervous. We had a smaller congregation and I knew everyone who attended and knew many of them very well. In preparation for the sermon, there was a scripture in Hebrews that bore witness in my spirit. It was a rather stern and confrontational passage. I didn’t want to preach a “hard” message but felt God was clearly directing me.
I will never forget the sermon and I will never forget the passage, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fires that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26,27)
This is one of the most pointed and terrifying scriptures dealing with unrepentive and carnal Christians. Someone said of this passage, “I can think of no text that offers a more sobering look at the final reality of playing Christian than the one before us.” A person, who voluntarily, deliberately, willfully and intentionally lives a lifestyle and habitual practice of sin, will fall under the judgment of God.
Like Achan who buried the stolen goods under his tent, people can hide sin deep in their hearts. They think it will go undetected and be glossed over by God. It doesn’t take long until that harbored sin affects their family, home, and lives. God judges sin of that nature on the most devastating of levels. There is no forgiveness for those who harbor sin and do not repent.
We all struggle with sin and are in need of God’s forgiveness. God does not turn us away but cleanses us from sin when we come to Him in repentance. When it comes to sin, we can either harbor it or bury it deep within or forsake it and bring it to His Throne of Grace.
As I preached that first sermon, my heart began to break. I knew the people very well but God gave me a spirit of discernment that surpassed my natural knowledge. I began to cry and remember weeping throughout the rest of the sermon. I wasn’t angry or critical of the people but overwhelmed with seriousness and consequences of the message. My soul longed for people to surrender everything to the Lordship of Christ. I experienced a small part of what Jesus felt when He wept over Jerusalem. God does not want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance…may our hearts always be tender to His compassion and grace.
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!