This is the “chief of sinners,” Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the Gospel Light Minute X Podcast #376 titled, “Heaven or Hell: Your Move.” I’m here to remind you of what the Bible says, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” like you and me.
Are you going to Heaven or to Hell? The Bible teaches that many seemingly good people are going to Hell, because the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned…” Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Sin has a price. The Bible states in Ezekiel 18:4, “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die…” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…”
You might be wondering what happens to people who die in their sins. The Bible teaches in Hebrews 9:27 that, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Revelation 20:15 says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Is there any hope? Yes! God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the penalty for your sins. The Bible states in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”Continue reading “Heaven or Hell: Your Move (Gospel Light Minute X #376)”→
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
After preaching the Gospel every day for 367 days straight throughout the 2016 presidential campaign season, I am preaching the Gospel every day throughout the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s term. If you think a new president being in office is the only thing needed to save America and ‘make America great again’, you are woefully deceived. The church must follow through and “keep the main thing the main thing: and that is reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and praying for their salvation, for the problem in America is not only disobedient presidents, politicians, and people, but disobedient pastors, preachers, and parishioners who have refused to obey the Lord’s Great Commission which is to, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ and who have refused to obey God’s repeated commands to ‘pray without ceasing’ for unbelievers, believers, and political leaders.” So, we encourage you to pray for the new president, but not to get caught up in the political happenings like the world does. Nothing much is going to change until people get saved and get their hearts right with the Lord. And that is what this campaign is all about.
This campaign is inspired by the following three verses: 1 Corinthians 2:2 which says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Acts 5:42 which says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” And 2 Timothy 2:4 which says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
This series is not for Christians necessarily. However, I do hope you are one of those saints who still loves to hear the “Old, old story of Jesus and His love” — As another hymn says, “For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” This series is primarily for unbelievers, so they can hear and understand the Gospel and be saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell. This is message number 192 since Jan. 20, 2017, day 559 since Jan. 1, 2016.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “In this world, full often, our joys are only the tender shadows which our sorrows cast.”
The last verse of Jesus’ beatitudes tell us how we ought to live in a world in which the values that Jesus preaches are not standard practice. If we obey these laws of supreme blessing, we will stand out as a “peculiar people.” And, being peculiar, being different than the world sets a target on our backs. The devil will try to drag us down, people in the world will ostracize us for not going along with the system, and even carnal Christians will snub us because our godly behavior makes them look bad. In some cases, the Christian will face outright persecution.
In the face of this, Jesus says we ought to “rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.” Rejoicing when we are maligned and mistreated seems odd to us, but we must remember who it is that is giving us this command. These are not the words of some overly-cheerful minister, glad-handing congregants, and telling them to “praise God, anyhow!” Nor are they the words of an ivory-towered theologian or a prosperity gospel preaching megachurch pastor. These are the words of the Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Savior, Jesus Christ. John Piper said, “Jesus can say these things because he knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the reward of heaven will more than compensate for any suffering we must endure in the service of Christ. ”
We must determine to be exceeding glad no matter what we face. It’s a given that we won’t feel like being glad; even Jesus precludes that with his laws of supreme blessing. None of them are based on our feelings, and all of them invite conflict because they go in opposition to the world system. Jesus predicts that men will persecute us and say all manner of evil against us for His sake. But, we can choose not to focus on the feeling of being wronged or mistreated.
Rather, we ought to focus on the rewards that are in store for those who live according to these laws. Those rewards include: being comforted by God, receiving many physical blessings and inheriting the earth, being filled or satisfied in our pursuit of righteousness, receiving mercy, seeing God, being called the children of God, and obtaining the kingdom of Heaven where we will receive blessings too numerous to name. If we focus on these things, we can rejoice and be exceedingly glad no matter what comes our way in our walk with Christ.
For those of you who are not saved, you can enjoy the supreme blessing of the kingdom of heaven by giving your life to Jesus Christ right now. Allow me to show you how:
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
*A lot more was said during the preaching of this sermon than what is shown in the prepared text above. Please listen above to get the full message.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.
Our key Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Our lesson today is titled “How to Overcome Temptation, Part 8”
In this section of our Onward Christian Soldiers discipleship class, we have been looking at some Bible verses that can be used to overcome the temptations that we face. Hiding the Word of God in our hearts and using it when we face temptation as Jesus did is the key to being victorious. Today, we are going to begin looking at specific temptations that are, as the Bible says, “common to man,” and we are going to review what the Bible says about those sins so we can be aware of the dangers of those sins and so that we can hide those Scriptures in our hearts to use when we face these temptations.
Lord willing, over the next few weeks, we are going to go through a list of 12 temptations. (We will add more if the Lord leads us to do so.) This list comes from two sources — one ancient and one modern. The first source is a list that was developed by monks in the early church called “the seven deadly sins” or the “cardinal sins.” The second source is a Barna survey from 2011 which tracked the top temptations Americans admitted to struggling with.
That being said, the first temptation that we are going to look at is the sin of “pride”. Pride is really the original sin because it is what caused Satan to lift his heart up against God and attempt to take God’s place in Heaven. Pride caused him to be cast out of Heaven and that is what began the mess the world is in today. People today exhibit pride when we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We rebel against and think we know better than human authorities and we even rebel against and think we know better than God.
The Bible has much to say about what God thinks of pride and those who are proud. The next time you are tempted to think that you know better than God and the authority that He has placed over you, please keep these passages of Scripture in mind. (Remember, the text of this lesson is made available online after each class, so you can go to our website GLHOPI.com, click the “Onward Christian Soldiers” banner on the home page, and begin to learn these verses by heart throughout the week.)
Proverbs 11:2 reminds us of the consequences of pride. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” People who are proud often think that they are wise and/or smart. But, in reality, they do not have any wisdom — certainly not any of God’s wisdom. God gives His wisdom to those who are humble enough to realize that they are not wise and that they need God’s help.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proud people are blinded to the destructiveness of their own ways. Because they are so focused on their own supposed importance or rightness, they do not see the pitfalls right in front of them. God allows these people to stumble and fall so they will realize that they are not all that they think they are.
Proverbs 16:5 tells us of God’s opinion of those who are proud. The verse reads, “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” Pride being the original sin, God sees it as a great crime — an abomination. When you think about the fact that you had nothing to do with your own existence, that you are sitting on a planet (one of potentially an infinite number of planets) spinning and speeding through empty space, and that you can do nothing to preserve your life beyond the date that God has set for you to die (which you have no knowledge of), you will realize that it is quite foolish to be proud. We are, as Jonathan Edwards put it, spiders dangling by string from God’s hand. We have nothing to be proud of. We are in control of nothing at all.
If you struggle with pride, take these passages to heart and begin to use them the next time you face that temptation.
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If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
The Christian’s Attitude Toward the Pastor, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #31)
Last week, we began talking about how we ought to relate to our pastors and the other leaders whom God has placed over us in the faith. We learned from this passage in First Thessalonians that we ought to show appreciation for those leaders who demonstrate the following three characteristics: (1) they are called by God to their position, (2) they have the spirit of true servanthood, and (3) they are willing to admonish, correct, and warn you about negative behavior and temptations.
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
The New Testament has much to say about the responsibility of a pastor to his people. The pastor is a representation of who Jesus Christ was to His disciples. Just as Jesus Christ won men to himself, trained them, and then sent them out to do His will, it is the job of every pastor to win people to the Lord, train or disciple them, and then send them out to fulfill God’s plan for their Christian lives. The pastor is sometimes referred to as an undershepherd who serves a smaller flock under the leadership of the Great Shepherd who is over the entire body of believers.
The role of undershepherd is portrayed in Pilgrim’s Progress by the man named Evangelist who appears several times in the classic story. Evangelist not only preaches the Gospel in the city of Destruction, but he comes alongside those who are on the way to the Celestial City to instruct them, warn them of temptation, and tell them what lies on the road ahead. Let’s read from Pilgrim’s Progress as Evangelist visits with Christian and Faithful: Continue reading “The Christian’s Attitude Toward the Pastor (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #30)”→
Today, we turn our attention to verse six which reads: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.” This verse begins with the connecting word “for,” indicating that we must look back at the previous verse in order to fully understand what verse six is saying. As you recall, on last week, we talked about those people in the church who appear to have righteous and holy lives, but who inwardly are filled with sin and self. Often and unfortunately, these people who just have a form of godliness gain leadership positions in the church or in a local congregation. They then use their influence to deceive and lead astray others in the body of Christ. These are the people who are doing the “creeping” spoken of in verse six.
Back in the second century AD, one of the early church fathers by the name of Irenaeus reported the actions of a heretic by the name of Marcus. This heretic practiced magic and tried to get Christians to get involved in the practice of magic. Irenaeus reported that Marcus devoted “himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth.” Marcus told these women that by his spells and incantations he could enable them to prophesy. In one particular instance, a woman protested that she has never done so and could not do so. Marcus told her, “Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.” The woman, thrilled to the heart, did so and was deluded into thinking that she could prophesy. Irenaeus said the woman ‘then made the effort to reward Marcus, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he had collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him.’
In our passage today, Paul warns Timothy to be extra careful of such false teachers. A closer look at verse six tells us why this warning is necessary. It is necessary because these false teachers will “creep” into the body of Christ. The Greek word translated “creep” is “enduno.” It has been translated: to craftily sneak, to work their way into, to go secretly, to worm into, or to insinuate. In other words, many of these false teachers who only have a form of godliness will not walk into the front door of the church. They will not stand up in the pulpit on Sunday morning and preach their false doctrine. Rather, they will slowly start to influence the church members outside of the church. They will invite or accept an invitation to dinner with one of the families in the church and begin to little-by-little influence this person or a small group of people to adopt their way of thinking.
The word “enduno” comes from the Greek word used to describe a sunset. You’ve seen the sun go down many times, but in reality, you can’t say that you’ve actually seen the sun move. From our perspective, the sun moves so slowly that it is hardly perceptible. That is how these heretics will infiltrate a church. It will happen slowly. And the church will be like the proverbial frog being boiled to death. It happens so slowly that it doesn’t know what is happening until it is dead. Peter talked about this in his epistle when he said, “There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily (privately, not publicly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them…”
Now, once these false teachers sneak into the church, what do they do? Our passage tells us that they “take captive” — they conquer or captivate God’s people with their false teachings. In his fine work on the Pastoral Epistles, Dr. Philip H. Towner stated: “First, false teachers prey on people who are vulnerable. They tend to pick off the spiritual stragglers. In this case, they had found success in certain homes or certain kinds of homes where vulnerable people lived. And in this case they captivated certain women. It was probably a very strategic move on the part of the false teachers to target these women: their position within households (perhaps as matrons) likely made them women of some means, who could support the movement. But the problem was not that they were women; rather, it was the kind of people they were: weak-willed, loaded down with sins, swayed by all kinds of evil desires. This description explains the susceptibility of these victims and crosses the centuries to speak freshly to us. The time element suggests that the sins that loaded down (or overwhelmed) these women were accumulations from the past that continued to determine behavior in the present. Unconfessed sin forms a barrier in our relationship with God, and it renders the decision-making faculty (the conscience) ineffective. Such ‘baggage’ weakens the resolve not to sin and gives strength to the desires of our sinful nature.”
Other commentators have noted that just as Eve was Satan’s first target, women today are often the target of Satan’s deceptions. Cults are not only often spawned by women, but women are the most numerous and devout adherents.
Now, none of this is said to disparage women altogether. Men can and have been led astray by false teachers. However, in the first-century culture to which Paul was writing, many women remained at home while their husbands were out working. False teachers apparently used this as an opportunity to influence the women of the church while their husbands were away. They likely felt that if they could get the woman to buy into their false teaching, then she would do the work of influencing her husband and thus the entire family. Marketers do the same thing today. They target little children in their advertising material, knowing that in many cases, if they can get the children to want something, the children will do the work of convincing the parents to buy it for them.
As Dr. Towner stated, many of these women were young believers and likely still struggled with some sin and/or guilt from their past lives. They were babes in the faith and easily influenced by someone who appeared to be knowledgeable about spiritual things. They were susceptible to the false doctrine of those who only had a form of godliness.
How about you, dear friend — men and women, alike? As you listen today, do you see the signs of someone trying to influence you with false doctrine in your life? You may not have a false teacher coming to visit your home. But maybe you’ve been reading their books, watching them on TV, or following them on the internet. They seem to be harmless, but little by little they are leading you away from the true counsel of God.
Men, women, and children, is there sin in your life that you are holding on to that could make you susceptible to false teaching? The devil wants you to believe that you can be a Christian and continue in that sin that you are holding on to. Have you fallen prey to this false teaching?
Husbands and fathers, you have a responsibility as the priest of your home to protect your family from false doctrine. Are you fulfilling that responsibility?
The command for those who are faced with false doctrine from people who only have a form of godliness remains the same: “from such turn away.”
Today, we turn our attention to those who ‘have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.’ This is a sign of the times that is particularly relevant for those who are in the church. Just as sinners act like sinners, saved people ought to act like they are saved, and they ought to do so genuinely from the heart. However, sadly, that is not always the case. We, instead, have many people who only hold to a “form” of Christianity.
The word “form” refers to outward appearance or facade. It applies to those who do things in order to ‘keep up appearances’ before others. They appear to have a godly and pious life, they appear to be model Christians, but there is something amiss in their hearts. The Bible speaks to this condition several times.
Jesus Christ called out the religious leaders of his day for this type of false piety. He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
That is how some Christians live their lives — like a pretty grave. They look good in church, like they have it all together. They sing, they serve, they share their testimony. But on the backside of the marble and white stone exterior, is a rotting, decaying skeleton. Behind closed doors, their family is not what it should be, they struggle with secret sin, their heart is really not into the Lord’s work as it should be. They only pay lip service to the principles of “Godliness”, but they do not apply those same principles to their own lives, and thus never experience the power of God that can transform their family, help them resist temptation, and set their heart on fire for God.
Have you ever seen a swan? A swan is a beautiful animal. But if you were to pluck those beautiful white feathers off of a swan, you would find that its skin is black. What would happen if someone plucked your feathers off? Will they find that you are just as godly on the inside as your outside appearance suggests?
What is this godliness we all ought to strive for? The word “godliness” comes from a Greek word meaning “well worship” or the right or true kind of worship. It is the attitude of a person who lives life with a sense of God’s presence and a desire to please and honor God in all that they do. Worship is not just singing songs on Sunday morning. We worship God when we act, think, and speak in a manner that honors and glorifies Him. We all ought to strive to live a life that is full of worship to God. When we are led by the Spirit of God, when our hearts are in the right place, and when we are obedient to God’s commands, we will experience the power of God in our lives.
Dr. Ed Hindson stated, “Most Christians and churches are powerless in the community. They only appear to be godly. Inwardly they are not because of sin.” If we want to see God’s power in our lives — healing in our families, spiritual revival in our churches, peace and compassion being demonstrated in our communities, we must lay aside our facades and the appearance of godliness that we hold to, we must turn away from our sins, and we must begin to live as truly godly individuals in this world.
Now, there are some who will not let go of their hypocrisy. They like to appear religious and pious, yet they do not want to let go of the sins they are engaged in. Some of these people are false teachers in the church who appear godly outwardly while preaching a message that is less than the gospel and leading the sheep astray. What should we do about such people? The latter part of our passage states, “from such turn away.” The command is simple: we ought to separate ourselves from those who have a form of godliness but deny its power. If someone who claims to be a Christian is leading a lifestyle that is contrary to the will of God, and if they refuse to repent, we are to separate ourselves from that person. You don’t have to be mean and hateful about it. Pray for them. Love them. But, do not fellowship with them lest their hypocrisy and ungodly living rub off on you.
In the late 1990s, an elderly couple was murdered in their home. Their pastor, John Canning, found them there and reported the crime. At the couple’s eulogy, he said that he was so close to the couple that he could call them Mom and Dad. But six weeks later, he was arrested and led off to jail charged with beating and strangling this elderly man and woman to death. The investigation found that this pastor had been given the power of attorney over this couple’s affairs and was abusing it. He was stealing their savings, and he killed the couple after they found out what he was doing. The police found that he waited a whole day to report their deaths. He spent that day at the beach and dining out with friends. One of the law enforcement officials who worked on the case said, “It’s the most despicable thing I’ve ever heard of. Of all the people in the world you should be able to trust, it’s your pastor.”
Sadly, not only pastors, but many Christians of all stripes are living lives of outward godliness but inner wickedness and evil. What we need more than ever today is the power of God that will bring about true spiritual revival and Biblical life change. But, that will not happen until we choose to get rid of our spiritual facades and become truly committed to worshipping and obeying God in our every thought, word, and deed.
Don’t be a phony and fake Christian — be real or get out!
Today, we turn our attention to the phrase, “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” We all like pleasure. Just the word “pleasure” fills us with the idea of good times, ease, enjoyment, and relaxation. The Greek word used for pleasure in this passage is philhedonos. From philos, meaning love; and hedone, meaning pleasure. Hedone is where we get our word “hedonism” from. Hedonism is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the most important pursuit in life. It is the old philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry.”
Now, there is nothing wrong with pleasure if that pleasure is obtained by good and righteous means. For example, sexual sin is pleasurable, but it is still wrong. However, the pleasure you gain from working hard and being able to enjoy a time of relaxation and rest is good. So, pleasure itself is not wrong. Pleasure is just a feeling. What God has a problem with is people loving pleasure more than they love Him — the One who gives everyone the ability to experience pleasure. Scientists tell us that there is a particular part of the brain — the locus acumbens — that allows us to experience pleasure. Do you know who put that particular piece in our brains? God did. He wants us to experience pleasure, and first of all the pleasure of knowing Him. So, God is not against pleasure.
Our passage today is speaking of the self-absorbed, self-gratifying activities of those who are not saved. They seek pleasure alone; they live for pleasure. They fill their lives with parties, events, food, “good times,” and expensive vacations. Even the work they do is done with the aim of being able to experience more pleasure in the future. Again, there is nothing wrong with these things; it becomes wrong when you love the pleasure you can experience more than you love God.
There is an addiction epidemic in our society today: people are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and pornography. Why do people become addicted to such things? Ultimately, they are seeking pleasure. They want to experience a certain feeling or a certain high again and again, and so they keep going back to whatever it is that gives them that feeling. A doctor and a researcher were called in by the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles to help them determine whether cocaine addicts could actually recover. The problem the hospital was having was that they would hospitalize young men for cocaine addiction. But after six months of treatment they were released, and within one day they were re-addicted. Even after all that time, these young men remembered the pleasure, the high, they got from cocaine and they went back to it. Our society is in the throes of addiction to pleasure.
Now, listen to these words from Philippians 3:18-19: “For many walk [who] are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Paul here is writing to believers, and he is speaking of those who are in the church yet who do not follow Christian teachings. Paul calls these people “enemies of the cross of Christ,” and describes them as having four characteristics.
(1) Their end is destruction. This means that the lifestyle that they engage in will ultimately prove to be to the detriment of their physical lives, and if they are not saved, they will ultimately be destroyed in Hell. All sinful pleasure ends in destruction.
(2) Their god is their belly. This phrase means that their chief concern is their own pleasure and satisfaction. It is not just talking about food here, although that is included; but their lifestyle is typified by the pursuit of temporal enjoyment. They are not concerned about God or the things of God — only themselves.
(3) Their glory is their shame. These people who claim to be Christians take pleasure in those things which they should be ashamed of. They wear those things as a badge of honor. We have preachers in the church today who wear fancy clothes, drive fancy cars, and live in mansions, while the people they are supposed to be leading and loving are struggling to get by. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
(4) Their mind is set on earthly things. Many Christians are trying their best to build up their little, earthly kingdoms with absolutely no thought for heavenly things. They are seeking their pleasure down here on earth while forgetting that greater, eternal pleasure could be theirs in Heaven.
So, this issue of loving pleasure more than loving God is not only in the world, but in the church as well. Did you know that for every dollar spent on missions, Americans spend $600 on luxuries? Data also shows that every year Americans and Canadians combined spend more money on tobacco than both countries have spent on missions since the discovery of America. We love ourselves and what we can get more than we love God and the gospel that still needs to be given to so many.
Dr. Archibald Hart, a clinical psychologist and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, once shared a conversation that he had with a pastor. He said this pastor told him, “I can’t find pleasure in anything anymore. I used to enjoy preaching, but I just don’t find pleasure in it… And what scares me most of all is that I don’t seem to be able to take any pleasure in God anymore.” How many of us in the church today are like that pastor? We don’t really find joy and pleasure in God and in the things of God. Maybe we did at some time in the past, but now it is just a drudgery, and we are just going through the motions.
The Westminster Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is simply, Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” If you are not doing that — glorifying God with your life and finding pleasure in your relationship with Him — you are really not living.
So, what is the solution for those of us who love pleasure more than we love God? Jesus Christ has some words for us as well. In Revelation 2, He told the church at Ephesus, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” This church had left the love of God and the love of Christ; other things had taken its place in their hearts. And, then, Jesus Christ says to them: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent.” There is a cure, there is a remedy for the excessive love of pleasure. It is repentance. We ought to look back on how things used to be between us and God, and then repent of our present-day sin of loving pleasure more than we love Him.
Since the death of Andrae Crouch, we have been singing his songs in our services here. One of the songs that he wrote is titled “Take Me Back”. Allow me to share some of that with you now, because that is what many of us need to do.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I
I feel that I’m so far from you Lord
But still I hear you calling me
Those simple things that I once knew,
Their memories keep drawing me.
I must confess, Lord I’ve been blessed
But yet my soul’s not satisfied.
Renew my faith, restore my joy
And dry my weeping eyes.
I tried so hard
To make it all alone
I need your help
Just to make it home.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.
We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of people during the end times. In this series, we have looked at the following, all of which are mentioned in this passage:
1. The increased selfishness of man.
2. The increased lawlessness of man.
3. The increased religiosity of man.
4. Increased blasphemy or rejection of God.
5. Increased ingratitude or unthankfulness among men.
6. An increase in unholy living.
7. A lack of natural affection among people.
8. Trucebreakers and people who do not keep their word.
9. False accusers, slanderers, and people who cause division between others
Today, we turn our attention to the word “traitors.” Paul says that in the last days men will be “traitors.” The Greek word here means someone who is a betrayer or treacherous. It is only used two other times in Scripture. It is used in Luke 6:16 to describe Judas Iscariot. And it is used in Acts 7:52 where Stephen charges the Jewish religious leaders with betraying the prophets and Jesus Christ.
Speaking of betraying Jesus Christ, just this week, it was reported in TIME magazine that a Nashville megachurch has pulled a Judas and betrayed Jesus Christ who suffered and died for all sin by turning its back on hundreds of years of church doctrine and declared that it would allow practicing homosexuals to not only be members of the church, but to receive communion, receive baptism, dedicate their children, marry, and serve in leadership. I don’t know anything else to call that, but a betrayal of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, and what the church has stood for for the past two thousand years.
Jesus Christ spoke of this spirit of betrayal in the last days when He said in Matthew 10:21, “The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”
When we think of the word “traitor,” we think of some infamous names in history: Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, of course, but also Benedict Arnold who betrayed America; Brutus and Cassius who betrayed Caesar; Guy Fawkes who plotted to blow up the British Parliament; Ptolemy who invited Simon Maccabaeus and his brothers to dinner and then slaughtered them; Cain who killed his brother Abel; and Mordred who slew his father Arthur.
In Dante’s epic poem Inferno, Hell has nine circles. The lowest of these circles is reserved for traitors. In the very center of this circle is Satan, imprisoned in a lake of ice, for his betrayal of God. Satan is depicted as having three heads, and in each of his mouths is one of the worst traitors in history — Judas, Brutus, and Cassius — being gnawed upon for eternity.
In our exploration of these sins which will be increasingly demonstrated in the lives of men and women during the end times, we have seen time and again how the sins named in this passage repeatedly point back to two sources: selfishness and Satan. This sin of betrayel points back to both as well. Often, we refer to Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden as “the original sin.” But, perhaps, it would be better to apply this term to Satan’s betrayal of God — the very first act of rebellion in the universe. Everyone who engages in the sin of betrayal and treachery follows the path of the first traitor, Satan.
Not only is this sin tied to Satan, but it is also tied to selfishness. History shows us that people commit acts of betrayal for primarily personal reasons. Some do it for money; some do it for power; some do it to save their own skin; some do it for what they think is love. When someone commits adultery, they are betraying their spouse. When employees steal from the company they work for, they are betraying the trust of their boss. When politicians say one thing to get elected and do the opposite once they are in office, they are betraying the people who voted for them. When people who once claimed to be Christians turn against God and now say they are atheists — a situation which has been highlighted in the news several times over the past few months — they are betraying the One who loved them and gave Himself for them.
The painful thing about the act of being a traitor is that it occurs between people who are supposed to be friends or at least loyal to each other. Jesus Christ experienced this type of betrayal. His experience was spoken of prophetically by David in Psalm 55:12-13. He said, “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” That is the painful thing about betrayal..
Lives are destroyed, friendships are ruined, and alliances are divided by the act of betrayal.
Not only should we look at the world and note the ruinous effects of betrayal, but we must also look at our own lives and hearts. Even though we profess to be Christians and go to church faithfully, we often turn our backs on God in our hearts. Anytime we let pride, selfishness, materialism, expediency, money, or lust take first place in our lives, we are engaging in treachery from the heart. In speaking of Judas Iscariot, Pastor Jerry Vines said he “had the life of an outward saint but the heart of the devil.” How many of us are like that today?
In this world, which the Bible describes as “sitting in the lap of the evil one”, people betray the trust and confidence that others have in them frequently. Let it not be so with us who serve a God who loved us so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son to save us from our sins and the punishment of sin. Let loyalty and dedication to Christ be the hallmark of our lives in a world where betrayal and treachery is the order of the day.
If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and right now I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.