How wonderful to know that everything is in His hands, we can trust Him and lay our lives before Him. Even in these uncertain times when we do not know what tomorrow holds, we know that the Lord holds everything in His hands.
The topic on everyone’s mind is COVID and all the things that come with it. It affects us all. We are all at risk. We should be alert and careful. We are advised to wear masks, keep a social distance and sanitise. It is important that we do this. If we feel sick, we should also do something about it. It is important that we look after ourselves. Drink the vitamins you can. Live healthily. Drink enough water. Many say you should drink a lot of hot teas. Every bit will help. If you have flu symptoms report it and isolate so that you do not infect more people, even if you do not know whether you have the disease. It is important that we adhere to these guidelines and do our best. Above all, pray that the Lord will give us wisdom, each one of us, about what we should do and how we should do it.
On my heart this morning I would especially like to pray for our leader and the older co-workers who are instruments in God’s hands as well as all the older people who have been in this work for many years and remained faithful to our Saviour. They are getting on in years and might not be as strong as they used to be but they still give their lives to God’s work. Do we pray enough for them? Do we give them the prayer they deserve? We still need them desperately. We will ask the Lord to keep them and give them everything they need so the Lord can continue to use them in His work, and they can continue teaching us God’s ways.
My topic this morning is a difficult one because I do not feel capable. Over the last few days, we have studied the word regarding Jesus’ coming to earth. Something stood out to me. It is not that I did not know it or that it was not a priority, but the Lord said to me – this is important. This is not a topic people like to speak about. In fact, many Christians say that one should not speak about it. Some churches will not allow this topic to be taught from the pulpit. Rev Stegen once spoke in a church in Pretoria about this very topic and people were very upset afterwards. Yet, it is such an important topic. I will try and relate that which came to me when I read these verses. I hope you will understand, and I hope I will be able to explain it. It is not me speaking but I pray that the Lord will speak to each one who listens.
I will read several verses. I read through the first four books of the New Testament regarding the birth of Jesus and in all four of the Gospels something stood out for me:
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
He will save His people from their sin. It does not say that He will bring prosperity and that everything will be easy. It says that He will save them from their sin. This is the topic I would like to speak on: This very important thing that Jesus came to this world for.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,[b] “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,3the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare[c] the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Mark 1:2,5
Footnote: The purpose of John’s preaching was to prepare people to accept Jesus as their Lord, when John challenged the people to confess their sins. John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus, encouraged people to confess their sins. (Life Application Bible)
Do you see this thread through the gospels? Why did Jesus come? To save us from our sins.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
Footnote: But Jesus, while healing their illnesses and establishing a spiritual kingdom, delivered them from their sin. Christ paid the price for sin and opened the way to peace with God. (Life Application Bible)
4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4 – 5
Footnote: In His light we see ourselves as we really are – sinners in need of a Saviour. When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. He removes the darkness of sin from our lives. (Life Application Bible)
Jesus came to this world to save us from our sin. The main point of these authors is: Jesus will come to save us from all our sins - not just from some sins, not just the worst ones, but of all our sins. If this is the reason why He came, shouldn’t we live lives without sin? If this was the purpose of His coming, shouldn’t we live blameless lives? Shouldn’t we aim every day to live without sin? Shouldn’t that be our focus? In every situation I should see to it that I do not sin, not just when it goes well with me, not just when I have everything I need, not just when I am healthy, but in every situation, even the difficult ones when I am tempted, when someone speaks badly to me, when things go wrong.
We all celebrate Christmas. We are happy that Jesus came to this world, but has He saved you from your sin - all of it? There are no big and small sins. But let us say, even the “small” sins, the little irritations that we take so lightly? Why do we accept some sin in our lives? Why are we happy that we have been saved from the big sins but in our daily lives there are still the little foxes? Jesus came so that we can be victorious over all sin.
Corrie ten Boom said that we are such decent sinners. We live a Christian life. People look up to us but we sin in such a decent way, so slyly, so hidden. She says that we are decent sinners. We have even become clever in how we sin. Friend, Jesus came to save us from all our sins.
I read a short summary of a sermon by Rev Stegen. I searched for sermons by great people such as Spurgeon, Edwin Orr and listed there are Rev Stegen’s sermons. I wonder if we realise who this man is. I think we sometimes forget. If we knew we would act differently. I am reading from the summary of a sermon on this topic by Rev Stegen: Jesus came to remove our sins. He said that if we hide our transgressions we will not prosper, but the one that confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy. (It is God’s grace and mercy, but I can hold on to the sin and loose out on God’s mercy.) It is not sufficient to confess your sin and not forsake it. (You must confess and forsake it.) In the sight of God, sin is a terrible thing. Jesus suffered and died because of our sins. He took them into Himself, even God turned away from Him, and Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Matt 27:46. (When Jesus took our sin, God left Him for that moment. Do you think with that sin that you keep in your heart, God will stay with you? When His Son took our sins upon Him, He left His own Son.) Sin is terrible and God who is absolutely holy has no fellowship with sin. (Can I sit with sin and expect Him to have fellowship with me and I with Him? I am not talking about the ‘big’ sins. I can say, “Well he is a drug addict and a murderer, I’m not like that.” But I sit with my own sin, no matter how ‘small’, I sit with it.) He speaks very harsh words regarding sin: like the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23
I am reminded of a story of snake. The snake wanted to get somewhere, but he could not do so himself. When someone passed by the snake asked, “Please pick me up and take me along.” The person said, “You will bite me. You are poisonous. I cannot have anything to do with you.” The snake said, “I promise I will do nothing. I just need to get to my destination. Please take me along.” So the person thought, “Maybe the snake is innocent. He said he would not do anything. Maybe I can just pick him up, take him where he wants to go and put him down.” So he did exactly that. As they reached their destination, the snake bit the man and poisoned him. As the man was dying, he said, “But you said you would not bite me!” The snake replied, “You knew that I would bite you! You knew what the end of your sin would be, but you were happy to take me along.”
If you do not part from your sins, you will die. Peter writes that the one who has confessed his sins and goes back again is like a dog that vomits and eats it again. 2 Pet 2:22 The Bible says that a person who repents and goes back to his sin, it would be better that he had never repented (2 Peter 2:20,21; Heb 6:4-6). It is terrible to go back to your sin after confessing it.
What is our biggest enemy? It is not people. It is not what people say about me. It is not sickness or poverty. It is not the difficult life I have come out of. What is my biggest enemy? Sin. If I have sin in my life I am destined to die. When we are poor, we make every effort to earn money When we are sick, we make every effort to get healthy again. But the biggest enemy, I am not so worried about. I have become used to it. It is not so bad. I will just confess it again. In this way I undermine the very purpose Jesus came to this earth. I become a hypocrite. I celebrate Christmas but the purpose of Christmas has not been met. It could be one secret thing that only you know about, but you are not prepared to give it up. That snake will bite you. Some say we are born in sin - we are sinners, we will always make mistakes, we are not perfect. There might be some truth in that but what is your viewpoint on sin? If you do make a mistake, how do you handle it?
Rev Stegen often used the example of sand in your eyes. When I get sand in my eye, I do not walk for three, four days like that. No, it irritates me. I rub my eye. I want to get it out as soon as possible. I cannot live with it. Is it the same with sin? If I do make mistakes, do I say, “I want to get rid of this as soon as possible. And Lord, help me, that I will not fall into this again.”
I did athletics at school. The Bible often uses the good example of athletes. A serious athlete trains every day. He always tries to improve. It does not matter whether he is the SA champion, he always tries to better his own time. He does not give up because he is not the best, but he tries to do it a little bit faster the next time. He puts in every effort to be one step better tomorrow. We might make mistakes but is it your heart’s desire to sin less and less, to become more and more holy? If you fall, make sure that you do not fall there again.
I will quote a few more verses from the Bible on sin.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. James 2:10
You know you get irritated. You do not know how to overcome it, but you have accepted it like that. You have broken every law. You are worse than the worst sinner because you have accepted it. Do not say that we will never make mistakes. We will make mistakes, however, you have accepted it as part of your Christian life. You know it is there and you do not bring it to the light. You have broken every law. This is what the Bible says. We are called to a high standard. May that be our goal.
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 The commentary on this verse is: Sin always blocks our vision of God.
Work at it. Those who are not holy, will not see the Lord. Are you holy or are you living with sin? You have a grudge in your heart. You look at another person and say, “I cannot get along with that person, even though he is a fellow Christian who wants to serve the Lord, you say I cannot be one with him. I do not like him. I do not like the way he works.” You might not understand why you always think differently? Why you are always in the wrong place, on the wrong station? Why you think differently? Your vision might be blocked with sin. If we want to see God, we must renounce our sin and obey Him. A relationship with God leads to a right relationship with fellow believers.
What separates us from God? Sin. What separates me from my fellow Christians? Sin. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other. There must be unity if there is no sin. If we all strive like the Bible says here, there must be unity. If there is no unity, I am tempted to say that there is sin. If there is no unity between believers there is sin somewhere. Jesus came to save us from our sin. Has that been happening in our lives?
I listened to a sermon by Corrie ten Boom. I will highlight a few things from the sermon transcript: Have you ever been afraid of Jesus coming again? I was. I read about these 10 virgins, 5 were ready and wise and 5 were stupid and I thought I am much more like a stupid virgin than a wise virgin. (It’s true what she says because we are foolish if we know and we do not do something about it.) They were good girls, they waited for the bridegroom, they had oil in their lamps, but not enough, just like me and I was sad. Do you know that feeling of being afraid when Jesus comes? I knew it all. It would be such a joy when Jesus comes, the one who has promised I will make everything new. But what about me? And then I took the book [the Bible] and in this book I found the answer and I am going to tell you what the Lord told me from this book about how to be ready for Jesus coming again. When I read how Peter said, “Because you have a hope like this before you, I urge you to make certain that such a day like this would find you at peace with God and men clean and blameless in His sight. (It does not allow for small sins. It does not allow for anything in my life that does not please God. It makes no provision for it. Clean and blameless in His sight.) And I thought how can I be clean and blameless in God’s sight? Then I read what God says in His word – who has this hope purifies himself that he is pure, and I understood that this is now the time to get serious with God. (When she realised that she needed to be blameless and pure, she said that was time to get serious with God. Are you serious?) Paul says, “May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in spirit, soul and body and spotless integrity until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (That is now, in this life, spotless integrity until the coming of the Lord, not for one day.) People think when they receive Jesus that it is the end, but it is the great beginning.
Corrie ten Boom speaks about unconfessed sin that hinders you from God. She talks about a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself, but it can poison the lives of many others. Are you bitter? About something someone did long ago? It is a sin in God’s eyes.
She talks about pride, the inferiority feeling. Someone who feels they are not worth anything. They feel left out. Is that a sin? Is that not humility? No! It is also pride. (Feeling sorry for yourself is a sin. If you have broken that one law, you have broken all.) It is if you do not accept your limitation. The Bible says each man should live with his life with the gift that God has given Him, and the condition in which God has called him. (God has called you as you are.)
Criticism should not be there, but we find it amongst Christians. I like what Paul says in Romans 14 when he speaks about criticism, he says “After all, who are you to criticise a servant of somebody else, especially when somebody else is God.” Corrie ten Boom also says, If you do not win the sexual battle, you will not win the battle of life. (No matter what else you do. This includes your mind.) Money - you either have too much or too little and that takes the place in your heart. It is very clear in the Bible that we have to confess and turn away from our sins and then there is nothing of the trying to be good. Doubting the Lord Jesus Christ is one of the great sins. There are two ways to see your sins. When the devil shows you your sins it is always to make you despair. He says, “This is how you are and this is how you will remain for your whole life. There is no hope for you.” The devil is the accuser of the children of God, night and day. He tries to get children of God down to the feeling of doubt and guilt. It is quite different when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
Pray that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Jesus came to save us from our sins. I do not know what it is in your heart, only you do. I know what is in my heart. The Lord can convict you and me if we are earnest, if we pray and ask Him, He can show us. Then we should be obedient. Disobedience is another sin. You can live the best life and do everything you must do and not sin. You do not get angry or upset. You do not have evil thoughts. You live a clean life, but you are not doing what God wants you to do.
Young people, God wants to use you. He wants to teach you. He wants to raise you in His ways. You might say, “I am young and not worth much.” But God could be calling you and you are disobedient. God wants to use you to teach the next generation and you are disobedient. You may be living a good life, but you are not there where the Lord wants you to be – it could be disobedience. You will know what the Lord has told you.
There are many different sins - too many to mention. But God will convict you of that sin in your life. You possibly know what is in your heart. Do you know that there is the sin of wanting to be seen? You want to do something and want everyone to see you. You want them to tap you on your shoulder and congratulate you, even in the Lord’s work. You can do it for the wrong reason.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:16
This is the only reward they will ever get. People can do things and you remark at how wonderful their deeds are but if they are done for the wrong reasons, it can be a sin in God’s eyes.
Has Jesus coming to this earth done a full work in our lives? Do I grow day by day? Am I striving to be holy as He is holy? God has called us to a higher standard. It is not an everyday standard. Rev Stegen said in the New Year, “If you want to serve the Lord, do it, but if you don’t want to, then don’t.” If you say that you will do it then do it with all your heart. If I say, “I’m in!” be in for the prize, run like an athlete who runs for the prize. Have urgency in what you do. Make sure there is nothing between God, your fellowman and yourself so that God can work. People do not like to talk about sin or the confession of sin, but I believe it is the very reason why He came to this earth. And if that is not true in my life, then I nullify Jesus’ reason for coming to earth.
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
Dear friends, allow me to mention one more sin that has become the sign of the times in which we live. This is the sin of slander or gossip. It is a sin without a face. You cannot pin it down. It is amongst people and it spreads. You cannot stop it. It destroys marriages and careers. It topples governments. It paints pictures of people that are not true. It maims people without killing them. (To maim is to mutilate. If one loses an arm or a leg because of an accident, one is mutilated.) Slander mutilates. It maims people without killing them. It causes people to walk around, spiritually speaking, for the rest of their lives without a leg or arm. Once slander has tainted the testimony of a person, he can never get rid of it. Slander makes righteous people cry in their pillows at night. It causes sleepless nights. It splits marriages and it cannot be destroyed. There is only one thing can destroy it - true remorse for the poison and slander that has spewed from your vile lips.
Slander is the ultimate form of hypocrisy. I attend church on Sundays, I think I follow the Lord with all my heart and I have a good testimony, meanwhile there is a string of mutilated and maimed people behind me that I have gossiped and slandered about. Oh, the poison that spews from our lips. The only thing that kills slander is true remorse and confession but it will never kill its children. That gossip will continue to spread and bear children.
What did the Lord Jesus says? There is one thing for which we will be judged one day and go lost for eternity and that is the words that come out of our mouths. Friends, have you got a clean conscience? Have you spread any slander about somebody? It is a monster. May God be merciful to the church.
Amongst politicians if you want to destroy a person begin slandering him. It is one of the biggest weapons of Satan in the time in which we live. Shame on you who claim to be a child of God! You are in the church living one life and when you are with your friends, you spread this cancer of slander. It is a devilish thing from the pit of hell.
Lastly, Christ came to save us from our sins. What does it mean to be saved? Two things: to be forgiven in the first place - you cannot be saved if you have not been forgiven. You cannot be saved by just turning over a new leaf, living a different life, deciding to be a good person. You first need forgiveness before you can be saved. Tell me friends, have you been forgiven? God says in His word that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us. You first need to be forgiven and then you need to be set free. It is not just a matter of receiving forgiveness, we must be set free from that sin, we need to be victorious over that sin so that it no longer attracts me and the devil cannot continue dragging me into that sin repeatedly.
Dear friends, Jesus did not just come to forgive us our sins. In the first place, yes, He came to save us and set us free from our sins. May this become a reality in our lives. John says that we all stumble often and sin but there should not be a specific sin the rules in a Christian’s life.