Calvary Road Baptist Church


Malachi 3.17


Let us begin this morning by talking just a little bit about science. I promise that you need not be a scientist in any way, shape, or form to follow this discussion. However, it will serve us well to consider a principle in science on our way to God’s Word.

There are generally thought to be three laws of thermodynamics, with my hope being to draw your attention to the third law of thermodynamics, sometimes called the law of interaction, which basically states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.[1] You certainly do not have to be a scientist to be familiar with this principle. If you have ever been ice skating or roller-skating, you know that when you push your friend this way you go the other way. As well, if you have ever fired a rifle, shotgun, or a pistol, this principle is understood as recoil.

Recoil, the third law of thermodynamics, whatever you want to call it, there is also a similar principle that operates in the realm of your dealings with others. We call this principle the law of sowing and reaping, and it is well established in God’s Word and the experiences of mankind. You have observed this happening in your dealings with other people lots of times. If someone does something to you, it produces a reaction of some kind. Walk up to someone and smile at him, and observe that he usually unable to remain straight-faced. Unless there are other factors at work, people cannot be smiled at by someone without involuntarily and unconsciously smiling back at them.

In like fashion, when you behave badly toward someone they will usually react negatively to your bad behavior. Watch a boy shove another kid on the playground and you will usually see, within moments, the one who was shoved first shoving back. If the second boy shoves back twice as hard, it is usually because the first boy shoved him twice and he is reacting to force with force to put a stop to it.

So far, we have discussed the third law of thermodynamics in the physical world, and recoil or the law of sowing and reaping in the human realm, when two more or less equals get the push and push back going. Sometimes it is physical push and physical push back, and at other times it is emotional push and push back, or legal push and push back. Then are times when a physical push results in a legal push back. That is what lawsuits are. Whatever you want to call it, when the action is initiated it invariably produces a reaction, a consequence. Fire a pistol or other firearm without shooting another person and the reaction, the consequence if you will, is the recoil. Yell at someone in a fit of anger and you will almost certainly get a reaction, perhaps even recoil, with the person you yelled at getting scared, or getting mad, or doing something. The reaction is what we call a consequence.

What if we escalate our discussion of sowing and reaping, or consequences if you want to call it that, to another level? What if we change the dynamic from one man instigating action against another man and facing the consequences, to one man instigating action against God and facing those consequences? Let me suggest to you that in the physical world it is an equal and opposite reaction, and in the human realm it is roughly an equal and opposite reaction. However, in the spiritual realm, this principle of reaction, referred to as the law of sowing and reaping, is most definitely not equal and opposite. When an action by a mere mortal is instigated against the infinite God, the response, the consequence if you will, is anything but equal and opposite.

Consider Galatians 6.17, taking note of how much greater the response is from God than the initial action against God happened to be: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Plant a seed in the ground and the harvest is not one kernel in return, but hundreds. So much greater is the magnitude of God’s response to any action you take toward Him.

These things in mind, turn now to Malachi 3.13-17, and stand for the reading of God’s Word:


13     Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?

14     Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?

15     And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

16     Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

17     And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.[2]


Would you pay particular attention to the last half of Malachi 3.17? Notice, it reads, “and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

I want to speak to you this morning about being spared. The Hebrew word that is twice translated “spare” in this verse refers to being compassionate toward someone.[3] Those Jews God addressed through the prophet Malachi, who had returned from exile after seventy years in Babylon, were of two distinct spiritual categories. There were those whose words were stout against God, who suggested that it was worthless to serve God, and who questioned the benefit of keeping His ordinances. Then there were those who feared the LORD and who spoke often to one another about Him, and that thought upon His name. It is this second group God refers to in verse 17, who He claims to be His own by saying “they shall be mine,” and by declaring, “I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

The question that arises, then, is what does it mean to be spared by God? As well, what are the implications of not being spared? Before we consider these two questions, I would like to point out for your edification four categories of individuals in relation to this matter of God sparing them:




Second Peter 2.4 informs us that God spared not the angels. You are probably familiar with the general details of Satan’s rebellion against God, at which time he led some of God’s holy angels in a rebellion against God. Revelation 12.4 seems to suggest that one third of the heavenly host was caught up in Satan’s revolt. So then, what does the statement mean that God spared not the rebellious angels? Matthew 25.41 provides the answer, Jesus referring to “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Of course, He was referring to the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation chapters 19 and 20, that place of eternal torment prepared by God for those who first sinned against His holy rule.

Astonishing, is it not? Creatures directly created by God, Himself, referred to as the sons of God because of their creation by the hand of God, suddenly rising up in opposition to the One True and Living God. There are consequences for that are there not? The law of sowing and reaping comes into play here, does it not? What is the consequence for an angel who chose to follow Lucifer in his rebellion against God? It is the lake that burns with fire and brimstone for ever and ever, the unending and unendurable wrath of the holy and righteous God, exacting just retribution against those who dared violate His holiness.




According to Ephesians 2.3, people are born into this world by nature the children of wrath. Romans 5.12 explains the reason for this state of affairs very concisely: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” In other words, when Adam sinned he fell into the dark pit of spiritual death and depravity, becoming an enemy of God.[4] As the natural result of biological reproduction, each of Adam’s descendants down to our day has, in turn, been born into this race we call man as a spiritually dead individual, who is not only alienated from God by his sinful nature, but who also worsens the situation by continuing to commit sins against God.

That is why men do evil things, continue to commit sins against God, and wrong our fellow man. We are sinners by nature, having inherited our first father’s sinful nature. The question that needs to be asked at this point is what are the consequences for our opposition to God? What happens to sinful men who remain in the sinful state they were born into? The Bible is very clear. The verse in which the Lord Jesus Christ informs us of the purpose for which the lake of fire was prepared, is also the verse in which the fate of those men who oppose Christ at His coming is told. In Matthew 25.41, Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” As if that is not definitive enough, listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 25.46, speaking about those who remain in the spiritual state they were born into, those who remain dead in trespasses and sins: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Thus, when it comes to judgment, God spared not the angels who sinned against Him, and He will not spare the men who are not His sons.




There are people who deny that God would be so harsh as to send anyone to Hell for sins. They imagine God to be far too good and far too gracious and forgiving to seriously consider sending anyone to Hell and after that to the lake of fire for ceaseless ages of eternal torment. However, such people do not consider that God is holy, that God is righteous, and that God is just. He is a being of principle, and not driven by sentiment. Therefore, to be true to Himself, to do justice to His nature, He simply must judge violations of His holy law, and He must respond in holy and righteous vengeance against those who commit crimes against His divine person. Second Corinthians 5.21 declares, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” You heard correctly. The Lord Jesus Christ became sin for us when He went to Calvary’s cross, the sinless Son of God suffering as a sinner on behalf of sinners Who Himself knew no sin.

Are you with me, so far? Do you grasp that Jesus was my Sin-Bearer, that He took upon Himself my sins as He hung on the cross, while by experience He had never known or experienced personal sin? Then grasp this, as well. When He became sin for us, His Father poured out His wrath upon Him. That is correct. Romans 8.32 begins with these words: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. . . .”

Understand that God spared not His own Son when His own Son became sin for us. Thus, if God spared not the angels who sinned, and if God spared not His own Son when He became sin for us, what makes you think God will spare you, sinner? Can God be true to His nature and spare you? No. Therefore, He has a holy obligation to spare not the angels, and to spare not sinners, since He spared not His own Son. What does this mean? It means that you are doomed, my friend. So long as you remain in your sinful and rebellious condition, you stand under the wrath of God. He will not spare you, because so long as you continue in your sins His righteousness demands your punishment.




John 1.12 reads, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” This verse shows us that a miracle takes place when a sinner comes to faith in Christ. He becomes the son of God by means of the new birth. First Peter 3.18 tells us that “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Therefore, when a sinner embraces this Jesus, Who suffered for our sins, Who died on the cross, Who was buried, and Who rose from the dead, when the sinner believes in Jesus, He then brings that sinner to God, saves his wretched soul, and forgives him of all his sins. What awaits the sinner who has come to Jesus Christ by faith? What does the future hold for such a person? John 3.16 tells us that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Thus, while God did not spare the angels that sinned, will not spare those not his sons, and did not spare His Own begotten Son, Jesus Christ, He does spare those of us who become His sons through faith in Jesus Christ. As our text declares, “I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” If your faith is in Jesus Christ, God will spare you, as a man spares his own son who serves him.


Have you ever come to faith in Christ, or are you just religious? Do you know Him? Do you really know Him? Additionally, are those who can discern such things confident that you know Him? The reason I ask is that there are two questions that naturally arise in relation to this matter: First, what does it mean to be spared by God? Second, what are the implications of not being spared?

The very idea of being spared by God is itself a figure of speech that is quite the opposite of grossly exaggerating something. You might think that when God spares you He simply overlooks something, or lets a thing pass. However, that is not the case at all. In a very understated way, to be spared by God makes use of a literary device that dramatically diminishes a figure in order to increase another.[5]

To put it another way, when God spares someone He bestows upon that person the most stupendous and glorious of salvations, only the way He speaks of it is slight and minor in order to call attention to its greatness. In the same way, when considering the implications of not being spared by God, understatement is again used as a way of drawing attention to the sobering and frightful reality of the doctrine of endless punishment heaped upon those who are not saved by the blood of the crucified One.

So, which category do you fall in, as evidenced by your conduct and speech? Are your words stout against God? Do you question the benefit of service to Him, and challenge the importance of duty? Or, are you one of those few, those very few, who speak often one to another of Him? Are you one of His jewels, who He will spare, as a man spares his own son who serves him? This is an issue that you would do well to address very carefully, perhaps even seeking pastoral counsel as a means of securing needed guidance, as the Ethiopian eunuch sought guidance from Philip.[6]

[1] Isaac Asimov, Understanding Physics - 3 Volumes In 1, (New York: Dorset Press, 1988) volume 1, pages 33-36.

[2] I am indebted to Thomas Watson, The Great Gain Of Godliness, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), pages 141-149.

[3] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 328.

[4] Romans 5.10

[5] E. W. Bullinger, Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1968) page 155.

[6]  Acts 8.30-35

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