"ARE YOU A PROFANE PERSON?"
1. In First Corinthians 10.32 the apostle Paul wrote, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." That single verse powerfully declares to us that in the mind of God there are only three types of people. There are Godís covenant people, the Jewish people, the physical descendants of Abraham through Jacob. Then there are all the other people of the world, who are Gentiles. But when the blood of Christ is applied those distinctions are removed, leaving us only the church of God.
2. So important is this mystery of bringing together these two peoples in Christ that Paul greatly stresses the point in his letter to the Ephesians, written from Roman imprisonment. Let us read together Ephesians 2.14-22:
14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
3. Notice how Paul stresses the mystery of the union of two peoples in Christ. In verse 14, "who hath made both one." Verse 15, "to make in himself of twain (or two) one new man." Verse 16, "both unto God in one body." Verse 19, "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints." Verse 21, "all the building fitly framed together." And verse 22, "builded together for an habitation of God."
4. There can be no question, then, that Godís long term plan for this dispensation has always been for Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians to worship and serve God together in the same congregations. Still, the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians did not in the beginning quickly come together, in part because these two groups were not integrated in society. Both racial and ethnic prejudice and geography kept them apart until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, when the dispersion of the Jews took place.
5. That said, there are four letters in the New Testament that were specifically written to Jewish Christians; the letter written by James, the two letters of Peter, and the letter to the Hebrews, where my text for today is found.
6. In the Jewish Christian community before the Diaspora, or the dispersion brought on by the destruction of Jerusalem and the enslaving of many Jewish people, there were Jews of three distinct persuasions that can be identified in the letter to the Hebrews. There were genuinely converted Jewish Christians, professing Jewish Christians who were not genuinely converted but who thought they were, and Jewish people who were intellectually convinced concerning the claims of Jesus, but who had not yet come to Him for salvation.
7. Hebrews was written to exhort the discouraged genuine believers and to bring both the false professors and the undecided to Christ. Please turn to Hebrews 12 and stand for the reading of todayís text, verses 14-17:
14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
8. What happened in the first century in the congregations that were populated by Jewish people, converted, professing to be converted, and those not professing to be Christians, happens in our day. Dealing with those who are wavering between the Savior and the world, who are halting between two opinions, the writer of Hebrews shows what can happen to that person who claims to be a Christian but who is not, as well as what can happen to that person in our midst who makes no claim of conversion but who sits under the preaching of Godís Word.
9. You think you are safe. You feel confident and perhaps even comfortable. But the question you need to ask yourself is, "Am I a profane person?" You will see, as I proceed, why you need to ask yourself this question. Four observations in connection with the profane who are among us.
1A. First, THE REVEALING OF THE PROFANE PERSON, Verse 14
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."
1B. It Was In June Of This Year That I Preached A Message Using This Verse As My Text. And In That Message I Explained What The Writer Of Hebrews Meant By This Term "Holiness."
2B. He Did Not Mean By "Holiness" Anything Like Sinlessness Or Perfect Sanctification. There Is No Such Thing This Side Of Heaven. What He Was Referring To Was The Process Of Becoming More Holy, The Process Of Sanctification And Consecration, The Process Of Becoming More Christ-like.
3B. I Want You To Pay Careful Attention, You Who Claim To Be Christians, But Who Miss Church. And You Who Claim To Be Christians But Who Seem To Have Never Been Involved In Serving God. You Claim To Be Christians But There Is Nothing About You Which Can Be Attributed Solely To The Grace Of God In Your Life.
4B. How Are You Different Than You Were? Are You Really A New Creature? How Are You Now More Christ-like Than You Were? Are You Growing In Grace? Or Are You Just Another Person Who Convinced People That You Were Gloriously Converted, But Who Never Seems To Make The Right Day To Day Choices That Someone Who Is Really Converted Would Likely Make?
5B. You See, What Really Convinces People You Are Converted Isnít That Stunning Testimony. Thatís How You Convince The Preacher Short Term, So He Can Decide With Fallible Wisdom Whether You Are Converted Or Not And Eligible For Baptism. But The Real Proof Is Over Time. And Over Time You Are Not Very Convincing, Are You? As A Matter Of Fact, You Scare Me. If Many Christians Were Like You We Wouldnít Have Much Of A Church At All. Isnít That Right?
2A. Next, THERE IS THE REMOVAL OF THE PROFANE PERSON, Verse 15
"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
1B. The Removal Of The Profane Person Comes About From Looking Diligently. This Is Primarily A Pastoral Function, Whereby Godís Man Oversees The Flock And Watches People For Signs Of Spiritual Ill Health And Indications Of Trouble. And What Do I Look For? Failing Of The Grace Of God. That Woman Who Doesnít Come To Church Is Failing Of The Grace Of God. That Man Who Works On Sunday Instead Of Attending Church Fails Of The Grace Of God. And There Are Other Ways Of Failing Of The Grace Of God Which Also Greatly Endanger The Professing Christian.
2B. The Removal Of The Profane Person Comes About When A Lost Person, Called Here A Root Of Bitterness, Springs Up Suddenly And Troubles Us. Root Of Bitterness Because This Person Is Lost And Poison At His Very Root. Seemingly Subdued By The Grace Of God For Some Period Of Time, This Fellow Changes His Behavior, Cuts Himself Off From Access To The Means Of Godís Grace In Some Way, And Then What He Really Is Suddenly Shows Itself By The Trouble He Causes.
3B. The Removal Of The Profane Person Comes About When Those Who Are Roots Of Bitterness Defile Many. "I Ainít Doing Nothing." But Your Actions Disturb And Distract Many Of Godís People. "It Isnít Anyoneís Business What I Do." My Friend, What The Church Member Does Is Every Other Church Memberís Business, Especially If Your Actions And Attitudes Manifest A Spirit Of Rebellion, A Refusal To Contribute To The Cohesiveness Of The Body. So, The Question Is Not, "What Did I Do That Was So Wrong?" The Question Is, "What Are You Doing Thatís Right And Proper And Good For The Advance Of The Gospel And The Growth Of This Congregation?"
4B. Should You Become An Obvious Hindrance To The Advance Of The Gospel, Should You Become A Notable Exception To The Spirit And Harmony Of This Body, You Will Be Removed. You See, Godís People Live A Life Of Sacrifice For The Good Of The Cause And For The Advance Of The Gospel. The Profane Person, On The Other Hand, Lives For Himself And Advances Only His Own Agenda, As We Shall See.
3A. Third, THE REALITY OF THE PROFANE PERSON, Verse 16
"Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."
Let me tell you what a profane person really is: The word "profane" refers to someone who despises that which is sacred. "Profane" translates the Greek word "bebhlos," which comes from "bhlos," referring to the threshold of a temple, and "be," which negates the word that follows it. So, imagine how you would act if you approached the steps of a temple. You would change your attitude, alter your demeanor, quiet your speech. In other words, you would show respect and behave reverently. This compound word signifies the opposite. This "profane" fellow acts in the temple as he would in the mall. He dresses for worship as he would for play. There are two specific illustrations of the profane mentioned in verse 16.
1B. First, There Is The Fornicator
1C. The fornicator is "profane" in that he or she has traded purity for a moment of pleasure. What a disgusting insult to oneís parents fornication by a young person is. How incredibly stupid and naive it is to trade sexual purity, and the golden opportunity to share with oneís future mate something that should be shared with no other, for a momentís pleasure that too oftentimes isnít really that pleasurable at all. At least thatís what young fornicators have told me what I asked.
2C. No wonder the fornicator is shown here to be "profane." The fornicator demonstrates that he has not judgment, that he is incapable of valuing things valuable. I find it absolutely incredible that parents whose children commit fornication do not find such an affront astonishing, that parents are not crushed by such malice toward them, and that they are not outraged by the insult of their children abandoning the values of a lifetime in favor of the promise of delight.
2B. Then, There Is Esau
1C. Whereas the fornicator is so spiritually vile as to trade a lifetimeís purity for a momentís pleasure, Esau stands as a monument to foolishness for one and all to see. He was a man who traded the blessing of Godís anointed man, his own father, for a bowl of beans. Think of it. A man who is a hunter and who could easily have shot or snared food, traded his fatherís blessing for a bowl of beans because he was really hungry.
2C. Superior in every conceivable way to his brother, Jacob, Esau fell behind in only one area, the only area that counted, his estimation of the blessings of God through his father, Isaac. He traded blessing for beans and was therefore logged in Godís Word as a "profane" man.
3C. But isnít that what you do who work instead of go to Church? You trade blessings for beans, blessings for bucks. "But I really need the money!" And Esau was really hungry. But he wasnít going to starve, and neither are you going to starve.
4C. Youíve just been put in a situation by God where the kind of man you are can easily be seen, the kind of woman you are can easily be seen. If you trade pleasure for purity, or blessings for bucks, or if anything which is of profound spiritual value is forsaken so that you might have immediate and cheap gratification, then you are a "profane" person.
5C. "Iím not profane, pastor. I am a Christian. Itís just that itís tough for me right now." The fact of the matter is, you are "profane," and my last point will explain why you are "profane."
4A. THE "REPENTANCE" OF THE PROFANE
The word "repentance" in the Bible, translating the Greek word "metanoia," comes from the Greek word for "change" and the Greek word for "mind." Meaning more than just changing your mind about something, in this context, it refers to the turning that occurs at conversion, where the turning from sin is "repentance" and the turning to Christ is "faith," inseparable sides of the same spiritual coin. But what of your "repentance" my "profane" friend? Verse 17: "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
1B. Esau Was Rejected By Isaac, You Will Be Rejected By God
1C. How could Isaac not reject Esau, when he had chosen the immediate over the eternal? How can God not reject you, seeing you manifest a decided preference for the bucks instead of the blessings, for the pleasure instead of the purity?
2C. Remember, without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Spiritual perfection? Jacob wasnít spiritually perfect by any stretch. Esau had it all over his brother. But when it came crunch time one of them wanted what was worth wanting and the other did not. And isnít that the pattern you are showing? What is your continued preference, the spiritual or the "profane?"
2B. Let Me Tell You Why You Do This. Your Repentance Was Not Real.
1C. Esau is put here for the purpose of illustration. His behavior is typical. It follows a pattern that is exhibited by all who are "profane," all whose repentance is not genuine, even those who do not spring up and cause obvious trouble in a congregation.
2C. "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected." Please notice that Esauís timing was wrong. When he had opportunity to guarantee the blessing of his father he traded it for a bowl of beans. Jacobís opportunity came later, and he capitalized on his opportunity. But the point to be made is that when it was Esauís time Esau wasnít ready for it. When it was his time to value the blessing he despised it, making him "profane."
3C. "for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." And even when Esau found out the blessing had been given by his father to his brother, when his father could not have reversed himself had he wanted to, and he would have if he could have, he still had no genuine repentance. "He sought it carefully with tears." O, how he cried. He cried and cried and cried, but not because there was repentance. Rather, because he found that he could not have his own way. Tears of rebellion. Tears of disappointment. Not tears of repentance.
1. This passage of Scripture applies to you. You are the profane man or the profane woman. You are the profane boy or the profane girl. You despise that which is sacred and choose the bucks over the blessing or the pleasure over the purity every time you have to make a choice between the two.
2. In other words, God always comes in second place when He is in competition with what you really want. If this is the way you live your life, is it possible that you are truly converted? No, it is not possible.
3. There are times of stumbling and reversal in the life of every believer. But how is it that there is no holiness in your life? How is it that there is no upward progress, no growth, no greater degree of personal consecration?
4. You may claim personal problems, but who doesnít have personal problems? Who doesnít get into financial binds? Who doesnít have to run the risk of going under financially in order to serve God at times in their lives? My friend, itís during these kinds of times that itís proven whether you are "profane" or a Christian.
5. Now, before my sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we stand to sing.
1. Is it not as obvious to you as it is to me that you are a profane person? The general tenor of your life shows you to be profane. You are not growing spiritually. And this is not a temporary thing, not a recent thing, not an abnormality in your life. You never grow. You never serve God. There is no evidence over the course of your entire so-called Christian life that you have ever experienced spiritual growth and maturity.
2. I am not speaking of the downs that go with the ups of every Christianís life. I am not pointing out the person who has rough spots in his life or the woman who experiences declension of the soul. I am speaking about you, who never shows evidence of anything that can only be explained by the grace of God. And religious affections donít count since almost every lost person has religious affections.
3. I refer to your tendency, to one degree or another, to prefer pleasure to purity, to prefer beans to blessings. I am referring to the personal choices you have made that exclude the cause of Christ from your life, if perhaps only a bit at a time. I am referring to those compartments in your life which you exclude from the scrutiny of Godís Word, the things you have decided and are going to do no matter what the Word of God says, no matter what the preacher teaches and preaches. By heavens to Mergatroid, you are going to do what you are going to do and thatís all there is to it.
4. I refer to your backing away from the means of grace that are at your disposal. For some of you itís cutting back on the number of services you attend Church. For others of you itís your almost complete refusal to consult with your pastor about anything significant or important. Still others have cut back on your prayer life or your Bible reading. Others refuse opportunities to serve God when you are asked.
5. Does it concern you at all that you may be a profane person? Doesnít it cause you occasion to pause and consider that you may, like Esau, have carefully sought repentance with tears, only like him to come up short? How else do you explain the coldness of your heart, the callousness of your conscience, your inattention to spiritual matters of tremendous importance?
6. My friend, I think you are unconverted and maybe you think you are unconverted, as well. I think you have never served God because youíve never known God. Youíve had no success is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit of God in your life because the Spirit of God is not in your life. I think you make the choices you make, not because you have to, but because when it all comes down to crunch time you prefer the pleasurable to the pure, your prefer the bucks to the blessing, you are profane and not really and truly pious.
7. Do you think I am wrong? Then prove me wrong. Show me I am mistaken, and that you can live the Christian life even though you donít. You see, the Christian can live the Christian life. Itís only the hypocrites who cannot, the profane who cannot, the pretenders who cannot. So, if you are a Christian and you can live the Christian life then choose to do so. Letís start out with two very simple things you can easily do if you really are a Christian, but which if you refuse to do will definitely show you to be unsaved.
1A. First, ATTEND EVERY SERVICE WITHOUT FAIL
1B. That Is, Do Not Any Longer Fail Of The Grace Of God Ministered Through The Means Of The Preached Word. Attend Sunday School, Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, And Wednesday Evening. Miss Not A Single Service!
2B. Attending All The Services Will Not Make You A Christian, To Be Sure. But Attending All The Services Goes A Long Way To Showing That You Are A Christian, Since Unless You Are Providentially Hindered From Attending Church You Will Only Refuse To Attend Church By Choosing The Things That Are Profane Over The Things That Are Spiritual.
3B. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is," Hebrews 10.25. Donít Be The Some Who Forsake Our Assembly. Show Yourself To Be The Christian Who Attends. Or At Least Be The Lost Person Who Wisely Makes Use Of This Wonderful Means Of Godís Grace.
2A. Second, MAKE SURE YOU FAITHFULLY GIVE TITHES AND OFFERINGS
1B. I Am Convinced God Is Working Wondrous Miracles In The Lives Of Some Of Our People, And I Think You Are Shameful For Not Praising God For It. I Refer, Of Course, To Those Of You Who Give $10 Or $25 A Week In The Offering.
2B. What An Astounding Miracle It Is For God To So Bless You That You Can Make It, Pay Rent And Electricity, Take Care Of Auto Expenses, And Feed And Clothe Yourselves, On An Income Of Only $250 Per Week.
3B. Or Could It Be That You Are Just Robbing God? Do You Realize That If You Hold Back Your Tithes And Offerings You Are Robbing God? How Can A Man Protest The Charge That He Is Profane, How Can He Protest That He Does Not Love The Bucks More Than The Blessings, When He Steals The Money That God Provided To Pass Through His Hands To The Offering Basket?
4B. If You Are Not A Profane Man Then Start Tithing And Quit Overburdening The Rest Of This Churchís Members With Duties And Obligations That Should Be Shouldered By You. And Donít You Dare Allow The Children Living In Your House To Rob God Either. Youíd Call the Police If Your Son Was A Car Thief Or A Burglar, Wouldnít You? If Youíre Any Kind Of A Father Or Mother You Would. But Stealing From God Is Infinitely Worse, And You Allow That?
1. Folks, Iíll stop here. I could go on and deal with many other issues related to being profane. I could deal with fathers who are not spiritual leaders in their homes and women who despise and ridicule their husbands. I could address issues of gossip and slothfulness, murmuring and pride.
2. But I will stop here because Church attendance and tithes and offerings cuts a pretty wide swath through the field. And what about someone who tithes when he works, but he doesnít work, and he wonít work? Or what about someone who attends Church, but she constantly chatters while I am preaching, so as an adult just as when she was a teen? Thatís failing of the grace of God and itís definitely profane behavior..
3. What should you do? Should you rededicate your life? Why do that? Youíve done that many times and it doesnít work. Itís not rededication that you need, but genuine repentance resulting in real conversion.
4. What should you do? If you keep doing what youíve been doing youíll keep getting what youíve been getting. You need to do something different than you have ever done before. My suggestion is that you decide to let me be your pastor so I can carefully, cautiously, guide you to Christ. Youíve tried doing things your way, now letís try doing things the Bible way.