1. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 13.
2. This morning I speak directly to, and only to, those of you here who are unconverted. If you consider yourself to be a Christian I would like for you to listen to what I say for the purpose of comparison, to see if what needs to happen for a sinner to get converted is what actually happened to you.
3. My lost friend, before you will flee to Jesus Christ for salvation from your sins your heart must be broken by God. Only if God breaks your heart will your natural stubbornness be overcome, will you actually want to come to Christ.
4. But before your heart will ever be broken by God you must get a true sight of sin. You have to see what sin really is; its wickedness, its criminality, and you will have to see your desperate need to be freed from sinís death grip. Sadly, this does not quickly happen when most sinners hear the Gospel for the first time, which is one reason why quickly praying with sinners is so profoundly unfruitful. A true sight of sin is necessary.
5. Let us now stand and read beginning at Matthew 13.10:
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this peopleís heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
6. I was introduced to a revolutionary thought about a year ago, that the apostles of Jesus Christ might have been unconverted throughout the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. And Iím beginning to see more and more reasons for agreeing with that understanding of their condition. Letís operate on that premise this morning. Letís assume the apostles were not converted at this stage of the Lordís earthly ministry.
7. We know that the Lord Jesus Christ wants the Gospel taken to the lost. But what must then happen when the Gospel is taken to the lost? Once I have done what the Savior wants, by taking the message to the sinner, what must you then do in response from the time you first hear the Gospel until the time you actually get converted . . . if you actually get converted?
8. My text this morning is verse 16: ďBut blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.Ē Why did Jesus say that the apostleís eyes were blessed? They saw. Understand, they saw only dimly. Their perception of spiritual things was very imperfect, was extremely unfocused. But to the degree the apostles saw certain things others could only be described as blind.
9. Letís start off this morning by following the example of Jesusí disciples, those men we are granting were unconverted, but whose eyes were blessed to see and their ears were blessed to hear.
10. Stay with me if you want to see sin so that you get a good sight of sin, so that your heart will be broken by God, so that you will be converted to Christ.
11. There are three items related to seeing sin I want to talk to you about:
1A. First, Let me give You some means to see sin convictingly
There are three things these disciples, the apostles and the others who followed Jesus closely, did that you need to do:
1B. First, you need to go to God for knowledge.
1C. Those people sat at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were willing to learn from Him. But remember, they were already men who were thoroughly familiar with Godís Word. You are not thoroughly familiar with Godís Word, so you must ask God to open your mind, you must read your Bible, you must listen to the preaching.
2C. The Lord knows your heart far better than you do, therefore you need go to God and ask Him to make you know your own heart, and to see your own sin.
3C. When the poor blind man, Bartimaeus, sat begging by the way, saying, ďJesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me,Ē Mark 10.47, the people tried to make him be quiet. But he cried so much the more, ďThou son of David, have mercy on me.Ē And when Christ said, ďWhat wilt thou that I should do unto thee?Ē he answered, ďLord, that I may receive my sight.Ē
4C. If that blind man could so strongly plead for physical eyesight, how much more strongly should you plead for the eyes of your soul, so you can see your sins? A man who is spiritually blind is a man whose heart is wicked. And such spiritual blindness is open to all sorts of sinning.
5C. So, you should be more concerned about your spiritual blindness than Bartimaeus was about his physical blindness. All his blindness could get him was a tumble into a ditch, but your blindness will cause you to be cast into the pit of Hell.
6C. So, plead with God in the night, asking Him for sight to see your sins. Until you begin to get a true sight of your sins youíll feel no deep and profound need to be saved from them. And Jesus, remember, saves men from their sins. So, itís sins that you need a true sight of from God.
2B. Secondly, work hard to become familiar with Godís Law.
1C. Over the last few years I have preached to you the Law of God more than the Gospel. Why so? Because by the Law is the knowledge of sin, Romans 3.20. You need to listen to the sermons and read your Bible on your own so that you might see what sins are forbidden and what duties are required by Godís Law, or you will not be properly prepared for the Gospel.
2C. The apostle Paul thought himself alive without the Law once. But when the commandment came, then sin revived. When God opened his eyes to see his sin, and the corruptions of his heart, then he saw himself as he really was, a dead man.
3C. But remember, Paul had been a Pharisee, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and a man who kept the Law of God in a strict manner. From his example we see the tragedy of sinfulness, having a great deal of learning and yet knowing nothing. For all his supposed knowledge of the Law, Paul had spiritually been a most ignorant man for most of his life.
4C. In Romans 7.7 he wrote, ďI had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.Ē Now, if Paul, after a lifetime of learning and study, still did not have a true sight of sin except as it is revealed in the Law, how needful must it be for you to read Godís Word, to study Godís Law, and then to plead with God to use His Law to show your sin to you?
5C. So, you be careful, who think yourselves to be not so bad as others. If, by Godís Law, you could see the filthiness of your heart you would forever stop loving yourself and would need little convincing that you need a Savior.
6C. You can be sure that those apostles and disciples got good Law lessons from the Lord Jesus Christ. Some 122 times the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded in the Gospels saying ďBut I say unto you.Ē And most of those times came as He expounded and expanded on the Law.
3B. So, go to God for knowledge. As well, work hard to acquaint yourself with the Law. Thirdly, receive every truth revealed to you without resistance or quarreling.
1C. Consciously commit yourself to taking, without opposing or resisting in any way, the revealed will of God. Decide right now that no matter what truth is delivered, regardless of how cross or contrary to your corrupt nature it is, you will suffer the hammerís blow and let the full weight of Godís Word fall on you.
2C. How many times I have seen on faces and observed in postures a resistance to Godís will and to Godís Word. I canít describe to you the tragedy of such resistance and stubbornness. You seal your own fate if you think like that and if you resist in that way.
3C. Consider Job. When God knocked down his proud heart he submitted himself to God. Job 40.4-5 says, ďBehold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.Ē
4C. Itís as though Job came to realize that he had said enough in his defense. Humility demanded that he simply bow quietly before his God and be quiet. No more protests of innocence. No more explanations and reasons. Just bow your head and acknowledge the guilt.
5C. You see, if you quarrel and argue against the truth of God youíre not truly humble for your sins. Itís a sinful and rebellious spirit that justifies itself against God and His Word, and that resists the convicting power of the Word. Job behaved in the opposite manner, didnít he?
4B. Of the 12 apostles, 11 of them ended up getting converted and spent their lives advancing the cause of Christ. Let me share with you what I imagine of Judas Iscariot, the one who sat as Jesusí feet and then betrayed Him. I imagine Judas to have had a diminished concern for sin, thinking to himself that ďItís not so bad as he says, or so bad as the Law declares.Ē I also imagine him to have been somewhat conceited in his opinions, since that is the mind of most sinners. Itís common for the unconverted to minimize the importance of sin, in four ways:
1C. First, you think to yourself, ďEverybody does it.Ē
1D. This supposes that sin must be not so bad because itís so common. It canít be that bad, since everyone is guilty. But there is room enough in Hell for you and all your friends.
2D. ďBut I donít sin as badly as some I know.Ē Maybe your sins are not hideous blasphemies. Maybe they are relatively petty in comparison to some menís sins. But they are enough to damn your soul.
3D. Itís not just the great liars who will be kept out of heaven, but all liars. And what difference is there between an open adulterer and a secret adulterer? So, the idea that youíll get off because ďeverybody does itĒ just doesnít wash.
2C. Next, you may think to yourself, ďIím only doing what comes naturally. Itís just the way I am.Ē
1D. ďAll Mexicans like their cerveza. All Chinese work on Sundays. All Cretians are liars. Itís not a big deal. What you want me to be? A saint?Ē
2D. First John 3.3 says, ďAnd every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.Ē So you see, a real Christian exerts himself to be pure, and is always concerned about Godís will. And as Hebrews 12.14 says, ďFollow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.Ē
3D. You may try to minimize your guilt by claiming that your sin is just your nature. But if itís your nature thatís inclined away from God, and not just isolated deeds, then you are all the more guilty, because your entire being is hateful to God. Itís not your sins alone that damn you in Godís sight, remember, but your very nature that abhors Him and rebels against Him.
4D. How would it sound for someone convicted of a crime to stand before the judge and plead for leniency by saying, ďYour honor, donít send me to prison for robbing banks. Itís just my nature to rob banks. I canít help it if I rob banks. I just do what comes naturally.Ē
5D. That kind of reasoning would guarantee a long sentence. And so it is with any sinner who claims that he canít help it because itís his nature. Of course, itís your nature. Thatís the reason you are damned in the sight of God, and thatís the reason you need to be converted to a new nature.
3C. Thirdly, you may feel, ďI donít really do anything wrong. I just have evil thoughts. What harm can evil thoughts do? As long as it doesnít hurt anyone else, whatís the harm? And, so what if I say things that are bad from time to time?Ē
1D. Hold it a second. Jesus said, ďBut I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned,Ē Matthew 12.36-37.
2D. You may not think anything of your swearing and your idle thoughts. And you may think youíre safe thinking about Godís people the way you do. But the God of heaven will judge both your thoughts and your words come judgment day.
3D. So, you will either be saved from those sins by Jesus Christ or you will be punished by Jesus Christ forever for those sins. ďBehold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him,Ē Jude 14-15.
4D. So, it will not only be murderers and adulterers who will be judged. But you, too, will be called by the Lord to account for all your abominations, and for all your words against the people of God.
5D. As the prophet Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 4.14: ďO Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?Ē So you see, you sin more in your thoughts than any other way.
6D. A thief canít rob the whole town, but a covetous man may wish everyone in town was dead, so he could take their stuff. An adulterer canít commit sin with every woman in the town, but he can lust after every woman he sees, and he can commit adultery in his thoughts.
7D. So, donít think thoughts arenít so bad. Donít think words are of little importance. Sins committed in the mind, as well as sins committed by utterance of the mouth, will both be judged on Judgment Day.
4C. Fourthly, perhaps you minimize sin because you enjoy it so much, as though your enjoyment of sin makes the sinning less sinful.
1D. This type of attitude pulls a personís heart away from the Word of God. It fogs up your mind and clouds your vision so the truth canít be clearly seen.
2D. You see, when the sinful soul has nothing to say for itself it rationalizes and reasons, ďI like this. Why do I have to give up what I like doing?Ē This is how the defiance comes out into the open.
3D. And no matter what the argument, what the logic, what the reasoning, the sinful soul stands stubbornly against the Savior and determines, ďI will not believe, even if the Lord, Himself, tried to persuade me.
4D. Is there any argument to support your refusal? No. Is there any justification to your continuing in sin? Not a bit. He that is proud will be proud, and he that is a swearer will swear. Your conscience is seared and your heart is hard.
5D. When Jeremiah would have convinced the people of their sins, and of the punishments threatened to them, they said, ďThou speakest falsely,Ē Jeremiah 43.2. So it is, I fear, with some of you.
6D. You do not go to God for knowledge. You do not work hard to become familiar with Godís Law. You will not meekly and humbly receive the truth from Godís man. Thus, I fear that it is unlikely that you will be saved.
2A. Second, SOME WAYS IN WHICH A MAN AVOIDS SEEING SIN CONVINCINGLY
In Second Corinthians 10.4-5, Paul made reference to the strong holds and imaginations of the mind that you resort to in your efforts to resist the truth. There are three common escape hatches you will typically use to avoid seeing sin convincingly and to justify not coming to Christ. You convince yourself that you really do see sin. But you deflect the impact of Godís Word and the urgency of the hour in several ways:
1B. First, you think to yourself, ďGod wonít punish me.Ē
1C. When you conclude this you sin greatly against God by thinking that He doesnít notice your sins, or by thinking that God is not so just and righteous that He will punish all sinners, including you. You see, you think youíre special.
2C. Now, if you were notoriously wicked, a murderer, or an adulterer, or a thief, then youíd be in trouble, you think. But as it is, you donít think God will hold you accountable for every small sin. You insult God when you think that way. Did you know that?
3C. Donít forget Revelation 20.12: ďAnd I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.Ē Small and great. Big sinners and little sinners. Those who committed big sins and those who committed little sins. God will judge them all. And God will punish you.
2B. Hereís another one: ďIíll get saved later.Ē
1C. Oh, will you get saved later? You know that, do you? What if the LORD deals with you like Moses said of the children of Israel, ďYe returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you,Ē Deuteronomy 1.45?
2C. As well, donít forget that Judas Iscariot wept. And he did bring back the thirty pieces of silver. He experienced horror of the soul and conscience, was ashamed of himself, and even made restitution. Yet heís damned forever. Why so? He thought he could get saved later, but he couldnít.
3C. You think getting converted is so easy. What if you admit to all your sins and confess all the wrongs you have done? And that includes all the secret sins and misdeeds. Do that and you will still be as far from salvation as Judas Iscariot was, who went and hanged himself.
4C. So, donít comfort yourself that you have the freedom to choose the time and the place for the working of the miracle of the new birth. And do you think you can you just repent whenever you want to? Esau searched for repentance with tears, and did not find it, Hebrews 12.17. And Paul indicates in Second Timothy 2.25 that repentance has to be given by God. How do you know that when you will God will?
5C. Even if you could come to Christ when you wanted to, how do you know youíll be alive to come to Christ later? This ďIíll get saved laterĒ idea is pure foolishness. Opportunities are not always available. And the opportunity to get converted may soon pass, never to return.
6C. There will come a time when God will not show mercy. Revelation 2.21 records the Saviorís pronouncement upon a woman who was warned, but who did not repent, and whose opportunity to be saved was lost forever: ďAnd I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.Ē
7C. You who think that God, Who has been patient with you, must always be patient with you, will someday be surprised to learn that His patience has run its course.
3B. Thirdly, you ask, ďWhy do I have to get saved now?Ē
1C. I go back to what Iíve just mentioned. Opportunities to come to Christ are limited. The Lord Jesus Christ indicated that most do not get saved. And I think the reason most do not get saved is because those few who hear the Gospel end up using reasons and justifications like this, so that even fewer end up coming to Christ. Youíre thinking just exactly like most sinners think who have heard the Gospel and who have died in their sins.
2C. And donít convince yourself that youíll get by. Remember, your opponent is God. You so highly esteem yourself and so lowly esteem God, you think so much of your abilities and so little of Godís might and power. Be careful.
1D. What happens to you when you suffer just a little bit, when you experience just a little pain, a little disappointment, a little discouragement, a little rejection, a little hunger, a little thirst? And you think you can handle the eternal torment of the damned, as itís applied to you by an angry and vengeful God?
2D. And how strong are you in comparison to God that you would oppose Him? The mountains tremble beneath Him. Shall a mere worm stand up to Him and endure His punishment?
13C. These are only three ways in which your heart avoids facing reality, avoids dealing with the inevitable, avoids being honest, plays games with itself in order to put off thinking about your eventual meeting with God. But make no mistake about it. You will someday have to do business with God.
3A. Let Me Close Out This Sermon With Some Motivations To See Sin Convincingly
1B. Motivation #1 to see your sins: Itís the only way youíll get to heaven.
1C. God never revealed any other way but this way in the Law. The only way for the leper to be cleansed was to cry, ďUnclean! Unclean.Ē And lepers are a type of the sinner.
2C. So you see, every sinner must confess his sin, must take shame to himself, must say in effect, ďThis is my proud heart, and this my loose life, these are my wicked sins.Ē This true sight of sin is only the door to life and salvation.
3C. How will you get to your destination except by the only road that leads to it? If ever you receive mercy at the hands of the Lord, it must be by this way or not at all. Remember, ďWhile we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,Ē Romans 5.8. You must see your sin if you would be converted to Christ.
4C. Some of you here keep trying to find a short cut to Christ. Give it up. The short way wonít get you to Him, as youíve found time and time again. You donít want to walk the path that will show your sin, that will expose your filth, that will smell up the air with your stench. But itís the only way to get to Christ. He only saves sinners, only sinners who see their sins.
2B. Motivation #2 to see your sins: Itís only going to get harder.
1C. Please, listen to me. Itís always easier now than it will be later. And you who have been to camp several times know this to be true. Remember when you felt really bad about your sins a year or two ago? But you didnít feel bad about your sins this time you went to camp, did you? Why not? It only gets harder.
2C. Remember when you first started coming to here to Church, how terrible you felt about your sins? You donít feel nearly so bad now, do you? Remember how tender your conscience was back then? Itís not nearly so tender now, is it? So you see, you are living proof that it only gets harder as time goes on.
3C. You may think to yourself, ďYouíre pressuring me.Ē No, Iím not. It may be the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. ďYouíre trying to make me desperate.Ē Am I? As I said at camp a few weeks ago, ďIs a fireman who shouts for people to flee a burning building accused of making people desperate?Ē
4C. The fact of the matter is, itís better to be awakened now than to have your eyes opened in Hell, where thereís no remedy. Amen? Try hard to see your sins.
3B. Motivation #3 to see your sins: Itíll be worth it.
1C. What a comfort it would be to your soul if you died knowing that all your sins were wiped out. And how wonderful and peaceful is life knowing that your sins and iniquities God will remember no more.
2C. Folks, there was never a broken hearted sinner that God did not bind up. And there was never anyone truly wounded for sin, but that God healed and comforted him.
1. So, for all of these reasons, work hard to look into the mirror of Godís Law to see your sins clearly and convincingly. Can it be discouraging? Yes. But you need to look to your own sins so that God will not.
2. And donít be afraid. Bring them all out before the Lord. Plead with God to convert you to Christ so that you will never be called to account for them. I promise you, itís the way to go.
3. One last comment and Iím finished. Itís a principle for you to remember: That which does not ordinarily humble your soul, and break your heart for sin, does not convert and draw to Christ. You must see your sins if your heart would be broken for Christ.