“SOME HINDRANCES TO CONVERSION”
1. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 77. When you have found the 77th Psalm, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph. 1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. 2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. 3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.”
2. There are some portions of Scripture which are profound in their capacity to impart wisdom to the attentive reader. Such would be the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Scriptures, and such books in the New Testament as First Corinthians, Second Corinthians and the letter written by James.
3. Other books, however, seem to me to be more directed to the heart of a man than his head, and chief among these books of the Bible can only be the Psalms. If it is “with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness,” as Paul wrote in Romans 10.10, then there is grist for every man’s mill in the Psalms, that his heart might be inclined to believe if he is unconverted, and that his heart might be strengthened in its belief if he is a child of God.
4. In particular, this morning, I want to turn your attention to a specific phrase in Psalm 77.2, a declaration that speaks to the spiritual trouble of many of you here today. Notice, please, the last phrase the psalmist writes in verse 2, “my soul refused to be comforted.”
5. Are you familiar with Paul’s comment in Second Corinthians 1.3-4, wherein he describes God as “the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”?
6. It is quite a statement, is it not, that “my soul refused to be comforted,” in light of the fact that God is “the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation”?
7. Consider, also, those statements made by the Lord Jesus Christ in John chapters 14, 15 and 16, wherein He designates the Holy Spirit of God as “the Comforter,” and in John 14.16 as “Another Comforter,” meaning another of the same kind of Comforter that He was. So, what is to be said about that person whose “soul refused to be comforted”?
8. Does not such a person, for whatever reason, using whatever justification, seem to you to be resisting the Holy Ghost? This reminds me of Stephen’s statement to the Jews who opposed his preaching, in Acts 7.51, where he said, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.”
9. Thus, someone whose soul refuses to be comforted stands against the Father, the God of all comfort, stands against the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Comforter, and also stands against the Holy Spirit, that other Comforter. Recognize, the opposition may be entirely passive opposition, yet it is still opposition.
10. Some of you are here today in an unconverted state. Your sins are not forgiven. Your soul is not cleansed from the stain of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are dead and trespasses and sins. Yet, so far, your soul has refused to be comforted by the thrice holy God.
11. Others of you are here today in an apparently converted state, that is really only an apparent state and not reality. Like Simon the sorcerer with Philip, and Demas for so long with Paul, Christians think you are a Christian. And it may be that you, too, think you are a Christian. Or you hope you are, all the while having serious doubts.
12. But what the real case with you is, though perhaps God has begun to work in your life, to poke and prod you by His precious Spirit, to arouse your conscience by His Word, and to elevate your opinion of His Son Jesus, your soul still refuses to be comforted. That is, you are not yet savingly converted to Jesus Christ.
13. I am concerned for your welfare. I have prayed for some of you by name this week, who I think do not know Christ. Others, I have also prayed for, asking God to work in the lives of those who I may erroneously think are genuine Christians, but who are not.
14. To help you, after brother Isenberger leads us in a song, I will bring a message titled “Some Hindrances To Conversion.” It is not an exhaustive sermon on the subject, but it may help some of you to more clearly see what you are doing that results in your soul refusing to be comforted.
15. Now, before the sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we stand to sing.
1. There are several impediments which hinder lost poor folks from coming to Christ. I wish to mention just a few of these impediments today.
2. As I deal with several of these impediments, several of the things you do which interfere with your conversion, remember that it is your soul that is the subject of discussion, therefore it is your responsibility before God.
3. You must be the one whose interest is aroused, whose concern is cultivated, whose conscience is stirred. After all, it is your soul’s salvation that is in question, your eternal state that is at issue.
4. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, became a man and suffered, bled and died for the sins of mankind. He was buried and rose again from the dead after three days and three nights. He now sits at the Father’s right hand on high, victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave, ready to save sinners.
5. This being true, what might explain why you are not converted?
1A. First, IT COULD BE THAT YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN BEING CONVERTED TO CHRIST
1B. Perhaps you are a simple fool. Psalm 14.1 reads, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
1C. Thus, you discount any mention of sins you have committed against God, ignore any responsibility you have to worship and serve God, Who is your Creator.
2C. You are a fellow who uses electricity to power your lights and stove and computer, yet with regard to spiritual matters you insist that what cannot be seen does not exist. So, you live the life of a practical atheist, saying there is a God but living as though God does not exist.
2B. Or perhaps you are committed to your own pleasure. Hebrews 11.25, explaining the acts of Moses, reads: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
1C. This verse in the Bible acknowledges that there is pleasure associated with committing sins. Nowhere in the Bible is it ever denied that in the short term committing sin results in pleasure.
2C. But when the long term results of sin are focused on, as is most often the case in the Bible, sin is seen to be catastrophic in its consequences.
3C. But you aren’t into long term consequences. You discount everything but what is immediate and close at hand. Therefore, you ignore what will happen, what must happen, as a direct result of the sins you have committed against a holy God; eternal torment.
3B. These two illustrations shed light on the thinking (if you want to call such thinking) by a person who is blind, careless, or possessed of a presumptuous security that persuades him or her that everything will work out all right. It won’t work out all right.
2A. Next, IT COULD BE THAT YOU MAKE THE MISTAKE OF COMPARING YOURSELF
In Second Corinthians 10.12, the apostle Paul makes mention of a tendency many people have: “. . . comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
1B. Some of you compare yourselves to fraudulent Christians. That is, you examine yourself, not in the light of God’s Word, not according the standard of God’s righteousness, but by comparing yourself to some member of our Church, concluding that you aren’t so bad after all. But your logic is faulty. Your judgment is flawed. You have made a bad choice.
2B. Others of you compare yourselves to godly Christians. You commit the same type of error the lost man who compares himself to a fake Christian makes, but with a different result. Whereas the lost man who judges himself by some pretend Christian concludes that he is actually okay, “just as good as that Christian,” you compare yourself with a wonderful Christian and bemoan the fact that you will never measure up to that godly person. Your mistake, beyond comparing yourself with another person, is forgetting that the godly Christian has access to the sanctifying grace of God, enabling him to live somewhat differently than most lost people, though he is still a sinner.
3B. In either case, the standard that you must meet is God’s standard and not one of your own design. Therefore, if you do not rise up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness and holiness, as described in His Law, you are doomed. What you need is something more than another sinner to compare yourself to, whether that sinner is saved or lost. What you need is a Savior, Who will perfectly satisfy God’s righteous demands on your behalf.
3A. Third, IT COULD BE THAT YOU CONCLUDE THAT YOUR SINS ARE TOO GREAT
1B. Have you ever considered Judah’s wicked king Manasseh?
1C. He became king at the age of 12, when his father died, some 2,700 years ago.
2C. He built altars to false gods in the house of the LORD, made his own son pass through the fire, and seduced his people “to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.”
3C. Manasseh did incalculable damage to his people, and was an astonishingly wicked man. Yet, though Manasseh refused to listen when God spoke to him, God humbled him by greatly afflicting him, and then mercifully saved his wretched soul.
2B. Then there was Nebuchadnezzar, the arrogant Babylonian king who conquered Judah, starved Jerusalem into submission, and enslaved the Jewish population in what is called the Babylonian captivity.
1C. He was a cruel and wicked man, responsible for the death of many Jews. He was arrogant and proud, claiming that his vast empire was the result of his own greatness as a man, and the fruit of his own labors.
2C. Surely, such a man as this, perverse and so very proud, was undeserving of God’s grace and mercy. Yet the entire 4th chapter of Daniel is Nebuchadnezzar’s personal testimony of how God first humbled him and then graciously saved him.
3C. The chapter closes with these words of Nebuchadnezzar: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
3B. And what was Saul of Tarsus doing when God intervened in his life to set in motion a series of events that resulted in his conversion and calling into the apostolic ministry as the great apostle Paul?
1C. He was not searching for the truth. Quite the contrary. He was pursuing his career as the persecutor of God’s people, making havoc of the church, entering into every house, and tossing Christians into prison when he found them. In short, he was a one man Gestapo, bent on stamping out Christianity.
2C. It was while traveling to Damascus, not in search of truth, but in search of Christians to persecute, that the glorified Savior appeared to him on the road to Damascus and said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
3C. The short version is that Saul got converted, was known as the apostle Paul, and burned brightly for the cause of Christ until his martyrdom three decades later. How did this trophy of God’s grace describe himself? In First Timothy 1.15 he wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
4B. Then, there is the example of the Philippian jailor.
1C. Paul and Silas had been unjustly arrested, illegally beaten, and thrown into prison. They were hardly in any condition to pose a threat to other prisoners, to pose a threat to their guards, or to pose any danger of escape. They were in shock, for crying out loud, having been beaten half to death.
2C. So, what does the jailor do? He “thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks,” Acts 16.24. Why toss them into the inner prison, dark and cold and foul? Why place their feet in excruciating stocks when they were already too beaten up to move? Cruelty. Just plain meanness.
3C. Yet what did God’s marvelous grace accomplish a few short hours later? That same cruel jailor got saved, along with the rest of his family. And Paul baptized them. He then fed Paul and Silas and they all had great fellowship, rejoicing in God’s goodness and mercy.
5B. Can you sit there, reflecting on God’s grace and mercy to such scoundrels as Manasseh and Nebuchadnezzar and Saul of Tarsus and this Philippian jailor, and still think you are too great a sinner to be saved? Do you really believe that the greatness of your sins offsets the greatness of God’s mercy, and that your power to sin offsets the Lord Jesus Christ’s power to save? Get over it.
4A. Fourth, IT COULD BE YOU CONCLUDE THAT JESUS IS AT YOUR BECK AND CALL
1B. It is true that Jesus said of Himself, “. . . the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19.10. But He did come, you see, and now He has gone to where He came from. He now sends forth His laborers to “preach the Gospel to every creature,” Mark 16.15.
2B. So, what are you to do? It is now your responsibility to come to Him. He said, in Matthew 11.28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And in John 7.37, He said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”
3B. What many lost people do not seem to understand is that it is not sufficient that you recognize that you need to be saved. It is simply not enough to realize that Jesus is the only Savior. If you see your need to be saved and, as well, know that Jesus is the only Savior of sinful men’s souls, you are still lost, and you are still undone.
4B. Therefore, if you think that at a time of your choosing you can simply cry out to Jesus and He will come a running to save you . . . you are mistaken. The deal is, you come to Him, He does not come to you. He summons you, you do not summon Him. He is the Lord to direct you to respond, not you to direct Him to respond.
5B. In John 10.27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” So, be careful, you who think the Lord Jesus Christ is at your beck and call. You are mistaken. He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” First Timothy 6.15. If you think that at a time of your choosing you can summon Him to save you from your sins . . . you are gravely mistaken.
5A. Fifth, IT COULD BE THAT YOU DON’T THINK YOU FEEL BAD ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR SINS
1B. In John 16.8, the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would “will reprove the world of sin.” That is, the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of a lost man or woman is to persuade that person, convince that person, convict that person if you will, regarding sin.
2B. What kind of emotional reaction a sinner will have to being persuaded that he is guilty, that he is lost, that he is undone, varies from sinner to sinner, with no two individuals reacting in exactly the same way. But the emotional reaction is not significant. What is significant is the degree to which the sinner becomes convinced of his own sinfulness and his desperate need of a savior.
3B. So, you who bemoans the fact that you do not think you feel bad enough about your sins. Do you feel bad that you do not feel bad about your sins? Does it grieve you that you are not enough grieved? Will you accept as evidence of your spiritual deadness that you do not feel remorse as you think you should?
4B. All that is needed my sinful friend, all that is really needed, is for you to feel bad enough to want relief. You may not feel bad about your sinfulness, but do you feel bad enough to want a Savior, bad enough to seek a Savior, bad enough to come to the Savior? If you feel bad enough about your condition to actually flee to the Savior then you feel bad enough, even if you don’t feel very bad at all.
5B. You see, the only consideration of Jesus Christ is the sinner actually coming to Him. Do you feel little remorse as a lost man? You will feel sufficient remorse as a Christian should you get converted, I promise you. Little repentance now? There will be sufficient repentance later after your sins are forgiven. Little conviction now? There will be more conviction later of how sinful you were as a lost man after your sins have been washed clean in Christ’s blood.
1. So you see, what is an impediment to you is no impediment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Reflect upon each of these impediments that we have considered and you will see it clearly yourself.
2. Have you no interest in being converted? Do you pay little interest in God and value the pleasure of your sins? Reality will overcome that impediment. Loss of a loved one, ruination of a marriage, destruction of a career or of your health, realization of how fragile life is? Then that impediment seems rather small.
3. Do you compare yourself with others? Compare yourself with what God demands. Think yourself too sinful? Remember Manasseh, Nebuchadnezzar, Saul of Tarsus and the Philippian jailor.
4. Do you think Jesus is at your beck and call? Consider Who He is and think again. Think you don’t feel bad enough about your sins? No one has ever felt bad enough about his sins.
5. Each of these are impediments. None of them is really difficult to deal with and overcome, but each of them is sufficient to prevent a sinner from truly coming to Christ. And perhaps one of these impediments, or another I have not made reference to, has been enough to keep you lost.
6. It is your soul that needs tending to. It is your eternity that is at stake. Therefore, your interest in this matter should be guaranteed.
7. If the Lord allows, next week I will set before you some helps to come to Christ.
 See footnote for John 14.16 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1614.
 Second Kings 21.1
 Second Kings 21.4
 Second Kings 21.6
 Second Kings 21.9
 Second Chronicles 33.10
 Second Chronicles 33.11-13
 Daniel 4.37
 Acts 8.3
 Acts 9.4
 Acts 16.25-34