Young men, young ladies, this is especially dangerous for you. You’ve heard about Jesus Christ. You’ve been exposed. Brethren, let me tell you, this is a very real danger. You’re young. You’re in college. You meet some of these zealots that are running around campus, wearing T-shirts like “Jesus Christ saved me from pornography,” or saves me, what’s that one say? Saves from the power of sin. You see these t-shirt wearing guys, and you watch something by Paul Washer. Come across something on the Internet, get some exposure to John Piper. There’s some excitement, maybe you come to a church, this one or another one, you kinda get raped up in the movement. Get involved in some things at the Grace House, for a season you’re preaching downtown.
You get caught in the wave, but then what happens? You don’t go hard after God. You begin to replace prayer with other things. Time in the Word with other things. And suddenly, sexual sin is a huge one. You begin giving ground. Brethren, I’ll tell you, children of God can fall, and God graciously restore them. But you need to beware because there’s a deceitfulness in sin. There’s a hardening of God when we begin to suppress truth and if you toy with this, and if you play, and you get casual, the warning in Hebrews is: you need to beware lest you slip. You begin to slip away.
And you know what can happen? Before you know it you look back over your shoulder, where did it go? Three years, five years goes by and… Remember the man in the iron cage in Pilgrim’s Progress? I’m not what I once was. What were you once? I was a professor of religion. He once had a good testimony, now he’s the man in the iron cage. He says, Pilgrim’s pleading with him, certainly, certainly God is compassionate. The man in the iron cage is saying there is no repentance, there’s nothing but a certain and fearful looking for of judgment. Well why, why don’t you call upon Him?
But you can tell. Brethren, brethren, hear me. Anyone can go to Christ at any time that they desire to go. But don’t you know what hardening is? Hardening is when you stop caring, hardening is when you get hard and you can’t feel anymore. you can feel regret or remorse, or brokenness. Or emptiness, or coldness, you are that, but you can’t feel it, that is what hard means. Hard is callous, it means when you touch it you don’t feel anymore. You don’t feel conviction anymore. You have suppressed it.
Oh yes, brethren, any man who will can flee to Christ in a moment. Any woman who thirsts, who hungers, whether you’re not saved or you are saved, anybody who longs for it can run hard after God and run to Christ and seek help and hope. Wherever you are at. But you will never go if the thirst is gone. You will never go if the hardness sets in. And I can tell you it is wonderful beyond imagination that the righteousness of God has been revealed, Oh….it’s glory to a broken sinner who sees he deserves nothing but hell. To come face to face with the fact, there is a righteousness of God that doesn’t come by the way of the law. And I’ve broken the law over and over and over and over and over, and I am defiled, I am wicked, I am dirty, I am unclean, and now you’re telling me there is a way for me to be right with God, and have God as a Father and friend, and Christ as my husband and to be saved and to get to heaven, and not by my merit’s, but all because of Christ and His perfections.
Yes, and that is so glorious, but if you play light and lose and free with it, and you begin to trade it for sin, the next thing you know, sexual sin, you’re back in the bondage and it becomes deeper and more deviant. And God giving people over, and that’s what happens. God gives people up to dishonorable passions. The hardening effects of sin you find there in Hebrews 3, 12, 13, 14. Hardening, it’s deceitful brethren, it’s deceitful.
Let me tell you one of the lies it tells you. Come play with me just a little bit. I know you’re a Christian, I know you’re following Christ. I know you’ve been going hard after God, just relax. Loosen up! Those guys in the church that are really aggressive, they’re legalistic. Go hang out with the guys that they know how to live easier. You don’t have to be so strict, those guys are radicals. That much religion is not healthy for you. What do you want, people to think your cultish or something? You don’t have to pray and fast like that, you don’t have to be so exact. Sin will say: Just come, just taste me, just play with me little bit. But it’s deceitful, it’s a liar. It puts the bait out there: Just come eat my fruits a little and then go back to being that later.
But you see what happens is, it hardens. And there’s something that begins to happen. Brethren… I tell you this. There are people, and I know it, brethren I’ve seen it, people who were running hard after God, they were being used of God and they toyed with sin and I believe their saved people, and I believe God will have them make it to the end, but they’re not what they used to be. They have fallen into sin. And something broke, that just never seemed to get fixed. We need to be so careful.
Brethren, what I’m saying to you is this: this message is so glorious and to hear a message of righteousness of God that can be had through the merit’s of Christ by faith in Him. You do not want to toy with this. My brothers and sisters, it’s free, it’s all of grace, but God tells us: Beware, beware that you suppress the truth, beware lest you become hardened in sin. I’ll tell you this, it’s all by grace, but if you think God’s grace sits back and takes you, suppressing His glory, exchanging you or His Son for sin, playing with the hardening effects and deceitful effects of sin and that there is no repercussion and that grace just glosses over that, then you don’t understand your Bibles right.
Is it free? Wonderfully free. Gloriously free. To the foulest of sinners. But it is so tremendous… Brethren, this is what the writer of Hebrews is all about. You want to lay hold on the confidence of that message, and the confidence that there is no condemnation in Christ. And you want to cling to that, and you want to hold fast to Christ, and you don’t want to let Him go for anything. And you don’t want to trade Him for any sin, for any people, for any friend, for anybody that comes along and they just want you to lighten up and live easier, and take a break, and take a rest, and don’t be so radical, don’t be such a Jesus freak, don’t be so involved in this gospel, don’t spend your life that way, don’t be so radically willing to die and give it all, just lighten up, loosen up, that’s not the best religion, there’s another way. It’s just like Pilgrim’s Progress, there’s always some way to say: This way’s hard, this way’s going to meet with lots of dangers, this way’s going to lend you in all sorts of battles with the Devil, this way’s going to be hard, this way’s just going to cost you all sorts… Go that way… that way goes to life too. But it’s just… it’s easier.
Brethren, He said it, if you will come after Me, take up your cross. He said if you’re not willing to do that, you’re not worthy of Me. Brethren, decide this day whom you will serve. It’s all out brethren, it’s all out. When the Scripture says that the kingdom of heaven is taken by force, and that the violent are the ones who take it. Brethren, it’s not the sleepers…sleepers don’t make it. It’s a battle… It’s a battle of faith. We fight the good fight of faith. Yes, the just shall live by faith, and we begin and end in faith, and we go from faith to faith but brethren there is a battle of faith, there is a good fight of faith, and you’ve got to hold and you’ve got to fight, all by grace, all by what Christ all by what Christ gives.
And brethren it’s this, it’s this. Don’t ever get this wrong. It’s the righteousness of God by faith, that gives us the power to live this life. In other words, we have to come back and look at what Christ freely earned for us, and the death He freely died for us, over and over, we have to be glued, this is where we have to cling. There is no condemnation, there is therefore now no condemnation.
Brethren, we look to this reality: He knew no sin, he became sin, I was a sinner, I am now made the righteousness of God. Imputation of His righteousness to me, my evil to him, I keep on going back to that. There’s no condemnation, my standing is right with God, my merit to get into the end does not rest on my performance. But as I stay locked into that reality in Christ, it unleashes a resurrection power into my life to fight this good fight of faith. Faith, remember, is looking outside of ourselves, It doesn’t mean I’m constantly examining myself, to see how well I’m performing. You do that, you fall into discouragement, you fall down, you don’t have power, you’re going to end up in a place you don’t want to be, because there’s no power in that, you gaze at yourself, brethren, and you’re headed for misery, we’ve got to keep our eyes on Christ. There is a righteousness of God that comes to us from Him. It is for us. It is earned by Christ. It is merited, it is worked out, and suffered.
You go look at Christ, when He was fulfilling all righteousness, He said John the Baptist, I’ve got to be baptized, I’ve got to fulfill all righteousness, I’ve got to work this out, and He did through the righteousness of one… the many are made righteous, through the work of one, through the merits of one, through… This is what we find in Romans 5, we find that through the merits of one, the many are made righteous. They’re declared righteous. We’ve got to come back to that reality, we’ve got to live on that reality, we’ve got to thrive on that reality. Brethren, it’s right there… And don’t let go of it…You see this is it. This is how they just live. From faith in Christ, to faith in Christ always looking to Him. Brethren, what I’ve been talking about in all this, is when you move away from that, when you exchange that for anything else. Then the hardening, deceitful realities of sin begin to set in.
Remember, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, and when men seek to suppress the truth, and when you get to a place, where the glories of the cross and the glories of Christ, You begin to exchange those things for the toys and for the trifles of the world, my friends, beware, beware. It’s hardening, and God begins to give you over. And I’ll tell you, if you find that there was a day you ran with the Christian crowd, your life made a turnaround and now all the sudden you find yourself falling into the grips of sexual sin again. Be afraid. Plead with the Lord, run back, cling to Christ, look to Him, call to Him. You’re on a slippery slope and people go down this slope all the time, if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have all of the warnings in scripture that we have. Brethren, this is imperative, hold fast to this reality, think much on it, a righteousness of God that is for me. Oh! That I did not have to earn.