#256, HINDERANCES TO ASSURANCE OF FAITH, #24
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. PSA 73:13-15
These words were spoken by Asaph while his eyes were wandering after the flesh. The hindrances to our faith are the subject of this message. We may have come to the place in our lives where we have felt the Lords nearness and have felt that the Lord has assured us of our portion in Christ. We may also have felt that the Lord has delivered us from the power of sin, but what are the things that hinder these assurances in our lives? Nothing hinders us more than when our eyes wander away from Christ.
Lets go back to the beginning of the chapter. PSA 73:1 says, "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." How did Asaph know that? He understood what it meant to have assurance of faith, and the witness of Gods Spirit in his heart that he was a son of God. He understood the nearness of the Lord; he saw what pleased the Lord and what accompanied salvation. Then he goes on to qualify what went on in his life and why his assurance was dimmed, and he was walking in darkness. Verses 2-3 continue, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
Now we see what hinders these assurances. When we have stepped into the snares of Satan, our hearts become taken up with lusts and covetousness. First, Asaph says God is truly good to Israel, to those with a clean heart, but now he saw how his garments had become soiled. Then he realized God had withdrawn His goodness and the blessed assurance that he had of Gods love. The Lord withdrew it. Now Asaph understands why; he was envious and jealous and covetous of the prosperity of the wicked.
The absence of health in our body is not always, but all to often attributed to some neglect to its maintenance. The health of our body is a gift of God, and if we dont have it, it is because the Lord didnt grant it. Very often we may spoil the health the Lord gives us by neglecting its maintenance, and so it is spiritually with regards to our assurance of faith. Many times the Lord has given us the assurance, and we have spoiled it. I can be a man of good health, but if I start smoking, I can bring upon myself emphysema, cancer, or the deterioration of the circulatory system. I can be a man of good health and spoil it by eating those foods that cause the coronary system to eventually fail. My neglect, or pursuit of an unhealthy lifestyle, can spoil my good health.
Sometimes the Lord gives us a very healthy spiritual state, but we can spoil it by taking in foreign substances we ought not to take in. We can allow our eyes to wander, taking our eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ and not walking in His fellowship. Dont say the Lord withdrew. No, we spoiled His nearness by us withdrawing from the Lord.
2PE 1:8-10 tells us about our assurance of faith, "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." What are "these things?" They are brotherly love, holiness, and godliness. Verse 9 continues, "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." If the things that accompany salvation are not nourished, the same as a healthy body that is not properly nourished or is given foreign substances that it ought not to have, can spoil our assurance of salvation. One may have enjoyed and had the presence of God and had assurance in his soul that he was "...fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." However, if he doesnt do these things, such as practicing brotherly love, holiness, or godliness, that accompany salvation, he will forget he was purged from his old sins. It means that he went back like a sow wallowing in the mire or a dog to his vomit.
Asaph tells us in our text what the result is. "For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning." He doesnt even sound like a child of God any more; he lost the image of Christ. Having forgotten he was purged from his sins, he went back to serving his old master. He spoiled his assurance of faith. These are things that hinder us. Now in verse 10 we see the remedy or prevention of falling: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." When we talk about the things that hinder the assurance of our faith, we must understand it is if we "do these things," if we exercise brotherly love, godliness, and the things that accompany salvation, then we will never fall.
Certainly we must look to the Lord to be upheld, but not in a fatalistic way. A person can theorize that he is going to die on a certain date, saying he might as well go ahead and smoke those cigarettes. That is fatalism. That is ungodly. It is a hindrance to good health, and he becomes responsible for polluting the temple of God. It is a gross sin. This is what we must see in a spiritual sense. We may not take in, as Asaph said, the things that are forbidden by allowing our eyes to wander. It brings him into the position where he says, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain." The Lord has withdrawn after he withdrew from the Lord.
So what things are "these things?" They are those things which pertain to the law of love.
In 2PE 1:5-7 we read, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." These are the things that accompany salvation. If we do these things we shall never become barren in the things of the Lord, and we shall not fall.
The Apostle Peter makes no apology for seeming to be repetitious about "these things" because they not only make us fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, and I make no apologies for seeming to be repetitious about "these things." Why? They not only make us fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, but they pertain to our assurance of faith.
We see this from 2PE 1:11-13. "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [That is our goalthat we may have an entrance into His everlasting kingdom. Therein lays the assurance of our faith. If our hearts are nourished by doing "these things" our spiritual health will not waver.] Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance." Satan would love to have us pass over "these things", and go on to the next page. Why? "These things" minister an entrance into the Lords kingdom. Wouldnt Satan be pleased if he could get us to forget the things that pertain to godliness and salvation?
It was the lack of "these things," being envious of the wicked, that brought Asaph into such a state of confusion and unbelief. Where is godliness, brotherly kindness, or charity? Asaph forgot "these things." Yet the Spirit never left him to sink into utter despair. We may have hindrances to the assurance of our faith, but never come into total despair of our faith. The Lord never allows us to fall away. We may fall, but we cannot fall away because underneath us are the everlasting arms. We may not have the comfort, nearness, or the love of God, but He will never let us fall away.
See this principle in PSA 73:22-25; notice how underneath it all Asaph saw his foolishness. The Lord opened his eyes to see his situation. "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. [The Lord allowed him to slip and come to the point where he had forsaken the Lord, but not to the point of falling away. He is like a little child walking with his father and holding his right hand, not allowing him to fall away.] Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." This is such a blessed testimony of a saint of God who in his foolishness took in foreign things that hindered his assurance of faith. However, it did not destroy his faith. His assurance was shaken as we see in our text because he had slipped by casting his eyes on the prosperity of the wicked.
We also see that many loose the sweet assurance of their faith, weakening it by yielding to the power of temptation. Sometimes the assurance of our faith becomes very weak by yielding to these temptations. Being tempted is no sin, but yielding is sin. Christ was tempted, but He didnt yield to it. It is by yielding to the power of temptation that pride sets in, and unbelief and desertion of the first love as Asaph did. Asaph confessed in PSA 77:7-9, "Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more? [He had allowed the sin of pride to come against him. The Lord has withdrawn, and Asaph must cry out.] Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah." This is Asaphs cry; he understood what it was to lose the blessed assurance of faith.
A person who is basking in the sunshine of Gods love would not speak those words, but one who has strayed away may utter these thoughts. These are the hindrances we must understand. We come to a point where we must call out, "Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" If we do find this is the language of our hearts, we must examine ourselves. Wherein have we strayed away from the Lord? Wherein have we become guilty of bringing in foreign matter that has destroyed our spiritual health?
Even though such times are very good for the cleansing of the soul's desires, they can be anxious times for the flesh. The Lord has His reasons for leading us through such time of struggle. It is for spiritual growth, going on toward perfection. Sometimes the Lord allows us to wander away for the sole reason of learning the grievousness of sin. It is very trying to the flesh.
See how Asaph struggled before his God in PSA 77:1-7. "I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. 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. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." Asaph now realizes the Lord has withdrawn Himself, and his assurance of faith was very weak. He had not forsaken his faith. We know this because he cried out to the Lord, but he didnt have the blessed assurance. We find the hindrance to his assurance in PSA 73.
Asaph understood what it was to have blessed times of assurance. Verse 6 continues, "I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?" He remembered the times when his faith was bright and songs of gladness filled his night. Now he was in trouble and crying unto his God because his God had forsaken him. The nearness and presence of the Lord had been removed. Asaph understood the times when he had assurance and when that assurance was dim.
Even in such times of soul trouble God's saints are upheld by the Spirit so they do not come into despair. Sometimes it is by looking back upon God's wonders in the past we gain understanding of our position before God. When David was at Ziklag, cf., 1 SAM. 30, he strengthened himself in the Lord his God. How could he do that? Was it by looking at the pile of ashes, at his own men wanting to stone him? He held his courage by looking back and remembering how the Lord had given him to kill the lion, bear, and slain Goliath. He remembered the anointing of oil when he was anointed as king. He had to look back because he certainly couldnt look at what was before him. The Lord leads His people through such times so they will remember the blessed times in the past when faith was bright.
I remember visiting with a pastor dying of cancer. He said to me, "You know, brother, Ive preached the way of salvation, now I have to be saved." He was in such a dark state of mind. He said Satan was so harassing him, telling him that after preaching to others all these years and now he would be a castaway. He was on his deathbed. I urged him to remember times when the Lord had blessed his ministry as persons were delivered from the powers of Satan and brought to salvation. After several hours we left, and he was now as restored as he had been cast down. Why? It was being able to look back on what the Lord had done of old.
PSA 77:11-13 says, "I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. [Some times it is a tremendous encouragement to our faith when the Lord leads us to look back and remember.] I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings." This is more precious than we realize. I have found in my own life that in times when it seems as if were dull and have no courage, speaking of times when the Lord was gracious brings faith to a newness of life. The assurance of faith again becomes strong. Verse 13 concludes, "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?"
Our health and our spiritual health are gifts of God's sovereignty, but we may cry many tears of remorse if we fatalistically take in substances known to be harmful until we find we have emphysema, lung cancer, or clogging and deterioration of our coronary system. When we come to the point where we find our health is ruined, we will cry tears of remorse. Some conditions like emphysema are irreversible.
So it is spiritually! David could not be comforted when Absalom was slain. Why? David understood it was the penalty of his sin. 2SA 18:33 says, "And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" Nathan had told David thou shall not die, but the sword will not depart from your house. Nathan then prophesied everything that would happen, and it was fulfilled with Absalom. David wept many tears, many bitter tears, but that did not bring Absalom back.
This is the same type of thing as if we fatalistically take substances in that we know are destructive to our bodies. Then we find we have an irreversible disease. It cant be undone. Therefore, it is important not to be fatalistic; that means we are to understand the warnings of the gospel and take heed. They do apply to us. We can destroy our health and cry bitter tears of remorse, but we cant undo it. So it is spiritually when we sin. We may cry many bitter tears of remorse when the Lord has withdrawn Himself from us.
Consider now ISA 59:1-4, "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [The Lord hasnt changed, your iniquities have come between you and God. Your sins have hid His face from you that He will not hear. Why?] For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity."
Remember what Peter said in 2PE 1:5-8, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you see the things in Peters list of virtues? He is talking about doing these things. What is charity? It is speaking of a person in the best possible light.
Now compare that with the list of sins above in ISA 59: 2-4hands filled with blood, fingers with iniquity, lips with lies, tongue muttering perverseness, and trusting in vanity. There is no brotherly love, and the Lord withdraws Himself. The Lords hand is not shortened and His ears can hear, but "these things" have come between God and the person. "None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity." These foreign objects: lust, coveting, and the Lord has said, "NO. Your sins have become a thick cloud and your prayers cannot come up through it." These are the things that hinder our assurance of faith. Therefore, we must be cognizant of them in order to avoid them. Not one of us is clean in this matter. If we enjoy the love, and nearness of God and the assurance of our faith, then we must be aware of the things that hinder. One of the things accompanying salvation is charity, and that is that we see our brother in the very best light; speaking ill of our neighbors is not seeing the brother in the best possible light.
When the hearts of God's dear children have strayed away from the Lord or when their eyes are taken away from Christ, they begin to feel like they are sinking in the waters of destruction. That is the sinking feeling Asaph had. In the words of our text we see, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children." PSA 73:13-15. In essence Asaph is saying he has been doing "these things," cleansing his heart, walking in brotherly love, and tried to do the things that accompanies salvation, and the Lord is still withdrawn.
His problem was that his heart had gone out in envy after the wicked. It wasnt because it was unprofitable to cleanse his heart. His problem was a heart sin; there is a difference between ungodliness and unrighteousness. He was not guilty of unrighteousness. He had not sinned against his brother. He was guilty of ungodliness. His heart became set on the things of their prosperity. He coveted. We will experience that sinking feeling when our hearts begin to go away from Christ and after the things of this world, when we take our eyes off Christ and focus on waters of destruction. The things Asaph coveted were things of destruction.
See what we read in MAT 14:28-31, which says, "And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Consider that the Ark floated over the water of destruction. Those who were in the Ark were saved; everyone that was outside the Ark was destroyed in the waters of destructionwhich was a type of Christ. We see Peter walking over these waters of destruction.
You and I by faith have to walk over the waters of destruction, and the only way we keep from sinking is to keep our eyes on Christ. Peter was walking on the water when he first left the ship, but when he saw the wind and the waves, he was afraid. Then as he began to sink, he cried for the Lord to save him. When you or I take our eyes off Christ, and were not fellowshipping in Christ but looking at the things of destruction, we will sink. That was what Asaph was experiencing. Even though Asaph saw the sinking condition of his soul, it doesnt mean the Lord was not faithful. We must also be so cognicent of keeping our eyes of faith fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ as we walk over the waters of destruction all around us. Once we allow our eyes to wander, we will immediately begin to sink; there is the sinking feeling we have in our breast. Has God forgotten to be gracious or kind? Where does that sinking feeling of despair come from? The hindrance is, as Peter found, walking by sight not faith. As we walk the walk of faith, we are walking on water. As soon as our eye comes off Christ, we begin to sink.
When Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Why did you take your eye off Christ? Why were you looking at those waves of the waters of destruction? Why were you beginning to walk by sight? You were walking by faith. When we begin to take our eyes off Christ, by faith, then we are walking by sight and immediately begin to sink. There goes your assurance. It is so important to understand this principle.
When one who has had a sweet assurance of faith begins to look within, he sees all the remaining indwelling sins, and then he comes to the place spoken of by David in PSA 38:5-10. "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." When we begin looking within, it is a hindrance to our assurance of faith; we are walking by sight. Joy is spoiled because we are looking at the corruption of our own hearts rather than the preciousness there is in Christ who cleansed us from this corruption. If our eyes are fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and we can see our names engraved on Christs back by the finger of Gods justice, we dont have to look within. Why? All the corruptions and sin have been washed away, and we can rejoice in the blessedness of our Redeemer. When the eye is removed from Christ the assurance disappears. Then we will cry with David.
Verse 7 continues, "For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me." We are no longer walking in the light when this is our plight. Our assurance has slipped away. Why? We are looking within instead of looking out to the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. All our sins disappear when we can see our name written on the palms of His hands. See what we read in ISA 49:16, "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
Even though Asaph saw the sinking condition of his soul, it doesnt mean the Lord was not faithful. Holy assurance of faith and lowliness of heart are very compatible. They dwell in perfect fellowship within the same breast. I am not trying to say we should not know our own heart, but we shouldnt get bogged down like David. Let me show you the difference. We do see the assurance of faith and lowliness of heart are compatible qualities. They dwell in perfect harmony.
It was the same Apostle Paul who said, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" in ROM 7:24, who also said in 2TI 1:12, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." The fact that I know the corruption of my own heart doesnt remove my assurance of faith, but if my eye becomes fixed upon that corruption, I lose sight of Christ. There is a difference. Pauls assurance of faith was not shaken by his knowledge of the corruption of his own heart. As we grow in the knowledge of Christ, we will grow in the knowledge of our own heart. Its corruption is not going to bring us to the point David came to, that his light was out.
This formula which we find in 2CO 6:10 is so strange to the world, yet it is common experience with God's dear children. 2CO 6:9-10 says, "As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." When God opens our eyes to see the nature of our sins, and how far we come short of conformity with the image of Christ, we too are sorrowful. There is great sorrow when the Lord opens our eyes to see what our sins have brought upon our Saviour. When we see what love we have sinned against, and the preciousness of the atoning blood of Christ, we can have tremendous sorrow knowing we needed it for every spot and wrinkle on our souls.
Yet we rejoice because God has not left us over to serve in the kingdom of darkness--we rejoice that God has planted the good seed of the gospel into our hearts which brings forth fruit of repentance, i.e., deep sorrow over sinning against such love. The sorrow we feel does not bring the doom and gloom that David complained about. Do you see now why holy assurance of faith and lowliness of heart are compatible and hold a common place in the hearts of Gods children. Sorrow, yet always rejoicing, poor in ourselves but making many rich in Christ, and having nothing yet possessing all things are very compatible with the assurance of faith. We must watch that when faith grows dim, when our assurances seemingly have been marred, sin has entered into the account.
When God opens our eyes to see the nature of our sins, and how far short we come of comformity with the image of Christ, we are sorrowful. It makes our hearts mourn. I have had many times in my life when my heart seemed to sink. Then I have to say with David, "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD," PSA 25:7. My heart has such sorrow when I think of some of the things in my past, but it doesnt remove my assurance. It is the blessed Spirit that gave me the knowledge to understand the sinfulness of that which makes me sorry. Yet, I rejoice.
We can rejoice because God has not left us over to serve in the kingdom of darkness. That is where the joy is found. The joy is to know that we have been quickened and washed, and we no longer live in and serve the things we did. There is such great joy in seeing that now we do "these things:" charity, godliness, brotherly love, the things that accompany salvation. We are no longer unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have not been given over to the things of sight and flesh. We rejoice that God has planted the good seed of the gospel in our hearts, which brings forth fruit unto repentance. That is a deep sorrow over sinning against such love as Christ has for us, but it does not hinder our assurance.
When Paul's eyes were opened to see his wretched condition by reason of his body of death he cried out for deliverance. He didnt sit in a fatalistic mournful condition; he cried out for deliverance. ROM 7:24-25 says, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [then in the same breath he says] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Paul had that consolation even in the midst of his anguish over the wretched condition of his own heart. Take careful notice that his remorse of seeing the corruption of his flesh didnt dampen his faith. He serves the law of God with his heart, soul and mind. It is the law of love.
As we see in the case of Asaph from the words of our text, as long as he envied the proud, or looked within his own sinful heart he had to say, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children," PSA 73:13-15. Do you see that this is not the language of the Apostle Paul? He did see and understand the corruption of his heart, but he was not bogged down. Why? It wasnt that sin had gotten into the camp, it was that he had learned to recognize the sin of his own heart. He loathed and sorrowed over that sin, but he wasnt serving it. Asaph had begun to serve that sin; he cherished it. He was envious; he looked at the prosperity of the wicked and coveted it. There is the difference.
So where was Asaphs deliverance from these doubts and fears? Look at PSA 73:16-18 where we read, "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction." Where is the sanctuary? It is Jesus Christ; He is the place of safety and security. It is the same thing Paul saw. When Asaph took his eyes off himself and lifted them up, he understood. Now, knowing the end of the wicked, he was no longer envious. He saw that their pomp and pride were leading them to eternal hell.
When Asaph's eyes were opened to see what beauties there are in Christ he said in PSA 73:22-28, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. [Even in his ignorance in coveting the waters of destruction, the Lord was faithful.] Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works." Asaph saw how his heart had started to commit spiritual adultery, but the Lord spared him. He saw what had hindered the blessedness of his assurance of faith, and the union between him and God.
There are three principle things which our archenemy seeks to accomplish. We must be on guard against the snares of Satan. First, to tempt us into some sin that draws our heart away from God. This is recorded in REV 2:14, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." Balaam was not able to curse Israel, but he could teach Balac how to cause the Lord to become angry with Israel. Satan hasn't forgotten any trick that has worked once; hell try it again and again. One trick that worked was to put on a scene. Here comes the beautiful woman to stir the lust of the flesh, and they fell. The women coaxed them into committing fornication and serving their idol. It worked. God became wrath. What did God do? He sent a plague where some 20,000 were destroyed.
Secondly, thereby he seeks to turn the hearts away from Christ, to envy the wicked. PSA 73:2-3 says, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
Thirdly the sad result is that when we are taken in his snare, we bring darkness upon our soul as we see from our text, PSA 73:13-15. "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children." That is what is behind the scene. Satan knows he cannot eternally destroy one of Gods people, but he loves to hear them cry like this in the darkness of their souls. He loves causing the grief upon the church and reproach upon the Lord.
When David sinned with Bathsheba, he gave great occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme. Therefore, the child will die. There is nothing Satan likes more than to bring you into a position where you bring blasphemy upon the name of the Lord. Look at our text; "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain," that is Satans goal. It is to bring you into darkness and lose your assurance of faith. How does Satan do it? It is by luring you to walk away from Christ. Do you understand what Asaph is saying in the rest of the text? It is the same as Nathan said to David. You have brought great occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme. We must be so careful.
One time my mother explained how my grandfather spent weeks in such grief and mourning because he had become angry with a mule and hit it so hard with a stick, he thought he had killed it. My grandfather spent 2 weeks nursing the mule to keep it from dying, and he begged the Lord to spare that mule. The Lord spared him because he said what would it do to His great Name. I profess Christianity, and if that becomes known in the community that in a fit of temper I killed the mule, then the danger of bringing blasphemy causes such a sensitive spot in the heart of Gods people. That is the offending of the generation of thy people found in our text. He did not want to become an offense to the church and bring blasphemy upon Christianity.
The blessed consolation we have in all these trials is that God has loved His dear children from eternity, therefore He is faithful. The Lord spares us from our foolishness. See this in JUD 1:1. "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called...." You see, even before the Lord has worked grace in our hearts, we are preserved in the Lord Jesus Christ, and called. This faithfulness of God is what we have as our consolation, but be so careful not to sin against His love.
The effectual call is out of darkness into the marvelous light of the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be in the light? The light is the condemnation of the world because they dont dare expose their deeds. However, those living in the light come to the Word that they may be washed by the water of the Word. 2CO 4:6 says, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
EPH 5:8 tells us, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Our text says, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children." PSA 73:13-15. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.
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