Summary: In this sermon, we witness Abraham falling back into the same sinful pattern of lying and we are forced to wrestle with our own struggle against sinful habits that are hard to break.
A. Several elderly nuns were on the second floor of their convent one night when a fire broke out.
1. When the nuns realized the fire was blocking the exit, they took their habits off, tied them together to make a rope, and climbed out the window.
2. After they were safely on the ground, a news reporter asked one of the nuns, “Weren’t you afraid that the habits could have ripped or broke since they are old?
3. The nun replied, “Not at all, don’t you know that old habits are hard to break!”
B. How many of us here today can attest to the fact that “old habits are hard to break”?
1. Wouldn’t it be great if we could suddenly become instantly mature and completely perfect?
2. Imagine how different this world and our churches would be if the second we were baptized, we were immediately made morally flawless and spiritually wise.
3. Then we would have no more struggles with impatience, or greed, or lust, or selfishness.
4. We would no longer enter into complaining, or gossip, or lying.
5. Wouldn’t it be great if the instant we became a Christian, we’d become a model of flawless integrity?
C. So much for fantasy, now let’s come back to reality.
1. Alan Redpath wrote: “The conversion of the soul is the miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.”
2. When we become Christians, we do receive a new nature and we are a new creation, but that doesn’t mean we have escaped the influence of our old nature.
3. When we become Christians, we also receive the Spirit of God who takes up residency in us and whose mission is to transform us.
4. This gives us a new power over sin; it no longer has to be our master.
5. But even as the Spirit continues to help us become more like Christ, we must keep in mind that we are still 100% human.
D. As we move forward in our Christian lives, Satan and sin will continue to stalk us.
1. We will struggle with old temptations.
2. We will sometimes fall back into familiar sinful patterns.
3. Some faithful people will sometimes abandon their faith and become temporarily faithless.
4. Those of us who have been Christians a while can likely share our own experiences of failing faith and repeated struggles with old sins.
E. And when it comes to Abraham and his journey of faith, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that we are just like him, and he is just like us.
1. In today’s episode from Abraham’s journey of faith, we will witness his fall into an old sinful pattern that Charles Swindoll calls “disobedience déjà vu.”
I. The Story
A. Genesis 20 begins: 1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. (Gen. 20:1-2)
1. Yogi Berra is credited with saying: “It’s déjà vu all over again!”
2. You may remember that 25 years earlier, when Abraham went down into Egypt, he did the very same thing – he broadcast a half-truth that Sarah was his sister, rather than his wife.
3. Why had Abraham gone down into the Negev? Probably in response to the destruction of the cities of the plain and a desire to distance himself from the devastation.
4. Why did Abraham lie about Sarah? He lied because Sarah was a lovely woman and he feared that if he said she was his wife, he would be killed so that someone else could marry her.
a. When Abraham told this lie back in Genesis 12, Sarah was 65 years old.
b. Here in Genesis 20, when Abraham told this lie again, Sarah was now almost 90 years old.
c. Sarah had reached an age, which for most of us means wrinkles, grey hair and a crippled body, yet Sarah was still so stunning and desirable that Abimelech the king of Gerar wanted her for a wife.
d. So Abraham’s fears were not unfounded or farfetched.
4. But just like the last time, Abraham was now in deep trouble.
a. Sarah’s honor and God’s plan were again in jeopardy.
b. King Abimelech was on the verge of unknowingly committing a grievous moral transgression – adultery.
c. As I mentioned in the sermon back in Gen. 12, Sarah would have been kept away from all men, including the king himself for a period of time, while preparing for the wedding.
B. The story continues: 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” 4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”