Summary: A Father's Day sermon that examines Abraham's fatal decision to betray his wife out of fear of Pharaoh, and the consequences of the "faltering faith" of this otherwise great man of faith.

When a Father’s Faith Falters

Father’s Day Message

Chuck Sligh

June 21, 2015

TEXT: Turn to Genesis 12

INTRODUCTION

Since it’s Father’s Day, men, I’m going to do us all a favor. I’m going to help your wives understand you with Chuck Sligh’s Dictionary of Man Phrases. Men know what they mean by what they, but you ladies sometimes need a little translation, so here are a few translations from my newest best-seller.

• When a man says, “It would take too long to explain”, he means: “I have no idea how it works.”

• When a man says, “Take a break, Honey. You’re working too hard”, what he means is “I can’t hear the game over the vacuum cleaner.”

• When he says “Can I help with dinner?”, he means “Why isn’t it ready yet?”

• When a man says “I can’t find it”, what he really means is, “It didn’t fall into my outstretched hand, so I’m completely clueless.”

• When a man says “You look terrific!”, that translates into “Oh please don’t try on one more outfit, we’re late and I’m starving.”

• When a man says, “That’s not what I meant”, He means: “If something I said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, I meant the other one.”

It’s always fun to laugh about the differences between men and women, but I want to have a serious heart-to-heart talk with our men this morning about a very serious matter.

Illus. – Let me illustrate by telling about a man in our church in Tennessee I’ll call Dave (not his real name). Dave faced some very difficult problems in his life with his second wife. Before long, he started skipping the Wednesday evening service. Soon he was missing Sunday evenings, and his attendance became spotty on Sunday mornings until he eventually he dropped out of church altogether. Dave had four kids—all of whom had come to faith in Christ and serving God when he was walking with God. But as time went by, they too turned away from the Lord, following Dad. Both of his oldest sons ended up on drugs. Their older daughter was also on drugs and had a baby out of wedlock. The younger daughter followed right in the footsteps of her sister. Sadly, it can all be laid at the door of Dave and his faltering faith.

Abraham was a great man of God in many ways, but he multiplied for himself and his descendants many sorrows because of a time in his life of faltering faith. Men, since this is Father’s Day, I want to tell you a cautionary tale of a father who did many things RIGHT—but sadly failed in one area of his life, with tragic consequences. I hope that you will not make the same kind of mistakes.

Turn now to Genesis 12:10-20 – “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.”

As we examine this sad story, notice with me…

I. THE SETTING.

Abraham was in the place of God’s choosing. He had been called by God from Ur of Chaldees through Haran, and was now in Palestine, the place God had called him to. He had settled into the land…but then famine struck.

This reminds us that trouble can come even when we’re in God’s will. Not everything bad in our lives is discipline from God. Sometimes God uses suffering to teach us how to grow in some area of our lives.

Abraham had the opportunity to learn from his trial and trust God…but instead we see that he turns to Egypt for help. This was a common practice, but it was a debatable solution. The Scriptures give many examples of those who went to Egypt in times of trouble and it turned out to be morally and spiritually detrimental for them. In the Bible, Egypt is a symbolic representation of the world. How often men face a trial or a trouble and they go to the world for help instead of trusting God and going to His Word. That’s what Abraham did, and it proved disastrous.

II. NOTICE SECONDLY, ABRAHAM’S SIN.

Abraham’s sin was deception and betrayal of his wife. I’d like to point out three things about his sin:

• Consider first of all ABRAHAM’S FEAR—the cause of his sin.

Apparently Sarah was a very attractive woman. Abraham thought that Pharaoh would kill him in order to have Sarah—so he used deception to save his own neck!

The reason for Abraham’s deception was a deeper sin—the sin of fear. Clarence MaCartney said, “Fear is man’s greatest adversary.” Like Abraham, fear will make a coward of you if you don’t master it.

Illus. – The story’s told of a man known as Farmer Joe who had been involved in an accident and decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company to court. In court the truck company’s fancy lawyer questioned Farmer Joe.

“Didn’t you say at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine’?” asked the lawyer.

Farmer Joe responded, “Well I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…”

The lawyer interrupted, “I didn’t ask for any details. Just answer the question. Did you not say at the accident scene, ‘I’m fine’?”

“Well, I’d just got Bessie in the trailer and I drove down the road…”

The lawyer interrupted again and said to the judge, “Your honor, I’m trying to establish the fact that this man told the patrolman on the scene of the accident he was just fine. Now, weeks afterwards, he’s trying to sue my client. I believe he’s a fraud. Please tell him to only answer the question.”

By this time the judge was interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and said, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie.”

Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, “Well, as I was a’sayin, I’d just loaded Bessie in the trailer when a huge semi-trailer truck ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurtin’ real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moanin’ and groanin’. Then a policeman came on the scene. Hearing Bessie’s moanin’, he looked at her, took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the policeman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, ‘Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are YOU feeling?’”

We can laugh about that, but fear is no laughing matter. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Now answer this question for me: If GOD has not given us the spirit of fear, where does it come from? Fear is sin because it is the opposite of faith and Paul said in Romans 14:23 that “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

• Note next ABRAHAM’S COWARDLY SOLUTION to his fear.

He encourages a lie to save his own neck. In other words, HE WAS THINKING ONLY OF HIMSELF.

Abraham is recognizes as a great man of faith, but his faith faltered utterly here. Paul taught that the husband is to love his wife more than his own body and to love her as Christ loved the church. Abraham failed the test tragically. How he could ever look Sarah in the eye again is beyond me. And how she could ever respect him again is equally a mystery.

But before you judge Abraham too harshly, have you ever asked your wife to do something you knew was wrong or not in her best interests just to protect yourself? Men, that’s a sin. The consequences of the deceit may not be as great as Abraham’s fateful decision, but it’s sin nevertheless.

III. FINALLY, CONSIDER WITH ME THE SEQUEL TO THIS CAUTIONARY TALE.

We’ve taken note of Abraham’s foolish sin: Fear led to SELFISHNESS, which led to DECEPTION, which led to BETRAYAL. Now let’s look at “the REST of the story,” as the late Paul Harvey used to say. Abraham’s act triggered a chain of events that would later cost him much.

What did Abraham’s faltering faith do?

• Well, first it grieved God.

Sin ALWAYS grieves God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:30 – “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

• Second, Abraham’s faltering faith cost him his testimony.

In our text, we see how Pharaoh, a lost pagan, reproached Abraham! How sad a lost man had a greater sense of right and wrong than God’s man! Because of Abraham’s sin, it may well have become an evil influence on Lot, who soon after left Abraham to go live in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sin always costs a lost testimony once exposed.

Illus. – In the church I pastored in Bicester, England, there was an Air Force sergeant who openly avowed in his shop that he was a Christian. For the most part, he lived for Christ and invited people to church.

Then one day he got the short end of the stick in his shop schedule and blew up in a rage, and without thinking, let out several curse words. That day he lost the respect of his co-workers. They knew that his temper tantrum and the words that spewed from his lips were incompatible with his profession as a follower of Jesus. He finally won back his testimony but it took a very long time.

Once a testimony is lost, it takes a long, long time to win it back.

• Third, Abraham’s faltering faith weakened his own faith.

He failed God later by doing the VERY SAME THING again in Genesis 20! He repeated his sin IN SPITE OF his first experience! Once we allow a sin in our lives, the next time it’s much easier. Sinful patterns are easy to establish, and hard to eliminate. That’s why sin must be dealt with seriously!

• Fourth, it hurt others – Genesis 12:17 – “And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.”

Abraham’s sin had consequences on Pharaoh and his household. It’s possible for the sins of believers to hurt others, even unsaved people.

• Fifth, it resulted in contact with Hagar, who would lead to further sin in his life.

Genesis 16:3 indicates that Sarah’s servant, Hagar, came from Egypt. Hagar was added to their household because of their trip to Egypt. She later became Abraham’s mistress—with tragic results that reverberate to this very day! Hagar’s son, Ishmael, is the father of the Arabs and Sarah’s son, Isaac, is the father of the Jews. The descendants of these two have been fighting one another for the past 4,000 years—and it all goes all the way back to Abraham’s fear and faithlessness and selfishness in Egypt.

• Finally, Abraham’s sin provided a really BAD example for his son, Isaac.

We’ll not have the time to read it, but in Genesis 26 Isaac did to his wife EXACTLY what Abraham had done with Sarah in Genesis 12 and 20. He follows right in the footsteps of his father, Abraham.

POEM: Men, never forget the truth in this poem:

There are little eyes upon you, and they’re watching night and day;

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say;

There are little hands all eager to do everything you do,

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol; you’re the wisest of the wise;

In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise;

He believes in you devoutly, holds all that you say and do,

He will say and do in your way when he’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right,

And his ears are always open, and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example every day in all you do

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you.

CONCLUSION

Men, what can this passage teach us today, on this Father’s Day in 2015? There are several important lessons here that I think we as men need to be reminded of:

• First, we see in this story that sin has its price.

That’s always true: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Someone has correctly said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.” Men, we must stand fast against sin in our lives.

• The second principle is this: Sin can result in lost testimony.

On your job, in your neighborhood, on the softball field, in the commissary —it only takes one little sin to damage your testimony and harm Christ’s cause. You CAN restore a lost testimony, but it takes a long time.

• Principle number 3: Sin always affects others.

Men, we’re answerable to God for the spiritual welfare of our families. Our loved ones are fully capable of sinning on their own, regardless of our direction, but if they sin because of failures ON OUR PART—we’re in big trouble! How absolutely ESSENTIAL it is to be the example before your wife and kids in your actions; in controlling your temper; in honesty; in integrity; in loving your wife; in how you rear your children, in the influences you allow in your life, and leading them to God and faithfulness and participation in a good church.

God help us to be godly examples in our homes! Don’t think you can be a poor example without it affecting your kids and your wife. Sin ALWAYS affects others.

• Finally, sin always grieves God.

When David confessed his sin with Bathsheba, he realized that he had grieved God. He said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (Psalm 51:4a) His sin had affected Bathsheba, her husband Uriah, David’s own family and, indeed, the whole nation of Israel, but David realized that in the end, his sin was against God.

Ultimately that’s the final issue, isn’t it? When we sin, it affects others—but most of all it grieves a holy God. Praise God for an advocate with the Father who can take care of our sin for us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

But we can only claim that if we know Christ as Savior. So let me ask you, Dad—Are you saved? You know, the greatest gift you could give to your family is to be a saved dad. If you’re here today and don’t know the Lord, don’t leave without giving your life wholly to God today.