Summary: The Fourth in a multi-part series inspired by Rick Atchley’s series Revive Us Again.
TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS
INTRODUCTION: There was a fellow named Louie who was deep in debt, and was thinking of ending it all. When he confided in his neighbor, his neighbor said, "That’s ridiculous! I can give you a pill that will put you in a state of suspended animation. I’ll say you died and after the funeral I’ll ship you to another state where you can be revived and start a new life." Louie agreed, and the next day he was laid out in the funeral parlor with everyone lined up to pay their last respects. One of his creditors walks up to the coffin and said, "Louie, why did you do it! So you owed me $15,000. What’s $15,000 between friends?" A 2nd creditor went up and said, "Louie, all you had to do was ask. I would have extended the $50,000 you owed me indefinitely." A 3rd creditor goes up to the coffin and says, "Louie, you dirty rat! You borrowed $200,000 from me and now I’ve lost my house and business. You may be dead but I’m going to get my vengeance. I’m going to take this knife, stick in your heart and twist it once for every dollar you borrowed from me." When he heard this, Louie opened one eye and ever so slightly, lifted his index finger and said, "You - I’ll pay." Folks revival begins when we realize that we are dead in our sins, there is no way out and that living that way is no way to live. God will not bring revival to those who harbor sin in their lives. READ TEXT There was a cartoon several years ago in the Saturday Review of Literature which showed little George Washington standing with an axe in his hand and lying next to him on the ground is the famous cherry tree. He has already made his admission that he did it -- after all, he "cannot tell a lie." But his father is standing there exasperated saying, "All right, so you admit it! You always admit it! The question is, when are you going to stop doing it?!" That is what God says over and over again to His people, "When are you going to stop sinning so I can renew my Spirit in your life and restore you to myself?" Folks, God desperately wants to revive His people. He wants to work in their lives in a powerful way, but that can only happen when His people, those who wear His name, throw themselves at His feet in complete surrender, desperately seek His face in prayer and fasting, and then stop doing the sinful things they do. In our text there are two terms that we need to come to a perfect understanding of. The first is the word "turn." It means to turn back, to with draw, to lead away. It is the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word "metanoeo" which means repent. Probably the best way to define it is with the word "abandon." That is what God calls upon His people to do when He says "turn from you wicked ways." He means for them to drop their sinful habits and walk away, to abandon them and never to return. Now with "wicked ways" we can search the Bible from cover to cover and come up with thousands of items that fit under this umbrella. Wickedness and the ways of wickedness are as abundant as the stars, and we don’t have the time, and I am afraid the patience, to cover them all. Instead we will use three categories of wicked ways to help us understand what God demands us to walk away from if He is going to come back to His people in a powerful way.
I. ABANDON SELFISH DESIRES
A. One of the greatest sins man commits is the sin of selfishness. We have this innate sense; an insatiable urge to please ourselves no matter what it demands or who it hurts. And it never fails to amaze me just how great and how powerful this curse of Satan is. Friendships, family relationships, businesses, even whole churches are torn to shreds because someone had to set himself ahead of everyone else; someone demanded that it must be all about them.
1. In the book of Judges, the people of Israel ride this roller coaster of fellowship with God and separation from God. They go through seventeen different Judges and with each one they either go down the hill of sin and punishment or up the hill of repentance and restoration. The reason all this happens is found in two verses, Judges 17:6, 21:25. This is selfishness in its finest form.
2. In Deuteronomy 12:8, as Moses was preparing the second generation of God’s people to enter the promise land, he said, "You shall not at all do as we are doing here today – every man doing what is right in his own eyes." Why? Verse 9, "because you have not yet come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you."