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Summary: If you want your future to be better than your past, don’t give into your passions. Instead, rest in God’s provision of a King, King Jesus, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, who died to save you from your sins.

Pastor Donn Moomaw was preaching in Bel Air, Maryland, where a lady came up to him after a sermon and said, “Oh, Reverend Moomaw, I just have to tell you that every sermon you preach is better than your next.”

He thanked her and then went home to think about it. It’s not really a compliment any preacher wants to hear, because it means that every sermon is worse than the last. It’s a compliment that only a pessimist can give, and that’s the way some people look at life: “Every day is better than the next,” or “Every year is better than the next.” (Earl Palmer, “A Durable Hope,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 47)

How sad, because you don’t have to live that way. Rather, you can live with the confidence that the future is better than the past if you look to the Lord and not to yourself.

If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 49, Genesis 49, where old Jacob blesses his family and gives them a vision of their future. Now, that vision is not only for Jacob’s family, but for all of us who by faith in Christ are a part of God’s family.

Genesis 49:1-4 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch! (ESV)

Reuben was strong, but he was weakened by his lust. He gave into his passions so he could “not have preeminence.”

This happened after Israel, Reuben’s father, had been cheated by his uncle Laban for 20 years. It happened after Israel had wrestled with God, and after his beloved wife, Rachel, had died. After Israel had returned with his family to his childhood home, Genesis 35 records, “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.” (Genesis 35:22).

Israel knew what had happened, even though nobody else did until now, several decades later. What Reuben did was in secret, and maybe he thought he got away with it, but his sin was exposed and now his whole family knows what he did. As a result, he has lost his position in the family as the primary heir. He is disqualified to lead the family, even though that was his right as the first born son.

He gave into his passions so he could no longer excel, and that’s what happens when you give into your passions, as well. You may think you’re sinning in secret, but the Bible is very clear: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). What is done is secret will eventually be revealed, and it could have serious consequences. So if you want your future to be better than your past…

DON’T GIVE IN TO YOUR PASSIONS.

Don’t yield to your appetites which lead you away from God. Don’t surrender to those strong feelings which steer you in the wrong direction.

Don’t give into your lusts like Reuben did, because that weakens any person.

For most of his career as a British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge was a cantankerous writer known for heavy drinking, womanizing, and arguing his agnostic viewpoint. Then towards the end of his life he came to faith in Christ. He writes about an incident when as a young man he gave into temptation.

Just after graduating from Cambridge, Muggeridge moved to India to teach English. One day as he was strolling by a nearby river in the early evening, he spotted the silhouette of a woman bathing on the other side. Muggeridge wrote that his heart began to race with what he called the “wild unreasonableness which is called passion.” Overcome by lust, he plunged into the water and started crossing the river. As he approached the woman, he suddenly realized that she was a toothless, wrinkled, and deformed leper. He quickly threw himself back into the river and started swimming in the other direction.

Years later, Muggeridge admitted that the real shock that morning was not the leper, as mind-bending as that would be. Rather, it was the condition of his own heart, dark, with appetites overpowering his weak will. (Simon Ponsonby, Loving Mercy, Monarch Books, 2012, pp. 46-47; www.PreachingToday.com)

What a powerful picture of the nature of lust. It always promises much more than it delivers, and it is overpowering. Unbridled lust will ruin your life. It will certainly ruin your chances for a happy marriage.

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