Sermons

Summary: If we would listen and take seriously the negative message of the prophets, we would be a much more powerful and positive force in achieving the goal of keeping God's people faithful to Him and His Word.

Abraham Lincoln told of how he and his brother were plowing the corn

one day. He was driving the horse, and his brother was holding the plow.

The horse was lazy, but suddenly it took off so fast that even with his long

legs Lincoln could hardly keep up. On reaching the end of the furrow he

checked the horse, and he found what they called a chin fly fastened on him.

Lincoln knocked it off, but his brother scolded him for doing so. He said,

"That's all that made him go."

The prophet Isaiah was like a chin fly on Israel. The prophets were not

popular. They were despised because they were always biting and stinging,

and aggravating the people by their constant denunciation of their sin.

However, without this negative aggravation the people would have been like

a lazy horse, and they would have done little or nothing for God. The

prophet kept them going, or at least kept the remnant going by reminding

them constantly of their folly and their duty.

The prophets were great examples of the power of negative thinking. It is

superficial to be always encouraging people. When they are missing God's

best, they need to be discouraged, and then condemned in order to motivate

them to stop going down the wrong road. It does not harm your child to be

scolded and disciplined for their foolish acts, and when they rebel and begin

to go the way of the fool, they need to be punished. The negative approach,

when they are going astray, is just as important as the positive approach

when they are walking in obedience to God's light. Isaiah is an excellent

example of how the negative and the positive can both be used effectively. In

Isaiah we see the ideal balance of God's justice and God's mercy.

One of the reasons modern Christians do not care much for the prophets

is because we live in an era of positive thinking, and the prophets are too

negative. They go on for chapters at a time denouncing sin and evil. It gets

to be quite a bore when you are conditioned to hearing the positive. If we

are to gain the value from Isaiah that God intended His people to gain, we

must be convinced of the value of the negative. In other words, we must see

how the negative can lead to positive values. This alone will motivate us to

pay attention to the negative thinking of Isaiah.

First, let me share with you what Dr. Dunlap, a psychologist learned. He

made a simple but irritating error as he typed. Instead of THE, he typed the

H first and had HTE. The harder he tried, the more he goofed. He decided

to try something. He began to deliberately type HTE over and over

hundreds of times. After this deliberate negative practice, he discovered he

could then type it right with no difficulty. He found this negative practice

worked in many areas of life, such as swimming, golf, sending Morris code,

etc. When you bring the subconscious mistake to the surface, and gain

conscious control over it, you gain freedom from it. He wrote, "By

practicing the mistake you learn to break the power of the mistake over

you."

How does this apply to the prophet Isaiah and his condemnation of sin?

In this way. We know that the more unconscious sin is the greater power it

has over our life. The man who does not even know he uses a curse word in

every breath he takes cannot break the habit because he is blind to his folly.

However, if a man can be made conscious of his bad habit, so he is shocked

by it, and aware of what an offense and embarrassment it is, he will have a

choice at least to stop or alter his habit. Awareness of the negative is a key to

reaching the positive. Being tied up makes you long for freedom; being

hungry makes you long for food; war makes you long for peace; loneliness

makes you long for fellowship. The negative experiences of life drive us to

seek the opposite and positive experiences. It is only those who fully feel their

lossness who respond to the Gospel, and rejoice in being found by the Good

Shepherd- the Lord Jesus.

Find a man who is perfectly content with himself, and no matter how

wicked and lost he is, he will have no interest in salvation. It is only the man

who thinks negative about himself, and who feels worthless and lost who can

benefit from the positive Gospel of salvation. It is the same story with those

who are saved. If they backslide and are content in their fallen state, they

will not be interested in repenting and returning to God. It is only when

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