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Don’t Turn Away From God

 

And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king. (1Sam 12:19-25)

 

The Children of Israel were, at times, a sinful and wicked people. (In reality, they were always sinners, with a varying number of truly saved individuals in their midst; except, there were times when the Spirit of the Lord, through various rulers, would draw them close unto Him.) On the occasion referenced in our text passage, we find that the Children of Israel - already caught up in sin - had sinned further. When confronted with their exceeding sinfulness, they initially seem to despair. However, Samuel comforts them, and encourages them - after having first condemned their sins. Samuel knew that the possibility existed that they might turn ever further from God, and turn ever more unto sin.

 

Today, I would like to apply this logic to our behavior, and to our reaction to sin in our lives. It seems that sometimes, it is almost easier to continue in sin, and to gradually (or abruptly) be taken away from God, based on the inner shame (or the inner fear of judgment) that we feel over our sinful behavior. Certainly, in the lives of the unsaved, this must be true. Whenever they are confronted with a presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; or, whenever they are forced to face the morality taught in the Word of God as It is compared to their own miserable lives, they will often consider it easier to just turn from God (even further) and ignore the nobler aspects of humanity, and indulge further in sin.

 

Even in the case of the saved, when we are caught up in sin, our own shame and our own fear of God may cause us to doubt our usefulness unto God; and, since we have already (humanly speaking) distanced ourselves from God, we continue on our way, away from God, instead of turning to Him and crying out for repentance. And yet, the Lord will still use us, despite our sinful failings. And, though we do fail and sin from time to time, there is still mercy with the Lord, and there is still a Cause for which we must contend! Don’t despair in your sin. Don’t turn further from God, when you have stumbled or been caught in the mire of sin! I want you to know today, that the Lord is sovereign over all things - including the salvation of men. He will not propose to take one unto Him in salvation, and then allow or tolerate the devil to destroy that soul.

 

Don’t Let Sin Prevent You Any Longer

 

 First, today, let me address the unsaved, the lost, the undone, the sinner drowning in the depths of sin. Don't let sin prevent your repentance and belief in Christ! The Gospel cry goes forth: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isa 55:1) Don’t think that you have to “straighten out your life,” or “turn over a new leaf,” before that you can come to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Surely, if you wait on some goodness to come forth from you, which would be acceptable in the Sight of God as a basis for your salvation, then you will forever wait, and you will be eternally lost. Instead, I want you to know that the very sins which are your destruction now, are the sins that the Lord Jesus Christ came to save you from. Don’t try to dress yourself up, because you fear that your sins are too great, and they are a hindrance from coming to Christ. No, the knowledge of your sins should drive you to the saving arms of Jesus Christ! You will be destroyed, and forever lost, if you do not come to Jesus Christ! I know that it must be the Spirit of God Who draws you to Him. But, I also know that you must come because you desire Him – this salvation is not against your will; rather, your will – your desire for Christ – is made conformable to the desires and the will and the purpose of God. If you feel your need of Him, do not tarry! Do not allow the sin and the wickedness of this life prevent you from the One Who is destined to save you from those very sins. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7)

 

The Word of God, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope for the forlorn sinner. Our only salvation is in Him, and is made possible (and certain) through the Work, the Suffering, the Blood, the Death, the Burial, and the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christ paid it all - for each of the terrible sinners ordained unto salvation. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Eph 1:7) True, some are more wicked than others, but none that are His, are too far gone (away). He will recover them from their sins, and lead them into righteousness. They will repent; they will believe. All who are lost and undone need only turn unto Jesus Christ, and turn away from their sins. The salvation that He has provided for His people is certainly and surely able to save His people from their sins.

 

Speaking of his own wickedness, and the terrible sinfulness that he had been caught up in, the Apostle Paul said, And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1Tim 1:12-16) The Apostle Paul is an example and a pattern – for all of the Christian world to see – of a man who was utterly opposed to Jesus Christ, and who was then saved by the grace of God. The grace of God was sufficient to save Paul! The Apostle Paul is an example and a pattern – for all of the Christian world to see – of a man who was wicked and undone, who was saved, and then used in a mighty way, to serve the God, and promote the cause, which he had once sought to destroy. The grace of God was sufficient to save Paul, and then to use him greatly in the Churches of Jesus Christ! Don’t let sin prevent you from coming to Christ – He will save, and His grace is sufficient, for each and every sinner who comes to Him in genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Don’t Let Sin Separate You Any Further

 

 Now, let me move on to address those who are saved, who may be caught up in some sin or sins in this life. I know, if you are truly saved, that you do love the Lord Jesus Christ, and your Father in Heaven. I know, if you are truly saved, that you have a sincere longing to please Him, and a genuine desire to exalt the Name of Christ with your life. And yet, from time to time, we will (at least some of us) allow sin to come into our lives, in such a manner, or to such an extent, that it seems we are at a distance from God, and we seem farther away from Jesus Christ. If you are in such a condition, I implore you today, “Don't let sin distance you from God, after you have been saved.” David said, Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Ps 27:7-14) If you have fallen in some snare, I encourage you to get up and try again. Cry out unto the God of mercy and grace, He will save you out of your troubles, and the sins which might afflict you, and He will bring you near unto Him. I believe that all of us would faint in this life, due to the sorrows and the sins and the temptations of this mortal realm, if it were not for the goodness and the strength and the faithfulness of our Lord God. He will be faithful unto us – He will never forsake us. When we are caught up in some sins, perhaps, some of our family or friends in this life may forsake us; but, God will never forsake us. He will always be with us. Of course, it is even better if we can resist the temptations in the first place, and if we can remain focused and centered on Jesus Christ. And yet, we know, from time to time, and from place to place, we will stray from that dedication and from that faithfulness unto the Lord. In such a time, don’t throw up your hands in despair, and say, “It is easier to just continue on this way, and forget about being useful unto the Lord.” Instead, remember that the Lord has a will and a purpose that must be accomplished in this world and this age, and He is using men – miserable and fallen creatures though we be – to accomplish His pre-determined ends. You and I must be a part of our God’s will. You and I must not turn further from Him, when caught in sin; instead, we must rise up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work – laboring in the Cause of Christ, and in the Churches of the Lord.

 

An example that the Lord gives us, is the “Parable of the Two Sons.” But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. (Matt 21:28-31) In the end, the son who was obedient unto his father, was the son who was initially rebellious. The son who was useful in the vineyard was the one who was, at first, unwilling to work at all. This is an example for us, even those of us who are saved. Our sins may cause us to resist the leadership and the call of the Holy Spirit, to work in the Kingdom of Heaven; but, genuine repentance, and godly sorrow over our own sins, can be the motivation to re-enter the work, and apply ourselves again, in the service of the Lord.

 

We read the Words of the Lord, again, in the Book of Luke: And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62) If you have put your hand to the plow, and you have left the work for some reason (perhaps sin has brought you low?), I want to remind you that you have a duty unto the Lord and Saviour, Who is your Master! Return to the plow! Take up your task! Fulfill the blessed privilege and responsibility of being a laborer in the harvest, a runner in the race, a soldier in the battle, an envoy of Heaven in the world of men! Don’t give in to the life of sin and laziness; instead, resist the evil inclinations of the flesh and rejoin the cause of Christ!

 

Don’t Doubt Your Saviour

 

Finally, today, I want to remind you that your salvation, as it is begun in you, and as it is worked out in your service unto God, is not a tribute to your success, your willingness, or your inherent ability to positively relate to God and His Ways. Rather, your salvation from sin and Hell, and the promise of Heaven which is within you, are a tribute to the grace of God, and the preserving power of the Holy Spirit of God. Though you may imagine, sometimes, that you’re not as useful as you should be; or, though you might be inclined to think, sometimes, that it would be better and easier, to just drift through this life, and wait for the Lord to call you home; I can assure you that our sovereign God will not be denied, and He will use you in the way that He has ordained. In the end, the success or the failure of your salvation rests in God. And, we can safely say that if success and failure rest with God, then we are certain of success – because God cannot fail. Don’t doubt your Saviour! You may not have been all that you should have been in the past, but that does not prevent the Lord from using you in a mighty way in the future!

 

The prophet Samuel reminded the People of Israel that the Lord would preserve those who are called by His Name. Though they had sinned, the Lord would still use them. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. (1Sam 12:22) Once God has put His Name upon you, you can be certain and sure that He will not allow you to forever depart from Him. You may drift some distance from Him; you may stumble and you may fall; however, the Lord God of Heaven and Earth will not allow His Name to be brought low, nor will He allow one who is called by His Name to be utterly destroyed. Our God will preserve and honor the people who are called by His Name. If He is the sovereign God of this Creation, surely He is able and willing to preserve those who have called upon Him! Our preservation and His glory are inseparably linked. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. (Exod 15:16-18)

 

Though we are sinners, we are saved by the grace of God. Our Saviour won't permit Satan the victory – not in the life of even one of those who are ordained unto salvation. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. (Ps 46:7-11) He won't allow sin to overcome and utterly destroy even one of His people. We need to realize that our success and our salvation is in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. What the Will of God has ordained to His glory, must be finally and perfectly accomplished. Our success in the works of salvation is certain and true, based upon the power and the sovereign predestined will of God our Saviour. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. (Ps 79:9) He will show us the way, and He will prosper us in that blessed way.

 

Despite the challenges that we face, and the weaknesses that we sometimes demonstrate, God will give us the victory over the sin and shortcomings with which we may sometimes be faced. Don't worry or be discouraged, He has a use for each of us. Don’t despair in your sin – don’t give in to it! Don't imagine that you will sin (or have sinned) beyond the point of no return. Don't turn away from God - turn away from sin.I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. (Ps 40:1-4)

 

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