Sunday, October 15, 2017

Walking Away From God While Still Sitting On A Pew

Temple Baptist Church - 10-15-2017
Luke 15:25-32


A.  In my first message along this line, we saw that being lukewarm is not a benign neutrality with God.  If you are not walking with God, you are walking away from Him.

B.  The Prodigal Son was a type of the backslidden child of God who ends up in the “hog pen.”  They get out of the will of God; get out of church and must be restored.

C.  Not all backsliders get out of church.  There was another Prodigal Son who had remained in his Father’s House!  I want to make some spiritual applications concerning the Prodigal who stayed at home.  The Prodigal who stayed at home was the lukewarm backslider of Revelation, chapter 3.  In church but satisfied and having need of nothing.  Needing nothing equals receiving nothing equals doing nothing!

D.  Proverbs gives a great description of the “why” of the backslider on the pew who has remained faithful but has “walked away from God” in his heart.

Proverbs 5:12-14  And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;  (13)  And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!  (14)  I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.

1.  The Prodigal Son who stayed at home was a son of the Father.  In the spiritual application of this, we will say that he was a child of God.  Saved but not knowing it.  You might ask, “Preacher, how can you be saved and not know it?”  By spending your days for self without praying or, for the most part, not acknowledging the presence of God in your life.  Therefore, saved but not showing it.

2.  The Prodigal Son who stayed at home lived in the Father’s House.  In the spiritual application, we will say that he attended church on a regular basis.  Forgetting that this is God’s house where we come to gather with God’s people to worship God who is altogether lovely and worthy of our praise.  Faithful but not growing.

3.  The Prodigal Son who stayed at home was working in the Father’s fields.  In the spiritual application, we will say that he was faithful in the work of the Lord.  No weeping or bearing precious seed; no burden for the lost; never handing out a gospel tract or witnessing to those around us.  Or laboring but not enjoying it.

4.  BUT, The Prodigal Son who stayed at home had a Grievance!  In the spiritual application, we will say that the child of God was angry or hurt about something.  Displeased because something did not go like he though it should; angry because he did not get his way; hurt because his feelings became a “chip on his shoulder.”

E.  I want to look at three things concerning having a “grievance.”

1.  The Curse of the Grievance.  Vs 28-30

a.  It Destroyed his Happiness.  “And he was angry?”  A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

1)  Individual words are important and the word “And” is an important one.  It implies that everyone else, in the same situation, was happy and having an enjoyable time. 

2)  So many of God’s children have problems with the church, the pastor, the doctrine, the atmosphere of the local church whileEVERYONE else is enjoying it.  That is an indication that the one who is out of sorts is the one who is OUT OF STEP!

b.  It Destroyed his Christian Joy.  “angry?”  Be angry and sin not.  His anger trumped everything else.  Church family does not matter; souls do not matter; unity and peace no longer matter.

1)  Happiness and joy are two different things but one affects the other.  Happiness is all about “happenings” while joy is “despite happenings. 

2)  If one is angry on the outside, they probably have a joyless Christian life on the inside.  “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh!”

c.  It Destroyed his Usefulness.  Vs 30.  But as soon as this thy son was come.”  Now he has separated himself from all the rest.

1)  Now, instead of laboring for his father, he is complaining to him.  He is no longer the obedient son who labored in the fields along with the servants or hired hands. 

2)  When one begins to show outwardly what is inward, the tendency is to quit doing outwardly.  The harvest is plenteous but the labourers are few.  So many people have had a grievance of some sore that has put them on the sidelines.

d.  It Destroyed his Oneness.  Vs. 30.  “this thy son”  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ if we are all saved.

1)  They were both “thy sons!”  Now, the division in the family becomes evident.  I have heard the words “our church” turn into “your church” too often.  It is the Lord’s church and we are all members together.  We are a family. 

2)  When there is division on the pews, the church becomes more dysfunctional.  As baffles confuse the forward motion of liquid in fuel trucks, division baffles the forward motion of the local church.  Both were not only “sons of the father,” they were brothers!

2.  The Cause of the Grievance.

a.  Restricted Vision.  Vs 29.  “I … me … my” JOY is Jesus first, others second, and you last.

1)  With people who have a grievance, it becomes all about self and not the corporate body of the local church.  It is not about me, it is about us!  Failure to put others first: I … me … my!

2)  The sin of hurt causes one to think only of self.  The sin of pride does the same.  When life becomes all about self, others suffer.

b.  Distorted Values.  Vs 29.  kid.”  A “kid” became more important than his brother.

1)  I wonder how many fatted calves or lambs the one with a grievance had eaten while his brother was gone?  I am sure that everyone including the servants had more than enough to eat every day. Verse 17 says, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare.” 

2)  To know that his brother was alive and home again should have brought about the same joy in the one with a grievance as it did all the others.  The “kid” was more important than his own flesh and blood.

c.  Outraged Virtue.  Vs. 29.  “I served … never gavest me”  He probably never asked!

1)  Service is something that we do for God, not for reward.  Service is something that we do for others, not self.  Service is something that is to be love motivated, not selfishly motivated. 

2)  The right perspective is So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”  (Luke 17:10)

3.  The Cure of the Grievance.

a.  Remembering the Father’s Abiding Presence.  Vs. 31.  The Father was always with him and he was always with the Father.  I am His and He is mine.

b.  Realizing the Father’s Abundant Provision.  Vs. 31.  He had more than enough and did without nothing.  God has been good to all of us but we too often take these blessings for granted.

c.  Reveling in the Father’s Achieved Purpose.  Vs. 32.  The value of the Christian life is all about others, not self.  His brother who was lost was now restored.

When was the last time that God’s Word thrilled your heart in church?  When was the last time that God demanded something in your life and you gave it to Him?  When was the last time that you volunteered to do something in the church?  When was the last time that you witnessed to a lost person or handed out a tract?  It is easy to backslide while sitting on the pew of the church or standing in the pulpit!

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