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Cast Everything Out – Part 1 for December 26th

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2021 11:00 am

Cast Everything Out – Part 1 for December 26th

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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This is Anne Graham Lotz. As I've grown in my knowledge of God's Word and matured in my faith, I've been faced with a very unpleasant surprise. My conflict with sin hasn't lessened.

It's intensified. I could decide I can't get past this conflict, quit, and just be grateful I'm going to heaven, or I could simply pretend that I've gotten past the conflict, or by God's grace and in His power, I could break the cycle of sin. Breaking the cycle of sin. It's Anne's message today on living in the light, a study in God's Word from the life of Abraham. Turn to Genesis chapter 20.

This is a very interesting chapter. You know that the Bible is inspired and the Holy Spirit wrote it, or this wouldn't be in here. Verse 1 of chapter 20. Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For while he stayed in Gerar and there Abram said of his wife Sarah, she is my sister. Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, you're as good as dead because of the woman you have taken.

She's a married woman. Verse 8. Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials and when he told them all that had happened they were very much afraid. Then Abimelech called Abram in and said, what have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom?

You have done things to me that should not be done. And Abimelech asked Abraham, what was your reason for doing this? Abraham replied, I said to myself, there is surely no fear of God in this place and they will kill me because of my wife. Verse 14. Then Abimelech brought sheep, cattle, male and female slaves, gave them to Abram and he returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, my land is before you.

Live wherever you like. Verse 17. Then Abram prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again. For the Lord had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abram's wife Sarah.

Chapter 21. Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.

Verse eight. The child grew and was weaned and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast but Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had born to Abraham was mocking and she said to Abraham, get rid of that slave woman and her son for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac. The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son but God said to him do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also because he is your offspring. Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar.

He set them on her shoulders and then he sent her off with the boy. Verse 20. God was with the boy as he grew up.

Verse 22 and at that time Abimelech and Phikol the commander of his forces said to Abraham God is with you in everything that you do. Would you pray with me please? Father we just bow now and we want to thank you for all the things you have taught us.

Thank you for all the things that you've shown us. Thank you dear God for within ourselves we can sense the quickening of your spirit and we do want to love you more and we want to praise you more and we want to serve you more and underneath it all we just want to know you more. So Lord we thank you for the magnificent obsession that we can just let loose that desire in our hearts and give ourselves fully to it that we might seek you with our heart mind soul and strength. Thank you dear God that when we pursue you like that you are found by us and so now we ask your blessing on this message. Lord we want to live lives pleasing to you and the frustration of sin and failure in our lives is one that will keep us in defeat and destroy and rob us of our joy. We need to learn how to overcome sin so we ask now that you would teach us and Lord help me make this simple and clear. Help everyone to understand what I'm trying to convey which I believe is your truth imparted through your word so we're asking your blessing please dear God and it's in Jesus name we ask and for his glory amen. Have you ever failed again and have you ever done something you didn't want to do and after you did it you thought why did I do that that makes me sick. This lesson is about the cycle of sin in our lives and the conflict that we have with sin and practical ways that you can overcome the domination of sin in your life and let me just illustrate it by a story that's actually it's true it takes place every spring in England and in the English countryside all the birds build their nests except for one and the cuckoo bird does not build a nest and the cuckoo bird flies around until she finds a little English sparrow who's already built her nest laid her eggs and the cuckoo bird waits for the little mother English sparrow has gone off to get herself something to eat and the cuckoo bird swoops down on the nest and lays her big ugly cuckoo egg in the little English sparrow's nest so when the English sparrow comes back she sees three little dainty English sparrow eggs and they run big ugly cuckoo bird egg but she's just got a little bird brain so she doesn't quite figure it out and she nestles down on all those eggs and she just sits there just as happy she can be and pretty soon they hatch and she has three cute little English sparrow chicks and she has one big ugly cuckoo chick and she doesn't know the difference and so she goes off to get the worm and she comes back and she dangles it over the nest and she's got three little dainty English sparrow chicks opening their mouths and one great big ugly cuckoo bird opening his mouth and guess who gets the worm next time she goes out and gets a worm she dangles it over the nest guess who gets the worm and she keeps feeding that cuckoo bird until the little English chicks little English sparrow chicks are starved to death and as the cuckoo bird grows bigger and bigger he pushes out the little English sparrows and they said you can always tell when a cuckoo bird is in an English sparrow's nest because of all the little dead baby English sparrows on the ground and in order to save the little English sparrow chicks you would have had to push the cuckoo bird out of a nest in other words either he has to be cast out or the little English sparrows are going to die and if the little English sparrows are to live then the cuckoo bird has to go out and that's an illustration of what's taking place in Abram's home and what's taking place in Abram's home is an illustration of what's taking place in our lives and you and I wrestle with the cuckoo bird within our old nature and the old nature wasn't a problem until we were born again and we had the entrance of a new nature and Jesus comes to live inside of us and at that point in time not only have we been in the cycle of sin but we weren't so much aware of it until the new nature comes in then we're not only aware that we're in a cycle but the cycle becomes a conflict and within us there's this raging battle with sin and we have to overcome if we don't throw out that old nature if we don't cast it out if we don't put it to death then it's going to dominate our new nature and although we're born again and we'll go to heaven when we die other people will never see Jesus in us we'll never have victory in our Christian lives we're not going to live up to the potential that God wants us to have and we can pursue the magnificent obsession but you're going to be limited in your knowledge of God and your enjoyment of the blessings that he gives you and you'll be limited in the blessing you can be to other people because that old nature is dominating and and wrapping up in a sense the new life that's within you so open your bibles now at the genesis chapter 20 and I just want to us to look at Abram's home and see what's going on there and then see the illustration that it is in our own lives and first of all we see the cycle of sin repeated in Abraham's life as he goes up to Gerar and and I just want to defend Abram for a moment because he's failing in a way he failed the very first year when he set out to pursue God you know when he left Haran went down to Canaan and then he went on to Egypt and he told Pharaoh you know that Sarah was his sister and and it's been years since then in fact it's been almost 25 years since he did that and now he's fallen back into that same sin and so I'm going to defend him for a little bit and give him some excuses because I think you know chapter 19 was when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and Abram's looking out over the plane and he sees the smoke rise up from the plane and he realizes that even after his persistent intercession for the city not even 10 righteous were found and he sees the city go up and smoke and for all he knows that includes lots and so I think he's emotionally grieving over his nephew what's happened to his family there he's spiritually distressed because his prayer wasn't enough to save the city and so he decides to leave it's sort of like if you've ever attended the funeral of a loved one who wasn't saved and you know that kind of despair and hopelessness and feeling of emptiness and finality and and so Abram just needed a change of scenery and he moved away and I think the move itself he's a hundred years old he's got hundreds of servants and all of their dependents he's got thousands upon thousands of livestock and he moves the entire thing away from where he was just to change the scenery and to get away from those bad memories and that feeling and so I think he's vulnerable at this point he's emotionally spiritually physically just worn out in what way have you sinned again has failure been repeated in your life and you've done something you haven't done for a long time or maybe you've done something you did last week and the week before and what excuse do you have for your sin how could we defend your behavior and your action and the fact that you've done something again something that you dealt with something that you confessed before God you'd come back to Bethel and come back to the cross and you'd set it right with God and then you do the same old thing you know why Abraham did this it's the same reason you do this bottom line now we can have all these excuses and we can defend ourselves bottom line you and I sin and Abraham sinned because we're sinners it just comes naturally doesn't it and Abraham sinned because underneath he's just a sinner and this sin in particular was very serious because he goes to Gerar and he says that this time Sarah apparently doesn't lie on his behalf so maybe there's a little progress but he says that she's my sister and so once again in verse 11 Abraham indicates that he did that because he was afraid and that Sarah was so beautiful and I just think that is interesting isn't it she's 90 years old and that's one reason you know the princess that's one reason I think she was pampered and the sun never touched her skin and she was you know on Persian carpets and silks and satins and she couldn't have had too hard a life to be that beautiful at age 90 either that or she had an advanced something or other botox and she had just really fixed herself up I think the sweet thing is that Abraham thought she was beautiful at the age of 90 and and that's sweet that in his eyes there wasn't a more beautiful woman in the whole world it could be that this was a political alliance and Abimelech sees this powerful Bedouin chief and everybody knows he defeated all those kings from the east and he's come in to his area and he's just wanting to make a political alliance thinking well I'll take his sister into my harem and so now we'll be family and he won't attack me so maybe it has something to do with that but Abram gives the reason as being that she's beautiful and he thinks somebody will take her and kill him to get her so that's why he's done the same thing apparently Abraham has a real problem with fear and fear of personal harm like somebody living in terror of violent crime or being raped or being robbed or you know just and it's just a phobia and apparently he has a phobia like that and it's just a besetting sin in his life what's the besetting sin in your life when Abraham had this besetting sin of fear and in this particular case the way he handled it by saying she's my sister so Abimelech took Sarah into his harem just like in Egypt and this is how serious it was within the year Sarah is going to conceive the son that God's been promising for 25 years the son of promise Isaac the one through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed that Jesus would come through the line of Abraham and Isaac and now she's taken into a pagan king's harem what if Abimelech has relations with her what if she conceives the son by Abimelech or maybe she doesn't but when she comes out of the harem if he can ever get her out and she conceives the son by Abraham that year then people are going to wonder is this Abimelech's son or is it Abraham's son and you see the seriousness I mean just the real mess that Abraham has made once again sin is always serious isn't it do you take it lightly and it can be what you think is a small sin that just involves yourself but you know sin is so serious and I think the more we grow in our faith and the longer we've been a Christian and the more mature we are our sin gets even more serious it affects our testimony more affects our relationship with God more we're never to tolerate it toy with it pretend it's not there it's serious and the shame of course that God this is interesting in verse three when God came to Abimelech and said you're as good as dead wouldn't you like to post that in every bar and every office and in our culture that you're as good as dead because the woman you've taken is a married woman that's how serious it was to God and that's a serious thing and today when it's open season you know it used to be people respected a wedding band and now it's just whoever you want whoever you can get male or female doesn't make any difference and God in heaven leaning down saying you're as good as dead and so he spoke severely to Abimelech and Abimelech and Abimelech he had no idea and he had been innocent and all of it so he defends himself to God and God just still says if you don't return her I'm going to destroy everyone in your household everyone in your nation I'm just going to lower them don't you touch this woman and you give her right back because it's so serious messing up the entire plan that God is so carefully orchestrated and so he just intervenes to set it straight and so once again we see Abraham shamed brought before a pagan king who says why did you tell me this why did you bring such shame upon me and my family and why have you put me in such a compromising position before God and endanger my whole nation and why have you done this and I can just see Abraham now after walking with God 25 years humiliated his face burning red as he confesses yes I did it because I was afraid and he's caused everybody to suffer we know that I won't go into that we caused Abimelech and Sarah and himself to suffer and the seriousness of it to thwart God's plan and now the shame of it as he's rebuked by a pagan and I wonder if the shame was so intense that Abraham was thinking you know and this is now remember his emotional state he's just seen Sodom go up in flames he doesn't even know if Lot has been saved and old man who's moved all these people and I just wonder if he's thinking you know I'm a hundred years old I don't have the child yet that God's promised I don't have a piece of land to call my own I've been pursuing God for 25 years with nothing to show for it I've tried so hard to follow him by faith but I keep failing I'm just not cut out for this it's time to go home I wonder if Abraham was on the verge of quitting I think he was because of the way this was handled and I wonder if there's somebody here you've been following the Lord for 25 years have you been serving him growing in him seeking to know him and to please him and to serve him and then you did something that was so shocking you even shocked yourself a failure that you did way back when or you've repeated something or you you just can't believe you did it and have you thought you know after walking with God 25 years if I'm doing something like this I'm just not cut out to be a disciple I certainly can't be a Bible teacher if I'm doing something like this how can I ever think I could teach somebody else to know God and to be right with God and you're on the verge of quitting maybe not quitting your Christian life but just quitting Christian ministry quitting your leadership position because of the sin in your life and you're just sick of yourself and sick of it and you just want to quit and I'm wondering if that's what happened because this time Abimelech didn't say you know here's your wife and here are your things now get out Abimelech said Abraham for Sarah's sake I'm going to shower you with gifts men servants maid servants all these other livestock I'm going to give you even more and now you look at my whole nation you pick wherever you want to go you can have your choice of any place in my country you just help yourself does that surprise you I mean he was handled so gently wasn't he and that's what makes me think Abraham was on the verge of quitting because if God had come down severely like get out of here and we never want to know your God Abraham might have kept on going right back to her and into her this is something to remember and it's not something to take as a license but God is gracious to sinners isn't he I mean do I hear an amen praise God and sometimes it's a surprise because you know you deserve a spanking and what you get is a tender touch from the Lord and he knows he doesn't break a bruised reed doesn't quench the smoking flax so tender and gentle the way he handles us and there's somebody here who's failed I'm praying that you'll be surprised by his grace and as he wraps his loving arms around you and blesses you sometimes that's the most convicting thing of all when I'm just expecting God to lower the boom and instead he just comes and reaffirms his love for me and it just makes me melt and makes me never ever want to do that again and failure was repeated in Abram's home God handled it very tenderly but failure is replicated in our lives and we would be dishonest and fooling ourselves and trying to fool other people if we said we don't continue to fail after we've been born again after we've received Christ as savior Romans 3 23 says that all have sinned all of us are moral failures and I want you to turn to Romans for a moment if you wouldn't keep a little mark in Genesis because we're going to come back to it but Romans chapter 7 Paul is describing the very same thing I've been talking about where the apostle Paul the greatest evangelist the world has ever known greatest missionary we've ever seen maybe no one greater in all the new testaments maybe in all of human history since the cross other than Jesus than the apostle Paul and he's describing this cycle of sin in his own life chapter 7 Romans chapter 7 verse 7 and he's talking about this cycle of sin and he says what shall I say then is the law sin in other words you can think of the law as the Ten Commandments you know don't do this don't do that don't do that you can think of it as your Bible study when the light of God's Word comes into your life and is that sin for me and he says certainly not I wouldn't have known what sin was except through the law if I didn't have a plumb line if I didn't know God's standard I wouldn't know what sin was if I hadn't been in the Bible studying the light of God's Word came into my life I would never have known that was sin in my life I wouldn't have known what it was to covet this is interesting the apostle Paul must have had the besetting sin of covetousness isn't that interesting he's just being a little vulnerable here and he said I wouldn't have known what it was to covet if the law had not said do not covet in other words the Ten Commandments gives us this plumb line the standard I studied it the light of God's Word came into my life and I discovered that coveting was a sin but sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment and God's standard produced in me every kind of covetous desire isn't that interesting that when he was told not to covet then that's what made him want to covet it's like when I go on a diet which I do from time to time to control this middle-aged weight and I don't like candy bars really I'm not into sweets I like salty things but when I'm on a diet and I'm checking out at the grocery store and you know how they put all those candy bars right there as you check out it's all I can do to keep from buying every single one I just crave candy bars because I know I can't have a candy bar it's like when you have a park bench that's been painted it says wet paint do not touch you see all the sticky fingerprints in the wet paint there's just something in us when we're told not to do something then we want to do it so he says apart from the law sin is dead in other words if I didn't know it was wrong I wouldn't care about it I wouldn't want to do it so once I was alive apart from the law and this is interesting your Canaanite neighbor you know the person that's unsaved they don't struggle like you and I do because they're dead and they don't know what's right and they don't know what's wrong so they're living their lives the way they were raised and they compare themselves with the person next to them and they're a little bit better than that person not as good as that person they're trying to get along in the world and they want to do what feels right and feels good and what works and and so they're just not struggling with this cycle of sin because they're dead to all of that so I was alive physically apart from the law but when the commandment came sin sprang to life and I died meaning I was defeated I found that the very commandment God's word that was to bring light into my life when tended to bring life actually brought death and deep discouragement for sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment deceived me and through the commandment put me to death deep depression I want to quit so then the law is holy I mean I know God's standard is perfect and the commandment is holy righteous and good so did that which is good then become death to me why is it that God's standard pure righteous holy would produce in me this kind of depression and discouragement and defeat and he says by no means but in order that sin might be recognized as sin now here's Ann with this final word I can testify from personal experience your old nature will die slowly and over time but you can conquer it one choice at a time dozens of times a day every day the choices we make are like a spiritual workout they exercise our will they determine whether we'll grow spiritually strong or remain spiritually weak and dominated by our old sin nature if I hurriedly run to the store to pick up some items I'm in a hurry and there are five people in line and the clerk is gossiping with a friend making everyone wait I have a choice to make if I rudely tell her off when it's my turn I've just exercised my old nature if I'm stuck in traffic and someone's trying to merge for my right I have a choice to make if I pull up to the bumper of the car in front of me and edge that merging car out of my lane I've exercised my old nature choices I told you they weren't easy sometimes the small irritating ones are the hardest to make but if we make the right choice the indwelling Holy Spirit of God supernaturally gives us the power to carry it out thanks for joining us today for living in the light if you want to discover more about the magnificent obsession and spoke of today in her message go to ann gramm lots.org you'll always find more to encourage you in your study of God's word and plan to be back with us again next week
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 13:12:18 / 2023-07-12 13:22:29 / 10

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