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Grace And Our Past Failures - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2022 12:00 am

Grace And Our Past Failures - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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April 26, 2022 12:00 am

Find out how God's grace is sufficient despite our former sins.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, April 26. If you feel like the past is haunting you, see how God's grace can overcome continuing guilt. A failure is not someone who fails, but someone who fails and gives up. In all of our lives, there are past sins, things for which we are ashamed of, feel so unworthy to come to God and ask Him to forgive us, and yet He tells us very clearly in His Word what His response to our past failures, our shame, our sins, our guilt. There are many people who want to be delivered, many people who want to get out of the bondage that they feel so desperately about.

But somehow they don't know how to get out. They're not quite sure how God will respond if they come to Him again and say, Father, here's my past. Will you forgive me? Will you give me a new beginning?

They're not quite sure. The title of this message is Grace and Our Past Failures. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Luke chapter 15. And on this occasion, we're not going to read all of this because it's verses 11 through 32.

There are too many of them to read. But you know the story of the prodigal son. Here is the most beautiful description of God's work of grace in the life of a young man, which is typical really of the life of all of us. And sometimes we ask the question, well, why is that prodigal son's story so famous and why is it the one that people love so much? I'll tell you why. Because all of us will find ourselves in that story somewhere or the other.

Maybe not to the same degree, but somewhere or the other, we'll find it. Now let me just give you a brief idea of what's happening. Remember that these two sons, the younger of them, said to his father, Father, I want what's coming to me and I'm leaving. And so he took his part of the inheritance. He left. The Bible says he went into a distant country and he squandered it. He ended up in a hog pen and a point of real, true desperation in his life.

And it is out of this story that God displays and describes for us his own character, himself, as in few other passages in all the Bible. Now let me just say first of all at this point that all of the hog pens are not on farms. They're in big cities. A hog pen is where anybody is trapped, anyone is imprisoned by, anyone is addicted to anything and they can't escape, they can't get out. There's no freedom. They're in absolute bondage.

It is those positions and those conditions in life where people feel like they're coming to the end and there's no way out and they do not know what to do. All, for example, the prodigals are not in hog pens. Some of them are sitting in church on Sunday morning. They live in the hog pen six days a week and on Sunday they dress up and come to church hoping they'll be able to silence or at least quieten or deafen an aching conscience that keeps snowing all the time. All of the prodigals are not in the hog pens in the world.

Some of them are sitting in church on Sunday morning. In this passage of Scripture, what I want you to see is this. I want you to see how low down a person can become in their life and what is God's response when they choose to come back to him. What I want you to see today in this passage is this, that it doesn't make any difference which hog pen you're in. It doesn't make any difference how deep in sin you are.

It doesn't make any difference what's going on in your life. God tells us in his Word that for our past sins, his response is the response of grace. So I want us to begin in this 15th chapter and simply say, first of all, that God will allow his children to fail in their Christian life. God will allow you and me who've been saved by his grace, know that we're saved, he will allow us to make choices in life that'll bring about failure in our Christian experience. I didn't say that God would cause it, but here's what'll happen. God knowing the future and knowing the pain we'll suffer, knowing the wrongs we'll commit, even though he foresees our pain, foresees the mistake, foresees the consequences, God will allow us, if we so choose, to walk away from him in our spiritual life.

You know people who've been saved, you knew they were saved, no doubt in your mind about it. And they used to go to church, sat on the front row, the second row down front had their Bible, took notes. And for some reason or the other, after a while they stopped coming to church. And then they stopped reading the Bible.

Then they stopped praying. And you seldom ever see them again. And once in a while if you run into them, they say, well, you know, I just got so busy and so forth. Or they may say, well, you know, I don't much have time for that now. And yeah, I used to be committed, but somehow I don't know what happened.

I'm just here and I'm just sort of hanging in here where I am. And they find themselves in a hog pen. And the tragedy is many people are wallowing in the hog pen and don't even know they're there. They think they're still where they used to be, but they're not.

They've drifted. And so God, even though he knows what's going to happen, if we make the choice, if we choose to live independently of God in our lifestyle, God will allow it. Now, what I want you to see is this. There is a seven-step spiral downward when a person chooses to live independently of God. Independence from God is the basis of all sin.

It doesn't make any difference if it's something simple or something complex. Any moment I choose to do it my way and ignore God or deliberately willfully walk away from what I know is His will, I choose at that moment to take the first step downward in the spiral of sin which is going to lead to defeat and utter desperation. So I want you to jot down these seven steps because all of us, either now or at some point in our life, have been somewhere in this spiral. Now, you can step out any time you choose to step out if you're wise enough to realize that God is able to deliver you at any point.

But somewhere in these seven steps down this spiral, most people are going to find themselves. Listen, if you're one of those persons and you know that you're saved but you're living in sin, know that you are, and you've explained it away, you've rationalized it, you said, yes, my parents taught me better, I came from a Christian home. Or you didn't come from a Christian home but you know that you got saved, no doubt in your mind about it. But you say, as you say, wandered away from God. You have sort of, shall we say, slipped away.

The real truth is backslidden is a better word. That is, you have walked away from God deliberately for some reason or the other. Something you wanted, you chose to act independently of God. The first step is desire. All sin begins with that.

That is, all deliberate sin begins with desire. This young man, the Bible says, in verse 12, the younger of these two sons said to his father, father, give me the share of this state that falls to me, and he divided his wealth between them. He desired to live his own life independent of his family.

He didn't ask his father for wisdom or guidance or direction. He just chose to walk away from the family. Whenever you and I choose to live in sin, disobey God, we first of all desire something that allures us, challenges us, woo's us away from our intimate relationship with God the Father. The second word I want you to jot down is decision. He not only desired but he made a decision. He went to his father and he said, I want my part and I am leaving. He made a decision to leave. The Scripture says that he chose to put all of his things together and once he had them together, the Bible says that he chose to leave.

Now, if he'd have been a smart boy, he'd have said, Father, what do you think is the wisest thing to do? But he had a desire and that desire brought him to a decision. His decision was to live away from the Father. You see, because in his mind, he had to make a decision that was going to bring about some dissension probably or misunderstanding and so he made this decision. The third word is departure. He left.

Now, what I want you to see about the word departure is this. When he left, he made sure he put enough distance between him and his father to be able to do what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it, how he wanted to do it, with whom he wanted to do it, and for the reasons he wanted to do it, and there'd be nobody around to tell him any different. You see, all sin is a desire to act independently of God. Our loving Father knows what's best for us. Our loving Father is a God of wisdom, a God of righteousness, and a God who seeks our best always. When we choose to disobey him, we say we're smarter than he is.

We want this even though we know deep down inside the consequences will be painful. So he departed. And it's interesting what the Bible says. He went into a distant land or, as the King James says, into a far country. Now, where in the world is a far country? A far country is any place you and I choose to live outside the will of God. Any place you and I choose to live outside the will of God is a far country, which means not only in a small village, but right here in this church building or in your church where you go to church week after week, you can live in a far country and still be in a church house.

It is anywhere we choose to live outside the will of God. So the third word there is his departure. The fourth word I want you to notice here is the word deception, because this is always what happens. You see, the reason he chose to walk away, he was deceived. The very idea that he'd be better off with his little bit of knowledge, making it on his own in that very, very difficult country, not seeking his father's wise counsel of years and years and years.

What happened? Satan whispered in his ear, look, you don't need them. You can do it without them. You can make it on your own. Besides, look at all the wonderful, exciting, thrilling things in life that you're missing living out here on this old plantation. You need to get in a big city, man. You need to find out what life's all about. You need to try out some things.

You need to test out your own wings. And I mean, grow up, get out there in the world, do your thing, make it on your own. Remember this, Satan always tells us what we're going to get, but he never tells us what we're going to miss. And the truth is, he never tells us all we're going to get. He just tells us the part that appeals to our old fleshly desires. And so the Scripture says that he departed. He departed because he had been deceived by his feelings, by his attitudes, been deceived by Satan. Everybody living in a foreign country is living in deceit, living in deception, listening to the devil's lie.

It's going to work. You don't need God. Listen, just because your parents went to church doesn't mean you have to go to church. Just because your grandparents went to church doesn't mean it's necessary for you today. You don't need all that stuff, all these preachers, this Bible beaten and all this hellfire and damnation and all these Christians going to church on Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, man, you don't need all that stuff. You don't even have time for that man.

Get in the world and live and see what life's all about. That is the deception of the devil. But it leads to step number five, and that step is defeat. And I want you to notice what happened to this young man. The Bible says that first of all, he suffered defeat morally. And the scripture says that he, verse 14, that he spent everything, he went into a far country, distant country, squandered his estate with loose living.

Now, loose living over in verse 30, when the oldest son and his father were in a conversation with each other, the oldest son said about the youngest son, and he may have known the truth about him, they probably knew each other pretty well. He said to him, he said, this son of yours came who has devoured your wealth with harlots. You killed the fatted calf of him. So first of all, he suffered defeat morally. The second way he experienced defeat was financially because the Bible says he lost everything he had.

He squandered it, he wasted it, he scattered it. The third thing he suffered defeat in was this. He suffered defeat in his own personhood. Because what happened was when he ended up in the hog pen, he lost his sense of self-respect, his sense of self-esteem.

Here he was having been the finest of robes, the finest of shoes, the finest of everything, the finest of food. In that hog pen, he lost it all. He squandered not only his wealth, but his own personhood. He lost his own sense of potential and sense of self-respect and self-esteem. The fourth thing he suffered defeat in was in his relationships. That is, he severed himself from his family. Then he severed himself from whatever friends he had. Usually, if you've got a lot and you're living in sin, when your lot gives out, your friends get gone. That's exactly what happened to him because the scripture says he began to be in need and no one would give him anything to eat, not one single person.

So think about it. On the spiral of defeat, and that's what it is, the spiral downward, not only is there defeat, but there's defeat in many aspects of a person's life. Defeat in their moral life, defeat in their financial life, defeat in their relational life, and defeat in their own sense of personhood. Then the next word I want you to jot down is despair because that is exactly what happened to him. He began to despair of life.

Here he was in a hog pen, slopping hogs. And the Bible says that no one would give him anything. He lost all of his money. He lost his sense of self-respect, his decency. He lost it all. And as he looked around, he had nothing.

He was in absolute despair. And the Bible says a famine came in the land. Now listen, if you're living in sin and you have chosen to live disobediently before God, and you're just hanging in there with that sin, you can remember this. There will be a famine in your path sooner or later.

What kind? I don't know, but it is coming. You see, it's amazing when you choose to deliberately walk away from God and disobey him and live in sin and know that you're there. My friend, God begins to put every force of life against you, not because he is against you, but in order to bring you from despair down to the next step. And the next step is desperation. Because desperation is the step before there is deliverance. Desperation is the step before there is deliverance or absolute utter destruction. This young man reached the point of desperation and what was that desperation?

Well, look at this. The scripture says in verse 14, when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in the country and he began to be in need, need of everything. He went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating and no one was giving him anything.

So look at his point of desperation now. Jesus described this in a way that would put this man in the most desperate position that he could be in, in the eyes of these religious Pharisees and Sadducees who were so hypocritical. So here's what Jesus said. He said, this young Jewish boy got so desperate that he went and hired himself to a Gentile hog farmer. Because no Jew would have been a hog farmer.

So he had to be a Gentile. This Jewish boy hired himself out to a Gentile hog farmer. And his responsibility as a hired hand of this Gentile hog farmer was to feed hogs. And that is in our day, slop the pigs. Now, how many of you have ever been to a farm and have seen them slop hogs? I can remember the first time I read this passage of scripture that suddenly it came alive to me because I grew up in Virginia and my hometown where I lived was just always a mile or two out in the country to where the farms were. And so some of my relatives had a farm and I'd go out and spend a week with them.

And I remember what I used to do. I'd get up in the morning with them and I'd just go around and watch them do whatever they did. And I did that for seven days and that was my vacation, just following them around, early in the morning until late night. And that was my vacation. Didn't have any money. You had to do whatever you could do.

So it was different anyway. And so I remember feeding chickens and watching them milk the cows and do all these things. But then I can remember slopping those hogs. Listen, you know what they would do? They'd take all of the food that had been left over during the day. You know, they fed big, big meals three times a day for these farmers. They'd take all of this and mix it up with water. And when you say slop, I mean old dirty biscuits and mashed up stuff and meat and fat and vegetables and all those things, just sloppy stuff.

I can remember five gallon can, taking that five gallon can, here they came, dump it into the trough and sometimes two or three of them. Here come those hogs. I mean they'd just come slopping through the mud, stick their old nose down and just slop it up.

I mean just all the noise that's going on I'd think, what a horrible mess. I mean, it would almost make me sick on my stomach just thinking about it. And of course they gave them a little corn and so forth every once in a while. But the important thing was watching them slop those hogs. You know, it was horrible to me, but it was wonderful to the hog. I mean, he'd stick his nose down in there and it was all gone. I mean, they slopped it till it was all gone. Now you know, those old hogs were just as comfortable as they could be. They'd just wallow around in the mud and just lay around in the mud. But here they come and mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm. If they were coming, if they were coming with a slop, I mean everybody got excited in the hog pen. But you know what? If you were to put a gentle little white clean lamb in that hog pen, he'd be very uncomfortable.

Let me ask you a question. Have you walked away from God and you're living in sin and what you're feasting on isn't kitchen slop, but it's a whole lot more disastrous to you than that. It could be alcohol, drugs you bought off the street or drugs you bought over the counter or some kind of sin going on in your life that you know is absolutely a violation of the Word of God. Then my friend, you're slopping with the hogs. I don't know what you're going through or where you are, but I want to tell you this.

Our Father is a Father of grace and love and forgiveness and kindness toward His children. You can step out of that hog pen and turn your failure into a testimony of the grace of God. And how do you step out? You make a decision. You jump the fence. That is, you make a decision.

You just turn to the Father and say, Father, I've had enough of this hog pen living. I'm coming home. Thank you for listening to Grace and Our Past Failures. We would also like to invite you to join us in celebrating 45 years of God's faithfulness. Stop by InTouch.org slash 45 years to learn more. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-27 09:38:59 / 2023-04-27 09:47:23 / 8

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