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Reversing Spiritual Consequences

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
January 17, 2021 7:00 am

Reversing Spiritual Consequences

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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January 17, 2021 7:00 am

We all know that actions have consequences. But in this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans uses a familiar story to show us how, in the spiritual arena, some of the worst of them can be reversed.

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We give a hard time to the secular prodigals because that's like overt wickedness. But Dr. Tony Evans says it's easy to be distant from the Lord without actually running away.

God has a lot of other children who stay in the vicinity of the Father who never take advantage of what the Father has to offer. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans. Author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. We all know actions have consequences, but today Dr. Evans uses a familiar story to show us why in the spiritual arena some of the worst of them can be reversed.

Let's join him. God is inviting us to a family reunion. He wants to reconnect with members of his family who have drifted from him. He has a term for that reconnection. That term is repentance.

Repentance is the word to bring you back into fellowship, which opens up the door based on God's sovereign prerogative to address the consequences that the departure created from him. In Luke chapter 15, we are told that the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to Jesus to hear him teach. They were listening to his message. But the religious leaders, according to verse 2, the scribes and the Pharisees rumbled, saying this man, Jesus, receives sinners and he actually eats with them.

They were ticked off that Jesus Christ was interfacing and even fellowshipping with folks who in their minds ought to have been avoided. This leads Jesus to tell a couple of stories. He tells about a shepherd where one sheep goes and gets lost, and the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the one and brings the one back. He then says there's a woman with ten coins. She loses one. She turns on the light. She dusts. She sweeps in order to find the one coin. And the shepherd celebrates when he brings back the shepherd.

The woman celebrates when she finds the coin. And then he makes the point that heaven rejoices when one sinner repents, then over righteous who do not need to repent. Heaven has a party when a sinner comes home. There is actually a party in glory when someone who is lost returns to the fold.

Having stated his two illustrations, he comes with the zinger. You know it as the prodigal son. Let's revisit his story today to see how it affects your fellowship with God and the possible reversals of consequences you may be experiencing because of sin or those you know and love may be experiencing because of sin.

I think you'll find some very interesting things in this story. A man has two sons, verse 11 says. The younger of the son comes to the father and says, Give me the share of the estate that falls to me.

So he divided his wealth between them. The younger son comes to dad and he says, Dad, I want my inheritance because I want to leave now. Now that may not seem like a big deal to you and me, but it was a big deal back then because in the Jewish world, you only sought your inheritance when it was time for your father to die. Well, this father is very much alive.

And the son says, I'd like my inheritance now. Translation, I wish you were dead. I wish you were dead. You living too long.

I don't want to wait till you die. I want to get out of here now. You have any teenagers like that want to get out of there?

Or perhaps you were like that with your parents. I got to get out. I can't wait to go to college so I can do my thing because there's too many rules. You tell me when I got to come in.

You tell me who my friends are. I don't want you telling me all that. Give me my inheritance now so I can leave.

I want to be free. And when he gathers his things together, after many days, he goes on a journey to a distant country where he squandered his estate with loose living, spent everything he had. There was a severe famine that occurred in the country and he began to be impoverished. That's what happens when we wander far from God. We take the time He's given us and use it for sin or evil or rebellion. We take the resources He's given us and we spend it irresponsibly or illegitimately. He squandered his estate with loose living. Now that was in his control, but it got worse.

Because in the far country, something happened that was out of his control, a famine. You can't control the famine. You can't control the change in the economy. You can't control when the downsize happens in the company. You can't control all of that.

So he was messing up stuff he could control, then stuff he didn't count on happened. The world promises feasting. It doesn't tell you about a famine. It promises you riches while leading you to poverty. It shouts joy and then allows you to run into pain. It says there's enjoyment until it turns into enslavement. Oh, a drug addict will feel good until the drugs start telling them what to do. That's what the far country is.

It's a very entertaining location with a price tag you're not informed of in advance. So it is in a far country when you have wandered from God long enough. We wind up with regrets, don't we?

Things we wish were different, decisions that we would redo if we could. And so things don't look good for our young man here, but they get worse. Verse 15, he hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into the field to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swines were eating, and no one was giving him anything.

It went from bad to worse. He didn't run out of stuff. His greenbacks have gone back. So he becomes a day worker feeding pigs. Now you have to understand, there's a Jewish boy feeding pigs. That was an unclean animal. He went to the garbage. As a day worker feeding pigs, he desires to eat the pods that the pigs were eating, which means our friend can't even afford McDonald's. Because the only thing he's desiring to eat is the food that pigs eat.

Because in the far country, if you're there long enough, you wind up in the garbage. Oh, it got worse. It says no friends gave him anything, because when things go left, your friends disappear. Your friends will hang out with you as long as they can help you spend your money or piggyback on your coattails. Your friends will stick with you as long as you got a name and a reputation, but let a famine hit you or let sin take its toll and reduce you, and all of a sudden, your homeboys and your homegirls are unlocatable on social media.

You have been unfriended. So our friend is broke, destitute, famine. Everything is just—his world has crumbled right beneath his feet. Verse 17 offers us a transition, but when it came to his senses.

Hmm. When it came to his senses, translation, he was out of his mind. He was out of his mind. He looked at himself and said, self, what's wrong with you? He looked at himself and said, you so crazy. He looked at himself and said, come on, man, what's wrong with you?

You up here feeding pigs. Watch this. He did not come to his senses until things got rock bottom.

As long as you think in the far country, you gonna work it out on your own. He had to get to the bottom of the pit, and he says, you are crazy. You have lost your mind. Look at what you're doing here. Look at how low you go.

Look at how your lifestyle has become now out here in this far country. So he said, how many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger. I will get up and go to my father, and I'll say to him, father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

Make me as one of your hired men. He says, I'm going to go back home to daddy, and I'm going to tell daddy I have sinned. I am no longer worthy. He was brought to a place of brokenness. God will let sin do you in until you crack, until we get to the point where we recognize I am too low. I'm too far for too long. Look at my, watch this, my circumstances. You see, it was his consequences that woke him up.

So God will allow us to have consequences until we get tired of pig life. I'm going home. I'm going to confess my sin and my unworthiness to my father. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with more on the difference between regret and repentance. First though, Tony has written a brand new book called U-Turns that goes hand in hand with today's lesson.

There are ways to reverse the consequences of spiritual failures you may have experienced in your life in areas like addiction, sexuality, financial responsibility, and more, including problems you may have heard were irreversible. U-Turns will show you how to get your life headed in a new and healthy direction. We're offering both the book and all 12 lessons in the U-Turn series on both CD and digital download as our way of saying thanks when you come alongside Tony's ministry and make a donation to help keep these broadcasts coming your way each day. We depend completely on your support to keep the alternative on this station, and this is one way we can show our appreciation. And if you want to learn even more about how God can work to redeem the negative consequences of the decisions you've made or if you want to help others in this area, you'll want to look into the companion U-Turns Bible Study Kit and DVD that Dr. Evans has prepared to complement the material in the book and audio series. You can find out more and make all the arrangements at TonyEvans.org or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222, where one of our helpful resource team members can assist with your request.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, here's Dr. Evans with more of today's lesson. And then he shows the fruits of repentance, verse 20. So he got up and came to his father. He didn't just have a discussion with himself about going back because that's what we do a lot of times. I should go back. I should return.

I should get out of the pit. No, he got up. Fruit of repentance. He acted on his internal decision, validating that his internal decision was real. While he was still a long way off, verse 20, his father saw him, felt compassion for him, ran and embraced and kissed him.

The father did not run to him until he saw him on the way back. There must be movement toward God, demonstrating there is sincerity about repentance, and the father will meet you before you ever arrive, because he wants you to come home, looking for you to come home, desirous of you to come home, but you've got to be coming home. A lot of folks want God to meet them in the far country. The reason he can't do that, the Bible says, is because the world, the far country, is enmity against God, James 4-4 says. 1 John chapter 2, verses 15 to 17, Don't love the world or the things in the world, for if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. You lose the love of God. You're at enmity with God, so he's not going to hang out with you in the far country. But he'll meet you if you decide to live the far country, and to help you want to leave the far country, he'll wait till you hit rock bottom. And trust me, sooner or later, you will. Because that's what sin does.

It takes you down in one form or another. But here is a picture like a soldier returning home. You see it on television, and the family's waiting for them, and they run and embrace each other. The father runs and embraces his son. Because, notice, it's his son. And he never lost sight of the fact, I'm my father's son, or that this is my father. So this easily relates to a Christian who needs to come back to daddy, because they've wandered away in a far country. They've wandered away from God in one form or another.

Oh, here's something interesting. He comes back to his father. His father's kissing him, loving on him. And the son said to the father, verse 21, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Because of what I did to your name, because of what I did to your resources, I don't deserve to carry your name. But the father said to his slaves, quickly bring out the best roll, put it on him, put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet, and bring the fatted calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.

I don't know if you caught something right there. The son said, Father, I have sinned. I'm not worthy to be called your son. The father said, quickly, quickly, bring out the roll, bring out the ring, bring out the sandals.

I don't know if you caught that. The father said, the son said, I have sinned. I'm no longer worthy to be your son. The father says, bring out the roll, bring out the ring, bring out the sandals, and bring them quickly.

Wait a minute, something is missing. The son said, when I go back, I'm going to tell my father I've sinned, I'm going to tell my father I'm not worthy, and I'm also going to tell my father, make me one of your hired servants. But the father never lets him get out the last line.

The father does not let him reduce himself to less than a son. See, the world will let you go down and step on you. Say, look at what you did. Look at how long you did it. Look how much you failed.

Look how miserable you are. You, you, you, you no good this, you no good that. But the father said, I ain't letting you go that low. I'm not going to let you live in your regret. I'm not going to keep you there, so every day you wake up, I'm a servant, I should be a son. If I had messed up, then I would be a servant, I would be a son. You be reminded all day, every day, that you're a servant. No, you are my boy. You've been a bad boy, but you my boy. My boy gets a party by the father after he's confessed that he sinned and returned home. See, a lot of folks want a party without a confession.

And that's a great end of the story, except it's not the end of the story. There is a second brother. Now, verse 25, the oldest son was in the field. And when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants, verse 26, and began inquiring what these things could be.

What's this party all about? He said to him, your brother has come and your father has killed a fatted calf because he received him back safe and sound. But he became angry, watch this now, and was not willing to go in.

I ain't going to that party. And his father came out and began pleading with him. Come on in, come on in, come on in. But he answered and said to his father, look, for so many years, I have been serving you. I never neglected a command of yours. And yet you have never given me a young goat. You gave him the fatted calf, never even gave me a goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.

You never did that for me. I've been here with you, but look at what my brother did. Look at what he did to you. Verse 30, when this son of yours, not my brother, this son of yours, who devoured your wealth, he messed up your inheritance with prostitutes, and you killed a fatted calf for him? Come on, man.

That ain't right. How many of you can sort of feel the older brother? You kind of feel with him.

Come on, come on, tell the truth. You don't want to admit it, but boy got a point. Boy got a point.

I've been with you for years, years, and I don't get a party. Let's see the father's response to the older son. And he said, verse 31, son, because he's a son too, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has become alive, was lost, and is now found. Do you remember what we just defined dead to be? He wasn't physically dead, he was separated. So death in the Bible means separation. This brother was dead, dead to the family, separated from the family.

He's alive. That is, there has been a reunion. All that I have is yours, translation.

You could have had a party anytime you wanted one. In other words, brothers and sisters, there are two kinds of prodigals. There is a prodigal that's a—I'll call him a secular prodigal. This is the one that leaves church.

This is the one that goes out into the world. This is the one that leaves God. This is the one that doesn't want to have anything to do with faith. This is the one that's thrown the Bible away, has no time for prayer, and is out there just living it up, and it's ever dead. The reputation is ever dead, that this is a sinning son. That's a secular prodigal.

Oh, but you can have a religious prodigal. The religious prodigal is staying in the vicinity of the Father. He's hanging out in the Father's field. He still comes to church every Sunday. She still sings in the choir.

He still serves on the usher board. They're still around. They give the picture of fellowship with the Father, never taking advantage of the relationship. They are religious prodigals. See, we give a hard time to the secular prodigals, because that's like overt wickedness. But God has a lot of other children. He got a lot of other children, a lot of other boys and girls who stay in the vicinity of the Father, who never take advantage of what the Father has to offer.

They still in church, but they are disconnected from the Father. So the question is, what kind of prodigal are you? Am I? Am I a younger son prodigal?

Well, I'm just loose living. Or maybe a religious prodigal. Well, I go to church, but there's no relationship with the Father. Because the Father says, I will deal with the sinner who repents. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a touching story about one man who made his way back to God.

Stay with us. Black church, white church, Hispanic church. These describe a division among God's people that fails to reflect the beautiful diversity and supernatural unity of his kingdom. That's the challenging and hope filled message Dr. Tony Evans brings in his timely book, Oneness Embraced. This powerful book reflects on matters of history, culture, theology and social justice from a biblical perspective, inviting the church to lead the charge towards true racial reconciliation and put the gospel on display for all the world to see. Get your copy of Oneness Embraced today. You can request your copy at tonyevans.org.

And while you're there, don't forget to make the arrangements to receive those powerful resources I mentioned earlier. Tony's brand new book, U-Turns, Reversing the Consequences in Your Life, the companion study guide and resource DVD, along with all 12 messages from his current series on CD and digital download. The entire U-Turns package can be yours when you make a contribution to help keep this broadcast coming your way each day.

Now this is a limited time offer, so don't put it off. Visit us today at tonyevans.org to get all the details. You can make your contribution and your request online at tonyevans.org or call our 24-hour resource request line at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our resource team members assist you. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222.

Many Christians live their life like spiritual POWs, unable to break free from the sins that hold them hostage. But next time, Dr. Evans will tell us about an escape route that's already in place and comes straight from Scripture. Right now, though, he's back with a final story about a man you may or may not have heard of. His name was Robert Robinson. He lived in the mid-1700s.

He wrote poems and songs. He was a Christian and he loved the Lord, but he went into a far country. He went into a dark place.

Many of you know what it is to have been close to the Lord and then go into a dark place. One day, Robert Robinson was in a carriage. A young lady got in the carriage to go on a journey where they were going and she was reading poems. She came across a poem that she did not understand.

She turned to the stranger sitting next to her, who was Robert Robinson, and said, Do you understand this poem? The first line of the poem said, Come, Thy fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace, Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. If you were raised in church with a hymnbook, you know that song. Come, Thy fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.

It became a well-known hymn. He broke out into tears as he told the woman, I wrote that. Many years ago, I was close to God, but I no longer walk with Him. A young lady looked at him as tears flowed down Robert Robinson's face. She said, Have you forgotten another part of your poem that you wrote? Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here's my heart, O, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above, Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. We are all prone to wonder, to go into a dark place. But when he heard his own words come back at him, right there in the carriage, he recommitted himself to God and came home. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-03 07:59:46 / 2024-01-03 08:09:42 / 10

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