The10CommandmentsMy Ten Commandments When Sinned Against

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 15 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)

I refuse to allow the existence of my happiness to depend upon the actions of others. I will allow the degree of my happiness to depend on the actions of others. I will not allow myself to be unhappy or to lose my joy because of the behavior of someone else. I will allow myself to have joy and happiness only because of conditions within my ability to determine. If my joy is dependent upon your treatment of me, I can have joy only when you decide for me to have joy. If my joy is dependent upon my treatment of you, then I may have that joy any time I choose. If my joy is dependent upon my relationship with God, then I may have joy when I choose to do so. If my joy is dependent upon my service for others, then I may have that joy any time I choose to serve others. So the presence of my joy must not be dependent upon the actions of others and their behavior toward me. However, the degree of that joy may be so determined. In other words, I will not let you make me happy, but I will let you make me happier.

Even in church life the carnal sometimes prevails over the spiritual, and Christians sin against each other. The purpose of this chapter is to give instruction to the one who is sinned against. For years I have had what I call, “My Ten Commandments When Sinned Against.” These are ten things that I do when I find that someone has sinned against me.

Before entering the discussion of these ten commandments, we must make it clear that there is no selfish purpose or motive involved in these actions and reactions. The one supreme motive is TO RESTORE THE ONE WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST ME. I must look upon him as I would look upon any Christian who has committed any other sin. I must be grieved because it has strained his relationship with God. I must not allow my grief to exist because I have been wounded or offended. The truth is, if I love the Word of God and the God of the Word as I should, there is no way that I can be offended. Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

As we enter into these ten commandments, we will always keep before us that our purpose is to restore the offender. If you have sinned against me, I want you to have the joy that has been taken from you because of your offense. My purpose is to help you and, by God’s grace, to help you be restored!

COMMANDMENT 1
I will have forgiveness in readiness before you sin against me. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I will always keep a reservoir of forgiveness so that it can be used immediately when sinned against. I will not allow myself the indulgence of the time that often transpires between being sinned against and offering forgiveness. That forgiveness will always be available and in abundant readiness immediately when the sin against me has been committed.

COMMANDMENT 2
I will not impute your sin to you. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Notice here that I am to forgive those who offend me just exactly as God forgives those who offend Him. God not only forgives our sins, but He also justifies us. In other words, God keeps in readiness “justified forgiveness,” which means that God does not charge us with the sin. He does not record it against us. When a Christian is saved, he is justified by the faith which is placed in Christ. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If, therefore, I forgive you as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me, I must not only forgive you, but I must not charge you with the offense. In my mind, you never sinned against me. I call that “justified forgiveness.” Not only do I forgive you for what you’ve done, but I do not record what you have done. I do not think of you as one forgiven, but I think of you as one who has not sinned at all.

COMMANDMENT 3
I will grieve for you, but not for what you have done to me. I will not grieve because I have an enemy; I will grieve because you are an enemy I will not grieve because I have been sinned against; I will grieve because you have sinned. I want you to have a good relationship with Christ. I want you to have peace. I want you to have fullness of joy, and you can have none of these when being offensive, so my grief is not for the wounded but for the wounder. My grief is not for the criticized but for the critic. My grief is not for myself, though I certainly want your love. My grief is for you because I want the best for you, and you cannot have the best when you have sinned against another.

COMMANDMENT 4
I will do all that I can to help you remedy your situation. I will not retaliate. I will not be critical of you. I will not even share with others what you have done against me. My entire course of action will be that of seeking your restoration. I want you restored to fellowship with Christ. I want your joy restored, your peace restored and your happiness restored, so nothing that I do in the following commandments will be done to try to hurt you but to help you. I will not want for your hurt unless God chooses that method to bring you back to Himself. I will want the best for you and will do all that I can for that best to come your way.

COMMANDMENT 5
I will ask God to let me suffer for you. I Corinthians 6:6-8, “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” Not only will my forgiveness be justified forgiveness, but it will be vicarious forgiveness. I will ask God to punish me instead of you if that can best serve to bring about your restoration. I must not forget that the entire purpose of these commandments is for you to be restored, and I must do all I can to bring that restoration about. Isn’t that the way that Jesus cared for our sins? He bore the suffering for us vicariously Do not forget that I am to forgive as God forgives, so if God took upon Himself the suffering for our sins, even so I must take upon myself the suffering for your sins if God will but let me do so. I have forgiven you. I have offered you with that forgiveness a justified forgiveness, and now I offer to you a vicarious forgiveness.

Certainly by now I want you to be restored. However, if you are not yet restored, I must continue to do what I can to help you find the peace you once had and the joy you once knew in Christ. If at any time while I am obeying these ten commandments, you are restored, then the use of the balance of the commandments will not be necessary. However, if having had forgiveness in readiness for you, having offered you justified forgiveness, having grieved for you, having decided to do all that I can to remedy your situation and having offered you a vicarious forgiveness with a willingness to suffer your penalty, I find that you are not yet restored, I must proceed to the next commandment.

COMMANDMENT 6
I will turn you over to God for justice. Romans 12:17-20, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not forget that this justice that I seek for you from God is for your restoration.

Far too often I have heard this passage explained in a way to describe the Christian as one who wants his offender to be hurt and that God is certainly a better executor of this hurt than we can be. So it is taught that if you really want to hurt somebody, let God do it, and even blessing those that curse us is supposedly done in an effort to heap coals of fire upon his head. What a tragic teaching! How sad it is for us to teach God’s people to be good to somebody because it will make them feel bad, to love somebody because it will make them hurt. God teaches no such thing! We must never forget that the purpose for all of this is for restoration. We are not trying to see to it that someone gets punished for his sin unless that punishment will help to restore him.

We simply treat him with love. If he hates us, we love him. If he despises us, we pray for him. If he does ill to us, we do good to him and turn him over to the Lord for justice, hoping that that justice will lead him to restoration. We would rather that he not suffer at all, but if God chooses to use the tool of suffering to bring him back to joy, peace and restoration, we will be happy for that, but we will never be happy because he suffers. We are pleased only if that suffering leads to restoration. All of this must be remedial.

The word “vengeance” here has to do with justice, and the justice has to do with chastening, and the chastening we hope and trust will lead to repentance, and repentance will lead to a restoration of fellowship with God, and a restoration of that fellowship will lead the offender to regain his joy and peace.

Why should we want to use the same tactics he used? Why should we borrow Satan’s weapons to punish those who have punished us? Do not forget! The purpose of these ten commandments is restoration. If forgiving immediately brings it about, Commandment I is all that is necessary. If that fails, we will offer justified forgiveness and let our offender know that we are not charging the sin to him at all. Then we will attempt restoration by grieving for him and then doing all we can to remedy his situation, and then by asking God to let us suffer for him, and when all of those commandments have failed, we then turn him over to the Lord so God may use justice upon him in order that that justice may lead him back to his original fellowship and relationship with his God. If our brother is still not restored, we go to the next commandment.

COMMANDMENT 7
I will turn you over to the Lord for chastening. Hebrews 12:10-12, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” In other words, I will ask God to chasten you, but I must remember through it all that I am not wanting you to be hurt. I am wanting you to be restored, and if asking God to chasten you leads to this restoration, I will be pleased to do so. I will not enjoy your suffering or your pain any more than a loving parent enjoys the suffering of the child he is spanking, but I will wish for it if it will lead to your restoration. Of course, the word “chastening” implies training or educating. God does not punish His children for sin. His measures of inflicting pain upon us are not vindictive. They are punitive and corrective and done in love. The loving parent has in mind training his child, improving his child, educating his child, and in doing this, oftentimes must use the inflicting of pain. Never forget, the purpose is remedial!

I would much prefer that my forgiveness in itself would bring you to restoration. I would love for my justifying you as if you had never sinned against me to accomplish this. I would hope that a long time before we get to Commandment 7, you have been restored to fellowship with your God and have received once again the sweet peace and joy that comes with that fellowship, and only for your restoration to that place will I want you to be chastened.

As has been implied, God does not punish Christians; He chastens them. Now it may look the same way and it may, as a fact, be the same action. God may do exactly the same thing to a saved man that He does to an unsaved man, but to the unsaved it is punishment; to the saved man it is chastening. He chastens those whom He loves. To the one who is not His child, He may inflict punishment for sin, and though He may use that same act upon the Christian, it will not be punishment; it will be chastening. It will be done for training, for educating and for restoring His child to Himself

Certainly we trust that by now the one who has sinned against us has been restored, but if not, there is another commandment.

COMMANDMENT 8
I will turn you over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. I Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Notice especially the first part of verse 5, “to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh,” but don’t stop there. Notice the rest of the verse, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” It is folly for us to think that we are to say, “I tried to hurt him, and God tried to hurt him; now Devil, you hurt him.” This is contrary to the whole spirit of the Bible. It is contrary to the attitude of God toward His children. God is not talking here about a judgmental deliverance of the sinner to the executioner. God is simply saying He will exhaust every measure in order to restore the offender to Himself.

Another error that is taught concerning this subject is that this means we are to turn someone over to the Devil and say, “Devil, kill him!” That is not taught here. Notice that the destruction is of the flesh, the destruction of the carnality, the destruction of the methods that caused him to sin. God oftentimes will let the Devil use his weapons on us, but even then the purpose is for our restoration. I do not come with a vindictive spirit in a hateful manner and almost with delight saying to the Devil, “You can have him. Kill him.”

Turn to I Timothy 1:19-20, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck. Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Now notice especially verse 20 where the Apostle says, “whom I have delivered unto Satan, THAT THEY MAY LEARN not to blaspheme.” What is the purpose of turning one over to Satan? THAT HE MAY LEARN. This is the same as the chastening in Commandment 7. Even in this action we are seeking restoration. This one, like all the commandments above, is for the good of the offender that he might be led to know once again the peace and joy he knew before he sinned against me. Even in turning him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, I am still interested in corrective measures, or as John Calvin said concerning this truth, “for medicinal purposes.” This is just another medicine that I will use in an effort for your spirit to be healed.

COMMANDMENT 9
I will bless you, do good to you, pray for you and love you. Matthew 5:43, 44, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Romans 12:20, 21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” I will not combat hatred with hatred, but I will combat hatred with love. I will not combat cursing with cursing, but I will combat cursing with blessing. I will not combat spite with spite, but I will combat spite with prayer, hoping still that the weapons of love, blessing, prayer and kindness will lead to your restoration because I love you. I loved you before you sinned against me. I love you more now because you need me more. You need my love more, my blessings more, my prayer more.

COMMANDMENT 10
I will not socialize with you. I Corinthians 5:9-11, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” II Thessalonians 3:14, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

Perhaps you are saying, “Now you are showing some hatred at last. You finally came to a commandment that is vindictive!” No, quite to the contrary. Even this commandment is remedial and medicinal as a last resort. I will not socialize with you, hoping that you will miss my fellowship. Of course, I am commanded in the Scriptures above not to socialize with you, but even this is an effort for you to be restored. I trust that you will miss my fellowship and that my withdrawal from socializing with you will lead to your restoration.

This does not mean that I will not be nice to you. I will speak to you, I will help you, I will bless you, I will pray for you, I will be kind to you, I will be gracious to you, I will feed you if you are hungry, I will clothe you if you are cold. I will do anything I can for you, but I will not socialize with you because I am commanded not to do so and because again I am using a tool that I trust and pray unto God will restore you to fellowship with God and to your relationship with Him that brought you peace and joy, and as a blessed by-product, restore you to myself.

In conclusion, if you are my enemy and if you have sinned against me, I love you and I want you restored. The commandments that I have listed above are simply different medicines in the apothecary that I trust will heal your wounded spirit and bring you back to your God and to me, your friend. Perhaps these medicines taste progressively worse, and I certainly trust that before the more drastic ones are needed, you will be restored. I do not want you to suffer. I do not want you to hurt, but far above that, I want you restored to your God and to your joy. If therefore, a little suffering and a little pain will be remedial and medicinal, I will want it for you, not so you can hurt, but so the joy of fellowship you once knew can be yours, because you see, my dear enemy, I love you!

THE CHASTENING OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Heb. 12:4-13

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.  (Hebrews 12:4-13)

 

I. THE PROPER ATTITUDE OF THOSE UNDER CHASTENING

A. Struggling against Sin, Having Not Yet Resisted unto Blood

Let us consider Hebrews 12:4-13, point by point.

Verse 4 says, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” In this verse the apostle said that the Hebrew believers had struggled against sin. But even though they had suffered much, gone through great trials, encountered various problems, and met with much persecution, they had not yet resisted unto blood. If we compare these sufferings with that of our Lord, they are quite light! Verse 2 tells us that the Lord Jesus despised the shame and endured the suffering of the cross. What a believer goes through is far less severe than what the Lord went through! The Lord Jesus despised the shame and endured the suffering of the cross unto the shedding of blood. Although the Hebrew believers also suffered some shame and endured the cross, they had not yet resisted unto blood.

B. Finding the Reasons for Our Sufferings

What should a person expect after he becomes a Christian? We should never put a false hope before the brothers. We should show them that we will encounter many problems. However, God’s purpose and meaning are behind all of them. We can expect many trials and tribulations, but what is the purpose and meaning behind all these trials and tribulations? Unless the Lord grants us the privilege of becoming martyrs, we will probably not have the chance to resist and struggle against sin “unto blood.” But even though it is not a resistance unto blood, we are nevertheless resisting! Why do these things happen to us?

C. Not Fainting nor Regarding Lightly

Verses 5 and 6 say, ” And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

The apostle quoted Proverbs in the Old Testament in this portion of the Word. He said that if the Lord chastens us, we must not regard it lightly; and if the Lord reproves us, we must not faint. A believer should adopt these two attitudes. Some regard difficulties, sufferings, and God’s chastening as insignificant matters. They do not think much of them and easily allow God’s chastening to slip by. There are also some who faint when they go through the Lord’s reproach and fall into His hand. As Christians they feel that they have suffered too much hardship in their environment and that it is too hard to live the Christian life. They expect their way to be smooth. Their thought is on entering the pearly gates and walking on a golden street wearing fine, white linen garments. It never occurred to them that Christians would experience all kinds of difficulties. They are not prepared to be Christians under such circumstances. They faint and waver at the difficulties along the way. Proverbs shows us that both of these attitudes are wrong.

D. Not Regarding Lightly the Chastening of the Lord

God’s children should not regard lightly the chastening of the Lord. If the Lord chastens us, we have to pay attention to it. Everything the Lord measures to us has a purpose and meaning to it. He wants to build us up through our experiences and environment. All of His chastening is for the purpose of perfecting us and making us holy. All of His chastening works His nature into our nature. As a result, we become chastened in our character. This is the purpose of the Lord’s chastening. He does not chastening us without reason. He chastens us for the purpose of making us vessels. The Lord does not allow suffering to come to His children without a cause. We do not suffer for the purpose of suffering. He does not give us tribulation simply to make us suffer. The purpose in all our suffering is that we would partake of God’s holiness and nature. This is the goal of chastening.

Many children of God have been Christians for eight or ten years, yet they have never given serious consideration to God’s chastening. They never say, “The Lord is disciplining me. He is dealing with me, chastising me, and molding me into a vessel.” They do not see the purpose of God’s chastisement, dealing, and carving work. They go through their experiences capriciously. They are not bothered by what they see today; they let it slip by. They are not bothered by what they see the next day; they are not concerned about what the Lord’s will is, and they disregard it time after time. To them it is as if God purposelessly allows people to suffer. Please bear in mind that the first reaction of God’s children should be to respect and honor God’s chastening. The first thing we should do when we experience something is to find the meaning of our experience: Why have things happened this way? We must learn to respect and honor God’s chastening. We should not regard it lightly. To regard it lightly is to be careless about it. It is to say that God can do whatever He wants to do and that we must simply go through these experiences mindlessly and aimlessly.

On the one hand, we should not regard the chastening lightly. On the other hand, we should not make too much of it. If the Christian life became nothing but a story of suffering and frustration, it would be too much of a discouragement to us. This is to make too much of our chastening. We must learn to accept the chastening of the Lord and to see that His chastening and reproach are always meaningful. At the same time, we must not be discouraged by chastening.

II. WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS

Verse 6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth ” This is a quotation from Proverbs. It reveals the purpose of the Lord’s chastening.

A. Chastening Being the Arrangement of Love

God does not have the spare time to deal with all the people of the world. He chastens only those whom He loves. He chastens us because He loves us. He chastens us because He wants to make us vessels. God has no time to chastening everyone in the world, but He chastens His own children because He loves them. Therefore, chastening is God’s provision of love. Love arranges the environment that we should be in. We call this arrangement His chastening. Love measures everything that comes our way. It orders the things that we encounter in our daily life. This measurement is His chastening. Chastening is for our greatest profit and for bringing us to the loftiest goal in God’s creation.

” …and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” All those who are chastened have the ground to say that they are received by God. Scourging is not a sign of God’s rejection; it is a proof of His acceptance. I say again, God does not have the time to deal with everyone; He wants to spend His time on the sons whom He loves and receives.

B. Chastening Being the Father’s Education

Once you become a Christian, you should be prepared to accept chastening from God’s hand. If you are not His child, God will let you go. He will allow you to live an unchastened life and walk your own way. But once you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Savior, once you are born of God and have become His child, you have to prepare yourself for His chastening. No father has the time to chasten another man’s child. Whether his neighbor’s son is good or bad is not of his concern. A good father, however, will always chasten his own son in a definite way. He will deal with his son strictly according to guidelines that he has set in his mind. He will not chasten his son in a mindless and haphazard way. He will train his son according to a few objectives, namely, honesty, diligence, long-suffering, and noble aspirations. The father puts together a certain curriculum to chasten his son. He molds his son into a certain character. In the same way, since the day we were saved, God has been arranging a curriculum for us. He wants us to learn certain lessons so that we will be conformed to His nature. He wants us to be like Him in many things. This is why He arranges, chastens, and scourges. His goal is to make us a certain kind of person.

At the very beginning of his Christian life, a child of God must realize that God has prepared many lessons for him. He has made many provisions in the environment and has ordered many things, experiences, and sufferings for the purpose of producing a certain kind of character and disposition. This is what God is doing today. He wants to build up a certain kind of character in us, and He does it by ordering all kinds of circumstances to come our way.

The minute we become Christians, we have to realize that God’s hand is guiding us in all things. The ordained circumstances will come, and the scourgings will come. As soon as we get off the right way, His scourges will be upon us and will goad us back to the way. Every child of God should be prepared to accept God’s disciplinary hand. God chastens us because we are sons. God does not waste His time on others. He has no time to chasten those who are not His beloved sons. God has no time to reprove those who are not yet accepted as sons. Scourging and chastening are expressions of God’s love and acceptance. Only Christians can have a share in God’s scourging and chastening.

C. Chastening Not Being a Punishment but a Glory

What we are receiving is chastening; it is not punishment. Punishment is for the retribution of one’s mistakes, while chastening is for the purpose of education. Punishment comes because we have done something wrong; it responds to the past. Chastening is also related to our mistakes, but it is something for the future. Chastening bears an element of the future; it has a purpose. We have been called into the name of the Lord today; we belong to Him. Now we must be prepared to allow God to make us vessels of glory to Him. I can say with much confidence that God wants every one of His children to glorify Him in certain areas. Every child of God should glorify Him. However, each one does it in a different way. Some will glorify Him in one way, some in another way. We glorify God through different circumstances. As a consequence, God is glorified in a full way. Everyone has his own part and his own specialty. God wants to create a certain kind of character in us for the purpose of glorifying Him. No one is exempt from God’s disciplinary hand. Such a hand works to accomplish the things of God. We have never seen a child of God who was exempt from His disciplinary hand.

D. Ignorance of Chastening Being a Great Loss

It is indeed a great loss if God’s children do not understand His chastening. Many people live a foolish life in the eyes of God for many years. They have no way to go on. They do not know what the Lord wants to do in them. They walk according to their own will and wander in a wild, unrestrained, and aimless way through the wilderness. God does not operate this way. He is a God of purpose. He does things for the purpose of molding a specific character in us so that we may glorify His name. All chastening is for the purpose of bringing us on in this way.

III. ENDURING FOR GOD’S CHASTENING

The apostle quoted Proverbs when he wrote to the Hebrew believers. In verse 7 the apostle explains the quotation from Proverbs in verses 5 and 6, saying, ” If ye endure chastening,.” This is the first New Testament explanation of the subject; it is a crucial word. Here the apostle shows us that endurance, suffering, and chastening are the same thing. God is disciplining us. The apostle shows us that this disciplining is the same as our endurance. It is for chastening that we endure.

A. Suffering Being God’s Chastening

Perhaps some will ask, “What is God’s chastening? Why is He disciplining us?” Verses 2 through 4 speak of enduring the cross, despising the shame, and resisting sin, whereas verses 5 and 6 speak of chastening and scourging. What is the relation between these two things? What are the chastening and scourging in verses 5 and 6, and what are the shame, affliction, and resistance against sin in verses 2 through 4? Verse 7 is a conclusion of verses 2 through 6. It shows us that what we endure is God’s chastening. Thus, suffering, shame, and affliction are God’s chastening. Although our resistance against sin is not unto blood, the pain and tribulation are nevertheless part of God’s chastening.

How does God chasten us? His chastening has to do with whatever He is bringing us through and whatever He is charging us to endure. Do not consider God’s chastening as anything else. God’s chastening is what we endure every day, things such as harsh words, an unkind face, a sharp tongue, an impolite retort, an unreasonable criticism, unexpected troubles, various kinds of shame, irresponsibility, infractions, and other more serious problems arising in the family. Sometimes it may be sickness, poverty, affliction, or difficulty. We encounter many things and endure many things. The apostle said that all these are God’s chastening! It is for chastening that we endure.

B. No Experience Coming to Us by Accident

The question today is: What kind of response do we have when others give us an ugly look? If their look is God’s chastening, how should we react? If our business fails because others have forgotten to do something for us, how should we react? If the poor memory of another person is God’s chastening to us, what should we do? If we become sick through another’s infection, how should we deal with it? If things turn sour through various misfortunes, what do we say? If things do not go our way because God’s chastening is behind them, what should we say? Brothers and sisters, the response to all these things makes a great difference in us! We can consider everything in our environment as being a mere encounter; this is one kind of attitude. We can also consider it to be God’s chastening; this is another kind of attitude. The words of the apostle here are very clear. He says that it is for chastening that we endure. Please do not consider all these things to be unendurable. They are God’s chastening. Do not conclude foolishly that they are mere coincidence. We must realize that God daily arranges these things and measures them for our chastening and learning.

C. Chastening Being God’s Dealing with Us as with Sons

Verse 7 continues, “God deals with you as with sons.”God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” What we experience is God’s chastening. Today all chastening comes to us because He deals with us as with sons. Please bear in mind that chastening is God’s way of honoring us, not afflicting us. Many hold the wrong concept that they are chastened by God because God wants to torture them. No! We are chastened by God because God is honoring us. He deals with us as with sons. For what son is there whom the father does not chasten? Chastening is God’s honoring of us! We have become God’s sons; therefore, we must be chastened. God chastens us in order to bring us to the place of blessing and glory. We should never think that we are tormented by God. For what son is there whom the father does not chasten?

D. Seeing the Father’s Hand

We see a big contrast when a person understands that what is happening to him is of God; he will have a different view toward his experience. If someone hits me with a cane today, I may argue with him or snatch the cane from him. I may break it and throw it back in his face. I have not done him any injustice in doing this. However, if my Father chastises me with the cane, can I snatch the cane, break it, and throw it back? I cannot do this. On the contrary, we feel somewhat privileged that our Father would chasten us. Madam Guyon said, “I will kiss the whip that chastises me! I will kiss the hand that buffets me!” Please remember that this is the Father’s hand and the Father’s rod. This is different. If it were some ordinary experience, we would not miss anything by rejecting it. But this is no ordinary encounter; this is God’s hand and God’s chastisement, the goal of which is to make us a partaker of His nature and character. Once we see this, we will not murmur and complain. As soon as a person realizes that his Father is the one who is dealing with him, his feelings change. Our God is dealing with us as with sons. It is a glory that He chastens us today.

E. Chastening Being the Proof That We Are Sons

Verse 8 says, “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Remember that chastening is the proof that one is a son. God’s sons are those who are chastened by Him, and those who are without chastening are not His sons. A person has no proof that he is a son of God if he is not chastened by God. The proof that one is a son is the chastening he receives.

All sons have become partakers of chastening. Every child of God needs to be chastened, and you are no exception. Unless you are illegitimate, one who is adopted or bought, you must accept the same chastening! The apostle’s word here is strong. All sons have become partakers of chastening. Do not expect to be treated differently if you are a son of God. All sons have become partakers of chastening. Everyone is treated the same way. Everyone who lived in Paul’s time or Peter’s time experienced this. Today this is true for everyone in every nation throughout the world. No one is exempted. You cannot take a way which no other child of God has ever walked. No child of God has ever taken a way that is free from chastening. If any child of God is foolish enough to think that there can be smooth sailing in his living and work and that he can be spared God’s chastening, he is saying that he is illegitimate, that is, one who is adopted. We must see that chastening is the sign and proof that we are God’s children. Those who are without chastening are illegitimate; they belong to other families and are not members of the household of God. If God does not chastening us, it means that we do not belong to His family.

Let me mention something that I once saw. It may not be that profound, yet it serves as a good illustration. Five or six children were playing rambunctiously together; their bodies were covered in mud. When the mother of three of the children came, she spanked her children on their hands and forbade them to dirty themselves again. After she spanked them, one asked, “Why did you not spank the others?” The mother answered, “They are not my children.” No mother wants to chasten other people’s children. It would be terrible if God did not chastening us! Those who are without chastening are illegitimate, not sons! We have truly believed in the Lord. Since the first day of our Christian life, chastisement has been coming our way. We cannot remain a child of God yet be spared chastening. We cannot receive the sonship of God without receiving chastisement. These two things go together. We cannot receive the sonship without accepting the chastening! All sons must be chastened, and we are no exception.

IV. BEING SUBJECT TO THE CHASTENING OF THE FATHER OF SPIRITS

Verse 9 says, ” Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” The apostle pointed out that the fathers of our flesh chastening us and we respect them. We acknowledge that their chastening is right, and we accept it. Shall we not much more be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

This shows us that the matter of sonship leads to the matter of chastening, and chastening issues in submission. Because we are sons, there is chastening; since there is chastening, there must also be submission on our part. God orders everything in our environment for the purpose of teaching us. It walls us in so that we have no choice but to take His way.

A. Being Subject to God in Two Matters

We must obey God in two matters: One is to obey God’s commandments, and the other is to obey His chastening. On the one hand, we have to obey God’s word, that is, His commandments. We have to obey all of God’s ordinances written in the Bible. On the other hand, we must subject ourselves to God’s arrangement in the environment. We must obey His chastening. Often, obedience to God’s word is enough. But there are times when we have to subject ourselves to God’s chastening as well. God has ordered many things in our environment, and we must gain profit and learn lessons from these things. This is the profit God has ordained for us. He wants to lead us to the straight path. We must learn to obey not only His commandments but also His chastening. Obedience to God’s chastening may involve a price, but it puts us on the straight path.

Obedience is not an empty word. Quite a number of the brothers ask, “What should I obey?” The answer to this question is simple. We may think that we have nothing to obey, but when God chastens us a little, we immediately think of ways of escape. It is strange that many people seem to have no commandment to obey! Please bear in mind that when God’s hand of chastening is upon us, that is the very time we have to obey. Some may ask, “Why do you not call God’s hand the hand of guidance? Why do you call it the hand of chastening? Why do you not say that God is guiding us all the way, rather than God is disciplining us?” God knows how terrible our temper is, and we also know. There are many people to whom obedience will never come without proper chastening.

B. Learning Obedience through Chastening

We should know the kind of person we are in the eyes of God. We are rebellious and stubborn by nature. We are like naughty children who will not obey unless their father has a rod in his hand. Every one of us is the same. Some sons will never obey unless they are rebuked or scourged. They have to be spanked before they will pay attention. Please bear in mind that this is the kind of person we are! We pay attention only when we are spanked. If we are not spanked, we turn our face the other way. This is why chastening is absolutely necessary. We should know ourselves. We are not that simple. Even a spanking may not change us that much. The apostle showed us that chastisement is for the purpose of humbling us and making us obedient. He said, “Be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live.” Submission and obedience are indispensable virtues. We must learn to obey God and say, “God, I am willing to subject myself to Your chastening! Whatever You do is right!”

V. CHASTENING BEING FOR OUR BENEFIT

Verse 10 says, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.” Often parents chastening their children in a poor way, because they act and chastening according to their own whims. Not much benefit will come out of this chastening.

“… but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.” This is not a chastening driven by temper nor a chastening that is merely a punishment. No chastening or reproach of God is merely a punishment; it is educational in nature, and it is there for our profit. The purpose of chastening is not just to hurt us. The hurt produces something; it is there for a purpose. He does not punish us simply because we have done something wrong. Whoever thinks this way is altogether in the realm of the law and the courtroom.

A. Partakers of His Holiness

What is the benefit of such chastening? It is to make us partakers of His holiness. This is glorious! Holiness is God’s nature. We may say that holiness is also God’s character. It is for this that God uses many ways to chasten His children. From the time we believed in the Lord, God has been disciplining us. He chastens us with the view that we may partake of His holiness, His nature, and His character. The Bible speaks of a few kinds of holiness. The holiness in Hebrews specifically refers to God’s character. For Christ to become our holiness is one thing. For us to be sanctified in Christ is another thing. The holiness spoken of here is something wrought into us; it is not a gift. It has to do with our constitution. This is something we have been emphasizing for years. This means that God works something into us in a gradual way. The holiness here is a holiness that is constituted through His chastening, something constituted through His scourging and daily, inner working. His chastening and operation are for the purpose of making us partakers of His holiness.

After we suffer a little chastisement, we partake of His holiness. After we suffer more chastisement, we learn more holiness. If we remain under God’s chastening, we will gradually realize what holiness is. If we continue under God’s chastening, there will be a gradual constitution of holiness into our character. If we stay under God’s chastening all the way to the end, we will become holy in our character. Nothing is more crucial than this! We must realize that the result of chastening is the constitution of God’s character into our being. All chastening has results, and we should reap the fruit from all of them. May the Lord be merciful to us so that His chastening, whenever it is upon us, may produce a little more holiness. May it result in more holiness, in more lessons learned, and in more constitution of God. Holiness must continually increase in us!

B. The Constitution of a Holy Character

After we accept the Lord and become God’s children, He daily arranges many things in our environment to chasten and chastise us. All these things are lessons to us. Time after time these lessons come to us for the purpose of adding His holiness to us. We need much chastening before God can work out a holy character in us! In the eyes of God we have only a limited number of years to live our Christian life. If we neglect God’s chastening, and if it does not produce the needed effect in us, our loss will be an eternal loss indeed!

C. Holiness as a Gift and Holiness as a Constitution

God not only gives us His holiness as a gift, but He also wants us to partake of His holiness through His chastening. He wants us to be constituted with His holiness; He wants to wrought holiness into our being little by little. Carnal persons like us require years of chastening from God before His holy character and nature can become ours. We need all kinds of blows, situations, guidance, frustrations, urgings, and chastisement before we can partake of God’s holy character. This is a great matter! God does not merely give us holiness as a gift. This holiness must be wrought into us. God has to constitute us with His holiness!

This is one distinctive feature of salvation in the New Testament. God first gives us something, and then He works the same thing into us. He constitutes us with the same thing little by little. When we have both aspects, we have full salvation. One is a gift from Christ, and the other is a constitution of the Holy Spirit. This is a distinctive feature of the New Testament. One is a gift, and the other is a constitution. Among all the crucial things in the New Testament, there is this clear statement: God is making us partakers of His holiness through His chastening.

VI. THE PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS YIELDED THROUGH CHASTENING

Verse 11 says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Here the apostle draws special attention to the words at the present time and afterward. It is a fact that one does not feel happy at the time of chastening, but grievous. Do not think that suffering is wrong when you experience God’s chastening. Chastening is surely a suffering. The Bible does not say that the cross is a joy. It says rather that the cross is affliction. The cross brings us suffering. The Lord despised the shame for the joy set before Him. This is a fact. The Bible does not say that the cross is a joy; the cross is not a joy. It is always a suffering. It is not wrong to grieve and feel afflicted when we are chastened.

But we must learn obedience. Only through obedience can we partake of God’s holiness. Chastening indeed is not a matter of joy “at the present time.” Instead, it is grief to us. This is not surprising; it is in fact quite normal for us to feel this way. Our Lord did not consider the trials a matter of joy when He passed through them. Of course, we can make it a matter of joy. Peter said that we can exult in various trials (1 Pet. 1:6). On the one hand, they are a suffering. On the other hand, we can reckon them to be a joy. How we feel is one thing, and how we reckon is another thing. We can feel grieved, but at the same time, we can reckon it to be a joy.

A. Yielding the Peaceable Fruit

A child of God should fix his eyes not on the present but on the future. Pay attention to this sentence: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Do not look at the suffering you are going through now. Instead, look at the resulting peaceable fruit of righteousness.

B. Moab Being at Ease from His Youth and Settling on His Lees

Jeremiah 48:11 says, “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” Are you clear what this is saying?

This is the problem with many who have not passed through trials. The passage describes those who have never suffered any chastisement or sufferings before the Lord. The Moabites had been at ease from their youth. They experienced no suffering or pain. What did such ease produce? They became like wine settled on its lees. If a person brews liquor from grapes or other kinds of fruit, the wine surfaces to the top, while the lees settle to the bottom. The wine floats, while the lees sink. In order to clear the wine, it has to be poured from vessel to vessel. If the lees remain at the bottom, sooner or later they will spoil the taste of the liquor. In making wine, a man must first allow the grapes to ferment. After the grapes ferment, he transfers the wine from one vessel to another. If he is not careful, he will pour the lees out as well. This is why he has to pour carefully. But one pouring is not enough; some lees are bound to escape into the other vessel. This is why he has to do this again. A second time may still not clear the lees, and he has to pour the wine into a third vessel. He has to keep pouring until no lees are left in the wine. God said that Moab had been at ease from his youth and had settled on his lees. He had not been emptied from vessel to vessel, and his lees always followed him. One must be emptied from vessel to vessel if he wants to do away with the lees. He has to be poured out again and again until one day the lees at the bottom are gone. Moab was full of lees; although he was clear at the top, he was not emptied at the bottom. Those who have never gone through trials and chastisement have never been emptied from vessel to vessel. (Note – we must state that we don’t believe in drinking wine, only grape juice.  This illustration is only because of the word lees in scripture.)

Often it seems as if God is digging a person from his roots. A brother may experience God’s uprooting through his consecration; everything that he owns may be completely uprooted. A brother may experience God’s uprooting through his sufferings and trials; he may be stripped of everything he has. This is to be emptied from vessel to vessel. God’s hand will crush us thoroughly. He does this in order to clear away our lees!

To be at ease is not a good thing. Brothers and sisters, God wants to purify us. This is why He chastens and scourges us. Never consider ease and comfort to be something good. Moab’s ease caused him to remain Moab forever!

C. Taste Remaining, Scent Not Changing

Here are some sobering words: “…therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” Because Moab was not emptied from vat to vat, from pot to pot, and from vessel to vessel, and because he was never chastened and dealt with by God, his taste remained in him and his scent never changed!

Brothers, this is why God has to work on you. He wants to take away your taste and change your scent. God does not want your own taste and scent. I once said that many people are “raw” because they are still in their original state. They have never changed. You had a certain kind of taste before you believed in the Lord. Today you may have been a believer for ten years, yet your taste is still the same. Your scent remains the same as it was before you believed in the Lord. The word scent in Hebrew means “smell,” which is the flavor of something in its original state. You had a certain smell before you were saved. Today you have the same smell; there is no change in you at all. In other words, you have not experienced any of God’s constitution and carving.

God’s chastening is indeed precious! He wants to uproot us and to empty us from vessel to vessel. God chastens us and deals with us in many ways so that we may lose our original smell and yield the peaceable fruit. The peaceable fruit of righteousness can be translated as “the peaceable fruit, which is the fruit of righteousness.”

D. The Peaceable Fruit Being the Fruit of Righteousness

Please remember that the fruit is peaceable. A man must be at peace with God in order to obtain this fruit. The worst thing one can do is to murmur, to lose his peace, and to rebel during times of chastening. One can be grieved by the chastening, but he should not murmur or rebel. The problem with many people is that they have no peace. This is why we need the peaceable fruit when we are under chastening. If you want the peaceable fruit, you must first learn to accept the chastening. You must learn not to fight with God or argue with Him. The peaceable fruit is the fruit of righteousness. Once you have the fruit of peace, you have the fruit of righteousness. This is why the apostle said, “The peaceable fruit, which is the fruit of righteousness.” Peace is righteousness. If the inward fruit is peace, the outward expression is righteousness. If you have the fruit of peace within, you will spontaneously partake of God’s holiness.

I hope that none of us would be like Moab, who was at ease from his youth and who had settled on his lees. He had not been emptied from vessel to vessel and had never gone into captivity. Therefore, his taste remained in him and his scent was not changed. Some have been Christians for ten or twenty years and have remained the same throughout this time. They have not accepted any of God’s dealings and have not subjected themselves to them. Thus, their taste remains the same. If our scent remains the same for ten or twenty years, it means that we have never yielded any peaceable fruit before God and have never been constituted with a holy character. Our hope is that God would constitute us with something, something called a holy character.

VII. CONCLUSION

Hebrews 12:12-13 says, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Sometimes it seems that chastening makes the hands hang down and the knees paralyzed. But the apostle told us not to be disheartened. The hands may hang down and the knees may be paralyzed, but there is the fruit of peace and the fruit of righteousness.

A. Setting Straight the Hands and the Knees

Do not think that after a person suffers much hardship and chastening, there is nothing more to be done. After we are chastened and scourged, we need to set straight the hands which hang down and the paralyzed knees. Chastening and scourging will yield the fruit of peace. This fruit of peace is the fruit of righteousness. If a person is at peace with God, he will have righteousness. As soon as we calm ourselves down and submit to God, everything becomes right and proper. As soon as we humble ourselves, we become constituted with a holy character. The fruit of peace is the fruit of righteousness. Do not set your eyes on righteousness. Just consider whether or not you are at peace, and whether or not you are obedient and pliable. If you are pliable and obedient, and if you are at peace, you will surely be constituted with holiness. Please bear in mind that even though you may have endured many trials and experienced many hardships in the past, there is still the need for you to set straight your hands which hang down and your paralyzed knees.

B. Making Straight the Paths

At the same time, you need to “make straight paths for your feet.” Today we can say that we have somewhat passed through this way. We are presenting this way clearly before you. “… lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed ” Those who are falling behind do not need to be put out of joint any longer; they can be healed and join the others who have passed the same straight course. If a person goes through trials and humbles himself under God’s mighty hand, he will find his character constituted with holiness. He will also lead many to this straight course; they will no longer be put out of joint but will be healed.

If a brother is before us and he veers off, his deviation may discourage others from finding the right course. This is why we must be obedient ourselves. We must bear the fruit of peace ourselves. This will not only ensure that we are on the right course, but also will open up the right course for others to follow. All the lame ones can take this way; they can all be healed. I recall the lame man in Acts 3. When his feet were made strong and he began to walk, he stood up, walked, leaped, and praised God. A lame man was healed, but there are many lame ones in this world today. They can all be healed by the straight course we take. We must open a way for all the brothers to follow.

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(Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  David Williams – site Admin.)

IF ANYONE SINS

Scripture Reading: John 5:14; 8:11; Rom. 6:1-2; Num. 19:1-10, 12-13, 17-19; 1 John 1:7-10;2:1-2

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.  (John 5:14)

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.  (John 8:11)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1-2)

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever. (Numbers 19:1-10)

He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. (Numbers 19:12-13)

And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. (Numbers 19:17-19)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(1 John 1:7-10)  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

After we are saved, we should sin no more. John 5 records the incident of the Lord Jesus healing one who had been sick for thirty-eight years near the pool in Bethesda. After the man was healed the Lord met him in the temple and said to him, ” Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (v. 14). John 8 speaks of the Lord Jesus forgiving a woman who had committed adultery. He said to her then and there, ” Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more ” (v. 11). Once we are saved, we are charged by the Lord to sin no more! As saved ones, we surely should not continue in sin.

I. SINNING AFTER BEING SAVED

Since a Christian should not sin and should not continue in sins, is it then possible for a Christian not to sin? The answer is yes! It is possible for Christians not to sin because we have God’s life within us. This life does not sin. It cannot tolerate any trace of sin. This life is as holy as God is holy. The life within us makes us very sensitive to sin. If we walk according to the sense of this life and if we live by this life, we will not sin.

However, it is possible for Christians to sin. We are still in the flesh. If we do not walk according to the Spirit and live in life of the flesh, we can sin at any time. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” First John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” It is possible for Christians to be overtaken by sins. There is still the possibility of sinning. First John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Verse 10 says, ” If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar…” Hence, our experience shows us that it is possible for Christians to fall accidentally into sin.

 

Will a saved person who has fallen accidentally into sin still perish? No! The Lord said, ” And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:28). In other words, once a person is saved, he is saved forever. “They shall by no means perish forever.” Nothing can be surer than this! First Corinthians 5 speaks of a brother who had committed fornication. Paul said, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (v. 5). Even though the flesh of a believer who sins may be destroyed, his spirit will still be saved.

Does this therefore mean that after a person is saved, it does not matter whether he sins? No! If a person sins after he is saved, there will be two terrible consequences. First, he will suffer in this life. If you sin after you are saved, you will suffer the consequence of your sin. The person in 1 Corinthians 5 was delivered to Satan. This is a great suffering. After a person has repented and confessed to the Lord, God will forgive him and the blood will cleanse him. With some sins, however, there are further consequences that one must face. Although Jehovah removed David’s sin of taking Uriah’s wife, the sword never departed from his house forever (2 Sam. 12:9-13). Brothers and sisters, sin is like a venomous serpent; it is not an amusing plaything. If you are bitten by it, you will suffer.

Second, if a man sins he will be punished in the coming age. If a Christian sins and does not deal with it properly in this age, he will have to deal with it in the coming age. When the Lord comes again, ” For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16:27). Paul said, ” For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10). (Note – this is only speaking about receiving rewards or not receiving rewards.  There is no teaching in the Bible about any kind of punishment for any Christian for any reason other than loss of rewards.)

Besides these two terrible consequences, there is another immediate result of sin—the breaking down of fellowship with God. To a Christian, fellowship with God is a most glorious privilege. Such fellowship is the greatest blessing he can have. However, if he sins, he will immediately lose his fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit within him will grieve for him, and the life in him will feel uncomfortable about his sin. He will lose his joy as well as his fellowship with God. Formerly, when he saw God’s children, he was warmly attracted to them, but now he no longer feels that warmth; there seems to be a barrier between him and them. Formerly, prayer and Bible reading were sweet. But now they have lost their sweetness; he can no longer touch God. Formerly, he treasured the church meetings very much; when he missed one meeting, he felt that he had suffered a great loss. But now the meetings are tasteless to him; it no longer makes a difference whether or not he goes. When he sees God’s children, he wants to run away instead of meeting. them. Everything has changed.

It is a serious thing for a person to sin after he is saved! We must never be loose in our conduct. We must never tolerate sin and must never give ground to it.

But what do we do “if anyone sins”? If a Christian becomes careless and sins by mistake, if he is overtaken by sins, what should he do? How can he come back to the Lord? How can he recover his fellowship with God? This is a very important subject, and we have to study it carefully.

II. THE LORD HAVING BORNE ALL OUR SINS

To take care of this matter, we must first realize that the Lord Jesus has borne all our sins on the cross. All the sins which we have committed, as well as those we are committing and will commit during our whole life, were borne by the Lord on the cross.

However, on the day we believed in the Lord, under God’s light we only saw the sins that we had committed before we had believed. A man can only be conscious of the sins which God shines His light upon; he cannot feel the sins which he has not yet committed. Therefore, the actual sins the Lord Jesus bore on the cross are more than the sins that we see. The Lord Jesus bore all of our sins on the cross, but we see only the sins which we have committed.

You may have been saved at the age of sixteen, or you may have been saved at the age of thirty-two. All the sins you committed before your salvation are absolutely and totally forgiven by the Lord. However, at the time of your forgiveness, the number of sins that you were conscious of was actually much less than the actual number of sins which the Lord bore for you. Your experience of the Lord’s grace went only so far as your personal experience of your sin. But the Lord’s work on our behalf was based on His knowledge of our sins. We must realize that even the sins that we are not conscious of are included in the Lord Jesus’ redemption.

Perhaps you were saved at the age of sixteen. Suppose you had committed a thousand sins during the first sixteen years of your life. You might have said at the time you believed in the Lord, “I thank You. My sins have been forgiven because You have taken away all my sins.” In saying that the Lord had taken your sins away, you meant that the Lord had dealt with your one thousand sins. What would have happened if you had been saved at the age of thirty-two instead? Proportionally, you probably would have committed two thousand sins by the age of thirty-two. You might have said the same thing: “O Lord, You have borne all my sins.” If you were saved at sixty-four years of age, you would have said the same thing: “O Lord, You have borne all my sins.” It is quite clear then that the Lord has dealt with the sins that were committed during the first sixteen years of your life as well as the sins that were committed from age sixteen to age sixty-four. The Lord dealt with all of your sins on the cross. The criminal on the cross did not believe in the Lord until just before he died, but the Lord took away all his sins (Luke 23:39-43). In other words, the Lord took away the sins of our whole life on the cross. Although, when we first believed in the Lord, we only felt the forgiveness of our past sins, in actuality, the Lord took away all our sins, even those we commit after we are saved. We must understand this fact before we can understand how to recover our fellowship with God.

III. THE TYPE OF THE ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER

We have a picture of the Lord’s vicarious death for our sins in the type of the ashes of the red heifer.

Numbers 19 is a very special chapter in the Old Testament. A heifer was used, which speaks of something special. This heifer was used not to meet a need at that moment but to meet a need in the future. This, too, is very significant.

In verse 2 God told Moses and Aaron, ” Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:” A heifer, not a bull, was offered here. In the Bible gender is very meaningful. Male signifies everything related to the testimony of the truth, while female signifies everything related to the experience of life. This is a principle we should be familiar with in reading our Bible. Abraham speaks of justification by faith, while Sarah speaks of obedience. Justification by faith is objective; it has to do with truth and testimony. Obedience is subjective; it has to do with life and experience. Throughout the Bible the church is symbolized by females, because the church is subjective, being related to the Lord’s work in man. A heifer is used here instead of a bull because it represents another aspect of the Lord’s work—His work toward man. The red heifer signifies a work that is subjective rather than objective.

What happened to the heifer? It was slaughtered, and its blood was taken and sprinkled seven times directly in front of the tent of meeting. In other words, the blood was offered to God because the work of the blood is always for God. The heifer’s blood was sprinkled seven times in front of the tent of meeting, signifying that it was for God and for the redemption of sin.

After the red heifer was killed, it was burned. The skin, the flesh, the blood, and the dung were all burned. The whole red heifer was burned. As it was being burned, the priest cast cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet into the midst of the fire. What do cedar wood and hyssop signify? First Kings 4:33 said that Solomon discoursed about trees, from the cedar to the hyssop. Cedar wood and hyssop therefore signify all the trees. In other words, they signify the whole world. What does scarlet signify? This word is also translated scarlet in Isaiah 1:18, which says, “… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” Scarlet, therefore, signifies our sins. For the cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet to be burned together means that the sins of the whole world were gathered together with the red heifer when it was offered up to God; they were all burned together. Here, we see a picture of the cross. The Lord Jesus offered Himself up to God. He embraced all our sins. The gross sins were there as well as the lesser sins. The sins of the past, the present, and the future were also there. The sins for which man feels the need of forgiveness, as well as the sins for which man does not feel the need of forgiveness, were there. All sins were upon the heifer, and they were all burned with it.

After they were burned, what was done next? Numbers 19:9 says, ” And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.” What does this mean? This is what makes the red heifer so distinct. After the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet were burned with the heifer, the ashes were gathered up and kept in a clean place. Thereafter, if any of the Israelites touched something unclean and became unclean before God, another clean person could mix the water for impurity with the ashes and sprinkle it on the unclean person. This would remove the person’s uncleanness. In other words, the ashes were used to remove uncleanness. They were prepared for the future. They would be used when uncleanness was detected at a later time.

In the Old Testament, sinners needed to offer up sacrifices to the Lord. If a person had offered up a sacrifice and then touched something unclean, he would become unclean again before God and could no longer fellowship with Him. What did he have to do? Another person would take some ashes of the red heifer on this person’s behalf, put them in a vessel, pour in living water, mix it into the water for impurity, and sprinkle it on his body. The man’s uncleanness would then be removed and his sin forgiven. When an Israelite brought a bull or a lamb to the Lord and offered it up as a sin offering, he did it because of some known sin. But the red heifer was related to another matter. The burning of the red heifer was not for known sins which had been committed in the past, but for future uncleanness. The burning of the red heifer was not for past sins but for future transgressions.

This shows us another aspect of the Lord Jesus’ work. One aspect of the Lord’s work is like that of the ashes of the red heifer. The efficacy of redemption is signified by the ashes. The sins of the whole world are in it, and the blood is also in it. Whenever a man becomes unclean or has touched some unclean things, he does not need to kill another red heifer and offer it to God. He only needs to take the ashes of the red heifer that was offered once and mix them with water and sprinkle them on the body. In other words, there is no need for the Lord to do anything a second time. His redemption accomplished everything. He made provision for all of our future uncleanness and future sins. Everything has been fully accomplished by His redemption.

What do the ashes signify? In the Bible, ashes signify something in its final form. Whether a bull or a lamb, its final form after being burned is ashes. Ashes are very stable; they do not corrupt into something else. We cannot corrupt or destroy ashes. Ashes signify something in its final form.

The ashes of the red heifer signify the eternal and unchanging efficacy of the Lord’s redemption. The redemption which our Lord accomplished for us is most stable. Do not think that rocks on mountains are stable. Even rocks can be burned into ashes. Ashes are more stable than rocks. The ashes of the red heifer signify the Lord’s redemption which He has prepared for us. It is forever unchanging and incorruptible. We may apply it any time. If a Christian touches something unclean by accident and there is uncleanness in him, he does not have to ask the Lord to die for him again. He only needs to trust in the eternal and incorruptible efficacy of the ashes and to sprinkle his body with the water of life, and he will be clean. In other words, the ashes of the red heifer tell us that the past work of the cross is applicable for our use today. We also can say that the effectiveness of the cross covers all the needs we will ever have in the future. These ashes are specifically for the future. Only one red heifer needs to be burned, and it only needs to be burned once. Its ashes are enough to cover one’s whole life. Thank the Lord that His redemption is sufficient for our whole life. His death has taken away all our sins.

IV. THE NEED FOR CONFESSION

We have covered the side of the Lord’s work, which is redemption and the removal of our sins. What should we do on our side?

First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In this verse the word we refers to believers, not to sinners. When a believer sins, he must confess his sins. Only after he has confessed his sins will he be forgiven. When a believer sins, he should not ignore it or cover it up. Proverbs 28:13 says, ” He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” When a believer sins, he must confess his sin. Do not give sin a nice name. Do not excuse yourself. Lying is a sin. When you lie, you should confess that you have sinned. You should not say, “I have said a little more (or less) than I should have.” You should say, “I have sinned.” You should not explain it away or cover it up. You should confess that you have committed the sin of lying. You must condemn lying as sin.

 

Confession means to stand on God’s side and judge sin as sin. There are three things here: God, ourselves, and sins. God and sins are at the two ends, and we are in the middle. What does it mean to commit a sin? It means that we stand on the side of sin and that we are away from God. Once we sin, we are away from God. Once we join ourselves to sins, we cannot be together with God. As soon as Adam sinned, he hid from God and dared not meet Him (Gen. 3:8, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”). Colossians 1:21 says, ” And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” Sin alienates us from God. What does it mean to confess our sins? It means to come back to God’s side and to acknowledge that what we have done is sin. We have come back to God. We are no longer with sin. We are standing opposite of sin and calling sin a sin. This is confession. Only those who walk in the light and who have deep feelings and a repulsion for sin can have genuine confession. Those who are callous to sin, who consider it natural to sin, are not making any confession when they merely acknowledge something with their lips in a heartless way.

Believers are the children of light (Eph. 5:8, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”) and the children of God (1 John 3:1, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:”). They are no longer outsiders but members of God’s family. In a family one should behave in a way that is worthy of the family. You are a child of God, and you should know about sin. You should have the same attitude towards sin as your Father. The way the Father considers sin should be the way you consider sin. Confession in God’s house comes when His children take the same attitude as their Father towards sin. They condemn sin in the same way that their Father condemns sin. They take the same attitude as their Father with regard to sin. When a child of God sins, he should condemn sin as sin just as the Father does.

If we confess our sins this way, God ” ….. he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)  When we sin and when we know our sin and acknowledge it as sin, God will forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is “faithful,” which means that He must honor and fulfill His own words and promises. He is also “righteous,” which means He must be satisfied with His Son’s redemptive work on the cross and must recognize it. Based on His promise and based on His redemption, He has to forgive us. He is faithful, and He is righteous. He must forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We have to pay attention to the words “every” and “all” in 1 John 1:7 and 9. “Every sin” and “all unrighteousness” are fully forgiven and cleansed. The Lord has done this. When the Lord says “all,” He means all. We should never change it to something else. When He says every sin, He means every sin, not just every sin committed before we believed or every sin committed in the past. He has forgiven us of all sins.  In order to help you confess sins, please click on this link to download the list I have used for 30 years:

Repentance Confession List

V. AN ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER

First John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” These things refer to the forgiveness and cleansing from our sins through God’s promise and work. John wrote these things to us so that we may not sin. It shows us that the Lord has forgiven our many sins and that, as a result, we do not sin. When we find out that we are forgiven, we do not become free to sin; rather, we will not sin.

Following this it says, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: ” “With the Father”—this is a family affair; it is something that happens after we are saved. We have already believed and have become one of God’s many children. Now we have an Advocate with the Father, who is Jesus Christ the Righteous; “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” Through the Lord Jesus’ death and by His becoming the propitiation for our sins, He has become our Advocate with the Father. These words are spoken to Christians.

The propitiation spoken of here is the reality of the type of the ashes of the red heifer in Numbers 19. It speaks of God’s forgiveness of our future sins according to the accomplished work of the cross. There is no need to have a new cross. We only need the work of the cross once and it is sufficient. With the eternal redemption of the cross, our sins are forgiven. That sacrifice was not an ordinary sacrifice. It was a sacrifice whose efficacy could be applied at all times. It was ashes; therefore, it was applicable all the time. Based on His blood, the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate. He has accomplished redemption on the cross. Based on His accomplished work, we can be cleansed. If we sin by accident, we should not be disheartened by our sin; we should not wallow in it or remain in it. When we sin, the first thing we should do is confess our sin to the Lord. God says that it is a sin, and we should acknowledge it as a sin. God says that this is wrong, and we also should say that it is wrong. When we ask God to forgive our sin, He forgives our sin, and our fellowship with Him is restored immediately.

In the eyes of God, no brother or sister should sin. However, if anyone sins by accident, the first thing to do is deal with it immediately before God. He or she should take care of the problem of sin immediately. Never delay. Deal with it as soon as possible. You must confess immediately. Tell God, “I have sinned!” Our confession is our judgment of ourselves. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When a child of God sins and does not confess his sin but instead remains in his sin, he loses his fellowship with God. There will be no further fellowship between him and God. There is a leak in his conscience, and he will not be able to stand up before God. He may still have a little fellowship with God, but that fellowship will not be pleasant. Indeed, he will suffer. When a child who has done something wrong comes home, he will feel that something is not right because his father will not speak to him. He cannot have an intimate fellowship with his father. He knows that there is a barrier between him and his father. This is the pain that results from a loss of fellowship.

There is only one way to recovery—it is to go to God and confess our sins. We have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate and has borne all our sins. We have to confess our failures and shortcomings before God in a humble way. We have to look to Him so that we will no longer be proud or loose when we set out on our journey again. We have to realize that we are no better than anyone else, and that it is possible for us to fall at any time. We have to ask God for mercy and strength to go on step by step. Once we confess this way, we will immediately recover our fellowship with God, and the joy and peace that were lost will come back.

Finally, we should point out once more that Christians should not sin. Sin results in suffering and loss. May God have mercy upon us, keep us, preserve us, and lead us on in the way of unceasing fellowship with Him!

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration in the first lesson was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

LEADING MEN TO CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Rom. 1:16; 10:14; 1 Tim. 2:1, 4; Mark 16:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  (Romans 1:16)

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (Romans 10:14)

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  (Mark 16:15)

In the previous chapter we said that once a person believes in the Lord, he has to witness for the Lord. In this chapter we want to talk about the ways to lead men to Christ. If we do not know how to lead people to Christ, I am afraid that much of our witnessing will be in vain. There are several things which we must do and learn if we want to lead men to Christ. We can group them into two categories: First, going to God on man’s behalf, and second, going to man on God’s behalf. In addition, we would also like to say something about passing out tracts.

I. GOING TO GOD ON MAN’S BEHALF

A. Prayer Being the Foundation
of Leading Men to Christ

There is a foundational work in leading men to Christ. Before one opens his mouth before man, he first must open his mouth before God. We need to first ask God and then talk to men. We always need to talk to God first, not man. Some brothers and sisters are very zealous to lead men to Christ, but they do not pray for them. A man may have great interest in people, but if he has no burden to pray before the Lord, his work of saving souls will be ineffectual. A person must have a burden before the Lord before he can witness to men.

The Lord Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  (John 6:37) According to Acts 2:47, the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. The first thing that we must do is ask God for people, asking Him to give men to the Lord Jesus and to add them to the church. In order for men to be saved, we need to ask God and implore Him. It is very difficult to deal with man’s heart. It is not easy for us to turn a heart toward the Lord. We must first go to God and pray for these people, asking God to bind the strong man “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”  (Luke 11:21-22).  Afterwards, we can talk to them at length. We have to present these people one by one to the Lord and pray for them fervently before we can effectively lead them to Christ.

Those who are good at leading men to Christ are good at prayer. If you have trouble getting answers to prayer, you will have trouble witnessing for the Lord. If you have no confidence in prayer, you will have no confidence in leading men to Christ. Hence, you must learn to pray in a practical way and not let this matter slip by.

B. Preparing a Record Book

In order to pray for people in a proper way, you should keep a record book. Allow God to put the names of those whom He wishes to save in your heart. When you were first saved, how did you know to whom you should go to make restitution? How did you know whom you should repay? It was the Lord who put the person’s name in your heart and who reminded you of particular things. This reminder compelled you to make restitution with others. One day you suddenly thought of something. Another day something else came to your mind. As a result of this enlightening, you dealt with these things one by one. The same principle holds true in leading men to Christ. Allow the Lord to put some names in your heart. When these names are in your heart, spontaneously you will be burdened to pray for them. The Lord may put a few people or a few dozen people in your heart. In writing these names down, the most important thing to remember is to take the names that the Lord has put in your heart. Do not sit down and simply make out a list at random. You will be wasting your time if you mindlessly write down something. Your success will be dependent upon how good your start is. You have to ask God specifically for a few names. Out of all your family members, friends, colleagues, schoolmates, and those whom you know, a few names will spontaneously come to your mind. You will have a feeling for them, and you will want them to be saved first.

A record book should have the following columns: The first column should be a number; the second column, the date; and the third column, the name. This will remind us of the number we have assigned to a person and the date we began to pray for him. The fourth column should also be a date—the date when the person is saved. If the person unfortunately dies, we can put the date of death in this column. One should persist and not give up once a name is in the book. The prayer for a person should follow him until he dies. If the person is alive and not saved, you should keep on praying for him until he is saved. One brother prayed for his friend for eighteen years before his friend was saved. It is not certain when a person will be saved. Some are saved in a year, and some in two to three months. Perhaps one or two of them may prove to be very difficult, but in the end they will still be saved. You should not relax but relentlessly pursue in prayer for their salvation.

C. The Greatest Obstacle to Prayer Being Sin

Prayer is a test; it exposes your spiritual condition before the Lord. If your spiritual condition is proper and normal, others will be saved one by one. As you intercede continuously before the Lord, you may find one or two persons saved after a few days or half a month. After a while, another three or five may be saved. People should be saved regularly. If your prayers are not answered for a long time, it must mean that you are sick before the Lord. You should go to the Lord for light and find out where your problem lies.

The greatest obstacle to prayer is sin. We must learn to live a holy life before the Lord. We must reject all known sins. The moment we take sin lightly or tolerate it, our prayers will be hindered.  “Sin has both an objective aspect and a subjective aspect. The objective aspect has to do with God, while the subjective aspect has to do with us. On the objective side, sin obstructs God’s grace and promises. Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2) “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”  (Psalms 66:18) If a person does not take care of the problem of sin properly, he will find hindrance to his prayer. Unconfessed sins, sins which are never dealt with by the blood, are a big obstacle before God; they are the cause of unanswered prayer. This is on the objective side.

 

On the subjective side, sin damages man’s conscience. When a person sins, no matter what he says to himself, how much he reads the Bible, how many promises there are in the Word, how much grace God has, and how much He accepts him, his conscience will be weakened and bound. First Timothy 1:19 says, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:” A ship may be old or small, but it cannot leak. Similarly, our conscience must not have a leak. As soon as the conscience is not at peace, many prayers cannot be uttered. Thus, there are obstacles not only before God but even within man himself. The relationship between faith and conscience is just like that between a ship and its cargo. Faith is like the cargo, and the conscience is like a ship. When the ship has a leak, the cargo will be damaged. When the conscience is strong, faith will be strong. But when there is a leak in the conscience, faith will be gone. If our heart blames us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”  (1 John 3:20)

If you want to be a man of prayer, you must deal with sin thoroughly. You lived in sin for a long time in the past. If you are not careful with it now, you will not be totally free from it. You have to deal with sin seriously; you have to come before God to confess every sin, putting every sin under the blood, refusing it, and coming out from it. Then your conscience will be recovered. As soon as the blood cleanses, the conscience is recovered. There will be no condemnation, and spontaneously you will see God’s face. Never give in to sin. This will weaken you before the Lord. If you are weak before the Lord, you will not be able to intercede for others. As long as sin remains, you will not be able to utter anything in your prayer. Sin is the number one problem. You should pay attention to it all the time, even daily. If one deals with sin properly before the Lord, he will be able to offer proper prayers, and others will be brought to the Lord through him.

D. Praying with Faith

Another important thing is to have faith in our prayers. If the conscience is blameless, it is easy for faith to be strong, and if faith is strong, spontaneously our prayers will be answered.

What is faith? Faith is freedom from doubt. It is to accept God’s promises in our prayers. It is God who asks us to pray and who wants us to pray. God said, “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”  (Isaiah 45:11)  If we pray, God has to answer us. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”  (Matthew 7:7)  It is impossible for Him not to open after we have knocked. Jesus said, “Seek and you shall find.” It is impossible for us not to find after we have sought. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given to you.” It is impossible for us to ask and yet not receive. If we do not believe this, what kind of God do we think our God is? We must see that God’s promises are faithful and dependable. Faith is based on our knowledge of God. The more we know God, the stronger our faith will be. We are saved already; we know God already. Therefore, we can believe; there should not be any difficulty at all for us to believe. When we believe, God will answer our prayers. Learn to be a person full of faith from the very beginning. We should not trust in our feelings or our mind. Instead, we should believe in God’s word. God’s promises are like cash; they work. In fact, God’s promises are God’s work. The promises tell us of God’s work, while His work is the manifestation of His promises. We have to accept God’s promises in the same way we accept His work. When we believe God’s word, abiding in faith rather than in doubt, we will see how real God’s words are and we will find answers to our prayers.

E. Aspiring to Be a Praying Person

We need to have the ambition to be a praying person, a person with power before God. Some people are powerful before God, while others are not. When some people speak, God listens. When others speak, He does not listen. What does it mean to be powerful before God? It simply means that God listens to the person when he speaks. It is as if God is happy to be influenced by such a one. Some people can influence God. Being powerless before God means that God does not listen to the person when he speaks. Such a one may spend much time before God, but God ignores him. We must have the desire and the aspiration to see that God often answers our prayers. No blessing can be greater than God answering our prayers all the time. We have to pray to Him, “May every request of ours be pleasing to Your ears.” It is a most glorious thing for God to incline His ear to us. It is a tremendous thing for God to trust us to the extent that He can give us whatever we ask.

You have to present to the Lord the names that you are burdened with and pray for them one by one. See how long it takes for God to save them. If your prayers are unanswered after a long period, you have to deal with yourself and with God. In order for your prayers to be answered, it is often necessary to go through specific dealings. Unanswered prayer means that there is sickness somewhere. If you do not mean business in this matter, you will always fail.

This is why you need a record book. The record book will show you whether or not your prayers are answered. Many people do not know whether their prayers are answered because they do not have a record of anything. Newly saved brothers and sisters should learn to have such a record book. Then they will know whether or not their prayers are answered. They will know whether there is a problem between them and the Lord. They will know also when they have to deal with themselves and when they have to deal with God.  I have kept such a record book for years, even before I attended and graduated from Hyles-Anderson College because of this teaching.  I have seen many wonderful answers which are recorded in such a record book.  Recently we have begun to send out a voice broadcast that asks people for their prayer request.  Now I have begun to put those prayer requests on my list and some have even been answered before I had even contacted those for whom I was praying.

If you have prayed for a long time and there is still no answer, you should realize that there must be some hindrance. The hindrances always occur because there is sin in your conscience or there is a problem with your faith. New believers need not worry about the deeper aspects of prayer. They need only to pay attention to their conscience and their faith. Before the Lord, we have to confess, deal with, and refuse our sins. At the same time we have to genuinely and fully trust in God’s promises. If we do this, we will see people being saved one by one, and our lives will be full of answers to prayer.

F. Praying Daily

You have to pray for those around you. Is there no one who needs your prayers? How many colleagues do you have? How many neighbors do you have? How many relatives and friends do you have? Always ask the Lord to place one or two special persons in your heart. When the Lord places a person in your heart, He intends to save this person through you. You should write down his name in your record book and continually bring him to the Lord through prayer.

You need to set aside a fixed time daily for this work of intercession. Whether it be an hour, half an hour, or a quarter of an hour, it must be a fixed time. If there is no fixed time for prayer, there will not be definite prayer. As a result, there will not be any prayer at all. Hence, always fix a time for prayers, whether it is a quarter of an hour or half an hour. Do not be too ambitious; do not plan for two hours and end up not being able to carry it out. It is more practical to set aside one hour, half an hour, or a quarter of an hour. Always fix a time to pray for those who need your prayer. Do not relax. Do this every day. After a while, you will see sinners saved one by one.

G. A Few Examples of Intercession

We will mention a few stories here to show you how others have done this work.

1. A Boiler Worker

Once a boiler worker in a ship was saved. He asked the brother who led him to Christ, “Please tell me the first thing that I must do for the Lord?” The brother replied, “The Lord will choose a few of your companions and put them in your heart. You will have to pray for them.” There were more than ten persons working together at his place. He remembered one person in particular and prayed for him daily. That person found out about this, and he became angry. Later, an evangelist came by and preached the gospel to the men there. After the meeting he stood up and said, “I want to believe in Jesus.” The evangelist asked, “Why do you want to believe in Jesus?” He said, “A person has been praying for me for some time. I have to believe in Jesus.” The boiler worker had been praying for this man. Although he did not like this in the beginning, the power of prayer overcame him, and in the end he accepted the Lord.

2. A Sixteen-year-old Youth

A sixteen-year-old youth was working as a copy writer in a construction firm. The chief engineer of the company had a very bad temper and almost everyone was afraid of him. After the youth was saved, he started to pray for the chief engineer. He was afraid of the engineer and dared not open his mouth, yet he prayed earnestly for him daily. After a short while, the engineer asked him, “I have over two hundred people in the company, but I feel that you are different. Can you please tell me why you and I are so different?” The engineer was about forty to fifty years old, and the youth was only sixteen. The young man answered, “I have believed in the Lord, and you have not.” The engineer immediately said, “I also want to believe in Him.” The youth brought him to the church, and the engineer was saved.

3. Two Sisters

In Europe there are guest houses which are open to strangers. They are not hotels, but they receive travelers. Once there were two Christian sisters whose house was open to travelers. Sometimes, as many as twenty or thirty would stay at their place. They noticed the luxury of the travelers’ attire and the vanity of their conversation. The sisters were bothered and wanted to win them over to Christ. However, there were many guests and only two of them. How could they win them over? They decided to sit at the two ends of the room during the conversation and pray for the guests from each end.

On the first day during the after-dinner conversation, each sister sat at one end, praying for the guests one by one. One prayed from one end, and the other prayed from the other end. They prayed for each and every one of them. This stopped the guests’ jesting and chatting on that first day. They asked themselves what had happened. On that day, one person was saved. The next day, another lady was saved. One by one they were gradually all brought to the Lord.

Prayer is indispensable. The first condition in bringing people to the Lord is intercessory prayer. We must pray systematically, orderly, daily, and relentlessly, until our friends are saved.

II. GOING TO MAN ON GOD’S BEHALF

Merely going to God on man’s behalf is not enough. We also have to go to man on God’s behalf. We have to tell men about God. Many people have the courage to speak to God, but they have no courage to speak to man. We have to exercise boldness to speak to men. We have to tell them the kind of Lord our Lord is. When we speak, we need to pay attention to a few things.

A. Never Engaging in Useless Arguments

First, never engage in useless arguments. This does not mean that there should never be any arguments. Acts tells us of a few arguments. Even Paul argued (cf. Acts 17:2, 17-18; 18:4, 19). However, useless arguments do not save people. Sometimes it is all right to engage in arguments. But this is mainly for the benefit of other listeners. Try to avoid arguing with the ones you are trying to save because arguments often drive people away instead of bringing them in. If you argue with them, they will run away.

Many people think that arguments can touch men’s hearts. Actually, this never happens. At the most, arguments can convince men’s minds. Their mouths may be shut, but their hearts will not be won over. Arguments produce little result. Try to say less in the way of argument and more in the way of testimony. You have only to tell others that you felt happy and peaceful after you believed in the Lord Jesus, that you sleep well now, and that even meals are becoming tastier. No one can argue with you about these things. They can only wonder. You have to show them that they do not have your kind of peace and joy and that they should therefore believe in the Lord.

B. Keeping to the Facts

The key to leading men to the Lord is to emphasize the facts, not the doctrines. Just recall what it was like when you were saved. You did not believe because you understood the doctrines. Many people understand the doctrines, but they do not believe. It is impossible for any brother to try to lead others to Christ through arguments and doctrines. The key to leading men to Christ is to keep to the facts. This is why simple ones often are more effective in leading others to the Lord; those who are good at doctrines may not lead others to the Lord. Some people can give wonderful messages. But what use is there in winning the minds of others, if one cannot help them be saved?

Once there was an old man who considered going to church a good habit. He was not saved, yet he would go to church every Sunday and also make his whole family go. But when he returned home, he would lose his temper, and all kinds of bad words would come out of his mouth. The whole family was afraid of him. One day his daughter, who was a believer, came to visit him. She brought her little daughter with her. The old man brought the little granddaughter to the church. When they came out of the church, the little granddaughter looked at her grandfather and felt that he did not look like a believer. She asked him, “Do you believe in Jesus?” The grandfather said, “Children should keep their mouths shut.” After walking a few steps, she said to her grandfather again, “You do not look as if you have believed in Jesus.” Again the old man said, “Children should keep their mouths shut.” After a while she asked her grandfather, “Why do you not believe in Jesus?” This little child saw a fact—the way her grandfather attended church was different from the way other believers attended church. The old man, who was otherwise wild and hard to deal with, became soft after his little granddaughter’s probing questions. On that day he accepted the Lord.

The preaching of the gospel requires skill. One must know the way God works before he can preach the gospel. A person may preach the right doctrines, and crowds of people may come for his messages, but the same crowds may walk away unsaved. You will not get any fish with a straight hook. The fishing hook must be curved before one can catch fish. Those who lead others to the Lord need to know how to use a hook. Use only the words that can catch people. If your words cannot catch people, try to change the way you speak. Facts are words that catch; they are words that can touch others.

C. Being Sincere in Attitude

Do not delve into many teachings. Try to speak more facts. At the same time, be sincere in attitude. Saving a man’s soul is not a light matter. I once saw a person who wanted to lead others to the Lord. He was willing to pray, but his attitude was wrong. He joked around as he spoke about the Lord. Whatever spiritual power he might have had was lost through his jokes. As a result, he could not lead anyone to the Lord. One has to be very sincere in his attitude. He must not be flippant or funny in his attitude. He has to let others see that this is the most serious matter in the whole world.

D. Praying for the Opportunity to Speak

You also need to pray unceasingly for God to provide you with the right opportunity to speak. When you pray, God will give you the opportunity.

One sister gathered a group of women together once a week and led them in a Bible study. The women all worked in the same company, and none of them believed in the Lord. One of them was very particular about her dress. She was very proud and would not listen to anything the sister said. The sister took notice of her and prayed for her. She asked God to give her the opportunity to speak to the woman. One day she felt a desire to invite the woman over for tea. Since this woman loved to socialize, she accepted the invitation. When she came, the sister encouraged her to believe in the Lord. She replied, “I cannot believe. I like to gamble, and I love pleasure. I do not want to lose these things. I cannot believe in Jesus.” The sister said, “If a person wants to believe in the Lord Jesus, she has to stop gambling. Anyone who wants to believe in the Lord Jesus must give up vainglory. You have to give up these things if you want to believe in the Lord Jesus.” The woman said, “The price is too high. I cannot afford it.” The sister said, “I hope you will go back and consider it.” After she said this, she continued to pray for her. The woman returned home and knelt down to pray. After she prayed, she suddenly said, “I have decided to follow the Lord Jesus today.” She changed suddenly. She could not explain it, but her heart just turned. She changed her attire; she no longer dressed the same as before. Wonderful things followed one after another. Within a year many of her colleagues were brought to the Lord one by one.

You may think that it is difficult to talk to someone, but if you pray for him, the Lord will give you the opportunity to speak to him, and he will change. The sister who was having Bible studies had been afraid to speak to the woman because the woman behaved as though she knew everything and could do everything. She appeared to be very arrogant, but the Lord gave this sister the burden to pray for her. One day the Lord told the sister to speak to her. She put aside her considerations and spoke to her. You have to pray on the one hand and learn to open your mouth on the other. After you have prayed for a person for some time, the Lord will impress you to speak to him. You will have to tell him about the Lord’s grace and the things that He has done for you. He will not be able to resist you because he cannot oppose the things that the Lord has done for you. The newly saved brothers and sisters must pray daily for the Lord to provide opportunities to speak to others. What a pity that some people have been saved for several years already, yet they dare not open their mouths to speak to their relatives and friends! Perhaps your fear has caused you to miss many opportunities that were waiting for you.

E. Speaking in Season and out of Season

We mentioned earlier that you must pray before you speak to a person. This, however, does not mean that you cannot speak if you have not prayed. You have to speak to men even if you are seeing them for the first time. Always grasp the opportunity to speak, whether in season or out of season. You never know who you are missing. Speak whenever there is the chance. Always be prepared to open your mouth. Of course, first and foremost, you have to pray for those whose names appear in your record book. But you have to pray for those whom you do not know. You should pray, “Lord, please save the sinners. Whoever they may be, please save them.” Whenever you meet someone and have an urge in your heart to speak, you should speak to him.

If we do not heed this urging, we may let a soul slip away from us. We should not let so many souls slip through our hands. We hope that all the brothers and sisters will testify faithfully for the Lord and bring many to Christ.

F. Studying Carefully

Each time you lead someone to the Lord, you have to do a detailed analysis, just like a doctor who studies each patient’s case in detail. The doctor cannot prescribe the same medicine to everyone. Certain sicknesses require certain drugs. He administers a particular drug to a particular patient. The same is true in leading men to Christ. No one can be a doctor without studying medicine. In the same way, no one can lead men to the Lord without studying. Some brothers and sisters are good at bringing people to the Lord because they have studied the ones whom they brought to the Lord. At the beginning of the work of leading men to Christ, a new believer has to work hard to study each case. You should always study why a particular person accepted the Lord. Why did a particular word open him up? Why did another person not believe after hearing a particular word? Why did a person shy away after listening attentively for a while? Why did a person accept when he earlier had opposed? Why are there no fish after waiting for a long time? We always have to find the reason that the Spirit is working, and we also have to find the reason that the Spirit is not working.

If you fail to lead men to Christ, do not put all the blame on others. Those who are good at leading people to the Lord always look for problems within themselves. We cannot wait by the seaside and hope that the fish will jump to the shore. Leading people to the Lord is not so simple. We have to spend time to study and learn where the problems lie. Leading people to the Lord is a skill, and this skill is acquired through working with people. There is always something we can learn, whether through failure or success. Through failure, we learn the reason for our failure. Through success, we learn the reason for our success. In every situation, we need to study the reasons behind the results.

If you do this conscientiously, you will learn many lessons. Eventually, you will discover an interesting thing—as far as believing in the Lord is concerned, there are only a few types of people in the world. If you meet a certain type of person, you will need only to speak certain words to him, and he will receive the Lord. If you speak something else to him, he will oppose you and not believe. If you know how to handle these few types of people, you can handle most people. You can handle those whose names are in your record book, and you can handle those whom you come across by accident. As soon as you come across someone, you will take the opportunity to witness to him, and you will be able to tell immediately the type of person he is. You will know in your heart what to do with this type of person and how to speak to him. He will most likely be saved. If you study your cases one by one, you will become a very skillful soul-winner after one or two years. You will realize that soul winning takes wisdom. By God’s mercy, you may lead some to the Lord, maybe a few dozen, or even a few hundred. If you study all these cases carefully, you will become a very powerful soul-winner.

APPENDIX:
PASSING OUT TRACTS

A. No Time Limit

During the past two to three hundred years, the Lord has used tracts in a particular way to save many people. One thing special about winning people with tracts is that tracts are not limited by time. If you try to testify with your mouth, you are restricted by time and personnel. You cannot speak twenty-four hours a day, and your audience may not be available all the time. You may be preaching a wonderful message, but the audience may not be there. However, tracts are not limited by time. You can pass out tracts any time of the day, and men can receive and read your tracts any time of the day. Today many people do not have the time to come to our meeting. But tracts are not limited by time. We can give them out to people who are walking on the streets, who are cooking in their kitchens, or who are working in their offices. This is the first convenience that tracts afford.

B. Tracts Can Convey the Gospel in Full

Many people are very zealous in testifying for the Lord and leading men to Christ. However, their knowledge is limited and their words are lacking. They cannot convey the gospel message adequately and fully. In addition to leading men to Christ through other means, a new believer has to do his best to select some good tracts in his spare time and pass them out to others. This will enable him to do what he himself could not do otherwise.

C. Tracts Not Being Affected by Human Factors

There is another advantage to using tracts. In preaching the gospel, sometimes we feel too shy to use strong words in front of people. Tracts do not have this inconvenience. They can go to anyone and say anything they want. A living preacher is often restricted by circumstances. But the preaching of the tracts is not affected by any human factors. New believers should learn to sow seeds with the tracts.

D. Passing Out Tracts Being a Way of Sowing

Another advantage of passing out tracts is that one can sow anywhere. The Old Testament says that we should sow our seed in many waters (Num. 24:7). It takes a considerable effort to speak to three, five, or ten persons together. But there is no difficulty in passing out a thousand, two thousand, or three thousand tracts a day. If one person can be saved out of the thousand tracts we pass out, this is wonderful enough. New believers should learn to pass out tracts in large quantities.

E. God Saving Men through Tracts

God has indeed used tracts to save people. I know of some people who slip tracts under doors. Others drop them into mailboxes. I remember an incident in which a person received a tract and then threw it away on the street. Another person, who had a nail stuck in his shoe, was looking for something to cushion his foot. He picked up the tract and stuffed it in his shoe. He returned home and began to mend his shoe. Then he saw the tract and was saved. There are numerous similar cases of people being saved by tracts. Some of these cases are actually quite marvelous.

F. Much Prayer and Dedication of Heart

A newly saved brother always should have tracts ready in his pockets, and he should pass them out when he is free. Like the work of leading men to Christ, we should do this with much prayer and dedication of heart. While we are passing out tracts, we can speak a word or two to others or we can remain silent. Either way is good. If a new believer practices this, he will receive great benefit from it.

I have used these thoughts and words for many years before I went to Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point Indiana.  There we learned many other ways to witness besides passing out tracts.  Dr. Hyles’ book “Let’s Go Soul Winning” is probably one of the greatest tools to teach a young convert a very simple way to lead anyone to the Lord with the Romans Road.  You can see me using this same plan if you watch the video on the main page of this site where I am giving the plan of salvation and then leading anyone who is watching the video to pray to receive Christ.  To read Dr. Hyles simple training on soul-winning please click on this link:

LET’S GO SOUL WINNING

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

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