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WHICH WAY DO WE TIP THE SCALES?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 MAY 1992

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Deuteronomy 11:26-29
Matthew 6:10
            11:28-30
John 13:21-35
Revelation 21:1-8

Do you remember the old-fashioned set of scales that had two pans suspended from a balance beam?

To use them for weighing out something from a store, the desired weight would be placed in one pan, and that pan would go down. Then the item we wanted to purchase was placed in the other pan, until that pan began to descend, and when the pans were at equal elevation, the weight was the same.

The same set of scales could also be used to weigh an object or several objects which were placed in one pan; then weights were added to the other pan until the two pans came into balance. By simply adding up the weights placed in the pan, one could tell the weight of the objects in the other pan.

This type of scale is used as a symbol of our justice system: a blind-folded Justice is shown holding the scale in her hand, indicating that one can also weigh and differentiate the truth from the lie.

And in a spiritual way, God does the same with our lives. He balances whether we are His or not, by the way we live.

Moses told this to the people before they entered the promised land, as recorded in Deuteronomy 11:26-29:

26. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:

27. the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today;

28. and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.

29. “And it shall come about, when the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.”

Now today, we don't have to write the things we are to do upon the rock face of one mountain, and the things we are not to do upon the rock face of another mountain.

We have all these things already written upon the pages of our Bibles; but more importantly, hopefully they are written upon our hearts.

Thus, we and the Lord should be able to discern which way we tip the scale.

The Lord Himself gives us a good example of how He weighs our lives, and grants us His blessing or His curse.

Note Revelation 21:1-8:

1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

2. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

3. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them,

4. and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

5. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

John was faithful, for he wrote down these words of blessings for all true believers.

Likewise, we also should write these words upon our heart and mind, so that we would remember which way our scale must tip.

And remember how the Lord taught us to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

So, if there is no longer any death, or mourning, or crying, or pain in heaven, then each of us needs to ask ourselves if we are causing any of these things to happen to our fellow human beings, or to the animals who share this world with us.

Because, if we are, we need to change, for we believe that these things will be weighed against us.

6. And He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

7. "He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

How will God weigh us?

Will He give us the waters of life eternal?

Will He weigh us as being His son or daughter?

Or does the scale tip the other way?

8. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

When we consider the way God groups these sins together, as being worthy of going to hell, it should be quite sobering.

We can understand that a murderer might be worthy of going to hell, but a coward?

Yes, for a coward is also a person who says that they will do something, and then deliberately does it in such a way that it will fail. Or, they may do something behind someone's back in order to hurt them.

God hates this, as He hates lies.

He also hates immorality, for it ruins what He made to be perfect and pure.

He also hates sorcery and other forms of occult practices; both those who use such arts, and those who believe in them.

And similar to this is idolatry; for, as an example, if we believe that the stars foretell of our life, then we are in essence worshiping them.

But none of this is necessary.

No one has to go to hell.

We have a better way, and God is there to help us go to heaven.

Note what we are told in Matthew 11:28-30:

28. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

For the most part, we are weary and heavy-laden because of the sins in our own lives, or because of the sins of others that oppress us, all of which weigh us down.

29. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

30. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

If we are upon the pan of the scale that is loaded with the sins of the world, we will sink down into hell.

But if we are on the pan of the scale and shed the sins that weigh us down, we will become lighter and rise up.

And we will rise all the way into heaven, if we take upon ourselves the things of the Lord, for they are lighter than air, and will lift us up into heaven itself.

In John 13:21 and following, we have the accounting of how the disciples tipped the scale during the last supper.

21. When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me."

22. The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

We can look at one another, and even have known each other for many years, and still not completely know the other person.

We observe the outward signs, but God weighs the soul.

Thus Jesus said what He said, for He was troubled that one who had known Him personally for so long could still be so hard of heart.

23. There was reclining on Jesus' breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

24. Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, "Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking."

25. He, leaning back thus on Jesus' breast, said to Him, "Lord, who is it?"

26. Jesus therefore answered, "That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him." So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

The morsel that Jesus dipped was a bitter herb, such as horse-radish, and it can burn the mouth; but when it is dipped in a sweet mixture of fruit and nuts, the sting is taken away.

By doing this, Jesus was, in essence, saying to Judas that if he would accept it, He could take away the sting of the sin in his life, which was weighing him down to hell.

But Judas refused to accept forgiveness, and to change his ways.

27. And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, "What you do, do quickly."

Note carefully that this verse is telling us that we can go too far with our refusing to obey the Lord our God, and that when we do, all hope of salvation is lost.

But even after all of this, the others still didn't understand.

28. Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him.

29. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, "Buy the things we have need of for the feast"; or else, that he should give something to the poor.

30. And so after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

And this, too, is symbolic; for hell is also described as the outer darkness.

31. When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;

32. if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.

33. “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews [the Temple leaders], I now say to you also, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'

Jesus said this, not because God is in any way glorified by the loss of a single sinner, but that He is glorified in that Jesus is to pay the price of sin for all those who would accept Him.

And so to put all this in proper context, Jesus tells us in what manner God is glorified.

34. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

It was God's love that sent Jesus to us.

It was for God's love that Jesus willingly went to the cross.

It is God's love, in us, that will lift us out of our sins and into heaven.

Have you decided which way you tip the scales?

I pray that it is up.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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