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LOVE OF EVIL: PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO WANT TO GO TO HELL

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
- United Methodist - American Baptist -

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

27 APRIL 1997

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 37:1-6
Proverbs 24:11-12
Isaiah 5:20, 28:7-8
Jeremiah 5:30-31
            16:10-12
Micah 2:11
Matthew 23:15
Luke 17:26-30
Romans 11:23-24

Over the last couple of weeks we talked about scaring the hell out of ourselves and each other, and about keeping the powers of hell away.

Today we are going to continue this discussion and talk about the love of evil, and about people who seem to want to go to hell.

Why are there people like this?

Because there seems to be a fascination with the evil side of life.

Far too many people find it exciting to do something that is illegal or immoral.

"Ooh! What can we get away with?" is all too often the attitude.

Young and old, alike, delve into witchcraft.

Almost all of our cartoon shows deal with the evil side of life, or with using one ungodly force against another. God rarely plays a part.

Our movies and television shows are very much the same, and they are also filled with sex and violence.

Even our so-called sitcoms use sadistic and immoral situations as a means of getting a laugh.

We turn our backs on many of the things God calls evil, and pretend they don't exist, or that we don't know about them, just as we are told in Proverbs 24:11-12:

11. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold them back.

12. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?

All over the world there are people being oppressed and killed, and the world is slow to react, or completely turns a blind eye.

People who participate in genocide claim they were only following orders.

And according to God's word, such people are also going to go to hell.

And I believe the same conditions hold true concerning the cruelty in the raising and slaughter of animals.

We, as Christians, must speak and act for those who cannot speak and act for themselves.

Listen to what we are told in Jeremiah 5:30-31:

    1. "An appalling and horrible thing
      Has happened in the land:

    2. The prophets prophesy falsely,
      And the priests rule on their own authority;
      And My people love it so!
      But what will you do at the end of it?

    We, as a society, love evil so much, that we hire and elect other evil people to manage our affairs in such a way that we can continue to live by our evil ways; for we love it that way.

    We don't want to know about the true ways of God, and the desire of His heart.

    We want to continue to do our own things.

    And God knows all about our ways, and even though deep down inside of all of us we know this, we don't want to admit it.

    This is why Jesus spoke out so strongly against the Temple leaders, because they, too, wanted to live in their evil ways.

    Listen to one of the things He said (Matthew 23:15):

    15. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

    These are the leaders who are to lead the people back to God, but instead they lead them into hell; and they do it all in the name of God.

    That's why they're hypocrites.

    And that's why the Lord says, "you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."

    Thatís also the way Israel was when Jeremiah prophesied against them.

    Listen to what God told Jeremiah when He told him to speak to the people (Jeremiah 16:10-l 2:

    10. "Now it will come about when you tell this people all these words that they will say to you, 'For what reason has the Lord declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the Lord our God?'

    11. "Then you are to say to them, 'It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me,' declares the Lord, 'and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law.

    12. 'You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me.

    I hope we all heard this.

    Evil people knowingly and willfully walk according to the stubbornness of their own hearts.

    And I believe this is the main reason people are afraid to come to church.

    Yes, afraid.

    They're afraid because they don't want to hear and be reminded of the truth, and be convicted by God's word.

    And when they are convicted in their hearts, they deny it, and pretend they don't understand.

    We all know the truth, even when we deny it.

    Such people want to continue to live in the evilness of their hearts.

    Listen to how Isaiah ties this together (28:7-8):

    7. And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink:

    The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,

    They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink;

    They reel while having visions,

    They totter when rendering judgment.

    8. For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.

    I hear so many people talk about "partying" and about how much fun it is to drink, and all that goes along with it.

    Since our spirit is invisible, spiritual sickness can be observed through our physical life.

    The desire to drink to excess is a sign of that spiritual sickness and separation from God.

    And they continue to say that it's fun.

    They love evil.

    They seem to want to go to hell.

    The attitude is still very much as Micah speaks of it (2:11):

    11. "If a man walking after wind and falsehood

    Had told lies and said,

    'I will speak out to you concerning wine and liquor,'

    He would be spokesman to this people.

    We make the children of hell our leaders, that we can continue in our evil ways.

    And when someone speaks out against such things, and about returning to God, and about having love and compassion, we call them crazy and evil.

    We call what is evil, good, and what is good, evil. (Isaiah 5:20)

    My people, we must separate ourselves from the ways and people of hell.

    Israel was cut off from God, because she turned away and sought after evil.

    And just because we say we believe in Jesus, just as those in Israel said they believed in God, does not mean we cannot be cut off, too.

    But just as Israel can be grafted back in, so must we also make room for those who repent.

    Listen to what we're told in Romans 11:23-24:

    23. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.

    24. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

    Even to all those who have turned away from God and are heading for hell, He still extends a way of salvation.

    Unfortunately, few will accept His offer; but He still offers until our death.

    We sincerely and honestly need to look at our own communities and the world around us, and see it as it really is.

    For, to me, it appears just as Jesus said it would be prior to His return (Luke 17:26-30):

    26. "And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man:

    27. they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

    28. "It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building;

    29. but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

    30. "It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.

    Unfortunately, most of the world is heading for hell, really heading for hell.

    This isn't a joke.

    It's not make-believe.

    This is for real.

    And this is exactly as the world is today.

    And my heart aches for all these people, but it aches oh so much more for the truly innocent ones, the naive ones, and the so-called innocent ones who really know better, that they are dragging along with them.

    Ignorance is no excuse, as we discussed earlier.

    We are each responsible for our own actions.

    We must separate ourselves from those who are heading for hell.

    We're not to worry about it, or how to do it; we are just to do it.

    Let' s wrap up by looking at Psalm 37:1-6:

    1. Do not fret because of evildoers,
    Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

    We are not to worry about evil people, or about what they are doing to themselves, or what they can do to us.

    And we are not to desire what they are doing, either.

    And we are not to falsely believe that they are getting away with anything.

    2. For they will wither quickly like the grass,
    And fade like the green herb.

    3. Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

    We are not only to continue to physically do good, but we are to cultivate the ways of God, that they will also grow and mature in our land.

    4. Delight yourself in the Lord;

    And He will give you the desires of your heart.

    If we truly love God, then we should also delight ourselves in the ways of God.

    And God does always seem to give us the desires of our hearts, whether good or evil.

    We need to focus more upon God and what He desires of us, and less upon the ways of the world; and we will indeed see the lasting benefits.

    5. Commit your way to the Lord,

    Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

    6. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

    And your judgment as the noonday.

    With all the recent floods, I suppose all of us have seen many of the pictures.

    Have you seen the force of the raging waters just sweep a house off its foundation and destroy it?

    And have you also seen pictures of a single home, sitting on a little mound of earth, with water and destruction all around it?

    And there it sits all secure and protected.

    It is separated, as we should be, from the floods and destructive forces of hell that surround it and us: it, physically, and us, spiritually.

    Depart from evil!

    Trust in God!

    He will indeed lift us up and set us upon a solid rock.

    And we will never regret it.

    Amen.

    Your Comments are welcome

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