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THAT WHICH IS MADE BEAUTIFULLY AND PERFECTLY IS ALSO SUBJECT TO CORRUPTION

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

9 JANUARY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 1:6-10
            3:1
            4:1-8
1 Samuel 15:22-23
Proverbs 29:10
Mark 1:9-13
Acts 19:4-10

That which is made beautifully and perfectly is also subject to corruption.

Thatís true! But we donít have to give in to it.

We can build for ourselves the most beautiful and wonderful house; yet, all too soon, some of the signs of corruption will come upon it.

It will need a new coat of paint, or perhaps a new faucet, some roof repair, or something else; and it will be in constant need of cleaning in one place or another.

To keep corruption out of our homes requires our constant attention.

If we donít give it proper attention, it will eventually fall into ruin.

Now, this same concept is also true of the whole world and of each of us individually.

Letís begin our spiritual adventure this morning by looking at how God made the earth (Genesis 1:6-10).

6. Then God said, "Let there be an expanse [or a firmament] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

7. And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.

8. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

The Hebrew word for heaven is shaw-mah-yeem, which is formed from its root word mah-yeem, which means water or waters.

We talk about the cleansing waters of baptism, or the pureness of water coming down a mountain stream.

The whole earth was formed in pureness, with no impurities or contamination. It was indeed heaven!

9. Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

And God saw that it was good.

There was nothing upon the earth that wasnít good.

But then something happened: Godís top angel supposed that he also could be God, and he enticed one of the animals to tempt Eve and Adam.

Listen to what we are told in Genesis 3:1 Ė

1. Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"

And as we know, they ate of the fruit of that tree; and thus corruption entered the earth.

In the midst of this now corrupted world, Adam and Eve started their family.

Letís take a look at Genesis 4:1-8.

1. Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord."

2. And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Everything still seems to be okay, but the corruption is still present.

Letís go on.

3. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.

4. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering;

Now, note that the bible tells is that the Lord had regard for Abel; and because He had regard for Abel, He also had regard for his offering.

It doesn't say that He had regard for his offering.

It is also interesting that the Bible doesn't say that Able sacrificed any animal, and since the Hebrew word used here for "fat" is also the word for "milk", could the passage mean that Able brought the first of the flock and their mother's milk?

It is also interesting that the Bible doesn't say that Cain brought the first fruit of the ground; could it be that he ate the first fruit and brought that which was left over?

So, how dies the Lord feel about Cain?

5. but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

The Lord did not regard Cain; thus He didnít have regard for his offering, either.

Why?

Do you remember what Samuel said to Saul after he had foolishly offered an unholy sacrifice? (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

22. And Samuel said,
"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

23. "For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has also rejected you from being king."

We know what Saul did, but we are not told what Cain did, or specifically why the Lord didnít have regard for him; but we are told something more about Cainís nature.

Listen to what the Lord tells Cain after he and Abel brought their offerings (Genesis 4:6).

6. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

7. "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

But you must master it!

We must master the sin that is crouching at our door as well, for it will surely bring corruption to our lives.

So what did Cain do?

8. And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

So much for Cainís mastering of the sin, the corruption of his soul.

Obviously, God saw this nature in Cain before he brought his offering, and thus He didnít have regard for him.

But Abel had just as obviously learned to master the corruption of the world, which brought him the Lordís favor, just as it will for any of us.

It is this very character of Abelís that upset Cain and prompted the writing of Proverb 29:10.

10. Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.

Abel was blameless and Cain was not; thus Cain pursued the course of bloodshed, for he was nor concerned with the life of his brother.

In essence, Cain forcibly subjected his brother to the very corruption that Abel had been able to master.

Jesus, too, was subjected to this same corruption, so that He would better understand our temptation and the fact that we can master it.

Note what we are told in Mark 1:9-13 about the things that happened following the baptism of Jesus:

9. And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

10. And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;

11. and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."

If we truly believe in Jesus Christ, and confess our sins, this same Holy Spirit comes upon us.

And in His strength we can overcome any temptation, even as Jesus did.

12. And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.

13. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

I absolutely believe that angels will minister to us if we, too, stand firm in the Spirit of God.

Our problem is that we most often donít give God a chance to do His work in our lives, for we are too busy doing what we want to do; which usually gets us into trouble.

Our loving God showed us this episode with Jesus so that, like Him, we would stand firm against the corruption of the devil and do our needed repairs to the temple of God, which is us.

The waters of the earth baptize us for repentance and the renewing of our spirit, but the Spirit from heaven baptizes us with the spiritual waters of eternal life and power.

The apostle Paul also faced much temptation and corruption in his ministry. In Acts 19:4-10 we are told of one such time in the city of Ephesus, and how the power of the Holy Spirit helped him and the Church master the problems.

4. And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."

5. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

7. And there were in all about twelve men.

They believed and their lives were changed, but there were only twelve.

So Paul continued in his ministry.

8. And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

9. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

10. And this took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

But like today, only a few were willing to come to Jesus.

Only a few were willing to repair the corruption of their souls to the beauty and perfection of Godís creation.

So many heard, but only a few were willing to master the sin crouching at their doors.

So, each of us must look at ourselves, and the beauty and perfection that God created in us, and begin the restoration work necessary to bring back our original quality.

And once we have learned to do this, we must also continue to overcome any future tarnish or corrosion.

That which the waters cleanse, the Holy Spirit will keep bright and shiny.

Stand firm as a shining light before others, as a beacon of hope; so that we can master the corruption that seeks to destroy us all.

You are a child of the King.

Let others see it.

And remember, it's not so much what we say that makes a difference; it's who we are every moment of every day that makes a lasting impression on others.

Amen?

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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