PRIDE AND REPENTANCE
John J. Blanchard
July 11, 2015
Good morning, brethren. It is nice to see you again on this beautiful Sabbath day. Today I want to discuss something in this sermon that does have to do with current events, but I want to discuss sin from a particular angle. Then we will bring current events into this sermon.
What is the consequence of sin? Sin must have some sort of consequence; otherwise Jesus Christ would not have had to die for our sins. Let’s start with a basic Scripture about sin, and that’s Romans chapter 6, verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It is the hope of all believers to have eternal life eventually, and in order to have eternal life, sin must be dealt with. We have to be set free from this penalty of sin. The only way out is God’s grace. That is the only hope we have to deal with sin in our lives.
There’s a lot of talk in the news surprisingly lately about grace. I hear it on the news. I think it was a week or two our President even sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral service down south. He had a nice voice, and it was interesting to hear him sing about amazing grace. He sort of led the nation in that way to sing about grace, so there were a lot of comments about that around the nation on the news and in various places. They were speaking of how the nation was looking toward this grace.
Grace is amazing! It’s amazing for the reason that it takes away the consequence of sin! That’s what makes grace so wonderful. It does away with this penalty. The wages of sin is death. It is Christ’s sacrifice obviously that makes that possible. There are many Scriptures that refer to that. Let’s just turn to Hebrews chapter 9. We are going to start in verse 26. In Hebrews 9:26 it is speaking of Christ, we are told here: “He then would have had to suffer often [if He was to be like a physical high priest, is the point here] since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Christ’s sacrifice was to deal with this wages of sin. It is appointed for all men to die once, but only those who do not have the grace of God face the second death—eternal death, which is what we are hoping to avoid by the grace of Jesus Christ.
It says here in verse 28 of Hebrews 9: “…apart from sin.” For those who were eagerly waiting for Christ apart from sin. That means those who are eagerly waiting for Him while they overcome sin. It is those who are willing to admit they are wrong and that they are sinners. They need Christ’s sacrifice. All of us need to admit we need that sacrifice, for all of us have sinned.
Skipping over a little bit to Hebrews chapter 10, we will begin in verse 10: “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
He died once for all of our sins, if we partake of His death.
Continuing in verse 11 of Hebrews 10: “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.”
It is speaking of the old system where physical sacrifice was offered for sin and had to be done over and over.
Verse 12: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God [where Jesus Christ, of course, sits today], from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Christ only has to do that one time. We have to imbibe of His sacrifice and have our sins removed.
Continuing reading Hebrews 10:19-25.
Christ’s sacrifice for sin is something that opens the door for us to go to God’s throne in heaven and appeal for that sacrifice to be applied for us. He says to use the sacrifice to cleanse our conscience of evil thoughts and of evil in general. Then wash our bodies, of course, with the water of the word—the Bible. This is something that is done in the mind and the heart when we are willing participants in Christ’s sacrifice.
EXHORTATION TO REPENT
This cleansing process that sprinkles our hearts is something that we have to actually participate in. We have to be willing to confess our sins, as we were told here in verse 23. “Let us hold fast the confession…” That’s what we tell God. We recognize we are sinners. Then we take our example and our love for our brethren, and we encourage each other, as it concluded there. “Exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We are helping each other through exhortation, and this sermon should be taken as an exhortation. It is not a criticism. It is an exhortation to follow God’s prescribed ways here to imbibe of that grace to have our sins dealt with and to look forward to eternal life.
Christ came for sinners, to lead them to repentance. Let’s turn to the gospel of Matthew chapter 9. Read verses 9-13.
Christ did not mind being in the presence of sinners, but He wasn’t there to imbibe in their sin or to encourage their sin. He was there to bring them to repentance, because that was the purpose of His life and sacrifice. It was to give us the hope that we can have our sin dealt with through His grace.
Turning a few pages over to Luke chapter 3. John preached the gospel of repentance in preparation for Christ’s ministry. We are in Luke chapter 3, verse 1: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
There were physical high priests working in the temple while John was preparing for Jesus Christ, the High Priest we were reading about in Hebrews, to permanently deal with sin.
He goes on in verse 3 of Luke 3: “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins…”
This was something new. It was a baptism that could permanently deal with sin with one sacrifice, and not the constant sacrificing of animals or alms to deal with individual sin! It was a single sacrifice of Jesus Christ that could deal with sin and get rid of the wages of sin, which is death. There is a requirement in order for this to work the way it should, and we are going to see this in the next set of Scriptures.
Continuing now in Luke 3, verse 4: “…as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’”
This is speaking of the prophecy of John the Baptist to come.
Verse 7: “Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut own and thrown into the fire.’ So the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?’”
John is telling them there is a requirement here, and that’s repentance. Baptism without repentance isn’t going to do you any good, he is saying. You must bear fruits worthy of repentance. Some people would say we are preaching salvation by works. No, we are preaching that we have a responsibility. Grace is a free gift, but we can reject it by our attitudes. That’s what John is saying here.
Continuing in verse 10 of Luke 3: “So the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?’ He answered and said to them, ‘He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.’”
In other words, share. Express love for the less fortunate.
Verse 12: “Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, ‘Teacher what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than what is appointed for you.’”
In other words, deal justly with people.
Verse 14 of Luke 3: “Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’ Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”
He is saying to each person—and you can picture yourself there—each of us has sin and many types of sin probably. Each of us has something that is really egregious that we are trying to overcome. Each one, such as a solider or a tax collector, came to John and said, what do we do for repentance? Stop abusing people. Stop being selfish. Share with those who are less fortunate. Stop collecting taxes that aren’t deserved. Stop intimidating people if you are a solider and you have weaponry. This could go on and on today for us in whatever walk of life we are in. Grace has responsibility on our part, and that is to repent. We need to do something.
If you would, go back to Matthew chapter 3. This is John’s ministry once again, but it is phrased a little bit differently here. We are in Matthew chapter 3, beginning in verse 1: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’ Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.”
He was not materialistic. He did not have a big ego. He was a humble man.
Continuing in verse 5 of Matthew 3: “Then Jerusalem, all Judea and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by Him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”
People were admitting they had sins.
Verse 7: “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…’”
Do something! Show God that you are confessing your sins and that you are willing to repent.
Verse 9: “…and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
A LACK OF REPENTANCE STOPS GRACE
One must repent in order to make grace work properly. Phrasing it a different way, a lack of repentance stops the proper function of grace, and that’s what John was telling the Pharisees. You have to bear fruits worthy of repentance for God’s system to work. Yes, there is only one sacrifice, and, yes, it’s a free gift from Jesus Christ, but our attitude and lack of repentance can block the action of grace.
What exactly is referred to in the Bible as repentance? If you were to go look up the Greek words, there are two words that mean repentance. Metanoia (#3341, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) and metanoeo (#3340, Strong’s Concordance, 1995): these two words which are the same derivative and are together, mean the reversal of a decision. Repentance means the reversal of a decision, to think differently afterwards, and to reconsider. In other words, we look at ourselves, we admit that we sin—that’s the confession—and then we are willing to change. God applies the grace for us to help us overcome that sin, so the wages are no longer there. But we have to bear fruit and to continually want to grow in character. We want to be more like God.
What is one of the chief ways to block repentance? It was alluded to here by John speaking to the Pharisees. They were too proud. They were too self-righteous. They didn’t think they needed to confess sin. That was for everybody else.
PRIDE CAN BLOCK REPENTANCE
The main point of this sermon is pride can block a repentant attitude, and pride doesn’t allow repentance to flower, which blocks grace. Pride is very important to eliminate. What accentuates grace is humility. That’s what helps us to repent and to admit that we are sinners. Humility helps us to confess our sin. It is the opposite of pride.
Let’s go to Luke chapter 18 where Christ is speaking in a parable. Luke 18, verse 9: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others…”
They had self-righteousness—pride.
Continuing reading Luke 18:10-14.
There’s the formula to make grace work! Humility makes the system work. Pride, arrogance, a big ego, and self-righteousness stop the process from working properly. That’s a very, very serious problem. That’s why John the Baptist said the ax is laid at the root. Can’t you see you have to bear fruit worthy of repentance. You must change.
There are a lot of dangers to being that prideful. Let’s go back to the Old Testament to Proverbs chapter 16, verse 5: “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”
Having a proud heart God says is an abomination! That’s a serious offense. That’s how far off from humility it is. That stops repentance from working, which prevents grace from taking hold to remove our sins. It is really up to the individual. We are part of that process.
Going now to Proverbs chapter 21, verse 1: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin. The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”
We are being told here that from the highest to the lowest, God uses the same measure. He wants to see if the king has a proud heart, right down to the common man. He uses the same measure. We can be overly proud even if poverty stricken, or we can be overly proud if we are among the high and the mighty. It is therefore very important to be humble, especially if one has a position that is looked up to. That helps people pursue grace. It helps people pursue repentance. It is incumbent upon the leadership right down to the common man to be humble in the eyes of God. Otherwise we could fall into the same trap that the Pharisees fell into, thinking all these laws of God and the system applies to everyone else and not to those who are high and mighty. It is a very dangerous place. That is what John the Baptist was warning the Pharisees, and Jesus Christ did as well.
Now let’s go to I Peter 5:5 where it says it very clearly here. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
PRIDE STOPS GRACE
There you have it! Pride stops grace from working. Usually the wealthier, the more powerful, and the more influential people have a harder time being humble, but they need to do that in order to lead all of the people who are weaker, you might say, the normal, everyday common man. When they see their leaders humble, when they see their teachers humble, and when they see the wealthy humble, it helps them to have an example to follow. That’s why I read to you that Scripture about from the top to the bottom we need humility in order to make the system work.
Now let’s go to James chapter 4. Read verses 1-6.
There you have it again. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Pride leads to all these disputes and divisions. It causes men to go astray.
Read James 4:7-10.
FIRST BE HUMBLE
The start of the process is to be humble and to get rid of pride. That’s the important lesson that I am trying to bring out from the Scriptures today. Pride is the antagonist of repentance. It opposes repentance. Pride makes repentance hard. Yet all sin must be dealt with in humility, so we have to conquer pride, otherwise grace does not function the way it should.
There are several areas in which our nation—and I will say our nations because we have people from both countries here in North America. We have the Canadians present in this audience and we have Americans, but this is actually a human problem. Pride has to be dealt with anywhere it exists on earth. But in our nation there are several areas here in which we are getting too proud to repent.
I have with me an article from the USA Today dated June 29, 2015. It was a very sad day when I saw this in the paper. If you notice, the title on this front page of the paper says, “Pride Nation.” It shows all of these, what should be beautiful rainbow flags. On the inside of the paper is a very large article and that is titled “Pride on Parade.” It is showing gay pride parades. It has pictures of various parades and different things here. It is calling it an historic magical and epic occasion. There is a serious problem here, as we have just identified how dangerous pride is against repentance and grace.
Sin is a part of all human beings’ condition. None of us can say we are without sin. It does not matter what the sin is. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. It is a part of all of our character. We all need grace. We all need Christ’s sacrifice to deal with that sin, which means we all need to confess that we are sinners. We all need to be humble enough to do that and to be willing to change. We need to reconsider our position and to change as an individual. That makes the process of grace work the way it should. That means we have to be ashamed of sin and not proud of sin.
I am a sinner. I am ashamed of the sins that I have in my life. Sin is not something that we should be proud of no matter what the sin is. God has given us a free will, so that we can choose to sin if we want. Man’s laws know that we need to punish those people who use sin to harm other people. Examples would be murder, theft, and slander. There are laws on the books to punish people who do those things because those are sins that are hurting the person next to you. They are hurting your neighbor. They are hurting your fellowman. But God tells us something interesting in Philippians.
Let’s go to Philippians chapter 2, verse 12 where Paul says: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
God wants to give us grace, but we have to work it out individually with God with fear and trembling. Our salvation—the use of grace—is something between the individual and God. Man’s laws should never make that more difficult. Personal sin has to be dealt with on a personal basis, and man’s laws should never ever interfere by pushing sin on someone else.
In other words, if we had a particular sin and we are trying to struggle with it or not struggle with it—maybe we’re just going to leave it alone—as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, that’s okay. But if we push that sin so someone else has to participate in it, that’s wrong. Man’s laws should never force that. Those who proudly oppose God on any matter will pay a price. That’s what the Scripture just showed us. If we sin and we have our own relationship with God, then that’s on our own conscience. That is for that individual to work out with God, and God perhaps will have mercy if some point during that life a person repents. I am talking about any sin. But while we are in that sin, whatever it is, we cannot push it on anyone else. You wouldn’t push drinks on an alcoholic. You wouldn’t push cigarettes on someone who is trying to quit smoking. You wouldn’t push drugs on to someone who is trying to avoid drugs.
No matter what the sin is, if it is what we do wrong with ourselves, that is one thing. To push it on someone else, is wrong. If the nation does not by and large stand up for this freedom to do what’s right—the freedom to pursue salvation with our God on an individual basis—God can’t bless that nation.
MOST ARE NOT PROUD OF SINS
I have seen the statistics, and fortunately the vast majority of Americans are not proud of their sins. Most of us who are drug addicts or alcoholics or adulterers or thieves, find ourselves in a sin that we are ashamed of. There are murderers and there are thieves who are proud of it, and that’s the same problem. That pride is what’s going to stop them from getting grace. It is what’s going to halt the process because it is the antagonist of repentance. One has to be humble in order to admit their sins to receive grace.
God’s grace is there for everyone, and God’s grace is there for the nation, but the nation cannot espouse laws that try to block grace for the individual or force individuals to participate in something they feel is sinful. When they look in God’s word and they see that something is wrong, they should have the freedom not to imbibe, not to partake, and not to do it with someone else.
Take drugs for instance. Some of our states have now made certain drugs legal. That’s fine. People are free to choose to sin. But if you are a store owner in one of those states, it would be wrong for that government to say, you must sell pot now. You are a store, and you must sell marijuana. If that is against your conscious and you are trying to cleanse your conscious by the word of God, that’s your prerogative to work out your salvation in fear and trembling with God. No law should interfere with that.
We pray for the nation and its leaders to practice metanoia, to practice repentance, to think differently, and to go back and reconsider laws that are causing problems for people who want to work out their salvation in fear and trembling with God.
ALLOW BELIEVERS’ RIGHTS
We want people to reconsider and reverse course in a fair way. What do I mean by a fair way? Laws can be written to allow those who wish to, from our point of view, sin to be free to do so, while giving the greatest degree of latitude to those who are working out their own salvation to do it the way that they see fit according to the word of God. In other words, we don’t want to trample on anyone else’s rights, and we certainly don’t want them to trample on a believer’s right to pursue their faith between them and God the way they want. If we don’t do that, God will be forced to remove His blessings from the nation!
Fortunately, at this point in time, most Americans are ashamed of their sins, and I think they would be willing to repent. If we want God to continue to bless our nation, we must continue to pass laws that protect that freedom and the right to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling with our God according to the word of God. That means those who are proud need to swallow their pride and remember the rest of their countrymen who want to please God the way the Bible has instructed. I don’t think that is asking too much. It allows everybody to have the freedom they need to have. We are not to judge one another. We are not to be self-righteous like the Pharisees. We all need repentance because we are all sinners. What we need is the freedom to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling with our God the way we believe from the Bible.