Three Things Which Do Not Change

6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.
7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

INTRODUCTION

We live in a changing world; everything around us is in a state of change. Chloe keeps asking Big Mama when she is going to get young again. Chloe Bug does not understand the law of thermodynamics, that everything is winding down. I have less energy now than I did 50 years ago. The truth is, I have less than I did 50 days ago. Modern technology is changing so rapidly that folks like me can’t keep up. I never dreamed I would own a smart phone and now we have a smart car. It talks to you. I was on my way to Birmingham Saturday and a warning light began flashing on the dash and a voice said, “Driver is tired or distracted, please pull over for a rest.” It will not allow you to tailgate. It breaks automtically if you get too close to the vehicle in front of you. Everything is changing so fast that I cannot keep up. Sometimes I feel like an 8 track player in a smart phone world. It is a comfort to know that somethings do not change.

Tonight, I want to talk to you about three things that do not change.

I. YAHWEH IS IMMUTABLE “I am the LORD, I do not change.” [v.6]

A great number of people living today in these United States believe in moral relativism and the evolution of morality. Their rationale, if I understand correctly, is that we know more today than ever before. Thus this greater knowledge has somehow advanced morality so that things we once viewed as being sinful and wrong or no longer sinful or wrong. The hot topic of course is homosexuality. 

As Christians, we reject this godless thinking and it is godless. God is the supreme law giver, morality emanates from HIM. He told Malachi in no uncertain terms, I AM Yahweh and I do not change.”


Actually everything is in a state of change. We call it the law of thermodynamics. Everything is winding down. Einstein believed the only constant in the universe is the speed of light. I am comforted by the fact that in this ever changing world, there is one thing that never changes… GOD DOES NOT CHANGE. He is immutable. This is cause for celebration. Hebrews 13:8…“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”


Balaam said in Numbers 23:19… God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Balak was trying to get Balaam to curse the Israelites but Balaam told him, how can I curse someone the LORD has blessed. Balaam understood that he could not change God’s will or purpose.


Actually, God’s immutable nature is captured in His name Yahweh. It is the Hebrew verb for being. God’s personal name is a verb and it contains every tense imaginable. We see past, present and future but God lives in the eternal present. He sees past, present and future at the same time. Therefore, He is never surprized or shocked.


Nor does God change in nature or essense. God is a loving God. He is merciful and gracious and quick to forgive. He is perfect in all of His attributes. We cannot make God more loving. Nothing we do will make Him more holy. He is perfectly holy, competely holy. Our beloved immutable God needs no enhancement, no improving and no updating. He is totally intergrated. He has it all together. He is faithful. He keeps every promise.

THUS

You sons of Jacob are not destroyed. Malachi is reminding the Jews that they should be thankful that God does not change His mind, purpose or essense. Here is the POINT…these sorry Jews deserved to be destroyed. They were ungrateful. They were covenant breakers. They were rebels from the beginning. They had not lived up to their side of the covenant and yet they are blaming God. God would have been just to have whipped them from the face of the earth. The verb Malachi uses means to finish, to completely consume, to utterly destroy, to anniliate. Except for the grace and mercy of God, the Jews would have been anniliated.

The Jews of Malachi day are complaining when they should having been praising God for His marvelous grace. What a bunch of ungrateful jerks. Do they remind you of anyone you know?]

It is very important that we see ourselves in this story. You and I are the ungrateful Jews. The covenant breakers, the self-willed rebels. We are as guilty as these Jews and except for God’s grace, we would be burning in hell. We like to think we have earned our good fortune but nothing is further from the truth. We have been saved by God’s grace. Our salvation has nothing to do with our performance: it is all grace and God gets all the glory.

II. MAN HAS NOT CHANGED…Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. [V.7]

It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is God’s way of relating to us but there are some areas where no faith is required, not for me. I do not believe that man is a sinner, I know he is a sinner. We are born with a self-centered tendency and we want what we want when we want it.

I think Isaiah describes it best in Isaiah 53:6...All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Our rebellion stems from the fact that we want our way. This is not just a problem in the world, it is a huge problem in the church. O the damage that is done by carnal members fighting to get their way. The self-centered tendency which leads to rebellion is the essense of sin and we find it in little children.

The scripture makes it clear, there are no exceptions…All we like sheep…All have sinned and come short of the glory of God…There is none righteous, no, not even one. The first step to recovery is to acknowledge the problem. The first step to salvation is to acknowledge that you are a sinner. It is not hard to get a sinner to Jesus, the difficult part is to get a human to admit their are a sinner. Once a person sees their sin, undoneness, they have no problem seeing the need for a Savior.

I had to have a root canal a couple of weeks back. I had talked Ashley into patching me up last January. She said emphatically, “Bro. Jack get this tooth fixed before it gets infected.” I heard what she said but I thought to myself, “I’ll get it fixed when it goes to hurting.” Five months later, it abscessed. I go for the root canal and they cannot deaden the tooth due to the abscess. I was on antibiotics for an extra week and then they tried the second time but this time they gave me so much medication that my jaw stayed numb for 7 hours. He is had to convince a man to go to the doctor when he is not hurting but once the pain sets in and he is convinced in his mind that he is sick, he will go gladly.

Likewise, not sinner is coming to Jesus until he sees the damage his sin is doing. Righteous people are not drawn to Jesus.

I do need a show of hands. I don’t need surveys. I have the word of God and 68 years of experience and I tell you by the authority of God’s word, you are a sinner; you have always been a sinner. I don’t need faith to believe it–I see it everyday in myself and others.

There is no such thing as “Moral Evolution.” Man is not getting better, he is still as depraved as ever. This is why morality had to be revealed to us by a holy God. We are law givers or law makers, we by nature are law breakers. What was wrong in the garden is wrong today. Homoseuality was wrong in the Old Testament and it is wrong today. God made the law and He does not change.

III. THE NEED AND NATURE OF REPENTANCE HAS NOT CHANGED…Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. [v.8] 

We have sinned. Like the prodigal, we have rebelled against a good and benelovent Father. The Father is waiting, watching but we have to repent, we have to return. The Father has done all that is possible to make it easy for us but we have to return before He will restore. This is the way it works. Don’t wait for God to send someone after you, come to your senses and return before it is too late.

The Jews said, “How can we return, we have never gone away.” How can we repent, we haven’t done anything.”

I can deal with sinners, with honest people but I cannot help those who refuse to acknowledge their sin.

Forty years or so ago, I had a woman to ask me to marry her and her boy friend. She had been married six times and all of them ended in divorce: this was her last shot because the limit in Alabama was seven at the time. I was a friend of her boyfriend. He was a good man as men go; a hard worker and very generous. I had been in the ministry just long enough to realize that do weddings was not always pleasant. I had already had two or three bad experiences. I told her on the phone, that I would consider doing the ceremony but not until I had talked with them.

I arrived at her house and began the questioning. I didn’t like some of her answers. When I was through asking questions, I said, I will do the ceremony under one condition: both of you must acknowlege you failure in your prior marriages. I will marry you if you are repentant: otherwise, I want no part in the affair. She bristled up immediately, she said, “I will not because my marriages did not fail because of me.” I said, “You’ve been married and divorced six times and yet you take no responsibility in any of the failures?” She said, “No, I do not.” I said, “I am very sorry but you will have to get someone else to perform the ceremony.”

I have seen her attitude in the Baptist church. I don’t know how some folks got it but obviously they did not repent. If you aren’t repentant, chances are you have never repented.

Don’t be like these stubborn and proud Jews…admit you are a sinner. Don’t be like the woman with 6 husbands. You must humble yourself and come to Christ. It is God’s way. There is no salvation without repentance and there is no repentance without you turning from you sinful and selfish ways. 

This is the law of repentance…It has never changed and will not change.

 
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Two Kinds Of Sorrow

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:8-13, NLT

8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
12 My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.
13 We have been greatly encouraged by this. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease.

INTRODUCTION

I was 21 years old, a senior in college and serving a small church in West Limestone when one of the ministeral students invited me to a party. I was not big on parties plus I worked after school at J.C. Penney’s in Huntsville so I had a full schedule as it was but I did join them after work and my friend introduced me to a young lady who was a senior in high school. I asked her for a date and she invited me to a beauty contest which is not exactly what I had in mind. Long story short, I went to the contest and she was in it but did not win, she came in second but it was still a flash bub experience. I stood in the shadows waiting for all the cameras to cease. That was the first of a number of dates. The girls was talented and ambitious. I was getting ready to settle down. To be honest, I was looking for a wife but she was not looking for a husband. I soon realized that she was encapable of taking interest in my life. She was attractive and I wanted a relationship with her but the feeling was not mutual. After a few weeks of this, I became frustrated and sat down and wrote her a letter telling her exactly how I felt. I was brutally honest in the letter which basicly accused her of being self-centered and too hung up on herself to care about anyone else. I knew the letter was harsh, so I laid it on the night stand next to my bed and did not send it. Actually, I forgot about the letter and a couple of weeks later I called her on the phone and she blessed me out. My mother, thinking she was being a help, sent the letter.

So I went through a couple of phases: first, I regretted that I had wrote the letter and that mother had posted it but some time later, I was glad that I wrote the letter because this relationship was going no where and I didn’t need to waste my time. I’ve seen the woman a half dozen times since and she doesn’t hold a grudge.

Paul sent Corinth a harsh or painful letter. Then the Apostle became worried and anxious wondering if he had done the right thing. After Titus returns with good news about the Corinthians response to the letter, Paul is relieved and no longer regrets sending the letter. All is well that ends well.  Since the final result was positive, Paul moves from regret to rejoicing.

In the dialogue, Paul mentions two kinds of sorrow. There is a Godly sorrow that leads to a change in behavior and an worldly sorrow which leads to regret but no change in behavior. When experts from the treasurer’s department examine money to see if it is counterfiet, they make a judgment based on what the real looks like. Once they are totally familiar with the real, they can spot the false.

So it is with SORROW. Tonight we will study the real so that we can spot the false.

I. GODLY SORROW IS ALWAYS DIRECTED TOWARD GOD

Psalms 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
……………………
Obviously, David’s sin was against others, especially Uriah and there were social consequences. David is not attempting to escape his responsibility in hurting others but he understood that the primary offense was against God who alone is perfectly holy and offended by all sins. Although David sinned against Bathsheba, I doubt seriously that her moral sensitivities were offended.

All sin in all stages or levels is offensive to God

II. GODLY SORROW LEADS TO REPENTANCE

Repentance and remorse are very similiar in Greek. The word metanoeō means to repent, to change your behavior. The word metamelomai means remorse. Remorse is a deep and painful regret. This is illustrated by Judas in Matthew 27:3…

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”

  • Judas felt remorse, a painful regret that he had made a horrible decision. Note where Judas goes to confess {the corrupt priest}. Why did he not turn to Jesus. Remorse does not lead us to Christ. It may lead to bitter tears and haunting regret but it does not lead us to Christ.
  • Cain was sorry for murdering his brother but his sorrow was not toward God. Cain felt sorry for himself. He knew his sin had grave consequences and he was deeply sorrowful about what he had done to himself but he was not concerned about God or his parents. 
  • Esau was full of remorse and wept bitterly but he did not repent and never changed his ways. He went to his father Isaac but he did not go to God.
  • Saul faked repentance several times but he was feeling remorse, not repentance because he never changes his behavior. Godly sorrow leads to a change in behavior.

All of the above felt remorse, regret and the sorrow that accompanies them but none of them changed their life. They continued to live to please themselves.

III. GODLY SORROW LEADS TO SALVATION

What is the difference between ‘Repentance’ and ‘Salvation?’ Glad you ask, good question. Repentance is a change of mind, behavior and attitude. Salvation is deliverance from the evil one and from the power of sin. When we come across the word Salvation in the N.T. we must always remember it has three tenses:

  1. I have been saved from the penalty of sin [regeneration–new birth, instantaneous]
  2. I am being saved from the power of sin [sanctification–growth and maturity in the faith, progressive]
  3. I will be saved from the presence of sin [glorification, ultimate]

IMPORTANT NOTE:

  • Godly sorrow does lead to regeneration, the new birth.
  • Godly sorrow also leads to sanctification, our daily walk with Christ.
  • Godly sorrow which leads to repentance is not a ONCE AND DONE experience, it is a daily experience.

Let’s take your marriage relationship as an example. A Groom cannot tell his bride: “I am a sinner and I will make a lot of mistakes in our life time together so I am going to repent right now for all the mistakes I will make. You just remember this conversation when the time comes. {Would this work in a marriage?}

Although the basic premise is correct, this will not work. We sin daily so we must repent daily. Dr. Bill Bright calls this concept “Spiritual Breathing.” He bases it on I John 1:8-9…. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. Daily confession brings daily cleansing.

To stay rightly related to God, we must live in a state of repentance.

Paul is writing to Christians. Sure, the unbelieving world needs to repent, they must repent said Jesus or they will perish but the church also needs to repent. Four of the seven churches in the Revelation are told to repent.

John the Baptist demanded fruits of repentance and he was simply talking about a change of behavior. We believers are to be in a state of alteration, changes should be a part of our daily walk with Christ.

Zaccheus didn’t have dreams or see visions: he changed the way he was living. He stopped cheating others and began giving to others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to a changed life. Earthly sorrow leads to regret, self-pity and eventually death simply because it does not lead to repentance.

The Horror of Horror Stories

Scripture: Matthew 26:17-30, NLT

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” 18 “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there. 20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?” 23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

25 Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

INTRODUCTION

A lengthy text today and one that lends itself to many subjects. We could talk about Passover or the Lord’s Supper and the New Covenant. We could talk about Jesus courage to sing the Hillel [Psalm 116] in the face of death but today I want us to focus on Judas and the tragic horror story that surround his brief life.

I. FIRST OF ALL: LOOK AT HIS SIN COVERED

Dr. Warren Wiersbe says that Judas sat to the left of Jesus and John on the right. Judas had to have been close because a part of the conversation he has with Jesus was unheard by the other disciples. First Jesus announces that one of the twelve will betray him [v.21] Greatly distressed each one asked, “Am I the one Lord?” They spoke out loud from all points of the table but Judas was sitting right beside Jesus.

Jesus then says in verse 24… For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Then Judas must have whispered, “Rabbi, am I the one?” You will not that the eleven addressed Jesus as Lord and Judas called him Rabbi [Teacher/Master].

So we have this private conversation going on at the table. The other eleven had no clue that Judas was the traitor. If they had known, they would have done everything in their power to have stopped him. They did not know.

In Judas we see man’s ability to hid his sin, to cover his true self. Judas was so good at acting that no one knew. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 3… Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

Sin is deceptive in two ways: [1] First Judas deceived others by covering his motives [2] Judas was himself deceived in that he did not see the horror of his sin. You see it, the other 11 saw it but Judas did not see the horror of his sin. He does later, after the fact, but here at the table, he sees nothing wrong with his sin.

II. BUT DO NOTICE: JESUS CONFRONTS JUDAS WITH HIS SIN

The ERV translates verse 25…“Teacher, surely I am not the one you are talking about, am I?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Notice how loving and gentle Jesus is in confronting Judas with his sin. Jesus doesn’t jump up on the table and point a finger at Judas and say, “Judas is a traitor…Judas is a traitor”…Jesus does not attempt to coerce Judas; Jesus used no pressure at all. Jesus confronts him with his sin and he made it clear that it was a horrible choice. Jesus said, “It would have been better for you that you had never been born.”

Remember this: when no one else sees our sin, Jesus sees not only the sin but the outcome. Why do we hid sin in the first place? It’s human nature. We want to put our best foot forward. We all work at making people think that we are better than we actually are but this acting does not work with Jesus. He had a term for actors, Jesus called them hypocrites.

III. THE THIRD THING I WANT YOU TO SEE IN THIS HORROR STORY IS: THE SIN CHERISHED.

All Judas had to do was “Let it go” but he couldn’t do it. My brother died at the age of 69 and his son at age 52. Both were chain smokers: all they had to do was “Let it go.” Elvis died of a drug overdose…He might be living today had he been able to “let go” of drugs. I think Judas had a plan, other than God’s plan. I think he was trying to force Jesus to take a stand and fight. Judas knew that Jesus had supernatural power and he wanted Him to use that power to gain political advantage. I think Judas was more into power than money. He refused to let go of his plan of his ambition for power.

Why don’t we let go of our sin? Deep down, we know what we are doing is wrong but we refuse to let go because of the pleasure our sin brings. There is pleasure in sin, otherwise temptation would lose its power but the pleasure is for a season; eventually, all the pleasure will turn to pain.

Judas refused to repent. He refused to let go of his sin.

IV. THE FOURTH AND FINAL THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS THE: CONSEQUENCES OF SIN

Sin is deceitfully attractive. Paul said, “Even the devil can disguise himself as an angel of light.” The problem of sin is simple: we do not see it as it is. Jesus could see the hideous face of sin but we are blinded. Once we see sin the way he sees it, we can’t abandon it fast enough. Judas made a bad decision and then he reaped a horrible consequence. As Jesus said, “It would have been better had he never been born.”

Don’t picture Judas as the out and out rebel. He was not an overt trouble maker. No one in the group knew what he was capable of other than Jesus. Judas represents your smug church member, possibly a leader serving on some important committee. Judas is there every time the doors are open. Judas may be the treasurer. Judas goes out on church visitation. Judas teaches and preaches. Judas even cast out demons. So don’t get the idea that Judas is out there, Judas is in the building, he doesn’t miss. Judas is the church member who has never repented. The one who sees Jesus as a Teacher but not as LORD. Our churches are filled with the unsurrendered. These folks have their own personal agenda and it is hidden from all except Christ who sees the heart. Jesus said Himself, “Unless you repent, you will all like wise perish.”