Following In The Footsteps Of Faith Series Sermon # 13
SIN AND THE SAINT OF GOD (Genesis 20:1-18)
Genesis 20 (NKJV)
Abraham and Abimelech
1 And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. 2 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”
6 And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. 9 And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” 10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?”
11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
14 Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 Then to Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.” Thus she was rebuked.
17 So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; 18 for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Ill. The context. These verses portray a horrible failure in the life of one of God’s choice servants. If you remember Abraham’s journey down into Egypt in Genesis 12:10-20, you will notice some similarities between this event and that one.
It is never pleasant to see failure in the life of one of God’s children. But, I am thankful that God did not sweep Abraham’s sin under the rub (carpet). I am grateful that He saw fit to record the event in the pages of Scripture. I am grateful because, like Abraham, I too struggle with sin. Sometimes, I struggle with the same sins over and over, as I am sure you do too. What we need in the midst of our struggle is some encouragement! What we need is the blessed assurance that we have hope in the midst of our failures!
This passage offers that hope to our hearts this evening! It may seem like a passage of darkness, gloom and failure, but in reality, it is a passage filled with hope and help for you and me.
I want to point out a few principles that are contained here that speak to your need and mine. I want to preach for a while on Sin And The Saint Of God.
I. SIN DOESN’T HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE
A. Remember that Abraham is 100 years old when this event occurs. When he did this same thing in Genesis 12, he was just beginning his walk with the Lord. Here, he should be at the height of his maturity as a believer. Notice also that this is a sin he has carried with him for many decades, v. 13.
B. For us the point is clear: there will never be a time when we will be beyond falling! Therefore, we need to avoid some of the mistakes that Abraham made.
1. Never stop trusting God to take care of you – Why was Abraham there in the first place? Well in Gen. 12, he went because of a famine, not believing that God would take care of him. This time, we are not told why he went, but my opinion is that he was getting away from Sodom and Gomorrah. He probably thought that all the area would be burned up.
(Note: When we come to the place where we no longer trust the Lord to meet our needs and to get us through the trials of life, we are headed for disaster!)
2. Never put yourself in the place of temptation – Abraham had a fear that some man would kill him so that he could have Sarah. When he felt this fear, he was inclined to lie to save his hide, not believing that God would be able to take care of him.
(Note: Only a fool subjects himself to temptation’s lure and believes that he will walk away unharmed! If you know that you have a problem in a given area, you are foolish to place yourself in a position to be tempted! When temptation comes, you and I need to be like Joseph: Run! – Gen. 39)
C. Friends, we must never let down our guard! May we never come to think that we have arrived at a place where we cannot sin, or where we are free from the temptation to commit a particular sin. As sure as you let down your guard, you are headed for trouble, 1 Cor. 10:12! As long as you live in this flesh, you will never be safe!
II. SIN CANNOT OVERCOME GRACE
A. Even though Abraham is clearly out of God’s will at this time in his life, he is still enjoying the Lord’s blessings! That may mess up our theology, but it is still true! You see, even when Abraham is in a place of his own choosing and is not doing what God asked him to do, he is still being blessed by the Lord.
Notice the blessings that came his way:
1. He Forgave Him Of His Sins – Implied in verse 17
2. He Protected Him From Harm – v. 2-9, 18
3. He Blessed Him Financially – v. 14-16
4. He Used Him For His Glory – v. 17
(Note: This same principle is witnessed in the life of Elijah – 1 Kings 19.)
B. What does this teach us? – Simply the truth that who we are in Jesus cannot be invalidated by our sin! We all know that God chastens His children – Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6-12. However, how many of us could testify to the truth that there have been times when we were miles away from the Lord and He still blessed our lives! What is this? Nothing less than our grace! This just serves to remind us that God deals with us on the basis of who we are rather than on the basis of what we do!
(Note: This does not give us a license to sin! After all, the redeemed sinner is going to want to serve the Lord and will not rest until things are right between them and the Lord. It is also true that after awhile God will deal directly and completely with the sin that resides within His children’s hearts.)
C. Thank God, even our sin is unable to separate us from the love we have in Jesus Christ – Rom. 8:38-39!
III. SIN CANNOT DERAIL GOD’S PLAN
A. When Abraham left the promised land to enter Gerar, he placed the plan of God in jeopardy. You see, God had promised to send the promised seed within a year, Gen. 18:10-14. Abraham showed very poor judgment! If Abimelech had been allowed to sleep with Sarah, it could have short-circuited God’s plan. Of course, the Scriptures tell us that God prevented anything like that from taking place!
Another problem is the fact that Abraham is the sole representative of God Almighty, v. 7. He has been commissioned to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Instead of being a blessing and a witness for God, Abraham’s life could have been a hindrance to prevent Abimelech from coming to God. However, in spite of Abraham’s sin, God spoke to Abimelech and dealt with him anyway, v. 6-7.
B. Regardless of what we do, God’s plan will be accomplished! For too long, preachers have tried to keep the people of God in line by using fear tactics against them. the saints have been told to live right or God can’t bless, He can’t work and He can’t save souls. Many have been told that they have sent others to Hell by the lifestyles they live.
Well, I just want to set the record straight this evening! You cannot hinder God from doing His work! You might miss out on the blessing of being a part of what He is doing, but God will accomplish His will in the church and in the world whether we cooperate or not! Hallelujah!
And, another thing, you cannot “send anyone to Hell”. Men go to hell when they refuse to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and nothing you or I do can cause them to do that or prevent them from doing that! That may not be what you have heard all your life, but it is still the truth! Our job is to warn them and to live right before them, but the decision they make in the end in their’s and their’s alone, Eze. 3:18!
C. Did you know that Abraham’s sin should have shamed Abraham himself? But there is no indication that he ever acknowledged it or repented of it! Much like many in our world today! But, think about this: Abraham’s sin was used as testimony to the greatness of God. Abimelech would have never known that God was a God of mercy, grace, forgiveness and restoration if that old saint had never fallen into sin! But, because he did, God was able to demonstrate His power through forgiving and restoring Abraham by grace.
(Note: This is not an excuse for sinning! It is just a reminder that our sin will not stop God from saving folks. People need to know that our God is a God Who saves and keeps through grace not works!)
IV. SIN WEARS THE EMPERORS CLOTHES
(Ill. The story of “The Emperor’s New Suit”. Sin is just like that. It attempts to camouflage itself, but it never realizes that its camouflage is flimsy and transparent. In fact, everyone can see through it, except the sinner.)
A. When Abraham is confronted by his sin, he does not repent, but instead he offers up excuses. Here they are. They aren’t much, but they are the same ones people still use today.
1. He Claimed That He Had Acted Out Of Fear – v. 11 – It wasn’t fear that caused this terrible event, it was a lack of faith!
2. He Twisted The Facts – v. 12 – Sarah was his sister, but she was more than that, she was his wife!
3. He Hid Behind His Past Failures – v. 13 – He tells the king that this is the way we have always done it.
Abraham’s response to being confronted is to attempt to hide behind some very flimsy excuses. Like the Emperor, Abraham did not even realize that he was fully exposed.
B. When we sin and are found out, we always try to make excuses for our behavior. We will either blame someone else, or we will blame the devil. We may try to pretend that we didn’t do anything wrong. We may plead ignorance. We may act like we see no wrong in our actions. There are a thousand ways we can handle sin, but only one way will bring cleansing, restoration and the blessing of God. Sin must be confessed and repented of! It must be dragged kicking and screaming into the open and it must be exposed for what it is: black, dirty and wicked! This is God’s way – Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9.
C. What excuses are you hiding your behavior behind this evening? Whether you know it or not, everyone already sees it for what it is! You will never get past it until you can see it for yourself and deal with it God’s way!
We all battle sin! Some more than others, but we all fight it nonetheless. The question is, who is winning the battle, you or your sins? If you want to be free you can be! If you want to be a light to the world you can be. If you want your life to be blessed and to be a blessing, you can have it!
All it takes is you doing what Abraham refused to do: get before the Lord and face your sins for what they are! If you do, the Lord will forgive you and bless you, He will restore you and use you for His glory. Does that sound good to you? If you need that kind of help, it is available in Jesus. You come to Him and watch Him work on your sin problem!
We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!