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YOUR TWO EVILS

A sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan,

Deacon at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 12, 2002


"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).


Introduction:

It is a universal need of man to find meaning to life, a reason to belong, and a desire to be happy. Man will naturally seek out those things in life that will meet these wants. He will seek those things that will make him happy, wanted, and fulfilled and shun those things that will make him feel unhappiness, unwanted, and unfulfilled. This is particularly true of young people. They have not the preoccupations of established middle-aged people who are settled in their ways. They have yet to embark upon a career path or to settle down in marriage. For them, there is this great empty void to fill. There is this restlessness, this feeling which is quite uncomfortable. So great effort is made to satisfy it. There are three major ways in which young people try to address this need:

First, some may become existentialists and conclude that there is no meaning to life at all and live their entire life without hope. Depression, despair, and even suicide may be the result of such an outlook on life.

Second, in the past, an interest in religion and Christianity in particular was a common way for young people to attempt to fill this need for meaning, belonging, and happiness. But this has become a much less attractive alternative today with the cold and shallow condition of most churches that don't preach the gospel and have no vibrant young people to give it life.

Third and finally, most young people attempt to satisfy their ultimate needs by seeking various outlets for pleasure and recreation. They might seek it among their friends by frequently "hanging out" to escape boredom and the increasing responsibilities that come with life. But they soon find that this is not a permanent cure, because when they're not with their friends, the loneliness returns. They might seek satisfaction through a relationship with a guy or a girl. Of course, this experience must include sex as well, lest they deprive themselves of some pleasure. This will give them temporary fulfillment and happiness. However, it is short-lived, and they are left bitterly disappointed. It is not long until they seek the same resolve to find happiness in another relationship. This may lead to a brief period of intimacy but again become disappointed. They might turn next to "clubbing" or drugs to fill their need. Some momentary fun is had, but again disappointment follows. Their entire goal in life has been reduced to planning for the next outlet for pleasure or recreation. An attempt is made to build up, prolong, and store up these pleasures as in a pot for future use. Everything else becomes a bore - school, work, and responsibilities. All these come in the way of their seeking pleasure as a way of finding meaning in their lives.

We read in the Scripture reading in Ecclesiastes of a young man who had it all. He was none other than King Solomon who was king of Israel at the pinnacle of its greatness. What pleasures are you seeking for in life? Whatever they may be, Solomon had them all and more, much more. Are you seeking fame and fortune? Solomon was among the most famous and wealthy men of his day. Are you seeking wisdom through education? Solomon was the wisest man who has ever lived on the face of the earth save the Lord Jesus Christ. Other wise men on the earth in that day came to him for advice. He wrote three thousand proverbs, many of which are in the Bible. Are you seeking pleasure? Solomon withheld no desire from his heart and he had the wealth to finance and the influence to satisfy all his immediate desires and wants. The Bible says he had seven hundred wives, massive real estate holdings, and thousands of loyal servants. If it were possible to find and to store up happiness in this way, Solomon certainly would have been able to do it. But with all that stored up wealth, wisdom, women, and wine, he concludes that all of life is vanity, because these things did not bring him any real peace, happiness, and satisfaction. That's because Solomon, like you, was a lost man. He didn't become converted until later in his life. When Solomon gave the words we read, he was a great sinner with many sins on his record, with no forgiveness, with no salvation.

Sermon:

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).

Here we have summed up two mother sins that are related to each other: the one forsaking God through salvation in His Son; and the other attempting to carve out a life for oneself without God.

To understand the prophet Jeremiah here you must understand something of the land of Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Jerusalem is a very dry place. Water is very scarce. In fact, there is only one natural spring in all Jerusalem, called the Gihon spring, which in Jesus' time was the source of the brook Kidron that flowed around the Mount of Olives. Water then was in a real sense a metaphor for life itself.

It was a common practice in that day to hew or carve out hollow cisterns (an underground storage tank, shaped like a pot) deep underneath the ground from the hard rock to store water and to trap the rare instances of rainwater. Dr. David Stern, a friend of our pastor who lives in Jerusalem, recently discovered a cistern in his backyard that was made thousands of years ago. To hew out a cistern was indeed a difficult task. And the water that was stored there would quickly become stale and contaminated. In addition, the cisterns would frequent develop cracks and leak the water, and the cisterns would soon only have bitter dregs remaining when all the water had leaked.

It would be much better of course to drink water from a living fountain. This would take no work to create. It would be a constant source of fresh pure water and would be abundant and ever flowing.

How foolish then would it be to dig out cisterns, broken cisterns at that to store stale water that is quickly lost with only bitter dregs remaining when an abundant living fountain is freely available.

This is a great metaphor of salvation. Cutting out broken cisterns is a type of fulfilling the desires of the heart by one's effort that does not involve God. It is hard, stale, and, in the end, bitter and unsatisfying to the soul. The Fountain of Living Waters that is offered freely is Christ who is fresh and fully satisfying in that He gives you salvation and an abundant life now and throughout all eternity.

I. The evil of hewing out broken cisterns (making pots that will break).

Why is it evil to carve out a life for yourself and try to store up pleasure in a pot?

1. Because it is based on pride.

God loves you, and it is not His will that you should live miserably without Him. He knows that for you to work hard to carve out a life for yourself would only lead ultimately to utter failure and ruin. Only He knows what your real needs are and in His love and care He desires to fulfill them. Jesus said,

"How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37).

It is with utter pride and foolishness that you think you are capable of creating a good life for yourself without the blessings of God. That you alone can create all the happiness and peace that you are searching for. What grandiose and lofty opinions you have of yourself in thinking you understand all the intricacies of this life and the needs of your heart and that you are fully capable of supplying each and every one of them. What an evil is done toward God by your proud attitude of self sufficiency! The Bible says,

"For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself" (Galatians 6:3)

Yes, you have deceived yourself greatly. Better men than you have failed miserably in their endeavors to find peace and happiness in this life. Take King Solomon for an example and learn from his failings. If he, with all his fame, fortune, and successes could not find peace, what makes you think that you can? Your deception and foolishness is exceeded only by your own conceit. The Bible says,

"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26:12).

2. Because it denies your depravity.

The Bible teaches that your heart is depraved and that it is incapable of doing any real good or doing anything pleasing to God. You are fully corrupted from within and can only sin in the sight of God. What a deception then to think that you, a depraved sinner, can create a good and blessed life for yourself! Jesus said,

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil" fruit (Matthew 7:17).

Your corrupted heart can only produce evil fruit and a wasted life. You will never find the peace that you are searching for.

Furthermore, the Bible says because of your depravity, you hate God and are against Him:

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be"

(Romans 8:7).

God is the source of all that is good and blessed in this world. What then can be said of those who are His enemies? The Bible says,

"But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:20-21).

The Bible says your heart is wicked. That's why you habitually sin. That's why you have no real peace in your life. You're restless. You're searching for some meaning and purpose in your life, but you find none. You go from one wild experience to another and from one relationship to another in the hope that you will find real joy in life, but you find none. And you will never find rest and peace in your heart and a purpose to your life until you come to Christ and have His Blood wash your sins away.

3. Because it makes an idol out of the world.

The Bible says,

"And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:17).

You and this world are quickly passing away. To prefer the world to God is a foolish choice. Not only is it a great sin to make an idol out of the world, but it is an evil done to you as well because you are the loser for it.

Rather, the Bible exhorts you to

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth"

(Colossians 3:2).

Setting your affection on things above such as God, eternity, salvation from sin through Jesus and His Blood will benefit you greatly. These will indeed help you to secure a living hope and real satisfaction in life.

4. Because it involves useless work that will not profit you.

It is a virtue to work hard if success can possibly be secured. But to work in vain is foolishness. Here again are the words of King Solomon as he reflects upon his wasted life:

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

All that work for nothing! No happiness, no contentment, no profit, no salvation, nothing! All that human effort does not address your real need - to know God through His Son Jesus.

"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isaiah 55:2).

This is fatness for your soul: to have your sins forgiven by the Blood of Jesus, to have peace with God, to have a purpose for your life in the church.

To those who will not turn to Jesus, the Bible says, "The way of transgressors is hard" (Proverbs 13:15b). A life of sin with its devastating consequences is hard. It will take its toil on you. How much better to have salvation from your sins through Jesus.

5. Because it is doomed to failure and disappointment.

a. The broken cistern of this present life.

Imagine the metaphor pictured by the broken cistern of this present life. It holds a small amount of stale water that is lost quickly with only bitter dregs remaining. What a vivid picture of your life! Your dreary, dry, and stale life is ebbing away. No purpose, no direction, no hope. And soon only the bitter dregs of your life will remain before you die and go to eternity. The Bible says:

"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1).

Not only is your stale life passing away quickly, but it is uncertain how much more you have of it. The Bible says:

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).

How sorely disappointed you will be if you pin all your hopes and dreams on this life alone. You will never achieve peace and satisfaction in this life nor in the life to come. The Bible says,

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

No peace in this life and the worse is yet to come - eternity in Hell.

b. The broken cistern of sin's pleasure.

Yes, there is pleasure in sin, but only for a short time. The Bible affirms that there is enjoyment in the "pleasure of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25). And each time you sin it brings you less satisfaction than the time before. You live for the next opportunity to sin only to have a letdown. Soon, after a while even the sin that gave you a thrill before no longer has the same effect. You in essence become addicted to your sins and your sinful lifestyle but no longer experience the "high" while sinning. Only the bitter, burnt out dregs of life remain. The Bible describes that state,

"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth"

(I Timothy 5:6).

Yes, you had fun "clubbing" and taking drugs, but now only the bitter dregs of a hangover and a confused mind remain.

Yes, you had fun having sex before marriage, but now you're left with the bitter dregs of venereal disease and distrust toward forming any new relationship.

Yes, you had fun hanging out with your friends and missing church, but now you're left with the bitter dregs of being lonely without any real friends that you can trust.

You must realize the great danger of continuing to live a lifestyle of sin and rebellion toward God and turn from it. Are you sure that you want to continue in sin and pay the consequences for it? The Bible says,

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death"

(James 1:14-15).

This is spiritual death - a life without God. This is a life without true happiness and hope. If sin's pleasure could not satisfy King Solomon, what makes you think it will satisfy you? Sin can never give you the peace and happiness that you're looking for and will soon sear your conscience to the point that you can never be saved.

"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15).

Wake up, and don't be tricked by the "deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13)! Its momentary pleasure will soon give way to a wasted life and hell for all eternity.

c. The broken cistern of materialism.

Perhaps you think, "If I can just store up enough material wealth for myself then I'll be happy and have a good long life." Again, if all the wealth and riches that King Solomon had did not satisfy him, how could the paltry, small amount of wealth that you accrue make you happy and satisfied? Or what of the rich man who made this statement shortly before he died and went to Hell?

"And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:19-20).

Why is it that wealth and possessions cannot fully satisfy you? That's because these things don't address and meet the most important need of man - the need of man's soul. Man has an eternal soul whose needs cannot be met by anything in this material world. The soul of man needs to know God to experience true peace and contentment. For this to happen, man must have his sins forgiven by the Blood of Christ. Only then can man truly know God and find meaning in his life. That's why the Bible says the soul is of inestimable value,

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

Don't be deceived by the riches the world has to offer. If your hope of happiness is pinned on acquiring possessions and wealth, you will be left with the bitter dregs of a dissatisfied heart. Nothing is more important than your soul. Come to Jesus. Experience the true happiness of sins forgiven.

d. The broken cistern of a Christless religion

Perhaps you think, "If I could just escape Hell, I'll be happy. If I could just 'pass' and convince the pastor or the deacon that I'm saved, I'll be OK. If everyone could just "think" that I'm saved then I'll be a part of the church and have no other worries." Some people think this can be simply done by merely raising their hand in a church service and walking forward during an invitation or perhaps repeating the "sinners prayer." Or maybe you're more sophisticated than that. You want to be real convincing. So you contrive some words in an attempt to deceive the pastor into believing that you have really come to Jesus. This is attempting to become a Christian without Christ. What folly! The Bible describes how you have deceived yourself:

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"

(Revelation 3:17).

You see, you don't really have a testimony, because you have no Christ. You want to be called a Christian without living the life of a Christian. You want to be "passed" in the inquiry room without having a real living faith in Christ. You want fire insurance from Hell, but you don't want to go to church every week. You want to be saved from Hell but don't want to be saved from a sinful lifestyle. But Jesus said:

"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:22-23).

Having a Christless religion now may temporarily salve your conscience and make you feel better about yourself, but in the end the bitter dregs of religion without Christ will result in a life of sin, missing church, hopelessness, and finally hell.

II. The evil of forsaking Christ - the Fountain of Living Waters

Why would you go through the trouble and futility of hewing out cisterns, broken cisterns to salvage a wasted life when there is immediately available to you without effort or cost a Fountain of Living Waters to satisfy your great thirst? The Bible says,

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools"

(Romans 1:22).

God in His mercy has provided Jesus, the Fountain of Living Waters, to meet the very needs of your soul - forgiveness of sins by faith in His Blood. You will be totally satisfied with Christ. Don't be deceived into thinking that there are other ways to finding peace with God and meaning to life. Don't forsake the mercy that God has provided through Jesus. The Bible says,

"They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy"

(Jonah 2:8).

There is no mercy with God outside of Christ. How then do you forsake Christ?

1. By forsaking fellowship in the local church

It is the wisdom of God that has ordained the local church to be the place where sinners are to be saved. The Bible says:

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

The early church knew nothing of a churchless Christianity. That concept is completely foreign to the Bible. By forsaking fellowship in the local church, you are in essence forsaking Christ Himself as you are deliberately forsaking the place that God has ordained - the local church where Christ is to be preached.

In the days of apostasy in which we live, where local church membership and attendance is relegated to an optional and even an unimportant status, we must obey the Bible:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

Local church attendance is of vital important and indispensable if you hope one day to be saved. The Bible says so. To neglect it is to commit a great evil. It will heal your loneliness and will give you the opportunity to be saved through the preaching of the gospel.

2. By forsaking Christ Himself

If you have a desire to find true purpose in your life, to have meaning and real happiness, and to find God, then coming to church, although a necessary first step, is not enough. You must come to Jesus Himself. You must have a thirst for your soul's great need - to have your sins forgiven and have peace with God through Jesus. You must see that the world with all its allurements can never truly satisfy you. You must give up trying. You must stop hewing out broken cisterns that carry no water. Jesus said to the women at the well,

"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13-14).

Come to Jesus, the Fountain of Living Waters. Let Him forgive your sins through His Blood. Let Him give you an abundant life now, and later in eternity you will have Heaven. Salvation is provided freely. Jesus has paid the price. The Bible says,

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1).

Jesus said,

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10b).

Jesus died and shed His Blood to pay for your sins. He was buried, but on the third day He rose again bodily. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is there now. Come to Him by faith.

You have tried the broken cistern of friends and were disappointed, now try Christ! You have tried the broken cistern of clubbing and drugs that did not satisfy, now try Christ! You have tried the broken cistern of a life missing church, now come to church - and come to Jesus Christ!

The Bible says,

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely"

(Revelation 22:17).

The Spirit spoken of here is God's Spirit. He is saying to your heart, "Come to Jesus." That's why you sense that you need Him. He's speaking to you through the preaching. The bride spoken of here is your friends in the local church. We want you to come to Jesus. We're praying for you. But now it's up to you. Do you hear the call to come to Jesus? Has God created a thirst within you to have your sins forgiven? Then come to Jesus.

I'd like to talk with you about coming to Jesus and having your sins forgiven by His Blood. We're going to sing a hymn, "Just As I Am." As we sing, you come forward and stand in front of this pulpit. Then, we're going to go to the pastor's office. We'll give you some literature to read. We'll talk to you about coming to Jesus Christ and being forgiven by His Blood. You come now, as we stand to sing together.


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. C. L. Cagan:

Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11; Jeremiah 2:11-13.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Ho! Every One That is Thirsty" by Lucy J. Rider (19th century).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

THE OUTLINE OF

YOUR TWO EVILS

by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan


"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).

I.   The evil of hewing out broken cisterns - attempting to create a life
for yourself

1. Because it is based on pride, Matthew 23:37; Galatians 6:3;
Proverbs 26:12.

2. Because it denies your depravity, Matthew 7:17; Romans 8:7;
Isaiah 57:20-21.

3. Because it makes an idol out of the world, 1 John 2:17;
Colossians 3:2.

4. Because it involves useless work that will not profit you,
Ecclesiastes 2:11; Isaiah 55:2; Proverbs 13:15b.

5. Because it is doomed to failure and disappointment

a. The broken cistern of this present life, Job 14:1;
James 4:14; Hebrews 9:27.

b. The broken cistern of sin's pleasure, Hebrews 11:25;
I Timothy 5:6; James 1:14-15; Titus 1:15.

c. The broken cistern of materialism, Luke 12:19-20;
Matthew 16:26.

d. The broken cistern of a Christless religion,
Revelation 3:17; Matthew 7:22-23.

II.  The evil of forsaking Christ - the Fountain of Living Waters,
Romans 1:22; Jonah 2:8.

1. By forsaking fellowship in the local church, Romans 10:14; Hebrews 10:25.

2. By forsaking Christ Himself, John 4:13-14; Isaiah 55:1;
John 10:10b; Revelation 22:17.