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MISERY BEFORE MERCY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the combined retreat of Calvary Road
Baptist Church and the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Wednesday Evening, August 27, 2003


"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15).


The Hebrew word translated "offence" means "guilt" (Strong). The Hebrew word translated "affliction" means "anguish, distress, sorrow" (Strong). So, God says that He will go away and leave you alone until you acknowledge your guilt. In your distress over your guilt, you will seek Him early or "earnestly."

Speaking of this verse, Jonathan Edwards said, "That it is God's manner to make men sensible [aware] of their misery, before he appears in his mercy and love to them" (Edwards, sermon on Hosea 5:15).

I could tell you about forgiveness in Jesus tonight. But in your present condition you would not listen. Your mind would drift away to something else, because, in your present condition you are not interested in being forgiven.

Until you are brought to the place of affliction, you will not be interested in Christ's forgiveness. Until you are afflicted with anguish and distress over your sin, you will not be interested in salvation through Christ.

The general state of mankind is rejection of Christ.

"He is despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3).

Mankind naturally despises and rejects the Saviour. And you are part of mankind. You will not be interested in earnestly seeking Christ until you experience at least some distress and inner turmoil over your sin. And so Christ says,

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence [their guilt], and seek my face: in their affliction [anguish, distress and sorrow] they will seek me early [earnestly]."

One of the ways you can become aware of your guilt is by thinking about God's justice in condemning you to Hell. When you see that God is "a just God" (Isaiah 45:21), you will begin to see that it is just and right for Him to condemn you - that you deserve His wrath in the eternal torment of Hell.

We saw last night that God is right to condemn you for three reasons:

1. You do not value your Christian home.

2. You do not value your church.

3. You do not value the Blood of Christ.

But let us think of two more reasons you deserve the punishment of Hell.

I. First, you do not value the wisdom of your counsellors.

There are few men as capable as those who will be available to counsel you after the sermon this evening. These men have degrees from theological seminaries. They have written books on conversion. They have spent many years counselling others, and have been very successful in leading many people into real conversion. They are not "miserable comforters" such as Job had (cf. Job 16:2). They are wise and spiritual counsellors.

Wisdom would say, "You should listen carefully to these men, and do exactly what they tell you." Wisdom would tell you to open your heart to them and not try to dodge them, or give them "clever" answers. Wisdom would tell you to be very open and up-front with them.

But you have not done that. You have played "word games" with them. You have acted like they were your enemies - and that you are playing some sort of mental chess game with them. Instead of opening your heart to them, and openly doing all you can to follow their instructions, you have closed your ears to them, and have not obeyed their wise words of counsel.

In the day of your judgment, their faces will doubtlessly come before your mind. Their words of instruction to you will doubtlessly be in your thoughts. But it will be too late then.

"Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee" (Psalm 50:17),

what hope do you have?

"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul"
    (Proverbs 15:32).

In the dark dungeon and flames of agony in another world, you will wail and weep over the fact that you refused instruction and despised your own soul! You will then bewail the fact that you did not see the value and worth of the counsellors you had in the inquiry room.

I beg you not to let that happen!

"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul"
     (Proverbs 15:32).

Do you despise - do you hate - your own soul? If you do not hate it, I plead with you to place great value in the words of your counsellors tonight. There is no hope for you otherwise.

"Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee" (Psalm 50:17).

In Hell you will see, if you refuse to see it now, that you were a fool not to value the wisdom of these men who will be counselling in the inquiry room tonight. You will then see, if you refuse to see it now, that you are worthy of Hell for not valuing the counsellors He has given to lead you to salvation.

But there are even more reasons that you deserve the punishment of Hell.

II. Second, you do not value the pricking of your conscience by the Holy Spirit.

You are not like those wise men on the Day of Pentecost.

"They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
     (Acts 2:37).

These wise men placed great value in the pricking of their consciences by God's Spirit.

But you are not like them at all. When the Holy Spirit comes to convince you of sin, and prick your conscience concerning your sin, you make excuses to yourself. You let your mind wander to other things. You treat the Holy Spirit as though He were your enemy - when in fact He is your best friend!

A true friend will do what is best for you. A true friend will tell you what you need to hear. It is a false friend that lies to you, and tries to trick you. Don't you agree? A false friend will tell you lies or half-truths to keep your friendship. But a real friend will warn you of danger and tell you the truth you need to hear.

The Holy Spirit is the truest friend you have. Jesus called Him "the Comforter" (John 16:7). But He will not give you false comfort. He comes to tell you the truth and convince you

"of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8).

When He pricks your conscience, and makes you feel guilty, He does this for your good - to help you be converted, so that you will come to Christ, rather than go

"where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched"
     (Mark 9:44).

Jesus said,

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to rebuke and chasten you so that you will earnestly seek Him and be converted. The Bible says,

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6).

Dr. Ryrie says, "A loyal friend may correct [you] and the wounds will heal, while a deceitful enemy says sweet things that offer no real help" (Ryrie Study Bible, note on Proverbs 27:6).

Are you wise enough to see that the Holy Spirit is your friend and the Devil is your enemy? That sounds simple - but it is a profoundly deep thought! The Devil speaks sweetly to your heart, and tells you that everything is all right with you - that you are not in danger. But the Devil does this, not because he is your friend, but because he is your enemy!

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6).

The Holy Spirit does not sweetly soothe you, as the Devil does. The Holy Spirit comes and wounds you, pricking your conscience, making you feel the guilt of your sin. The Holy Spirit's  wounds  can  be  deep,  and  cause  great  agony.   But  He  does  it  for  your  good,  to  heal  you.

In the days before chloroform, men had their legs cut off while biting on a piece of cloth. Think of the horrible, agonizing pain of having a wounded leg cut off while fully awake! But the doctor who cut off the leg was the true friend of the patient. The doctor knew that unless the pain of amputation was performed, gangrene would infest the wounded leg and rot it. Then the gangrene would course through the bloodstream and kill the patient, in a horrible, agonizing, rotting death. Better to have the pain of amputation than to have your entire body rotten with gangrene. And so, though pain was inflicted, the doctor who did the amputation was the patient's true friend.

Then let the Holy Spirit amputate! Let Him pierce your heart, and reveal to you your corrupted, ruined nature, as well as your personal sins, before the gangrene of sin runs it course through your soul, and you awaken in another world,

"Tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (Revelation 14:10).

In Hell you will see, if you refuse to see it now, that you were a fool not to value the pricking, convicting work of your true friend, the Holy Spirit. You will then see, if you refuse to see it now, that you are worthy of Hell for not valuing the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

"In their affliction they will seek me early [earnestly]"
      (Hosea 5:15).

You should be deeply distressed and sorrowful for your sinful nature and your personal sins. Do not come tonight and say, "I don't want to go to Hell." That is not the great sign of awakening. No rational human being wants to go to Hell. "I don't want to go to Hell" are the words of an unawakened sinner. The affliction that you need is to see the selfish rebellion of your heart. If you do not have an awakening to your own selfish rebellion, then my sermon will do you no good whatever.

Will you admit to God and to yourself that you have been selfish -  that you have counted your Christian family as worthless - that you have counted your church as worthless - that you have counted your counsellors as worthless - that you have counted the convicting of the Holy Spirit as worthless - that you have counted the Blood of Christ as worthless?  These are great sins.  Your sins can only be cleansed by the Blood of Christ.

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early [earnestly]" (Hosea 5:15).

 
(END OF SERMON)

THE OUTLINE OF

MISERY BEFORE MERCY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15).

(Isaiah 53:3)

I.   You do not value the wisdom of your counsellors,
Psalm 50:17; Proverbs 15:32.

II.  You do not value the pricking of your conscience by the
Holy Spirit, Acts 2:37; John 16:7-8; Mark 9:44;
Revelation 3:19; Proverbs 27:6; Revelation 14:10;
Deuteronomy 14:8; Hosea 5:15.

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