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HOW SHALL WE CLEAR OURSELVES?

(SERMON #58 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 19, 2009

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).


Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. Now he had been raised to a very high station, second only to Pharaoh. During a famine, his brothers came begging for food in Egypt. They did not recognize Joseph. He gave them sacks of food to take home. But Joseph tested them by hiding his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. They tore their clothes in extreme distress when Joseph discovered it because they knew he thought they stole it. They came to Joseph’s house and fell before him on the ground. As I said, Joseph was testing them. He said, “What deed is this that ye have done?” (Genesis 44:15). Then Judah gave the words of our text. He said to Joseph,

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

The Geneva Bible and the modern translations have “justify” instead of “clear,” as in the KJV. But I think the King James is clearer and more literal. The Hebrew word “tsadaq” literally means “to cleanse” or “to clear self” (Strong). I think the KJV brings out the sense of it, “How shall we clear ourselves?” How shall we cleanse ourselves? “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants.” God had uncovered their sin, including their sin of selling Joseph as a slave. Their sin was “found out” by God. Judah cried,

“How shall we clear ourselves?” (Genesis 44:16).

And that should be your question tonight.

God hath found out your iniquity.
How shall you clear yourself?

That is the most important question of all. God has found out your sin. How can you clear yourself? Ask yourself,

“How shall I clear myself?”
“How shall I cleanse myself?”

Make no mistake here. The Bible brings out three distinct truths concerning this.

I. First, God will not clear the guilty.

The Bible says that God

“will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7).

Modern man thinks that God can shut His eyes to sin. They think He can say, “I will just forget that sin.” But that is not the God revealed in the Bible. The real God, revealed in Scripture, by His very nature, cannot “clear the guilty.” Dr. McGee said,

“Sin must be punished and a penalty must be imposed. God by no means clears the guilty” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981, volume I, p. 306; note on Exodus 34:7).

You may disagree with that. You may think that God will overlook your sin. But God says,

“Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psalm 50:21).

How surprised you will be to discover that

“The fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you”
       (II Chronicles 28:11).

This is the God of the Bible. This is the true God. This is the God who says,

“I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:11).

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

This is what all sinners should be asking.

How can we clear ourselves?
God has found out our sins!

Alas! Too late! When judgment falls,

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
       (Isaiah 33:14).

Oh, sinner, ask yourself,

How shall I clear myself?
God has found out my sins.

II. Second, God is just when He judges sin.

Deuteronomy 32:4 says that He is

“a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

God is perfectly just when He judges sin. God’s justice demands judgment for sin. Therefore God must judge your sins, or He would not be righteous.

At the Last Judgment all of the sins of your life shall be brought forth.

“And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”
       (Revelation 20:12).

Christ said,

“That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment…and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known” (Matthew 10:26).

Since you have so many sins on your record,

How shall you clear yourself?
God has found out your iniquity!

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

That should be your question tonight! How can I clear myself? How can I stand before a just and holy God who has found out my iniquity? Spurgeon said,

When I was under conviction of sin I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin…became to me an intolerable burden…I knew myself to be so horribly guilty that I remember feeling that if God did not punish me for sin, He ought to do so. I felt that the judge of all the earth ought to condemn such sin as mine…I condemned myself to perish, for I confessed that, had I been God, I could have done no other than send such a guilty creature as I down to the lowest hell… The sin I had committed must be punished. But then there was the question how God could be just and yet justify me who had been so guilty (C. H. Spurgeon, “How Can a Just God Justify Guilty Man?” Chapel Library, Pensacola, Florida).

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

III. Third, it is not possible to clear yourself before God by doing good.

What if you could live a perfect life from now until the moment you die? What if you could stop all sin, both inward and outward, for the rest of your life? I don’t believe for a moment that you could do that. But what if you could never sin again – by word, thought or action? What if you could stop sinning now, and never sin again? How would that save you? The sins you have already committed are all recorded in God’s books in Heaven,

“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known” (Matthew 10:26).

“That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment…and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

“And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”
       (Revelation 20:12).

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

Job said,

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one”
       (Job 14:4).

That means the cleansing of your sin is not in your hands. It is something you cannot do. Nothing that you do or say can cleanse you. Our very text brings out that truth,

“How shall we clear ourselves?” (Genesis 44:16).

The answer is plain – you cannot clear yourself! You cannot “cleanse” yourself! If you could cleanse and clear yourself why did God send Christ to the Cross to clear you and cleanse you from sin? Why does the Bible say,

“Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood”? (Romans 3:24-25).

Not the labors of my hands
   Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
   Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
   Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
(“Rock of Ages” by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Nothing can clear your record and cleanse your sins from God’s books but the blood Jesus shed on the Cross. Come to Christ. Be cleansed from sin by His Blood before it is too late forever for you to do so.

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 20:11-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Rock of Ages” (by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).


THE OUTLINE OF

HOW SHALL WE CLEAR OURSELVES?

(SERMON #58 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“How shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16).

(Genesis 44:15)

I.   First, God will not clear the guilty, Exodus 34:7,
Psalm 50:21; II Chronicles 28:11; Isaiah 13:11; 33:14.

II.  Second, God is just when He judges sin, Deuteronomy 32:4;
Revelation 20:12; Matthew 12:36-37; 10:26.

III. Third, it is not possible to clear yourself before God by
doing good, Matthew 10:26; 12:36-37; Revelation 20:12;
Job 14:4; Romans 3:24-25.