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BREAKING THE CHAINS OF LONELINESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, July 13, 2014

“Woe to him that is alone” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).


According to Dr. Leonard Zunin, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, mankind’s greatest problem is loneliness. Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said, “The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness.” The Bible says, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The English poet John Milton reminded us that loneliness is the first thing which God said was not good.

And there is no place more lonely than a big city like Los Angeles. Herbert Prochnow said, “A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.” Mother Teresa, who lived in the slums of Calcutta, India said, “Loneliness is the most terrible type of poverty.” If that is true, Americans are among the most impoverished people on earth! Millions of people in Los Angeles are lonely. How about you? Do you ever feel that no one really cares – that no one really understands, or sympathizes with you?

I believe those psychiatrists, Dr. Zunin and Dr. Fromm, were right. I believe that loneliness is the greatest problem facing people today – especially in Los Angeles – and throughout the world. Many of you are bound with the chains of loneliness this morning! And I’m going to deal with the subject of loneliness in this sermon.

I. First, think of the loneliness of our culture and our nation.

With all of our advances in science and technology, we are much more lonely today than people were in past generations. On his sixty-fifth birthday the science fiction author H. G. Wells said, “I am lonely, and have never found peace.” That sad and lonely old man was an atheist and an enemy of Christianity.

Technology is behind much of our loneliness. Take television, for instance. Columnist Ann Landers said, “Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.” People put on the television hour after hour, or play video games for hours on end. We no longer sit down and have a meal together as friends or as a family. We have almost forgotten how to have a conversation. We are too busy watching TV or an iPad to talk to each other – on a meaningful level!

People plug a wire into their ears and pump music into their brains. They seal themselves into a car. One person per car. They “log on” to the computer – alone.

TV, computers, cars, cassettes – all of this technology – has not made us happier. It has made us more lonely. Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Video games create the worst form of loneliness for many young people today!

The Bible says, “Woe to him that is alone when he falleth: for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). And I believe that this is one of the main reasons that many young people turn to drugs. They are lonely. Others turn to a gang – where they try to find companionship that they didn’t feel in a dysfunctional family. Others go out and party on Friday and Saturday night – seeking to overcome their loneliness. But somehow it doesn’t work. The gang doesn’t stay together. The party ends – and you go home – alone again.

Selfishness prevents people from forming lasting relationships. The Bible says:

“In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous…without natural affection, trucebreakers…traitors…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:1-4).

That passage of Scripture was given as a prophecy of our lonely time – and it explains why so many people are lonely.

“Lovers of their own selves.” You cannot be close to others if you have a supreme love only for yourself. “Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Face it! Many have a selfish love of pleasure and no love of God! Are you like that? Are you selfish to the core? Selfishness is the very essence of sin – you loving yourself, not God. In your self-love, you rebel against God. You push God out of your thoughts. And you are cursed by loneliness as a result. You may never know the love of God. You may go on without a lasting friend in the world. The Bible says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). If you are not friendly, you will have no real friends. That is the sad plight of the lost and lonely, godless people in our time.

That’s why you need to arrange your hours of work so you don’t have to work during church. You need God! You need the friends you will make at church more than any amount of money you might make working on Sundays.

Nothing can cure your loneliness but Christ and the local church! You must surrender to Christ, and be cleansed from your sin by His Blood! Then you must come into this local church and make lasting friends here! Why be lonely? Come home – to church!

The Bible tells us this about the early Christians:

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [their food] with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

That’s why being in church kept them full of “gladness of heart” – and kept them from loneliness. They were in church every time the door was open. Follow their example! Come back here next Sunday! Come all the way in to the full fellowship of our church! It will cure your loneliness! Christ will break the chains of loneliness! Come into this church and surrender your heart to Christ!

II. Secondly, think about the loneliness of death.

The Bible tells us that Jacob said:

“My son shall not go down with you [to Egypt]; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone…” (Genesis 42:38).

Someday your relatives will die also – and you will be left alone.

Death is a terrible thing – and it strikes everyone – including you. And death can leave you very lonely and very depressed. You may very well come to the place where you say,

“I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top”
       (Psalm 102:7).

You can feel as lonely as a bird – alone on the roof of a house – alone, with no one to turn to!

God sent an angel to free Peter when he was bound in prison. The angel said, “Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7). That is what will happen to you when you come to Christ and are converted. The chains of the bondage of death will fall off – and you will be free. Christ came

“…that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver [set free] them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

As Charles Wesley put it:

My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
   (“And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

The chains of the loneliness of death will fall off of you when you truly come to Christ!

III. Thirdly, think about the loneliness of Hell.

The Bible tells us of a rich man who was not a Christian. He died and went to Hell. The Bible says:

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off…And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23-24).

In Hell he was obsessed with the thought of having a little water to cool his parched mouth. But he was all alone in Hell. He had no one to help him. He cried out for someone to come and bring him a few drops of water.

This man’s agony shows the utter loneliness of Hell. Your friends, if they are in Hell also, will not be able to help you any more than his former friends could help relieve his suffering. They will be separated from you in the gloom and darkness and fire. You will be all alone, like he was, tormented forever in loneliness.

Only Jesus Christ can tear the chains of Hell from you! And He can only do that now – while you are still alive. If you wait until after you die, it will be everlastingly too late. Come to Christ now – and you will sing,

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servant free,
That we may live and sing to Thee. Alleluia!
   (“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

Death cannot keep his prey – Jesus my Saviour!
He tore the bars away – Jesus my Lord!
   (“Christ Arose” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

The lonely chains of Hell are broken forever if you turn fully to Jesus Christ! Come to Him! Come out of sin! Come into the church! The chains of loneliness in Hell will be broken for you by Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

IV. Then, fourthly, think of the loneliness of Christ.

Christ was often alone during His ministry on earth. The Bible says:

“When he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).

Great crowds of people followed Jesus, but He often went away to be alone with God – far from the crowd. But He often said, “The Father hath not left me alone” (John 8:29). During His ministry on earth, God was always close to Jesus. But they took Him and beat Him, and put a crown of thorns on His head, and mocked Him. They dragged Him up a hill and nailed Him to a cross. And as He was dying on that cross, God departed from His only begotten Son. And Jesus cried out:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [Why have you left me?]” (Matthew 27:46).

In this awful moment Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was left alone on the Cross. He was completely alone. God turned away from His beloved Son – and Christ bore our sins all by Himself – alone on that Cross. Luther was a great theologian, but he said he could not fully understand this or explain it in human terms.

God cannot even look upon sin – so God turned away while Jesus “bare our sins in his own body on the tree [on the cross]” (I Peter 2:24). That’s why Jesus is the only one who can break the chains of sin that bind you in a sinful, lonely, lost condition. Christ can save you from the penalty of sin because He bore your sins alone on that Cross!

It was alone the Saviour prayed In dark Gethsemane,
Alone He drained the bitter cup And suffered there for me.
Alone! Alone! He bore it all alone.
He gave Himself to save His own,
He suffered, bled, and died alone, alone.
   (“Alone” by Ben H. Price, 1914).

Christ died alone on the Cross to save you from the loneliness that sin brings to a human soul. He died in your place, to pay for your sin. Christ can break the chains of sin because He went to His death on the Cross for you! Turn to Jesus fully and you will be set free from the guilt of sin!

V. But fifthly, think of the loneliness of conversion.

You will not be converted to Christ by me. I am only an instrument – a preacher – to point you in the right direction – toward Christ – like the evangelist in Pilgrim’s Progress. But you must find Christ by yourself. You must go to Jesus alone. What a perfect picture we have of the loneliness of conversion in the salvation experience of Jacob:

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

The “man” who wrestled with Jacob that night was the preincarnate Christ, who came in the darkness to Jacob when he was alone.

Like some of you, Jacob did not yet know Christ personally. In that lonely hour he wrestled with Christ all night. And you, too, will have to come to Jesus all by yourself. You see, I can’t convert you. I can’t make you become a real Christian. That is between you and Christ alone.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. But you must “give in” to Christ. You must yield to Christ. You must not listen to your proud and rebellious heart. You must fall at the feet of Christ as a helpless sinner. You must yield to Him, and put your trust in Him completely. He will change your heart! He will break the chains of sin! He will wash away your sin with His Blood!

If you would like to speak with us about surrendering to Christ and becoming a real Christian, please leave your seat and walk to the back of the room now. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can talk. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone would trust Christ this morning.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ecclesiastes 4:8-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ten Thousand Angels” (by Ray Overholt, 1959).


THE OUTLINE OF

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF LONELINESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Woe to him that is alone” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

(Genesis 2:18)

I.   First, the loneliness of our culture and of our nation, Ecclesiastes 4:10;
II Timothy 3:1-4; Proverbs 18:24; Acts 2:46-47.

II.  Second, the loneliness of death, Genesis 42:38; Psalm 102:7;
Acts 12:7; Hebrews 2:14-15.

III. Third, the loneliness of Hell, Luke 16:23-24.

IV. Fourth, the loneliness of Christ, Matthew 14:23; John 8:29;
Matthew 27:46; I Peter 2:24.

V.  Fifth, the loneliness of conversion, Genesis 32:24.