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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 4, 2012

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

This proverb contrasts the life of the person who understands what God wants him to do with the way of life of the unconverted sinner. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “Good understanding gains favour with God and man [but] the way of sinners is rough and uneasy, and, for this reason, unpleasant to themselves...hard to the sinner himself, who can have little enjoyment of himself...The service of sin is perfect slavery, and the road to hell is strewed with thorns and thistles.” Dr. John Gill said, “But the way of transgressors is hard...unpleasant to themselves and others; it is a rough and rugged way, in which they stumble and fall; and cannot walk with pleasure themselves, when their consciences are awakened, and they are loaded with guilt, and filled with terror; and must be very disagreeable to those who have seen the evil of them.”

“The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

The best Christians may suffer greatly, but their hearts are full of hope. Pastor Wurmbrand spent 14 years in a Communist prison for preaching the Gospel. But he had peace in his heart, and he had favor with God. In the end he was highly respected as a great Christian. “But the way of transgressors is hard.” They may seem to be doing well for a while, but there is nothing in the future for them but tragedy and eternal suffering. Even in this life they have no inner peace. The Bible says, “The way of peace have they not known” (Romans 3:17). “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).

“The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

The unsaved sinner has no hope, and his life in this world, as Dr. Gill said, is “unpleasant,” “a rough and rugged way” to live.

I. First, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of bitterness.

A person starts out expecting to get happiness from sin. But the sweetness of sin turns to bitterness, and the transgressor finds out that sin never permanently satisfies. Finally he feels like Solomon, who said, “All was vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). A young person may say, “I’m going to get all the pleasure I can out of life.” But one day he finds that sin only brings misery and unhappiness.

I once knew a young man at the Chinese church. He was my friend. We spent a lot of time together. But he rebelled against Dr. Lin. He left our church and joined an extremely apostate church. He took his young wife with him. But gradually he became bitter and angry. His wife could hardly stand living with him. They divorced. He was never happy after that. Several years passed. I called him on the phone one day. He didn’t even seem like the same person. His voice sounded very hard and bitter. He was no longer the happy boy I once knew. He had stopped going to church altogether. We no longer had anything in common. He only said a few words to me on the phone. Another friend told me that he was consumed with bitterness. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

II. Second, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of hardness of heart.

A man hears the Gospel and the Holy Spirit convicts him of his sin and his need for Jesus. His eyes fill with tears, but he goes on in sin. At last his heart becomes so hard that he no longer feels the need for Jesus.

I knew a young Chinese man like that. He rejected Christ and left the church. I thought I would never see him again. Then one day, as I came out of a store, I heard a voice say, “Hello Bob.” I looked at him, but did not recognize him at first. His clothes were filthy and torn. His face was smudged with dirt. He was pushing a shopping cart, living on the street. This was a highly unusual way for a Chinese man to end up. I turned away in horror. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

III. Third, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of death.

The Bible says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). I once knew a young man who hardened his neck at the preaching. He left the church in anger, and went into a life of sin. One Sunday morning at 11:00 o’clock, right when I was in church, he dived off of a pier into the ocean. He did not realize that the water was only a foot or two deep. His head hit the bottom. It broke his neck. He was paralyzed from the head down, and died in a hospital cursing God. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

Rowland Hill, a famous British preacher, saw a herd of pigs follow a man to the slaughterhouse where they were all killed. Rowland Hill asked the man how he got the pigs to follow him. The man said, “I carry a basket of beans with me, and I drop a few as I walk along. The pigs follow the trail of beans, eating their way to the slaughterhouse.” Satan leads people to sin and to Hell in the same way, leading them along one sin at a time. Little sins lead a person along until it is too late to be saved.

IV. Fourth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to judgment.

Many people without Christ act as though they will never have to give an account of their lives to God. They go ahead in their sins, thinking that God will not bother them. But when they come to the end of their life they will come face to face with God. He knows all about them. He has a complete record of all the sins they have done, and said, and thought in this life. The Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

When I was attending Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, north of San Francisco, I had a friend named John Birch. He was an old army veteran, studying to be a chaplain. One afternoon John was driving down the freeway. The car in front of him had a tire blow out. The car lurched to the right, skidded off of the freeway, and plunged down a hill, flipping over several times before it stopped. John stopped his car on the edge of the freeway and ran down the hill to where the car was. The girl was still conscious. She had been cheating on her young husband, and had spent the afternoon with another man. John cradled her in his arms and looked down at her body. Her bowels had gushed out into John’s arms. Knowing she would be dead in a few seconds, he tried to lead her to Christ. But her mind was on her lover. She kept repeating his name. Although he tried, John could not get her to think about Jesus. She kept repeating her lover’s name as she sank into unconsciousness. By the time the paramedics got there she was dead, and her soul had already sunk down into the flames of Hell. The Bible says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

I saw John Birch come into our dormitory a few minutes later. His face was as white as a ghost. His hands were trembling. Although he had seen combat in Korea, he told me the death of that girl shook him to the core of his being. He said to me, “I couldn’t help her. I just couldn’t help her. She couldn’t have been more than twenty.” He was covered with blood from the girl’s bowels that had gushed out into his arms. The way of the sinner is the way to judgment. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

V. Fifth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to lose everything.

I knew a young man who thought he had it made. He owned a house. He had a big piece of property with horses and livestock. He had a nice wife and children. But he would not listen when I told him he needed Christ. He said, “To each his own, Robert. To each his own.” He told me that I had religion, but he had everything in life that he needed. “To each his own, Robert. To each his own.” I can still hear him saying that in my mind.

One day he came home from work early. He told his wife he had a pain in his shoulder, and he asked her to bring him a can of beer. She went to the kitchen to get it, but she heard a loud crash in the front room. When she came back, he was sprawled out on the floor – already dead from a massive heart attack. He was not yet fifty years old. When I heard about it I remembered what he told me when I tried to get him to trust Jesus, “To each his own, Robert. To each his own.” The Bible says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).

His wife became deeply depressed, and died from cancer a few years later. His children became involved with drugs and went to prison. Everything he owned was eaten up by them to buy drugs. I could not help but think, “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

VI. Sixth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to a misspent life.

The Bible says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Thinking back over my life I can remember so many who went wrong, who wouldn’t listen to the Bible, or the preacher, who thought they were smarter than God. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

I knew a young man who wouldn’t listen. He left the church unsaved. He told me he would be back, but somehow I knew he wouldn’t. A few weeks later the phone rang. His mother told me he had been killed in an alley. She asked me to perform his funeral. I went to the funeral parlor to perform the service. I walked up to his open casket. Half of his head had been blown away by a shotgun blast. The mortician had covered half of his head with a piece of plastic. I thought of that verse, “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

I knew a woman who told me repeatedly that she didn’t need to go to church, that she could practice her “religion” at home. One day her mind snapped.. She drank half a gallon of poison, and died a horrible, slow death. They asked me to perform her funeral. I could smell the awful stench of that poison seeping out of her coffin. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

What is the remedy for sin? There is only one remedy, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Turn away from your sins and come to Jesus. Confess your sin to Him and trust Him. He will cleanse your sin and give you a new life. Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He rose physically from the dead. He is there for you in Heaven. Come to Him by faith. He will save your soul and wash you clean with His precious Blood. I invite you to trust Jesus this morning and be saved.

We are going to sing an old hymn. While we sing, get out of your seat and go to the back of the room. We will take you to a quiet place to pray with you. Please go quickly while we sing. It’s number seven on your song sheet.

Just as I am, without one plea,
   But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
   O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not
   To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
   O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
   With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
   O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
(“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Proverbs 13:13-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Have You Counted the Cost?” (by A. J. Hodge, 1923).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

(Romans 3:17; Isaiah 57:21)

I.   First, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of bitterness,
Ecclesiastes 2:11.

II.  Second, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of hardness of heart,
Proverbs 13:15.

III. Third, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way of death, Proverbs 29:1.

IV. Fourth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to judgment,
Numbers 32:23; Proverbs 14:12.

V.  Fifth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to lose everything,
Proverbs 12:15.

VI. Sixth, the way of the unsaved sinner is the way to a misspent life,
Ezekiel 18:4; Proverbs 1:7; I John 1:7.