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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, June 21, 2014

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

This passage in Ecclesiastes tells us that good and bad things happen to both righteous and wicked people. It also tells us to enjoy life, in spite of the reality of death. But now let us go directly to the text.

I. First, “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil.”

The commentator Charles Bridges (1794-1869) gave a very clear picture of what that tells us about the heart of the human race.

The heart is described to be evil – yea, full of evil – evil habitual – deliberate – unmingled – even from the fountain-head. Stand before the mirror! How hard to believe one’s self so vile as here pourtrayed! And yet, when under the deep teaching of the Spirit of God, how can one reject the confession – “Behold! I am vile,” (Job xl:4)...there can be no exaggeration or mistake. It is God – the Great Searcher of the heart – he who alone knows it – it is he that writes, and draws the picture. – Nay, he gives a list of the enormities of evil – pouring out of the heart – defiling every member of the body – every faculty of the soul. Nor is the picture confined to any particular age or nation. It is the heart of the sons of men – the history of every child of man in his natural unconverted state. All men are shut up in the same prison – the blinded captives of sin! Can there be a more humiliating picture of man? (Charles Bridges, M.A., Ecclesiastes, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998 edition, p. 214).

Indeed, many other verses in the Bible describe the fact that unconverted men and women are in this condition, for “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil.” Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Lord Jesus Christ said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:19).

George Whitefield (1714-1770) was the greatest evangelist of all time in the English language. Billy Graham did no good for our churches! Billy Graham only sent a few scraggly lost people to our churches. But George Whitefield's preaching ushered in the First Great Awakening, and filled the churches with truly converted people by the thousands! I am paraphrasing Whitefield from his sermon, “The Holy Spirit Convincing the World.” He said,

      It is always the Holy Spirit who brings inward soul trouble, a feeling of hopelessness and trouble in your heart.
      Generally He convicts of some great sin you committed. This is the method the Holy Spirit usually uses with sinners. He first convinces them of some terrible sin, and then brings all their other sins into remembrance. Did your sins ever appear before you like this? If not, you have never been convicted or converted! You are still lost!
      My friend, have you ever experienced conviction about your sinful heart? Were you ever made to feel that there is no good thing in you? Did you ever feel that you are a sinner by nature? Did these sins ever feel horrible to you? If not, you are still lost. You have never been converted. You have never been awakened or convicted. You are still lost.

One Chinese boy in our church had this experience. He said,

      I suddenly came under very heavy conviction of sin. The verse, “My sins are ever before me,” was very much a reality to me. All that was on my mind was how I had sinned against a holy God. Everything I did was like filthy rags in His sight. The amount of conviction I had over my sins was almost overwhelming. It was difficult to think of anything else except my sins. My conviction was so great that the only thing I could think of was that I had to be saved from my sins.

Another Chinese boy said,

From then on I knew there was something wrong with me. I knew I was a corrupted sinner. No matter how hard I tried I still could not change myself. After hearing many sermons, I finally realized that I was a fallen sinner. My sins were so clear to me that I felt like I was the person who killed Jesus. Kneeling down crying in front of Jesus’ cross, I still would not come to Him. Often I felt that I was hopeless, that maybe I was not one of God’s chosen.

Have you been under conviction of sin like this? Have you ever felt that your heart was sinful and dead to God? Have you ever felt there was no hope in you? As Whitefield said, “If not, you are still lost.” You are not a Christian.

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

II. Second, “madness is in their heart while they live.”

Listen again to the classical commentator Charles Bridges, as he speaks on this section of the text, “and madness is in their heart while they live,”

[Man] rushes on to madness [insanity] – responsible madness – the will consenting to sin – the heart loving it – Let the sinner think a moment. Is not every act of rebellion against God an act of madness? For “Who hath hardened himself against God, and hath prospered?” (Job 9:4). His choice of worldly instead of heavenly things shows his loss of understanding. It is the maniac throwing away his gold, and preferring straw to pearls. You see a man in miserable error and false thinking – tricked by deception. – What else but “madness in their hearts” could drive them onward to self-destruction? What worse madness is human nature capable of? Fleeing from God – from mercy – from heaven – serving the devil – living under the curse of God, and at the edge of eternal damnation. Madness is in their hearts while they live. They continue on this way to the end.

Listen to the madness, the spiritual insanity, that some of our people had before they were saved. One of our young people said,

I continued to wrestle against Christ, wanting to continue in my ambitions, greed and sins. [I knew] my ambitions were all wrong [yet] I turned away from Christ again and again. I went on in emptiness, still clinging to my independence and rebellion, without Christ, without salvation, without any real hope in my life.

Insanity! What is that if not madness in the heart? Another person said,

Instead of believing in Jesus, I kept looking for feelings and assurance. I kept on doing this, over and over.

Isn’t that madness? Another person said,

As I listened to Dr. Hymers preaching, my mind would fuzz out and I would always think of something else.

Madness! Spiritual insanity! Yet again he said,

When I came to the inquiry room, I would try to think of something to say, by remembering the sermon, and say some words...I did not want to think about my own sins, but about someone else’s sins, or someone else’s conversion [so I could copy it].

More madness! More insanity in the heart! Then one said,

I tried to fix my own problems. It was my excuse for not coming to Jesus.

“Madness is in their heart while they live”! A young woman said,

Instead of striving for Christ, I was looking for a feeling of salvation, or some kind of “experience” to prove my faith. You have this feeling, and that experience and then you are “saved.” I kept doing this over and over, even though the counsellors told me it would never work.

More madness in the heart!

Have you ever had such insane thoughts? Then, I ask you, have they helped you? And if they have not helped you, why go on and on thinking the same thoughts over and over? Is it not insane to do so?

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

III. Third, “and after that they go to the dead.”

Commentator Bridges said,

Madness is in their hearts while they live. And yet more awful is the thought that they continue this way to the end. After that they go to the dead. – Alas! Not to the “blessed dead that die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13). These poor thoughtless sinners pour into hell, the regions of dark despair – in the world of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13). Awful beyond thought or conception is the immortality of hell. What a wondrous power of mercy and grace there must be in the Gospel – that can hide a sinner from such hopeless ruin, and bring him into salvation (ibid., p. 216).

The only way to escape is through Christ’s death on the Cross, to atone for your sins, and cleansing of your sins with Christ’s Blood. One young man in our church said,

The preaching of the gospel became clear to me – that salvation is from the Lord Jesus Christ. I believed that Jesus came to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for all my sins. I came to Jesus as a wretched sinner with no hope in myself, but my hope was now in Jesus Christ. The most important thing to me was coming to Jesus and my sins being washed away by His Blood. I trusted in His Blood.

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

Listen to Dr. John Sung as he tells about his conversion. He went on to become the most important evangelist in China. Here is how he got saved,

      “The world seemed altogether vanity and life only trouble and heart was filled with the deepest unhappiness.”
      That night he could not sleep as he thought about the emptiness of worldly wisdom and human ability...But Dr. Sung’s heart had still not found peace. Dr. Sung said, “The heavy burden of my soul was heavier until I got to the point where I had no desire to live.”
      Then on the evening of February 10th light broke into his darkened soul. He saw all the sins of his life spread out before him. At first it seemed that there was no way to get rid of them and that he must go to Hell. He tried to forget his sins, but he could not. They pierced his very heart. He found his Bible and read the story of Christ’s death on the Cross. In his mind he stood in front of the Cross and pleaded with Jesus to be washed from all his sins by the Precious Blood. He continued weeping and praying. Then suddenly all his load of sin seemed to fall from his shoulders. He leaped to his feet with a shout of “Hallelujah!” Forgetting that it was midnight and others were sleeping, he rushed out into the halls of the dormitory, shouting and praising God for deliverance from sin!
      His only desire now was to witness for Christ. He began to speak to everyone he met, urging them with tears to come to Christ. Songs of joy filled his mouth and praises overflowed from his lips. He was a transformed personality. (Adapted from Leslie T. Lyall, John Sung, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1965 edition, pp. 31-35).

I will end this sermon by quoting a few sentences from a young woman in our church regarding the night she was converted. She said,

      I felt Christ was speaking to me, calling me to come to Him. That night Dr. Hymers strongly rebuked the lost for playing with Almighty God. I sat in my seat, shaking with fear. I knew that was me. Like a spoiled child I had despised and scorned God’s love and mercy, and worst of all, I had rejected His Son, Jesus. Then Dr. Hymers spoke about the love of God. As he spoke I realized that the misery, the hopelessness of life, the cold emptiness of the world, the crushing weight of sin – was all because God loved me and was humbling me to see my need for Jesus. I went to the inquiry room and a wall of sin seemed to rise in front of me, the awful sins I committed, the wickedness and blackness of my heart, the evil thoughts of my mind, and the endless rejection of Jesus. My sin was like a bottomless ocean. I couldn’t take it any more. I had to have Christ! I had to have His Blood! I got on my knees and trusted Jesus, Himself. God freed me from my idols of feeling, psychoanalysis, and desire for assurance. By the grace of God I let them go and collapsed into the waiting Saviour. Instead of hanging back from Jesus in cowardly fear, afraid of another false conversion, or making a mistake, or checking my feelings, looking within myself, groping in the darkness as I always did before, I looked to Christ by faith. There He was! The living Christ! He saved me. He washed away my sins with His precious Blood. He took the heavy burden of sin away! Jesus absorbed the wrath of God that should have been poured out on me. He pardoned me and forgave all my sin. My record was stamped “NOT GUILTY” with His own Blood...Now my heart swells with joy and gratitude when I hear sermons about Jesus. I can only say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).

All of these testimonies, except that of Dr. John Sung, were from young people in our own church. All of them, including Dr. Sung, would tell you that their hearts were full of evil, and madness was in their hearts – until God deeply convicted them of sin – until they could no longer stand their sin – and only then were they drawn to Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Have you felt any of the conviction of sin that they had? Are you sick and tired of living under a horrible cloud of your own sin? Then go to the inquiry room now and trust Jesus. What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6.



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

I.   First, “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil,” Ecclesiastes 9:3a;
Job 40:4; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19.

II.  Second, “madness is in their heart while they live,” Ecclesiastes 9:3b;
Job 9:4.

III. Third, “and after that they go to the dead,” Ecclesiastes 9:3c;
Revelation 14:13; Matthew 22:13; Romans 3:24, 25;
II Corinthians 9:15.