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HOW TO OVERCOME SIN IN THE CHURCH

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, July 21, 2019

“O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (I Kings 3:7).


The great King David had died. His son Solomon became the king of Israel. Solomon was only about 18 years old. He thought he couldn’t be a soldier for God. He knew nothing about being king. He told God, “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.” God answered his prayer and made him the wisest man in the world.

You need God’s help too. We are going to start a new church in the San Gabriel Valley. You may think, “I’m looking forward to that. Some day the moving people will come and take everything over there. Then I’ll go to the meetings there.” But that will not work. If we just move our church to another place, we will move our bad culture there as well. We won’t be any better than we were here. You’ve got to be better. You’ve got to be different. You’ve got to change.

How can you do that? Do you really know what to do? In a way, you do know. You need to be a good, strong Christian. You need a better culture. But can you do it? How do you do it? Isn’t it true that you don’t know how to do it? Haven’t you failed? You worked hard, but emotional and weird people didn’t stay. They wouldn’t control themselves and stay. And we’ve suffered terribly from church splits. Splits happened again and again. Be honest! You have a lot to learn. You don’t know what to do. Today I want to talk about two simple things you can learn.

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I. First, learn to be faithful in some things.

You can’t change everything. But you can change some things. Start by changing simple things. Jesus said,

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Christ said if you are faithful in small things, you will be faithful in big things. If you get used to doing small things right, it will help you to do big things right. The small things will become the door to the big things. Begin with the simple things of the Christian life. They really aren’t small, because they are important. But they are simple things that everyone can do. If you are faithful in them, it will change you. You will be different. You will have a better character. As a church, we will be different. We will have a better culture.

What are the simple things I’m talking about? Read the Bible every day. Meditate on it. Think about what you read. Pray every day. Come to the meetings in time to pray. Listen to the sermons. Take the sermon manuscripts home with you and read them. That’s what they’re for. When the pastor tells you something, listen to it and do it. If you do those things, you’ll go far.

Someone says, “I know all that. Tell me something deep.” My friend, after you trust Jesus, this is the deepest thing I can tell you. Being true and faithful is very deep. Most people don’t do it. If you learn to be faithful in the simple things, it will train you to be faithful in everything else.

People in the Army go through training. They learn to march. They learn to follow orders. After the training they are good soldiers. That kind of training works. The young men come in with all their problems. With a few months of training they are good soldiers. Even people who were rebellious rowdies can be good soldiers. When they get out, they can hold a job. They can be good citizens. Training works!

Think of the training in school. I know many schools aren’t good for much today. But they used to be better. The training there was more helpful than what people learned from books. What did they have to do? They had to go to class on time. They had to behave themselves. They had to do their homework. They got in trouble if they didn’t. They learned to study. They got bad grades if they didn’t. After this good training, you can handle school. You’ll be a good student. You’ll be a better person. You can keep a job. You can manage your time. It will help you to handle life.

Going to work gives you training. What do you do? Come to work on time. You’ll get fired if you don’t. Do your job. Do what your boss tells you. You’ll get fired if you don’t. That training makes you a good worker. It makes you a better person.

It’s the same with Christian training. It makes you into a good Christian. How does that happen? How do you do it? One meeting at a time. One prayer time, then another the next day. One Bible reading at a time. Listen to the pastor one sermon at a time. Do this day after day, week after week. You’ll become a fine Christian. What if you miss a day? Don’t give up. Go back and do it the next day! You can’t change the past, but you can do better tomorrow! Go back and do it again, and keep going back. You’ll become a good Christian!

How do you become a good soldier? Do what a good soldier does. How do you become a good student? Do what a good student does. How do you become a good worker? Do what a good worker does. Do it again and again. Make it your habit. How do you become a faithful Christian? Do what a faithful Christian does! Soon you will be a good and faithful Christian. You will be a better person. You will have a better character. If the people in the church do this, we will have a better culture. We will be a better church.

II. Second, learn to hate church splits and those who lead them.

We have been deeply hurt by church splits. It’s not enough that the latest split is over. It’s not enough that you didn’t follow the apostate Chan. It’s not enough that you didn’t go with him. After all, Chan didn’t go with Olivas, who led the split before him. But when the test came for Chan, he copied Olivas. He did exactly what Olivas did. He led a church split.

It’s not enough to survive a split. It’s not enough to stay. If that’s all you do, you will go on for a while until the next split comes. We must never have a split again. To do that, it’s not enough to stay. Our character and culture needs to change.

Can you change? Can our culture change? Absolutely! Even lost people can change if they are hit hard by their error. Even lost people can change – not just one person, but a nation – if they want to badly enough.

In ancient Israel, the people turned away from God. They worshipped idols. They served false gods. And the real God judged them by taking them away from their land into exile in Babylonia for seventy years. Then God brought them back. That experience of conquest and exile changed their culture. Now they hated idolatry. They never went into idolatry again. Were they converted? Not many of them were. But they never went into idolatry again. To this day the Jews never worshipped false gods. They never bowed down to idols. They turned from that sin as a people and never went back to it.

For two thousand years, the Jews were persecuted. They were persecuted by the Spanish. They were persecuted by the Russians. Many died in the persecutions there. Then they were persecuted by Hitler, who tried to kill every Jew in the world. The Jewish culture had always been quiet under persecution. They took the suffering. They did not fight back. They tried to live through it. When the Nazi persecution came, only a few fought back. Six million Jews got on board Hitler’s trains and were thrown into the gas chambers.

After that Holocaust, many Jews left Europe. In 1948 they founded the nation of Israel. There they were surrounded by enemies. But they decided they would never be wiped out. There would never be another Holocaust. It wasn’t enough that they lived through the last one. They didn’t say, “We lived through that. Now we’ll go back to our lives just as we did before.” No, they said, “Never again! Never again!” Israel built up an army. The Israelis have become a tough and courageous people. Military service is required for all men – and women. They fought their enemies again and again. They always won.

Were they a converted people? No, only a few of them were saved. But that Jewish culture changed. They were serious about staying alive. The experience of the Nazi Holocaust changed their mind. No more Holocausts. Never again!

And that can happen to us. It isn’t enough to stay when a split comes. You must say, “Never again! Never again! Never again!” The Jews did it, and so can you! Never again! Never again!

How do you do that? Learn to hate church splits, and those who lead them! The Apostle Paul said,

“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

The Greek word translated “accursed” is anathema. That word has come into the English language. The King James Bible says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema” (I Corinthians 16:22).

The word “anathema” means “cursed, rejected, cut off, detested, loathed, excommunicated, dedicated to condemnation.” It is the strongest word used to describe church discipline. If someone preaches another gospel, that man is accursed – anathema. He isn’t just wrong. He isn’t a dear and good person who made a mistake. The Bible says he is utterly despised, cut off, condemned. If someone doesn’t love Jesus Christ, he is anathema, accursed, cut off, condemned. The Bible says so.

Do you want to never have a split again? Then learn to hate it! Hate church splits and those who lead them! Take it seriously. Let it be anathema, cursed, cut off, condemned. It’s not enough to stay and wait for the next split. Hate that sin. Be disgusted with it. It almost destroyed us, just as Hitler almost destroyed the Jews. Remember the pain. Learn from the sorrow. Hate church splits and those who lead them. Let your suffering change our culture. Never again! Never again!

What is the key here? A few weeks ago I preached a sermon, “Do You Want What You Pray For?” I said the secret of prayer was simple. Do you want what you pray for? Do you want it? If you want something, you will feel your need. You will pray seriously. That’s the way to pray. If you don’t want something much, you won’t get it. If you just sit and see what happens, don’t expect to get it. It’s that simple.

That applies to school. If you don’t want to do well, you won’t study much and you won’t get good grades. It applies to work. If you don’t want to succeed, you won’t. That sounds simple. It is simple. But that is the key!

It applies to the simple things of the Christian life. If you sit in your chair and don’t care, you won’t do much. Do you care enough to read the Bible? Does prayer matter to you? Do you want what you pray for? Do you care about what’s in the sermons? If you do, you will listen to them. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s that simple.

And it applies to church splits. If you sit in your chair, we won’t end church splits. It’s not enough to sit there and say, “I stayed.” Do you really want to never have another split? Then hate that sin! Hate church splits and those who lead them! If you don’t want something much, you won’t get it. If you just sit and see what happens, you won’t get it. It’s not enough to say, “I didn’t go with them.” If you hate church splits, if you hate those who lead them, if you really want to never have a split – then you won’t have one! It’s that simple.

Now I must speak to those of you who are lost. You have not trusted Jesus, though He died on the Cross to pay for your sin and shed His Blood to wash your sin away. Let me apply this sermon to you.

First, do you care enough to do the simple things? Do you listen to the sermons? Do you read the sermons? Do you think about them? Do you pray for your soul? If not, don’t expect to be saved. I hope you will want to be saved enough to do these simple things.

Second, do you hate evil? Do you hate sin? I almost didn’t ask that question, because I know you don’t hate your evil. If you hated your evil, if you were disgusted with it, you would be close to conversion. But let’s face it, you don’t. What evil am I talking about? Why, the evil of your sin! The evil of your wicked heart! Will you go on being lazy, not caring about your wickedness? Or will you take a look at yourself and hate the evil you find there? If you do, you may trust Christ. If you trust Jesus, your sin will be washed in His Blood. You will be saved forever. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come and stand at the front of the room now. Amen.


THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO OVERCOME SIN IN THE CHURCH

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (I Kings 3:7).

I.    First, learn to be faithful in some things, Luke 16:10.

II.   Second, learn to hate church splits and those who lead them,
Galatians 1:9; I Corinthians 16:22.