Being Prepared for God Part II
Three Sins that Keep Us Away from God
By Rev. Fr. P. M. Joseph
A Sermon delivered on 10/10/99
We were talking about being prepared to meet God last week. The question one may ask is prepared for what and when?
We do not know the exact time and hour when Jesus is coming back. If we knew that, we would have waited at that time. Unfortunately, Jesus makes it very clear that no one knows the time, although there are signs.
Revelation 3:20 narrates beautifully the dilemma Facing God and the opportunity we have:
Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup (fellowship) with him, and he with me.
Picture Christ waiting at the door knocking at the door of mans heart. He does not force His entrance, but leaves it to the individual to invite Him to come in.
When someone knock at the door, we need to open the door and invite the person into your house. Then only you can benefit from his visit. If you dont, you can miss the opportunity. (For example, let us assume that President Clinton comes to your house and knocks at the front door. Will you open the door? You will, if you know it is President Clinton. If you dont know, you may refuse to open the door and miss out on the chance to visit with the president. The Gods arrival can be illustrated similarly. Since we do not know when He is coming, we do not know when someone knocks at the door who it is. We can miss up on the whole experience. In my last sermon, I talked about doing good things to those in needy and that it counts as well as that you have done to God. The lesson here is that never miss an opportunity to do something good and earn merits with him.)
I still remember vividly a picture I have seen in my childhood. It is scene I could not make sense of till I came to this country and saw snow. The scene was a night on a cold, wintry night. Snow is falling profusely outside. A severely injured man walks to the front of the house and knocks at the door. The path he has taken is imprinted on the snow with marks of blood.
Jesus talked about a parable where a friend goes and knocks at the door. The home-owner answers the door, saying that he has already gone to bed with the kids and he cannot get up to help him. The person keeps asking him to help him. "I am injured. I cannot take another step. I will bleed myself to death. I am seriously sick." Most people at this point of time will get up and will open the door and welcome the person into the house and take care of him.
In the picture and story that I saw depicted, the person inside refused to get out of bed in spite of the pleading from the stranger at the door. He even reminded him that the roles could easily be changed at some time in the future. He could be the one who is sick.
In the morning, when the home owner opened the door, he saw blood all around the front door. The sick man was nowhere in sight. However, the home owner still did not grasp the significance of his loss. His heart was hardened against receiving the lord and his mercy and grace.
Mr. Holman Hunt has painted a beautiful picture of Christ knocking at the hearts door. (This verse in bible has inspired many artists to paint their interpretation of the scene.) He showed this picture to a friend one day and asked him, "what do you think?"
"It is a beautiful picture, but I think you have forgotten something," said the friend. "There is no latch on the door."
Mr. Hunt replied, "Ah, my friend, you have missed the point of the picture. The man at the door is the Lord Jesus Christ. The door is the entrance to the human heart and the latch is on the inside. Unless the one on the inside opens the door, Jesus will never come in."
In Luke, Jesus made it very clear that no servant can follow two masters. At some point he has to choose between the masters. Similarly, we have to choose between God and satan.
There are three things that keeps us away from choosing God.
They are :
Lust of Flesh
Jesus often referred to Pharisees as greedy. They love the world and the pleasures the world has to offer them. Jesus says that they cannot do what is pleasant to God because what is comfortable in this world may be standing in the way of their reaching the ultimate salvation. Jesus refers to Pharisees many times in the scriptures as not worthy of the kingdom of God. Remember the man who comes to Jesus and said that he follows all the commandments and is ready to receive Jesus. When Jesus asked him to go sell everything and follow him, he return, dejected and disgusted. He loved his money too much to make that last step required to be taken to reach the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:18-27). We will discuss this further next week.
So, the first factor that keeps us away from God is our love for money and material things in life. This is called Lust of Flesh.
Pride of Life and Self Justification
In Luke 18-9-14, Jesus talked about two persons who went to pray.
"Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous Pharisee, and the other a cheating tax collector. The proud Pharisee "prayed" this prayer: "Thank God, I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I dont commit adultery, I go without food twice a week, and I give to God a tenth of everything I earn."
But the corrupt tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed, but beat upon his chest in sorrow, exclaiming, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home forgiven! For the proud shall be humbled, but the humble shall be honored."
So what is wrong here? The Pharisee is doing all self-justification. I am better than everyone else. I am doing all the right things. I deserve to be in heaven.
The sinner, on the other hand, felt that he does not even deserve to stand in front of God. He did not want to look at Heaven. Because he knew that he was a sinner and he want forgiveness. He is sorry that he did wrong. He is willing to accept the penance for his sinful ways.
God has granted the request of the sinner. He was forgiven. The Pharisee wasted his opportunity because of his self righteousness and lust of pride.
Lust of Eyes
This is the third of the cardinal sins. One of the main reason for the divorces is the lust of eyes.
These three sins were illustrated in the fall of Man from paradise.
The same sins that kept man from paradise is keeping us everyday from reaching God or answering him when He is continually knocking at the door of our heart.
Do you hear Jesus knocking. Listen. Are you going to answer Him. To do that we need to confess all our sins and plead for his mercy and grace like the tax collector did.
Dont let the material things and the three sins keep us from opening our heart to Jesus. We may not get a second chance. We do not when He is coming.
Jesus can only enter a mind that is pure, free from all the sins, pure like a freshly fallen snow.
Are We Paralyzed?
In John 5:2-14, we are told about a sick man waiting for his turn in the Bethesda Pool near Sheep Gate. He had been waiting there for 38 years hoping to go down into the water right after the angel has disturbed the water, so that he can be healed. He had no one to help him to get into the water. By the time he manages to get down, someone else would go in front of him and he loses his opportunity. Jesus saw the plight of the man and he healed him from his misery. He told him to take his bed and walk and do not sin any more.
If we look at this story closely, we realize that we are also sick like this man. We are tied up by our sins.
We need to confess our sins. We need to become one in Jesus self-surrender. We have to trust that He can heal us of our sins.
Jesus is calling us. My son/daughter, come to me. I can heal you. It does not matter how sick you are (how big your sins are).
But we need to answer His call. We need to hear His knocking on the door of our heart.
Dont close our hearts. Accept him. Receive Him. Mercy and Grace will follow.
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