When the Past Becomes the Present
When the Past Becomes the PresentNumbers 32:23: ". . . be sure your sin WILL find you out."
From the Book of Esther we have the story recorded of a man named Haman who found our text to be very true! Haman, jealous of the standing of Mordecai, prepared a gallows some 75 feet high upon which to have Mordeca.i hanged. BUT his plan backfired. The scripture records (Esther 7:10): "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai." Haman died on the very gallows that he himself had made for someone else If he could stand before us today with a repentant heart1 he would say, "Be sure your sin will find you out."
This is what Paul had in mind when he penned what is recorded in Galatians 6:7, 8: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." He goes on to declare: "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit life everlasting." Consider the act of
Sowing in the Past
We go back to the Garden of Eden, where, some 6,000 years ago, was sown the seed of sin. Once dropped, it has nEver been halted; and because of its once having been sown, we are reaping it today.
With every swing of our arm, a seed is sown; and once gone, it cannot be recovered; it is gone, gone forever! We actually sow in the past, because after the seed is sown, with the next tick of the clock, then that sown seed is IN the past.
Every act that we do is a seed, in one sense of the word, and may I purposely repeat that when it is sown, it is gone. A lady came to her minister to confess a particular sin of gossiping across the back fence. She was seemingly very sorry and wanted to know what could be done. The reply was to go home, get a bag of thistle seed, and return—which she did. Then the instructions were to walk around the block throwing the seeds to right and left, and then return, at which time she was directed to- go back and pick up every single seed. The woman thereupon exclaimed, "Why, it can’t be done!"
So it can’ti Every time we sow the seed, it is gone. Once it falls from our lips or hands, it is gone, and it has immediately taken root in the soil life of an individual, sometimes unknown to us, There is no recovery, no matter how sorry one may be. The only thing possible is to wait and reap that which has been sown.
The prophet Hosea once cried, "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. . . "(8:7). And, there should be some "Amens" on this verse taken from Proverbs 11:18: "The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward." Both have their rewards; the wicked, the whirlwind; the righteous shall receive their reward on this earth in some measure, but in ample measure in the world to come—thus saith the Lord.
Sowing in the past. Do you know the many types of seeds one sows? Instead of my saying what not to sow, here’s something in the positive manner. There are many that we could cite, some calling for a price, but I immediately think of one particular seed that does not cost one cent. That is a smile. I am told that it takes 65 muscles to frown, and only 13 to smile. Think of it: fewer muscles, less effort to smile than to frown. But my point is that a smile is a seed!
Someone once said concerning a smile, "It costs nothing but saves much; it enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give; it happens in a flash, and the memory of it lasts forever. . . . A smile is a rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sick, and nature’s best antidote for trouble. it cannot be bought, borrowed or stolen; for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone until it is given away." You know that nothing created by God can smile, except man. And you have in your potentials the seed to smile. Sow it for the glory of the Lord. Psalm 35:9: "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord."
As a Christian, there are unnumbered things to be thankful for! I am sure that if many realized how despondent they look when wearing a frown, they would change that frown to a smile. if we are conscious of it, we can make the necessary correction.
The other day I was in my car, waiting for the traffic light to change, when I happened to look in the rear-view mirror and saw this guy frowning "to beat everything." The guy was myself. Quickly I looked over to my left, and the character in the other car, also waiting for the light to change, was "dragging his face." I looked to the right, and a woman looked very disgusted while waiting for a bus. I thought I would undettake an experiment. I stared a few seconds until he looked over at me, then I shot a big smile and gave a little wave, and lo and behold! he returned it—his car just began to glow. Then the woman: I looked to my right and smiled; perhaps she wanted to slap me at first, but then she too smiled. That smile could easily have gone around the world.
You would be surprised at the good that a little smile will do. It is a seed, so sow it in the life soil of an individual; and, so far as you know, the chain may even reach around the world. It’s not impossible. I challenge you to plant this seed before you go from here tonight.
May I submit just one other seed that is sown—that is the seed of the Gospel in winning another soul to the Lord. . . the seed of being concerned over a lost one—in the family, next door or across town. Sow that seed, the seed of the Gospel, the seed of a track, or of a personal testimony; and by your sowing and the Lord watering, you, or someone else, may reap, but you are credited for sowing. Isaiah records in 32:20: "Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass." And from the Book of Psalms (126:5):"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
Yet, the average Christian has never experienced the truth of this verse. If you sow the Gospel, in whatever form you choose, you have thq promise that nothing will return unto the Lord in vain. But many times you have found the secret that is recorded in the verse just read. Sometimes one has to weep over a lost one, really cry, but there is nothing wrong with weeping. Was it not our Master who wept over Jerusalem? How many of us have wept over the lost in our city, our community, our own family? Every time I recall this verse about sowing in tears, reaping in joy, it brings to mind the very next verse: He that goeth forth and weepeth, beareth precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Is this not a glorious promise? It is our promise as we sow in the past.
How true is the Scripture concerning this idea of sowing in the past, as Paul penned: "But this I say, he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." The scripture is so obvious: If one sows a lot he is going to reap much; on the other hand, if he plants only two or three seeds, he will not reap very much; as Paul puts it, he will reap sparingly. The same is true when this physical instance is applied to the spiritual.
As I said earlier, with every tick of the clock, the tick of this instant is placed into the past, thereby projecting us into the present. On this basis, there is an act of no return. Be careful not to misunderstand me at this point. Actually, speaking in terms of salvation, it is never too late so long as• one is consciously alive. But in the principle of the seed, there is a point of no return in this respect: once the seed is planted, it begins to germinate; and it cannot be removed as a seed as such.
I would suggest, then, that we establish these facts: (1) one must be careful that that which he or she is planting is where it is wanted; (2) one must be careful that it is what is wanted; and (37 one must be careful that it is what the Lord wants. This brings us to consider
Living in the Present
Now, many people recognize this fact, much as the woman who went to the minister did. It is only when there is this recog. nition that forgiveness can come. God, being true and just, will forgive us for our past sins (this sowing in the past) if with true repentance we turn to Him for forgiveness. God will forgive, even though oftentimes the scars remain.
Still, many there are who refuse to recognize their sin. They think that because they are clever in concealing their transgression, it is never apparent to the general public. They resemble the ostrich with his head in the sand: because it is not seeing, it thinks it is not seen. May I remind you, if you should fall into this class, that the Word of the Lord declares: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).
It is only in the present that we can do something about our sin problem, for this is the only time that we are assured. We have no promise of the future: only the second that is now, this moment!
It would behoove us to recognize our sins as others do, and not be like the ostrich in our mode of thinking, for others do know your sins. "Ye shall know them by their fruits," we are told.
For one to recognize sin, one must first know what sin is. We have no trouble when we turn to the Bible and find contained therein clear statements concerning sin. We read in Romans 14:23: "For whatsover is not of faith is sin." Before we go fur- there, can you answer to your satisfaction the question of just what sin is? Just what IS sin? "The thought of foolishness is sin" (Proverbs 24:9). John records in I John 3:4: "For sin is the trangression of the law." This is a good answer. Once again, "For sin is the trangression of the law." The brother of Jesus declared, as recorded in James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
This, then, is sin! It is a sin to let the weeds grow around our faith! Above all, not to upho’d the law of God is sin. All of this culminates when one passes into the age of accountability, knowing to do good, and doing it not.
It is now, yea, by our living in the present, that we have the opportunity to repent—FOR sin will bring its judgment. This was true in the beginning of time. It was because of sin that God destroyed the WORLD. It is because of sin that, according to II Peter 3:10, the world will be destroyed again, this time by fire. This brings out the judgment on the world because of sin. May we then narrow it down to the NATIONS. History proves that it has been because of sin that nations have reaped their sowing and have experienced a downfall. To turn to the pages of the Bible, we find this portrayed of such countries as Babylon, Assyria and Persia.
To bring it down to a more familiar time, we are mindful of the downfall of Rome and Germany— their downfall has been because of sin. My question is, will America fall because of sin? Will you be a contributor to the downfall of America? It has been said that God is no respecter of a flag, and certainly he is no respecter of the American flag in particular. He is a respecter of the hands that uphold the flag. This brings us down to the INDIVIDUAL and the ultimate consequence of sin bringing its judgment. That of which we speak now is when the past becomes the present for the individual. Again the words of Paul: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Don’t think you can fool God: He can neither be deceived nor mocked. We reap what we sow. Our sin cries out against us, every one of us. From the writings of Isaiah: "For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our own sins testify against us."
This brings us to the idea of
Reaping in the Future
which every individual must face. The Word of God declares in many instances the proven fact: whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap. From the writings of the Proverbs we see: "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity" (22:8). This is brought out in the following three citations:
1. If you sow a drink, you are going to reap a drunkard. This cannot be denied by anyone who considers the facts. It is something that cannot be always controlled. The tragic thing is that there are many Christians who drink. A great evangelist of another centory said, "If the church members would quit thinking, half of the bars would be shut down to start with." It is therefore up to the individual who speaks the name of Christ to take a stand in this matter. I am remindçd of a certain liquor campaign which was had, to vote the striving city in the South dry, yet failed—simply because Christian people refused to go to the polls to vote. It is up to God’s people to take a stand for that which is against the principle of a holy and eternal God! If one sows a think, he will reap a drunkard, making real the scripture "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap." And particularly our text. "Be sure your sin (of drinking) will find you out."
2. If one Sows forms of gambling, he will reap a gambler. Although many may disagree with this, statistics point out that nine out of ten professional gamblers come from Christian homes. Before one enters this field, it is time to stop and, as the prophet Haggai said, "consider your ways." It is time to seek the Lord. Listen to the words of Hosea, Chapter 10:12: "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord."
3. If you sow profanity you will reap profanity. Job of old declared, "Even as I have seen, they that sow iniquity (profanity) and sow wickedness, reap the same." Job said that "by the blast of God they perish." You know this to be true: they shall reap what they sow. I am persuaded that if many users of profanity would stop to realize what they were asking, they would be more careful. I have heard parents "damn" their own children. Do they mean it? It were better to fall on their knees and ask God for His forgiveness while there is still time.
Many have control over their sins now, but the Lord says that a time will come when that sin will have control over them. This is brought out in the following very old story, yet very modern in scope:
It seems that night after night, under the floodlights, amid the cheers of the crowds, a certain trainer çntered a very large glass cage, the people being spellbound as they watched him give a peculiar sound, it being the signal to a tremendous cobra to approach and slowly coil itself around the man, An. other signal caused the snake to uncoil and return to its corner. The same act was performed repeatedly but one night, before an unusually large crowd, something went wrong. The crowd was motionless as the huge snake made its way toward its trainer, slowly coiling around him. When the signal for release was given, just the reverse happened; tighter and tighter became the coils. The trainer soon fell in a lifeless heap—dead! The man who once was the master of the snake had become the vittim. The servant had become the master, and the master the servant. Although you think that you can master your sin, thus saith the Lord, that there will come that time when that sin will master you. "Be sure your sins will find you out."
This principle goes for all sowing, good or bad. Sow to the Spirit, reap of the Spirit eternal life; and when you sow in the other direction, not only you, but others, could end in eternal Hell. The wages of sin are death. That death, due to the first seed sown by Adam, is physical death; for him who is an unbeliever, a spiritual death.
As one looks through the Bible, one finds numerous monuments to sin: the pillar of salt; Lot’s wife; the Tower of Babel— and the Flood. Bitt praise the Lord for the remedy of these "would-be" monuments of our day. That remedy is of course the Son of God.
If you are in a state of unbelief in the Lord, then you are guilty of the greatest sin—the sin of unbelief. From John’s writings: "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they believe not on me."
But, in accepting Him as your personal Saviour, you thus are sowing to the spiritnal and as Paul declared (I Corinthians 9:11): "if we have sown unto you spiritual things . . . " we shall even so reap. This is in keeping with another harvest, reaping.
From John’s Gospel we find: "Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathering fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" And then from the writings of Matthew we find: "The enemy that soweth tares is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are die angels."
My question is this: What kind of seed are you planting? With a forward look through your spiritual eyes, can you visualize die harvest? Sow seeds of the Gospel, reap a Christian! Sow the seed of the Spirit, reap life eternal. Sow the seed of Christian love, of understanding and of respect.
The two types of seeds that can be sown, righteousness and unrighteousness, are spoken of in God’s Word. These are found in Job and I Corinthians, respectively. "They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." But, as Paul has put it: "If we have sown into spiritual things . . . so shall we reap."
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways" because there will come that time when THE PAST BECOMES THE PRESENT.
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