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Previous sermon in this series This sermon is number 18 in a series of 19 Next sermon in this series

Men For The Hour - Part 18

"God's People In The Gutter"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2006 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Now let's turn together to the book of Judges once more. We had been spending several weeks looking at individual characters of the Judges, and just in these last two weeks we've stopped that character study series to look at two cameos at the end of this book which are not chronological in the order in which we find them at the end of the book, but are little glimpses into the moral and spiritual state of the nation at this particular time period in Israel's history. They're very graphic, as we saw last Sunday morning, looking at the religious apostasy that there was in the land. This morning we're looking at chapter 19, and the title I've taken for this morning's message is 'God's People in the Gutter'.

We've stopped that character study series to look at two cameos at the end of this book which are little glimpses into the moral and spiritual state of the nation at this particular time period in Israel's history

Judges chapter 19: "And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah. And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months. And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. And his father in law, the damsel's father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there. And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way. And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel's father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry. And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again. And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel's father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them. And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel's father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home. But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him. And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it. And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah. And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah. And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin. And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging".

We find within this chapter alone: wife abuse, blatant flagrant homosexuality, gang rape that leads eventually to murder. We find injustice, brother killing brother in chapters 20 and 21, and even kidnapping

"And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites. And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou? And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing. And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him: so the man", that is the Levite, "took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel. And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds".

'Church cleric in gay gang rape and murder scandal' - you can just imagine the little newsboy at the corner shouting, 'Read all about it! Read all about it!'. It's like one of those headlines from the daily red-top tabloid newspapers, or one of the sensational centrefold stories in some of these women's magazines that you see lying on coffee tables or in medical waiting rooms. But believe it or not, it's the theme of chapter 19 of the book of Judges in the Bible. Perhaps you didn't even realise, as some of you last week were sharing with me, that such stories are in the word of God - but they are.

Perhaps you didn't even realise, as some of you last week were sharing with me, that such stories are in the word of God - but they are

We find within this chapter alone: wife abuse, blatant flagrant homosexuality, gang rape that leads eventually to murder. We find injustice, brother killing brother in chapters 20 and 21, and even kidnapping. Then we find the awful dismemberment by the Levite of his concubine, sending her by twelve pieces right throughout all the twelve tribes of Israel. Truly God's people are in the gutter. It was Samuel Johnson, the essayist, in 1783 who said these words: 'I lived to see things all as bad as they can be'. That could be said, and indeed I think that's what's being said by the writer in the book of Judges: he had lived to see things all as bad as they can be. Samuel Johnson said that in 1783, what would he say about today?

Now Micah, the man who hired his own priest, and really founded his own manmade religion in the previous chapters we were looking at last week, in chapter 17 and 18 - we saw in his story a family who did not give the Lord His place in their lives. Because of that, idolatry had entered their home and various other sins that were a fallout of that. Now these chapters that we're looking at, specifically chapter 19 but also chapters 20 and 21 - read them when you get home - speak of a whole nation that has now collectively experienced a moral collapse that has also followed the rejection of Jehovah as their Lord and God. Please note that it's not like other accounts in Israelite history where they've followed a foreign god like Baal or Asherah - there's no mention of any other god here, it's just apathetic disregard for the God that they had, it is flagrant rebellion against His laws that He had given to them. So they weren't wandering after other gods, they just didn't want their own God!

In fact, you could go as far as to say they wanted to be their own gods, they wanted to rule their own lives, they didn't want to be subject to any transcendent deity. That's why we read the catchphrase, which is the key to this whole book, in chapter 19 and the very first verse - every man did that which was right in their own eyes, because there was no king in Israel. At the end of the book, chapter 21 and verse 25, the author repeats it again: because there was no King, who was the physical representation, if you like, of God's lordship of the nation, people just did what was right in their own eyes. Because of that, these last couple of chapters in Judges have been described as the sewer of Scripture. Someone has said it holds the dubious distinction of being the most disgusting and degrading story in the Bible. God's people are in the gutter.

When people, even God's people, reject the absolutes of God's word; and when they begin in a relativistic way to do what they feel is good in their own eyes, what they conclude to be right, the end result inevitably is moral anarchy, societal collapse

Now here's a lesson, please, and I don't want you to miss it as we go into the various intricate details of the story: the whole point is that when people, even God's people, reject the absolutes of God's word; and when they begin in a relativistic way to do what they feel is good in their own eyes, what they conclude to be right, the end result inevitably is moral anarchy, societal collapse. People eventually, even among the worshipping community in Israel in the Judges' day, and the church in our day, people eventually are unable to discern between what is basic right and wrong. Reject God's moral absolutes, reject God's sovereignty and lordship of life, and moral collapse won't be far away.

Of course we saw last week that one word could sum up the whole of the period of the Judges, and that is the word 'confusion'. Last week we looked in chapter 17 and 18 at religious and spiritual confusion, and that led to spiritual anarchy - everybody did what was OK in their own eyes. Micah decided: 'I'll just make my own wee religion in my house', even though he was only a stone's throw away from God's Tabernacle in Shiloh. He wanted his own little gods and his own priest.

Now we see that there is moral confusion, and that leads to moral anarchy - chapter 19 and following. But we read, and I'm sure the hairs have stood on the back of your neck, of this evil, gross evil that was recurrent in Israel in this day. But ask yourself: why did it come to fruition? The answer is simple: they were doing what was right in their own eyes. They had rejected what God said was right, and chosen what they viewed was right. They thought they were doing right, they didn't conclude that they were doing wrong at all. They had made, as far as they were concerned, reasonable, rational evaluations of moral dilemmas - and they had come to what they thought were right conclusions. But the fact of the matter is: they had rejected God's absolute truth, they had followed their own will, and the nation is now in moral collapse.

Our society is filled with abhorrent immorality, and yet people feel quite free in defending it. Some of them are very suave and articulate, even charismatic spokespersons of various lifestyles and practices. The fact of the matter is, there can scarcely be found a perversion that someone is not willing to stand up and defend as an essential to human freedom. Believe it or not, there are even those in our society who try to stand up and defend child abuse. Do you know this? They believe that abusers are just expressing themselves, and this is just their orientation - and we have to do something about it, perhaps, to protect the children; but there are actually those who believe that we cannot condemn these people for what they are. Indeed, to a certain extent, that we have to protect their human freedom and not treat them as criminals or subnormal. I know that there are big questions in all of those statements that I have just made, but the sad fact of the matter is: even God's people now, the church, are coming to the defence of all sorts of practices that God has declared in His word are sin.

Our society is filled with abhorrent immorality, and yet people feel quite free in defending it. Some of them are very suave and articulate, even charismatic spokespersons of various lifestyles and practices

It reminds me of a man on one occasion who summarised his life in his own eyes, this is what he said: 'I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, and all I get is abuse and the existence of a hunted man'. Who was the poor, persecuted, misunderstood humanitarian who spoke such words? Al Capone, the gangster! That's the way he felt! He was misunderstood, he was just giving people the lighter pleasures in life, and he was abused and persecuted - he had the existence of a hunted man. Now you might say: 'That's ridiculous!', and it is - but that's how he saw it in his own eyes.

You see, when you reject God's absolute standards of truth which are found in His word, everybody expresses morals according to their own relative opinion. Their viewpoint, whether you like it or not, is as legitimate as yours. The result is a total moral disorientation, where children and young people are growing up not knowing what is right and what is wrong.

Now this is seen in two ways in this portion of Scripture. The first way this moral confusion is evidenced is socially, and the second is sexually. Let's look at the first: socially. Now if you thought last week - and forgive me if you weren't here - that Jonathan the Levite was a bad one, this guy surely is equal to him if not worse. This man was a Levite as well, and if Jonathan the Levite last week was materialistic, good living for a living; this Levite was hedonistic. If you don't know what that is, it's simply a lover or a worshipper of pleasure. He lived for what he could get out of life, whatever that was.

The story goes that his wife was unfaithful to him, the Bible says she practised prostitution - and so she ran away, and ran to her father. Now she was his concubine - if you don't know what that is, read the Old Testament - but it's really a second-class wife. She was provided for in law, the law of Moses regulated for a concubine although it did not approve concubines or encourage them - but they were there, they were a fact in society. She fled to her father in Bethlehemjudah. After four months - I'm not giving you that as a literal time period, men! - but after four months, he began to miss her. That's a long time, isn't it? Obviously that would tell you that he had taken her for granted for longer than four months, but he decided: 'I think she's worth going after', so he travelled to Bethlehemjudah.

Eventually he meets up with her, with his father-in-law, and he forgives his concubine. There's a reconciliation, but he finds that he gets on with his father-in-law perhaps better than he got on with his wife. The account goes that for five days they spend the whole time celebrating the reconciliation - five days eating, drinking and making merry. You can see it in verses 4 and 6, and 8 and 22. This man really enjoyed himself, he lived for pleasure.

Now let me note two things for you before we go on any further, and this is so important - the first we will go into in a little more detail in a few moments, and that is how he treated his wife in such a shocking manner. It ought to take our breath away that not only through this story, when his wife was alive, did he treat her with a lack of respect and disdain, but even when she was dead he treated her in a horrendous manner.

It ought to take our breath away that not only through this story, when his wife was alive, did he treat her with a lack of respect and disdain, but even when she was dead he treated her in a horrendous manner

Then secondly, and just now I want to labour on this point: this Levite - and remember a Levite was a minister of God - he was careful to enjoy life, but he was careless about what really mattered in life. Now if that isn't characteristic of our age, I do not know what is. Because in our age we have husbands and wives who don't know how to relate and interact properly with one another, but everybody seems to know how to go out and have a good time. Maybe that's because we can forget about the troubles. It's right across the whole of society, and even among God's people.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, said: 'Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation'. We are not to be taken in as Christians with the pleasure-crazed society that is amusing itself to death, literally.

Now let me say before I go on any further that there's nothing wrong with having a good time, and sometimes Christians can be misunderstood as being party-poopers, and folk that don't know how to smile, or don't know how to laugh - I don't know how they could get that impression of us! But nevertheless - maybe they should stand up here from time to time and look down! There's nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves. The Bible does say there's a time to laugh, there's a time to rejoice - but there's something wrong with a society, and with a group of Christians, who do nothing but enjoy themselves and seek nothing but feathering their own nest of affluence and luxury. The Bible says if we live for the material things in life alone as our god, that will bring spiritual death.

In Matthew 10, the Lord Jesus said in verse 39: 'He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life shall find it'. What does that mean? If you live to hoard resources and pleasures and sensuality to yourself in this life, you'll lose the next! But if you live for the next life now, and lose all of those things that the whole world seems to hanker after, you will find God's eternal light. We see this in the church, the pleasure-crazed society has filtered in and infected Christian life. Weirsbe, the commentator and Christian writer, says: 'In too many churches the laughter of religious entertainment has replaced the holy hush of worship'. That's profound: the laughter of religious entertainment has replaced the holy hush of worship.

For many Christians, the most important thing when they get together is that they have 'fun'. I want everybody to have fun, of course, but is that the most important thing?

For many Christians, the most important thing when they get together is that they have 'fun'. I want everybody to have fun, of course, but is that the most important thing? Then there's an epilogue of God's word tailed at the end, just to make us all feel OK. My mother and father recently were away in the States, and there were at First Baptist Church Orlando in Florida. They brought back, for my interest, one of the orders of service, advertising various things that were going on in the life of the church. I noted with great intrigue the advert for 'Sunday Evening Comedy Night for all the family'. Guest comedians were coming along. I think - if memory serves me correctly, I couldn't find it - this was a quote: 'Prepare to split your sides'. Yet God's word says: 'Rend your heart', not your sides.

God's word says that we as Christians should be able to discern the spirit of the age, and what is going on not only outside, but inside the church - and it should affect us so that we're not so filled with frivolity that it seems to indicate that we're blind to spiritual reality. I think this is why the church has an identity crisis today: she no longer knows what she exists for - and I'm talking about this church as well. What are we here for? What is the purpose of our existent? I'll let you ponder that one yourself. All I know is that in the Judges' day the nation was in a terrible state before God, yet here was one of God's Levite ministers, and his own belly was his god.

Yet James says to us: 'Be afflicted, mourn and weep, let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness'. There's nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, but we as Christians are here for a higher purpose. Isn't it ironic that - I think at least - the most pleasure-crazed societies are the most inhospitable. I don't know whether you've travelled too far, but you might find that when you go to some of the Third World countries and places where people don't have as many resources, they're much more friendly, much more family and neighbour orientated. We find that here in chapter 19 and verses 10 to 21, during this time it was dangerous to travel - we found that out from chapter 5 already. It was dangerous to travel in the day as well as the night, and this Levite didn't want to stay in Jerusalem because it was in the hands of the pagan Jebusites at this particular moment. So they pressed on about 4 miles to Gibeah, and that was a town that was inhabited by other Israelites - God's people, Benjaminites.

But when he gets there, what we find in this narrative is that they were as bad, if not worse than the pagans. But before we talk about their immorality, I want you to see the lack of hospitality. Now in the sacred law of God, and indeed Eastern tradition and custom, it was a terrible thing to neglect the stranger in your midst - that has a lot to say, I think, about migrants in our own society. We're meant to welcome people, and the Israelites were to do that - but lo and behold, these strangers wander into Gibeah, and nobody wants to be bothered with them! Someone should have taken them under their wing, but here's the key: because everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes, they ceased to be hospitable one toward the other.

We're meant to welcome people, and the Israelites were to do that - but lo and behold, these strangers wander into Gibeah, and nobody wants to be bothered with them!

Being hospitable is not just about laying a meal down for someone, it's about being mannerly and courteous, common decency towards one another. Hospitality is a qualification of an elder, it's also the qualification of an elder's wife. Indeed, Paul says: 'A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach'. In Titus 1 verse 8, Paul says: 'But a lover of hospitality', they should be, 'a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate'. It's not just overseers, all Christians - Hebrews 13:2 says, 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'. Now isn't it interesting that the more affluent and pleasure-centred a society, and even a church, becomes, the more selfish and self-centred it becomes as well. I think as the church has become more middle-class and upper-class, it has less time for looking after other people: widows, orphans, you name them, people in society that need help today.

But all of a sudden an old Ephraimite walks through the town after a day's work in the field, and he takes them in. Now it's at this point that the story turns sordid. We see moral confusion socially. How did we see it? Pleasure-crazed hedonism, living for life now and forgetting about eternity. Then we see also inhospitality, they didn't want to provide for one another they were so self-centred. But now we're seeing moral confusion and collapse sexually - verses 22 to 28. In the midst of their celebration in this old man's house, enjoying themselves again, they hear a pounding on the walls of the house. It's almost like a repeat of what we find in Genesis chapter 19 in Sodom - all over again, the men of the city surrounding this house, they see a new man come into the town and they want to 'know' him, that is Hebrew for 'sexual intercourse'. They want to commit this awful sin.

The old man, rightly so, says: 'Do not commit this vile thing in Israel!'. God's word does say clearly, although it is very unpopular and politically incorrect, God's word declares that homosexuality is unnatural - Romans chapter 1; it is against the laws of God, Leviticus 18 and 1 Corinthians 6. Like Lot in Sodom, this man was right to be shocked, and he said: 'No, it's wicked, it's godless!' - but notice this: 'Here is my daughter', he says, 'and this Levite's concubine, do whatever is good in your eyes to them!'. Note that: do whatever is good in your eyes to them.

They kept pounding until, with desperate cowardice, that Levite - to save his own skin - pushed his concubine out the door; and the Bible says, tragically, that the evil Benjaminites raped her all night long. The next morning the Levite came out the door, callously said: 'Come on, get up, we've got to get out of here'. She was dead. He picked up the body, threw her over the donkey, carried her home, callously took out a knife and cut her in twelve pieces, and sent the pieces throughout Israel. It's disturbing, isn't it? That's mild to describe it. Do you know what I think is perhaps the most disturbing thing about that story? This Levite, this so-called man of God, was able to go to his bed and put his head on the pillow and sleep like a baby, when he knew his wife was being abused all night through. The Bible says that there will come a day, and I think we're living in it, when people will be without natural affections.

The Bible says that there will come a day, and I think we're living in it, when people will be without natural affections

Then the second disturbing thing for me, also, is that because the foundation of Israel's morality had shifted from God's law to their own opinion, they could abhor homosexuality - and we, as Christians, might give them a pat on the back and say: 'Well done' - but they thought nothing wrong of throwing their own wives and concubines to the dogs, and saying: 'Do what's right in your own eyes with her'. Now obviously the people outside the house thought there was nothing wrong with homosexuality, and this is the problem - it's illustrated graphically for us: when we have no standards other than our own, there are no standards! People inside the house didn't like homosexuality, people outside the house, they thought it was quite normal - who's right? Well in a society where there are no absolutes, they're all right! You can't be wrong! Yet Romans 1 tells us that when society shows a widespread acceptance of homosexuality, it is already under the judgment of God, and it is a society that God has given up. Study it yourself.

You might say: 'But surely you can't apply these sexual misdemeanours to the church?'. Can I not? What is our moral purity like? Oh, we can skate round this, and it is very uncomfortable - but the fact of the matter is: statistics, that can't always be trusted, tend to indicate that there is no difference between the problems that professing Christians have to those who are not professing Christians. Now that's not right, but that's the way things are folks. We can sit here in our lovely clothes and in this lovely environment, but the fact of the matter is: you could be struggling with a problem of purity. It might be a sexual problem - you might say: 'No, not me!'. Really? I came across a definition of 'infidelity' recently, do you know what it is? This is profound, and it's revolutionised not only my thoughts but my life: 'It is to be gratified from anyone or anything that is not your husband or wife'. Mental, emotional, physical gratification from anything that is not your husband or wife - that is infidelity.

Now where do you stand? What's our home life like in the family? What do we give to our children? One author that I was reading as I was studying for this message said: 'We would ask the question how a father could offer his own daughter as a sacrifice to the lusts of a mob. It's difficult to understand. Yet many parents today allow their son's and daughter's minds and hearts to be violated by what they see, what they hear in movies, on television, at rock concerts. Chastity of mind and heart is essential for chastity of body'. Some of you might think this is puritanical extreme, but what are our viewing habits like? Someone might be horrified reading such a passage of Scripture out in church - but you know as well as I do that this is the daily bread of people who are viewing TV, some of them 5, 6, 7 hours a day. Some of you go to the cinema - what do you go to watch? What are you viewing on the screen and DVD, on your video?

Someone might be horrified reading such a passage of Scripture out in church - but you know as well as I do that this is the daily bread of people who are viewing TV, some of them 5, 6, 7 hours a day

There was an Oscar winning film a few years ago that was advertised in the following way: 'Moviegoers: if violence, madness, rape, larceny and bloodshed appeal to you, then see the best'. Millions went and saw it. What do you watch? What do you allow to go on on that screen in your living room, that if it was actually happening you'd be calling the police? What does that say? It says this: that if we get to a position where we are entertained by immorality, titillated by godlessness, even in these peripheral ways through media and so on - if we're not committing them ourselves, but we get a kick out of them, it's a sign that we have chosen and accepted a cheapened view of life, a degraded view of human beings. For new morality and new liberalism is not something profound, it is dehumanising, it is degrading to people made in the image of God.

We see it so graphically in this story - but can I ask you another question: what are our actions regulated by? Do we think things are wrong when society says they're wrong? Or do we think it when it's popular opinion? Or do we think it even when it's Christian popular opinion? Or is all that matters our own personal opinion? Do you see if those are the regulating factors of our values? We're in trouble! The word of God must be the final authority and rule of our faith and life. Even at times when we think we're being awfully godly and moral, we can still be regulated by popular opinion, not God's word.

Let me give you an illustration if you don't understand what I'm saying. This is why why we do something is as important as what we do. Years ago people believed that premarital sexual relations were wrong. The reason they gave was the possibility of having a child out of wedlock, and the disgrace. That was years ago. Two things have changed: birth control and the acceptability of casual relationships. The reason for why people believed it being wrong, a baby out of wedlock, has been removed by technology. What's everybody saying? 'It's alright'. You see, the reasons why we believe things are wrong are as important as why we do not do them. If the only reason for sexual purity is the fear of an unwanted pregnancy, that must mean today sexual immorality is now entirely appropriate. Do you see what we're saying? If your moral behaviour is not grounded on the moral absolutes of God's word, you'll end up doing what is right in your own eyes when the circumstances change. God's word says anything out of marriage, whatever it is, with a woman, with a man, or whatever - it's wrong!

The social and sexual sin in the last chapters of Judges affected the whole nation. I'm saying to you this morning: don't underestimate or social and our sexual indiscretions. If there is sin in the home, in society, it will surely evolve - and then eventually the church will manifest it. If they're not faced in home, society and church, there inevitably will be a moral collapse and a spiritual death within society. There is no such thing as a victimless sin! We don't live to ourselves, and we don't sin to ourselves.

If your moral behaviour is not grounded on the moral absolutes of God's word, you'll end up doing what is right in your own eyes when the circumstances change

There's a story told about a ship that was travelling across the Mediterranean, and one of the passengers cut a hole through the side of the boat. The sailors all came rushing and demanded of him to know what on earth he was doing. He just replied to them: 'What difference does it make to you? The hole is under my bunk!'. Many Christians, and people in wider society, have been boring holes under their own bunks for years, and they think it's of no consequence - and then we're all left wondering why the boat is sinking.

The children of Israel started off making wonderful promises to God: obedience, faithfulness. Quickly the rot set in, and each succeeding generation did not learn from the previous mistakes. Now after the book of Judges is the book of Ruth, which we won't study, but it's a book about salvation. It's a love story of redemption and how a man with great wealth, called Boaz, came and purchased his beloved bride to make her his very own. It's a story about harvest, bringing in the sheaves for God. That is the life that the believer is to live, and it was during the same time period as the book of Judges! But here's my question to everyone here, whether you're a Christian or not: which book are you living in? The book of Judges, where every man does that which is right in his own eyes; or the book of Ruth, where you have surrendered to the loving Saviour, relinquished your own right of self and sin in your life, and given everything up in love to Him, and He has filled your life with life that is to the full.

That is the choice: which life are you living? May God bless His word to all our hearts.

Let's all bow our heads. Do you feel the challenge of God's word? Do you? If you don't, there's something wrong, you're self-deceived for every heart here is desperately wicked, and none of us can truly know it. All we can do is give it over to Christ, and allow Him to give us by His Spirit a new heart, a new life, and He can do that - but we must come to Him confessing, repenting, and willing to believe in Him.

Lord, we pray that all of us, those who take the name of Christ and those who have not yet, that we would realise the truth and the import of God's word: that we cannot reject God's truth, and then think that we can just live according to our own vain morals, for morality is of God. Lord, we pray that people will realise this this morning, that if we don't have God we have nothing. The only way to God is through Christ, the Lord Jesus, Your Son, who came and died for us. Lord, all of us are falling far short in all of these areas - socially and sexually. Lord, we pray that You will forgive us; and, Lord, that the holes that have been bored personally by us in the Gospel ship, that they will begin to be filled by repentance and faith and restitution, that the ship again will sail, and souls will be rescued from the deep. Amen.

Don't miss part 19 of 'Men For The Hour': 'The Angel Of Jehovah'Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
March 2006
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the eighteenth recording in his 'Men For The Hour' series, entitled "God's People In The Gutter" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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