Well, good evening everybody. It's great to be here, it has been wonderful to have been with you this week. It has been a busy week, it has been an intense week for a lot of you and for me included. Where do you think we're turning to in our Bibles tonight? No! First Corinthians chapter 10. Now, I just want to pray - I know we have already had prayer just a moment or two ago - but there's something I want to pray before I preach, OK? So let's just pray together:
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail - they were not strong enough - nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. Father, we come in Jesus' mighty, all-victorious name, Lord of all. We pray now that You will dispense Your heavenly hosts, and that You will tear back those powers that are hindering Your people and our spiritual exercises in this place right now. That You will create a heavenly portal where there is direct communication and interaction with the heaven of heavens on earth in this place, that no principality, power, might, or dominion, or anything nameable will be able to thwart, hinder, or interfere. We ask this in Jesus' name, as the word of God goes forth in the power of the Spirit. Amen.
Right, 1 Corinthians 10 verse 1, and we're reading down to the end of verse 13: "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play'. Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twentythree thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it".
This series has evolved over the week, led by the Spirit, to become a series I've entitled 'Let My People Go', that they may serve Me. This is the cry of heaven tonight, not just to the Israelites in Egyptian bondage who needed to be emancipated, but God's people - I believe - are encapsulated and bound by the enemy himself, and even the spirit of Pharaoh that I believe is alive and well today in our world. So, I believe the Holy Spirit, whilst the Gospel has been preached this week, has really wanted to come to the church - because judgement must begin at the house of the Lord. If we want people in our community to be set free by the power of the Gospel, we haven't a hope of that happening if we ourselves are not actually experiencing the full import of what the Gospel power is, if we are not living in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be set free first! I believe that's the heart of God in this moment.
So, at the end of this series, as we have traced the journey of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, and beginning their journey into the promised land, really the message tonight is: 'Remember, Remember!'. Some of you know the rhyme 'Remember, remember, the fifth of November', and other sayings like 'Lest we forget', or 'We will remember them' - all of those sayings devised to cause us to recollect important events in history that we forget that our peril. A famous Harvard philosophy professor once said: 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it'. I wasn't a big fan of history at school, didn't like geography either - I could never find the classroom! - but history can be a bit of a drag, can't it? But we do well as Christians, as Paul exhorts us, to remember the journey that the Israelites took from bondage in Egypt to the promised land, their wilderness wanderings. Why do we need a history lesson? Look at verse 6: 'These things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted'. Verse 11: 'Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come'. All of this stuff in the Old Testament is not for the Jews primarily, it's for us today, God's people - they were our examples, so that we would learn spiritually vital lessons in this end time period that we find ourselves in.
This, of course, was written to the Corinthians. You may not be aware that Corinth was a Greek city, and it was notoriously immoral. The problem, and the reason why Paul was writing to them, was: the church was being affected by the spirit of the age. Does that ring any bells? They had become, rather than a thermostat regulating the temperature of the community, they became a thermometer reflecting the spiritual and moral temperature. Now don't get me wrong: this was a Christian church, and I'll tell you more than that - if you look at chapter 1 and verse 2, Paul addresses them as 'sanctified and called to be saints'. Now, 'sanctified' means 'holy', 'set apart'. Now I think he's speaking here of their position in Christ, they had been born again, they had trusted in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, and so they were set apart for God. He's not speaking of practical holiness, I think, but yet they are called to be saints - that's what verse 2 says as well. Now we think of people who are saints, as somebody who has been canonised, and they get a stained-glass window after them, or something like that. That's not what Bible saints are - saints in the Bible are people who are washed in the blood, people who are justified by faith, people who are in the kingdom of God, OK? This was what the Corinthians were.
Not only that, don't you think that they were just 'saved and stuck' the way we talked about the other evening. They were highly gifted Christians. If you look at verse 5 of chapter 1, Paul says: 'You were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge'. Now what that's speaking of is prophetic insight, revelation, the gifts of wisdom and knowledge and prophecy, and also all utterance - those are the vocal gifts, including tongues and interpretation of tongues and prophecy and so on. They were gifted, look at verse 7: 'So that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ'. It implies that they were not coming short, there was no shortfall in their charismatic nature. They had all the gifts of the Spirit, they were Spirit-filled, Spirit-baptised, and they were exercising these wonderful gifts of God. So this church, the Corinthians, were a blessed people, like the Israelites.
What does it say in verse 1 of the Israelites, in chapter 10? 'They were under the cloud'. Now we saw during the week what that means, that there was a pillar of fire that led the Israelites across the Red Sea, and it was a cloud of smoke, a pillar of smoke during the day; and it actually came to their rearward and became their defence. It was light to them as it led them, but darkness to the enemy to blind them. That's the privilege that they had: they could see God leading and guiding and protecting them. Verse 2 says they: 'were baptised into Moses'. Now that word 'baptised' means 'immersed', and of course they went through the waters of the Red Sea. By doing so, they were identified with Moses. You might be here tonight, and you've gone through the waters of baptism, and been identified and united with the Lord Jesus. Here's another of their blessings, it says in verse 3 they 'all ate the same spiritual food, they all drank the same spiritual drink', verse 4, 'from the Rock that followed them'. You remember the heavenly food that came down, angel's food, 'manna' it was called. It just appeared supernaturally, and they ate that for 40 years - God supplied their need. They drank of the Rock that followed them. Remember Moses struck the rock and the waters came flowing out - this was a supernatural life they were leading. We read here in verse 4 that the Rock that followed then was none other than Jesus Christ. We know now in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life and He is the Water of Life. These Israelites were living, in a sense, a shadow of New Testament Christianity. It was as if they were water-baptised, Spirit-baptised, and feeding off Christ in a symbol, as a signpost.
How blessed they were - but - here's the shocker. Look at verse 5: 'But with most of them God was not well pleased'. That's hard, isn't it? I know some of what I've had to say this week has been hard. I'm giving you what God has given me each day, and the same goes for tonight. But we've got to get real: God has some difficult things to say to us. God isn't being hard here, in fact, He is understating the matter. Here's how I know: because out of everyone that came out of Egypt and moved on towards the promised land, only two of them, only two of that adult generation that left Egypt entered the promised land - Joshua and Caleb. So he is understating the matter when he says: 'with most of them'. You see, for all the blessings and the spiritual experiences that we just recounted here in verses 1 to 4 that the Israelites had, most of them died in the wilderness. Now that is shocking, is it not? They saw God, they saw the cloud - it astounds me! Any time of the day they could have opened their tent flap, and just looked out, and there was a manifest physical demonstration of the presence of God with them, a pillar of cloud, and at night a pillar of fire - it's incredible! Eating supernatural food, drinking supernatural water, and yet most of them died in the desert.
Now, this is a word to Corinth, here's why: because they had become carnal. Do you know what that means? Fleshly. They are born again, they are sanctified positionally in Christ, they are saints, they are Spirit-filled and they are operating in the gifts of the Spirit, and yet they were carnal - that means they were fleshly, living for themselves and for their senses. Let me show you this, a number of ways their carnality was displayed. If you go to chapter 1, it was displayed through schism. Do you know what that is? Splits among them, sectarianism, partisan spirit. If you look at verse 11 of chapter 1, Paul says: 'For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions', quarrels, 'among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul', or 'I am of Apollos', or 'I am of Cephas', or 'I am of Christ''. OK, they were joining particular preachers that they liked, and following them. Like some people say 'I'm a Calvinist', or 'I'm an Arminian', or 'I'm this', or 'I'm a Presbyterian', 'I'm a Baptist', 'I'm Elim' - I think that's the same spirit, I do. Some were saying: 'I'm of Paul', 'I'm of Apollos', 'I'm of Cephas', and then there were the real - I used to think these were the right ones, 'I am of Christ', because we're all Christians, aren't we meant to follow Christ? Wait till I tell you: they were the most sanctimonious and exclusive of the lot, because they said, 'We're not following mere men, we are following Jesus Christ' - and they used it as a reason to divide from the rest of the body. That's the point, and we could talk about a few groups that do that.
Look at verse 13: 'Is Christ divided?'. The answer to that question is: no! Rhetorically, He is not divided! 'Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?' - no, it's Christ! Yet they were divided! Listen: I haven't got time, nor do I have the desire to talk to you of how divided the church is in Ulster, the province alone. We think sectarianism is between Protestants and Roman Catholics, wait till I tell you: it is rife across the whole of the expression of religion in our country. In fact, it could be worse, at times, within Bible-believing Christianity. It is heinous, it is a cause of nausea to the heart of God, it makes Him sick! It shows our carnality.
But they are also proud - they had great intellectual pride. You know, Corinthian society put a whole lot of value in the mind and reason and so on, philosophy. They fell into that trap, and exalted human wisdom. You see, the natural mind does not discern the things of the Spirit, it is foolishness to them. They got proud in their intellectual prowess. There was also sexual immorality in the church, if you look at chapter 5 and verse 1, there is a staggering - and I need to be careful tonight, I don't want to go into too much detail here, but it is what it says - chapter 5 verse 1: 'It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife!' - it seems to be his stepmother. Such immorality that the world doesn't even engage in, and it's now in this church - and they are Christians! We'll park that there for a moment. But there is gross sexual immorality in the church, and it's not being addressed.
They were also, if you keep going, they were taking each other to court, which should not be done between believers. He says: 'How are you going to judge angels, if you can't sort out basic matters among yourselves as brothers and sisters?'. Did you know you're going to judge angels? Maybe not all of you, I'm not sure about that, but men and women of God are going to judge angels. Then we see that they were also divorcing their spouses for religious reasons. They thought it was holy not to have any marital relations with one another, there was this ascetic type of group among them, and they were divorcing husbands and wives. Add to all that, some of them were fellowshipping at the table of idols, they were going to feasts where there were offerings of meat given, sacrifices to idols - and they were partaking of it.
In verse 6 Paul, exasperated at this behaviour, says: 'These things', that we heard about the Israelites, 'became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted'. Now, I have a hunch that because the Corinthians partook of the Lord's Supper (that's another one, they were getting drunk at the Lord's Table as well, I forgot about that one). But because they partook of the Lord's Supper, they ate, as it were, the bread from heaven; and because they were baptised, just like the Israelites baptised unto Moses through the cloud, they were baptised as believers in water, and they were baptised by the Holy Spirit, they thought they were secure and safe. They presumed upon their safety. I don't care what church you belong to, what your religious persuasion is, what your background: you cannot presume upon some form of security if your life is not testifying to the life of God in you.
Now look at chapter 6 please, this is what Paul is at pains to show to them, verse 9: 'Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived'. There is a danger that modern day Christianity is being fooled: 'Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God'. Now, it's a wonderful Gospel that we preach, and if you're not converted tonight, you need to hear this. You see this aforementioned list of misdemeanours and sinners, every one of them can be forgiven, and you can come to know Jesus Christ! Every single one of them! That's what happened in Corinth: they had all those backgrounds. Isn't that wonderful? 'Such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified'. But here's what was happening: some of them were returning, like a dog to his vomit. I'm sorry to be so graphic, but that is a biblical terminology. They were returning to their old ways of sinful living, and Paul is saying: 'Hold on! Do you not know that people with such lifestyles will not get into heaven unless they are justified, forgiven, and transformed? They will not inherit the heavenly blessings. Do not be deceived'.
Now the Gospel that we preach is a Gospel of grace. Do you know what 'grace' means? You don't earn it, you don't work at it, I'm not telling people here to clean themselves up and then come to God - that's not what repentance is, that's not what repentance is! It's the grace of God that is greater than your sin. You can't break your addictions, you can't change your lifestyle, perhaps there's nothing you feel you can do about it - and that's right, there isn't! Don't start trying! You need God's power, which is a free gift that Jesus purchased on the cross when He died for you, and He took your sin and all the punishment and all the hell that you deserved, He took it all so that you could live a righteous life. But here, let's not short-change people, alright? The Gospel of God's grace not only saves us from the consequences of sin, but saves us from the power and the presence of sin in our lives now and in the future.
Listen to what Titus says in Titus 2:11, listen: 'For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age'. That is the grace of God! It delivers us from sin! Is that the grace you've got? The grace that some people have got, is a false message and a false gospel that allows them as a licence to sin: 'That's OK, a little talk with Jesus makes it right'. I know if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us - but I want to tell you: if you are engaging in constant lifestyle, habitual sin, without so much as a tweak or a prick on your conscience, you really need to look at your salvation. You really do. If it doesn't grieve you, if it doesn't bother you, and especially if you're using grace as a loophole, you need to listen up here tonight.
God's word is very clear: 'The grace of God that has appeared to all men teaches us to deny ungodliness, worldly lusts, that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age'. Verse 13: 'Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ'. Is that what you're waiting for? Are you living for Jesus returning again? Are you ready for Him to come at any moment? Verse 14: 'Jesus, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works'. That's why Jesus died on the cross: to save us from sin! Do you hear that? Not just to cleanse our past guilt, to wipe the slate clean - thank God, that's what He does, and He delivers us from punishment - but He died to deliver us from those sins, to make us pure.
Do you know what we need in the church? This is maybe why conviction isn't falling upon our communities: we need a fresh revelation of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Do you know sin is still serious? It was your sin, my sin, that nailed Jesus to that cross. If you take pleasure in those sins, those are the sins that caused Him so much pain and horror, that you're enjoying - and I do it to. Listen: if you want to be saved tonight - and Christian, you need to understand, salvation is a process as well - if you want to continually be delivered from the power of sin, you've got to want to be delivered, you've got to want it! I don't care what anybody says: if a man 'comes to Christ', but he doesn't want to be delivered from his sin, that is false, it's counterfeit! The Bible knows nothing about it! Yes, a person cannot deliver themselves, but they've got to want it! That's what Jesus died for.
So these Israelites did not please the Lord, they did not please the Lord. Paul is going to show these Corinthians why they did not please the Lord. So follow with me, back to 1 Corinthians 10 verse 7: 'Do not become idolaters as were some of them'. Now what this is alluding to is Exodus 32. Do you remember Moses - all of you will know this, even if you've only Charlton Heston in the film - Moses went up Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments, and when he was up there the people thought he was dead and gone. That's what they thought had happened, because they knew there was a lot of thunder and lightning, and it was a fearful thing, they weren't allowed to come near the mountain at all. He had been gone so long that they thought, 'We've lost him!'. So, Aaron was there, and Aaron decided: 'Right! We need a god, we need a god!'. So he says: 'See all you folk, get your earrings, and your jewellery, and we will throw it all in, and we will smelt it, and we will make an idol, and that will be our god'. They made a golden calf, and they started worshipping, eating and drinking in a feast to this golden calf. It says that God said to Moses: 'You better get down there, you better get down, because I'm going to have to destroy these people because of what they are at!'. Moses, Joshua was with him, and Moses comes down - and there is such a commotion down there that Joshua says: 'It sounds like there is war!'.
Can you imagine what was going on? The noise was so great that he thought there was a battle on, but do you know what it was? Look at it, verse 7: 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play'. Do you know what that means? There was an orgy. That's what it means: it was revelry, immorality and idolatry. You remember Moses, when he saw it, he took the two tablets that God had written with His own finger, the Ten Commandments, and he threw them and broke them.
The Corinthians too were too close to idols. If you come with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 6 please, the next book, 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Paul is telling them that idolatry does not please the Lord, 2 Corinthians 6, and we are very familiar with some of these verses as Christians, verse 14 of chapter 6: 'Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'. Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty''. He's saying: 'If you really want to know Me as a child of God, and I as your Abba Father in intimacy, you've got to come away from unholiness and sin and idolatry'. Look at verse 1 of chapter 7: 'Therefore, having these promises' - what are these promises? That 'If you leave sin, I will meet you'. 'Having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God'.
Now, we know what the filthiness of the flesh is, we have touched on that - all sorts of sins, fornication, and drunkenness, and all sorts of debauchery, and murder, and anger, jealousy, all those things. But what are the sins of the spirit? Well, I'm going to tell you some of the sins of the spirit. One of the great sins of the spirit is idolatry. We are to cleanse ourselves from the sin of idolatry in our spirit. Now, I believe I'm being guided by the Holy Spirit when I'm going to say this: the church has allowed idolatry to grip it. Now there are many ways that this has happened in our land: one is politics, the idolatry of nationalism - and I'm not talking about political nationalism, I'm talking about general nationalism, where you look to a flag, or you look to a political aspiration, and you put it alongside with your religious belief; whether that's the Unionist persuasion, or Republican, or whatever, I'm not interested. It can be all across the world, and when you start doing that, that's idolatry. But I'll tell you more than that: the church is dabbling in occult, in alternative therapies, in charms - I'm led to believe that charms are very prevalent in this particular county - divining, all sorts of divination, fortune-telling. You will not believe me, I know some of you won't, I know some of you won't; but I minister to Christians who have gone to these practitioners, and even some themselves who have practised these arts, and they need deliverance because they have got spirits. Some of you don't even believe they could have spirits, but I'm sorry, I have to part company with you there. I've seen it with my own eyes too many times to bother arguing with anybody.
It's idolatry, and it's in the church. It's in the church, and it could be some of you, some of you could be doing charms because it was passed down from Granny or something. You need deliverance. That is defiling the church. Do you know Isaiah 2 verse 6, what it says of God's ancient people? Listen to this, I read it one time in the NIV and it just opened my eyes, this is God speaking of His own people. Isaiah 2:6: 'They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines, and embrace pagan customs' - that's the way the church is going today. I know people who will sooner go to get acupuncture, or some kind of other alternative therapy, than they would ever dream of going to ask prayer from a man or woman of God - and they are Christians. We need to, once and for all - listen, this does not please the Lord, for this reason the bodies of the Israelites were scattered in the desert, because of idolatry. Don't you get some kind of myth: 'Oh, I'm under the blood, and I'm forgiven', and think you can dabble in that stuff without consequence - you cannot! You cannot! I'm not saying you'll go to hell, I'm just saying you cannot dabble in it without consequence, and it is not pleasing to the Lord.
A second thing he told them to remember was not only the idolatry of the Israelites, but the sexual immorality of the Israelites. Look at verse 8: 'Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twentythree thousand fell'. This is found in Numbers chapter 25, you may want to turn to it. The first four verses read thus, listen, Numbers 25 verse 1: 'Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods'. That's interesting, listen: idolatry and immorality are always wedded. Where you get idolatry, there is always immorality - that's the explanation for a lot of what happens as you move up the echelons of Freemasonry, because in its essence it is really a fertility rite, when you get up to the top you find that out. Verse 3: 'So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel. Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel'.
Paul tells us in verse 8 that 23 or 24,000 people fell in one day - not only fell into sin, but they were actually executed to avert the anger of the Lord upon all of God's people. Do you know what they were doing? Now I'm going to be very careful in how I go into this, but I can't talk about it without talking about in some sense. It was Baal and Ashtaroth worship, do you know what 'Baal and Ashtaroth' are? They are the male and the female fertility god and goddess of Canaanite religion. It was believed that they were the ones that brought the harvest, they gave them their food. They had a religion that said that if you want the ground to be fertile and you want to be fed, you have to worship Baal and Ashtaroth - and the way they are stimulated to bring harvest and fruit on the earth is by we entering into ritual prostitution. They had all these high places and groves about the place where this was engaged in.
So there was this idea that to strengthen the gods, OK, to strengthen the gods we had to engage in immorality - and Israel was falling into this. I want to tell you: Baal and Ashtaroth are in the church - they are in the church! I'm telling you. The porn industry has exploded. Do you know that there are over $3000 spent per second on porn on the Internet? $3000 a second! There are nearly 30,000 people watching a video every second. There are new videos made every 39 minutes. By the year 2017 it is estimated that a quarter of a billion people are expected to access it through mobile content, that's a 30% increase from 2013 - 30% in a matter of, what, five years? Now listen: we have got a problem in the church - and I'm not saying I'm above temptation, I'm not saying that, I struggle with the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life like everybody, OK? But we've got a problem in the church, and here's what is: we are opposing LBGT rights - you know what that is, lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender. We are opposed to gay marriage, we are opposed to abortion, we are opposed to all of these - what we see as the righteous things, the ancient landmarks that are being destroyed. We are opposed to it, and we are tongue in cheek fighting against it, speaking against it, moving against it; but in secret - in secret - we are committing harlotry with the very spirits that are the strongholds that are bringing these things into society.
Do you know what I'm saying? Do you understand? Our devotion to those gods by engaging in those sins is strengthening them. Paul says: 'You need to remember what happened, you need to remember what happened'. Because of idolatry, because of sexual immorality, God was not well pleased. Here's the third thing, verses 9 and 10: complaining. 'Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer'. This is alluding to Numbers 21, and do you know what happened? The Israelites were depressed and dejected, and they were remembering Egypt with rose-tinted spectacles, thinking it was wonderful when it wasn't - but that's they way they were thinking, because now they were in the desert, and they are fed up with manna. They're going to eat it for 40 years, but they are fed up, and they said: 'This manna!' - they were despising supernatural food that God has given them. Then they started to backbite against God's anointed leader, Moses. They wanted to depose him. God was not well pleased, and He sent fiery serpents into their midst. Those serpents bit them and they started dying.
Can I say: we don't consider complaining as serious, we don't, but God does. Especially when our complaints are against His anointed and His God-appointed. Now sometimes when we talk like this we can be misunderstood. People think we're saying: 'Oh, you can't criticise leaders'. I don't believe that, because if we're not able to, in a godly way, approach things that might be wrong; well then, what you've got is a dictatorship - and that's not what the New Testament church is. There are checks and balances to make sure that isn't the case. But it's in the mouth of two or three witnesses that a matter should be established, not over the dinner table, or on the telephone. Order needs to be in the house of God, and if there is anointing and purpose and appointment - like there was on Moses, (and he was by no means perfect, sure he didn't even enter the promised land because he lost his temper, yet he was God's man) - God is not well pleased with that.
We don't take this seriously enough. Do you know what Proverbs 6 says? You might want to turn there with me, Proverbs 6 verse 16: 'These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies', now that's the sixth, those are the six things the Lord hates, and here's the seventh which is an abomination to Him, 'and one who sows discord among brethren', brothers and sisters. It's serious! Now I'm not saying we can't have discernment and we can't see things that are wrong that need to be addressed, but there is a way of doing it, there is a godly way of doing it, and there is a way of doing it that God is not well pleased with - and it caused there to be bodies scattered across the wilderness!
You see, what Paul is speaking to is: these Corinthians believed they were safe because of their past spiritual experiences; baptised, eating the Lord's Supper. Like the Israelites - they had passed through the cloud, passed through the water, they are baptised unto Moses, they had ate heavenly manna - but they were not immune because they engaged in this complaining. Look at verse 10, at the end it says: 'They also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer'. So these fiery serpents were sent, God sent the destroying angel to inhabit these serpents. Can I remind you: that's the same destroying angel that went round the houses of Egypt taking the life of the firstborn while the Israelites were sheltered beneath the covering of the blood, and so they were protected from it. But here, that very same angel is slaying them! This is strong, but it's the Bible.
Look at verse 11: 'Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come'. Romans 15:4 says: 'For whatever things were written before were written for our learning'. We have got all this Exodus stuff that we've been looking at this week, and it's all for us, it's meant for us upon whom the end of the world has come! Do you understand? This is a good day to be alive, it's wonderful to be in this end-time generation. Not only are we post-Calvary, post-resurrection, post-ascension, post-Pentecost, but we are in the last days where the Spirit is continually being poured out, and I believe that we are at the very threshold of the second coming of Jesus. I also believe that there is a great end-time latter harvest that is to come, but here's the problem, church: the church is not ready, because they have not remembered the mistake of the Israelites! They had got so caught up with their sensuality and their lustful desires, that they engaged in idolatry like the Canaanites and the Egyptians, they engaged in the same sexual immorality, they engaged in the same complaining and agendas - and because of that they didn't enter into the blessing, the promised land, they didn't get there.
Now listen, friend tonight: if you're lost in sin, and the sins that I have mentioned tonight, you're dabbling in them because you're a sinner - and we have all dabbled in a lot of them, if not all of them - do you know what you need to do tonight? You need to repent. Do you know what repentance is? It's changing your mind about your sin, and your heart, and it's saying: 'Lord, I don't want this any more. It's offending You, and it's taking me to hell. It's destroying my life and my family and, Lord, I want You to save me from my sin'. A lot of people get saved because they want to be saved from hell - I'm not saying that's wrong, but I'm saying this: there are fewer people get saved because they want to be saved from sin. Well, you need tonight, if you're lost and you want victory, you want to be released, you want to be delivered, you need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know what happened when the serpents went round biting people? Moses threw himself in front of the Lord, and he said: 'You've got to save these people, because You told the Egyptians that You were delivering these people, and that You would be with them - and if they all die in the wilderness, You haven't been true to Your word'. God said: 'Go and get a pole, and put a brass serpent on it, and tell the people to look unto that serpent'. Jesus, when He was talking to a religious man called Nicodemus in John 3, said: 'Just as Moses raised up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life'. You need to look to Christ tonight! You need to look to Jesus for to be set free of your sin!
But listen, church: if you want revival - and that word is bandied about - if you want revival, you need to die out to sin. You need to die out once and for all to sin, to idolatry, to immorality, to complaining. You need to get to the foot of the cross and die out to sin, you need to die out to self - these selfish lusts, these selfish desires - you need to die out! You say you want God to come, you want God down - turn with me to Exodus 19, and I'm almost finished, Exodus 19. Verse 9: 'The LORD said to Moses, 'Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud'' - you know, God is hard to see and understand at times, a thick dark cloud - ''that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever'. So Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people''.
God is going to come down on the third day, but the people have to get ready! Do you think it's enough to talk about revival, pray about revival, and sing about revival - but there is immorality, and idolatry, and complaining, and backbiting, and all sorts of stuff in our lives and in the church? We are living in a dream! We are! Look at verse 15: 'And he said to the people, 'Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives''. Now there's nothing wrong with pure sexuality, God created it, God had the first sex thought. The marriage bed is honourable and undefiled. But, you see, there are times that legitimate things, legitimate, even things that are not sinful, need to be set aside for the priority of the desire and passion that is after God. That's what fasting is about: 'Lord, I want You more than I want my dinner!'. 'Don't come near your wives', look at verse 22, 'Also let the priests who come near the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them'.
Now listen: the grace of God has revolutionised my life, it has, and the Father heart of God - if you want to know more, go on my website and you'll find out all about it, a whole series is on it. But do you know what the message of the Lord is tonight? Do you know what the message of the Lord is to the church in the West? We need to hear this again: our God is a consuming fire, and He is holy, and He can't help it. Do you understand? He's not looking to zap people or to hurt people, He can't help it! As C.S. Lewis said of Aslan: 'He is not a tame lion, but he is good' - that's God. So if you come near God unprepared, it will harm you, it will hurt you. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. It is the pure in heart that shall see God. Listen folks: if we want God to come down, we need to get ready. We need to realise that He will not come down into the midst of our idols, He will not come into the midst of our filth, and He won't come into the midst of our complaining and murmuring.
So, what will you be? Will you be one of the bodies that is left in the wilderness, a casualty of the contamination of Canaan and Egypt? Or will you be one upon whom the end of the age has come, to fulfil the eternal purposes of God in the whole universe - that's who the church is meant to be. I believe, and I'm starting to believe more than ever, that God is looking for a glorious church, God is looking for a beautiful bride to return to in the midst of apostasy, in the midst of compromise, in the midst of false religion and counterfeit. God is getting a remnant for Himself - where are you going to be? Where is this church going to be? Wait till I tell you, and I don't say this to everybody, I poured my heart out to you this week - I'm telling you, I haven't held back one bit, I've given my all this week. I think I'm true in saying that before the Lord, I've given my all this week - and it's over to you. Let us pray.
Now first of all I want to give an invitation to anybody here - if you will all bow your heads and close your eyes please. I want to give an invitation to anybody, if you're not a Christian. By that I mean - I'm not talking about being brought up in religion or in the church, I'm saying that you've never had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, where your sins are forgiven, and you've repented and believed in Him, and come to the cross. This is your night, this is your night. While heads are bowed and eyes are closed, would you be able to acknowledge your need of Christ, to be free of sin, to be saved, to become a new creature in Him? Would you do that by raising your hand, and saying: 'Tonight, I want to become a Christian, I want to be saved'? Is there anyone? Quickly, please just raise your hand, put it down again, and I will see it and acknowledge it. I'm not going to embarrass you, and I will lead you in a prayer to help you to come to Jesus Christ. Is there anyone? I often say it, and it's so true, but Jesus hung stark naked between heaven and earth on a cross, He wasn't embarrassed to do that for you: don't be embarrassed to confess your need of Christ. Just raise your hand. Is there anyone?
Is there a backslider - or let's broaden it out - is there someone that professes faith in Jesus, and you know there is idolatry in your life, you know there are ungodly ways, you know. And we're not talking about slipping up every now and again, everybody slips up every now and again in sin - we're talking about serious sinful lifestyles that are characteristic of who you are, and you're wilfully engaging in it without any remote sorrow in your conscience. Would you raise your hand to say: 'I need help tonight, I need to be set free, and I need to repent of this, and I need the power of God to come and meet with me'? Just where you are, would you raise your hand, nobody knows what your particular issue is - God bless - nobody knows, and we don't need to know, nor will anybody know. Is there anyone else? Is there anyone else, now come on now, let's get real here. Are you telling me there is only one person in this whole gathering that has problems in these areas? Some of you, your problem is lying, if that's the case.
Now, you don't have to put your hand up, but some of you need to put your hand up, some of you need to actually nail this thing and come out from under the rock, the dark rock where all those creepy things are breeding. You need to come out from under it into the light, and agree with God and allow Him to set you free. Is there anybody else? God bless. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Now listen, I know this isn't easy, if there is any secret idolatry or secret immorality in this church - do you hear me? In this church, I'm talking about members in this church, that needs to be sorted out. That needs to be sorted out. I hope and trust and believe that the pastoral team here will not hang you out to dry, they will not embarrass you or make an example of you, they will be gracious - but due diligence needs to be done. I feel very led of God to say that. Even the complaining, listen: if you've got an issue, deal with that issue, and bring it up in a godly way through the right channels. But wait till I tell you: if all the breath thus vainly spent, was in heavenly supplication sent; much more the oftener we would be proclaiming what the Lord has done for us. Why don't you use your energies and put them into intercession for those issues that you see? We need revival.
Father, I think I am true being here and saying what I've said, and concluding these meetings by declaring that I have not been disobedient in the heavenly vision. I've been disobedient to plenty of things in my life, but I'm pretty sure I've not been disobedient this week. Lord, there could be folk are saying: 'Oh, he didn't preach the Gospel', but, Lord, I have preached Your Gospel, but I have preached the whole counsel of God. I have preached what I believe is Your heart for this people in this moment. The responsibility I now, in spirit, I roll it onto them, I roll it onto them. I will go home tonight light and free, Lord, because I roll it onto them.
I say to you dear people tonight, particularly the fellowship in Brookeborough: recognise the day of your visitation, and do not harden your heart. God bless you all, and thank you so much for all your attention.
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This sermon was delivered at Brookeborough Elim Church in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh recording in his 'Let My People Go' series, entitled "Remember, Remember!" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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