THE MISSING NOTE IN PRESENT- DAY PREACHING
"The Sinner Mourning Apart."
We have brought you twelve messages on "REPENTANCE, THE MISSING NOTE IN PRESENT- DAY PREACHING." At this time we bring you our last message on this series. Our subject is, "The Sinner Mourning Apart." With our Bible in hand, let's turn to Zech. 12:10, and read,
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness, for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of' Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every, family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart. All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. "
True repentance is always manifested by sorrow of heart. Paul describes true repentance as godly sor row (II Cor. 7:10). There is no true repentance apart from a deep mourning of heart on the part of the sinner over his sins. Modern day thinking is that repentance is nothing but a change of mind, or that it is just an act of turning performed on the part of the sinner, and in most places today repentance is a thing of the past, and the average preacher knows nothing about it. Repentance is a change of mind, but it is a deep, radical, fundamental, lasting change, which is always accompanied with sorrow for past sin and a sorrow or a mourning over your totally depraved, corrupt, vile, hellish nature. A change of heart or mind that has no tear in its eye, no mourning for sin in its heart, is no evidence of salvation.
In our present day preaching repentance is the lost note, and only simple faith in Christ is preached, which is the shortest route to direct a sinner to Hell. In such a method of salvation there is no mourning, there is no sorrow over sin. It is just a mental assent to Christ, which does not affect the heart of man. You cannot separate repentance and faith they are inseparable graces that God requires, and gives, in the salvation of every sinner. The Holy Spirit never preaches repentance as a trifle or as a mere turning. Neither does the Holy Spirit preach faith apart from repentance, or repentance apart from faith. God given repentance is the sinner discovering his iniquity and manifesting an utter hatred for it. Repentance is God showing the sinner who he is, what he is, and the judgment he is under, and the sinner acknowledging it and manifesting an utter hatred and abhorrence for himself. If there is no such discovery on the part of the individual, there is no genuine repentance therefore, no saving faith and no salvation.
Let us be sure of one thing -if unbelief leads you to think that your sin is too great for Christ to cleanse, you do not have true repentance, for Christ died for all your sins. For you to think that your sin is too great for God to forgive, you undervalue the power of Christ's blood, deny the truth of God's promises, and detract from His sovereign grace. This leaves you in the hands of Satan and on the road to Hell. I warn every sinner in that condition today to labor to get rid of that idea. The Holy Spirit never teaches a man that his sins are too great to be forgiven. God can save you if you be as black as Hell. If you are tempted, my awakened sinner, to believe that you are past the mercy of God, this is of the devil, and not of the Holy Spirit. Such an idea is not true repentance, but it is sin against the infinite sovereign mercy of God. Let me say with all the emphasis of my soul, based upon God's eternal, unbroken Word No soul is beyond the mercy of God!
Let me emphasize this fact for you to dwell on the consequences of your sin rather than upon the sin itself keeps you from believing, and is not true repentance. For you to be so distressed with fears of Hell, thoughts of death, or terrors of eternal judgment, is not true repentance. I may say, these experiences may come with repentance, but they are not a part of repentance. I have seen sinners so terrified by the Law until they were distracted, and if Satan succeeds in keeping a person in that condition, they can never be saved. Let me say again, you may be so terrified that God's mercy seems to he gone forever, but this is not repentance. Let me tell you frankly any repentance that keeps you from believing in Christ is a repentance that needs to be repented of (11 Cor. 7:10). Furthermore, any repentance that makes you think that Christ will not save you may God deliver you from it! because true repentance leads you by faith to Christ. Let me go a step further, there is also a false repentance, which leads men to hardness of heart and despair.
For instance, someone will say, "I have done too much evil I am too wicked, I am too sinful; there is no hope for me. I will not hear the Word of God any more. I may as well give up and go on to Hell." Such an individual cannot get the thought or truth that God will forgive them. I have met some who feel a kind of regret that they have done wrong, but they feel that there is no hope and they would just as well continue on in the pleasures of sin, as there is no hope for them to have the pleasures of grace. This is a sad state of mind. which tends to harden the heart. Listen, sinner, the Lord Jesus Christ saves you, not by what you feel. but by His finished work, by His shed blood on the cross that is, by His blood and righteousness, which God has accepted on your behalf. Awakened sinner, remember this one thing no repentance is worth having which is not perfectly consistent with faith in Christ. The repentance that sinks a man low as Hell is of no use unless there is the faith that lifts him as high as Heaven. A man may loathe and detest himself he may abhor himself for his sins, and at the same time he may know that Christ is able to save him, and will save him. Now, get this truth the true Christian lives in this manner: he repents as bitterly as if he knows he will be damned for it; on the other hand, he rejoices as much in Christ as if sin were nothing at all. True, heartfelt repentance leads you to Christ. Ask God to give it to you.
True repentance is stripping the sinner, because the Gospel strips him of all of his self righteousness; saving faith is clothing the sinner with the perfect righteousness of Christ. True repentance casts sin out with an utter hatred; saving faith admits Christ in as Saviour and Lord. True repentance purges the soul from dead, wicked, diabolical works; saving faith fills the soul with the living Christ and good works. True repentance pulls down and destroys the old building; saving faith lays the Chief Corner stone, which is Christ, and erects the new building. True repentance scatters the stones and lays waste the old man, saving faith puts the stones together. True repentance weeps and mourns and sorrows with a heart of bitterness over sin and the sin nature; saving faith rejoices over the finished work of Christ on his behalf. Therefore, you cannot separate true repentance and saving faith. The one you cannot have without the other.
The individual who can look back upon his past life with pleasure, or look upon the idea of returning to his sin without an inward loathing and disgust is not truly repentant. When the individual sees clearly by faith the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord, and knows his sins are pardoned and forgiven, he does not cease to mourn for sin. That mourning continues until he reaches the pearly gates. As the believer's knowledge of his guilt becomes greater, his mourning becomes deeper, and his hatred of sin grows in proportion as he understands the love of Christ by which his sin is put away. The more we realize our indebtedness to God's grace, and the more we see of the sufferings of Christ in order to our redemption, the more do we hate sin and regret and mourn that we ever fell into it. Let a hog fall into a mudhole, and he likes it; he will stay and wallow in it. Let a lamb fall into a mudhole, and he will get out bleating to be washed and cleansed, and he is not satisfied until he is. An awakened sinner who wants to be saved shuns sin, cries out against it, and wants to be cleansed from it. The born again believer cannot rest until he is cleansed.
One point about true repentance is that all in the land were to mourn. It was an individual mourning, it was a great mourning, it was a bitter mourning mourning as for one's only son. Another manifestation of genuine repentance for sin is that it is so personal and so individual that it is apart from every one else. When you see a sinner get alone and bear his sin apart, quitting the company of his fellows, and lamenting his sin apart from everyone else, you know that he is truly repenting. As the sinner is brought to see that the Gospel demands a self denial, a letting go, a turning loose, or an unconditional surrender of everything in the world, he is brought to the place of mourning. True repentance makes the sinner weep and abhor his past life be cause of the love of Christ. True saving repentance weeps and wails because of Him. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, " and "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." When the sinner is broken down by the love of God, he is then brought to the place of mourning, because he sees that Christ died for him and paid his sin debt. He sees how he has trifled with his soul's salvation in the face of such love and mercy and longsuffering.
Let's first notice the individual effect of sorrow for sin. This is true when mourning is universal. Our text says, "The land shall mourn, every family apart." If the Holy Spirit should bring this whole city, or every one in radio land, under conviction at one time, the whole group would be mourning, even though each individual would be mourning alone. If a whole family of a dozen were under conviction at the same time, every one would be mourning, but every one would mourn apart. Let me emphasize this one truth every sinner who is ever saved comes the same way along the way of grace; there is no difference. This old idea that we are all going to Heaven but by different routes smells of the sulphuric flames of Hell. There is only one route for any sinner to get saved, and this is, by repentance and faith that leads to the Lord Jesus Christ as your all sufficient Saviour and Lord. I will hasten to say that, as there are no two individuals created alike, each individual mourning over his sin will be unlike all other individuals, but he will be mourning, he will be weeping over his sin nature. Here is a family of five, and all of them have measles. One may have a temperature of 102 degrees, another of 105 degrees. One may be nauseated, the other may not be. One may be suffering intensely, and the other one not. But they all have measles. So it is under Holy Spirit conviction that leads to repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. One may be suffering intensely, the other one may not. One may be under Holy Spirit conviction over a period of months, the other over a period of weeks. but they are mourning over their sin nature and the way they have treated the Lord Jesus Christ.
We also see that this mourning is individual in the distinction set forth between the different families who fear the Lord. It is said that David's family mourned apart. Here is the royal household. Because David is king is no sign that he is an exception, as there are no exceptions in God saving a sinner. The royal house hold had to mourn, and did mourn, as did all others, for there is no difference in human nature, whether it is the king on the throne or the drunkard in the gutter.
Then there is Nathan's house hold. Here we have the prophet's family, or the preacher's family. They had to be saved just like all other sinners are saved. Back yonder in 1939, when God began an awakening in this church, and began to break down lost church members, unsaved preachers, and unsaved deacons, and bring them down to the place of mourning, I thought, Surely, God wouldn't bring me down in that way. I must be an exception: A man who has preached for twenty five years, who has led in a great missionary program surely God would not bring him down low. But, my friends, before I ever got saved, I resigned my pastorate, took my place on the front row as a condemned, lost sinner, and I saw that I was no different from any other sinner. I had to come the same way, walk down the same trail through the same house of Holy Spirit conviction, be taught by the same Teacher, and be brought to mourn and weep and bewail my sin nature in true repentance before I was admitted to the Fountain of Cleansing for salvation in Christ. Now that is the reason why unsaved religionists, unsaved preachers, unsaved Bible teachers, and unsaved theological professors hate God's message, whether it is preached by me or by anyone else. They have to give up their pulpits, they have to give up their chairs of learning and take their places as poor old ignorant mourners on the condemned row, in the condemned cell, on the gallows before a sovereign God, stripped of all their self righteousness, stripped of all their would be learning, stripped of all their self esteem, and brought low. Now, brother, you will come that way or go to Hell! You can call that "embarrassing" it is embarrassing. Brother, don't you think that it isn't embarrassing for a preacher to walk into his pulpit some Sunday morning and tell his congregation, "I am a lost sinner, and I want to be saved," and don't you think it wouldn't disturb his audience and cost him all the reputation he ever had! But thousands need to do that very thing today, because they are going to Hell and leading their audiences with them. Religion is at its lowest ebb that the world has ever known. Why? Because there is no repentance, and they are trying to make the world religious without Christ. If there is no Holy Spirit conviction, then there is no repentance; if there is no repentance, there is no saving faith; and if there is no saving faith, there is no new birth. If there is no new birth, then you have no Christ; and if you do not have Christ, then you miss Heaven; and if you miss Heaven, then you are just as sure for Hell as a martin is for its gourd. You say, "Brother Shelton, I don't like that type of preaching that's too hard!" Then pour it back into the jug and cork it, or go to Hell for your trouble. You will repent or perish!
Then it says, "The family of the house (house hold) of Levi (mourned) apart, " and "the family of Shimei (mourned) apart. " The individual shuts out every intruder, and shuts himself up alone with God as he mourns over his sin. I never have any confidence in a person's repentance until I see that sinner separated from everybody and everything, until I see him shut himself up alone with God, and mourn over his sins, mourn apart, mourn as if he were the only one who ever sinned, or the only one for whom Christ ever died.
Let's notice how this individual mourning manifests itself. The mourning for sin on the part of the individual is such a personal thing until the sinner feels himself to be alone as to character, that is, he sees himself as the greatest of all sinners. When the publican went up into the temple, he smote himself upon the breast saying, "God be merciful to me the sinner." He saw himself as the only sinner, as the most wicked sinner who ever lived. Paul declared that he was the chief of sinners. The individual who is brought down to the place of repentance by the Holy Spirit cannot see, and does not see and under stand, how anybody can be more wicked than he is. I would not argue with anyone who tells me that he is the chief of sinners. I know that in his own heart he has come to feel so keenly the spirit of conviction, he has come to see so definitely his unveiled wicked heart until he feels himself to be the most wicked, most hellish sinner that ever lived, or ever could live.
This individual mourning on the part of the awakened sinner over his sin is separate as to place. When a man is under the sense of the guilt and the weight and the burden of sin, he likes to get alone, and he will get alone. No matter where it is, he must get alone; if he has to be in a crowd, he will shut himself up alone with God. You may think he is crazy, but the individual does not care.
This mourning over sin is so personal and individual as to time. The awakened sinner does not mourn by the clock and he does not set a time to mourn. He just mourns. It may be in the morning, it may be at midnight, it may be at noonday; but he will mourn! Others may be praising him, but he will be mourning. Others may be lamenting over a broken heart, but he will be smiting his heart be cause it will not lament, it will not break. He will be crying out, "Oh, what a hard heart I have! Oh, that God would break it, that God would smite my heart of unbelief and my heart of rebellion!" Every awakened sinner, man or woman, who ever gets saved must mourn for sin apart, and he will mourn. And there is no regulating his mourning by the movements of the clock; there is no set hour when you get alone with God.
The individual who mourns over sin gets apart to manner that is, some can weep over their sin. others cannot shed a tear. Some are silent, some arc so shut up until they do not say a word. Others may cry aloud. One man feels that his heart is broken. another individual, no doubt, envies him and wishes that his hard heart would break. Let me call your attention to this fact mourning over sin is so personal that there is a separate form of mourning for every individual. No two mourn alike. Let no awakened sinner say you have not mourned because you have not mourned as someone else has. Don't try to copy anyone else's experience, but let God deal with your heart as He will.
Every person who mourns for sin has his own secret. This secret he tells no one but the Lord. The individual who mourns over his sin never tells all he knows, whether it be his friend, his pastor, or anyone else. God pity any preacher, or minister, who will try to receive his confession of sins. A sinner is responsible to God alone for his confession.
You say, "Brother Shelton, how do we account for this individual mourning?" Here it is there is a natural shame which prevents our confessing all our sins before others. The heart desires to go to God Himself, and the presence of anyone else is an intrusion between our souls and God. The individual sinner who mourns is conscious that his guilt has been all his own. Not for one moment does he think of laying the blame on those who tempted him, or on ungodly parents who neglected him. He looks only to Christ. This individual mourning is a sure sign of sincerity. Remember, friend, you were born alone, you will die alone, and you will have to stand at the Judgment alone; therefore, "you must be born again" alone. It is a personal matter. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you Christ the "Rock that is higher than I."