The Blessings of God
June 27th, 1973
THE BLESSINGS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 1:26
What we’re going to do first is we are going to finish the Old Testament in our underscoring. So, if you will get your Bible; now can somebody tell me where we left off this last time? We left off 1 Samuel? Did we go through 1 Samuel? First Samuel 7:12, that was the last one. All right, let’s pick up then, that finishes 1 Samuel; there were only three passages in it that I had marked for us to underscore.
Now let’s turn to 2 Samuel; 2 Samuel 1:26, 2 Samuel 1:26. This is a very famous saying of David over the death of Jonathan, 2 Samuel 1:26,
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of woman. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
That was the lament that David made over the death of Solomon – I mean over the death of Jonathan. Now, 2 Samuel 12:7, 2 Samuel 12:7. This is the parable that Nathan said to David, and in the seventh verse, 2 Samuel 12:7, "And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man." Now verse 13:
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.
And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because of this did thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.
This is when David wrote Psalm 51; and if you would write by the side of 2 Samuel 12:13, if you would write by the side of it, "Psalm 51," this is David’s lament and confession, Psalm 51, the greatest penitential words ever written.
All right, 2 Samuel 18, 2 Samuel 18; [chapter] 18, verse 14, this is when Joab takes three darts "and thrusts them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak," that’s in verse 14. Now, turn to the end, verse 33, when they bring word to David of the death of his son:
The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept:
and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!
would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
You know, all of these passages are unrivaled in feeling and pathos in human literature. And that is the pathetic cry of David over the destruction of Absalom. And isn’t that a strange thing? Absalom was rebelling against David, and I presume would have slain his father, had he been able to achieve the purpose of the conquest of the kingdom. But that is love.
Now [chapter] 23, 2 Samuel 23: 2 Samuel 23:15-17, 2 Samuel 23:15 and 17. You remember about two Sundays ago, I referred to David’s nostalgic remembrance of the well at the gate of Bethlehem? And those three mighty men who went to Bethlehem through the Philistine lines and brought back the water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and David said:
Be it far from me that I should drink this:
is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?
therefore he did not drink it,
but he poured it out a libation before the Lord.
Isn’t that something? Well that was in my sermon about two Sundays ago. Now, 2 Samuel 24:24: and I have preached on this and have quoted it so many times. In order to take away the terrible judgment of God from Jerusalem, the angel tells him to go the floor of Araunah – now that’s Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered Isaac – it was a threshing floor in the days of David. And there he offered a sacrifice to God and Araunah said, "Look, you take it, I give it to you and the oxen for sacrifice and the instruments for wood, I give it to you."
And the king said unto Araunah
– this is verse 24 –
Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price:
neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
And my sweet people, if what you bring to God doesn’t cost you anything, it is not worthy. What you give to God ought to be something that means something to you, at a cost, at a sacrifice. "I will not give to God offerings that cost me nothing." I’m not going to tip God, I’m not going to incidentally just throw a bone to Him, no! But what I give is going to represent a real something of me.
Now 1 Kings 6:7, 1 Kings chapter 6, verse 7, this is that famous description of the temple:
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither:
so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard while the whole house was in building.
Now isn’t that remarkable? They had so perfectly hewn the stones, cut the wood, that when the building was assembled there was not the sound of a hammer or of an axe; it so beautifully fitted together. That’s the Lord.
Now chapter 18, verse 21, 1 Kings 18:21, 1 Kings 18:21: This is that famous word of Elijah:
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said,
How long halt ye between two opinions?
if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.
Now the next one is chapter 19; the next chapter, 19, verses 11 and 12. And this is just Elijah running before Jezebel – went down to Mount Sinai and there on the mount:
And God said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And God spoke to Elijah in the still, small voice. That’s a very famous passage, 1 Kings, 11 and 12, chapter 19.
All right, 2 Kings, 2 Kings chapter 5, 2 Kings chapter 5, verses 13, 14. If a man couldn’t preach on this chapter in power, he’s not called of God to preach; he just couldn’t:
And Naaman was wroth, and went away in a rage, and he said, Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them to be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing
"Go out here and conquer Ethiopia, and you’ll be cleansed of your leprosy: wouldn’t you have done it? If he’d said, Bring before me ten talents of gold and a thousand talents of silver; wouldn’t you have done it?" A talent is a weight, what an ordinary man could carry. Let’s say a talent would be sixty pounds:
If he’d bid thee do some great and mighty thing: Bring me the heads of a thousand enemies of Israel; wouldn’t you have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down and dipped himself
The Greek Septuagint translation of that, "then went he down and baptized himself," dipped himself, immersed himself "seven times," baptizo:
Then went he down and baptizo himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
[2 Kings 5:11-14]
How do you get saved? Buy it? Maybe some of us so poor we couldn’t bring very much. Be perfect? Maybe some of us don’t know how to be perfect, and can’t. What do you do to be saved? The gospel is, "Look and live." That was Moses raising the serpent in the wilderness. The gospel is, "Wash and be clean." That was the message of God to Naaman. And the book of John is, "Believe and be saved." That’s the gospel. You have it wonderfully illustrated in that passage.
Now let’s turn to [2 Kings] 6:17, [chapter] 6, [verse]17: this is when Elisha was revealing the plans of the king of Syria to Israel. And the king of Syria heard about Elisha and what he was doing, so he sent an army that surround him in the little town of Dothan. And the servant got up the next day, and said, "O my father, my father, what shall we do? Surrounded by this army?" Now [verse]17 – in [verse] 16 he said, "Don’t be afraid: for they that are with us are more than they that are with them." Now 17:
Elisha prayed, and said, Lord , I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.
And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw:
and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Just needing eyes of the soul to see them; God’s people don’t ever need to be afraid, never. We’re surrounded by the angels of God.
Now 1 Chronicles, 1 Chronicles chapter 28, 1 Chronicles chapter 28, 1 Chronicles chapter 28, verse 9 – this is David’s charge to his son Solomon:
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father,
and serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind:
for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts:
if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.
Now 2 Chronicles 7:14; could you quote that before we turn to it? 2 Chronicles 7:14. I don’t suppose there is a passage in the Bible more quoted, unless it’s John 3:16. Or more preached on, unless it be Romans 10:9-10 than this, "If My people, which are called by My name," 2 Chronicles 7:14. Now let’s turn to 2 Chronicles 36, 2 Chronicles 36, [chapter] 36 [verses] 22 and 23. Now all this is, I just want you to notice that 2 Chronicles 36:22 and 23 is also Ezra 1, verses 1-3; just wanted you to notice that. And if in your Bible you can put your little enclosure around both of those and pull them together, why it’ll just remind you that the end of 2 Chronicles is the beginning of Ezra; so I point that out to you so you can know, and if you’ll do that it’ll remind you of it. You don’t have a break here, it’s just right on through. 2 Chronicles, Ezra, it’s just all the same.
Now, let’s turn to Ezra, chapter 3, verse 12; Ezra chapter 3, verse 12. I spoke on this one time a few Sundays ago:
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house
– Solomon’s temple –
when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, they wept with a loud voice.
Just think of the glory that was departed. But then Haggai came, and remember that was the sermon? Haggai said, "Listen, this house is going to be more glorious than the former house. Don’t you weep or be in despair." And God always has that message for His children: the day may seem dark – and many times it is – don’t you despair, God still reigns.
All right, let’s turn to Ezra 5, Ezra 5, Ezra 5; now, I just point this out to you that in those two verses you have Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet. "And then rose up Zerubbabel," the political governor, "and Joshua," here spelled "Jeshua", he was the high priest, the spiritual ruler, "and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them." And in verse 1, you have them named: Haggai and Zechariah. They were helping Ezra build the house.
Now, let’s turn to Ezra 6:14. [speaking from audience] What? In Ezra chapter 5? One and two, verses 1 and 2 in chapter 5, you have the prophets named and how they helped encouraging the people. And that’s what a preacher ought to do: he ought to preach encouragingly to the people. I don’t care how dark it is or how sad it is, you ought to have a message of encouragement. Dr. Truett’s famous sermon "The Need for Encouragement," preacher ought always to do that. Now in 6:14, in 6:14, this is another reference to that, "And they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo."
Now, 7:10, Ezra 7:10: isn’t that a wonderful verse here? Ezra 7:10, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Now Ezra 8:21-23, Ezra 8:21-23, this is a remarkable passage, to me. And it illustrates how the man of God becomes sensitive about his preaching and his speaking. For you see, in that day and time, when you went anywhere, you were just as liable to be attacked by robbers, pirates, brigands, murderers, as you were not to be attacked. So when Ezra took his people and went back to Jerusalem from Babylon, they’re going back home now, why, the king offered to give them a military contingent to protect them. And Ezra – all right, here’s what happened, Ezra 8:21-23:
I proclaimed a fast, at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God
– and whenever you see that word "afflict" that means they were fasting –
to seek of Him a right way for us, for our little ones, and for all our substance.
– now look at it –
For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them that for good seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and He was intreated of us.
Isn’t that a remarkable thing? "I was ashamed to say to the king, We’d like to have your band of soldiers to protect us; because I had witnessed to the king that to those that believe in God, God will take care of them, and God will protect them." So Ezra said, "We just went without them, didn’t have any protection at all;" and God was intreated, and blessed them. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Well, Ezra 8:21-23, now you have that.
Now Nehemiah: now here we’re going to see how they go to church, Nehemiah 8, Nehemiah 8, verse 4. Nehemiah 8, verse 4, "And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood," verse 5, "and Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people)," as I am here standing in the pulpit, "and when he opened it, all the people stood up." Isn’t that great? I just like that. And you know, when I started this, years ago here in the church, there’s lots of people ask me, "Now what made you do that? And what gave you that idea?" And I said, "I was just reading here in the Bible, and that’s what they did."
And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, made for the purpose.
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;)
and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
Isn’t that just great?
Now, Esther 4:14, and all of you will know what that one is. [speaking from audience] Well I had forgotten it, but that’s right, when you reminded. That happened at the water gate in Ezra chapter 8, verse 1. Now wait a minute, I got to get – I’m over here in Nehemiah now – Ezra chapter 8,huh? Nehemiah? Oh yea, let me get my pencil out. See, I’ve already underscored these things but I didn’t underscore that.
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation, and all that could hear. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate.
Did you know a man preached a sermon just recently, and I’m trying to think of the name. Can any of you,what was it? [answering from audience] That was it: the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fort Smith, Arkansas, took this text and preached on the subject, "And it Happened Before the Water Gate," before the water gate. I think that’s very timely, don’t you? What? [speaking from audience] Verse, it is mentioned in verse 1 and verse 3, Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 1 and verse 3, you have the water gate there.
Now let’s turn to Esther 4:14, Esther 4:14, "Who knoweth whether thou art cometh to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther chapter 4, verse 14. Now we come to Job; and we have some marvelous passages in Job. In Job verses 6 to 10, chapter 1, Job chapter 1, verses 6-10; that’s where Satan appears before the Lord and talks about Job and accuses him. Now, verse 21 is a very famous one:
And Job said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither:
the Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
All right, Job 11 and verse 7, Job 11, Job 11, verse 7, "Canst thou by searching find out God?" Job 13, verse 15, Job 13, verse 15, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 14 and 14, "If a man die, shall he live again?" I have preached on that many times. "If a man die, shall he live again?" Job 14:14. Job 19:25, 27; I suppose there is not a more meaningful passage in the Old Testament than this one"
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though through my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my body be consumed within me.
All right, Job 22:21, chapter 22:21, "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." Job 35:10, Job 35:10, Job 35:10; this is the most famous sermon in the world, and it was preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and it is entitled Songs in the Night. "Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?" And Spurgeon preached on that text, "God who giveth songs in the night." And that’s the most famous sermon, I would think, that’s ever been preached.
All right, Job 42:5-6, Job 42:5-6: when God got through with Job, who was trying to justify himself, he said,
I have heard of Thee, God, by the hearing of the ear:
but now mine eye seeth Thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
And that’s the way a man does when he’s really right with God: "Lord, Lord, Lord,"
All right, now we turn to the Book of Psalms. I’d like for you to underscore now, just the psalm, underscore Psalm 1, just underscore Psalm 1, the whole psalm. All right, underscore Psalm 2; Psalm 2 is the messianic psalm. Verse 8, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy inheritance." But the whole psalm, just underscore the whole psalm. All right, Psalm 4, Psalm 4, verse 4, 5 and 8: all right, this is a psalm of going to bed at night. "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, makest me dwell in safety." All right, Psalm 8:5, Psalm 8:5:
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?
the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 9, Psalm 9, verse 10, verse 12 and verse 17; verse 10, verse 12 and verse 17. Many a storming evangelist has preached on verse 17: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." All right, Psalm 11:3, Psalm 11:3, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." And that’s the strangest thing to me that you can imagine: that in the Bible there is no reference to the atheist except this. God is never argued, never defended, never proved; it just starts off, "In the beginning, God." And the only reference that’s ever made is just this; and it is also repeated in the fifty-third Psalm in the first verse. So by Psalm 14:1, write "53:1". That’s the only reference in the Bible concerning the existence of God, arguing about it, "The fool says He doesn’t exist."
All right, Psalm 16, Psalm 16, verse 6, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." And then the famous verse 10, which is quoted for the resurrection of Christ: "For thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave," translated here "hell" and Hades, "neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." That’s a very, very famous passage on the resurrection of Jesus, Psalm 16:10.
Now, Psalm 17:8:
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.
– and verse 15 –
As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.
Now, Psalm 18, Psalm 18:25:
With the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful;
with an upright man Thou wilt show Thyself upright;
With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure;
– [verse] 28 –
For Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
[Psalm] eighteen, verses 25 to 28. Now Psalm 19, Psalm 19, Psalm 19, you could underscore the whole psalm; but especially verses 7 and 9, and then 13 and 14:
Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins,
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
That closes the nineteenth Psalm. Now, take your red pencil and underscore Psalm 22. This is the great Psalm of the crucifixion, Psalm 22, Psalm 22. All right, Psalm 23, underscore Psalm 23, under score it. Now, Psalm 25:14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; He will show them His covenant." Psalm 27:14, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 30 and verse 5, Psalm 30 and verse 5, "For His anger endureth for a moment, but joy comes in the morning; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning," Psalm 30, verse 5. Psalm 32, Psalm 32, this is the psalm of thanksgiving after David’s sin had been forgiven, verse 1, verse 2 and verse 8: "I will guide thee with mine eye," Psalm 32, verse 1, verse 2 and verse 8. Psalm 34, verse 8, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Psalm 36, Psalm 36, verse 5, verse 6 and verse 9. Psalm 37, verse 3 and 4, "Delight thyself in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land," Psalm 37, verse 3 and 4. Psalm 84, verse 11; Psalm 84, verse 11, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly," Psalm 84:11.
Now the ninetieth Psalm, underscore it; this is the Psalm of Moses and of God, the prayer of Moses; Psalm 90, Psalm 90. Underscore Psalm 91, the whole thing, Psalm 91. Underscore Psalm 103, the whole thing, Psalm 103, 103. Psalm , verse 24; I heard a mountain preacher preach on that one time, and I wish I had time here, because I remember that sermon. "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches," Psalm 104, verse 24; Psalm 104, Psalm 104, verse 24. Now, you know I said underscore 103, Psalm 103? Underscore all of it, the whole Psalm. And then in Psalm 104 underscore verse 24.
All right, Psalm 106, verse 15, 106; now you look at that verse. "And He gave them their request," they got what they wanted, they got what they prayed for, "but He sent leanness into their soul." Did you know a lot of times you can pray God, and you will get what you pray for, but you will starve your soul to death doing it. Oh, that’s so true: [Psalm] 106, verse 15.
One hundred ten, Psalm 110, Psalm 110, verse 4: this is that famous, famous verse so oft used in the New Testament, "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." That’s the messianic Psalm, 110. Now 116, Psalm 116, verse 12 – 116, verse 12 through verse 18. I have preached on that several times; it’s a thanksgiving message. All right, Psalm 118:24 – isn’t that familiar to you? Psalm 118, verse 24, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Man it’ll do your heart good to get up every morning and say that. "Yea, but my toe aches, my stomach aches, and my tooth aches, and my head aches, my heart aches, my soul aches, everything about me." Just do it anyway. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." And it won’t ache nearly so much if you do it. Psalm 118:24.
Psalm 119, the longest one in the Bible, score verse 11, "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Verse 11, Psalm 119, verse 11. One hundred five – this is one of the famous, famous, famous verses of the Old Testament – Psalm 119, verse 105, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." And Psalm 119, verse 130, "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
Now, Psalm 121, Psalm 121, just underscore the whole psalm. One hundred twenty-two, underscore the whole psalm; underscore all of it. Psalm 126, underscore the whole psalm. Psalm 127, underscore the whole psalm. Psalm 130, underscore the whole psalm. Psalm 133, Psalm133, underscore the whole psalm. Psalm 139, verse 5, verse 23; 139, verse 5 and verse 23. Psalm 145, Psalm 145, verse 16; Psalm 145, verse 16. Psalm 147, verses 3 and 4; that’s a beautiful thing: "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names." Isn’t that a sight, how it’ll do that? "He healeth the broken, and He binds up their wounds," way down here where we are; and then up there, the infinitude of God, He’s got all those stars named, and He knows all of them and they are infinite in number. You know, putting the two together: binding up a little bird’s broken wing, and counting all the stars and naming them, that’s God.
Sweet people, I give up. We’ll pick it up this fall.
What do you want to ask? Somebody? Ok dear, stand up. [speaking from audience] Honey, I’ll be gone with this chapel choir next Wednesday, and then I’ll be gone two more Wednesdays. I’m going to be gone two Sundays and two Wednesdays, and when I’m gone twice, I believe it’d be better for us to pick it up some other time. I believe so. It just takes time to do these things. That is, the way I do it.
All right, would you like to ask something, anyone? Anyone? It’s been a joy to my very soul to be here. Okay, what would you like to ask? [speaking from audience] What? We’ll just do it some time. We just will.
Anyone else? Now stand up so I can see you. [speaking from audience] Huh? All right. Now say it real loud. She wants to know whether or not a Christian can be demon possessed. Well, would you like to turn to Matthew 12, verse 43-45? Matthew 12, verse 43 to verse 45: "When the unclean spirit," now that’s your demon:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Now that’s one passage; I want you to take that passage and look at commentaries on it. And if you don’t have a bunch of commentaries, you go to our library and just take that passage – it’s easy for you to do it – and take that passage, and you read what these different scholars will say about that. And it’ll be very profitable for you to see it.
Now, summarizing my own impression about it; and when I say this, you have to remember that I am talking about my impression. There are fine, scholarly men who have an altogether different impression. When I got through speaking about my impression, some of the people here, several of them – it wasn’t one, or two, it was several of them – came to me and said, "Pastor, if you would change your word from ‘possess’ to ‘influence’, not they are possessed by a demon, but that they are influenced by a demon, why I think it’d be a whole lot better." Well I said, "That’s fine with me." So we’re not going to use the word "possessed by", we’re going to use the word "influenced by". All right now, changing the nomenclature, I’m going to repeat what I think about this. I think a Christian, a born-again believer, I think a Christian can be influenced by a demon.
All right, illustrate it: I have seen Christians that – now whether a man is really born again or not is up there in God; we’re not to judge. I am never to judge a man as to whether he’s saved or lost, that’s a prerogative of God, but I have seen men that I thought were born again and the demon of avarice, money, gets a hold of him. And the man is mad after money. Now he may be one of the finest deacons in the church, and I’m sure a born-again believer, but he is obsessed with making money. He is avaricious, he is greedy. And he may have enough money that he couldn’t spend it if he tried to the rest of his life, he’d have to throw a lot of it away to spend it, he has so much. But the more money a man gets, the more he wants. He’s got two million, he wants four; if he’s got four, he wants forty; if he’s got a hundred million, there’s no end to it. I have seen men, I have seen men, I know them intimately, I have seen men that were born again and the demon of avarice just gets a hold of them.
All right, another one: I have seen the sweetest Christians you ever saw in your life, they are dear, sweet Christians, they are lovely Christians, and they get ambitious. I know preachers, they are men of the cloth, they stand in the pulpit, they’re gifted men in the pulpit, but ambition eats them up! They want to be recognized; they want to be elected. They aspire to be – and then just name it – president of the Southern Baptist Convention, or the head of an institution, or the whatever it is. And they are sometimes consumed with jealousy, "Look at that fellow over there. Look how he’s succeeding, how he’s getting along. And oh," what have you.
All right, let’s take another thing. Now here, if I asked the church, I mean our officers and teachers meeting tonight, to forgive me my egotism, but I was going to cast aside my deep humility and talk to them a minute. Well I’m going to do it right now again. Dear people, on my word as before God, and with my hand on the Bible, when I entered the ministry, I thought nothing, absolutely nothing of its material emoluments, stipends, reward, absolutely nothing. I was a kid. And the first time I preached at a church, the deacon, the chairman of the deacons gave me ten dollars, and I refused it. I said, "Do you think I preach for money?" It never occurred to me how I was going to make a living. I had not thought that through. But I would not take it. "I’m not going to preach for money." And when everybody left, I was the last one to leave, I picked up my hat; he had put that ten dollar bill in the band of the hat, right there. The first church I was called to, they said, "If you work hard, we maybe can pay you twenty dollars a month, maybe." When I married, I was making twenty-five dollars a month; I married making twenty-five dollars a month. And after I’d been married a while, I finally got to where I was making fifty dollars a month. I lived, for years, like that; and never thought anything about it.
Did you know this young generation of preachers that’s coming on gives me the impression of being possessed, influenced, influenced by secularism, materialism. Now I have that impression of them. What they want is not a place of service, as such. What they look for is, "What kind of a parsonage do you have, and how big and luxurious is it? How big is the salary? And do you pay my car allowance? And how long vacation do I have?" I never thought about a vacation. I didn’t know people took vacations. I was too poor growing up to know people ever took vacations.
Now, Dear, I don’t know what to call that, but I am telling you that in my experience Christian people can be – and it’s terrible, it’s terrible – they can be envious, they can be jealous, they can be consumed by ambition or avarice, by lust, name it, name it. Now whether that is correct for me to call it "demon possession" or not, I’m not able to tell you, because, you know, I told you that we changed the word to "influence", but I – I think the Devil is always after us, always after us. And when he sees a niche in your armor, he’s going to put a dagger right in that place.
Now let me turn it around and say it like this: in my persuasion, in my humble opinion, I think the Christian can fall into anything, anything, name it, anything.
Was Frank Norris saved? I think so. I have never been more moved in my life than I was by reading the biography of Frank Norris and that godly mother that prayed him through. His father was a drunkard. Frank Norris created the headlines that went around the world when he shot that man in his study over there in Fort Worth. All I know is that the Christian can never lower his guard. He’s got to watch and pray. He’s got to plead, he’s got to ask strength from heaven. And there’s never any time in your life when demoniacal influences are not around you, and if you don’t watch out one of them will find that niche, and he’s in.
Well that’s a long expatiation on the question, but it’s just something. Ah, bless you. Let’s all stand before the Lord, then. Let’s repeat the Lord’s Prayer, since we’ve been talking about this blessed Word. Let’s repeat the Lord’s Prayer, remembering to say it as the Lord taught us to say it, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Now let’s all say it together.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.