4 Marks of a Hell-Bound Man
February 11, 1990 |Code: 80-67
As I have been traveling across America this past week and ministering in a number of cities and encountering a number of people, I have been reminded again of the tragic reality that there is a world dying in sin. And as I was thinking about our brief meditation time this morning in preparation for the Lord's table, my heart was drawn to John chapter 8. Would you open your Bible for a moment and look with me at one of the most tragic portions of Scripture reflecting the ministry of our Lord?
In John 8 Jesus says these tragic words in verse 21, "I go away and you shall seek Me and shall die in your sin. Where I'm going, you cannot come." Then again in verse 24, "I said therefore to you that you shall die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." Three times Jesus makes that tragic condemnation...You shall die in your sin...you shall die in your sins...once in the singular, twice in the plural.
You've all heard the expression, "He has nobody to blame but himself." You've probably used it, I have. And while that axiom is true in many ways in the natural world, it is also true in the supernatural and spiritual dimension as well. When anyone dies in their sins, they have no one to blame but themselves. If a person dies in sin, to perish in an eternity of punishment, there is no one to blame but himself. Back in the first chapter of this marvelous gospel as we were being introduced to its truth, the Holy Spirit recorded these words of Christ, "There was the true light which coming into the world enlightens every man. He was in the world and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him."
It fascinates me that the Holy Spirit has said that the true light, namely Christ, coming into the world enlightens every man. There is a sense in which every man who has ever lived on the face of the earth is responsible for some degree of the light. In Romans chapter 1 we are told that the creation reveals certain things about God, conscience reveals certain things about God. In chapter 2 of Romans Paul says, "Conscience actually excuses and accuses even the pagans." And all of these Scriptures remind us that man has been given sufficient light which if lived up to will lead to further light and even the light of the knowledge of Christ. The tragedy is that man does not live up to the light. Man willfully refuses the light and as John 3 tells us, "Man loves darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil."
As wonderful as it is for us to experience the love of Christ and the peace of Christ, the joy of salvation, to know the hope of eternal life, it is equally tragic that there are many who flatly blatantly overtly reject it. They refuse the light, choose the darkness because they love their sin. The amazing part of the passage we just noted, however, is that Jesus was not speaking to out and out wicked people. He was not speaking to the immoral riffraff of His society, He was speaking to the religious leaders. He was speaking to the experts in Old Testament revelation. He was telling the most religious people of all that they were going to die in their sins and never be able to come where He was going.
How did that happen? How is it that people die in their sins unforgiven? How does that happen? Unjustified, unconverted, unregenerated, unredeemed and bound for everlasting hell. Well, there are four attitudes that guarantee you will die in your sin, four attitudes. If you want to die in your sin then these four things will make that a reality.
MARK Number one, be self-righteous...be self-righteous. The first step to dying in your sin is to be completely content with the condition you're in, to feel that you have no need of a savior, you have no severe sin problem, you're a good person, you may even think you're better than average. And certainly when God scores on the little sheet that He keeps, you're going to have more good points than bad ones. Imagine yourself having attained some righteousness through religious activity and ceremony and believe that you have no serious sin problem, therefore no need to bow the knee in humble broken repentance before God and plead for the mercy of the Savior, and I guarantee you will die in your sin.
In verse 21 Jesus said, "I go away and you shall seek Me and die in your sin, where I'm going you cannot come." He said we're going to be separated. We're going to be in different places. You're never going to be where I am because you're going to die in your sin...you're going to die unforgiven, unconverted, unjustified, unprepared to meet God.
What He is saying is very simple. Coming toward the end of His ministry and the end of His life He is saying, "I'm going to return to My Father in heaven, I'm going back to the glory of the presence of God. You...you will vaguely look for a Messiah, you will hopelessly pursue a Messiah, but you have already rejected and blindly misunderstood the Messiah so you will seek and seek and never find and you will die some day but where I go you will never comes. There is no way unto God but through Me," he said, "You reject Me and you will never be in the presence of God. The eternal home of the Father which is open to Me is closed to you."
In John 7:36 He said, "You will seek Me and will not find Me and where I am you cannot come." Jesus is announcing the doom of an unforgiven sinner. But what as I said is so interesting about this is that these were the religiously elite. These were the people who fancied themselves in the know, who thought that they really knew God. Now if you want to see how self-righteous they are, notice their response to Jesus' statement, the response comes in verse 22. "Therefore the Jews," and by the way that term when used by John generally means the leaders, the Pharisees and the scribes and in this case it does, the Jewish leaders were saying, listen to this, "Surely He will not kill Himself, will He? Since He says where I am going you cannot come." What a strange response that is. What a difficult statement to understand, why would they say such a thing?
Well, first of all they knew He was talking about death when He said, "I go away and you shall seek Me, shall die in your sins, where I'm going you cannot come." They knew He was talking about death, that was clear. But they mocked what He said by bringing up the issue of suicide. Let me tell you why. Orthodox Judaism views suicide as utterly unthinkable. In fact, the Jews believed for centuries that anyone who committed suicide was literally and eternally relegated to the darkest part of the eternal pit of punishment, that someone who committed suicide would go to the darkest part of eternity. Josephus said that and Josephus also said that the Jews believed that a person who committed suicide would be separated forever from the place of comfort and peace known as Abraham's Bosom. So what these self- righteous Jews are saying is this, "Oh, so You're going to a place where we can't come, then You must be going to the darkest part of the pit because we're on our way to heaven." They reversed the whole thing. That's how smugly confident they were in their own self-righteousness, that the sinless perfect spotless Son of the living God whose words they had heard, whose works they had seen, whose character had impressed them was to be jeered and mocked and blasphemed and treated sarcastically and assigned to the darkest pit when compared with what they deserved. What unbelievable and blasphemous self-righteousness. "Maybe He's going to kill Himself," they say, "so He will go to that black pit where we will never go since we are the righteous." That is the amazing and tragic reality of religious self-righteousness. It lives under such boastful pride that it makes unimaginable assumptions and blasphemes even the Son of God.
And so, they stand there, already blinded to His works, deaf to His words and now stupidly they ignore the warning that they shall die in their sin with all the horror that that involves in an eternal hell and they turn it into a mocking joke about Jesus committing suicide. And again they turn their venom on the Son of God.
He was going to a place where they couldn't come. But that place was heaven. That place was the Father's presence. That place was the place of eternal glory. And they were going to another place, a place of condemnation, out of the presence of God known as hell. But they were so self-righteous, they didn't think their sin was a problem and they didn't think they needed a savior, they thought they were all right, they were religious, they were moral to some degree, that was sufficient. You want to guarantee that you'll die in your sin, just live with that attitude and I'll promise you, you'll die in your sin. Believe you don't have a sin problem, believe you don't need a Savior and a redeemer. And they laughed at Jesus and they laughed until they died and then they cried in the hell they never thought they'd reach.
You see, the Jews had developed a system of salvation by human achievement and these were the epitome of the achievers. But as Luke 16:15 says, "That which is highly esteemed in the sight of men is an abomination to God." And they being ignorant of God's righteousness, Romans 10 says, went about to establish their own righteousness and they didn't realize that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. The way of a fool, says Proverbs, is right in his own eyes. But they were wrong.
So it's very simple, if you want to die in your sin, just be self-righteous. Count on the religion of human achievement, count on crediting your good works and your good deeds.
During a campaign for evangelism in Melbourne, Australia, a Melbourne daily paper received this letter which it printed. "After hearing the evangelist on the air, viewing him on television, and seeing reports and letters concerning his mission, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul and everyone else's needs saving...whatever that means. I have never felt that I was lost nor do I feel that I daily wallow in the mire of sin, although repetitious preaching insists that I do. Give me a practical religion that teaches gentleness and tolerance, that acknowledges no barriers of color or creed, that remembers the aged and teaches children goodness and not sin. If in order to save my soul I must accept such a philosophy as I have recently heard preached, I prefer to remain forever damned." That's his choice, he would have nobody to blame but himself. If you prefer to remain forever damned, then be self- righteous and imagine you don't have a sin problem, you don't need a savior.
Look at verse 23, "And Jesus answered saying to them, You are from below, I am from above." What He's saying here is, "Wait a minute, I think you have the directions mixed. I am a citizen who belongs to the above kingdom, you are a citizen who belongs to the below kingdom. I think you have it reversed." What a blow. They are saying, "Well, maybe He's going to the pit because we're going to heaven." He says, "You've got it reversed, I belong to the above, you belong to the below."
And the implication here is that you don't have to wait to be a citizen of that kingdom, you're already a citizen. In verse 44 He says, "You're of your father, the devil. You're children of the devil. You're part already of the kingdom of darkness which in its final form is the eternal hell. But you already have your belonging place there. Your unbelief, your hypocrisy, your false religion, your willful ignorance, your unwillingness to come to the knowledge of Christ are right out of the pit and your represent that, you are under the rule...Ephesians 2 says...of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience." The whole world, says John the Apostle, lies in the lap of the wicked one, 1 John 5:19. So, if you want to die in your sin, just imagine that you're fit for heaven on your own, you don't need a savior, and you will die in your sin.