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Living by Faith (Vol 25) - Abraham's Faith - Promises #1

Sunday English Service - 03 FEB 19


Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 8. We have been studying about life of faith, living by faith. And the author of the book of Hebrews is writing to people from Jewish background. That's why it's called the epistle to the Hebrews. These are Hebrew people who got converted to Christianity and undergoing great persecution and problems. And the author is writing to them. And in chapter 11, particularly writing about faith, trying to encourage them. And in this he uses all the Old Testament personalities and their life stories to illustrate faith and its operation to show what faith is, how it works, and what it does and so on. So, we have now crossed the seven verses and we are in verse 8 where the subject of Abraham begins. And we talked last two weeks about Abraham. The first week I talked to just about the man Abraham and God's call upon his life. We mainly talked about his background, where he came from and so on. And the second week we continued to talk about the call, but went a little bit more into it and showed you how that, “The God of glory appeared to Abraham,” Stephen says. When Stephen was put before the authorities in Jerusalem to answer for the things that he had preached, he became the first martyr, if you remember. In answering their charges, he says, “Let me tell you brethren, the God of Abraham appeared to our father Abraham.”

What did he mean when he said the God of Abraham appeared to our father? Where did he get that? How does he know and what does he think it means to say that the God of Abraham appeared to our father Abraham? I showed you last week that it means that Abraham had some kind of an encounter with God. We don't know if it's a vision or a dream or voice from heaven or something like that. It could be anything and so we don't want to go into that. But we can say this much, that Abraham who grew up in an idol worshipping background and did not know God, completely ignorant of God, came to have an encounter with God one day, and in that encounter, he at least understood two things, I said. One, he understood that there is a living God and this is this God that is speaking to him. And there is a true and living God. He came to that knowledge. Somehow the light shined in his heart that he could understand, in the darkness he could see that there is a God, the Creator God, and He is the true and living God. The second thing he understood is that, he understood the glory of the God. That is why Stephen says the God of glory appeared to him.

Understanding the glory means understanding the fullness of God's nature, character, the beauty and the qualities of God. So, when we say flower in full glory, when it's blossomed, and it’s shining beautifully and showing forth all of its beauty, we say it's in full glory. We mean that all of its qualities can be seen, beauty can be seen. And so, Abraham in that encounter with God not only learned that there is a living God and that he is having a talk with Him right now, but he also realized that this God is a good God. That He's a loving God. He's a faithful God. He is a powerful God, He is the Creator, that there is nothing impossible for Him. And such things like that about God's power, God's goodness, God's love and God's kindness and mercy and so on. He began to understand that if you trust in this God, you'll never go to waste. That you can believe Him and whatever He says, He'll bring it to pass. He will never say anything that He will not bring to pass, that whatever He says He will fulfill. That much he understands.

So, all these things we saw in the first two days and then we finally began to talk about something that I want to continue today. And I want to go on a little bit more into the promises also that were made to Abraham. I want to continue to talk about something that I talked about last week, but kind of had to kind of stop right in the middle because there was lack of time and that is the meaning of the statement ‘leave your country and leave your people and go to the land which I will show you.’ It's in Genesis chapter 12 verse 1. First let's read Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8 as we're still studying from Hebrews 11 but the historic event itself can be read from chapter 12 of Genesis. So, let's read this and keep chapter 12 open. So, the details are available there. This man is just preaching from it. The author of the book of Hebrews is just preaching from it. So, he's making a brief reference but the details are there in Genesis 12. So, Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. And keep chapter 12 of Genesis open because you need to have in view chapter 12 verses 1 all the way to verse 7 because that is where you have the call of God.

And in verse 1 you read that, Now the Lord said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.” And then He says, “I will make you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” These are the promises and we're going to be looking at it. And then it says, So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Remember, he left Mesopotamia and, on the way, they stopped in Haran. And the first time that God spoke to him was when he was 70 years old, but now he’s 75 years old and he leaves Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So, they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

So, what Stephen was talking about when he said, “The God of glory appeared to Abraham our father,” he's talking about the very first time God appeared to Abraham and spoke to him the words that we read from verse 1 to 3, giving him all the promises, calling him to go to the land that he will show him. All right. And now in verse 7 again, God speaks to him sometime later. All right.

Now, in this verse 1 we talked about what it means to say, ‘leave your country and your family’. Now, I showed you that Abraham is our father. The father, not only of the Israeli people or the Jewish race, but he has become, because of his faith, which has become a model for everybody, he has become the father of all those who believe. That is including us. He’s the father. Romans chapter 4 verse 11 says that. Because he is a father then I said last week that the father's image will be seen in the sons and daughters of Abraham. And if we are sons and daughters of Abraham, if we are the descendants of Abraham by faith, then somewhat of the likeness of the father will be seen in us. Therefore, what happened to the father is very important for us to study because you can see faith exercised, you can see a man living in darkness, and having an encounter with God, believing God. All of this relates to our story, our salvation, our call to salvation, the revelation that we receive of God and who He is, and that He is our Savior and the we need Him and so on. I spoke about that last week. So, the encounter that Abraham had with God is about how God comes into the life of people somehow, somewhere through something God reveals Himself to people. You and I have had an encounter with God in some way. Maybe you went to a meeting, heard some preaching and God spoke to you through it, and you responded by faith. And nowadays we have churches, pastors, evangelists, and so on, so you're not like Abraham without anything, that God had to come in some other way to you. We have all these ways that you can encounter God. Or you had a friend who told you about God and about Jesus and so on and somebody led you to Christ, somebody was instrumental in leading you to God and you had a personal encounter with God where your eyes were opened, you began to see.

So, this literally mirrors our salvation experience. What happened Abraham literally mirrors our salvation experience. That is why Abraham’s study is important. Now, I've seen all my life people that say, “Oh, this is Abraham, this is Old Testament. The promises made in the Old Testament times are made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not for us,” and so on. The try to make Old Testament irrelevant for the people of the New Testament. If that is so, why is the author of the book of Hebrews using this Old Testament personality to teach the New Testament people the New Testament truths. Certainly, he’s not teaching some Old Testament doctrine or something. He's teaching New Testament truth. But the person he uses is Abraham. That shows us it is wrong to conclude that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have become irrelevant just because they belong to the old covenant. The old covenant is a mirror of the new covenant. The old covenant foreshadows, typifies and announces before the new covenant comes, what is going to happen in the new covenant. In the old covenant you see the new. The old covenant announces what will happen in the new. The total experience of salvation is mirrored through Abraham. That is why this is highly relevant. That is why this man is using it to teach the new covenant people about their salvation, how they were saved. Just like their father Abraham had an encounter, these people had a personal encounter, they're saved and they are in Christ right now.

Not only did Abraham had an encounter with God, he also had the call of God where God said, ‘Leave your country, leave your people and go to the land where I’ll call you.” Now, if we like Abraham had an encounter where we had a revelation about God, understanding about God, then we also come to the second revelation that is, we also have a similar call to leave our country and leave our home. But should we leave our country and take a flight and go to Palestine and claim that... you should understand these things in the way that you should understand. When God says, “I'll show you the land and you go there, leave your country,” doesn't mean that you pack up your bags and go to Palestine and claim that as your land, that is not so. For us, the meaning is a little different. For us, it is about leaving our old life, our life of sin, our involvement of the world, worldly ways of thinking, the worldly philosophy, the worldly way of doing things, the worldly practices, turning away from them to serve the living God, coming away from it, cutting yourself off from the old life and everything that is old so that old things are passed away and all things have become new, that you become a new creation and start a new life. That is how you need to take it.

And the land that you're going to is the vast and a good land flowing with milk and honey. Where is that land? It's not out there in Palestine. It is in Christ Jesus. It is the life that is in Christ Jesus. That is the way you need to understand it. If that's the way you interpret it... I'll show you as we go why we do it like that. The Bible itself does it like that. That's why we understand it like that. Now, if that is the truth, then how do we understand ‘leave your country and leave your family’? What is the meaning of that? It's similar. It doesn't mean that you tell every person that gets saved to leave their father and mother and country and go somewhere else. It's not leaving a place and going somewhere, it is not leaving your family completely. No, we don't do that. But we leave our old connection with the world. We cut ourselves off from the world and the sinful practices and the ways and the philosophies and the way of living that we used to carry on before, our attachment to the world is left. Now, that point I want to kind of solidify today very solidly because that's very important, ‘leave your country and leave your family’. All right? Now, it should be understood in two ways. I tried to talk about it last week but we were in a rush and I had to just hurry and read a few verses and finish but I want to systematically present it to you today and then go on to the promises if possible, at least cover one or two of them today and cover the rest later.

This ‘leave the country and family’ is about leaving the old life. And how do we understand it? If that means living the old life then the New Testament teaches that. The New Testament teaches an encounter with God where we come to know God. The New Testament teaches about call to salvation and all that, the New Testament also teaches separation from the world. And I'll show you how it teaches separation from the world. In two ways it teaches. First the legal and secondly the practical. Legal is different from the practical. Legal is the finished work of Christ. Because of the cross certain things are finished and done. What is finished and done, and what is yet to be done? Practical is what we need to do about it.

I think I gave you the example of how the court orders saying that this property is yours but somebody else is sitting on it. So, you have a court document, legal document, that says it's yours but still you can’t move in there because somebody is there, you got to take action to remove that person so you can possess your property. So, something like that happens in the Christian life, the salvation through Jesus Christ. Our faith in Christ and what He has done on the cross brings us to a legal position. And then, being in that position we begin to practically enforce that position as a living reality. We begin to take action so that the legal position becomes our practical life.

So, what is our legal position? Let me read you three verses about our legal position. One is Galatians chapter 1 verse 4. Today, I'm going to put it on the LED screen so you don't have to turn your Bible. By the time I turn and you turn to about a dozen verses, the sermon is over. So, the time runs very fast. But I need to read these things because these are solid New Testament teachings then only, you’ll understand it. See how the New Testament teaches ‘leave your country’ in the New Testament way. Galatians chapter 1 verse 4 talks about what has happened as a result of the cross of Calvary. It says, who gave Himself for our sins, you can just look at the screen here. Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age. Some translations will have it as present evil world. According to the will of our God and Father.

So, why did Jesus die on the cross? He gave Himself for our sins. Why? So that He might deliver us. Deliver us from what? From this evil world. That doesn't mean just deliver us by killing us and taking us to heaven. Deliver us from the evil world. That means, cut our relationship with the world. Cut us from this worldly thinking and the worldly practices and the worldly way that we were living. Bring about a separation from the world and us. Claim us for Himself. That is what has happened through the cross of Calvary. John 15:19 it says, If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Now, He is making a difference between we are in the world surely, but we are not of the world. Fine difference.

You can be in the world but you're not of the world, you don't belong to the world. You may be living here but you are not of the world. What does it mean? You don't follow it philosophies, you don't follow its methods, you don't think like them, you don't live like them, you don't go through what is the practice of the current time and age and so on, because you were of the world but now you are no more of the world. You are in the world still but God has chosen us out of the world. God has taken us out to the world. That is why sometimes the world ends up hating us. Sometimes you wonder why they hate us even though we haven't done anything wrong. It's because we're different. The world hated Jesus because He was different. The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was different. He was so pure, He was so holy. And the religious people didn't like that. They were such hypocrites and they said one thing outside did one thing in the back, that kind of people. And they hated Jesus because He was real. He was good, He was pure and He was holy. So, your presence itself is a condemnation of sin and sinful ways of living and so on. That is why the world hates us.

Romans chapter 6 puts it even more better. It says, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Now, this is our new position. What is our new position? That we should no longer be slaves of sin. We don't need to be slaves of sin. You heard people say, “Well, it's the sin brother. I want to serve God, I want to live for God but the sin that made me do it. The devil made me do it.” A lot of people blame the devil. You ask the devil then he’ll say, “No, no, no man I didn’t. Ask him. He did it.” For a saved believer, for a believer who's in Christ you should not have excuses such as sin made me do it, the devil made me do it, because the Bible says that you are in a position now that you should no longer be slaves of sin. God has set you free. You can refuse to serve sin. You can say no to sin. You can point blank stand up and refuse to budge to sin when sin comes to you and wants to make you bow before it. That is the new position you're in. Before, you were not in a position like that. Before, sin just had you by the neck. Whatever it said do, you did it because it dictated and you simply followed. But now being saved means that the greater one lives inside of you. You have the grace of God. The one that is greater than the devil lives inside of you. He cannot dictate. You have the power of the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life. That is your new position.

But do we live like that? That's a different story. See, sometimes you can be in a position like that but not practice that kind of life. So, that is why we need to look at the practical side. Now, let's look at the practical side. The Bible teaches the practical side like this. Let me give it to you in different points. First, a practical separation from the world is demanded from us. God demands a separation from the world for the believer. This is New Testament teaching. This is how the New Testament teaches what God taught Abraham, “Leave your country, leave your family.” The New Testament teaching is you must be separated from the world. It is a demand. You want to follow Jesus, you want to be a follower of Christ, you need to be separated from the world.

Practical separation. James chapter 4 verse 4. Look at how he addresses the believers. He says, Adulterers and adulteresses! That means even though they're in a position where they don't have to sin, there are certain believers that have continued in the life of sin. So, he is reprimanding them for that. He says, adulterers and adulteresses! So, they're saved but they are in a church still doing it, still continuing in their old ways, still following the old method of living. He says, Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? See, that is what friendship with the world. What is friendship with the world? When you say, “Everybody does it, so what's wrong with it?” That's friendship with the world. You are saying, “Hey, everybody does. Show me one person who doesn't do it.” That means you have imbibed that worldly philosophy. You have taken that worldly philosophy for yourself and you're saying, “Yeah, because the world does it, I go along with it. I got to flow with the crowd. So, with the flow.” We got all these terms. “I got to just live in this world. That's the norm here. This is very ordinary thing. This is nothing big. There's no big deal. Everybody does it.” That now you are completely erasing all demarcation between you and the world. You’re saying, “I'm no different from the world. Everybody does it, I also do it.”

That's the way some people have been doing in that New Testament church. And so, James is reprimanding them. He says, Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself the enemy of God. He says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” If you make yourself friend of the world your enemy of God. If you imbibe the worldly philosophy and say, “Go with the flow and live like the rest of the world, and just do what everybody does, that kind of a thing means that you have now become an enemy of God because you have entered into friendship with the world. Those are very strong words. This is how New Testament teaches, ‘leave your country’. See, leaving the country and family literally is about leaving the way of life that you're used to all your life. That's what it's talking about.

2nd Corinthians 6:14. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? So, he says, “You’ve righteousness, what have you to do with lawlessness? You are believers, what have you to do with unbelievers?” That does mean that we can't have anything to do with unbelievers. We live with unbelievers, we work with unbelievers, we go to school with unbelievers, we go to college with unbelievers, we work in our offices with unbelievers. It doesn't mean that we be rude to them and we kind of condemn them and all that. No, no, no. It doesn't mean that at all. It means that you need to be different from them. That's all it means. It means that you are a believer and they are unbelievers. The difference must be seen in your philosophy, in the way you think, in the way you do things, in the way you believe, in the way you act, in the way you do everything. There must be a difference. And what communion has light with darkness? The Bible calls the believer light and the world darkness. And if you read further, I'm not going to read the next verse, no time, it says the believer is Christ and unbeliever is Belial. Literally equating believer with Christ. It says, what fellowship has Christ with Belial. Literally Christ and the devil, that kind of comparison it's making. Sees you and I as one with Christ.

Then he goes on to verse 17, he says, Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” See, coming out from among them that's how the New Testament teaches it. Come out from your country, come out here from your family, come out from among them. So, these are all very important things in the New Testament teaching. Then the second thing is... the first is practical separation when the world is demanded of us. Secondly, the flesh should not be allowed to rule and reign in our life. When Paul talks about flesh and when the New Testament talks about flesh, you cannot just simply take it with a simple meaning that flesh is this flesh. Not this bodily flesh that we have. It is talking about everything that is against God, contrary to God, everything that is against the will of God, everything that is part of sin, that is what is called flesh.

So, the Bible compares the flesh with a spirit. So, flesh should not be allowed to reign. That's the second way in which the Bible teaches this ‘leaving the country and leaving your people’ in the New Testament times. Let me read to you one verse. Romans chapter 12 verse 1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. So, what is it saying? It is saying, “Present your body as a living sacrifice.” Many of us are willing to die, but he says, “You live.” Live with what? Live with your body. Live for Jesus with your body. Let your body be an instrument of God. Instead of being instrument of unrighteousness let it be an instrument of righteousness.

Do the will of God with this body. That is a true service. In Tamil, it comes out beautifully. It says reasonable service and in English it's not very clear. In Tamil it says... That means, that is the reasonable worship. That's the meaning of it. Service literally means worship. Worship is not just coming to church and shouting Hallelujah, worship is basically offering our entire self, spirit soul and body to God, we live for God, sanctify our everything that God has given to us for God and make it as instruments in God's hand. This is the way we worship God every day. This is true worship. Anything else is not true worship.

Romans 13:14. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Put on the Lord Jesus, make no provision for the flesh. Don't leave room for the flesh, for ungodly things it means. Flesh means things that are contrary to God's will, things that are against God, things that are sinful, that's what flesh is. Don't leave any room for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Colossians chapter 3 verse 5. Therefore put to death your members which are on earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. So, this is leaving your country and leaving your people. Exactly what God told Abraham the New Testament teaches a believer who’s saved. Leave that, that kind of a life is the old life. Leave that behind, cut off yourself from that. Say no to that. Don't leave any room for that. Put to death your members. That means don't kill your hand and leg and all that. Don't burn it or cut it off or something. Put to death means put a stop to those kinds of evil works.

So, first thing I said a practical separation from the world is demanded and I gave you verses for that. Secondly, the flesh should not be allowed to reign and I gave you these three verses: Romans 12:1, Romans 13:14 and Colossians 3:5. Thirdly, the claims of Christ upon His people are paramount. Look at how God claims us as His own. That's a very simple way to say it. God literally claims us as His own property. He says that we belong to Him. Amazing. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? You are not your own. Owner is God. He paid the price. Next verse says, For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Jesus has paid the price for you, total price for your total being. Your spirit, your soul, your body belongs to God. God has a claim upon us. He says, “You are not your own, you belong to Me.” So, you cannot do and I cannot do anything apart from the will of God. We cannot go places apart from the will of God. We cannot do things apart from the will of God. All the time we have to think twice before we do things. Is it the will of God? Is it the way God wants it? Is this something that God will do? Because He owns this body. This body is bought with a price, this mind is bought with a price. My spirit is God's, my body is God's. That's the way a Christian is supposed to think.

Luke 14:26. Now, listen to this, very difficult verse to understand in the New Testament. A lot of people are puzzled that Jesus would say something like this. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” They say, “My God, man. This is too much of a demand,” Everybody says. That's exactly the demand he made to Abraham. “Leave your country, leave your family.” Hello. Same thing, words are different but in essence it’s the same. “Leave your country, leave your family.” What does He mean? It says, hate your family, hate his father and mother, it doesn't mean what you think. It doesn't mean that from today you hate your father and mother and all that. No, obviously it's not because the Bible also teaches honor your father and mother, so that it may be well with you that you will live long and so on. Honoring father and mother, is a very big commandment, a part of the Ten Commandments.

So, God is not teaching against His own commandments, to hate your father and mother and so on. What He is saying is, “If you become a follower, if you become a disciple of Mine, then nobody can be above Me. I make such a demand upon you that you belong totally and fully to Me, that you are My property, that you belong to Me.” That's what He means. And He puts it in these words. “If you cannot think like that, if you cannot approach it like that, you cannot be My disciple,” He says. So, you need to understand the right sense. People are puzzled with verses like this. If you think of it in terms of what God said to Abraham, you’ll clearly understand. Some people read what God said to Abraham and say, “That's too much brother. Leave country and leave family.” God is not against his family. God is not against his country. God is against the old life, the way that he was used to living it. It has become solidified in Him. He is so engrossed in it. That's why, remember He says, “Remember the rock from which I cut you and took you from. Remember the hole from which I picked you up.” We all belong to that cultural rock of various practices, various way to do things and this is the way we are and this is how we do things, that kind of a thing. It becomes so solidified. And what the Christian faith and following Jesus means is, that many of those things is contrary to God and it therefore cuts us off from that kind of a thing and makes us a totally different kind of people. That is what it's talking about.

Galatians 5:24. Those who are Christ's. How many of you are in Christ? You’re Christ’s? What about the rest? God help you. Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions’ and desires. So, there it is, the claims of Christ upon His people are amazing claims. He says, “Totally you belong to Me. Even above your father, mother, brother, sisters and all that, you belong to Me. If you can't think like that you can't be My disciple. You cannot follow Me in that way,” He says.

Fourthly, the practical separation that I'm talking about here from the world is already taught in the Old Testament. Not only through Abraham but throughout the Old Testament is taught. Remember, the people of Israel, Abraham's descendants went into Egypt. Totally another world, they worship another god, another philosophy, another way of life, another kind of ethics, another kind of thinking, everything. They got engrossed in it. They became slaves there. Imbibed their practices and their way of life and everything. Going into Egypt is like going into the world, becoming part of the world. And from there God redeems them. How did He redeem them? Through the Passover lamb. Remember the lamb’s blood was shed, the blood was smeared on their door posts and so on. God enacted what is called the Passover that happened that night. And after that night they were supposed to go to another land. They were supposed to leave Egypt and go to another land.

And Hosea 11:1 says, “Out of Egypt I called My son.” God talks about Israel as His son. He says, “Out of Egypt I called My son.” His son had to come out of Egypt, Bible taught it in that way. You got to come out of Egypt. You see the wilderness journey of the people, that's one of the most interesting study. I taught here about the 10 times that people rebelled against Moses and so on, in the wilderness. 10 times they rebelled, 10 times. It showed that they left Egypt but Egypt was in them. God literally took them out of Egypt but they had Egypt mentality. They had the slave mentality, they had the defeatist mentality, negative mentality. So, the New Testament teaches what the Old Testament has already revealed. They were in the world, God delivered them from that through the blood and then they had to leave that world, leave that Egypt and come to the promised land, the life in Christ and the blessings in Christ. Literally, they had to leave and come.

Fifthly, the mortification of the flesh, destroying the flesh that acts up is necessity. Destroying or putting a stop to the flesh dominating is necessary. Romans 8:13. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. He’s talking about putting to death the deeds of the body. He’s talking about living according to the flesh. What does that mean? It means living according to ungodly ideals, beliefs, practices, living according to whatever your body dictated, the flesh dictated, never having any idea of what God demands, what God thinks about it, just doing what you feel like. It is that kind of world that we live in. “If you feel it, do it,” they say. For everything they got a sentence. “Do what you feel like.” Even when you go sit down and eat, they say, “What do you feel like?” That means, “What is your stomach saying?” So, you look through the sweet department you see all the jalebis, your stomach says, “I want that immediately. Right now, I want that.” And the doctor just told you not to ever go near that. And your stomach says, “Never mind the doctor. I'm telling you, I want it. I cannot live without it now.” So, you take it and put it in your mouth. And you're saying, “Just one. This whole year I haven't had anything. So, just one.”

So finally, the thing is, that's okay but who's the winner there? The flesh, not you. See, you are the person that is supposed to use your body to whatever you want, that you see fit, that God wants to use it. So, you eat what you want, you do what you want with your hands and legs, you make your hands and legs and your body as instruments of righteousness. You dictate to the body what it must do, not the body dictating to you. If you live according to the flesh, if you just keep doing what your flesh says, just like it wants jalebi it wants a lot of other things. I don't even want to mention that. And if you're doing whatever the body wants, your flesh wants, without any regard to what God wants, you’ll die, it says. You’ll destroy yourself, you’ll perish in those sins. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, that means if you shut that body up, if you tell that body to shut up and keep quiet and take control over the body, you will live, you will be successful, you will be happy, you'll be a fulfilled person. What a way to say it? “Take control,” he says, “You're bigger than your body. The one who lives in you is bigger than your bodily desires, the flesh that has no regard for God.” But your Spirit knows what is right. Your mind knows what is right. Let that rule and dictate.

That's what mortification of the flesh is all about, that's imperative, that is something that cannot be forgotten. Galatians 6:8. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I used to teach a lot about sowing and reaping and I'm a pastor sometimes I talk to people about their problems and so on. I see again and again the sadness of how when you sow to flesh... what is sowing to flesh? You keep on doing things just because your flesh feels good, your flesh told you to do it, without any regard to what God's word says. And you do whatever you like to do and whatever gives you the pleasure to do, you live like sowing to the flesh results in reaping corruption, reaping whatever you have sown, reaping a lot of trouble, my friend. In simple words, reaping a lot of hell. You want to experience hell on earth, you want to be in tears, you want to spend sleepless nights, you want to toss and turn in your bed, and not being able to sleep, you want to live restlessly for the rest of your life?

The Bible describes a restless person like the waves of the sea that comes and dashes against the shore and returns never ending. Just keeps on happening. While you’re sleeping the beach is doing that. Waves dashing against the shore and returning, the noise of the dashing and the returning. Why it's doing it? A lot of people’s soul is like that, their mind is like that, their heart is like that. If you sow to the flesh, it says you will reap corruption. If you keep on living according to the old ways being a Christian, if you just keep following the old ways and never understand this thing about leaving your country and family, having a call like Abraham to completely come out of that old system, if you don't do that then you will reap corruption. If Abraham didn't come out, he would have got nothing from God. No child, no descendants, no blessing, no promises, nothing. You can’t enjoy any blessings of God living in that. Only when you come out you reap the blessings.

When you sow you take a bag of seeds and that is enough to sow for an acre or two maybe. One bag may be enough. But when you reap you got to bring trucks the haul everything that you reaped. And I tell you, some people reap truckloads of trouble. Amazing. It’s just very sad. Truckloads of trouble. They blame the devil, they blame the mother-in-law, they blame everybody in the world. They blame even God. They blame the church, they blame God, they blame the neighbor, they blame everything. But in the end, they reap corruption, loads and loads of it. They say, “I didn't sow that much, brother.” Yeah, reaping you reap like that. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over is how you reap trouble. But if you live for the Spirit, that means if you live sowing to the Spirit good things, you will reap everlasting life. What will you reap? You will reap every blessing that is promised in God's word. You will see the blessings of God come to pass in your life.

And finally, sixthly, God demanded the supreme place in Abraham's affections. That is stated in Hebrews 11:8 itself. Supreme affection. Where do you see it? By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called out call to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he went. That is supreme affection. Somebody asked him, “Abraham, where are you going? What kind of country is that? Is it a good place, bad place? What kind of place?” “I don't know.” “Why are you going then? You fool. Why do you want to go to a place that you've never seen? Nobody told you about?” “Well, the one who told me is good. I had some light about Him. I had an encounter with Him. He's a good one. He's a loving one, He’s a kind one. He never disappoints anyone. He’s so true and He’s so good. I came to know Him. And because He said, I completely give myself. I leave my country, my family, everything and I go to the place where He has called me.”

God demands supreme place in Abraham's affection. The challenge that the Bible puts before us, who has the supreme place in our affections? Who has the greatest place in our affections? It matters really. That's what spiritual life is all about. That's what life of faith is all about. That kind of faith. You can enter in the promised land and enjoy the blessings of God because that is why God wants you to leave and come. If Abraham sat there thinking about, “Well, God is telling me to leave my country, my home,” he'll be still sitting there having no sons, no descendants, no nation, no promises, nothing coming his way. He left and look what he got. Today, he’s spoken of, today, we are preaching. We're going to preach so many weeks about him. And I've been preaching more than 40 years about him, never through with him. I'm finding more and more about him. Wonderful things about him. All right.

We should look at the promises just for a few minutes. We'll continue next week. Just for a few minutes let's enter into it. Look at the promises made to Abraham when God called him in chapter 12. The way the chapter 12 has presented itself is amazing. I don't know when you read the Bible you notice these things or not but I think if you learn to notice these things it will help you appreciate the Bible and enjoy the Bible even more. Look at the difference between chapter 11 and chapter 12. I told you last week that chapter told begins a new section. See, after Noah's Flood, God never speaks to anyone. The Bible doesn't say He spoke to anyone. Never speaking to anyone. And the world became worse and worse and worse. Finally, they ended up trying to build a city for their own name to take pride in that and to build a tower which reaches to the heavens. So, God left them to their ways, abandoned them and concentrated on one man. Wanted to take one man and make him a sample before the world, to show this is what will happen to you if you trusted in God, believed in God. He made him a sample, Abraham.

So, chapter 12 begins a new era. So, chapter 11 is the ending of the old and chapter 12 is the beginning of the new. Look at the contrast between chapter 11 and 12. It’s amazing. In chapter 11 verse 3 for example, I'll show you three contrasts. In 11:3 you read, They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. So, they said to one another is the big thing in 11:3. Read chapter 12 verse 1. Now the Lord had said to Abram. See, 11 is about what man does without God. There is no God to consult, to talk to, to find out what's best to do and so on. They talk to one another. They say, “Let's do this. Let's do that.” That's man. That's the world. Look at chapter 12, a new saga is beginning, new story is beginning. Here is God talking to a man and God telling man what to do, not man consulting with just another man but God is showing man what to do.

Another contrast, look at chapter 11 verse 2. It came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. So, what they did was they journeyed and, on the way, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they dwelt there. They looked around and they saw what's the best place to live? What is a fine place? What will make them very wonderful and their life wonderful. They just looked and everybody said, “Well, that looks good. That's green. Man, that looks wonderful. Let's stay there.” And they stayed there. But look at chapter 12 verse 1 totally different. It says, Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.” They found their land, God here says, “I will show you a land.” That's the difference. “To the land that I will show you.” One more contrast. Genesis 11 verse 3 and 4. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city.” First city enterprise. “Let's build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” This is the height of man without God endeavoring to exalt himself, to glorify himself, to show himself as somebody great with accomplishments, to see himself right on the top of everything, to be a great success in the world, has no thought about God, no thought about where he wants to go, no consultation with God, no wisdom of God, nothing. He is left to himself with his own strength, with his own wisdom, he decides. Now he says, “Let's build a city and a tower.” Why? “To make a name for ourselves.” “Oh, we’ll make ourselves great.”

Look at chapter 12. What a difference from 11 to 12. Chapter 12 verse 2 God says, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Hello, we read it again. “I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great, and you should be a blessing.” What a world of difference between living without God and living totally for God. To the man that trusts in Him, God says, “I will make you a nation. I will make you great.” Some people think when you come to God that God makes you nothing. No, no, no. God is in the business of taking ordinary people and bringing greatness.

The Psalmist says, “Your loving kindness has made me great.” What does he mean? That God loved him and he learned love from God and loving kindness from God and he imbibed that quality. He learned that quality from God, learned to be a loving kindness person himself. And that has made me great. You know, people are looking for greatness without becoming a loving and kind person. They want greatness. “Yeah, I want greatness.” When the Psalmist said, “Your loving kindness has made me great,” it's not just God saw him and he loved him and just wanted to make him great and exalt him. No, no, no. God chose him, blessed him and one of the greatest blessing is some of the very qualities of God became his qualities. God's love, God's kindness became a part of his life.

You read the story of David and how he spares Saul when he could have killed Saul at one point. He's so compassionate, so true, so good, so decent just like God. The qualities are like God’s. He says, “That is what has made me great.” It's dangerous when you're great without these qualities. The only way God makes people great is change them qualitatively then make them great. It's not just a quantitative increase, it’s qualitative change resulting in quantitative blessings. He says, “Your loving kindness has made me great.” That's the difference. The people, they wanted to make a great name here, God says, “Don't worry. I'll make you great. I'll make you a great nation. I'll bless you.”

When people try to make themselves great, only few people can become great like that. And you have to topple so many people to become great by the way. You have to do all kinds of stuff to become great. And it doesn't last for a long time. But when God makes you great, nobody can stand against it. When God makes you great, people may not like it, some people may not like it, your enemies may not like it, they will do all kinds of things to try to stop it because their philosophy is, “If I'm not going to become great then at least he shouldn't become great.” That's the world's philosophy. “So, why should I keep quiet? Let me stop his progress. Let me hinder him somehow. Let's put him down somehow, destroy him somehow.” They rise up against you. And then if you don't know God, you got to rise up against them and they'll rise up against you and you fight and kill and do all kinds of things. But if you know God, God says, “I will make you great. When I make you great, no man can even lift a finger against you. No situation can even stand against you.”

That's the blessing of Abraham, my friend. That is true greatness. God will bring greatness in your life. See, the essence of our thing is, you find God first, find a relationship with God, then everything will come fall in place. A lot of people are looking for greatness. A lot of people are looking for this and that, but it is in God Abraham had an encounter with God. That's where life begins. That's where faith begins. That's where greatness begins. That's where becoming great begins with a relationship with God. And if you don't have a relationship with God, you can have everything in the world but that's not true greatness. That will bring more trouble to you than good things. All right.

Look at the way God promises Abraham. Seven promises beginning with the words, ‘I will’. English here really helps because in Tamil it doesn't come out very well. It just says ‘I’ and then it forms into a sentence and the ‘will’ is there but in English it clearly comes ‘I will, I will, I will’. Let me read it to you. First verse, “I will show you a land.” That's the last sentence in first verse. To a land I will show. So, “I'll show you a land.” Secondly, “I will make you a great nation.” Thirdly, “I will bless you.” Fourthly, “I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.” Fifthly, “I'll bless those who bless you.” Sixthly, “I will curse those who curse you.” And seventh, “In you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So, the seven ‘I wills’. Let me say it again. “I'll show you a land. I'll make you a great nation. I’ll bless you. I’ll make your name great. I’ll bless those who bless. I’ll curse those who curse you. Finally, to your offspring, I will give this land.” That's what He meant. That ‘I will’ is there. “To your offspring,” some translations say, “I will give this land.” So, the seven ‘I wills’ in some translations that really clear.

Now, the seven ‘I wills’ you contrast that with devil’s five ‘I wills’. In Isaiah chapter 14 verse 13 and 14. Remember the Lucifer story? Lucifer is a big ‘I will’ man. He talks big, “I will do this, I will do that.” And look at him talking in verse 13 and 14. “I will ascend to heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Finally, he came to the final point, he said, “I'll be like God. I will replace God. I'll be like the Most High. I will take His throne.” So, “I will ascend to heaven. I’ll exalt my throne above the stars of God. I'll also sit in the mount of the congregation. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I'll be like the Most High God.” But it's all mouthful of words but could never keep his promise. Why? His ‘I wills’ don't work because he's not God. He cannot make anything happen. He can lie, he can cheat, he can do all those things. He cannot make anything happen. He can say, “I will do this,” but he cannot make anything happen. Look what happened next in verse 15. You shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Instead of ascending to heaven, sitting in the throne of God, replacing God, he was thrown down into the very pit, into hell itself. That’s his end, the Bible says. All right.

Now, let's look at the first promise, just the first promise. “I will show you a land,” God says. God says, “I will show you a land to which I want you to go.” Now, when God shows us a land it's always a good land. This land that God said He will show to Abraham was the Canaan land, the promised land but it's a picture of life in Christ. You know, at one-point Lot and Abraham fought because they had too many cattle and they could not find place for pasture for both their cattle. So, they kind of split, their servants were fighting. And Abraham looked at Lot and said, “Lot, just look around and choose which way you want to go. If you go this way, I’ll go that way. If you choose this, I will choose the other. I will give you the first option.” I think Sarah would have stood there and said, “What kind of a man I’ve married? God called him, God has blessed him, he should have decided where he wants to go and leave the rest to this fellow who's hanging on with us unwantedly.” But he is saying, “You have the first choice. You choose where you want to go.”

You know why Abraham behaved like that, as if he’s a fool, giving the first option to Lot to choose wherever he wants to go, he’ll choose the other? One, He knows that wherever God takes him, God will prosper him. It doesn't matter. He doesn't have to look. See, Lot looked and looked and looked and looked, I'm sure Lot's wife, the Bible speaks about her, told him, “Hey, look over there the green. I hope the old man doesn't see it. Let's go there. That's the best place for us. We’ll become better than him. We’ll become richer than him. We’ll become more of a success than him. Let's go to that land.” I think that's why when they were coming out, escaping from the destruction, she looked back because that was her choice. She loved that place. So, Lot looked and saw the green pastures of Sodom. Sodom is the place that he chose of all the places and went there to live in that wicked city. And later on, some kings came in there, looted and took the people as slaves and his family also was taken as slaves. Abraham had to go save them. After he gave Lot the first choice, God told Abraham, He said, “Abraham lift up your eyes and see, as far as your eyes can see, I will give it to you.” That means including where Lot went. “If you can see it, if your faith can see it, if you can believe Me, you have abandoned everything and walked out and come to the land where I will show you, you have trusted in Me, believed in Me,” God says, “I will give you everything that you see, as far as your eyes can see.”

God will never take you and leave you empty. God will never take you and make you a popper. God will never take you and make you a loser. God, when He takes you, my friend, He always blesses you. God is like that. Donald Grey Barnhouse was a great preacher in Philadelphia in America, the city of Philadelphia. He died back in the 60s. I remember back in the 70s, when I was studying, they used to play his program on the radio all over the country. He preached through the book of Romans, and so on. Great preacher. He says this about this passage, he says, “It makes no difference where it is or what it's geology or geography, if the Lord leads us there, it is the land for us. If the Lord does not lead us, it can never be the right land even though it is paved with diamonds.” What words. Even if the whole land is paved with diamonds is nothing if the Lord didn't lead you there. If God leads you there, it's good for you.

And I'll tell you, the world has so many attractions, it says, “This is good for you. That is good for you.” But God says, “I know what is good for you.” Salvation is good for you. Redemption is good for you. Freedom from sin is good for you. Being washed and cleaned by the blood of Jesus is good for you. Relationship with God is good for you. Having a connection with God is good for you. Being a friend of God is good for you. Because if you are a friend of God, then you got everything. Just imagine if you are a friend of the Prime Minister, you won't be afraid of everybody. You won't be afraid of your needs. You won't be going on saying, “Well, I don't have a job and nobody...” No, you can call him up. He can come up with 1,000 jobs for you. If you know somebody like that, you'll be bold and you'll be confident and you know that things will be all right. I tell you, somebody that is a million times greater, our God He is our friend. He considers us His friends. The greatest blessing... See, people talk about the blessing of Abraham. I'm going to talk about it also. What is the blessing of Abraham? The blessing of Abraham in essence is this newfound relationship with God. If you got a relationship with God, if you know God, if you're saved, you are in communion and fellowship with God, I'll tell you my friend, some people say, “Abraham's blessing is worldly blessing. But in the New Testament, it's only spiritual blessing.” The minds have gone berserk, I think.

To give us the blessing of Abraham, Jesus died on the cross. Galatians 3:13 and 14. What is the blessing of Abraham? The blessing of Abraham is this relationship with God. And if you have a relationship with God, need I tell you that all your needs will be provided, you will be abundantly supplied with everything that you need. It is not just spiritual blessing, my friend. This is spiritual blessing but that provides every need in this earth and for all eternity. That is the blessing of Abraham and we look at it even more.

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