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Charles Stanley - Be Careful When All Is Well




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Well, it's natural for us to strive to do the best we can do at whatever we do. And whether that's for our health, in our occupation, whatever that might be, in our relationships. Every aspect of our life, we want to do our best. And when you think about the area of your life that you don't feel like you do your best, it may be the area that sort of frustrates you and makes you anxious and maybe the thing that you pray about most of all. And in that striving to do our best, we discover what our strengths are. And we discover what our weaknesses are.

And so, sometimes we put a lot more effort in that area that we probably feel the weakest. And so, we work harder. And sometimes we improve and maybe sometimes we feel like we're not getting anywhere. And yet, if you're really working at it, you probably are making more progress than you think you are. So, you reach your goals and after you reach some of your goals in life, you relax a little bit. You take it easy. And then after a while, maybe after taking it a little bit easy, you begin to be less sensitive to the things that made you very sensitive to make you a success at whatever you were doing. And sometimes that being less sensitive means we relax about our attitudes; relax about where we are, who we're with, what we do, what our goals are in life. And so, especially is that true in our spiritual life.

And so, I'm titling this message, "Be Careful When All Is Well". We have to be careful when all is well. Because everything's going good, you're making enough money; and you're doing well in your job and you've got a little extra money; have a little extra time and so, you know, life's treated you well, and so, just relax and enjoy it. And more than likely you'll have people around you who make suggestions about how you ought to enjoy your life and what you could do and don't be snooty and you don't have to go to church every time the doors are open. And you get all kind of advice. And so, we have to be careful when everything is going our way, sometimes that can be the beginning of disaster. So, I want you to turn to the second chapter of Genesis.

And so, you know that the first chapter, primarily, is about the creation of the earth and all the good things that God did. And starting the second chapter, I want us to look beginning if you will in verse seven, "Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into him, into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden," we call it the Garden of Eden, "and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the garden the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food," listen to that, "every tree," beautiful to look at; good to taste, "good for food," the Lord, He says, "the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and then the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold". I thought that was interesting, that God identified a place where there's gold, "The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and onyx are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east out of Assyria. And its fourth river is the Euphrates". You say, Well, why did God put all that in the Bible? Because He wants us to know where it is. "So then the Lord God took the man, put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate, and to keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'"

So, God has created this awesome, beautiful place to live. And so, He says, having created all of those beautiful things, then He put two trees in the garden. Now, you and I might think, Well, why didn't You just leave it like it was? You could have put a pear tree there, apple tree, orange tree, lemon tree, lime tree. But this tree you put there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why did You have to put that in the garden? So, we'll talk about that in a moment. So, I want us to look at Adam and look at him in this light. First of all, his residence, where he lived, which we've been talking about. The Bible says it's pleasing in the sight of those who could look at it, absolutely beautiful. Tree's good for food, that it satisfies their hunger. So, he's living in this awesome, beautiful garden. Everything about it is absolutely perfect. Now, there is a tree that's sort of strange over there, but we don't know how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden together when everything was beautiful, and they were obedient to God.

So, when you think about that and you think about how perfect everything was and then it's interesting that God gave Adam a responsibility in this awesome place in which he lived. And the Scripture says that He told Adam that you're to keep the garden. That is, you're to manage it. So, it was a garden that grew and though I don't know what managing that garden would have been in the Garden of Eden. He had a responsibility and that responsibility was to keep that garden the way God had made it. And so, everything was just right. He said good for food, in other words, there were no needs. You couldn't think of a single need or desire that Adam would have had. So, when you think about that, you think about, well, what's this all about? Well, it's all about this. God had one restriction. He said now all of this, all the food, everything's perfect. Perfect wife, perfect husband. He said there's one restriction and that restriction has to do with a tree. And that tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die".

Now, watch that word "surely" because you remember what Satan said to her? You'll not surely die. God said you'll surely die. Watch this. And Satan said you won't surely die. Now, watch this. It's exactly the way the devil still works. Well, you won't really get caught. Nobody's really going to find out about it. She won't know. He won't know. They won't know. And if you take a little, it's okay because all kind of folks do all kinds of things. In other words, the devil has not changed. It worked with Adam and Eve. It's still working. And the purpose of this message is to warn you lest you drop your guard and become less sensitive to what's going on around you because things look so well and find yourself losing out on God's blessing on your life. And so, he said one thing you have to remember. The tree in the midst of the garden is deadly.

So, let's ask a question. There're two trees there, the tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would He put that tree there? So He could tempt man? No. But think about this. Suppose, for example, there were only one other woman in the world and one other man in the world and you wanted to get married and she's your only choice? He's your only choice. That's it. So, where's love? In other words, if Adam and Eve had not had a choice they'd have been like robots. And that is, why do I love her? I don't have a choice. Why do I love him? I don't have a choice. In other words, if He created them and placed them in the garden and gave them no choices, then is that love or is it not? And I believe that one of the reasons He gave them that opportunity to make a choice is, watch this, is not to choose evil and be harmed by it, but to, listen, to love Him enough to choose right. He gave us a choice to love Him or not love Him. And that makes our relationship with Him far more precious and rewarding and fulfilling. We have a choice to love Him or not love Him.

And so, let's look at Adam's response for a moment. Here he is, this awesome, beautiful, indescribable place and his response, well, what was His response? Well, he kept the garden, everything was fantastic. And then God had given him Eve. And she decided that she would try the fruit because the devil's offer was, "Then you'll be like God". Think about this. They were already like God. They had all the knowledge that they could possibly need; everything they could possibly want in life; total satisfaction, and Satan says, He's keeping something from you. Now, you can be like God. All you have to do is take a bite. And it's interesting that I don't know how long that conversation went on. It's very brief in the Bible. But finally, she decided to take a bite.

Now, watch this. According to the Scripture, she handed Adam, let's just say it was an apple, she handed Adam the apple. He took a bite. He didn't say, Eve, don't you remember what God said? We are not to eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. Both of them fell; and all of a sudden, the Bible says they discovered that they were naked. And so, they have to go hide. And then you know the story. God comes walking in the cool of the day and says, Adam, where are you? And he had to say, you know, we had to find us a tree big enough to hide behind, because we knew You would show up sooner or later.

Now, what I want you to see in this is this. In your walk with God everything's going good. I mean, He's blessing you; you're making enough money. Your family's good. You drive a nice automobile, live in a nice house. As far as you're concerned everything's just going fine. We have to live in this world on guard. We have to live on guard. We can't come to the place at any point where we say, Well, you know what? Everything's just fantastic, just relax. Because the devil always has an offer that is absolutely diametrically opposed to what God has for you. And I've seen this happen to so many people after they fight a long battle in life. And when they come to the place that they're in the right position, the right salary, right relationship, everything's just fine, and somebody comes along and says, Well, have you ever thought about thus and so? You know what? We really have a good time, and of course, we drink a little bit, and because one drink never hurt anybody.

Listen. The devil probably said that to Eve. One bite, Eve, is not going to hurt you. It didn't take but one bite to destroy her. We have to live sensitive to the Holy Spirit within us. And I am certain that when Satan made the offer to Eve, it was a very deceitful, lying offer. But instead of thinking about what she had; thinking about where she was; thinking about what God had said, and how absolutely perfectly they lived, she decided because he said now, if you want to be like God, take a bite. She decided she wanted something that, watch this, that was forbidden, when she had everything, something that was forbidden, because Satan said, Well, if you really want to enjoy the garden; if you really want to enjoy life, you'll have a bite. Just take one bite. But that was Satan's lie, that was His trap. Satan is still lying. He's still telling people, You need this.

Well, if you're really going to live, you ought to have some of this. Or if you really want life, you need to be married to her instead of her, or him instead of him. And you name it, Satan's full of lies. He hasn't changed. He uses the same tactics he's always used. Lying about the truth; denying what God has said is true. He said, "In the day that you eat of this you will surely die". And that's exactly what they did. So, think about this. All the pain, all the sorrow, all the heartache, all the death, all the misery that has happened in this world began in a perfect garden between two people who disobeyed God. In any family, if one family, if one person disobeys God specifically, very clearly, what happens? Everybody in the family hurts. Everybody in God's awesome family from the beginning of time until this moment, we have all hurt. We have all been injured. We have all felt the weight and the burden and the guilt of sin.

You have to be careful when everything is good. You have to be careful when everything is right. And what happens is that when everything is just right, that's when people drop their guard. That's when people begin to think, Well, you know, how well they're doing. Well, before you were doing so well, you were praying to God. And you're obedient to God and you're asking God to give you direction and guidance for your life. And you're asking Him to meet your needs and heal your body or whatever it might be. And now that everything's going so good, you decide, well, I'll try some of this or some of that. I'm telling you, that's the devil's trap. That's Satan's trap over and over and over again. What we find going on all around us is Satan's trap. A little bit of this won't hurt you. Listen. A little bit of sin will hurt you, because a little bit of sin usually multiplies into a whole lot of sin and a whole lot of disobedience to God.

When everything is going your way, look around you carefully. When everything is looking good, be careful who you listen to. Be careful who you look at and the way you look at it, and the way you respond to other people, and the way you choose your friends. So, the last thing I would mention besides Adam's response is Adam's regrets. Look what happened, expelled from the garden. First of all, the shame, they had to hide, try to hide from God. They had to cover up their bodies because all of a sudden, they never experienced shame. All of a sudden, they were ashamed to being naked, ashamed to be in the presence of God. Afraid that God would find them and naturally He did. Fear of what was going to happen because all of a sudden, they could hear it like an echo, "In the day that you eat of the fruit of this tree, you shall surely die".

Too late. Too late. This idea of I wish I had; I wish I had not, too late. You have to be careful who you listen to, what you look at, who you see, what you want, what you desire, what your future looks like. Because remember this, the soul that sinneth it shall die. That law of God has not changed. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow has not changed. The wages of sin is death has not changed. And so, we have the privilege of living obediently before God. We have the Holy Spirit living within us to give us warnings, to say watch this, watch that. And we can't really excuse ourselves for the things that we do, that are not right, because God warns us. And we have a whole Bible full of warnings. Adam and Eve had the voice of God, crystal clear, in the In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Now, we have from Genesis to Revelation a Bible full of proofs. The day that you sin against God, something happens to you. You die on the inside.

Listen to me carefully. There are many people who are dying every day on the inside and call it something else. The wages of sin, there's only one healing for that. God hasn't changed His laws if you'll think about Adam and Eve, they had everything. Watch this. How long did it take them to lose everything? And they lost it all. So, I would simply ask you a question. Are you careful about who your friends are? Are you careful about what your husband or wife brings home? Are you careful about reading the Word of God every day? Are you careful about talking to the Heavenly Father every day? Are you sensitive about your relationship to God every day? Are you tempted, having watched other people appear to have such a good time and maybe in your circumstance, you're not having a very good time? But you're obeying God. Are you tempted to want something that will end up absolutely destroying you?

Remember this. You cannot change the laws of God. The soul that sinneth it shall die. The wages of sin is death. You cannot change it. Therefore, as followers of Jesus, we have to be, listen, filled with His Spirit, obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit, sensitive to when He shows us something that does not belong in our life, that you and I are able to say, No, no, no, no! Don't worry about what your friends think, People who are living without the Lord Jesus Christ are dying a little bit every day. So, when everything is going well, we have to be careful to listen clearly to the voice of God when He gives us a warning. And then, not argue with Him or have a discussion with Him, but obey Him.

Well, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, listen to this. You're like Adam and Eve hiding behind the tree. You're lost and the only hope of salvation is accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, trusting Him for the forgiveness of your sins, for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable you to be the person God wants you to be. Does that mean you'll never be tempted? No. Does it mean you'll never sin? No. But it means that you have the Lord Jesus Christ living on the inside to warn you, the Holy Spirit to empower you to say no to sin and yes to the Living God. And I trust that you'll be wise enough to do that. If you're here this morning and you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, if you're willing to ask Him right where you sit, God, that sounds just like me. I've sinned against You. I've known better. I knew the truth but if I've violated it, I'm asking You this morning to forgive me of my sins, I'm asking You to forgive me right where I sit. I'm trusting You as my personal Savior, giving my life to You. How will God respond? Forgive you of your sins, save you right where you sit. If you'll ask Him, He will do it, and that's my prayer for you.

Father, we thank You that You placed in the Word this simple account of why we are where we are today. And I pray that You have spoken to anybody here who is on the verge of, who has tasted of, who has fraternized with, who is being tempted to, to be reminded that Your law doesn't change. And even after we're saved, and we choose to sin against You, something dies on the inside of us. And I pray that seated right here, if there are those, Lord, and there surely must be or You wouldn't have me preach this message, who are being tempted, who are making choices, who are listening to the devil say, You will not surely die; or whatever line he sends them. Grant them wisdom, oh God, to say no to the devil and yes to the Holy Spirit, is my prayer in Jesus's name, amen.

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