Robert Jeffress - Detours That Destroy - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to, Pathway to Victory. Have you noticed that nearly all the pastors and church leaders who are publicly exposed for sin have something in common? Their sins typically involve one of two things, money or sexual immorality, and that's no coincidence. Today, we're going to look at a stern warning from Hebrews 13, about the dangers of these two sins, and how we can avoid their damaging impact. My message is titled, "Detours That Destroy", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Remember, there are consequences for immorality. God will judge. Now, he's not talking about the hell and fire brimstone kind of judgment. That's a real judgment for non-Christians. But he's talking about there's a judgment for Christians who fall into fornication, or into any other type of immorality. You know today, the non-Christian says, "Oh, there's nothing wrong with sex. It's just a natural bodily function that needs to be satisfied, like getting thirsty or getting hungry". In fact, one unbeliever wrote, quote, "Sex is a function of the body, a drive which man shares with animals, like eating, drinking, and sleeping. It's a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don't satisfy it, you will have all sorts of neurosis and repressive psychosis".
The writer of Hebrews, and God himself says sex is more than just a physical act. It is an emotional, it is a spiritual act. And that's why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee immorality, for every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but an immoral man sins against his own body". Listen, all sin is sin, I understand that, but some sins have greater consequences than other sins do. And when you join yourself to somebody you're not married to, you're not just joining your bodies together, you're joining your souls and your spirit together as well. And it can have devastating consequences.
Back in 1992, I was reading Charles Swindoll's newsletter to his church congregation in Fullerton, California. I used to read it every week. He would write a, "Pastor's pen," like I do. And there's one of those issues that really caught my attention. He was talking about the consequences of sexual immorality. And it made such an impression on me, I clipped it out and kept it in my file all of these years. I'm talking to some of you in this congregation right now, some of you watching or listening to this message, right now, you're involved in a secret, immoral relationship. Or maybe you're just on the edge, about to fall into such a relationship.
Before you go any further, I want you to listen carefully to the very real potential consequences of that immorality. Number one, the total devastation that will bring to your children, their growth, innocence, trust, and healthy outlook on life will be permanently damaged. The embarrassment of facing other Christians who once appreciated you, respected you, and trusted you, will be overwhelming. If you're engaged in the Lord's work, you will suffer the immediate loss of your job, and the support of those with whom you work. The dark shadow will accompany you everywhere and forever. Disillusionment and anger will spread rapidly among those to whom you once ministered. Your fall will give others license to do the same. Your mate will immediately be isolated by most of those who once stood near. Guilt, shame, and rejection he or she is sure to feel will accompany the anguish of loneliness. The inner peace you once enjoyed will be gone forever. You will set in motion a generational chain reaction. You won't be able to stop it, no matter how hard you try. The heartache you will cause to your parents, your family, your peers, your mentors, and your disciples will be indescribable. You will never be able to erase your fall from your or other people's mind.
As Solomon wrote, "Your reproach will not be blotted out". This will indelibly remain etched on your life's record. The name of Jesus Christ, whom you once honored, will be tarnished, giving the enemies of the faith reason to sneer and jeer. Your mate will feel betrayed, and can never again say that you are a model of fidelity. Suspicions will rob her or him of trust. Your escapades will introduce to your life, and your mate's life, the very real probability of sexually transmitted disease. And then Swindoll closes his article with these words, "Solomon was right. The way of the transgressor is hard. Forgiveness may come, the affair may end. Restoration to fellowship may occur, but these consequences will never go away". Avoid the detour of immorality. The writer gives a second detour we ought to avoid with the same kind of resolve, and that is materialism, materialism.
Look at verses 5 and 6, "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have. For he himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you,' so that we can confidently say, 'the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me'"? And talking about the trap of materialism, Paul warned Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. And some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themself with many griefs". Money has a power to lure you off the track, and distract you in your relationship with God. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, "Well, only rich people suffer from materialism". The audience to whom the writer was addressing in the book of Hebrews were poor folks, people who had lost everything, because they had followed Jesus Christ.
Did you know those who are poor can be just as materialistic as those who are rich, believing that money is the answer to their problems? No, it's a problem that is universal. How do you keep materialism from getting you off track? Again, look at these verses, and notice three commands right inside this passage, for avoiding the detour of materialism. Number one, avoid unnecessary entanglements with money. In verse 5 he says, "Let your character be free from the love of money". 2 Timothy 2:4 Paul says, "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier". There is something about money and focusing on money that trips you up, as you're running the race. It gets you entangled with things you shouldn't be entangled with.
Now, the truth is we all have to deal with money at some level. We have to earn it, we have to spend it to take care of ours and our family's needs. We have to put some aside for the future, as Proverbs said. We can't say we're not going to have anything to do with money. But the writer is saying, "Don't let it become the focus of your life. Don't let it trip you up, and get entangled with it". Do you know, one way people get, Christians get entangled with money, where it becomes an obsession with them, is when they become slaves to debt. Consumer debt is a major problem among all Americans, including Christians. I was reading just this week that the average American has $5.700 on his credit card. $5.700 of credit card debt.
Now you may think, "Well, that's not a big deal, because pastor interest rates are really low". And they are low right now, except on credit cards. You know what the average credit card rate is, right now today, 17.89%. That means if you're an average American, with $5.700 of debt, and you say, "I'm going to get rid of that. I'm going to pay off $100 of that debt every month," do you know how long it will take you to pay that debt off because of the accruing interest? 10 1/2 years, and at the end of 10 1/2 years, you will have spent $7.100 on interest, in addition to the $5.700 on the principle, almost $13.000 to pay off that $5.700 debt. That's what debt does, it entangles you. And the book of Proverbs, the writer says in Proverbs 22:7, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave".
Secondly, to keep materialism from detouring your relationship with God, learn the secret of contentment. Learn the sacred of contentment. He says here in verse 5, "Be content with what you have". Now admittedly, that's a lot easier said than done, isn't it, to be content with what you have. The truth is, no matter what income level you're at, there's always somebody who has more than you do. And you think, "If only I could have this amount of money, then I could really have all of my needs met, and I would be free from the love of money. I just need a little bit more".
I remember watching an interview between Barbara Walters, remember her? And the late Ted Turner who founded CNN. He was a billionaire. And I remember she asked him, "Ted, how does it feel to be so wealthy"? He said, "Barbara, I'll tell you how it feels. It's like a paper bag. Everybody sees the paper bag. Everybody thinks they want the paper bag. And they get the paper bag, and open it up only to find it's empty". Now that's what a billionaire is saying about wealth. It is empty, it's a mirage. It doesn't satisfy your deepest needs. The secret to having your needs met is to learn the secret of contentment. I wrote a book on contentment years ago, but I said the word contentment, the English word comes from an old English word that is containment. It comes from the word containment. A content person is one who is self-contained. That is, his happiness in life, his joy, his satisfaction is not tied to the Dow Jones industrial average, is not tied to the square footage of his home. It's not tied or dependent upon the kind of car he drives. He's not looking to external things to fill him up. He's looking inwardly, and for a Christian, that inward resource is a relationship with Jesus Christ. No amount of money, no amount of possessions can satisfy the void of an empty life.
And that's why Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I'm in. I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity. In each and every circumstance, I've learned the secret of being filled and of going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need". You know what that secret of contentment is he learned? He tells us in the next verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Did you know that's the context of the verse? "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Contentment, the secret to contentment is tying your sense of wellbeing to Jesus Christ. That's the secret of contentment. But to do that, we need to follow this final command in Hebrews 13:5-6, that is, acknowledge the sufficiency of God. There is no contentment apart from trusting and acknowledging the sufficiency of God. "Be content with what you have," verse 5, "For he himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we can confidently say, 'the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will man do to me'"?
Remember, I told you that these Hebrew Christians, chapter 10:34 says they had actually had their properties seized, because of their Christian faith. But the writer said, "You know that you have for yourselves a better possession, and a lasting one". And that better possession, that lasting one is rooted in the sufficiency of God. You know I realized today, I'm speaking to some of you who may be in financial knots right now. You're tied up, and worry about your financial future. Maybe you've been laid off because of this pandemic. Maybe you've had your savings depleted. Maybe there's a medical need that you have. And to be quite honest, when you hear words from people who aren't going through that particular problem at this time, when they say, "Oh, trust in God. Be content with what you have," those words seem hollow. They don't help at all. Don't listen to my words, listen to God's word. Listen to God's promise to you. He's the one who says, "I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you". Or listen to the testimony of one of God's saints who suffered loss and needed God's sufficiency. He said, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me"? Men and women for 2000 years have trusted in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, and they have never been disappointed. Trust in the sufficiency of God.
As we close today, I want to close with two final thoughts, and two commitments I want to ask you to make to stay on track in your relationship with God. Here's commitment number one, write it down, will you commit to say no to immorality of any kind? Will today, you make the pledge to say, "I'm going to abstain from any sexual immorality in my life". That means sexual activity outside of marriage. "I'm going to say no to it today". One Tuesday evening, a couple who are not married, but living together, were watching television. They had decided not to get married, because frankly, they didn't want to go through the pain of another possible divorce. So they decided to live together, and this Tuesday night, they had rented a movie. They were about halfway through the movie, it wasn't that good. So they turned it off, and on popped on their television set our church's program, Pathway to Victory. And the pastor was talking about sexual purity. And when the woman called our church the next day, she said, "My boyfriend and I watched that message to the very end. We were glued to every word. And when the pastor had finished, tears were streaming down both of our faces, and we made the commitment right then to move out, not to live together any longer, until we got married".
That was a hard thing to do, but they did it out of faith, believing that God's plan for them was really best. Do you have that kind of faith? Are you willing, no matter how hard it is, to say, "If I'm engaged in a sexual activity outside marriage, I'm going to break it off. I'm going to stop it today". Remember, those stop signs are for your benefit, not for God's. Secondly, will you commit to be content with your financial circumstances? To be satisfied with your financial circumstances, instead of focusing on what you don't have, will you commit to be grateful to God for what he's already given you? Remember Paul's words again in 1 Timothy 6, "For if we have food and covering, with these things we should be content, satisfied, grateful". And those who are willing to make that commitment, God has a promise for you, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. He who trusts in me shall never be disappointed".