Robert Morris — The Brother's Battle
All right, I want you to turn in your Bibles to Luke 15, and we're going to continue our series called, "Lost and Found". And the first message I shared in the series... I've shared two, but the first one, I called it, "The Believer's Battle". This message I'm calling, "The Brother's Battle". Now, there are two sons in this story that Jesus told about the prodigal son. There's the prodigal son, obviously, but then there's the older brother. Some of you relate more to the older brother in the story than the prodigal son. That's my wife, Debbie. She would relate more to him, because she's never left home. She got saved at nine, and she's never left home, and she will tell you very quickly, I relate more to the prodigal son, obviously. So, we're a good team.
So, I want to talk to you about "The Brother's Battle", and what I mean by that is, what about how he felt that he's the one that didn't leave home, and the one that did leave home and squandered his father's inheritance was getting the party? And how do we feel toward prodigals, and how do we feel toward people who are struggling with sin in their life, maybe a sin that we don't struggle with? How do we feel? And so, Jesus tells this parable to help us understand.
So, let me show you a little bit about the older brother here. Luke 15:25 says, "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing". By the way, that's really good dancing when you can hear it. "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, "Your brother has come and because he", that's the father, "has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf". But he", the older son, "was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So, he", this is the older son, "answered and said to his father, "Lo, these many years I have been serving you".
Now, I underlined two words here. "I never transgressed your commandment at any time, and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends". Okay. So, what's the brother's battle? The brother's battle is keeping our heart right when the Father is rejoicing over the sinners coming home. That's the battle. It's not allowing jealousy, or envy, or anger, or bitterness to come in, even when the prodigal is gone and hasn't come home yet. Think about the father standing on the front porch, maybe every night, looking for his younger son, and the older son looking at his father and beginning to believe the lies of the enemy, that the father was mistreating him because he was loving the one that was in sin even more.
There are three parables in Luke 15 - the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, and many people don't even know why Jesus told these three parables. Let me show you. If you go to Verse 1, Luke 15:1, it says, "Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them". So, He spoke this parable to them, saying". The whole reason he told the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, was because the Pharisees were upset that He was receiving sinners.
So, let me tell you what the brother's battle will do. Three things, here's number one. It affects how we see ourselves. It affects how we see ourselves. I read the verse a moment ago, but Verse 29, "I never transgressed your commandment at any time". Okay, that's a lie, because he was human. What about the verse, "All have sinned"? What about the verse, "There is none righteous, no, not one"? Listen, the only Son that can say I've never transgressed your commandments at any time is Jesus. No other person can make that statement. But, that's the way he saw himself.
I had someone tell me one time, he said, I've always done the right thing, and things haven't worked out for me like you. I've always done the right thing. I said, really? Always? But, that's the way he thought! That's the way he saw himself. That was the problem with the older son. All right, look at Luke 18, maybe just a page or two to your right. Luke 18:9, it says, "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and", watch what happens when you trust in yourself and believe your own righteousness, "and despised others". That's the battle. That's the brother's battle. If you begin to trust in your own good works, in your own righteousness, you'll begin to despise others.
This is what Jesus said. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men". Now, stop just for a moment. You maybe have never said that audibly, but have you ever had that thought? Thank You I'm not like the other people. That's a Pharisee. "I thank You I'm not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week". Notice the emphasis is on what he does. "I give tithes of all that I possess".
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner"! I tell you" - this is Jesus talking, "this man went down to his house justified", saved. "Justified, rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted".
See, the battle is trusting in your own righteousness. That's the battle. You understand, no new believer has this battle. When you say to a new believer, you know, it's just God's grace, they say, don't I know it! But, 10 years later, 20 years later, 30 years later, they're now a leader, they've now gone through the classes, they're now teaching others. You say to them, it's all grace. Well, yeah, but you know, I've done a lot of things for God. You've just opened a door to the enemy you don't want to open, because he's so happy that you're proud of your righteousness, and he's going to come in and he's going to start causing you to see yourself differently than the way you should look at yourself. It doesn't matter if it's low self-esteem, or high self-esteem, or esteem, it's self. The focus is on yourself rather than on Christ, and when the focus is on you, you're always losing the battle. The focus has to be on Christ. If you have a good week, thank God. If you have a bad week, thank God. Because, the focus has to be on Him.
Years ago, Pastor Olin Griffin, who was pastor of Shady Grove and my pastor, and one of our apostolic elders, he was going to preach for a pastor in Oklahoma, and so, I rode up with him. And we got up there, and the pastor then, we got in the car with him to go to lunch, and he was taking us around, and he said to Pastor Olin, he said, you know, the church is struggling right now. He said, we've kind of plateaued and I know it's my fault.
And Pastor Olin has a way sometimes that he'll do a little shock therapy, you know, on people? And he said to him, you know, I think you're the most arrogant person I've ever met in my life. The pastor said, what do you mean? I just told you that the church is struggling, and you tell me that I'm arrogant? And here's what he said to him. Well, if you take the blame when the church isn't doing well, you'll take the credit when it is doing well, and that's pride. See, again, the focus is not supposed to be on us, it's supposed to be on Christ. This is the brother's battle. It'll affect the way you see yourself.
Here's the second battle. It affects the way you see others. If you'll flip back to Luke 7, it affects how we see others. Luke 7, look at Verse 36. It says, "Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil". By the way, this is not Mary. This is not John's sister. This is another instance, all right? This was a prostitute, is what the Scripture indicates.
"And she stood at His feet", Verse 38, "behind Him", not in front of Him. "Behind Him, weeping, and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this", now watch these words carefully, "he spoke to himself". Okay, another way to say that is, he thought. He thought. He spoke to himself. Okay? He wasn't speaking out loud. They take you away when you speak out loud to yourself, all right? So, he's speaking to himself, thinking. And watch what he thought. "This man, if He were a prophet"... now, remember those words. "If He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner".
Now, before we read on, I want you to think about this. He is thinking. He's thinking, "If He were a prophet". Okay, watch the next three words. "And Jesus answered". I would say He's a prophet! You know, if you're thinking something and Jesus says, hey, pal, let Me answer your thoughts right now. And what's funny is he's thinking, "If He were a prophet". I think that puts it to rest. He's a prophet. He can hear your thoughts, all right? Obviously, He's God, so He knows what you're thinking.
So, "Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you". So he said, "Teacher, say it". "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii". A denarii is a day's wages. Denaris is one day's wage, so five hundred denarii would be the plural. "And the other fifty". So, one owes about a year and two-thirds wages, one owes about one-sixth of a year wages, if you like math. If some of you, like my wife, could not care less, I said that statement right there. Anyway, 550, okay? "And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore"... this is Jesus talking. "Which of them will love him more"?
Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more". And He said to him... watch, Jesus talking, "You have rightly judged". Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little".
Now, this is a passage that most people, I think, misunderstand. They think that it teaches that people owe God different amounts, and a person who owes God more will actually love God more. Okay, that is not what this is teaching at all. You have to remember that He's answering Simon's thoughts. This passage does not teach that there are some people who have been forgiven more. Let me say it another way. This passage does not teach that there are some people who are better than others, it teaches that there are some people who think they are better than others. That's what it teaches. It doesn't teach that there are some people who are worse than others, it teaches that there are some people who think that there are people who are worse than they are.
He used the amounts because He's answering Simon's thoughts, but if you read the Scripture, the Bible says if you've broken one commandment, you've broken them all. We all owe the same. It cost the blood of Jesus for all of us. What He's saying to Simon is, because you think that you didn't owe Me much, you love little. But if you understood that you owe Me as much as she owes Me, then you'd love Me a lot. See, it's not at all saying that you need to go out into the world and sin so that you'll love God more. It's saying that you need to understand the price that He paid for you.
See, this brother's battle is that you not only see yourself differently, you see others differently. Let me say it another way. If you look up to you, you'll look down to others, and that was the problem here with this Pharisee, and that was the problem with the older brother. So, it affects how you see others. Here's number three, it affects how we see the Father. It affects how we see the Father. Why did Jesus tell these parables?
See, the emphasis is on that someone lost something precious. The shepherd lost a sheep, the woman lost a coin, and a father lost a son. The whole reason that He told these three parables is to tell you how much the Father is grieving that He has lost something precious. That's why He's telling these. And the problem is that this son didn't get it. You remember, there was another never. He said, "I never transgressed your commandment". Here's another. He said, "You never even gave me one goat". You never even gave me a goat! That's a lie, just like the other one was a lie.
Let me read it to you, back in Luke 15. Verse 11 says, "Then He said to them, "A certain man had two sons". Watch your Bible very carefully. "And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me". Watch. "So he divided to", what? One more time? "Them his livelihood". But, I just read that that son said, "You never even gave me a goat". He gave him his inheritance. And by the way, the inheritance of the first born was twice, double, twice as much. He got twice as much as the other son, but because he didn't see himself correctly, he didn't see others correctly, he didn't see the father correctly, he said, you never even gave me one goat! Never one goat.
But, look at the father's response, Verse 31. "And he said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours". Okay, "you're always with me" represents the presence of God, and "all that I have is yours" represents the provision of God. Here's what he said. He said, son, you have my presence and you have my provision! Here's the problem. The younger son missed out on the presence and the provision of the father because he left home. The older son missed out on the presence and the provision of the father because he left home in his heart. He never left home physically like the younger son did. He sat in church every week, but he allowed insecurity, and fear, and anger, and bitterness, and envy, and jealousy to build up in his heart toward the father and toward his brother, his own brother. It's just amazing to me!
So, how do you keep this? How do you win the brother's battle, because, see, we all want to become older brothers and sisters, right? We all want to become older brothers and sisters, and we want to be a good older brother and sister, right? Let me just show you how a guy named Paul did it, okay? 1 Corinthians 15:9, "For I am the least of the apostles", he says, "because I persecuted the church and am not even worthy to be called an apostle". He calls himself the least of the apostles two years before he dies. Seven years later, which is three years before he died, he writes Ephesians 3:8 and says, "To me, the very least of all saints"...saints.
First, he calls himself the least of all apostles. Seven years later, he calls himself the least of all saints. Two years later, which is one year before he died, he wrote 1 Timothy 1:15. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners", watch, "of whom I am chief".
So, he calls himself the least of all the apostles, then years later he calls himself the least of all the saints, then he calls himself the chief of all sinners. He's going the right way in his opinion of himself. How? This is a guy that said I die daily. This is the guy that said I'm crucified with Christ. This is a guy that said I nail my fleshly desires to the cross. This is the guy that said, in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I have decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross".
You know, when he made that statement, of all of the sinners, Christ is a great Savior, he said, and of all of the sinners, I'm the chief, it reminds me of John Newton, who wrote "Amazing Grace", who was a former slave ship captain. He went blind in his later life, and he made this statement that they recorded. He said, "There are two things that I still see clearly. Christ is a great Savior, and I am a great sinner". Paul, one year before he dies, says, I'm the chief of all the sinners. It's only the cross. The only way you're going to win this battle is staying close the cross. It's the only way.
I want to tell you one last thing. That parable that we read in Luke 7 about, you know, those who have been forgiven little, love little. Many, many people again believe that I never loved God because I wasn't in a lot of sin. I can't love God. My wife believed that, because of that passage. She misunderstood it. She believed, I can never love God as much as Robert, because he was redeemed out of the pit. And I see this love for God, and here I was, saved at nine, never left the church, and Jesus said it. I've been forgiven little, so I can only love little.
She was wrestling with that passage, and one day in worship, she's standing in worship, and please be open to this. God can so speak to you in worship. And she sees in her mind... I would call it a vision, but many times in the church we think, well, that's something spooky or something. No, God can show you something, a picture in your mind, and it can be from God. She all of a sudden saw herself in a white wedding dress, and she knew she was the bride of Christ, and she saw Jesus standing a little bit away from her, and she took off running to Him, and all of the sudden, she just tripped and fell in a mud hole, and there was mud all over her.
She said there was none of my dress. You couldn't see any white on my dress. You couldn't see any of my skin, none of my face even, and it was all caked in my hair. I was completely, 100%, covered in mud. She said, I was on all fours in that mud hole, and I was so, just devastated, because I was muddy as a bride. And she began to think about, God brought to her mind, attitudes that she had, even as a child, that were sinful. And she started just realizing how sinful she was, with horrible attitudes and things that God dealt with her about, and even times of rebellion, sometimes silent rebellion.
And she said, I was so broken, and all of a sudden, when I opened my eyes in this vision, in this mud hole, she said, I saw a nail-scarred foot standing on top of the mud. You know, He can walk on water, He can walk on mud. She said, no mud on His foot, and He had come to me. And I followed it up and He was in a white robe, and He was putting out a nail-scarred hand. And she said, I slipped my hand up, and when I put it in His hand, the mud just went completely off of me, all the way down, and when it got to my feet, the mud hole turned into gold. And He lifted me up, and I was completely clean, and I danced on golden streets with my groom, and I knew that He had cleansed me. And she said, I knew then that the same grace that got Robert out of sin kept me from ever going into sin, and I knew I could love Jesus as much as Robert did.
We don't want to be that older brother that looks down on someone when he or she comes back to the Lord. We've got to keep our hearts right before God. I want to do something that I very seldom do, and that is I want to encourage you to order this series and get the whole thing. Every week it grieves me, because we've got to cut a little bit of the message out to fit it into this television slot, and I want you to hear all that God is saying through this series, "Lost and Found". Thanks so much for watching, and we'll continue this series next week.