Steven Furtick - Sins With Benefits
I want to talk to you about sins with benefits. Sit down and listen to this. In verse 25, it says he chose the reproach of God's people, or we could say he chose the inconvenience of purpose over the pleasure of sin. "Anybody who says sin doesn't feel good didn't do it right. Amen". Everybody quotes this verse to talk about how sin runs out, but here's the thing I've learned about… We could call it Egypt. We could call it the place where we go to have our needs met. If you do not appreciate and acknowledge the need a sin is meeting, you won't know how to get that need met in God, and you will come right back to it. I know how that sounds.
"Appreciate my sin? My sin killed Jesus. How can I appreciate my sin"? I'm not talking about appreciating the consequence of it. I'm not talking about willfully rebelling against God. Even the apostle said "Where sin increased, did grace that much more increase. But shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who died to sin live any longer to it"? But is the message we're preaching in churches really helping people get free? "Quit sinning". Just put it on the church sign. "Quit sinning. Quit cussing". You know what? I would rather you keep cussing and not quit growing than thinking the whole point of the Christian faith is behavior modification.
Now this may separate some of us, because some of us may be so addicted to the gospel message of "Quit sinning. Quit sinning. Quit, quit, quit, quit, quit". But today I want to talk to you about the sin of quitting. Did you know that quitting is a sin? I'm not telling you not to put your résumé out. Maybe you do need another job. I'm not telling you to stay in an abusive relationship. That's foolish. I want you to be safe. But to quit on what God gave you to do and the deposit he called you to guard is the greatest sin of all. Sometimes I've had to keep crying while refusing to quit. Sometimes I've had to keep wrestling. We have an epidemic in our world today. It is the epidemic of quick quitters. There is no value in what is lasting.
The priority is what is seen. So we will quit something to appear knowledgeable rather than staying and becoming wise. It's an epidemic. We quit everything so quickly. If it doesn't get 10 "likes" in 10 minutes we delete it. I'm too grown to give up that easily. The Bible said Moses was grown enough to know "This is not who I am. This is not all I am". Yes, it's nice. He wasn't giving up a life of poverty and failure. He was known as the grandson of Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world. He said, "I would rather give that up for what God has for me. I would rather give that up". Because he was grown enough to discern what's really worth it. That's what Graham is saying. "You tricked me out of my money before I was grown enough to do a cost-benefit analysis".
So there's a contrast. Let's study this for a moment. The Lord has been dealing with me to teach a little deeper lately, so I'm going to try to do that. He didn't choose who he was born to. He didn't choose what he went through. He chose his response, and he focused on his reward, because he knew the pleasures of sin were fleeting. Disgrace for the sake of Christ was of greater value than the treasures of Egypt. Do we really believe that? The treasures of Egypt. The way the world defines your worth. You know all about it. It's status oriented. It's all the visible stuff. It's all the external stuff. He chose something he couldn't see because he saw something that others didn't. It said, "He persevered because he saw him who is invisible". His values didn't come from something that was visible.
Now, the more tempted you are to quit, the greater the significance. Nothing I ever did in my life of significance was I not tempted to quit. Now, when I am tempted to quit on something God gave me to steward, I realize the temptation to quit is an indication of the significance. A lot of us are addicted to quitting. You can talk about addicted to pills, addicted to porn, addicted to the bottle, addicted to this, addicted to that. What about the addiction we have to quitting? I'll tell you what that looks like. In my 20s (I was reflecting on this with Holly the other day), I had this almost mafia mentality with people in my life. The way I operated was… This will sound really weird to some of the people who I have been friends with for almost all my life, because I am a loyal person, but I went through a stage where, in my immaturity, at the first sign of conflict I would quit a friendship. That was a protective mechanism. I believe it was something I saw modeled many times. I believe some of that has to do with how my dad grew up.
You see things. I do believe that's part of it. I also believe I was immature, and I believe I was insecure. So, the moment a friendship… I'm using this as an example. The moment a friendship would have conflict associated with it, it was easier for me to quit or to flee from the friendship than to face what I needed to face. For many of us, the moment a relationship starts getting really intimate, we quit getting closer. We will even design drama in order to be a defense mechanism from us really having to push past the surface and let someone see us. I was too insecure and too immature to know that the richness of intimacy is worth the willingness to push past the insecurity. God is changing me now because I'm growing. The funniest thing about us is we celebrate so much when someone "steps out in faith" to do something new.
But I was thinking the other day: sometimes the reason we're always stepping out to something new is because we don't want to stay and really change. I know this sounds weird, because the passage is about Moses leaving Egypt, but it is written to Hebrew Christians who have to stay in their faith. He is using the example of someone who left something that was not really true to them in order to encourage us to stay with what's really worthwhile. When you're tempted to quit, here's what happens: you only see the benefit of quitting. The Devil knows how to hide the price tag. That's how temptation operates. We're not mature. We're not grown up.
Look at this in Hebrews, chapter 5. Because you can't quit. You can't quit because of this. Look at what he says in verse 11. "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand". You quit trying to understand. The moment it doesn't make sense… Sometimes if we hear a sermon and it doesn't rhyme and they don't tell us exactly what to write down, we don't even listen anymore. He's frustrated about it. I'm not, but the writer of Hebrews was. "You stopped trying to understand". "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again". He said it. I didn't. "You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil". Constant use.
You can't quit every time it doesn't make sense. And for the love of Paul McCartney, you can't quit every time you don't understand something. (I don't know why I said "Paul McCartney". His name popped into my mind. "That was a deep connection. I didn't follow it". I didn't either.) Listen to me. He's talking about Moses, the infant God protected, and how God protected certain things in your life in an infant stage because he saw potential for this moment. Don't quit before you get to see it. Moses persevered because he saw something that was not apparent to the naked eye. The treasures of Egypt. The benefits of sin. I know it sounds bad, but certain sins meet certain needs. Don't you love to judge people? I love it. I'm just being honest with you. I love judging others. It is the greatest escape from having to reflect on myself. It is amazing.
I do not recommend it, because it has a surcharge. The surcharge is shame. It's the hidden expense. Now watch what the Devil will do. He'll tempt you with something. Right? I'm not just talking about tempting you with something you heard about in youth group. I'm talking about the temptation to quit, the temptation to stop short of all that Christ has for you. In that moment when you're tempted to quit, he highlights the benefit and hides the expense. If you quit showing up, if you quit trying, here's what you can expect to experience: relief. But relief is not freedom. We don't know the difference. We run around quitting everything that would change us, running from everything that would revolutionize us, and resisting everything God sends to grow us. It feels like freedom, but it's really just temporary relief. Sexual immorality is temporary relief with the price tag of permanent bondage.
Gossip… Oh, that was a quiet one right there. Did you hear all the dryness in the atmosphere? The flowing of the "Amens" just ceased. The immediate vacation from having to deal with yourself. Moses had the ability, even though he didn't do it perfectly… Y'all, he murdered a man, and God called it faith? God does not frame our mistakes like we frame our mistakes. The process of maturity is learning to get from your Father what you used to get from Pharaoh. Every need sin is meeting in your life, God can meet it in a better way. Every need manipulation is meeting in your life, God can meet it in a better way. When we manipulate things, do it in our own strength, do it without praying about it, do it without caring about others, do it without considering the consequences, do it without being true to the integrity of who we are…
When we are manipulating something, we are trying to meet a need. The need is for us to be certain. Faith can meet that same need. Faith can be certain that no matter what the outcome is, all things are working together for my good. I don't have to control anything. I can trust God in everything. Moses chose, and you have a decision to make. "Will I be identified with what I've known? Will I be known as where I came from or will I in this moment of my life…"? He was 40 when he got there, but you don't have to be 40. You can do it when you're 14. You might be 80 and you can do it. If you make the decision in this moment, "I will not be defined by my environment. I will not be defined by the events that happened to me…" He persevered because he saw. He saw what others couldn't see. Therefore, looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, who despised the shame of the cross but endured it for the joy set before him.
I believe God is calling us into a season of greater faith than needing to see the reason. I believe God is calling us to deeper faith than giving up the first time it doesn't work out. I believe God is calling somebody that you cannot give up on yourself because he has not given up on you yet. Even when he had to track down Moses in the wilderness 40 years later and bring him back to Egypt to deliver the people… Before Moses chose God, God chose Moses. So, I don't think you get to quit. You don't get to quit. It's not an option. The blood bought you. The grace of God called you. There's a hand of God on your life. His grip is stronger than yours. Too grown to give up. I've seen God do too much to give up. I've been too developed. He should have killed me when I was a little kid, because I know too much about God to walk away now.