Tony Evans — Helping Us Believe
Your eyes, a gift from God, hard to imagine life without them. But, you can't always trust what you see. Life is full of things that can't be seen with the naked eye. That's where God comes in. We see a problem, he sees a solution. We see weakness, he sees strength. As you're looking for answers, keep one thing in mind, you'll need more than eyes to see the things that matter. Believing is seeing.
When we speak of the natural, we're talking about things in accordance with the laws that God has established by which the world works. Science can exist because there are natural laws that, through the process of observation and testing, have been deemed to be consistently dependable so that we can live our lives based on those laws. We call them the laws of nature.
But, when we talk about the supernatural, we're talking about when God trumps his own laws, when God rises above his own laws to do something outside of those laws to demonstrate that he is not limited to the natural of his laws, but is, in fact, supernatural, that is, he can supersede his own laws as he so chooses.
In this series we're calling "Believing is Seeing, Experiencing the Supernatural," we are discovering, and have discovered already, how God works based on faith to do things outside of the natural scheme and order of nature.
Today is no different, but with a twist. Jesus Christ, according to chapter 2 verse 1, has come back to Capernaum. He's come back, that means he was already there. Let me summarize what's been going on with Jesus. He's hit a stride. Jesus, right now, has hit a stride, and he's riding a wave of popularity.
Chapter 1 verse 37, Simon and the companions find him, and they say to him, "Everybody looking for you. Where you go? You've gone off, everybody's looking for you."
Jesus responds by saying in chapter 1 verse 38, "Let us go somewhere else, to the towns nearby, so that I can preach there also, for that is what I came for." In other words, the folk want my miracles, they don't want my sermons.
So, Jesus Christ takes a break from Capernaum, but after he takes his break, he comes back, and that opens up this most-stirring story. Stay with me, I think you'll find some unique things here for your experience of the supernatural. "Many were gathered together so that," verse 2, "There was no longer room, not even near the door, as he was speaking to them."
And in the midst of his sermon, something takes place. "And they came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four men." They came, bringing to him, a paralyzed individual.
Now, if he's paralyzed, he can't walk. For one reason or another, his muscles have stopped working, his limbs have stooped functioning, and he is stuck in a condition he can't get himself out of, he is paralyzed.
Here we have a man who is in a hopeless situation and let me tell you how you can know when you're in a hopeless situation. You know you're in a hopeless situation when you can't get out of it by yourself. He can't get out of this. He can't move on his own.
Now, there are a lot of kind of paralyses that goes on. There is the obvious one, physical paralysis, but you can be mentally paralyzed, stuck in a mindset you can't shake. You can be circumstantially paralyzed by situations you can't get out of. You can be paralyzed by an addiction, you can be paralyzed by another person. Whatever it is, it's locked you in, holds you hostage, and you can't budge, you're stuck.
Such was this man, he was paralyzed. And even if you're not paralyzed, you know some folk who are, and the reason you know they're paralyzed is for ten years, it ain't changed. For ten years, they haven't budged. For ten years, they're complaining about how it is, but it never gets any better, he's paralyzed.
But, the story introduces us to four other people. Now, we don't know their names, their backgrounds, and their history, but it says that four men took this man to the house. Four men took this man for Jesus to remove his paralysis. Now, right there we are informed of a lot.
Number one, we're informed that there were four people in this man's life who carded about his condition. Even though he couldn't move, there were four men who cared for him enough, we'll call him his small group.
So, they cared for him, but they knew where to take him. If we can get homeboy to Jesus, then we believe his circumstances in life can change. Now, I don't know who long he'd been paralyzed, but however long it was, he was a grown man who couldn't stand on his own two feet.
Do you know any men like that? Grown man, but he can't stand on his own two feet. You didn't hear me, a grown man, but he can't stand on his own two feet. But, he did have some brothers in his life who helped him stand up, so they carried him.
Jesus was preaching, the four carry the one, and here's what we read. "Being unable to get him," verse 3, "Into Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying."
They lowered him right smack dab in front of Jesus. What does that tell us? That tells us that they were not gonna stop until something changed. This was not casual commitment, this was some brothers who said we gonna fight for you until we get you to the one who can change you.
So, before I go any further, I need to ask you, everybody in here should be in one of two positions. You either are a paralytic, so you're in a situation you can't fix on your own, or you ought to be somebody's friend so that you can reach down and help somebody else get to where they need to be.
'Cause one day, you may be the paralytic and you may need some folk in your circle, your group, who will not just leave you there to languish there, but will reach down and help you get to where you need to go. You ought to be one of the two categories. But today, unfortunately, we live in a day when people are just looking for their blessing.
Our series is called, "Believing is Seeing," watch this. Jesus, seeing their faith, not hearing them talk about their faith, not examining their feelings of faith, seeing. In other words, this was a visible faith. It was faith, but it was faith in motion, faith moving, faith that you could see, not just talking faith.
Remember our definition of Biblical faith. For the believer, it is acting like God is telling the truth. It's acting like it is so even when it's not so, in order that it might be so, simply because God said so. That is Biblical faith.
Biblical faith involves movement, that's why it's called walking by faith, and Jesus visualized their faith. He's feeling this thatch falling on his head, he's looking up, seeing this guy lowered down, and he's watching faith at work.
Key word, watch this, their. Not his, their, when he saw their faith. Now, the paralytic had a little bit of faith, one, 'cause he's in the word their, and it's five guys, it's four guys plus the paralytic, but he had faith enough for the four to pick him up, hoist him up, and drop him down.
So, he had faith enough to relinquish himself into the care of caring people who were willing to trust God for him and with him until his change came. 'Cause sometime, when you've been hurt deep enough, long enough, and strong enough, you don't have enough faith to believe it can happen for you.
You hear Jesus had done it for all these other folk, but you're not sure he can do it for you until some folks show up who believe where you can't believe, trust where your trust has become weak, and are willing to bring you to Jesus.
He says, "Son, your sins are forgiven." There's a whole story there. We don't know the details of the story, but we know this much, there was a direct correlation between his sin and his circumstances, okay. There was something wrong spiritually in his life that led to and kept him in his paralysis. So, watch this, before Jesus dealt with his circumstances, he dealt with his spiritual reality.
What you have to understand is, and not all negative circumstances are due to our personal sin, Jesus says, "In this world, you will have tribulation," some are just life's realities where life has realities to them. But, he specifically says, "Mister, before I change your circumstances, I have to deal with your spiritual condition."
So, what does that mean? It means the first thing you wanna make sure of when you're asking for your blessing, your miracle, your supernatural presence, is that the spiritual has been addressed. That you're coming before God and giving him the freedom to address sin so that now he's free to address circumstances.
Son, your sin has been forgiven.
So, this man was willing to entrust himself to folk who could get him to Jesus, you know. We wanna entrust ourselves to folk who got connections. We wanna entrust ourselves to folk who have a big name. We wanna entrust ourselves to folk who have power, folk who have money, who have absolutely nothing or no concern about our spiritual condition, but in the world, they got a little something-something, so we wanna entrust ourselves to them.
You better find some folk in your life who know how to get a hold of Jesus, and who are willing to open up the roof until they get you to the one who can deal with the spiritual. 'Cause Jesus know all them other folk who can help you.
That means that the paralytic was willing to take that risk. He was willing to take the risk these boys weren't gonna drop him and that Jesus could help him.
Now, your sins are forgiven. He hadn't touched the man's circumstances, the man's still paralyzed, but his spiritual condition is now right, and that's what you want. You want the spiritual to be right so that God is free for the circumstances in accordance with his will.
Well, the scribes were sitting there. These are the note-takers. They sitting there, and they're saying in everyday colloquial English, "Say what?" Because he says, they said, "The scribes were sitting there, reasoning in their hearts," that means thinking to themselves. "Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Translation, this man is out of his mind, talking about your sins are forgiven, acting like he God. Well, "Immediately, Jesus aware in his spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your heart?'"
Now, they should have known something was different when he told them what they were thinking. Okay, they reasoned in their heart, and he gonna come up there and tell 'em, "Y'all were just thinking about how could I do this since God can only do this?"
That ought of been a clue. And then he asked a question, now, this is a great question. Jesus says, verse 9, "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic your sins are forgiven, or to say get up and pick up your pallet and walk?"
Watch this now, Jesus says this is what we gonna do. What we gonna do, guys, is verse 10, "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth in history to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet, and go home.'"
And watch, stay with me here. When God deals with you and me spiritually, which means he's been free to address our sin, and we deal with that as first and primary, the spiritual comes first, freeing him up to then, just like it takes supernatural work for God to forgive, to address our circumstances, once he addresses our circumstances, take up your pallet and walk.
The reason that he does the supernatural in the circumstances that people can see is to show them he also can deal with the spiritual that you can't see.
So, when God breaks through and does something outside of nature, he does it so that you become a testimony to everybody watching that the God who deals with what you can see is the God who will deal with the more important thing that you can't see, because God is first interested in the spiritual over the circumstantial, but he'll do the circumstantial so that you will know the spiritual, because the goal of the circumstantial is to bring you into relationship to the spiritual, so that you have a relationship with him, the one who you saw do the physical.
So, when some of you begin to live this life of faith, and you watch God break through, he ain't just breaking through for you, he's not just breaking through so that you can feel better, live better, walk better, talk better, spend better, he's breaking through for you so that other folk can see that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he is God, and that you are in spiritual relationship with him, which freed him up to do what they could see.
In other words, your individual faith led to public sight, to draw public sight back into your individual faith, your invisible faith. And when he did that, when he did that, it says that the man got up immediately.
Now, let me tell you the secret of when you can pretty much know you're involved in the supernatural. It's not the only way God works, but is the dominant way God works. When you can know there's something, and this ain't natural, okay. 'Cause sometimes, things you think are supernatural, you wonder, "Well, was this supernatural or was this just the natural working out of things," okay, so sometimes you're not sure, okay.
But, let me tell you when you can be, like, sure. It's the word immediately. Sometimes the Bible calls it suddenly, okay, that means out of nowhere. That means, where'd that come from? That means, "Whoo, I didn't see that coming." That's when God swoops down, when you--how you gonna be paralyzed for 38 years and then just jump up immediately?
Come on, I need some doctor, I need a medicine, I need some surgery, but don't tell me immediately. I got my spiritual life right with God, and out of nowhere, God comes in and somebody calls me for a job, immediately. I got my life right with God, and now that I got my life right with God, I don't have to chase nobody, somebody found me immediately.
And when God comes out of nowhere, 'cause you're in touch with him, and suddenly, immediately, he told him get up. Now, the man had a responsibility, 'cause Jesus gave the command, but he had to get up, so he had a responsibility. God's miracle involved him without it being dependent upon him, because Jesus had already spoken the word to him.
But you know it's the miraculous when, whoosh, out of nowhere God enters into the situation because you've been made right with him. That's not the only way he does it, but that's a way you can know that the supernatural has intervened into your circumstance.