This is a message I preached at one of our leadership breakfasts. I believe it’s message is rather timely for America. One by one, we need to choose to do right, for God’s sake alone, and this country and yours… will change….
Illegal vs Immoral – Wrong vs Right!
“Hey, I didn’t do anything illegal” is a statement I have heard out of the mouths of certain business leaders.
Remember, we have been adopted into a royal family, we have now become children of the most High God through Jesus, kings and priests unto Him!
We are no longer merely governed by the laws of the land in which we live, but also by the courts of heaven, where truth, mercy and holiness reside.
In many cases, I would have to agree, these people operated in the confines of the laws of the land. Yet, what about the laws of God? In trying to survive in today’s ‘jungle warfare’, that we are forced to compete in as business leaders, did we find ourselves lying, cheating, stealing, or violating sacred trusts, in order to make a buck?
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
I think about Ananias and Sapphira, (Acts 5) who were struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit, in the presence of a man of God, anointed by God to raise up His church.
Yet, let’s break this down into a modern day contract negotiation. It would be fair in construction, to take bids or estimates from vendors, suppliers, and contractors on a project, compile the bids, add an acceptable profit and overhead, and submit the completed bid to the client.
Contracts are then issued and performed. When the work was performed, the vendors or suppliers would then invoice according to their initial approved estimates, and we would pay them, based upon the percentage of work completed. If there were additions or subtractions to the contract, these are documented, and suppliers are paid accordingly.
This, however competitive it might become, is honest business.
Yet, here are a couple of scenarios that are not only common in the business world, but in many cases have become, ‘the law of the jungle’.
Let’s just say for instance, that I want to make more on the electrical portion of the job, so I tell my electrician the amount of the other two bids, telling him to match the lowest bid, or he does not get the job. This is unfair, in that it is now a corrupt bidding process, for I have immediately disqualified the other two bidders by secretly disclosing their numbers to my buddy.
Or, I have been awarded the contract, and I have so much money allocated for each trade or portion of the work, and I then ‘shop’ the bid by lying to contractors, saying: ‘I only have $5000.00 into this project for electrical, can you do it for this, and we will make it up on the next one.”
When perhaps, acceptable profit and overhead is 20-25%, and I actually have $10,000.00 allocated for the work. The honest way to do this, is to simply ask contractors, “How much are you willing to do this job for?” and let them bid it fairly.
In a free market economy, competition will keep the bids on track.
This scenario, is exactly what Ananais and Sapphira did.
Now, let’s say, that the job goes well, and I am invoiced by my suppliers, but I tell them, that ‘we ran into some additional expenses on this job, and we are all having to settle on 90cents on the dollar.’ In other words, I get paid the full amount of the contract, but pay my suppliers 90cents on the dollar, and pocket the remainder. This is lying, cheating, and stealing.
Let’s look at Ananaias and Sapphira for a second:
Acts 5: ¶ But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
I have a picture come to mind, for all you theologians out there, of one of the Levitical high priests, perhaps an Old Testament prophet, who saw the new covenant God was about to make with all humanity through Jesus. How the law, with all its holy ordinances and principals would be fully satisfied in Jesus, and how all the punishment a sin sick humanity deserved, would be poured out upon this One, the Lamb of God, and how God our Father, would receive His sacrificial death as an atonement for our sins, and that after He had raised Jesus from the dead, how God could now pour out love, and mercy and blessing upon anyone who believed. Perhaps this man had spent his entire life consecrating Himself to God’s laws and service in the temple, well aware of God’s holiness. Perhaps He cried out the throne, knowing in the future that a people totally undeserving were now going to enter into the covenant he had given his life to uphold, and from the depths of his heart he cried: ‘God, forsake not Your Holiness!”
And God heard, and performed a precedent setting example in the courts of heaven – sin would still be judged, and unfortunately for Ananias and Saphira that day, their lies, cost them their lives.
These two did what is common business in the United States today. They sold a piece of land, and then had a private meeting, to discuss what they were going to do with the money. They decided that because of the big revival going on at the church, that they ought to make an offering at the temple because it was the politically correct thing to do:
Ac 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Others, touched by the Spirit of God were doing it, so they decided to join the noble, God fearing community, and give into the gospel.
Yet, they decided to try and make themselves look good at church, while padding their pockets with a nice little profit.
Funny thing about sin, it costs more than you were willing to pay, and generally takes you further than you were willing to go.
Notice, in Acts 5:2 how: they did not have to give the entire purchase price of the land in the offering.
They could have simply declared how much they were going to give, and placed that amount in the offering, and gone away from the meeting, blessed of God, and favored of man.
Yet, like many business people I have met, they told one story, but lived another.
It cost them their lives.
Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
How many lies do we have to tell, before we become liars? Just one.
How much do we have to steal, before we become a thief? Just once.
How often can we accept a bribe or shop bids, before we become a cheat? Just once.
Whatever happened to sin?
I wrote an article on this title, that became controversial: https://chrisaomministries.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/whatever-happened-to-sin/
Seems discussion of sin in the church, is not longer politically correct, yet the gospel is this:
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
If the apostle Paul could call himself the chief of all sinners, how much more I, and you, before a holy God.
The gospel, or good news, is that Jesus Christ died upon the cross, to pay for our sins. He will forgive, but only if we humbly, honestly ask Him, with the intent of going our way and sinning no more.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
I love this verse that I describe this way: If you sin, immediately tell Jesus, and ask for His forgiveness. When you do, He will hear, and He will forgive you, and give you strength and grace to not do it again, and wisdom to know what to do next. He, in His amazing love, will cleanse you from the your filth, and will even make the impossible possible, in mending the unmendable, fixing the unfixable, cleaning up the mess we made.
This is repentance. This is the cross. This is grace. This is the love of God.
Perhaps you are in this place today:
You have been a mover and shaker, trying to get things done in this brutal world we call the business world. Yet, your words have become lies, and truth is no longer the bedrock upon which your life is built.
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [a]adjusted and [b]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [c]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
The people I am speaking today, have already blown it, and have sinned, yet unlike Annanias and Sapphira, you are still alive.
God is love. He is merciful, and though there may be brutal consequences to your sin, you are alive, and He will walk with you as you bear them, and more importantly, He is not done with you, for there is a fate far worse than death.
There is a very real, eternal place, called hell, and Jesus and I are working very hard to see that you don’t have to go there.
Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
In a book, entitled ‘A divine revelation of Hell’, a lady claims to have been taken by Jesus into hell, and shown around. Everyone knows Him there, for He sent them there:
Re 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
His heart, is always to seek and save the lost, but if His offer of forgiveness and restoration is rejected, He only has two other options: 1. You can die, your life cut short because of your sin, but your soul saved that you might make heaven, instead of hell. 2. You may eternally reject His blood, and refuse to change your ways, and in that case, you will go to hell.
In one account in hell, the woman witnessed a man in a prison cell, tormented in flames, screaming in pain. He saw Jesus, and cried: “Jesus, give me one more chance. You know I will do better this time!” Jesus looked at him, with eyes of steel, and said: “You are still a liar, even here!”
There is a day of judgment, where we will appear before Jesus, alone. No excuses, every word and action of our life on complete display. No one to blame, but ourselves. What we do this day, can prepare us for that day.
Some theologians attempt to preach, that a person who has accepted Jesus can never lose their salvation. I disagree. Consider these words written by the apostle Paul:
Run for your life!
Leave people, places and things that corrupt you. Choose truth, holiness, and honesty before God, at all costs, no matter how much money is involved, or what people might think.
How much is eternal life worth?
No one can keep your individual appointment with God on that day, but you, yourself.
Make a decision, to watch your words and actions, today. All we have is today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is only a dream. Work for your God given dream, but live, in truth, today. His name is ‘I AM’, and Now, faith is. He is an ever-present help in time of need, and we all need Him.
Before we pray, I give you the following story:
Who was United States Senator Edmund G. Ross of Kansas? I suppose you could call him a “Mr. Nobody.” No law bears his name. Not a single list of Senate “greats” mentions his service. Yet when Ross entered the Senate in 1866, he was considered the man to watch. He seemed destined to surpass his colleagues, but he tossed it all away by one courageous act of conscience.
Let’s set the stage.
Conflict was dividing our government in the wake of the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson was determined to follow Lincoln’s policy of reconciliation toward the defeated South. Congress, however, wanted to rule the downtrodden Confederate states with an iron hand.
Congress decided to strike first. Shortly after Senator Ross was seated, the Senate introduced impeachment proceedings against the hated President. The radicals calculated that they needed thirty-six votes, and smiled as they concluded that the thirty-sixth was none other than Ross’. The new senator listened to the vigilante talk. But to the surprise of many, he declared that the president “deserved as fair a trial as any accused man has ever had on earth.” The word immediately went out that his vote was “shaky.” Ross received an avalanche of anti-Johnson telegrams from every section of the country. Radical senators badgered him to “come to his senses.”
The fateful day of the vote arrived. The courtroom galleries were packed. Tickets for admission were at an enormous premium.
As a deathlike stillness fell over the Senate chamber, the vote began. By the time they reached Ross, twenty-four “guilties” had been announced. Eleven more were certain. Only Ross’ vote was needed to impeach the President. Unable to conceal his emotion, the Chief Justice asked in a trembling voice, “Mr. Senator Ross, how vote you? Is the respondent Andrew Johnson guilty as charged?” Ross later explained, at that moment, “I looked into my open grave. Friendships, position, fortune, and everything that makes life desirable to an ambitions man were about to be swept away by the breath of my mouth, perhaps forever.” Then, the answer came — unhesitating, unmistakable: “Not guilty!” With that, the trial was over. And the response was as predicted.
A high public official from Kansas wired Ross to say: “Kansas repudiates you as she does all perjurers and skunks.” The “open grave” vision had become a reality. Ross’ political career was in ruins. Extreme ostracism, and even physical attack awaited his family upon their return home.
One gloomy day Ross turned to his faithful wife and said, “Millions cursing me today will bless me tomorrow…though not but God can know the struggle it has cost me.” It was a prophetic declaration. Twenty years later Congress and the Supreme Court verified the wisdom of his position, by changing the laws related to impeachment.
Ross was appointed Territorial Governor of New Mexico. Then, just prior to his death, he was awarded a special pension by Congress. The press and country took this opportunity to honor his courage which, they finally concluded, had saved our country from crisis and division.
Jon Johnston, Courage – You Can Stand Strong in the Face of Fear, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 56-58.
You can make daily courageous decisions to tell the truth, no matter what others are doing.
‘Father, I come before you today, asking for mercy. Where I have lied, cheated, and stolen, please forgive me. Father, change me, restore me to integrity, honesty, truth, holiness, and true righteousness before You today. Please eliminate from my life people, places and things that would cause me to sin against You today, and bring into my life, people of honor, truth, faith, that I can be accountable to. You see the horrible consequences my sin has wrought, and only You can fix the messes I have made. I give all of these to You, and ask You for wisdom to know what to do, in each of them. Thank you for sparing my life, and giving me a second chance. Please let me do right in this..in Your name I pray Lord Jesus, Amen.’