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And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. (Genesis 13:14~17)
Lot Who Summons Curse
Staying in the book of Genesis, I will continue from our last sermon and talk about Abraham and Lot. As I said in the last sermon, there was strife between Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds as there were so many possessions in such a small plot of land. Abraham tells Lot, “We are of one blood. Let us not have our shepherds fighting. Leave me. If you go right, I will go left. And I will go right if you go left.” Then Lot departed for the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, a place with plentiful grass fit to herd sheep. After Lot left, God blessed Abraham, saying, “Life up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land you see I will give to you, and to your seed forever.” But a war broke out in the peaceful city of Sodom once Lot entered it. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah lost the war and Lot was taken captive. Then ultimately the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire and sulfur. This story is recorded in detail in Genesis. What we must remember whenever we read the Bible is that the Bible speaks about the world of the heart. If you think of each person’s heart as a country, when a covetous or arrogant heart enters as it did with Lot, war and desire break out from a peaceful heart and cursed and destructive things continually come upon that heart. Lot represents the flesh. The Bible tells us in detail what happens when hearts such as the heart of trusting in your flesh and the heart to be for and exalt yourself arise in you and also what happens when such hearts depart from you. People think about and are focused on whether they are living their spiritual lives well, whether they are giving service, offerings, praying, or keeping the law well. But if you read the Bible, such things are not important. The important thing is which heart has entered you. The Bible tells us clearly what transpires when we possess or lose certain hearts.
Ah, My Heart Is Dirty and Evil by Nature!
I attended church ever since I was young. I thought I believed in God fine without any problems, and I thought I was living my spiritual life well. However, I fell more and more into sin regardless of how hard I tried or how hard I prayed. Then one day I came to know, “What a terrible person I am! What an evil and dirty human I am!” Before this, I thought I was good and I thought that stealing, lying, and hating others were just small faults of mine. Therefore, I tried to not commit such sins, but the graver problem was that in me were dirtier hearts. I left that heart alone and only tried to keep my outward actions good and clean. I tried to leave the dirty heart I had as it was and labored to not commit adultery and to not steal. I could not see that there was a filthy heart rising within my very core. As I became older I committed sins more and more and thought, “Why am I sinning so much like this? I’d better not be this way. I’d better not sin and live a good life!” and I made up my mind. I lived a spiritual life with this determined heart and I came to realize one thing I had not known before: “Ah, my heart is dirty and filthy by nature! That is why a lustful heart, a jealous heart, and a deceitful heart arise in me! That is why it is impossible for me to do something good. Even though dirty and lustful hearts arise in me and I do not act on them, even though I may not actually commit those sins, I am already a dirty and lustful person in the eyes of God. How then can I ever become good?” I erased my heart as I came to realize this fact. “I am a human who cannot be trusted! I cannot become good even if I try to live in a good way! I can only be cursed and destroyed!” I had believed that I could do good deeds, that I could live honestly, and that I could keep the law. I, then, from my heart, erased the heart to believe in myself completely. Afterwards, various thoughts entered me, but I did not accept them. “What has ever gone well when I followed my own heart? What has ever become good from the things done by my thoughts?” Just as Abraham cast Lot out, I cast out from my heart the heart to believe and trust in myself. Then blessings began to come upon my heart.
The Starting Point of a True Spiritual Life is Discovering Yourself
One day the thought to sell Jesus entered the heart of Judas Iscariot. Satan placed that heart in him. That one heart dragged Judas Iscariot to be cursed. It destroyed him. One day the ambition, “Let’s hide some money,” entered the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira. Ananias and Sapphira were killed because of that ambition. One day, the heart, “My father is uneducated. I can be more successful than my father because I am well educated. I can do well!” entered the prodigal son’s heart, and that heart made him pitiful and dragged him into a pig pen. The heart, “I am great! I’m smart! I can become king!” entered the heart of Absalom and pushed him to death.
We see actions with our eyes, not the heart. But God’s eyes see the heart. When a person approaches us smiling, he seems to be a kind person. We only see his face, not his heart. But God’s eyes see the deceitful heart and the fabricated heart within him. You may comb your hair, wash your face, wear beautiful clothes, and cover your filthy heart with sweet words and actions, but God does not listen to your words. He sees your evil and filthy heart; that heart within you. Therefore, the beginning of true spiritual life is discovering yourself. Our heart, seen in the eyes of God, is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. God said that there is no good in man. In Romans chapter 3, man is filled only with filthy, dirty, and evil things. However, Satan deceives us. Man has a dirty, lustful, and deceitful heart, but he magnifies the one rare good heart that arose within him and deceives him, saying, “You are good. You are honest. You are truthful.” Although people sin, they say, “I sinned that time by mistake. I did it because I had no choice. I am good and truthful,” and continue to live in Satan’s deception. Then they try to do good things. They think they can live truthfully if they try; keep the law if they try; and do good if they try. They deceive themselves. Then in their lives, they discover themselves before receiving salvation. “I am truly filthy! Dirty! Evil!” They discover what pitiful beings they are, and come to distrust themselves. And right then, God blesses them. God could not bless Abraham while Lot was with him, but Abraham was blessed when Lot left him. Likewise, God cannot bless us while we have the heart to believe in ourselves. Because our hearts are dirty, filthy, cursed, and evil, there can be no good no matter how hard we try. Just as Abraham sent Lot away, you must erase yourself from your heart. You must erase the heart to acknowledge and trust yourself. It means that the thoughts of the flesh must depart from you. That is Lot leaving Abraham.
The Cause, Not the Symptom, Must Be Treated
Lot entered the city of Sodom upon leaving Abraham. Sodom and Gomorrah was doing fine and at peace in Genesis chapter 14. But as soon as Lot enters the city, a war breaks out. And then Sodom and Gomorrah’s army is completely destroyed in that war. In the end, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with sulfur and fire. If the heart to be fleshly and the heart of arrogance to believe in yourself enter you like Lot, chaos then begins in your heart. There was a man named Absalom among the sons of David. One day the thought, “I should become king,” entered his heart. As that thought entered, he committed many sins. He rebelled to take the throne from his father, committed adultery with his father’s concubines, stole the hearts of the people, and used his brother Amnon to kill many people. You do not sin without a cause. A dark heart first enters you, then you end up committing many sins. People consider murder and adultery as sin but they do not think badly of themselves when they begin to possess such a heart. Certain hearts enter you and stir up many things in you to lead you to commit sins. Therefore, you should not have remorse and suffer over stealing, but fear the heart that leads you to steal. You should not torment yourself, saying, “I committed adultery! How dirty!” upon seeing the results of adultery. You need to cast out that evil and filthy heart that remains in you and manifests itself with hatred whenever it gets a chance. That heart which remains as a cluster of lust in your heart and shows itself at every opportunity must be cast out. The heart of man became connected with Satan from the day Adam and Eve sinned. The hatred, arrogance, lust, deceit, and covetousness that were put into us by Satan continually arise in us. Many wrongful Christians today simply cover that heart up and only outwardly realize that they have committed theft and try to not steal. They realize they have committed adultery, lied, and tried hard to live as good people. They only see what has made its way to the surface. Think about it. If a leper’s eyebrows fall out, his fingers fall off, and he loses all of his senses, then what must happen? Should he try to stop his eyebrows from falling off, or use bandages to keep his fingers from falling off? He should not do that, but treat the disease from its root. If I have the disease of sin, and everyday the filthy, dirty, and lustful hearts arise in my heart, I should not merely realize my outward actions, one by one.
Depart from Believing in Yourself
How is true spiritual life achieved? One day, Abraham told Lot to leave. “Leave me. We are not compatible. Therefore, fight no more and leave. If you go right, I will go left. And if you choose the left, I will choose the right.” Just as Abraham sent his own kindred away, we, too, must send away the heart to believe in ourselves. You must distrust yourself. “I had nothing but dirty sins appearing when I lived, following after my heart. I said I was doing good things, but I have only been evil. I continually became lustful as I lived following my own heart. Now I should not follow my thoughts any longer! I should throw my heart away!” Isaiah chapter 55 says, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord . . . because following the many thoughts and plans that arise in you only result in curse-worthy things. Throw those things away and follow God. “God, I now cannot believe in myself. I will throw my thoughts away. I will not follow my own thoughts. God, you come and lead my heart.” When you can say this and distrust your heart and accept the Word of God, God will lead you with the heart of Jesus to be graced and blessed. Just as a war broke out in Sodom and Gomorrah when Lot entered, and that city was burned in fire and sulfur, when we accept Lot (the heart to believe in yourself), arrogance arises in us, lust arises in us, deceitfulness arises in us, and covetousness arises in us. Evilness overflows. Remember that Abraham was blessed after sending Lot away. Remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was cursed as it received Lot. You, too, should not accept the heart to believe in yourself, but depart from it. From then on, even if lustful and deceitful hearts arise, Jesus will lead you because you do not believe in yourself. If you erase Lot (the heart to believe and exalt yourself) from your heart, your spiritual life automatically works out. Spiritual life is truly easy and fun. This life is so blessed. On the other hand, if you accept the heart to believe in yourself, that is the path to curse and destruction. One day Judas Iscariot accepted the heart, “I want to sell Jesus,” and that thought led Judas Iscariot to the pathway of curse. The thought, “I don’t want to give all the money we received for the land, so I am going to hide some,” entered the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira and led them to be cursed. The heart to covet the Babylonian garments entered Achan’s heart and that led Achan to the path of destruction.
Spiritual Life Is Composed of “Repentance” and “Faith”
Loving people, Genesis chapter 13 is showing us that when the heart to believe and rely on yourself leaves your heart, all blessings come upon you. But people do not know this and are deceived by Satan, thinking, “I sinned and was evil, but I still am a good person,” and continue to believe in themselves. They believe that they can be good if they try hard. They believe that they can keep the law if they make up their minds to. And they think that they can do well if they try. The moment you have the heart to believe in yourself and the heart to do things yourself, Satan puts the lustful and evil hearts into our own and leads you to the path of curse. When Abraham had true faith, he thought, “Lot is my loving kindred, but I cannot stay with Lot,” and told Lot, “You, leave me.” Just as Abraham sent Lot away, when we say, “I cannot live following my thoughts,” and not believe in your thoughts and send them away, we can receive all blessings. Most people say that spiritual life is extremely difficult and tiring. That is not so. Spiritual life is truly easy, as I discovered myself when I was 19 years old. I came to know that it was not by accident that I was lying, stealing, fighting, and coveting. That was how I had thought. But after knowing myself exactly, I hated myself so much and I was so filthy that I distrusted myself. I cast out the heart to believe in myself. But as Jesus entered my heart, I could see I was blessed in thousands of ways. This is spiritual life. It is repenting from the heart to believe in yourself. Spiritual life is made up of “repentance,” and “faith.” This is turning from the heart to believe in yourself and trusting Jesus. Then Jesus enters your heart and leads you instead of your leading yourself and lives your life for you. Right then all the blessings of Jesus come upon you. Abraham was blessed after Lot left him in Genesis chapter 13, and Sodom and Gomorrah was cursed and destroyed after Lot entered it. This is talking about the world of our hearts. You are cursed when the thought to believe in yourself enters, and all the blessings come upon you when that heart disappears from you.