20160124FBCAM [Sanctity of Life Sunday]
THE GUILT OF ABORTION
Abortion is wrong, and the Bible is very clear about that. I am not going to go into much detail about why here, but I think the Bible’s biggest argument against abortion is in the first chapter of Genesis.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)
Every human is made in the image of God and is therefore valuable at any stage of life—whether in the womb or confined to a nursing home bed with Alzheimer’s. God did not make us the same as animals; he made us in his image; he made us special. David would proclaim in Psalm 139—
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:13–14)
Our society is inconsistent in their value of a human being. We have fetal homicide laws that make it murder for someone to kill a baby in the womb by, for example, killing the mother, but abortion isn’t murder.
Doctors will move heaven and earth to save babies that are 22 weeks premature and weigh less than a pound. But in the next room, they will abort a baby the same gestation.
The Bible says that all human life is special and valuable, no matter how old or in what condition.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because there are thousands upon thousands of women and men, who have been involved in an abortion and have come, later, to see the Biblical truth and experience great guilt.
One such young man, named Garrett, was burdened with the guilt of encouraging his girlfriend to have an abortion. He writes,
When I was 20 years old, I loved my life. It was carefree and full of good times. School, sports, parties, and girlfriends filled my mind most days. Until one day that changed my life…
A girlfriend and I discovered we were pregnant. We hadn’t planned to get pregnant, but we were…With fearful eyes, she looked at me and asked, “Are you going to be with me? Are you going to marry me?”
I was young. I had hopes and dreams and plans. I had my whole life in front of me; I wasn’t ready to be married or to raise a child…I didn’t know how to think about serious realities. I only operated in the moment.
I told my girlfriend I wasn’t ready to get married. She knew that, but my words confirmed it. A friend gave her the $400 we needed to have “the procedure,” as they called it. I was there when she took the pill. I was there when we flushed our child down the toilet…we cried…
What can we say to such a person as this, who has done something wrong, and they are now remorseful? What words from the Bible can we give them? What if you are the guilty person? Let’s turn to Isaiah 55—
6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6–9)
First we see that we should,
SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE’S NEAR
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,
Call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6)
1. What It Means To Seek And Call
What does it mean to seek the Lord? What does it mean to call upon the Lord? Throughout the Bible there are calls for sinners to seek and to call on the Lord.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)
And there are warnings about not seeking the Lord:
13 So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem…14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:13–14)
The Bible says that those who do not seek the Lord can be identified by the fact that they put their trust in other things instead:
1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; And stay [rely] on horses, And trust in chariots, because they are many; And in horsemen, because they are very strong; But they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, Neither seek the LORD! (Isaiah 31:1)
Someone who seeks an abortion is not seeking the Lord. They did not seek the Lord and what he says about waiting for marriage to have sexual relations. They trusted in having an abortion to fix their “mistake” instead of seeking forgiveness from the Lord for their sin.
What does it mean to seek the Lord?
- It means that we stop trusting in other things for our solutions.
- It means to admit that our problems are often caused by our sins.
- It’s to set our eyes on the Lord.
- It’s to set aside our rationalizations of our sins.
- It’s set our minds on learning what his way for us to go is.
- It’s to get serious about what the Lord is serious about.
- And it’s to believe the promise he gives:
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
We are to seek the Lord and to call upon the Lord while he may be found and while he is near.
2. What It Means That The Lord Is Near
When may the Lord be found? When is the Lord near? Isn’t he always available? I think this has to do more with the condition of the human heart than with where God is.
There are times for each human heart when God is working. We experience these times as times of great conviction. The Lord is pressing down on the burden in our soul. It may be the testimony of a believer, the sermon of a preacher, the words of a song that the Lord uses to reach us.
This is what Isaiah is referring to—that moment that God’s Spirit is operating. I often refer to Lydia in Acts 16, as an example of God’s work in a person before they respond in belief:
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. (Acts 16:14)
God was near and Lydia began to seek him and she found him.
This was the case with the young man name Garrett. He was full of remorse and conviction. The Lord was near. His story continues:
A year after my girlfriend’s abortion, a friend shared the good news of Jesus Christ with me. I began to read the Bible and was convinced that Jesus was indeed who he claimed to be. I learned he is the Savior of sinners, who died to take our judgment and rose to extend forgiveness. By God’s grace, I believed those truths [Have you done this?].
One of the events the Lord used to awaken me was the abortion. Through his Word, he showed me I wasn’t the good person I thought I was. Rather, I was a person so in love with myself that I agreed to end my own child’s life in order to keep my life going in the direction I wanted.
Garrett sought the Lord while he was near, under conviction, he did…
And the unrighteous man [forsake] his thoughts:
And let him return unto the LORD,
and he will have mercy upon him;
And to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
1. Who Needs To Repent?
Who are the “wicked” and “the unrighteous man”? We normally think of wicked being someone who is profoundly evil, like Hitler. That is certainly true, but the Bible describes a wicked or unrighteousness person as someone who does not want to believe God or obey God.
The young man, Garrett, said that he was in love with himself and wanted to keep his life going in the direction he wanted it to go. That is the core of a wicked or unrighteousness person.
It’s not that he was a profoundly evil person. I’m sure that people who knew Garrett at that time would have said, “Ah, he’s a good kid.” The point is: the wicked person often doesn’t look wicked to us.
Whenever we are walking in ways contrary to the Lord’s ways, we are walking in the ways of wickedness. It doesn’t matter if you are Hitler, or Garrett encouraging his girlfriend to have an abortion, or if you are gossiping with a group of friends over lunch—it’s all wicked.
What do we do about our wickedness? We…
2. Forsake The Wicked Ways And Thoughts
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man [forsake] his thoughts: (Isaiah 55:7a)
Repentance is first of all leaving behind the wrong and wicked thoughts, attitudes, and deeds that we’ve indulged ourselves in.
There is a kind of person, a professing Christian, who wants to claim God’s forgiveness without repenting. They want God to tell them that he understands why they have to do this or that sin, that they have a tough life, and he’s a great gracious God who will overlook their sin. They will preach from their soapbox that God has forgiven them and others should also, but there is no change in their life to be seen.
That’s like a husband who leaves his wife, moves in with a girlfriend, and then later calls his wife and says he wants to move back in with her, but he wants to keep his girlfriend! What is the wife going to say?
When we repent, we need to forsake the deeds that we were doing and the thoughts that led to those deeds. We need to agree with God that this is wrong.
Pastor and author Ray Ortlund, Jr. wrote:
We are so tolerant of our sins, especially if we maintain a superficial, technical righteousness…We can’t just “make a decision for Christ” and leave it at that. We can’t join a certain church because it won’t challenge our selfish lifestyle and think that’s Christianity.
Being nice, harmless, churchgoing people, with no repentance, no submission, no forsaking of self, no pursuit of Christ—but all that covered over with a glaze of sentimental religion on Sunday mornings—this is not at all what God has in mind for us.
To repent, we must forsake our sinful ways and…
3. Turn To The Lord
And let him return unto the LORD,
and he will have mercy upon him; (Isaiah 55:7b)
The other part of repentance is to turn to the Lord. When the Prodigal Son came to his senses while feeding slop to the pigs, he didn’t just forsake the wild living he had been involved in—what did he do? He returned to his father. His was a true and complete repentance.
So many people might be sorry for their sins, they may even forsake them entirely, but they don’t come to Christ. They still live their lives their way, according to their opinions, their preferences, and their philosophies. They might be good, clean people on the outside, but without coming to Christ, they don’t have forgiveness—they don’t have God’s pardon.
Repentance is forsaking our sinful way and turning to the Lord. Only then will we…
RECEIVE GOD’S PARDON
And to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7c)
1. God’s Pardon Is Abundant
Why is God’s pardon abundant? God either forgives our sins or he doesn’t forgive our sins—what is abundant about his pardon?
The answer is that the “abundantly” has nothing to do with the amount of forgiveness we receive from God and a lot to do with the attitude of God in giving our forgiveness or pardon. He loves to forgive.
18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, And passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, Because he delighteth in mercy. (Micah 7:18)
We are not like this in our forgiveness. At our best, we are often cautious about forgiving, sometimes for good reason. At our worst, we are downright cranky about forgiving someone else. But we usually do not delight in giving forgiveness, do we? God is not like us in forgiveness—
for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7b)
For [because, for this reason] my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
God will “abundantly pardon” because he is not like us. Humans don’t usually act like this—we don’t abundantly pardon, even when someone asks forgiveness. We hold grudges, over minor things, for years.
God wants to forgive us. He delights in forgiving us; he’s just waiting for us to forsake our sin and turn to him. And when we do, he abundantly pardons!
Have you repented? Have you forsaken your sinful rebellion of God and turned to the Savior Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins? If you have, then you can know the abundant pardon of God.
That brings us to one last question:
3. Why Don’t I Feel Forgiven?
What do you do when you don’t feel forgiven? This is a pretty common occurrence, especially when it comes to a “bigger” sin like abortion or immoral relations.
If you have had an abortion, for example, and you still feel guilty about it, ask yourself—have you forsaken the way of abortion? Have you turned to God’s way and sought his forgiveness in Jesus Christ?
If you have, then you are abundantly pardoned! I know that sounds simplistic, but really, think about it: does God make forgiveness complicated?
No, he doesn’t, but we do. If we don’t feel forgiven, the problem is on our end of the line, not God’s. The problem is a lack of faith in God’s promise of pardoning those who repent.
In Luke 7, a woman came to Jesus. Luke says that she was a sinner, perhaps a harlot. She brought some expensive ointment, and crying the whole time, she wipes Jesus’ feet with her tears, her hair, and the ointment. The others in the house, which was owned by Simon, were shocked that he let her, a sinner, touch him.
Jesus takes the opportunity to teach a lesson in forgiveness.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:40–50)
What did the woman do to get forgiveness? Was it kissing Jesus’ feet that got forgiveness for her? No, it was her faith in Jesus!
Don’t battle your lack of feeling forgiveness by beating yourself up, or by bitterly running from Christ. Instead, seek the Lord and call on him to give you more faith to believe his promise of pardon. Memorize and meditate on his promises of pardon in the Bible, like in this passage or others like,
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Believe it, lean on it, cling to it—God’s promises are true and last forever.
 דִּרְשׁ֥וּ dirshu, seek with care; to enquire about, investigate; to be intent on.
 קְרָאֻ֖ qera’u, to call, to shout; to name, appoint, summon, proclaim, announce; to recite.
 רָשָׁע֙ rasha’, guilty, wicked person
 יַעֲזֹ֤ב ya’azov, to abandon or leave behind
 Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. and R. Kent Hughes, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 371.