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Friday, January 27, 2012

Mark 13,34. A Sermon for Magistrates. Henric Schartau

Mark 13,34 
A Sermon for Magistrates  
Henric Schartau (1757-1825) 
1. (194) In the Name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
2. It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch. Watch therefore: for you do not know when the lord of the house arrives. 
3. In this parable Jesus Christ represents the condition of every man with reference to the account of his administration, which the Lord of all the earth shall unexpectedly demand of him, and the watchfulness therefore necessary in our stewardship. “It is as when a man, sojourning,” etc. Mark 13,34. 
4.After Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, had with His blood bought us to be His own, and had with grievous and bitter toil provided us with gifts and appointed us as stewards, He was declared to be “Lord of all.” After He had come down to this world and here taken upon Himself human nature, after He had spent thirty years sharing the misery of this life, He now, in the parable before us, considered heaven to be another, yes, a foreign country, although He “was in heaven” even while here on earth. He departed in a visible manner and was taken up to heaven in the (195) sight of the disciples. Before this, however, He left the goods in His house, His possessions in the reign of nature and of grace, in the care of His servants. He gave them “authority, and to each one his work.” The porter, or the ministry, received a special admonition to watch and await the return of the master, which should certainly take place, though no one knew when. The Lord Jesus now extends and applies this admonition to each and every one: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the lord of the house arrives.” 
5. This same Lord of all lords has, even since His departure to the Father, in His almighty government retained earthly rulers and judges. In His Word He asserts that these officials are retained and sustained by the government of God. They have not, like the wild beast, received their thrones and power from the dragon, but from God, “for the powers that be are ordained by God.” The office is from God, though men determine who shall manage it. 
6. Inasmuch as a judge has received his office and the power thereto appertaining, he is obligated to render an account to the Lord from whom he has received his office. The admonition in our text,then, concerns also judges: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the lord of the house arrives.” Let us pray that they as well as all men may humbly take the admonition to heart. “Our Father,” etc. 
Text 2. Corinthians 5,10 
7. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things don in the body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad. 
Proposition. (196) 
1. The trial and judgment of an earthly judge in his official capacity.
2. A weighty matter for his consideration in the performance of his official duties. 
First Part. 
The Trial and Judgment of an Earthly Judge in the Day of Judgment. 
8. This trial is inevitable, for “we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” It is not in the matter of judgment as in that of conversion, that a person may do as he pleases. No, judgment will be made, thought we may not like it. You cannot in judgment act as you may attempt to act when called to the reign, namely, excuse yourself and stay away. No, you must be manifest, even though you might prefer to be buried under mountains and hills, for “we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” Such an investigation awaits us all, consequently also judges, for our text says, “we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” There are certain events which are very common among men, but none of these is more common than judgments. It is a general law that we must all (197) die, and yet there have been exceptions even to this law. Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven without any previous separation of body and soul. On the last day there shall be numerous exceptions to this law of mortality, for “we shall not all sleep,” says Paul with reference to the human race. Concerning those who shall live at the end of the world, he says more especially that they shall be changed. But even on that very day, when so many shall escape death, no one will  escape judgment: “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ” 
9. There will be a careful, considerate investigation on the last day. The apostle expresses this with the word “manifest. “We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” The whole man, with all his relationships, shall then be brought into the light which beams forth from the all-seeing eyes of Jesus Christ. This implies, not only what the apostle says at another place: “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God,” gut even more, namely, what Solomon says in the last words of Ecclesiastes: “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.” 
10. Then a judge also shall be made manifest in all his official transactions, not only in matters pertaining to him personally and to other so f his profession, which shall all be made known, but even everything that has taken place in the official performance of his judicial duties. The purpose he had in view when he sought for so responsible a position and the ways and means used to attain so great a distinction shall be made manifest, not only according to the conception of a light-hearted (198) and covetous world, but in the light of God’s Word, which even now shines, but which shall then reproachingly enlighten consciences where prejudice and blindness mostly prevailed. Everything that the judge has said in matters belonging to his office shall then be revealed, even the most hidden motives actuating him, for “the Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 
11. Upon this trial follows a stern and irrevocable judgment. Paul expresses this emphatically. Instead of the judgment he mentions its executions, punishments or reward, for here execution follows immediately upon the judgment. He does not say that each one may be judged according to what he has done, but “that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done.” Nor will the result, as is sometimes the case when men pass judgment, be different from that which the appearance of things led one to expect. No, you may know beforehand what the result will be, if your conscience is enlightened by the Spirit of God so that you know what you have done, for “each one shall receive the things done in the body,” that is the things done while he lived. Here the judge is not guided by the false testimony of perjurers, for the deeds shall themselves bear witness. They shall be the data and material for the judgment, and “each one shall receive the things done.” 
12. A judge, no doubt, has opportunity to do much good, for he has great power. If he has permitted the Holy Spirit to convert his heart to believe on Jesus Christ, so that in the love of Christ he desires to do that which is right and good, that is good according to the Word (199) of God, then he has somewhat of his Savior’s power also. It is then certain that he will do good, for what he does comes from a heart cleansed and sanctified by grace. Nor will he fail of his reward, not indeed by reason of his own merits, but by reason of the grace of God, for Christ’s sake alone. The judge’s unselfishness shall be rewarded with imperishable, heavenly treasures, instead of the gifts of perishable silver and gold which he has sacrificed. Having been just in his judgments, he shall bee crowned with the “crown of righteousness.” For his kindness and patience with the cries of distress he shall “find mercy of the Lord in that day,” when “each one shall receive the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad.” 
13. On the other hand, woe to the unrighteous judge, “who did not fear God, and did not regard man,” for he shall receive the deeds done in the body. The bribes which he has received so that he might pervert justice shall be as an eternal fire in his conscience, and the tears of those who have suffered wrong shall unceasingly trouble his soul, for “each one shall receive the things done in the body,” and be judged according to his deeds. 
Second Part. 
A Weighty Matter for the Consideration of a Judge in the Performance of his Official Duties 
14.  The final judgment is a weighty matter. According to what has just been said, the coming judgment is important, for there will not then as now be any way of escape for an unrighteous judge. Things cannot be buried in darkness before Him “who has eyes like a (200) flame of fire.” It shall be impossible to complicate the trial and to give matters a false appearance, for the Supreme Judge is an Omniscient God, who searches the reins and hearts of men. It shall not avail against the Almighty, to use a power one no longer has,m nor to resort to new deeds of violence in defense of previous wrongs. 
15. The final judgment is a weighty matter for a judge, for on it depends his eternal welfare. My beloved, what is temporal welfare in comparison with eternal welfare, and of what avail is the former if the latter is neglected? It is truly nothing but imagination, a dream, often mingled with apprehensions and pain. How rapidly this changing stream of time flows on; and we are carried along soon to face the Judge and to receive the verdict of our eternal destiny as prepared by ourselves in this present life. 
16. This final trial and judgment is important for a judge, for he will then be confronted by a situation which a judge fears above all things in this life. To have all his actions and judicial decision subjected to an official public examination has always -- and rightly so -- seemed to a public officer a terrible ordeal. But this, our text tells us, shall certainly happen on the last day. Even the book of conscience will be opened and the whole world shall be able to read what is there written. If a judge should be judged by his inferiors, yes, by those whom he has judged, he would consider this very humiliating, but this very thing shall happen. A judge, who has not been sanctified by the Holy Spirt, nor has by the Holy God been received into fellowship with the saints that are to judge the world, will be (201) judged by them. If he has been a man of the world, here in life, if from his judgment seat he has spoken of the world, then he shall have to suffer the disgrace in the day of judgment of seeing among his own judges those whom he here despised and judged. 
17. A judge should consider this weighty matter, namely, that a careful examination and a stern judgment await him in the day of judgment. 
18. He should be anxious to have his own case adjudged before that day: the matters that concern his own person, the matter of his salvation; hat the offenses committed by him in office and out of office, for which his conscience accuses him in his solitary moments and in times oif distress; that sins condemned in the Word of God may be conquered and that he may desist from his denials and excuses and no longer resist the Holy Spirit. He should be anxious that the Holy Spirit may by means of the Word reveal Jesus Christ in his conscience, so that he may realize how the Savior has in His death fulfilled the judgment against us and that in His resurrection He was “taken away from oppression and judgment.” A judge should remember that “the Father has given all judgment unto the Son,” so that it is He who can make the serfs of sin free indeed from the punishment of serfdom which He has Himself endured and justify them with the righteousness which He has purchased for them with His own obedience. to seek after this in the Word of the Lord and to call upon His Name should be matters of chief concern to a judge, for otherwise his whole official position becomes fundamentally iniquitous and his judgment fearful, whether men praise or censure him.  
19. (202) A judge should consider this weighty matter that he might conduct his office in the fear of Gd. The Apostle Paul makes an analogous conclusion in the verse following our text: “knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men,” we deal gently and tactfully with men. Paul realized this as a teacher, and judges should come to a similar realization, that they may be kind and sympathetic in their office, remembering that they must give account of their stewardship, and that a careful examination and a stern judgment are pending. With this object in view this doctrine is presented in the Word of God by the apostle of Christ, and with the same object in view I have presented it today. 
20. Most worthy auditors, you who are appointed to be judges over the people, hear now the voice of God, a message from the Judge of all the world, even of you. Hear the word now preached to you and according to which you are to be judged on the last day, hear it in such a manner that it may, even before that day, be a judge in your thoughts, in your inmost hearts, in your consciences, in order that you ay with free consciences and courageous hearts proceed to judge your brothers. Do not then forget that you are someday to be judged exactly as you have judged others. As is done before your judgment seats, so it will be done in that supreme judgment when each one will receive the things done in the body. The Lord God grant that even the, on the day of judgment, you may be judges, that you may be numbered among the many thousand saints with whom the Lord will come “to execute judgment upon (203) all, and to “convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 
21. It is not judges alone who are to be examined in the last day, for “we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” Judgment will then be passed, not only upon the deeds of judges, but also upon my conduct as a preacher; upon your way of bringing up your children, O father and mother; upon your manner of living together, O man and wife; upon your conduct in your parental home, O child; upon your conduct as a servant. Consider this matter in the light of the Word, before that final judgment will be made. Pass the sentence upon yourself in confession and prayer before the mercy seat, and you will obtain mercy and not come into condemnation, but pass from death to life. Beware of passing judgment upon the consciences of others, for that judgment belongs to God; or upon their faults, for that belongs to the judges. Still less does it behoove you to pass judgment privately upon judges in their public transaction, for you are not a judge at all, least of all their judge. “Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord arrives.”  Amen. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romans 13,12. 2nd Prayer Sunday. Henric Schartau

Romans 13,12; Isaiah 29,15 
2. Prayer Sunday, 1799 
Henric Schartau (1757-1825)
(61) Introduction. 
Up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy the city. 
1. It was with fear and amazement that Lot brought this message and warning to his sons-in-law. We read the narrative in Genesis 19,1-14. 
2. It is not my purpose to appear as a prophet predicting destruction on this place, but the whole condition of an unconverted man is like that of a city or a place where he rests in security, but whence he must depart. Therefore, O sinner, cast your sins away, lest for their sake you are cast away from God’s presence. Forsake sin, lest you be eternally forsaken by God. Up, get out of this place! Sin belongs to hell. It comes from there and it tends thither. Everyone who clings to his sins in life and to whom sins adhere in death must follow them whither they tend, to the abode of the devil, who is the author of sin. If you are his subject, you must at last abide with your master. Up, get out of this place! Nor imagine that this is an easy matter. The departure out of Sodom, though only an earthly journey, demanded some preparation, for which a certain brief time was allowed. Your whole life is granted for such a purpose. Use it well and prepare yourself (62) for the great final journey. Think not that grace is obtained with a mere sigh, nor imagine that you shall be converted by uttering a few words. Do not venture to the brink of eternity, for you may soon be precipitated into its bottomless depths. Let not the devil edge you along to the slippery ice of sickness, for the storms of despair may bring you out on the boundless regions of eternity, where you may not be able to stop in your flight. Beware, lest perchance, after repeated delays and postponements in the matter of your soul’s salvation, the day when you would repent find you in the depths of eternal perdition. Up, get out of this place! 
The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Romans 13,12. 
Therefore I now bow the knees of my heart and ask You, O Lord, for pardon. Alas, O Lord, I have sinned, I have sinned, and I know my transgressions. Manasseh, v. 11. 
Woe unto them who hide deep their counsel from Yahweh, and whose works are in the dark, and who say: Who sees us? and who knows us? Isaiah 29,15.
The Grace of God as a Refuge for an Awakened Sinner. 
1. Whence a sinner must flee to find refuge with God. Romans 13,12. 
2. Whither an awakened sinner must flee. Manasseh 11. 
3. What he must aspire to, if he shall retain his refuge with God and His grace. Isaiah 29,15. 
(63) First Part. 
3. It is not necessary to remind an intelligent audience that the apostle does not here mean a natural night and day; but it may be in place to say,m for the enlightenment of the simple-hearted, that the apostle speaks of the night of ignorance, blindness and carelessness in the matters pertaining to eternity, a night which covered the whole earth before the time of Christ and His apostles. It was the night of paganism. The condition then prevailing in the world was like that of a natural night. A light may be lit in a room, and there one can see, but outside in space one cannot see anything, for darkness pervails out there. The small country inhabited by Israel was in comparison with the rest of the world like a small cottage on a vast plain,. Here a light was burning, for Israel was “entrusted with the oracles of God.” Elsewhere there prevailed the darkness of idolatry. Here and there among the Jews appeared a true Israelite with concern for another Canaan than that in which he lived. But elsewhere throughout the world, a brutish carelessness expressed itself in tis fashion: :Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we must die.” In Israel some were awake, but in the heathen world sleep was everywhere prevalent. 
4. With the advent of day that vast field became quite as well lit up as the little room where the candle previously burned. When Jesus came and sent His apostles to preach the gospel of the reign and the way thither, the heathens learned to know the way quite as well as the Jews. They needed not, like the Ethiopian eunuch, to make extensive journeys to the land of Israel for enlightenment, for the light was brought to them and set (64) upon its own candlestick. Night was far spent and day was at hand. Indeed, the heathens showed a rather greater earnestness and concernment for the salvation of their souls than the people of Israel itself. 
5. What has here been said concerning the heathen world can also be said concerning every man who is indifferent with reference to his soul. There is night, and at night on cannot see, even though he has perfect eyes, for darkness prevents their right use. If a traveler then asks his companion, if they are in the right way, the latter must admit that he does not know with certainty. A similar admission would be made by spiritually blind sinners, if they spoke sincerely. They may trouble themselves greatly to convince other of their assurance that they are the children of God; but this very troublesome effort shows that they are laboring against a secret voice which dictates the opposite. Their eagerness to defend themselves and to give reason for their pretended hope shows that the hope is not very secure, but that they have reason to fear that some one may rob them of it. Indeed, my friend, assurance of salvation comes not thus lightly into the heart. It comes from God, and if it is obtained, it is not easily removed. No man can give it, nor can any man take it away. Indifferent sinners cannot with certainty know where they are, nor where they are to abide; for in their hearts there is night. The are asleep and lie as unconcerned as those who are asleep, quite unafraid, quite unable to save themselves, even from the most obvious danger. 
6. It is from such slumber that a sinner must be awakened, but it cannot be done until God quickens him. The sinner is even more unable than one physically sleeping to awake himself. (65) Jesus is like a good friend, who notices that fire has broken out in the house of His friend, while all there are asleep. He hastens thither and raps at the door. He calls to the people to awake and save themselves. Thus Jesus represents Himself in Revelation 3,20. It now happens as when one naturally sleeping awakes. While half awake he hears the rapping and the cry. Finally he awakes, opens his eyes, sees his danger, leaps up and endeavors to save himself. In like manner an awakening sinner perceives something unusual when hearing the Word of God, becomes sorrowful and affrighted, convinced of his spiritual danger and impelled to seek after salvation. When a soul is thus awakened and is endeavoring to flee from the wrath of God, it is necessary that the following instruction e given to him in order that he may know what it is that he must flee from, if he is to find refuge in the grace of God. 
7. This instruction is given by the apostle in analogy with the departure of night and the advent of day: “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” The works of darkness are intentional sins. Such sins are called “works of darkness,” for they are preferably done in darkness. The sinner is bent on sinning, though he may be ashamed of the abominable appearance of his sin, and so he sins in secret. He chooses the darkness of the night or, at any rate, wishes to have his sins quite as forgotten as if they were covered with the darkness of night. Intentional sins are also called “works of darkness,” because it is the Prince of Darkness who tempts man to sin, fortifies him in sin, and induces him to remain (66) in sin. Hence, such sins are also, in John’s first epistle, called the works of the devil: “To this end was the Son of God manifested, so that He might destroy the works of the devil.” An intentional sinner sins, not by reason of ignorance or imprudence, but, even as the devil, with malicious deliberation. Intentional sins are also called “the works of the flesh.” It is from all such sins that an awakened sinner must flee. It is such sins that he must “cast off.” 
8. You tell me that you cannot understand this. “I have often debated with myself,” you say, “how I might bring about such a change in my life, but, in the midst of such self-deliberation, I have finally stopped in the same mind as before.” I reply, do you knot know whence this comes?  You have the one hand full of sin and the other full of the world; you should cast them away with both hands, but, before you do this, you look at the one and behold the other, and you thus become loath to part with these friends of yours. You are doing like Eve, looking at the forbidden fruit and becoming infatuated with it. While thus deliberating with yourself, you become reversed in mind. Instead of casting away sin and the world, you clasp them to your heart. No, you must act rapidly; if you are to cast them away, it will not do to shove them away slowly; you must cast off the works of darkness, or, as Jesus expresses it, cut off the aggravating foot or hand, pluck out the enticing eye. 
9. Someone again remarks: “I have tried to cast them off, but I have not been able to do it. I have determined never to do thus and thus again, but still I have sinned again. Angered with myself, I have resolutely (67) promised that it should never happen again, but I have nevertheless again fallen into sin.” I reply: Of course, you have fallen. You have tried to cast off the works of darkness, but you have not put on the armor of light. This must follow in life, as it follows in the words of the apostle. The devil will not easily let go of his captive. You cannot unarmed escape from his superior power. When he notices that you are becoming concerned about your salvation, he acts like a spider when a fly tries to get loose from his web. As the spider winds new cords about the wretched little fly, so the devil arranges new entertainments or devices to hold captive, even more securely, the soul that has begun to seek for rescue. So then, you need weapons, as the apostle has said, weapons of light against the Prince of Darkness. Of course, we are not here speaking of natural light. “The armor of light” signifies the Word of God, which in the Scriptures is called a light and also a weapon. 
10. “Yes,” you now rejoin, “but I have the Word of God, and I read it now and then, and still no change has taken place in me.” I reply: This is due to the fact that, as you say, you use the Word “now and then.” If a warrior were thus to leave his weapons hanging on the wall, his enemies might well surprise him and slay him, before he could get his musket and defend himself. He must in time of war carry his weapons with him; they must be, as it were, a part of his dress and be ever at hand for ready use. This is Paul’s teaching when he says: “Put on the armor of light.” If you leave your Bible lying on the shelf, the tempter may overtake you before you can look up your Bible and (68) find out what to do in your present exigency. You must see to it that the Word of God is as near to you as your very clothing, so that it may enter into your mind with knowledge and into your heart with desire. You must see to it that the Word of God is planted into your life, and that you may be clothed with this weapon of light. Then you will be enabled to flee from the former manner of sinful life and to cast off the works of darkness. 
Second Part. 
11. We here ask whither an awakened sinner shall flee, and I reply, He must flee to the grace of God. We first note what it is that impels him to take refuge in the grace of God. It is a thorough knowledge of sin and its wretchedness. Manasseh, whose words constitute our Second Text, was a king of Judah. He had been very much infatuated with the errors of idolatry and had committed many sins. He had even been cruel to those who were not like-minded with him. God chastised and punished him with defeat at the hands of a foreign king. In his captivity Manasseh began to think, and it was probably now that he offered the prayer of which our text is a part. He describes his state of mind, saying: “I know my transgressions.” Behold, O sinner! When a man arrives at true knowledge of his sins, he does not consider them merely as shortcomings and faults, but a awful transgressions. then you realize that you have transgressed all the commandments of God, and that even the sins which are deemed negligible by the world are abominable before God. In this way you learn to understand that you have sinned against all the commandments, but that (69) the source of your unhappiness lies even deeper, not in your manner of living, but in your heart, not in your acts, but in your person. Manasseh expresses this by repeating his confession, pointing out his own person. “I have sinned, I have sinned.” Thus you discover the sinful depravity of your heart, O sinner, and get a clear conception of your corrupted nature. There is the root which bears the fruit of evil. There is the well-spring of corruption. When you realize tis, you look in vain for refuge. Anguish and weeping then prove inefficient to blot out such an immense indebtedness, and you find it utterly impossible to expect any real improvement by the mere exertions of a depraved soul. There is no other refuge left for you than the grace of God, and you look in vain for another. Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ! He has opened “a new and living way.” With the suffering in His flesh, He wrought atonement for the wrath of God, and opened a way to the grace of God. By means of what He did while walking here in the garb of human flesh and blood, Jesus purchased an eternal righteousness, which suffices throughout all time even for you. 
12. This refuge in the grace of God is taken with prayer. “Therefore I bow the knees of my heart and ask You, O Lord, for pardon.” This is not a thoughtless and careless repetition of a few prayers, for when Manasseh speaks of bowing the knees of his heart, he means what Jesus expresses by saying that we should “pray in spirit and in truth.” An awakened sinner asks for the grace which Jesus purchased with His atonement and righteousness. He has no other plea to offer than the merits of Jesus, no other basis for his hope to be heard than (70) God’s promise to grant this grace to everyone who desires to accept it for nothing, as the grace of Jesus Christ, for His sake and on His account. 
13. An awakened sinner comes with a sincere confession of his sins and seeks refuge in the grace of God. Manasseh said: “Alas, O Lord, I have sinned.” Such a confession is not needed for the Lord’s sake. He knows, far better than you do, your sinful ways; it is He who has shown them to you. The confession is needed for your own sake, so that you may the better learn to know how loathsome your sins are, and that your heart may be opened before God to make your confession with sincerity and confidence. When David thus sought refuge in the grace of God, he tells us that he approached the mercy seat and found what he sought, for God found room in the heart thus opened, and His Spirit was enabled to grant a true faith, bringing with it the forgiveness of sins. 
Third Part. 
14. When an awakened sinner has found refuge in the grace of God, it nevertheless becomes necessary for him to flee from everything which would deprive him of the grace he has found. I shall therefore now proceed to show that an awakened sinner must flee from sin, after he has found refuge in the grace of God. 
15. A person just converted meets his greatest dangers among his former associates, and therefore he must leave them and especially flee from those who do not have any regard for the grace of God. Their mockery might soon make the new convert ashamed of Jesus and His Word and thus make him again unworthy of the grace which he has just received. Their threats might (71) make him afraid and lead him like Peter to deny his Lord. their persuasive speech might deceive an easily perverted heart to follow them back to the former ways. Their examples might quicken passions so recently subdued and again bring the saved soul into the thraldom of sin. Their conversation might suffocate the feeble spirit and gradually extinguish its flame. Therefore it is entirely necessary for a new convert to flee from the evil associations of those who are not converted nor wish to be. The Scriptures also counsel and admonish us to avoid such companionship, saying: “Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners.” This was God’s intent when He forbade the Jews’ yoking together a horse and an ox not that the yoking together of animals of different species was wrong in itself, but it had a deep significance, namely that which Paul expresses when he says: “Do not be unequally yoked with the unbelievers.” It is quite sufficient that we cannot entirely avoid their company, since we cannot escape from this world. It is enough that we are constrained to deal with them in matters pertaining to this present life. It is enough that our Christian sense of duty now and then demands that we must endure those who are evil, and that our common charity occasionally makes such associations necessary. We should all the more take are to avoid unnecessary associations and undue intimacy with those of a carnal and worldly mind. 
16. “But,” you say, “how shall I be able to know who they are, in order that I may beware of them?” I reply: This is precisely what I propose to show in the light of our text. It mentions three characteristics of those (72) from whom a person must flee after he has taken refuge in the grace of God. “Woe unto them who hide deep their counsel from Yahweh” etc. 
17. First, they seek to hide their counsel. When you meet a person who shows a wrong purpose but immediately,m when caught, turns about, saying: “O no, that was not my intention. I did not mean to say that, but this is what I meant”; when you find people who do not shoot whither they aim, then you must beware lest you be entangled, like Eve, by the craftiness of the serpent. 
18. Secondly, there are those who are somewhat more simple-minded. “Whose works are in the dark.” This is another characteristic of those from whom a converted person must flee. Converted people are like the Roman of old who built his house with windows on all sides, so that everybody could see what he was about. Jesus characterizes a converted man when He says: “He that does the truth comes to the light so that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.” A converted person might indeed permit another converted person to see everything he does, yes even open his heart to be read like a book. “But everyone who does ill hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his works should be reproved,.” If you notice someone who is very much inclined to deny what he does and to obliterate the marks of his footsteps along the ways that he has walked, continually anxious that no one shall know what he is about, such an one is certainly a child of deception. He assuredly has something which he needs to conceal since he thus hides himself. 
19. (73) With this extreme cunning, with all these devices, the children of this world imagine that much is being accomplished, to the extent that it has become a maxim with them, so that they say: “Who sees us? and who knows us?” This is a third characteristic of the unconverted. they will not listen to the idea that anyone might be able to understand their inner condition. They become intolerant, if anyone intimates that he has the slightest conception of this. They immediately protest against judgments and condemnations, and it is a real doctrine in the system of the unconverted that, in as much as one cannot search a man’s heart, no one can make conclusion with reference to the condition of another’s soul. When you find people who lose their peace as soon as a spiritual conversation is directed their way, you may indeed flee, and be glad, if you can make your escape and save yourself, without stopping to deliberate how you might do something for their persuasion. 
20. Let me now, in conclusion, admonish you with the words recorded in Ephesians 5,14. “Awake, you who sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon you.” If you hear the Word of the Lord more clearly now than otherwise, then awake and arise, lest you awake with the rich man in the flames of hell. If you awake and are enabled to realize the danger of your soul, beware, lest you merely awake and remain lying there; awake rightly and do not sin, awake and flee from your former sinful life, and see that you cast away the works of darkness, to the end that Christ may enlighten you. By walking in the light of grace you shall be enlightened. If you diligently seek for refuge, you shall find it in the grace which your Savior has procured. If you are laden with sins, if you are laboring against the assaults of temptations, then your Savior offers you a refuge, saying: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And after you have found this refuge, He assures you that you shall not be excluded therefrom, for whosoever comes to Him shall in no wise be cast out.  Amen.