The part of the chapter that I wanted to focus on in First John 5 is beginning Verse 16 where the Bible reads, "If any man see his brother sin, a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death." What I want to preach about today is the subject of intercessory prayer. Now the Bible tells us that prayers, intercessions, supplications, and giving of thanks should be made for all men.
An intercession is a part of our prayer life that I think sometimes we don't often talk about, maybe a lot of people don't understand it, and often it's not practiced, but the Bible is really clear here about what our response should be when we see a brother or a sister in Christ commit sin. In our local church here, we have all kinds of people that are in all different levels of spiritual development in their walk with God. Some people in our church are obviously going to be more sinful than others. Those that are babes in Christ are maybe still living a more worldly and sinful type life as they grow and are purged of those things in their lives and as they grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Other people in the church are more mature believers who've been saved for a long time, living a cleaner life, but the Bible tells us that when we look and we see someone in church or someone that's our brother or sister in Christ commit sin, the Bible says that we should pray for that person. The way that we pray for that person is we make intercession for them. The Bible says in Verse 16 here, "If any man see his brother sin, a sin which is not on death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." I'm not going to go into a big dissertation on the "sin unto death" and so forth. That's another sermon in of itself, but flip over to James if you would, just a few pages to the left in your Bible.
Go to James 5 and we'll see something similar. In fact, this is a topic that the Bible talks quite a bit about in both Old and New Testaments. Look at James Chapter 5 Verse 13. The Bible reads, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing Psalms." Look at Verse 14. "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. If you have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Flip over to Second Timothy Chapter 4. Second Timothy Chapter 4, and while you're turning there, I'll read for you the famous scripture from Acts 7 where Stephen is stoned to death. It says in Verse 59, "They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,' and he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.'" When he had said this, he fell asleep. It also reminds you, of course, of what Jesus Christ said when he was on the cross. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." These are all examples of people praying and making intercession for someone else.
Did you turn to Second Timothy 4? Look at Verse 16. "At my first answer, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge." You see how he's making intercession to God? He's praying. What is he praying? That God will go easy on people who've committed sin. When we see a brother or sister that is in sin, one of the things that we should do is we should make intercession for that person by praying and asking God to forgive them. Praying and asking God to be easy ... Praying and asking God to be gentle with them and not to get too angry and not to have too much punishment in store for them, but rather, we pray that they would be healed if they're being punished, if they're sick, whatever the case may be.
Now if you think about this in the sense of parents with a child or children, and let's say one of the children gets into trouble and commits sin and they've got a spanking coming, imagine if one of the other children went to the parent and said, "Dad, I know that Johnny did so and so, but go easy on him." You'd think, "That would never happen." Usually, if one of the kids breaks a rule and they've got a spanking coming and you say, "Where's the paddle?" 3 kids are running up to you and shoving a paddle on your face. "I found it! It's right here! Here you go!" You ask for a paddle, they bring you the belt. They find a paddle that's bigger or whatever. That's how kids are a lot of times. In fact, they often delight in, when they're young and immature, they delight in the punishment of their brother or sister, physically speaking, but should we as believers and as Christians just delight in the punishment of our fellow Christian and our brothers and sisters in Christ?
In the church, it is a family. We are brothers and sisters, and we ought to love the brotherhood, the Bible says. If I love someone and I see them commit sin, and I know that I myself in time past have committed sin or in the future will commit sin, and I see them commit a sin, I want that person to be restored. I want that person to not get too discouraged. I would hate to see God just cloud up and rain on that person and severely punish them because I want God to go easy on them because I love them. I don't want to see them suffer too badly. That's what intercessory prayer is. There's a lot of examples of this. Let's go back to one of the most famous examples in Genesis 18.
Now Genesis 18 is a great example of intercessory prayer. Let me ask you this. Is this what you think of and is this how you pray? Do you pray for people that you know have faults? The Bible talked about, "Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that you may be healed." Do you pray for people when you find out about their faults and when you find out that they have sinned [in life 00:06:44]? Do you pray for them that God would go easy on them and that God would be merciful to them?
We all need mercy in our lives. I often pray for God to be merciful to me when I do something wrong, but I also pray for God to be merciful to other people when they commit sin, and that he will take it easy on them, and that his wrath would be turned away from his people. This is a perfect example in Genesis 18. There are a lot of examples of this. It's a very Biblical way to pray, to pray for the people that we love when we see them sin, that God would turn away his punishment and turn away his anger from them.
Genesis 18 is a story about Abraham and Lot. Now Lot was a believer. Lot was saved. No question about that. The Bible calls him "Just Lot" and calls him a righteous man, but Lot has made a series of bad decisions up to this point that have led him into sin. He started out, the Bible says, "Lot chose him." Lot chose him the well-watered plain, and he chose to live in a place that was near onto Sodom and Gomorrah, which, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Bible says, was a place where the men of the city were sinners before the Lord exceedingly. This is an extremely sinful place, and the Bible says that Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom.
Then after that, we see Sodom invaded and Lot is taken captive. Then we see him not only living in Sodom, but dwelling in the gate of Sodom, becoming an important person in Sodom, being a man of influence in the wicked City of Sodom. In Genesis Chapter 18, God is going to destroy Sodom because of their wickedness. Abraham knows that his brother in Christ and his physical nephew live in Sodom. He doesn't want Lot to get punished. Now would God not have been fully justified to just torch Sodom and Gomorrah without even telling Abraham, and to have just killed Lot in the process? Yes, because when you are hanging around with wicked and ungodly people, you're going to get sometimes the punishment that they deserve.
That's why we need to be careful in who our friends are and who we associate with. A lot of times, you could just get arrested just by being in the car with somebody who's committing some crime. They say, "Well, you're an accomplice. You're aiding and abetting. You're part of this." I've known people who literally were arrested and convicted. I'm not saying it's right, but they're arrested and convicted just because they got into a car with people who had just robbed a store, and they didn't even know that. They just got in the car and then, boom, they're convicted because they're in that group. A lot of times, when we hang around with wicked people, when bad things happen to them, we get caught in the crossfire. Bad things happen to us also.
Lot is living in a filthy place like Sodom and Gomorrah for his own financial benefit and financial gain because of the well-watered plain. God could have just destroyed the city and said, "Well, Lot, you shouldn't have been living there. That's your punishment for hanging around with a bunch of Sodomites," but Abraham makes intercession for him and Lot ends up being spared. Look at the story, Genesis 18:2. "The Lord said, 'Because this cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me. If not, I will know.'"
"The men turned their faces from them," so this is the 2 angels that are heading into Sodom and Gomorrah, "and went towards Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. Abraham drew near and said, 'Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be 50 righteous within the city. Wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the 50 righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked. That be far from thee. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?"
He's pleading with him not to destroy Lot. Now he's saying 50 righteous, he's just making that up. He doesn't know about any righteous people in that city. He knows of one righteous man, Lot. That's who he's pleading for. Again, it goes down the list here. It says in Verse 26, "The Lord said, 'If I find in Sodom 50 righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.' Abraham answered and said, 'Behold now, I've taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. Peradventure there shall lack 5 of the 50 righteous.'"
He's starting to think, "That's a pretty wicked place. I don't think that there are 50 righteous people in that city." He's starting to have doubts that maybe that number was a little high. He said, "Well, what if there are just 5? What if it's 45? Are you going to destroy the whole place just because of a lack of 5?" He said, "If there be 40 and 5, I will not destroy it." Look at Verse 29. "He spake to him and yet again had said, 'Peradventure, there shall be 40 found there,' and he said, 'I will not do it for 40's sake.'"
"He said to them, 'Oh, let not the Lord be angry and I will speak. Peradventure, there shall 30 be found there?' and he said, 'I will not do it if I find 30 there.' He said, 'Behold now, I've taken upon me to speak unto the Lord. Peradventure there shall be 20 found there?' and he said, 'I will not destroy it for 20's sake.' He said, 'Oh, let not the Lord be angry and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure 10 shall be found there,' and he said, 'I will not destroy it for 10's sake.' The Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned unto his place." For those who know the story, did he destroy it?
Yes, he did. There were not 10 righteous people in that city, but God did the next best thing to not destroy it. In fact, a better thing to not destroy it. What did he do? He brought Lot out. Even though sometimes we know not how to pray as we ought, keep your finger there in Genesis 18 and flip ... Or you don't have to stay there. Flip over to Romans 8 because in Romans 8, we see this in Verse 26 when we're talking about intercessory prayer.
This is a verse that is very appropriate in Romans Chapter 8. The Bible reads in Romans Chapter 8 Verse 26, "Likewise, the Spirit," talking about the Holy Spirit, "also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Did Abraham really know how to pray as he ought?
No. That was a dumb idea to say. "Well, what if there are 50 righteous in the city?" Bad idea, Abraham because there aren't. Not even close to that. He didn't know exactly how to pray. A lot of times, when we pray, we don't always know the exact words. We don't always know exactly what's going on in people's lives in the church. We might pray for somebody in church and we might be wanting to make intercession for them. Maybe we know about a fault that they have or a sin that they have.
Instead of gossiping to people about it, instead of just hating that person in our heart or getting angry at that person, look, if we see our brother and sister in Christ make a mistake, instead of getting mad and instead of talking bad about them, our first step, the Bible says, should be to pray for that person. First of all, yeah, we want to pray that they stop sinning. We want to pray that they do right, but what about making intercession for that person and praying that God would forgive and that God would be merciful to them and that God would go easy on them? That's what the Bible teaches that we should be praying. A lot of times, when we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don't know everything about everybody's lives, so we can't really pray exactly as we ought, but God knows our intent.
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will make intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. He knows the mind of the Spirit. He knows the will of God. He knows what the right prayer is. It's like we pray a prayer unto God and the Holy Spirit adjusts it to be the right prayer so that by the time it gets to God the Father, it's what actually needs to be done, but if you're not praying, it's not happening. Don't just think, "Well, I'm just going to let the Holy Spirit pray for me." No. You pray and you make intercession, and then the Holy Spirit will take your prayer and understand the intention that you had.
What was Abraham's intention? Did he really care that all those bunch of homos in Sodom and Gomorrah would just survive? No. He's praying for the righteous. He's saying, "Don't destroy the righteous with the wicked," and he's really praying for Lot. God knew that Abraham was just praying, "Don't kill Lot. I know he's in sin, I know he's wrong, I'm not making excuses for him, but do not kill Lot." God knew that that was the answer. Even though the "10 righteous" thing, that wasn't working out, he sent his angels in to at least bring Lot out. Was Abraham's prayer answered?
Now not exactly as he prayed it because Abraham is praying, "Don't destroy the city," but his intention was to get Lot mercy, and that's what he got. What I'm saying is that God answers our prayers. Sometimes he doesn't answer them in the exact way that we prayed them, but he does hear and answer our prayers. If we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to pray for them. Even if we don't pray for them exactly right, just praying for them is better than not praying for them, and making intercession for them, and caring about them, and wanting them to be blessed, wanting them to succeed, and as it says in Third John Verse 2, he said that he wanted him to prosper and be in health. We should want that for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should want God to bless them and for them to succeed and to do well and prosper.
While we're in Romans 8, look at Verse 34. It says in Verse 34, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of the God, who also maketh intercession for us." The Bible says the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, Jesus Christ makes intercession for us, and we as believers ought to make intercession for each other. Now go back to Exodus. Let me show you another great example of intercessory prayer. Look at Exodus Chapter 32. First of all, we saw the example of Lot. Lot deserved what he would have gotten, but Abraham loved him, Abraham prayed for him, and Abraham got him some deliverance and got him mercy from God.
The downfall of Lot was that he coveted possessions and he coveted wealth and riches, and he sacrificed his family and the well-being of his family for material gain. Now think about that. His family was destroyed. His wife died because, remember, when they fled Sodom, she looked behind her and became a pillar of salt. Lot's wife is killed. His children grew up to become wicked, ungodly people. The majority of his children stayed in Sodom and were destroyed with fire and brimstone with all the rest of the Sodomites because they just would not listen to Lot. They wouldn't get out of there. They stayed in. Remember, he had daughters that were married to husbands. They all died in Sodom.
Then the 2 unmarried daughters that came with Lot committed horrible sin in Genesis 19, which just shows you how they were just rotten to the core. Lot's 2 daughters were just wicked. They were just rotten. They had grown up Sodom Unified School District and they had just been taught everything in that wicked city. Because he wanted that well-watered plain, because he thought he could play around with sin, and he thought he could pitch his tent towards Sodom and it wouldn't affect him, well, maybe it won't affect you, my friend, but what about your wife? What about your children?
A lot of people today, they'll bring TV into their home, they'll bring movies into their home, they'll bring all kind of worldliness and ungodliness into their home, and they say, "I can handle it. I can take it. It's not going to affect me. I'm very solid in my Christian life." Okay, what about your toddler? What about your wife? What about your children? What about your teenager? What can they handle? By the way, none of us should think that we can handle sin because, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." By the way, most of the channels are pitching your tent towards Sodom these days. I haven't watched TV in years, but I doubt that it's better than when I quit watching it over a decade ago. I doubt that they've cleaned ... Have they cleaned it up?
Somebody let me know. Have they been cleaning it up lately and getting rid of all the sodomy and getting rid of all the promiscuity and the scantily-clad women and all the blasphemy and all the ungodliness? They got rid of it, right? No, of course, they didn't. Look, I guarantee you right now that there are people under the sound of my voice in this auditorium that watch a bunch of junk on TV. There are people in this auditorium under the sound of my voice right now that I'm sure have a drink from time to time, that I'm sure smoke a cigarette from time to time, that I'm sure are watching junk on TV from time to time, they're going to the movies and watching Hellywood's latest production from time to time.
Look, obviously, I understand. People aren't perfect. People are growing. People are new believers. People need to grow in grace. That's why we need this kind of preaching, though, to help you clean up your life, because if you go to church and you never hear any preaching against sin, often, you're just going to go even further down that downward spiral of worldliness and ungodliness that our society promotes today. You need to come to church and have someone point these things out to you and warn you, and show you a guy like Lot and say, "Look, pointing your tent towards Sodom is a way to destroy yourself and your family."
Yup. That's right.
You say, "Well, [I wasn't 00:20:59] pointing my tent towards Sodom. All I'm doing is looking at it," but looking at homos, looking at ungodliness, looking at wickedness, it's bad for you and it's bad for the people around you. Instead of getting mad at this kind of preaching, just realize, "Hey, wait a minute, God put this story in the Bible for a reason. I need to take heed onto this. I need to think about this." The Bible says of Lot that that righteous man, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day, seeing and hearing their unlawful deeds.
We need to think on the things that are true and honest and just and pure and lovely and of good report. The Bible says think on these things and not just fill our minds with whatever programming that the devil has for us through television and so forth. Lot made these mistakes. I'm sure that there are people in our church who have and will make similar mistakes. What should be our response to these people? The Bible says we should pray for them. We should intercede for them. We should love them just like Abraham love Lot.
Now are there people who cross a line and they need to be ejected from the church? Absolutely. The Bible is real clear. I didn't write the Bible. The Bible says in First Corinthians 5 that if it's found out that anyone in the church is a drunkard or a fornicator or an idolater or covetous or an extortioner or a railer, that that person should be cast out of the congregation, but even that is not done out of hate. It's done out of love because the Bible says that that guy who they cast out for fornication later repented of that fornication and he said, "Confirm your love toward him." Not only that, but he said, "Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
We do obviously realize that there is a line where people have to be thrown of the church if they cross the line and just are a drunkard ... We've thrown people out of our church. There was a couple, they were living together and they weren't married. I told them, I said, "Get married, break up, or quit coming to church because you can't just live together in fornication and attend church. The Bible says no in First Corinthians 5. Those who are a drunkard are banned from church," et cetera. We know that, we see that, but most of the sins that we're dealing with in church do not reach that level of fornication and drunkenness. We're talking about lesser sins, and we need to pray for people and intercede for them that God would be merciful to them.
Let me just [ask you this 00:23:44]. When was the last time you prayed that prayer for someone? When was the last time, because this is something that God is commanding us to do. He's telling us to make intercession. He teaches it in First John 5, he teaches it in James 5, he teaches it in Romans 8, he teaches it in Genesis 18, he teaches it in Exodus 32, but when was the last time you got on your knees and prayed for a brother or sister in Christ and said, "God, I know that they've committed X, Y, and Z sin, but God, be merciful to them. Restore them. Help them to grow, Lord, and don't punish them too severely."
You know who else made intercession? David made intercession for Absalom. This isn't in my notes. David made intercession to Absalom when he said unto the captains of his host, including Joab, he said, "Go easy on the lad for my sake. Take it easy on him." Did Absalom deserve punishment? Yes. Did he deserve to be judged? Yes, but David made intercession and said, "Go easy on him. Take it easy on him." You say, "Well, why do children always just run with the paddle and hand it to mom and dad and not make intercession?" Because they're children. Because they're immature. As we grow and become more mature and we become stronger in our walk with God, this is something that needs to be a part of our lives, intercessory prayer.
Look at Exodus 32 Verse 9. "The Lord said unto Moses, 'I have seen these people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them, and I will make of thee a great nation.'" Now what is God saying to Moses here? He's saying, "Look, I know I promised Abraham that I would make him a great nation, but these people are so wicked and ungodly," God is saying, "I'm going to destroy the whole nation. You're going to be the new Abraham, Moses. I'm just starting over with you."
What does Moses say? "Cool." No, that's not what Moses said. Moses besought the Lord and said, "Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou has brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, 'For mischief did he bring them out, and to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?' Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this thy evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self and [sayest 00:26:19] unto them, 'I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'" The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. Let me ask you this. Does intercessory prayer work?
God heard it in Genesis 18. Even when Abraham prayed the wrong thing, the Holy Spirit got the message and Lot was spared. Here, Moses is praying. Is Moses praying the exact right thing? That's not even the point. The point is he's bringing up God's word, he's bringing up God's promises, he's interceding, he's letting God know that his will is that the people will be spared, and God responds to that. Look at Verse 20. "It came to pass on the morrow that Moses said unto the people, 'Ye have sinned a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord, peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.'"
Now what I want to point out with this verse is that when we make intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we're not going soft on sin. Now was Moses going soft on sin in Exodus 32 and 33? No. If you know the story, Moses is taking a hard line on sin, he's preaching hard, he is punishing the wicked, he is even slaying those who deserve to be killed. Those who had committed crimes worthy of death, he has them killed. Moses is not going soft on sin, but he's still making intercession that God would be merciful.
Now think about this. This is a great prayer to pray for your wife. This is a great prayer to pray for your husband, because when you're married, you know the faults of the person that you're married to, don't you? If you live with somebody, obviously, you're going to see faults. Let's say your husband right now is in sin right now. Your attitude should be one of getting on your knees and praying to God that he will be merciful to your husband, that he would bless your husband, and that he would not chasten him severely, but that rather, he would turn away his anger, turn away his wrath from. Same thing could go with your wife. You know your wife's faults and you could pray that God would be merciful to her and go easy on her.
Look, let's face it. If God punishes your husband, you're going to get caught in the crossfire. If God punishes your wife, you're going to get caught in the crossfire. You need to make intercession for your husband. You need to make intercession for your wife. Don't you want to make intercession for your children? We know that our children sin. We know that our children do wrong. We catch our children committing sin. What do we do? Yes, we punish, yes, we take a hard line, but we should then go on our own and get on our knees and pray, "God, they've sinned a great sin, Lord, but forgive them. Bless them. Go easy on them."
Do you see how this could be an effective prayer in our lives? You could pray this for your parents. You could pray for other physical brothers and sisters you have. You could pray especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ in your local church because you know them. You see them and you know what they need. He says here in Verse 20, "You've sinned a great sin." He's not going soft on their sin. He's not making excuses for sin, but does he want them all to just be killed?
No. Do you want your husband, your wife, your child, your parent, do you want God to really just visit the full spectrum of his anger on their sins, or do you want him to go easy and show mercy? You want mercy for yourself and for your brothers and sisters in Christ. We want mercy for God's people. Mercy for the saved. Mercy for our church. It says in Verse 31, "Moses returned unto the Lord and said, 'Oh, this people haven't really done anything that bad.'" Is that how he makes intercession?
When we make intercession to God, we don't go to God and say, "Well, what they did wasn't that bad, God. Chill out, buddy." No, that's not how we talk to God. We need to acknowledge God's holiness. We need to acknowledge God's justice. We need to acknowledge that they have broken the commandments of God. We should never, when we pray, make excuses for our self, and we shouldn't make excuses for the people around us. We can just admit, "Lord, they've committed a great sin, but Lord, go easy on them. Lord, be merciful to them for my sake. I'm asking you, Lord, to be good to them."
It says in Verse 21, "Moses returned unto the Lord and said, 'Oh, this people have sinned a great sin and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin," and look at that little hyphen there. By the way, that's the only time in the Bible that I know of where there's this breaking off mid-sentence. He doesn't finish the thought. He just breaks off, so this is a very dramatic verse in the scripture. He says, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin ..." He doesn't know what to say. He just doesn't even know how to finish that statement, so he switches to another statement. "If not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou has written."
Now Moses here is, again, he's praying wrong. Praying to God and saying, "Blot me out of the book of life, Lord, if you're not going to forgive them." That's not the right way to intercede, but here's the thing. Again, the Holy Spirit knows our heart. He'll translate. Just like Abraham's prayer in Genesis 18 was a little misguided, this prayer is a little misguided. Here's what God says to him. "The Lord said unto Moses, 'Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.'"
He's saying, "Look, I'm not going to blot you out of the book, Moses," but he understands what Moses meant. He understands what Moses was getting at. "Therefore now go and lead the people under the place of which I have spoken unto thee. Behold, mine angel shall go before thee. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them." The Lord plagued the people because they made the calf which Aaron made. People did get punished, but they did not get punished as severely because Moses had interceded. Because Moses interceded, only the worst of them were slain. Not all of them.
We could go through the whole history of the children of Israel and just see this played out over and over again. We could go to Numbers. I'm not going to go there, but in the story of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. God wants to wipe everybody out in Numbers 16. Moses and Aaron fall on their faces and begged God not to do it, and God hears them. God [has entreated 00:32:52] of them. Aaron offers an incense onto God, and he goes and runs and stands between the dead and the living. Over and over again, we see this. We see David making intercession for the people of Israel when the death angel is destroying Jerusalem and killing people.
This is a biblical concept from Genesis to Revelation. Christ makes intercession for us, the Bible says. From when he said on the cross, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." Go to Hebrews 7. Hebrews Chapter 7. While you're turning there, I'll read for you from First John 2:1. It says, "My little children, these things have I written unto you, these things write I to you, that you sin not. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
The Bible tells that Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father. He is in heaven, advocating for us. He is in heaven, making intercession for us. Look what it says there in Hebrews Chapter 7 Verse 25. "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Part of Christ's ministry in heaven is making intercession for us. As the devil accuses us before God day and night, the Lord Jesus Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us.
How do we treat the people that we love in our life? Do we just accuse them as the devil or do we make intercession for them according to the will of God? Do we pray that God will bless them and go easy on them? Now, look, I understand there are people who've gone over the top on wickedness. There are people who are unsaved, reprobate, devilish people. I get that. The Bible even clearly tells us, and I don't want to spend my sermon on this, but in Jeremiah 7:16, the Bible is real clear when it says, "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor pray for them, neither make intercession to me for I will not hear thee."
Is it possible where people just go so far? Well, guess what? Intercession is not going to work. God even tells us, "Don't make intercession for these people. I am not going to hear you." These are people who are worshiping false gods, offering their children as human sacrifices. They're good. They're doing everything under the sun wicked. Even First John 5 had that caveat when it said, "If any man see his brother sin, a sin which is unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he shall pray for it."
Obviously, people cross the line, but do you really think that the average person in our church, or even anyone above a few Judas Iscariots that creep in, would fall under that category of, "Pray not for this person. Don't make interception for this person. They're too wicked. It's too late"? Even the majority of unsaved people wouldn't fall under that category. The vast majority of unsaved people are not just these devilish, god-hating reprobates. Are there people like that out there? Yes, but are they the majority of unsaved people? No. The majority of unsaved people, the vast majority of unsaved people do not fall under that category.
The vast majority of the people in our church outside of a few Judas Iscariots who ... We've had Judas Iscariots in our church. We've had people in our church who have crept in exposed as reprobates. People who have crept in. I'm not just saying that. I'm dead serious. Judas was in Jesus' church. The Bible says, "There shall be false prophets among you. There shall be men who creep in unawares, who have eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin, that defile the flesh in a way of Sodom and Gomorrah," according to Jude 7. We've had that kind of wickedness, of course, creep in, and thankfully, with the way that I preach, it's few and far between.
We preach a lot of them out the door for your safety, for the safety of our children, but sometimes there will be wicked people that creep in. Whenever we found out about anybody like that, we cast them out of the church. We throw them out. We expose them. That's not to say that Judas could not still even be amongst us as we speak. I'm not on a witch hunt, of course. It's not our job. Jesus didn't go on a witch hunt. I think that the lesson there with Judas and with false prophets is we should just be careful not to just blindly trust someone because they're from church. Suspect no one, trust no one. That's my motto.
What I'm saying is that, yes, there are some caveats here in First John 5, in Jeremiah 7, there is a teaching of some people for whom it is too late, people who are just reprobate, over the top, but, come on, that's a very small percentage. Let's focus on the main teaching here this morning. What's the main, primary teaching? What's the teaching that's going to apply to 99% of people in this church? It's that when we see them commit sin, it doesn't mean that they're just the worst person ever, "because I saw so-and-so around town commit this sin," or, "I saw so-and-so commit this sin," or, "I heard about this," or, "I saw this online about so-and-so."
When we see or find out something about our husband, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to make a habit and we need to have a method of going to God in prayer and making intercession for that person. We pray to God and say, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." We go to God and we tell God that we're sorry. We confess our sins to God, but we should also not just ask for God to be merciful to us. I'm sure we've all done that.
If I ask for a raise of hands, who has prayed to God when you've done something wrong and told God, "I'm sorry I did that. Go easy on me"? Probably every hand would go up. "God, I'm sorry. I committed sin. I broke your commandment. Please be merciful to me. Please go easy on me." Okay, now let's start praying that for other people. That's what intercession means. That's what the Bible means when it talks about making intercession for the saints. Making intercession for God's people. We're praying that God will be merciful and that he will go easy on them.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for the fact that you're up in heaven, listening to Jesus Christ make an intercession for us. We thank you so much for the Holy Spirit who makes intercession for us. We definitely pray things sometimes that don't make sense, just like throughout the Bible, people pray things that didn't quite make sense, but Lord, thank you for just getting the gist of what they were asking.
Lord, I pray that every person in our church would learn to love their brothers and sisters in Christ, and that when we see a brother or sister commit sin, we wouldn't just get angry, or worse, yeah, just gossip and just spread rumors about that person and talk about what we saw them do. Instead, help us to learn to just take it to you and just pray for you to bless that person and to go easy on them and to show mercy so that we'll have mercy some day, Lord. Just please help us to be more like Christ and like the Holy Spirit in that we make intercession for others, Lord. Please go easy on me when I make mistakes and everyone in the congregation. In Jesus' name, we pray, amen.