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Sermon #2326[i] — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: The Difference
Text: Exodus 11:1-10
Subject: God’s Distinguishing Grace
Readings: Larry Brown and Lindsay Campbell[ii]
Exodus 11:1-7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.
3 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.
4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:
5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: — that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.
9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.
10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
According to the testimony of God the Holy Spirit in the 7th verse of this 11th chapter of Exodus, the Lord God did all that he did to Pharaoh and the Egyptians and all that he did to and for Israel for this specific purpose. — “That ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
The title of my message is The Difference. My purpose in preaching this message is “that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
Proposition: I want you to hear what I am saying. The object of my message is to show you from the Word of God that whatever differences there are between believers and unbelievers, between God’s elect and the reprobate, must be traced to the distinguishing grace of God alone.
Such is the depraved nature of man that we all naturally cherish, nurture, cling to, and promote, in ourselves and in one another, that which is most abhorrent to God and most certain to bring us at last to utter ruin. The evil I speak of is the original sin of the universe, the persistent sin of our race, the most abominable of all sins in the sight of God, and the sin with which I have to do battle every day, every waking hour. The sin I speak of is pride!
Pride was the sin of Lucifer in the beginning (Isaiah 14:13-15). Pride was the problem Adam had in the garden. Pride arises like an ugly, monstrous, thousand-headed serpent in the heart. As soon as we think we have cut off one of the monster’s heads, a dozen more arise in its place! There is no such thing as a truly humble man by nature. Man’s pretense of humility is just another expression of pride calling attention to itself.
Pride is the great deceiver of men. It makes men and women behave in cruel, mean-spirited self-righteousness, under the guise of doing God’s service. Be warned my friends! Be warned, O my soul! Be warned…
(Proverbs 16:18) “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Micah 6:8) “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
O Holy Spirit of God, teach me what I am that I may truly walk humbly with my God, trusting Christ alone for all my righteousness and all my salvation.
Turn to 1st Corinthians 4:7. This is a very familiar text. I quote it with great regularity and preach from it frequently, and do so deliberately, because its lessons are quickly forgotten and need to be constantly remembered. I want you to turn to it and read it with me — 1st Corinthians 4:7.
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
These three questions may be and should be applied to any and all differences which appear among men.
Š Natural Differences: Physical — Mental — Moral!
Š Differences Among Preachers: Gifts — Abilities — Usefulness — Place!
Š Differences Between Believers and Unbelievers!
Let’s look at these questions together and pray that God the Holy Ghost will burn them into our hearts and cause us never to forget them.
“Who maketh thee
to differ from another?”
I am going to spend a little time here, leaving the other two questions for the summation of my message; but I want us to see three things here.
1. Sinners Still
There is a sense in which God’s elect do not differ from other people at all; and we know it. Though we have been chosen by God the Father, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and called by the blessed Holy Spirit of promise, though we are saved by God’s adorable and amazing grace, the people of God in this world are sinners still. This is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, and a fact we must never forget. Grace does not eradicate, or even change the believer’s old, Adamic, sinful nature. Grace subdues it. Grace rules it. Thank God, one day grace will destroy it! But grace does not change our old nature.
We know something about the depravity of our hearts (Matthew 15:19).
(Matthew 15:19) “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
The most shocking thing I discovered as a young believer, shortly after God saved me, was the fact that the raging monster of sin in my heart had not been slain, or even tamed.
Illustrations: High School English Teacher
Boy at Springfield
And the sad fact is I am, every day, made increasingly aware of the depths of my depravity. Yet, I know that I have not even begun to discover the hideous enormity of my sinfulness!
We know that our best deeds of righteousness are just filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6; 1 John 1:8, 10).
(Isaiah 64:6) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
(1 John 1:8) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
(1 John 1:10) “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
I have sinned. I do sin. I am sinning. But the worst of it is this — I am sin! When I would do good, evil is present with me! So, I cannot do the things that I would! All that I am, and all that I do, is sin! Let me see if I can state the matter clearly.
(Romans 7:14-24) “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
(Galatians 5:17) “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
“If I pray, or hear, or read,
Sin is mixed with all I do.
You who love the Lord indeed,
Tell me, is it thus with you?”
Let me ask you something. Before God saved you, did you ever imagine that…
Without question, there is a very real sense in which believers are no different from other people, so long as we live in this world in this body of flesh. We still have the nature of our father Adam. We are sinners still!
2. Saved Sinners
Yet, our text clearly and distinctly suggests that God’s saints are indeed different from other people. We are sinners still; but we are saved sinners, men and women with a new nature, that which is born of God.
“The Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” — The question, “Who maketh thee to differ,” would be redundant if were no difference. God’s people do differ from other people. Believers are different from unbelievers. God’s saints are a peculiar people.
Believers are men and women who have undergone a marvelous change (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Š We have been “washed” from our sins by the blood of Christ. Our old record is gone, expunged, cleared!
Š We are “sanctified” by the Spirit of God, given a new nature in regeneration. Righteousness has been imputed to us in justification; and a new, righteous nature has been imparted to us in regeneration. — There is in every heaven-born soul “a new man created in righteousness and true holiness.” — All saved sinners are made “partakers of the divine nature.”
Š We are “justified,” made righteous in Christ. This is mentioned last because it is experienced and perceived last. We were justified when Christ redeemed us; but we had no knowledge of our justification until God the Holy Ghost called us and gave us faith in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:17) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Grace changes a person’s life! You may change your way of life without grace; but you cannot experience the grace of God that brings salvation without also experiencing that change of life that causes saved sinners to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present, evil world.
Illustration: Whitefield and the Coal Miners
Š We have a new Master over our lives. — The Lord Jesus Christ.
Š We have a new motive in life. — The Will of God and the Glory of God!
Š We have a new manner of life. — Godliness (Titus 2:1-14).
Every person in this world who is born again by the grace and power of God the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
(Galatians 5:22-23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Š Love, joy, and peace toward God.
Š Longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness toward one another.
Š Faith, meekness, and temperance within.
Believers are people who live by faith in Christ, who trust the Son of God. It is written, “The just shall live by faith.” We trust Christ our God and Savior in his…
Š Glorious Person.
Š Redemptive Work.
Š Goodness and Faithfulness.
Š Providential Rule.
Š Heavenly Intercession.
And God’s people love each other (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4:7-8). God’s people are not cruel, mean-spirited, and hateful, but gracious, kind, and forgiving.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-8) “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (4) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (8) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
(1 John 4:7-8) “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Believers are people who have been and are continually taught of God to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world. I stress this because it needs stressing. Don’t tell me that so long as a person believes the gospel it does not matter how he lives, that his character and conduct are insignificant. God’s people do differ from unregenerate worldlings (Titus 1:11-12; Ephesians 4:17-24).
(Ephesians 4:17-24) “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (20) But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
(Titus 2:11-12) “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”
3. Distinguishing Grace
Those are the facts; but the question is — “Who maketh thee to differ?” Paul answers the question himself in Philippians 2:13 — “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” That which distinguishes God’s elect from the reprobate of this world is the distinguishing grace of God. It is written, “The LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” Let us ever adore and praise our great God and Savior for his free grace and distinguishing mercy toward us. The only difference between the believer and the unbeliever, between the righteous and the wicked, between the seed of Christ and the seed of the serpent, is the difference grace has made. This every heaven born soul gladly acknowledges. — “By the grace of God I am what I am!” God’s grace is always particular, distinctive, and distinguishing. Those who are saved are distinguished from those who are lost by six marvelous acts of grace.
Election — The first distinguishing act of God’s grace is his eternal election. If you can, with the eye of faith, trace every spiritual blessing that you now enjoy, and those which you hope to enjoy, back to the place of their original source, the place of their origin would be spelled “E L E C T I O N” (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Jeremiah 1:4; 31:3). Our dear Savior, tells us plainly, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). And every saved sinner gladly acknowledges…
“`Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be.
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
My heart owns none before Thee;
For Thy rich grace I thirst,
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first!”
Redemption — The second act of grace by which God has distinguished his elect from the rest of mankind is effectual redemption. By his precious blood, poured out unto death upon the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ has effectually ransomed God’s elect from the hands of divine justice, by satisfying the claims of justice against us (Isaiah 53:8-11; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12; Revelation 5:9).
Providence — The third act of grace by which the Lord has distinguished us from the rest of the world is his adorable providence. Our God governs all the affairs of this world; and he has governed all the affairs and circumstances of our lives to bring us to the place where we now are and to eternal glory in Christ at last (Matthew 10:29-31; Romans 8:28). As God gave Israel “favor in the sight of the Egyptians,” causing them to gladly give the children of Israel their silver and gold, would not allow a dog in Egypt to even growl at his people, and yet so hardened and enraged Pharaoh’s heart against them that he drove Israel out of Egypt, so our God graciously, wisely, sovereignly, wondrously causes all things in the world to help his elect (Exodus 11:2-3, 7, 9-10; Revelation 12:16).
Regeneration — The fourth act of grace by which we are distinguished from all other men is God’s sovereign work of regeneration. The only thing that makes you different from any other being on this planet, if you are born again, is the fact that God has saved you. He gave you life and faith in Christ by the irresistible grace and omnipotent mercy of his Spirit (Psalm 65:4; Ephesians 2:1-10).
Preservation — The fifth act of grace by which God distinguishes his elect from the unbelieving is his merciful preservation. The only thing that keeps us in grace is grace itself. The only thing that holds us to Christ is Christ himself (Jeremiah 32:38-40; John 10:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). — “Faithful is he at calleth you, who also will do it!”
Resurrection — The sixth wonderful act of God’s distinguishing grace, by which he will “put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” will be the resurrection. In the Day of Judgment, that which shall distinguish the saved from the damned shall be the fact that God has removed our sins from us by the precious blood of Christ, made us the righteousness of God in Christ, and imparted the holy nature of Christ to us (Jeremiah 50:20; John 5:28-29; Revelation 22:11). When we bow before our God in the perfection of heavenly glory we will glorify him alone for our entire salvation; and those who know the grace of God give him all the glory now.
“Who maketh thee to differ from another?” Only God! — “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
(2 Corinthians 12:3-10) “And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. (6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
“What hast thou
that thou didst not receive?”
Nothing! — Nothing in Nature! — Nothing in Grace! — Nothing in Time! — Nothing in Eternity!
“Now, if thou didst receive it,
why dost thou glory,
as if thou hadst not received it?”
John Gill wrote, “To glory in any mercy, favor, or blessing received from God, as if it was not received from him, but as owing to human power, care, and industry, betrays wretched vanity, stupid, and more than brutish ignorance, horrid ingratitude, abominable pride, and wickedness; and is contrary to the grace of God, which teaches men humility and thankfulness. To God alone should all the blessings of nature, providence, and grace be ascribed. He ought to have all the glory of them; and to him, and him only, praise is due for them.”
“Naught have I gotten, but what I received,
Grace hath bestowed since I have believed,
Boasting excluded, pride I abase,
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!”
Pride, envy, and jealousy are totally contrary to the grace we profess to believe. We are nothing but sinners saved by grace! There is no room for pride in the house of grace.
Š Pride of Place!
Š Pride of Face!
Š Pride of Race!
Š Pride of Grace!
(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
(Jeremiah 9:23-24) “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (24) But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
Satan desires to have us that he may sift us as wheat. And our Savior sometimes runs us through the sieve, to separate the precious from the vile, teaching us to trust him.
(Luke 22:32-34) “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (33) And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (34) And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”
(John 13:36-38) “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. (37) Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. (38) Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”
(John 14:1) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
(Mark 16:6-7) “And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. (7) But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
(John 21:17) “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
When I read these three, humbling questions, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” my heart is humbled within me before my God and Savior, and cries, “By the grace of God, I am what I am: and,” I rejoice to confidently add, “his grace was not bestowed upon me in vain.” That which he has begun in me, he will finish “to the praise of the glory of his grace,” that all creation shall know and forever acknowledge “that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning — May 19, 2013
Danville ⸺ Tuesday Evening ⸺ April 18, 2017
Sovereign Grace Church, San Diego, CA — (TUE – 07/01/14)
Sovereign Grace Church, Nixa, MO — (SAT – 04/15/17)
[ii] Habakkuk 3:1-19
(1) A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
(2) O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
(3) God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
(4) And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
(5) Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.
(6) He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
(7) I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. (8) Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
(9) Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
(10) The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
(11) The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
(12) Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
(13) Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.
(14) Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly.
(15) Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
(16) When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
(17) Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
(18) Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
(19) The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.