Sermon #1560                            Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:           My Soul’s Greatest Trouble

     Text:           Galatians 5:17

     Subject:      The Believer’s Inward Struggle With Sin

     Date:          Sunday Morning ― March 21, 2004

     Tape #        Y-8a

     Reading:    Psalm 73:1-28



I am reasonably confident of three things that give my heart great joy, peace, and comfort. I believe that:


1.    I am chosen of God (Jer. 1:5; 31:3).

2.    I am redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:21).

3.    I am born again by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1-4).


The Basis of My Hope


I have a good hope through grace regarding these things. I have some measure of confidence and assurance before God that these things are so, and that I am a child of God and an heir of eternal salvation. And I base that assurance on three things:


1.    I hear the Shepherd’s voice – God speaks to me through his Word. The Word of God still comes to me in power, in much assurance, and in the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:4).


(1 Th 1:4-5)  "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. (5)  "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."


2.    I trust the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5:1, 12-13).


(1 John 5:1)  "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."


(1 John 5:12-13)  "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."


My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.


3.    There is within my heart a true, sincere love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the people of God (1 John 4:19 – 5:2).


(1 John 4:19-21)  "We love him, because he first loved us. (20) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."


(1 John 5:1-2)  "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."


A Confession


Now, I have a confession to make! Yet, there is a terrible struggle within my soul, a tormenting trial in my spirit, a heavy burden upon my heart. I have a new heart and a new will, a new, heaven-bent nature, created in me by the grace of God, a nature that longs for and seeks after righteousness and conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ. But I cannot do the things I would – (Read Gal. 5:17).


(Gal 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."


I find a law in my members that when I would do good evil is present with me. I find in my soul iniquity, transgression, and sin far more hideous and ignominious than the most profane acts of ungodly men.


1.    I want to pray; but there is too much selfish lust in my prayers to call them prayer.

2.    I want to worship God; but there is too much pride in my worship to call it worship.

3.    I want to be completely free of earthly care, trusting God in all things, but there is too much unbelief and selfish resentment toward God’s providence to call my faith, faith or my submission, submission.


·       Envy is enmity against God.

·       Discontentedness is despising God’s providence.

·       Worry is questioning God’s wisdom and goodness.

·       Fear is the denial of God’s power.

·       Covetousness is proud rebellion against God.


Progressive Holiness


I hear men talk of becoming less and less sinful and progressively holier today than they were yesterday. I hear men talking about what they call “progressive sanctification.” Their doctrine is that God’s children grow in righteousness and holiness until they are ripe for heaven. They teach that glorification is the end result of their own progressive attainments in personal holiness. If their doctrine is true, then, it is possible for men, by diligent self-denial and personal holiness to eventually attain sinless perfection in this life.


Such doctrine, of course, is contrary to Holy Scripture (1 John 1:8, 10).


(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."


Honesty compels me to acknowledge that such doctrine is totally contrary to all personal experience. I have, I believe, over these past 37 years grown in grace. My love, faith, commitment to Christ, and joy in the Lord have grown, increased, and matured by the grace of God. But, my sin has not diminished. My outward acts of sin are more restricted and controlled. But the inward evil of my flesh has not diminished. If anything, it is worse now than ever. Is it not so with you? With aching heart, I confess my sin. Though I am redeemed, justified, and sanctified in Christ, I am still a man in the flesh, full of sin. Be honest, and tell me, do you not experience the same thing? Paul did (Rom. 7:14-24).


(Rom 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?"


This is My Soul’s Greatest Trouble. I wish it were not so, but it is. Some of you, I know, are in the same condition. How can we live in such a state? Where can we find comfort? Is there any hope for such creatures as we are? Give me your attention. I believe I have a message from God for your soul.


Proposition: The believer is a person with two natures, two principles, warring against one another continually; and those two natures are the flesh and the spirit (1 John 3:9; Lk. 2:52).


(1 John 3:9)  "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."


(Luke 2:52)  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."


Psalm 73


This fact is never more clearly displayed than it is in the life of David, the man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 73, David describes before God the warfare and struggle of his own soul between the flesh and the spirit (Compare Psa. 51 and Psa. 73). (Summarize vv. 1-21).


Divisions: Now, taking David’s words and experience as my own, I want to tell you three things about my own heart and soul.


1.    Though I am saved by the grace of God, I am a terrible foul and sinful man (22).

2.    Though I am a sinful man, I trust the Lord Jesus Christ (23-24).

3.    My soul’s only hope of eternal glory is God my Savior (25-26).


Sinner Still


I.      Though I am saved by the grace of God, I am a terribly foul and sinful man (v. 22).


(Psa 73:22)  "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee."


Taking David’s words as my own, I make the painful confession of my sin before God and before you. (I have seen Christ. I see my sin!)


Illustration: ― Job ― Isaiah


I have had a few trials in my life. But the most painful, most difficult trial I have ever had to endure is one that I must endure so long as I live in this world. It is the ever-increasing realization and awareness of my sin.


David uses three words to describe his sin before God – “Foolish,” “Ignorant,” “Beastly.


A.  David says, I have behaved as a fool before God.


This is a very strong word. It is the same word which David uses to describe the atheist in Psalm 14:1. It means “one who forgets God and loves evil.” Yet, David uses this word to describe himself. He even intensifies his foolishness – “So foolish was I.”


B.  Then David says, I have been ignorant.


My speech, my thoughts, and my actions betray my ignorance. How often we act like ignorant men and women!


C.  And David goes on to say, I have behaved like a brute beast before God.


This word “beast” speaks of some hideous, monstrous, astonishingly wild creature. This is an accurate description of our flesh. The old man is a sinful, beastly, monstrous creature.


I would disclose my whole complaint,

But where shall I begin?

No words of mine can fully paint

A picture of my sin.


Yes, I most truly describe myself when I describe myself as a beast before God.


1.     Like the brute beasts of the earth, I am too much attached to this world.


The hog, grubbing in the mud for its roots, cares nothing for the stars. The wild ass’s colt, roaming the hills, cares nothing for the angels of God. The ravenous wolf has no regard for eternity. Educate the beast, train it as well as you can, but it will have no regard for anything, but its natural appetite. How much like beasts I am! ― Is is not so with you, even with you who are renewed by Divine grace? Are we not too fondly attached to the things of this world?


Let us never be content with our beastly attachment to this world. But do not be so proud and foolish as to deny it.


2.     I am also like the wild beasts in this regard, ―I seem to have so little emotion and passion for heavenly things.



Look how we grovel here below,

Fond of these trifling toys;

Our souls can neither fly nor go

To reach eternal joys.


In vain we tune our formal songs,

In vain we strive to rise;

Hosannahs languish on our tongues,

And our devotion dies.


Dear Lord, and shall we ever live

At this poor, dying rate?

Our love so faint, so cold to Thee,

And Thine to us so great?


There is a beastly deadness, coldness of heart, and apathetic indifference about everything I do. My preaching, my repentance, my Bible reading, my praying, my singing, my worship, everything is so dead! Tell me, you who love the Lord, is it so with you?


3.     Again, we are like brute beasts in our short-sightedness. ― Our hearts and minds are too much concerned for the things of time, and too little concerned for the things of eternity.


4.     And we may well compare ourselves to brute beasts because of our animal like passions.


I will not go far into this dark path of our painful experience. I will say only enough to make you understand that this is the common experience of God’s elect.


Spurgeon said, “He that hath fellowship with God will sometimes feel the devil within him till he thinketh himself a devil.”


When we honestly look within, we will find that there is nothing lovely to be seen. We are as brute beasts before God. There is no evil of which this sinful flesh is not capable. We are evil, only evil, and that continually. Were it not for the free grace and sovereign love of God for us, we could not live with ourselves.


The characteristics of beasts rage within each of us. In my flesh there still remains the pride of a lion, the lust of the horseleech, the raging anger of a bull, the envy of a wolf, and the stubbornness of a jackass.


Old Nature Unchanged


The grace of God does not change our old nature. Grace gives us a new nature. But flesh is still flesh, undiluted evil, just as evil as it was before the Lord saved us. Old Adam is still old Adam, even though Christ is in the heart. Grace conquers Adam and grace rules Adam, but grace does not change Adam. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. This warfare and struggle within each of us is constant and perpetual. It will continue, until at last grace wins the victory, the flesh returns to the earth, and we are received up into glory.


This is my painful, but honest confession of sin. “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” This one thing I must acknowledge, “I am carnal, sold under sin…I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”


A Believer Still


II.   Though I am a vile, sinful man, I trust the Lord Jesus Christ still (vv. 23-24).


(Psa 73:23-24)  "Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. (24) Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."


I am sinful, shamefully sinful; but God is faithful, gloriously faithful. Therefore, trusting the Lord my God, I can say with joy and confidence, “Nevertheless I am continually with thee.” Notwithstanding all my sin, God is faithful!


This is a glorious thought, my friend: ― If you are a believer, if you are in Christ, your sins shall never be charged to you, be they ever so great, ever so many, and ever so constant! And they will never separate you from the Lord your God (Rom. 4:8; 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2).


(Rom 4:8)  "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."


(Rom 8:1)  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."


(1 John 2:1-2)  "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."


Four Pillars


Here are four blessed pillars for your faith and mine. ― Note the connection – “Nevertheless.”


A.   A Divine Perseverance“Nevertheless I am continually with thee.” God perseveres in his grace toward us.


We are one with Christ. Not until the Lord God forsakes his own dear Son will he forsake us who are in his Son.


Near, so very near to God,

Nearer I cannot be;

For in the Person of His Son,

I am as near as He.


Dear, so very dear to God,

Dearer I cannot be,

For in the Person of His Son,

I am as dear as He!


Our position and relationship with the eternal God is as immutable as God himself. We are continually…


·       Upon His mind.

·       Before His eye.

·       In His hand.

·       On His heart.

·       In His favor – We are accepted in the Beloved.


With His spotless garments on,

I am as holy as God’s own Son!


It takes very little faith, when you think you have many graces and many virtues, to say, “I am accepted in Christ.” But when a vile, wretched man, who knows his own evil heart and tastes the bitterness of his utter depravity, can look to God and say, “Though I am a sinful beast before Thee, I trust Christ alone as my Lord and Savior,” that is faith. Only as sinners do we need a Substitute!


Our security does not depend upon our faithfulness, but upon God’s faithfulness (Mal. 3:6). It does not depend upon our perseverance, but upon our God’s.


I want you to get this. May God help you to hear what I am about to tell you. I made this statement in a Bible conference more than 20 years ago. What an uproar I stirred! But I cannot tell you how this blessed fact comforts my soul! Do I have your attention? ― My relationship with the eternal God does in great measure determine what I do. But what I do in no way determine my relationship with God.


It is good, wonderfully good for me to look up to my Father , my God, my Savior and say, “Nevertheless, I am continually with thee.” But here is something even better. I could be mistaken. But when God beholds my sin and says, “Nevertheless,” he is not mistaken. Look at Psalm 89.


(Psa 89:27-37)  "Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. (28) My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. (29) His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. (30) If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; (31) If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; (32) Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. (33) Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. (34) My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (35) Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. (36) His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. (37) It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah."


B.   A Divine HelpThou hast holden me by my right hand.


The right hand signifies strength. For God to hold me by my right hand implies that the hand of my strength is only weakness.


1.    He has held me.

2.    He is holding me.

3.    He will not let me go!


He may, in his wise and good providence, allow me to fall; but even when I fall, he is holding me still.


C.   A Divine Guide“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.”



1.    According to his wise decree, God orders my steps.

2.    By his written Word, God directs my path.

3.    By his Holy Spirit, God leads me in his way (Prov. 3:5-6).


(Prov 3:5-6)  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."


D.  A Divine Reception“And afterward receive me up to glory.”


Yes, old Adam shall soon be sent to the grave to rot because of sin; but God will receive his own up into glory (Eph. 5:25-27; Jude 24-25; Jer. 50:20; Psa. 17:15).


(Psa 17:15)  "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."


(Jer 50:20)  "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve."


(Eph 5:25-27)  "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."


(Jude 1:24-25)  "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen."


My Only Hope


III. My soul’s only hope of eternal glory is God my Savior (vv. 25-26).


(Psa 73:25-26)  "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. (26) My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."


I have no hope in myself. ― “My heart and my flesh faileth.” There is nothing in me, nothing done by me, and nothing felt in my heart that gives me hope or commendation before God. My only hope of salvation and acceptance with God is God himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. In simple faith, because I can do nothing else, this sinful man turns to Christ Jesus the Lord and casts himself upon a Substitute. Christ is my only Hope. And Christ is Hope enough!


A.  Christ is all the hope I have and Christ is all the hope I desire. ― “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” No one. “And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” “Christ is all!”


1.    For Cleansing.

2.    For Pardon.

3.    For Righteousness.

4.    For Peace.

5.    For Holiness.

6.    For Sanctification.

7.    For Acceptance.


B.  Jesus Christ alone is the Rock of my salvation and the Strength of my heart.


·       Christ is the Rock upon which I am built.

·       Christ is the Strength, the Support, Comfort, and Assurance of my heart.


C.  God, as he is revealed in Christ, is my portion forever. _ Therefore, I will hope in him (Lam. 3:21-26).


(Lam 3:21-26)  "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. (22) It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (24) The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (25) The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (26) It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."




1.    Do not ever expect to be free from sin in this world.

2.    Do not ever expect your brethren to be free from sin in this world.

3.    In the midst of your sin go on trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not cast you off (1 John 2:1-2).


(1 John 2:1-2)  "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."


4.    Give praise, honor, and glory to God your Savior.


·       His blood is effectual.

·       His grace is unchangeable.

·       His love is unfailing.

·       “His mercy endureth forever!”

·       By the grace of God I am what I am.” ― Forgiven! ― Justified! ― Accepted! ― Sanctified ― Heaven Bound!