Intro: "O thou who are named the house of Jacob." There is a bit of irony in his address to them. You have the name, but you are not playing the game. Their father Jacob had a genuine faith and a true relationship with God. They were far removed from God. They still referred to themselves as the house of Jacob however. The term Christian means to be Christ like. There are many who have the name Christian but they are not at all like Christ. The United States has been called a Christian nation, that may have been true at one time, but today any similarity is purely coincidental. To the church in Sardis Jesus said, "You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead."
I. THE PROPHET IS SPEAKING TO THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SEEKING TO CONTROL THE SPIRIT OF GOD. "IS THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD STRAITENED?"
A. In verse 6 he speaks of the them commanding certain of the prophets not to prophesy to them.
1. They did want to hear the things that the Spirit was saying.
a. The prophets were telling them that they needed to change their life styles.
b. The path they were on was leading them to destruction.
c. God was not pleased with their lying, cheating, stealing, drinking ways.
d. They were being told that a nation that has lost it's moral roots will surely fall prey to their enemies.
2. They wanted to control the messages that the Spirit was speaking to them.
B. They did not want to be shamed for their actions.
1. They wanted to sin without feeling guilt.
2. They wanted people to accept their horrible practices and not shame them for what they were doing.
3. They wanted to parade in the streets, to show their pride for their chosen life styles which were unspeakably vile.
a. If a prophet of God should come to them they will retaliate.
b. Their desire is to straiten the Spirit of God, to silence His voice.
4. They wanted evil to be called good, and good to be called evil.
a. To accept their filthy practices is good, you are liberal.
b. To condemn their filth was to be narrow and bigoted.
5. If you want to teach your children good moral values in school like the ten commandments, you are trying to impose your value system on others which is evil. Yet they are seeking to drag you into the sewer and force you to accept them and you are bad to resist.
C. They would also control what is said to them.
1. Verse 11 If a man walking in the spirit of falsehood lies and says that he would prophesy to them of wine and strong drink, they will set him up as their prophet.
2. They would like to dictate to the Spirit, rather than allow the Spirit to dictate to them. They would straiten the Spirit.
3. If a man would put a Reverend in front of his name and tell them that their practices are noted, he will be hailed as a true man of God.
4. You are not a drunkard, you have a sickness, a physical inability to metabolize alcohol.
5. You cannot help what you do, God made you a little different from others, it is really God's responsibility for what you are.
6. They want to hear of a God that is so loving and weak that He would allow anyone to destroy themselves and not lift a finger to warn them or stop them. What kind of parent would not seek to teach his child the danger of running into the street, or playing with fire?
D. In certain churches you are not considered qualified to speak in God's name unless you have graduated from seminary and been ordained by a body of men. The Spirit of God can only speak through the ordained, but not by others.
1. I treasure the right of the Spirit to speak through anyone that He desires.
2. God can speak through the poor and illiterate as well as the highly intellectual. Sometimes more clearly.
3. My blood boils when I hear men with their religious degrees demeaning the Word of God. Claiming to know better than Jesus on the historicity of the Old Testament. They would straiten out the Lord. They would straiten the Spirit who inspired the writing of the scriptures.
II. IS THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD STRAITENED? ARE THESE HIS DOINGS?
A. Is the Spirit to be blamed for what is happening?
1. The weakness of the church in spiritual gifts today, the lack of the power of the Holy Spirit, is this the fault of the Spirit of God?
2. Can we say with scriptural authority, that God has ceased to pour out the gifts of His Spirit upon the church? That it is no longer His desire to heal the sick in the name of Jesus? He no longer desires to encourage and edify His church through the gift of prophecy.
3. Can we now substitute education for the gifting's of the Spirit?
4. Is the Church that was begun in the Spirit to be made perfect in the flesh?
5. Could it be that we are to blame for the lack of power rather than God?
6. The lack of power in the church today, is this His doing?
B. Look at the condition of the world today. After 2,000 years the majority of men are still in darkness, captives to sin, destroying themselves with wars, and killings, lying and cheating. Is this His doing?
1. Has the preaching of the gospel lost its effect? Or could it be that the drama has replaced the preaching of the word.
2. We seek to be heard of the people so that we have sought to alter the message so that it might be more palatable by the world.
3. In desiring to get the ear of the world have we sought to be prophets that will tickle the itching ear, by watering down the preaching of repentance from sin, and the necessity of true conversion.
4. Have we ceased warning men of an eternal hell of torment that awaits the sinner because that is not a popular subject and it brings ridicule from the enemy?
5. Is this the Spirit's doing, or is it our doing?
C. I agree with Charles Spurgeon who declared to his congregation, "Let us return to the Lord. Let us seek again to be baptized into the Holy Spirit and into the fire, and we shall yet again behold the wonderful works of the Lord."
1. God has set before us an open door, if we do not enter, He is not to be blamed.
2. Instead of our praying, "Awake, awake O arm of the Lord." We should be hearing the Spirit saying, "Awake, awake O Zion, shake off the dust and put on your beautiful garments."
III. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT STRAITENED.
A. He is still able to help our infirmities.
1. How often we are conscious of our inabilities to deal with all of the situations that arise from this vast ministry.
2. We as Paul often feel, "And who is sufficient for such things?" It is then that we rejoice that the Spirit is not straitened, and He is able to cause us to triumph through Jesus our Lord.
B. When I look at the deteriorating condition of our society. I see the increased drug and gang problems. I see the social chaos, and I feel so inept and incompetent to effect any change. What can be done to change the filth that comes out of Hollywood? The corruption in government? The breakdown of the family and subsequent amoral nature of the children today? How thankful I am the Spirit is not straitened.
1. Though I am weak and ineffectual, He is not, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2. It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord.
3. I may be baffled but the Spirit is not.