Three Steps to Heaven, Pt. 2

Three Steps to Heaven, Pt. 2

Now, there's just one more condition to having our sins forgiven and that is called restitution. Another long word. Now, friends, some people don't believe in this, but I do. I do.
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Speaker 1: Today, Amazing Facts Crusade evangelist, Joe Crews, talks about the secret of overcoming bad habits. Join him now as he continues with the second step on the way from Earth to heaven.

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Joe Crews: Now, there's just one more condition to having our sins forgiven and that is called restitution. Another long word. Now, friends, some people don't believe in this, but I do. I do. I believe that if all the Christians in this city would make restitution, one of the greatest revivals of all history will breakout right in this town or in any city, in any city. It's necessary. If you stolen something you ought to take it back and make it right. Isn't that right, friends? Now, I'm not telling you that you need to reach back in your life and remember every wrong thing you ever did in all of your life, that would be impossible.

You can't remember all the stories you told and the fibs and the lies that you've told. God will lay it on your heart, certain things that you've done that you can make right and he'll bring it to your mind and your attention, lay it upon you, convict you of it, and when he does, my friends, we need to make it right. If you stolen something, give it back. If you've lied about something and hurt their reputation, you can go tell the truth now and straighten that thing out. Sometimes you may need to write a letter. There are many things that can be done.

Now, I'm saying again, please don't misunderstand me. You can't do that in for everything you've ever done wrong, but many times God will lay it upon you and you can do certain things to make it right. I heard of a man who was walking down the street one day and he met a friend and he was telling this friend about a revival meeting that he had attended the night before. He told how he had gone forward and given his heart to Christ and become a Christian. His friend was commenting on this and he said, "Well, that's really great that you've really made that commitment and become a Christian. Now, I know you'll give me that $10 you owe me."

This man said, "Oh, no, no." He said, "You don't understand. All things are passed away and all things will become new. It's all in the past." Well, he misunderstood a little bit, friends, because we do need to reach out and to straighten things out and make it right when we can. Now, when we've done those three things, repentance, confession, and restitution. We've taken that first big step on the way to heaven, which is sins forgiven.

Now, we come to the second great step on the way to heaven and we read this in John 3. John 3, one of the most famous chapters in the entire Bible, and we're reading verse three. Jesus is talking to Nicodemus here at night, as you were well remember, Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Now, friends, here's one of the strongest negative terms that Jesus ever used. He said, unless you're born again, you can't go to heaven, you can't be saved, and you can't see God.

Conversion, being born again, what was he talking about, friends? He's talking about the transformation of life that comes when a person in faith kneels at the foot of the old rugged cross and receives Christ as a savior. I told you that every little baby born in this world is born with a fallen nature, with a carnal disposition that is inclined to do wrong, and that will disobey just as soon as it's able to make a decision. Now, friends, we come under the sentence of death as soon as we sin.

How do we get out from under the sentence of death, how do we get relieved of this condemnation which comes through our disobedience brought on by the carnal nature? I'll tell you what needs to happen, my friends, that carnal nature needs to be changed and until it is by a miracle of God, then we'll never be able to obey Him. We will never be able to satisfy the claims of God's law until we come into that spiritual relationship with him called the new birth or conversion. Somehow we've got to get out of this lost condemned dying family of Adam and get over into the family of Jesus Christ. Adam's family, my friends, is condemned.

All of his descendants are born with this fallen nature that leads them to transgress. We've got to have the mighty transforming power of God to change this whole sinful nature of ours. That comes through faith. You say, "Well, how do you do it, Brother Joe? How do you exercise that faith? How do you pass from death to life?" All right, Jesus said, except a man be born again, he can't see God. He can't be saved.

How do you get born again? Listen, friends, when you accept Jesus as your divine substitute, when you see Him there taking your place on the cross and you accept that tremendous factor sacrifice on his part, when you receive that loving gift of His in paying your death penalty for you in your place, and you acknowledge that He's satisfying the law for you, he's dying there in your place. Friends, that faith, that simple act of believing in Him as your Savior, as your substitute, that brings assurance that your sins are forgiven, that you're not going to have to die for them now, because Jesus has done it and paid the penalty in your place.

Look at the sample procedure as described by John in chapter one of the Gospel of John. John 1:12, very beautiful, meaningful words, but as many as received Him, that is Jesus, to them gave he power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on his name. You see, friends, it's believing in Jesus, it's accepting Him as your atonement, as your substitute, your sacrifice, paying the penalty for you, satisfying the law for you, and living you then without the necessity of having to die that terrible second death for your own sins because Jesus has done it for you, and you've accepted it in him.

This is the only way to do it, my friends, and through Christ is the only process. There are a lot of gods and saviors in the world, all over the world. In the non Christian lands of this world, there are those who claim to be able to save people. There are gods many. Oh, but friends, you can kneel at the feet of these gods, you can cry loud and long and absolutely nothing happens, but when you kneel at the foot of the old rugged cross and cry out to Jesus, something happens in here, doesn't it? Whole change takes place, a miracle transpires in your life.

I can't explain it. I don't know anybody that can diagnose it and analyze it and explain it either scientifically, or philosophically, or any other way but I do know that when you receive Christ, that beautiful thing happens in your life, and you turn into another person, into a new creature, the Bible calls it. In fact, let's look at it now in 2 Corinthians 5:17. This is the true text now that was misquoted by the man a while ago.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, it says, therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. All things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. Sure enough, the mind is renewed, the thoughts begin to adopt a new pattern of operation, the life is totally transformed. Oh, you recognize the individual by looking at his face, but even the face, the countenance itself, is often altered, isn't, it friends? You can see there a spirit, a love, a light that beams forth out of the face of a converted person that you didn't see before, and they're totally born again.

It's just like you're walking along in this direction and then suddenly you turn and you begin walking in the opposite direction. This is what conversion is, a total turn around in the life. This is the second great absolute necessary step on the way from Earth to heaven, being born again. It's necessary. Now, friends, we have one more big giant step to take on the way to heaven, and this one is described in Hebrews 5:9. Now, there are many people who do not believe that this one is necessary, but I know it is.

I think you'll agree with me as we read this now in Hebrews 5:9, and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. Now, this says that we must obey him. After you receive this new life in Christ, what do you think your attitude will be toward Jesus? How will you feel toward the one who has taken your place now and redeemed you from this terrible sentence of death? Jesus said, "If you love me," do what? "Keep my commandments." Why? You all love Him with all your heart and you want to throw yourself at his feet and say, "Lord, whatever you tell me to do. That's what I want to do. I want to please you above anything or anybody in all the world."

The Bible says that he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. Now, right here, we come to a special problem. Somebody said, "Brother Joe, that's the thing I can't do. I can have faith, I can trust the Lord, but I have problems putting those things into action. I can't change these lifelong inbred habits of mine. How do I suddenly turn around and begin to obey when I've been disobeying all my life? How do I give up all of these terrible bad habits that I've built up over a period of many, many years?"

Sometimes people come to me and they say, "I found out now that smoking is wrong," or, "I found out that drugs is a sin because it's defiling my body. I don't want to do that anymore, but how do I suddenly turn away from these things that have gripped my life and bound my life all of these years?" This is perhaps the biggest step and the biggest secret that people need to learn about giving themselves to Christ and following Christ.

How do you do this? How do you stop sinning? How do you begin obeying God when you've been accustomed to disobeying Him all your life? Sometimes people have been smoking 40 years. I had one man come to me and he said, "Now, look, I'm going to start working on this thing because it's taken me 40 years to build up this terrible habit of smoking. I believe that in a few years, God's going to help me to cut it all out in my life."

Now, friends, is it necessary for me to take as long to get rid of a habit as it took to build it up in my life? Is this what God expects? Is this the only way to do it? Now, I want us to spend the last few minutes of our message today talking about the greatest secret that I ever learned about living the Christian life. How do you stop these habits? How do you stop sinning? How do you turn around and give yourself to Christ? Does He expect me to do it? Will he give me the power to do it?

Sometimes we think about that woman who had been brought in before Jesus. They caught her in the very act of adultery, remember? Then they came dragging her in there and they said, "Lord, here's this woman now. She's guilty. We found her. We caught her in the very act of adultery. The law says to stone her to death. What do you say?" Jesus bent over and began to write in the sand. You remember? Those men looked over his shoulder, no doubt, and saw the words that he was writing.

It'd be very interesting to know what was written, and I think I have a pretty good idea because those men went out one by one. Then all but the woman remained and Jesus spoke to her. Do you remember the last words He said to her? He said, "Go and taper off on this sin." Is that right? Is that what He said? No, He really didn't, did He? He said, "Go and sin no more." Listen. Did He give her the power to stop sinning? Of course, He did. When God commands, He gives the strength and power to do.

My friends, God expects us to stop sinning. How long should it take us to stop? I mean, the woman evidently understood that she was to stop right then, she was not to continue for another moment in that sin. Listen, you never read in the Bible anything about diminishing the amount of sin you commit. Have you ever read anything like that? Have you read in the Bible that we ought to cut down, and diminish, and cut back on the sins that we commit? Not a single word to that effect at all.

Anytime that sin is referred to in the Bible, it says, "Stop it. Get away from it. Cut it out of your life altogether." Now, let's suppose that you have a problem. I hate to suggest that anybody listening top this program would have a bad habit, but it might be, it's always possible that somebody listening may have a bad habit. You may have a smoking habit, and you may have decided that you've got to stop, that it's killing you, it's destroying you, and you've found according to the Bible that your body is holy, it's the temple of God, and you're not to defile that body with anything harmful or poisonous.

You come and say, "Brother Joe, I want to stop smoking. How do I do this?" All right, maybe some other sin, a sin of the flesh or a sin of the spirit. It may be envy, or jealousy, or pride, or a bad temper, or overindulgence of appetite, or any other sin. Now, friends, how do we do it? How do we do it? I want you to listen to the next few moments as for eternity because what I have to tell you now could change your whole life and could make the difference between life and death for you, so please listen very closely.

Let me tell you how most people do it. How do most people stop smoking, for example? This is the way they do it. They put the cigarettes on the shelf and they say, "Now, I'm going to try never to smoke again," but in the back of their mind, you know what they're saying? They're saying, "I'm going to try never to smoke again, but if I don't make it, I know where I left off." Now, some of you are smiling, you know exactly what I'm talking about because you've tried it that way, haven't you?

Now, this is the plan that we call the trying plan. That's the trying plan. I can tell you right now, my friends, it doesn't work. I'll tell you why it doesn't work, because really, you're fighting the devil in your bad habit, he's behind it, and you're fighting him, and he's stronger than you are. You can fight the devil for a day, or a week, or a month, or a year, but at the end of the year, he's still stronger than you are, you can't make it. Trying is not going to work. It won't work. You say, "Well, then, what does work?"

I tell you that the trusting method works. The trusting method works because the trying won't do it. See, that's the evolutionary method too, by the way. We call the trying method the evolutionary method because it assumes that after a while if you keep on trying long enough, you'll gradually outgrow that bad habit or wean yourself away from that bad habit.

Now, I'm not going to deny, friends, that there are certain bad habits in your life that may disappear as you get older, and older, and older, and older. I do not believe that that is God's best method of overcoming sin in your life, allowing you to evolve out of it through the process of getting so old that you don't enjoy the sin anymore, maybe, or something like that. No, that's not God's way, there's a better way. Now, this way is called the trusting plan.

I'm going to give you four texts tonight to explain this plan. These four verses could revolutionize your life. Please listen. The first text is found in 1 Corinthians 15. Please if you have your Bible, turn with me and look at it very, very closely, and listen to every word that I say. 1 Corinthians 15:57. 1 Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, listen, victory is a gift. Did you get that? Let me say it again. Victory is a gift.

Now, this means that I can't buy it, I can't earn it, I will never deserve it. It is given to me from God as a gift. Now, that is good news, isn't it, friends? It's good news that He will give me this victory. All I have to do is ask for it. A gift is free, you ask for it, it's given to you, you accept it. That's your part, you accept it. That's it, you have it, you possess it. Victory is a gift. Now, friends, if you ask for the victory in your life, do you think God will give it to you? Now, we are going to have to have faith in this process today.

Let me ask you a question. How many of you believe that God's Word means what it says and you really believe the Bible? Let me see your hands. You believe the Bible? That's fine, because this plan won't work if you don't believe the Bible, if you're not willing to take God at His word. Now, He says here that victory's a gift. Now, how willing is He to give it to you if you ask for it? Suppose you're asking for the victory over tobacco? How certain can you be that God will give you that victory over tobacco if you ask Him for it?

Come back to the second text now in Matthew 7:11. These are the words of Jesus himself, Matthew 7:11, very, very powerful verse. Jesus said, "If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?"

Now, friends, let me ask you something. Is this a good thing that we're going to ask Him to give you the victory over that bad habit? Is that a good thing? What did our Lord say? He said if you are willing to give your children bread when they're hungry, how much more your heavenly Father will give the good things that you ask him? You tell me this is a good thing? You're asking for victory over tobacco, that's a good thing. Then the moment you ask Him, Jesus said, "My Father will give it to you, he's waiting to do it, he's anxious to do it for you."

By the way, you don't even have to pray if it's your will, give it to me. Now, if you are asking for some physical thing like more money, or a better job, or some physical, material thing, you'd always have to say, "Lord, if it's your will, give it to me." Listen, He's already told us in the Bible that it's His will to give us the victory over sin, hasn't He? You don't have to come and say, "Lord, if it's your will give me this victory." You just come and say, "Lord, you promised and I'm asking you right now give me the victory." Will he do it friends? He said so, didn't he? Jesus said so. Now, do you believe it? Let's exercise our faith right here, friends, let's take God at his word. If he says it, he will do it.

Now, here's my next question. When you kneel down and ask him to give you the victory over that tobacco or the drugs or the bad temper, the appetite or whatever it is, how do you know that you have that victory? How do you know? By faith, he said you would have it, didn't he? He said so and you must believe that it's done because he said it and not because of any feeling that you might get at all. You just accept it as done my friends.

Thank him for it while you're still on your knees and then get up and act like it's done and it will be done, it will be done. In other words that very moment if you pray, here is what God will do. He will put a reservoir of power right there in your life. You will not feel it, you won't feel a thing but that mighty power of God will flow into your life and it will be right there as a tremendous storehouse of strength and power to keep you from ever sinning on that point again. You ask him for the victory over tobacco, he'll give you the power to stop smoking, he'll put it right in there.

Now, with some people let me explain something right here. With some people God actually takes away the taste and the desire and the craving and the appetite with some people but this is not what he usually does. There may remain a craving and an appetite and a temptation for the tobacco. Now, I cannot explain to you why God chooses to take away the taste from some people and others he doesn't. I know one dear lady in Cottonwood, Arizona had smoked five packs a day of cigarettes for years.

Now, I think you have to get up at night to smoke a few to get that many packs in in a day but she had done that for years and we prayed about this that God would give her that victory and she never had another taste for it after that. In fact I saw her a year later, she said, "Brother Joe, I never had a temptation or an appetite or a craving for it since we prayed that day." Now, God does it sometimes but this is not the usual way he does it.

You may still feel some desire there but friends you still have the power there, you still have the victory there, and if somebody blows a smoke in your face, you can walk right by them and know that you have the victory over it even though you may be drawn and tempted. It's not a sin to be tempted, it's only a sin if you yield and God gives you the power not to yield. That's what the victory is. Do you remember Peter walking on the water?

Remember he was out in the boat there and Jesus came walking over the water and Peter said, "Lord, can I come and do that also? Can I walk on the water?" Jesus said, "Yes, Peter, come to me. You can do it." Peter stepped out of the boat and began to do the impossible. He was walking on the water. How long did he do it? The Bible says the wind and the waves were boisterous and he became afraid. What was he afraid of? He was afraid of sinking and drowning, wasn't he? Wasn't that showing a lack of faith in Jesus.

Jesus said you can do it and as long as he believed that Jesus was telling the truth he walked on the water, was like stone under his feet but when he became fearful and began to doubt the word of Jesus he started sinking. All right. Now, listen, what is the impossible thing for you tonight? It's not walking on water, it's stopping smoking or stopping the overeating or stopping the bad language or whatever it is. What does Jesus say to you? He says, "Come to me, I'll give you the victory."

What should you do? You should step out of that boat, my friends, and believe that God is doing it because he said so and thank him for doing it. Accept it as a tremendous gift from Him and know that it's done just because Jesus said it would be done. Now, come with me to the third text here, Roman 6:11. Romans 6:11 says, "Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed under sin." Now, tell me what does the word reckon mean? I reckon I'll go downtown. What do I mean when I say that? I believe I'll do it, it means to believe something. I reckon I'll do it.

Listen, when you ask him for that victory, you've got to consider it done. You must account that it's done and it will be done as soon as you accept it by faith and believe it and know it because God said. That brings us to the next text, Romans 13:14. Look at this verse, tremendous verse, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof." Now, this says to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. In other words, now, if you've got some on the shelf, you don't keep them there. You take them off and bury them or burn them or destroy them.

You remember the story of a little boy who went swimming when his mother told him not to? He came back with his hair all wet and his mother said, "Jimmy, why did you disobey me and go swimming." Well, he said, "Ma, I got tempted." She said, "Yes, but I notice you took your bathing suit with you this morning when you left, why did you do that?" Well, he said, "Ma, I expected to get tempted." There are people who do the same thing today. They take their bathing suit with them, they make provision to fail. See? They put them on the shelf just in case.

I'm telling you tonight they can't be any reservations like that. If you make that kind of reservations, my friend, you will fail every time, you'll never make it, never make it. Don't take your bathing suit along. Now, there it is. I've given you the secret, friends. Are you willing to accept it? Are you willing to believe these promises that we've read together? This God really mean what he says. Is there some secret meaning or some hidden reservation in these promises that I've read to you tonight or do they really mean what they say? Now, if they mean what they say, are you ready to step out like Peter on the water and say, "Lord, I'm ready to put my weight on those promises now. I know that they're right, I know they are true, they can't fail. I'm going to step out, I want to believe and trust in you that when I ask you for this victory it's going to be mine"?

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