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I Almost Slipped!
AUTHOR: Wilkerson, David
PUBLISHED ON: March 19, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Christian Living

Times Square Church Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Almost Slipped!

  By David Wilkerson
  March 17, 1997 

               

    The Holy Spirit has prompted me to bring a solemn warning to
the body of Jesus Christ!  The warning is this: There is a sin
raging in the church right now that is causing the fall of
multitudes of Christians.  This particular sin is leading many
believers to the very brink of the abyss!
    Here at Times Square Church a number of dear, Christ-loving
people have already begun slipping left and right.  Others are on
the brink of a serious slide.  I pray this message will open your
eyes to your condition — and that the word God has given me here
will set you free.
    The awful sin I’m writing about is dangerous because most
Christians have not taken it seriously.  It is not considered to
be a major sin; its evil has been either underestimated or
ignored..  And yet it is affecting multitudes of believers —
causing the shipwreck of numerous pastors, evangelists and
laypeople around the world.
    This sin is not what we would call a sin of the flesh, such
as adultery, fornication, lust, homosexuality, gambling,
stealing, or drug or alcohol abuse.  Nor am I talking about a sin
of the mind, such as anger, covetousness, ambition, rebellion,
unforgiveness, slander, gossip or even pride.  In fact, the sin
I’m referring to is far more serious and seductive than pride
itself.  Yet when this sin is indulged, it is capable of leading
to every other sin listed here.
    I am not trying to be dramatic.  This is a soul-damning sin
that must be exposed and and dealt with — in every one of us!

                    Let Me Reveal to You This
                    Serious, Seductive Sin!

    Not long ago, I was sitting at my desk in our ministry
offices when I heard loud sobs coming from the reception area.  I
walked out of my office and saw my secretary consoling a twenty-
four-year-old Nigerian girl.  I recognized the young woman: She
has attended Times Square Church for about four years now.  She
has been wonderfully faithful — a beautiful witness for Jesus
who comes from a Christian family.  But now her face was lined
with grief.
    “What happened?” I asked.  My secretary answered, “She just
received word from Nigeria that her father and mother have been
killed in an auto accident.”
    The girl was absolutely crushed.  She told us she had six
brothers and sisters, all under seventeen years of age, who now
were left with no support.  She could get only temporary work,
and she regularly sent money back to Nigeria to help support her
family, even though she was barely able to make ends meet for
herself.
    The distraught girl cried, “I don’t understand!  I have
served the Lord faithfully for years.  I tithe consistently.  I
walk upright before the Lord.  And now this!  Why would God allow
such a tragedy?  I don’t have any money to fly back to Nigeria to
bury my parents, or to take care of my six siblings.  This makes
no sense to me!”
    Then she looked up at me through tear-stained eyes, almost
like a child, and asked, “Pastor, why is it so hard to do right?
The closer I get to Jesus, the more I suffer.  My life has been
so hard, so painful already.  I’ve had all I can take.  And now
my troubles only increase.  Why has God put me in this
condition?”
    Her grief was absolutely overwhelming.  She even told us she
had just thought of suicide.  “There is no more reason to live,”
she wept.  “Why go on?”
    We happily provided the girl with a round-trip ticket and
money to bury her parents.  We later learned that when she
arrived in Nigeria, she rejoiced to hear that her father’s last
words were, “The battle is over.  Light has overcome darkness.”
    Yet as I went back to my office that day after trying to
console the girl, I was shaken.  I prayed, “Lord, she is hurting
so badly.  She believes you’ve let her down, that you’ve forsaken
her.  She thinks that serving you is too hard.  How can I bring
her any comfort at all?  I feel so bad for her — and yet nothing
I say seems to console her in any way.”
    As I sat down to pray, I realized: “Lord, it seems the whole
body of Christ has yet to understand why you allow the godly to
suffer.  We don’t understand the poverty, the hardships.  None of
it computes.  We’re all trying to live to please you — yet we
have trouble upon trouble, plague upon plague, chastening after
chastening, sudden calamities. 
    “Father, how can I reach out to our own church body of
hurting, grieving, suffering people?  We’re all asking the same
question: ‘Why is there so much pain in my life, when we only do
what is right?'”
    All day long I contemplated this matter.  That evening, as I
went home to pray, I was in agony.  Finally, I cried out to the
Lord, “Father, your church is in a quandary over this issue of
suffering!  There are many Christians who, like Paul, can say, ‘I
have suffered the loss of all things that I may win Christ.’
Yet, like Paul, the closer they get to Jesus, the more troubles
and problems they face!
    “I’ve got to be able to give your people something, Lord.  I
want to be able to stand before them with your wisdom and
knowledge to talk about this serious, perplexing matter.  What
what words of comfort and wisdom can I offer them?”

                        I Was Shocked and
                        Surprised by the
                      Lord’s Answer to Me!

    The Holy Spirit’s words to me literally shook my soul.  And
afterward, I saw something about grief and sorrow through God’s
eyes that I’d never seen before.
    I began to see how easy it is for suffering, tested
Christians to slide into a grievous sin — the very sin I am
exposing in this message.  You see, unless we look at our trials
through God’s eyes — unless we see the potential danger facing
us in our time of sorrow and grief — we can slide into an abyss
of darkness and never come out!
    You may think it cruel of me to suggest that a grieving
twenty-four-year-old girl who has just lost both her parents
could slide into a terrible sin.  But the Lord spoke to my heart
very clearly about her grief:
    “David, she’s in danger — and you’ve got to warn her!
Whenever my people endure a condition like hers — when sudden
calamity falls, and they face fear, trouble, poverty — the heart
always questions, ‘Why is life so hard when I only do what is
right?’  That is exactly the time when they are at the brink of a
terrible abyss.  They are on the verge of indulging a sin that is
ruinous!”
    These words shocked me.  I thought, “But, Lord — we are to
weep with those who weep.  As a pastor, I am to offer every word
of comfort the Holy Ghost prompts me to give from your
scriptures.  I am to be there as a nurse the best that I know how
— to stand by suffering people and let them pour out their
grief.” 
    This is all true, without question.  Yet the Holy Spirit was
showing me that a time comes in the midst of our crises when we
cannot allow doubt to take root!
    Yes, I believe God understands our sudden outbursts whenever
calamities strike.  As we face tragedy, death or any other kind
of trouble, many of us cry out, “God, why did you allow this?”
Even Christ, at Calvary, cried, “My God, my God, why have you
forsaken me?” 
    But Jesus, in his overwhelming pain and suffering, did not
allow his grief to take root and turn to doubt.  Instead, he
allowed the Holy Spirit to console him.  And in his most trying
hour, he turned his life and future over to the father’s hands:
“…Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit…” (Luke 23:46).
    I realize now there is no way out of our grief, sorrow or
any other problem unless we come to the point where we can say,
“I will not allow this questioning to go on.  Yes, I grieve, I
hurt — but God is on the throne.  Enough of doubting!”
    That is when I began to see human grief and suffering
through God’s eyes.  The Spirit whispered to me, “David, you
think it is enough to share your pity and grief with suffering
saints.  But it is not enough!  I want you to look at their
grieving hearts through my eyes.”
    Bear with me now as I endeavor to open up to you what the
Lord has shown me about this grievous sin that brings destruction
upon so many Christians.  I pray this message will be a weapon in
your hands — and that it will keep you from the sin that can
damn your soul!  This sin will become obvious as we go on.

                      In Psalm 73, a Man
                      Named Asaph Nearly
                      Fell Into This Sin!

    Asaph was a chief singer, a Levite and a leader of King
David’s choral worshipers.  He and his clan also played cymbals
in times of praise.  He is credited with writing eleven of the
Psalms. 
    This man was a coworker with David and a very close friend.
Indeed, no one could be a Levite serving in God’s house without
being close to David — because that is where David was most of
the time.  David loved God, and he loved being in God’s house.
    Yet, in spite of his tremendous calling and blessings, Asaph
confessed, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had
well nigh slipped” (Psalm 73:2).
    Now, we know Asaph was a pure-hearted man.  He had the right
concept of the heavenly father, believing God was good.  He even
began his discourse in this psalm by saying, “Truly God is good
to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (verse 1).  In
other words: “God has been good to me by giving me a clean
heart!”
    Yet in the very next verse this clean-hearted man confesses,
“I almost slipped.  I almost fell!”  Why does Asaph declare this?
    Could it be that Asaph was disillusioned by the compromise
he saw in David?  As a loving friend, this musician probably
observed all that the king said and did.  He must have grieved
over David’s failures — his battles with lust, his adultery with
Bathsheba, his conniving and murder of Uriah, his taking on more
wives when God had forbidden him to do so.  Yes, David had a lot
of problems in his life.  So, did Asaph detect a hypocrisy in
this man who had a reputation for being so godly?  Did the
musician cry out, “My leader has failed me!”
    Was this the sin of Asaph?  Did he almost fall because David
took a fall?  When David slipped, did Asaph cry, “That’s all I
can take.  I just can’t handle this!”
    No — there was none of that in Asaph’s heart.  What, then,
was the sin that caused Asaph to slip and nearly fall?  What is
this grievous sin I am talking about? 

                    Asaph’s Sin Was the Sin
                  of Believing His Sufferings
                    Were Unfair Punishments
                            From God!

    This is the sin of charging God with neglect and injustice!
    We know from this psalm that Asaph was in the hot fires of
affliction, facing great troubles..  He testified, “For all the
day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning” (verse
14). 
    The Hebrew meaning of the words “plagued” and “chastened”
here is simply this: “I have been stricken violently with
trouble!  Every morning I wake up touched by sorrow, pain and
grief.  Every day I am being beaten down.  I feel I’m being
punished.  It’s too painful even to talk about!” (see verses 14-
16).
    Asaph also implies poverty in what he says: “For I was
envious…when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (verse 3).  As
Asaph looked around him, all he saw was wicked people with great
wealth — people who apparently lived without pain, enjoying the
high life, fat with material blessings, having all they could
ever want or need.  Perhaps Asaph was made to feel the pain of
his own poverty more acutely.  The pure-hearted musician couldn’t
understand it — and he cried out, “Lord, it doesn’t make sense
to me!”
    Asaph’s suffering brought him to the brink of a deadly
sin: attributing to God unfaithfulness or unconcern!  This man
said to himself, “Look at all the foolish, wicked sinners.  They
don’t pray.  They reject God’s word.  They neglect the Lord’s
commands.  And yet they aren’t plagued as other men are!”  “They
are not in trouble as other men…” (Psalm 73:5).
    What Asaph actually meant here was, “The wicked are not
plagued as I am.  They only do evil — and yet they prosper!
While I deny myself, they grow rich and prosperous.  While I am
weak with sorrow, their strength only increases” (see verse 4).
    Then Asaph asks, “…is there knowledge in the most High?”
(verse 11).  In other words: “Doesn’t God balance his books?
Doesn’t he see what’s going on here?  Isn’t the Lord aware of the
disparity between his suffering, righteous children and the
prosperous wicked?  We are constantly being deprived, while the
foolish get everything their hearts desire.  And God allows it
all to continue!”
    Have you ever wondered why blessings are heaped on people
who live like devils?  Perhaps you’ve felt this way because some
ungodly coworker has been rewarded instead of you.  Or maybe
you’ve wondered how your unconverted neighbor could ever afford
his expensive car and new furniture.  Meanwhile, you work hard at
your job, as unto the Lord — and you’re having to figure out
ways to stretch your income!
    A number of years ago, I was driving down the West Side
Highway in Manhattan with a man who had been saved in our church.
As we drove past Donald Trump’s huge yacht docked along the
river, this man began to fume.  He said, “I get so mad whenever I
see that boat.  That man has evreything — and I have nothing!” 
    I thought to myself, “All Trump has is a piece of junk
floating in the water — and you have eternal life with the Lord.
Do you think that’s nothing?”
    According to our human thinking, life should be as follows:
If we give everything to God, we should have a clear path to
glory; nothing should get in our way — no suffering and no
trials.  Indeed, numerous pastors throughout the country are
trying to sell this very doctrine to downcast sheep.
    Yet, the truth is, if you try to figure out your trials with
human reasoning, they won’t make any sense.  No matter how hard
you try, none of it will ever compute!
    I ask you: Have you ever gone through a time when every day
you rose with a cloud hanging over your head?  Perhaps it was a
time of testing.  Or maybe it was a time of apostasy,
backsliding, coldness in your life.  Or, maybe it even happened
during your best times with God.  Your heart was open to his
voice; you were ready to be a living sacrifice for him; you
prayed, “Father, I’m walking with you the best that I know how.
If there is anything in my heart that isn’t right before you,
remove it!”
    But your prayers were not answered.  You heard nothing
whatsoever.  And, like Asaph, you finally wondered: “Why is it so
hard to do right?”

                      This Is the Point of
                    Danger — the Place Where
                        Slipping Begins!

    “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my
hands in innocency” (Psalm 73:13).
    Asaph was so confused by his sufferings in comparison to the
easy life of the wicked, he nearly slipped into a pit of absolute
unbelief.  He was ready to accuse God of forsaking him — of
abandoning him, of not being concerned.  And for a moment he was
ready to quit the battle — to give up completely.
    This godly man must have thought, “I’ve been doing right and
enduring hardships all this time — but for nothing!  All my
strictness, my diligence, my praising and worshiping, my study of
God’s word — it’s been useless, in vain.  I have given
everything to worshiping the Lord — I have done only right —
and yet I continue to suffer!  These plagues, chastenings and
sorrows make no sense.  What’s the use of going on?”
    Beloved, that is when you have to be careful!  When calamity
falls, when a trial comes upon you, when you are grieving — you
need to guard your heart against slipping!
    You may not be in Asaph’s condition — at a point of great
personal testing and troubles.  But you may know someone who is
going through what he endured.  Sudden calamity may have come
upon a godly relative, friend or church member — someone you
know who is doing right.  And you’ve asked, “Why, God?  How could
you allow this?  That person is so holy, so righteous!”
    I once knew a young couple in their mid-thirties with two
children.  The husband was righteous man, a loving husband and
father.  He had never been sick a day in his life — and yet
suddenly he became ill and died within a short time.  His wife
was left with their two children, not knowing what to do. 
    Everyone around them asked, “Why, God?  This doesn’t make
sense.  How could you allow it?  Why does her life have to be so
hard now, with these children — after all the years she and her
husband served you so faithfully?  Why didn’t this happen to
somebody else?”
    This thinking sounds innocent — but it represents the very
brink of the pit of unbelief!  Asaph came very close to slipping
into this pit.  And it is the pit into which Israel fell.  They
spent forty years in the wilderness saying, “This doesn’t make
sense.  Life is too hard!”  And they died questioning God — in
total apostasy!
    Let me ask you: How do you react when all your plans and
dreams blow up in your face?  You were so sure you heard from
God.  You thought he gave you direction, encouraging you to move
forward.  Everything you read in his word seemed to confirm your
plans.  You prayed about every step along the way, always giving
glory to God.  And the Lord seemed to be leading on.
    You were happy, thinking, “At last — I’m going to see my
prayers answered!  God’s plan is finally beginning to come
together in my life.”
    Then one day, all of a sudden, your dream blew up in your
face.  Your plan was destroyed, your dream shattered — and it
all lay in ashes at your feet.  You didn’t know how to make any
sense of it.  That’s when Satan came along, bringing his lies:
    “See what you get for being so strict about your walk with
God?  This is how he treats you when you trust him for direction.
He lets you become confused about his voice — and he gives you
phony guidance!  He lets you hear voices and see words from the
scriptures.  And then, when you’re finally ready to move in, he
abandons you.  He leads you on, and then he drops you!”
    I talked to a young preacher recently who is at this very
point.  He told me, “I don’t understand.  I know there is no
pride in my heart, nothing that’s unlike Jesus.  I prayed and
fasted, and God gave me this plan.  Everything was going fine —
and then suddenly it blew up overnight.  It’s all gone!”
    I didn’t pity this young man.  I didn’t sympathize with him.
Instead, the Holy Ghost gave me a clear word for him: “Don’t let
your faith be shaken!  Don’t lose your confidence in God.  Let
all your dreams go.  God is still on his throne!”
    The devil had come to this young man and said, “You can’t
hear God’s voice anymore.  You’ve already heard so much that’s
wrong.  How could you trust any voice now?”  That is Satan’s
trick — to try to deafen us to Jesus’s promise: “My sheep know
my voice — and they hear when I call!”

                      When Asaph Considered
                      All These Things, He
                    Finally Concluded: “This
                  Is All Too Painful for Me.
                    I’m Going to God’s House!”

    “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their
end” (Psalm 73:16-17).  Asaph said, “I’m not giving up.  I’m
going to the sanctuary.  God has my answer!”
    So he went to the temple.  And as he meditated on the Lord,
he kept telling himself, “I’m not going to let the devil make me
fall.  I’m not going to slip into the abyss of unbelief.  I’m
going to pray — to talk it out with the Lord!”
    Beloved, when your time of grief, sorrow, or suffering
comes, you also must go to the secret closet.  Don’t get on the
telephone with someone.  Get alone with God!  Cry your heart out
to him.  Go to the sanctuary to find your answer!  No book,
preacher or sermon tape will ever make you understand your
trials.  But if you’ll get alone with the father, he will give
you understanding!
    That is when the Holy Spirit spoke to Asaph.  And the answer
came loud and clear: “Surely thou didst set them in slippery
places: thou castedst them down into destruction” (verse 18).
Asaph realized, “I’m not the one who’s slipping.  The wicked are
slipping.  The’re going straight into destruction!”
    The Lord was telling this man, “Your problem, Asaph, is that
you’ve been looking at their outward appareances — the false
dream, the bubble they’re living in.  You’ve never seen the
terror in their hearts!”  “…they are utterly consumed with
terrors” (verse 19). 
    God was showing Asaph, “It’s all a smoke screen!  If you
could see behind their wealth and facades, you’d realize they’re
living in panic and terror.  All these wicked people who look so
happy — who spend their time drinking and partying — go home
each night with panic and dread in their hearts.  Deep down they
know one day they’re going to stand before me at the judgment —
and I’m going to judge them.  They’re living in a dream world,
Asaph — and suddenly their dream will end!”
    God was saying to Asaph, “You may feel despised right now,
Asaph.  But when you stand before me, you are going to be
embraced and loved!”
    Suddenly, Asaph began to feel pity and grief for those
wicked people who seemed so blessed: “Thus my heart was grieved,
and I was pricked [convicted] in my reins [heart].  So foolish
was I…” (verses 21-22). 
    In other words: “How could I ever have been envious of them?
Their dream world is really a life of hidden terror and fear, of
eternal loss.  They’ll live just a few years in their dream world
— but I have the eternal consolation of the Holy Ghost!  I have
a heavenly father who cares about me, no matter what I go
through.  And when I stand before his throne, I’ll hear him say,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joys of
thy father!'”
    Asaph finally began to see the whole picture — and he
rejoiced: “…God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for
ever” (verse 26).  He could say, “Yes, my strength is failing.
Yes, I’m being plagued and chastened.  Yes, I’m enduring a great
battle with my afflictions.  But I’m not alone in my struggles.
I have a loving father in heaven who watches over me!
    “Lord, nothing else in this world matters but you — knowing
you, loving you and trusting you.  I’m sorry I was ever angry at
you — that I ever accused you of being unfaithful.  Whom do I
have but you, anyway?  Although my flesh and my heart may fail,
you are the strength of my heart!”
    That is when Asaph came into true rest.  He saw that he had
almost slipped — but he’d held on!  The musician closes his
psalm on this note of victory: “…I have put my trust in the
Lord God, that I may declare all thy works” (verse 28). 
    So, dear saint — have you been holding on?  Or have you
been believing Satan’s lie that God can’t keep you?  Have you
been testifying of God’s strength in your life?  Or have you been
thinking the devil has more power than the God who abides in you?
    There has to be something in all of us that cries out, “Oh,
God, I want to be delivered!  If I’m starting to doubt you, then
I have started to slip.”  That is the point where we have to
trust God to be our strength — no matter how weak we feel or how
painful our trial.
    So, get your eyes off people.  And put your eyes on your
strength — the Lord himself!  He has a reason for everything he
allows in your life.  He may not always tell you that reason —
but he will be the strength of your heart through it all.  May
the same hope that Asaph experienced well up in your heart and
cry, “Lord, you are the strength of my heart.  Live or die, I’m
going to trust you!”
    God help us all who love him never to slip and fall into
unbelief.

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Located at 51st Street and Broadway (Manhattan)

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