Date: May 22, 2011
Bible Text: Galatians 6:7-9 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
I want to preach a simple message on the Bible fact that you reap what you sow. I want to apply this passage, first of all, to those who have accepted the Lord as their Savior—they’re working for God, they’re doing their best—and then, secondly, to those who have accepted Christ as their Savior but have allowed themselves to fall into sin and backslide away from God. Third, I want to apply this to anybody here who has never received the Lord as personal Savior.
Galatians 6, starting in verse 7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” People always talk about how hard it is to understand the Bible. I’ll always say, “Yes, there are things in Revelation or in the Old Testament that I don’t totally understand, but anything important, you can understand as clear as a bell.” And it’s not hard to understand this. We need to believe it.
“Be not deceived.” Again, don’t fool yourself. “God is not mocked.” You’re not going to make a fool out of God. God is going to do what He says in His Word. It will work out the way the Bible teaches it. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Now anybody knows that if you sow peas, you reap peas. You sow beans, you reap beans. You sow corn, you reap corn. Now this is talking about spiritual things, but it’s just as clear. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;…” You live according to the flesh, you sin, and you’re going to reap corruption. “…but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
You say, “I don’t understand that completely.” You go out and get drunk, and you’re going to reap corruption. You’re on the computer looking at pornography, you’re committing adultery, you’re sitting watching television, HBO—you’re going to reap corruption. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” That’s not hard to understand, and we’re seeing it all around us.
When this nation was founded, the majority followed what the Bible taught. When kids went to school, they didn’t learn that abortion was good, and they didn’t take Ritalin. They went to school, and they studied out of God’s Word. Don’t let them tell you that there is supposed to be a separation from God and state—you don’t find that. It’s a separation of church and state—a big difference. Our founders didn’t want what England had, and that was a state church; but they were men who believed in God. Our country was founded on God, and that’s why our country has been so great, up until recently. That’s why God blessed this country.
God is not blessing this country now. I don’t care what Barack Obama does or anybody else does, until this country turns to God, this country is going to reap. It’s becoming a second-rate country. I know what a third-world country is, and this country is becoming a second-rate nation. It is not the great nation it used to be because we have sown to the flesh. The flesh has won out in America. The next verse says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” It doesn’t matter what the country is doing, it doesn’t matter what is happening around us, if we do what’s right, God can bless us—not can, but will.
Some say the Bible doesn’t take a stand on political problems. I heard an evangelist many years ago ask the question, “Who am I to judge communism?” In fact, it was Billy Graham, the most well-known evangelist of our day. “Who am I to judge communism?” Another liberal preacher said, “Communism is more in line with Christianity than any other political system.” He went on and said, “Pure communism is good; it’s just misused by Russia.” Now, that’s not true. In fact, it’s entirely the opposite of the Bible.
Turn in your Bibles to II Thessalonians, chapter 3. The Bible says that you should be paid according to your work. One of the things destroying America today is people thinking that they are to be just given everything. I remember somebody said, “Obama’s going to get me a new car. Obama’s going to give me food.” No, no. It’s not Obama’s money. But we live in a nation today where basically the majority of the people think it’s their job to “take.” People think it’s my job to pay taxes so they can take. That is not biblical. Again, the Bible teaches that you should be paid according to your work. That is not the Karl Marx way. He said you’re supposed to work as you are able, and you’re supposed to be paid according to your need.
The problem is that the United States of America is swaying very strongly in this direction. They are paying able-bodied men not to work. That is wrong. You say, “Who are you to judge me?” I’m not. I’m quoting the Bible. We are paying harlots to have babies. That is wrong. Now isn’t it sad that in a once-Christian nation, I have to get up, and say that it is wrong for a woman to have babies out of wedlock, not being married. People say, “I never heard that before.” Read your Bible. It is sin. It is wickedness. God will judge. You say, “I wish I weren’t here.” Well, you’re stuck. It’s wrong. It’s sin.
I’ve been in Central America and Mexico, where the Mayan Indians built pyramids and killed people, killed their children. Now, again, it’s hard for me to believe that people would carry their babies up to some false God and kill them. But what’s the difference between that and America today? Abortion is murder. You say, “You can’t tell me what to do with my body.” God can. It is murder. Why do you think there is so much mental illness today? Why do you think there is so much heartache, so much divorce, so many problems? I don’t care what the liberal says, you murder your baby, and you are going to be miserable. What’s happening today is supposedly legal.
Now, II Thessalonians 3:10 says very clearly, “For even when we were with you,…” This is the Apostle Paul speaking to the church in Thessalonica, “…this we commanded you.” Now listen to what the Apostle Paul says under the inspiration of God. “…that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” That’s what the Bible teaches. If anybody doesn’t work, he ought not to eat. “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” That is exactly what happens. People sit at home and watch Oprah and get their doctrine that way. Busybodies. “Now them that are such we exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” That’s the opposite of welfare. God says you are to be paid according to your work; and if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat.
The welfare system in America is wrong. There are some who are truly in need. That’s for sure, and the Bible talks about a widow who is a “widow indeed.” People come to church two or three times and say, “We need some money,” and they think that is the church’s job. It’s the church’s job to take care of true widows and true orphans, and the Bible clearly says what a true widow is. It is somebody who is active and praying and godly and of a certain age, and all the rest of that. That’s who is supposed to be taken care of.
There are some who are truly in need and need help, but the Scripture says, “…if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” What is the Bible teaching here? We are to take care for our own. If my kids or grandkids are in trouble, I’m supposed to help them. As a church, the Bible says if there is a good Christian in need, we’re supposed to help. We are supposed to help orphans and true widows. II Timothy tells us, though, that the first responsibility is to the family and, secondly, to the church. It should be a matter of love and care, not a rule that everybody deserves support.
The idea that “everybody owes me a living” is wrong. The Bible teaches that a person is to reap what he sows. A farmer knows what that means. He goes out there and sows, and he’s going to reap. Whatever your job might be—an engineer or a ditch digger—you work and you reap. It is not being rewarded for laziness and sin, and that’s what our nation is doing today—rewarding people for sin. Now, this idea has crept into our churches, and it is the major decaying factor in most denominations today. I want to look at this biblical principle of reaping and sowing. Again, as I mentioned, the first place I want to look at concerns Christians and good works.
In the parable of the sower, the sower sowed seeds. The birds ate them, some fell on stony ground, and some withered as soon as they sprouted. Some fell among the thorns, and the thorns choked them out; but some fell on good ground and brought forth some thirty, some sixty, some a hundredfold. Now this shows that you’ll reap in proportion to what you sow. You will reap a certain percentage. Our church has been built on this principle. You’ll reap if you go and you sow.
We are promised that God will give us a certain percentage of reaping, but most Christians have a socialistic view of this. Let’s use an example. Let’s say you’re a Sunday school teacher and you want to see souls saved. Well, you say, “I pray.” Yes, you should pray. “And,” you say, “I read the Bible.” Certainly, the Bible teaches you should read God’s Word. “Well,” you say, “I come to church.” Yes, you need that, too. But the Bible doesn’t teach that going to church, praying, and reading the Bible will reap souls. The Bible teaches that if you’re going to see souls saved, you’ve got to get out after them. We need to bathe our work in prayer, we need to learn from the Bible, and we need to meet together to be bolstered, but when you don’t purposely, actively sow, and you’re expecting to reap, you have the same attitude as the able-bodied man or able-bodied woman on welfare. And the problem is that God doesn’t have the Santa Claus attitude that our government has. God is a capitalist. By the way, that’s where our country got that idea. That is what is wrong with most churches. They don’t actually sow and they don’t realize that God is a capitalist. Our work is sowing the seed and trusting God. We will surely reap a harvest. We don’t know when that harvest will come. We don’t know exactly how it’s going to come.
When we were just starting the church, I can remember leading someone to the Lord and thinking, “He’s going to be a deacon,” and he would become a bum. Then I’d lead someone to the Lord who seemed like he would become a bum, and he’d become a deacon. The point is that we don’t know where the harvest is going to come from. It is just our job to sow. Sometimes it comes quickly and other times it is longer, but we are promised a reaping, and so we need to get out and sow. Not only in our spare time, but we need to make time. Then we can expect the Lord’s blessing.
God’s Word says, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” In other words, don’t look for problems. Let’s not let anything stop us. Let’s not let the devil give us excuses, and we’ll reap. We will reap. Because God said it, we know it’s true. It’s not a gamble. “They that sow in tears,” the Bible says, “shall reap in joy.” Again the idea is that you are serious. You are sincere. Because God said it, we know that “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” That’s the Bible. In everything in a Christian’s life, this principle can be counted on. “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap….”
We have a lot of bus workers in here. Some had a great day today; some, not so great. Now, what do you do? Do you say, “God’s promises aren’t true”? No. You say, “I didn’t reap today, but if I keep on going and keep on trusting God, I’ll reap tomorrow, or I’ll reap next week, or I’ll reap next month, but I will reap. Again, I say, that’s the way this church has been built. You go, and you trust God.
Now, that’s the way the Bible talks about giving also. I’m not going to stop here, but turn to Luke 6:38. Sometimes people will get so upset at preachers when they preach on giving. “Oh,” they’ll say, “doesn’t he know that I don’t have the money to give? Only you rich guys can give.” Or, “What is he talking about money for?” Well, let me fall back and say, we’re not in a denomination. We started this church all by ourselves. What I mean by that is God did all this. Everything around you God did through people working and giving. So, it’s not some rich guy, some “fat cat.” It is God using people. When people get mad at a preacher preaching on giving, they’re fools because God’s teaching on giving is always, “You give, and I’ll take care of you.”
Now, I happen to think we’ve got the best, most enjoyable people in the nation gathered right here. And I think one of the big reasons is that they give, and God takes care of them. In this horrible economy, if you look at our prayer sheet, you’ll see we’re in the black. We’ve gone through rough times. Our college has gone down in number from about 220—cut at least in half. Now that’s a lot of money we lost, but we’re still in the black. You say, “What does that come from?” Using the Bible.
I’m not one of these prosperity guys who says, “You just give…” These guys on television say you give everything, and they’re going to sprinkle some water or something here. It’s not some hocus pocus, but the Bible says you reap what you sow. Now listen to Luke 6:38. Jesus says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you;” Now is that hard? Who’s going to give to you? God. Who gives? I give, and it’s given unto me, and it’s given unto you. I don’t mean this in any way bragging, but I’ve given since I was a little child. My dad taught me to give as a little child, and we gave when we had nothing. If we had a dollar, God got a dime, and God blessed us. You see, I believe the Bible. “Give, and it shall be given unto you.” Is that hard? No.
But then, what does He say? When you give, how will it be given unto you? “…good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,,…” It’s like a basket of beans. “…shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye meet withal, it shall be measured unto you again.” God will bless you only when you do your best. Look at II Corinthians chapter 9, verses 6 and 7. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Not because the preacher is preaching, or the preacher will see me, but “for God loveth a cheerful giver.” It’s the same principle, isn’t it? “Well, I’ll just give everything.” No, according to what you purpose in your heart. That’s what I teach.
We have a stewardship time every fall, and I tell people to pray about it, and do what God wants them to do, and God will bless. I think I’ve seen some people give out of pride. No, God won’t bless that, but if you humbly say, “God, what do you want me to give? I’ll give what you want me to give,” He will bless you financially. The Bible says, “…prove me.” That’s God Almighty. That’s not Roger Voegtlin or Barack Obama; that’s God Almighty. He challenges us. “...prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” I’ve seen that. We have proved God. People who have been around know we preached that. Prove God. This great truth is stated over and over again in the Bible. What you sow you’ll reap. And what I’m saying is as individuals and as families and as a church, we ought to want to sow bountifully and watch the Lord answer our prayer.
Then, secondly, let’s look at this verse from the standpoint of the person who has received Christ, but is not living for the Lord. Again, our text in Galatians 6:7-8. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” There is going to be a judgment on this basis: you reap what you sow.
The Bible tells you how to raise your children. Some people do it their way, they get lazy, they don’t follow through, and their kids go to the devil. Some people will say, “Well, it doesn’t work.” Don’t tell me the Bible doesn’t work. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Sometimes you get scared, sometimes you wonder, but if you do what’s right, you will train your child. You spank your children, you love your children, you have the right kind of family—you will reap what you sow. That’s a promise of God. In every way, you reap what you sow.
If you were in my position, you would know a lot more. You say, “Well, that guy is not doing too good.” Well, he’s probably robbing God. “That family’s kids aren’t turning out.” I love them, my heart breaks for them, but they didn’t raise them right. It’s a fact. Proverbs 26:27 says, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” This is the idea of somebody trying to hurt another person. He will push that stone down, and all of the sudden, it rolls back on him. That is the way it works. You reap what you sow. You can’t win against God. God is not going to let you continue in sin and get by with it.
Proverbs 13:15 says, “...but the way of transgressors is hard.” It might not seem that way at first. It’s like the prodigal son. He took his father’s money and away he went. He was having a good time—wine, women, song—all that off in a far country. He thinks he’s getting along fine, but it doesn’t last. Sooner or later, your sin will catch up to you; and in his case, again, as soon as his money was gone, where did he end up? In the pigpen of sin, wishing he could eat the pig food.
Satan is not dumb. He doesn’t show you the end result. He lures you little by little. Some boys found some ducks staying in a slow-moving river, and they wanted to eat some duck. But as they went up to catch them, they’d fly away. So, they had an idea. They took some pumpkins and floated them downstream. When the ducks first saw the pumpkins, they flew away; but after awhile, they weren’t afraid of the pumpkins. They saw they were nothing. Then the boys hollowed out the pumpkins, put them over their heads, and went down the river. The stupid ducks were just looking at them, and then they were pulled under. That’s how the devil works. I was observant, even as a young boy. I watched Christians as a young boy. Guys would flirt. It always destroys you. Marriages are not destroyed by accident but by sin. Lives are not just destroyed by accident—it’s always sin.
One of the most outrageous crimes in this county’s history happened to a guy who was a member of this church. His name was Paul Witte. Paul Witte drove a bus, he worked on the bus ministry. He wasn’t a deacon, or a Sunday school teacher, or a leader in that way, but he was one of the guys. He was a welder, he was always at work party, he worked hard at it, worked down in the bus barn. He was a nice guy. You would like him, but he had one problem—his wife. Paul wouldn’t be man enough to lead his wife. I don’t think his wife was saved. I would say to him, “Paul, you need to lead your wife. She’s going to destroy your family.” He’d say, “Ah, I will.” But he never did. He never did, and as usually happens, he was drawn away from God and the church by his wife. One time he bought himself a sailboat, and he was out there on Sunday on his boat. I happened to preach on that, and he got mad and marched out and never came back to church again. The next Sunday, his sailboat sank out there, and I thought, “Well, maybe God will get to him.” But, no, he rejected Him.
And then, I can’t say exactly how long it was, but all of the sudden, on the headlines of the paper, “Paul Witte—Accidentally Shot to Death by his Son.” I read the story. He was asleep on the couch, and his son was carrying a gun and tripped and pulled the trigger and killed his father. I remember thinking, “That doesn’t make sense.” But soon you heard the whole story. Paul wasn’t shot to death by accident. His wife got his son to shoot him as he slept on the couch. After he was dead, his mother lived there. They wanted her social security check, so she got the other son to take a crossbow and shoot her while she was sleeping, and then they took her body and cut it up like you would a calf and put it in the freezer. That happened to a member of our church who wasn’t the head of the home and wouldn’t lead his family. You say, “What are you getting at?” Be sure your sin will find you out. You never get by with sin.
Look at David as a biblical example. He was a man of God, called a man after God’s own heart, a good man. As far as Israel is concerned, they still consider him by far the greatest king in their history. But he saw Uriah the Hittite’s wife bathing. He was up on the rooftop and saw this soldier’s wife bathing. If he had turned the other way, he would have been okay, but he didn’t. He lusted and let sin grab hold of him. He led her in adultery, and then had her husband killed to cover up his sin, but David couldn’t escape.
He was the king. He was powerful, but the prophet, the preacher, Nathan, came, and he told him a story about a rich man who had many lambs, great flocks, and he stole a poor man’s little lamb that he loved so much. David got mad and said, “That man ought to die. He’s a crook.” And Nathan pointed at David and said, “Thou art the man. You’re the man.” He had taken another man’s wife and happiness. The preacher went on and said, “God has forgiven you; you’re not going to die, but you’re going to pay.”
And if you know the Bible, you know he paid. Bathsheba’s little baby died, and then his daughter Tamar was raped by her half brother, and then his favorite son Absalom killed that brother, and then Absalom stole the kingdom from him. No wonder in the end, as Absalom was hanging from a tree with darts in his heart, David cries, “Absalom O my son, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” He reaped. He reaped what he sowed, and so will you.
I want to say God is a God of mercy, and I am so grateful, but if you just continue in your sin, you will reap. It was Marie Antoinette who said, “the Lord pays, my Lord Cardinal. He doesn’t pay every Friday night, but our Lord pays.” Christian, believe the Bible when it says in Numbers 32:23, “be sure your sin will find you out.”
When we are saved, God covers that sin with His blood and doesn’t see it anymore. That’s my last point. This principle is behind the Bible doctrine of God’s judgment of the unsaved. I want to read II Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. There is going to be a judgment on the basis that you reap what you sow. Now I have been preaching to the Christian living for God, then the Christian not living for God. Now I’m preaching to those of you who have never received Christ as Savior.
In Revelation 20:12 we read, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” When the dead are brought out of hell, they’re going to stand before Christ, and it will be awful. Why are they coming? Because of God’s law that says the punishment fits the crime. You’ve got to be rewarded for your iniquity. Now listen closely, because you have to be punished, but there is a way out. It’s the most exciting thing in your whole life.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We all earn hell, we are all sinners. If you say you’re not a sinner, you’re a fool. But heaven is a gift. Nobody could ever earn heaven. It’s for those whose names are in the book, who received Christ as Savior. Don’t fight it. The more you fight it, the easier it is to reject it. When you first hear the gospel, it pricks your heart, and you say, “I’ve got to get saved.” But as you turn it down and turn it down, you get hard. The devil has a stronger hold.
It’s like a spider and a grasshopper. You see a grasshopper with those strong legs. He doesn’t have to worry about the spider. The spider can put the web about him, and it doesn’t mean anything. But if he continues in that web the spider will put another and another and just roll him up. It’s a picture of what Satan does. We think we can get by with it. “Oh, I’ll do it another time.” You don’t know if you’ll have another time. “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Your sin will find you out.
When I was a teenager, especially as a young teenager, I would go down to what is called “skid row” in Chicago, passing out tracts and so forth, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. These drunks were just laying in their own vomit. I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how many times, but it was kind of a normal thing, that one of these drunks would stumble up to me and say, “You know, I was just like you. I had a mother and father who loved me, I had a good future. I don’t know how it happened.” He would be totally out of control, drinking anti-freeze or something like that. I’ll tell you how it happened: he took his first drink. And I don’t know because I haven’t experienced it, but you take that first drink because everybody’s doing it. “What will the guys think if I don’t take my first drink?” You take your first drink. Then, a second. Then, a third. Drink gets a hold of you. He didn’t mean to lose his job, neglect his family, didn’t mean for his children to do without, and his wife to be brokenhearted and marriage to be torn apart.
Do you think any one of those guys on skid row ever said, “When I grow up, I want to lay in my own slop.” No, that’s what the devil does to you. You hear those Bud Light commercials, that it’s going to bring happiness and sexy, pretty women. No, it doesn’t. The girl that just wants to make out, she doesn’t want that baby out of wedlock, she doesn’t want her life destroyed, but just that sin. One thing after another. Sin will find you out in your conscience. “I can have an abortion.” I guarantee that if you have had an abortion, it gets you in your conscience. Sin will just eat at you through your children. Sin will find you out through your body. Sin will find you out in hell.
Proverbs 29:1,“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” You hear the gospel and you say, “I want to be saved.” But you put if off. “I’m going to get saved. I’m going to get right,” but you put it off. You shall “suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” It’s over. You say, “I’m condemned.” Listen, if you’re not saved today, God has done the reaping for you. He died for you. My favorite verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Remember, “the wages of sin is death.” You earned those wages, you deserve it. “But the gift of God is eternal life.” We deserve death and hell, but He gives us salvation.
II Corinthians 5:21,“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We’re supposed to go to hell, but Jesus took our place. All you have to do is receive that gift. John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Some people say, “I don’t like preaching like this.” It gets your attention, doesn’t it? God loved you so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for you, and all you have to do is say, “Lord, yes, I’m a sinner. Save my soul.” It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? He took the reaping.