Why Most Christians Are Not Prospering
by David J. Stewart | September 2016 | Updated January 2017
“He that covereth his sins shall not
prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Most believers have never come face-to-face with their sins. They've never truly been broken. Many Christians think they know what suffering means, but they really don't. Many Christians think they know what it means to be humble, but they haven't a clue. Very few believers understand just how sinful they are. They fail to grasp the depths of their own failures, inadequacy and wickedness. Consequently, they have never truly grasped the richness of God's love, mercy and grace.
The Word of God teaches that a person who covers their sins shall not prosper. Until a person looks directly at them self in the mirror and says, “I am the biggest sinner I know,” they'll never be what God wants them to become. Most believers have not been molded into Christ's meek and lowly image yet. Instead they are sinfully proud, thin-skinned, easily offended and haughty. They hold grudges, gossip often and many are dishonest, defrauding others, while rationalizing to justify it in their own sinful mind. Very few believers are mature in Christ. A mature Christian loves everybody, including enemies, critics and those who refuse to apologize and acknowledge their past wrongs.
Dr. Jack Hyles explains it in different words, in this wonderful MP3 sermon titled, “The Good Man Verses The Spiritual Man.” In case anyone is interested, there is a higher level in the Christian life which God wants all of us to graduate to.
If someone has hurt you in the past, and they have not righted their wrongs, we must always keep in mind that vengeance is God's department, not ours...
Romans 12:17-21, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I heard a wonderful MP3 sermon recently on this very subject by Dr. Jack Hyles, titled “Either Let Me Do It God, Or Do It My Way!” I encourage you to take the time to listen to this precious sermon, you won't regret it. To seek vengeance is to get over on God's side of the wall, instead of remaining on our side of the wall where we belong. I believe one of the reasons why God wants to avenge us, is because He has complete knowledge of all the facts. There is no need for juries in Heaven's courtroom, because God has all the facts. God is omniscient and knows all (Hebrews 4:13). God's integrity is at stake. He has given a solemn promise to right all wrongs, and to avenge us! Life is too short to live with a burden of hatred against anyone. Forgiveness is for us to heal, not for the person who hurt us—The person who doesn't care about doing right in God's eyes. We must forgive if we are to serve God effectively.
Here is a precious great statement from Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001) ...
don't forgive you, you go ahead and forgive them!”
Believers Will Receive for the Good and the Bad, Not Their Sins
I cannot control what other people do. I cannot control what other believers do. If they hurt me, better them hurt me than me hurt them. That is how I feel. I would rather someone else have to give account on Judgment Day for hurting and defrauding me, than me have to give account for hurting them. I can live with that! I fear God; thus, I choose to live in such a way that I know things will go in my favor at the Judgment Seat Of Christ. That is exactly what 2nd Corinthians 5:9-11 means:
2nd Corinthians 5:9-11, “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 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. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
I have heard some Baptist preachers errantly teach that when a person gets saved, they will never have to give account for any of their sins, because all those sins have been forgotten. That is true in a sense, but not entirely true in another. While it is true that God will not punish a Christian in eternity for their sins, the Holy Bible does teach that each believer will receive for the good and the bad done in the body. I love how God carefully chooses His words in the Bible. God intentionally didn't say that believers will one day receive according to their “sins”; but rather, according “the bad” done in the body. The blood of Jesus Christ that washes our sins away has removed the sting of death. The sting of death is sin, because the wages of sin is death (1st Corinthians 15:56; Romans 6:23). No born-again believer ever needs to fear the second death. We must all die the first death (Romans 6:23), but the sting of death is gone, so we don't have to die the second death (Revelation 21:8).
No Christian needs to fear dying, for it is just a graduation into the next life. The Bible does not teach soul sleep. “Soul sleep” is the heresy that when a person dies, their body and soul are asleep in the grave, until the resurrection. Seventh-day Adventists believe that the unsaved will simply not be raised up, which they consider hell. This is not what the Holy Bible teaches. We read that for a believer to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord...
2nd Corinthians 5:6-9, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.”
The Lord took our burden of sin upon Himself on the cross, paying our debt of sin. Yet, every believer's life will be relived (aka, “This was your life”) at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and we will receive or lose rewards based upon our labours and behavior (1st Corinthians 3:6-15).
A Christian's Happiness in Heaven Depends On How He Lived On Earth
The Bible makes clear that not all believers will enjoy Heaven the same. I have a helpful 128 page book in front of me by Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) titled, “WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS.” Dr. Rice states:
“Some people suppose that every sinner who goes to heaven will have the same joy and happiness. But that is not true. In Revelation 20, we find that sinners who go to hell are judged, every man according to his works, according to the things written down in God's books. The torment of unsaved people in hell will differ, each one according to his opportunity and according to his sin.
Likewise, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that not all Christians will enjoy the same position and have the same honor and responsibility and blessing in heaven. It is true that each one who trusts in Christ has the same salvation and goes to the same heaven. But beyond salvation there will be rewards for Christians according to their service, and Christians must give an account for their sins. Let no Christian think that he is getting by with his worldliness, his sin, his disobedience, his carelessness about soul-winning.
THE CHRISTIAN MUST MEET HIS DEEDS, GOOD AND BAD, AT CHRIST'S JUDGMENT SEAT
Read with me the shocking passage of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10:
Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 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.
Here we know why Paul worked so hard, why he endured such persecution, gave up home, family, good name, ease, honors, in order to win souls. He was laboring to be acceptable to Jesus Christ!
...Do not explain away the plain statements of the Scriptures. The Christian is still to come face to face with his past. I know that the Christian has his sins forgiven as far as the destiny of his soul is concerned. It is true that all his sins are laid on Jesus and paid for on the cross. But God is still against sin. And up in heaven no Christian will think it did not matter that he sinned. Every Christian will find how terrible are the results of his sins. He will face what he has done, whether it be good or bad.
....Do not confuse salvation and rewards. Salvation is free. Those who trust in Jesus Christ and are born again already have salvation. But those whose works please Christ will receive a reward for them when they face the dear Saviour in heaven.
But many, many Christians will see how useless their lives were. Not a soul did they win to meet them in heaven! Not a thing did they do to bring glory to Christ through the endless ages! Such people will suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ in heaven.”
SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, When A Christian Sins, pp. 60-62, 65-66; Sword of the Lord Publishers; Copyright 1954.
Fruitless Christians will suffer great loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Dr. Rice further states:
FRUITLESS CHRISTIANS “WILL SUFFER” LOSS EVEN IN HEAVEN
At this judgment seat of Christ, when every Christ's works come to judgment, many Christians will see the deeds of a lifetime destroyed as worthless. This is discussed in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The foundation is Jesus. No one need start to build a Christian life except after having Jesus Christ as his Saviour. But, having a new heart in Christ, let every man take heed he builds upon this foundation!
For up in heaven when Christians are judged before Jesus Christ, that building shall be revealed. ...At the judgment seat of Christ the fire of God's judgment will try every man's work of what sort it is.”
SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, When A Christian Sins, pp. 64-65; Sword of the Lord Publishers; Copyright 1954.
So we see that it does greatly matter how we choose to live as God's children. Our happiness in Heaven is at stake. There is so much that we can and should all be doing to serve the Lord as believers, especially preaching the Gospel to win the lost to Jesus...
“God doesn't need a brilliant mind, He needs a voice!” —Dr. Jack Hyles, I Am A Voice! (MP3)
Civil Verses Criminal Court
I think a good way to understand the difference between the two judgments is to compare civil court verses criminal court. In criminal court, the accused person faces potential punishment in prison, torture or execution. But in civil court, the only risk is personal or financial loss. There is no risk of going to prison in civil court. Likewise, there are two major judgments taught in the Holy Bible. One is the Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11). The other is the Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). The former is only for the saved; the latter is for the unsaved. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be a civil court for all believers. We will RECEIVE according to our good and bad, not our sins. The Lord has already paid for our sins. Jesus doesn't forgive sins, he has already paid for them, making it a free gift, that you simply receive by faith in the Gospel. When a believers sins, grace much more abounds, so that a believer can never lose their salvation (Romans 6:1). When a believer chooses to commit sin, there are consequences, for which we will be held accountable on Judgment Day.
The Bible teaches that every believer must give account to God (Romans 14:10-12). We will receive... for the GOOD AND THE BAD DONE IN THE BODY! How we treat others will determine how God treats us on judgment day (Matthew 7:1-2). Thankfully, God is just, fair and merciful. So if we are fair and merciful, then so also will God be toward us. As believers, NONE OF US have arrived. We are all horrible sinners. God is lenient toward us all because of God's precious sin-cleansing blood. When a Christian sins, we fall IN GRACE, not FROM GRACE! Psalms 103:10, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Psalms 103:11-12, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” The believer's sins have been washed away by Christ's precious blood (1st John 1:7). Yet, we must be held accountable for the bad.
“God will still use you, I
don't care what you've done!”
—an encouraging quote from the MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles titled, “If Thou Should Mark Iniquities, Who Could Stand?”
Apart from God's Righteousness, No One is Any Less of a Sinner Than Anyone Else
The sooner that we realize we're all woeful sinners in the sight of God, the sooner we'll stop condemning each other and love one another as Christ's disciples:
Romans 14:7-12, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
What a beautiful passage of Scripture!
When I am reminded of the painful things which wicked people have done unto me, I always rejoice that they hurt me instead of me hurting them. I can live with that! I love what Brother Hyles always said, that he chose rather to look at people as broken rather than bad. I am far from perfect, but I have a repentant heart toward my sins and failures, which has allowed God to prosper me and my work for Christ. When a believer covers their sins, they become hardened and critical of other sinners:
Romans 2:1-3, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”
We are all guilty sinners! The only difference between me and the vilest homosexual, habitual thief or dirtiest adulterer in the world is that my sins have been washed away by the precious blood of Jesus. Apart from God's imputed righteousness, we would all be utterly lost in our wickedness without any hope. Thank God for the gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!!!
If anyone is righteous, it is only because of the imputed righteousness of our great God and Savior!
Oh, Precious Jesus, My Redeemer Art Thou
I have not always done the right thing, and neither have you. We are all imperfect sinners, but thankfully we have a perfect Redeemer. I have been hurt by numerous people in the past. They have never made things right. They refuse to acknowledge their sins and wrongs against me. They are proud, shallow, and have chosen to move forward without making restitution and reconciliation for their evils against me. Yet, I love them. I have decided to forgive them before they seek my forgiveness, even before they make things right. They likely won't judge themselves as the Bible teaches in 1st Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” Most likely, God will need to judge them in eternity, because they refuse to do so. But ultimately, no one can ever sin and get away with it. All things are open and naked before the eyes of our Judge (Hebrews 4:13).
When reminded of painful memories, I always pray for those who have hurt me for Christ's sake. I am always comforted in my soul, knowing that God has promised to hold all men accountable for their sins. For example: 1st Thessalonians 4:6, “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” I find peace in losing myself in the work of God. I stay so busy for the Lord labouring, that I don't have time to sulk, or fret, or dwell upon the negative. When I am saddened about anything, past, present or future, I redirect my painful energy into my labours for Christ, which always cheers me up and causes me to forget what I was thinking about. There's no sad feelings or a depressed mood that some fundamentalist Bible-preaching cannot remedy! Amen!!! I choose to live above the clouds where the Son is always shining, instead of below the clouds under the rains of criticism, failures and worry.
Colossians 3:1-3, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Whew! Amen! Glory to God, you won't find a better Scripture than Colossians 3:1-3!!! I am dead to this sinful world, and my life is hidden in Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible teaches us to set our affection on things in Heaven. The Greek word for “affection” is phroneo and means “to exercise one's mind.” In other words, God is telling us to think about heavenly things, spiritual things, the things of Jesus Christ; and not upon the carnal, sinful and secular things of this temporary world below. If you are discouraged my friend, get your mind off of this crazy world! Abide in the Scriptures!
I love listening to Alexander Scourby read the King James Bible. You can listen to the entire King James Bible for free on YouTube, which takes about 75 hours. What a beautiful thing to have. For thousands of years, God's children would have given anything to be able to sit back and listen to the Word of God being read as we can today. Yet, sadly and tragically, extremely few people (including Christian believers) have the spiritual maturity and character to listen to the Word of God. Woe unto anyone who neglects God's Words!!! Mr. Scourby read over 400 books so that blind people could hear them. Reading the King James Bible was the crowning achievement of his life. Thank God for Alexander Scourby! I promise you that listening to the Word of God daily, around the house or in your car, will be the most beneficial thing to your life from now on.
anybody in the Bible that God had disdain for,
it was those that had disdain for other sinners!”
—an awesome quote from the MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles titled, “If Thou Should Mark Iniquities, Who Could Stand?”
Critical, Judgmental and Gossiping Believers Fail to See Their Own Wickedness
A sure sign of a believer who is covering up their own sins, is one who is quick to condemn and slander others. A gossiping tongue is evidence of lack of an underlying repentant spirit. The Holy Bible tells us 1st Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” Most believers are familiar with the command to glorify God with one's body, but overlook the fact that our spirit also belongs to God. Every believer is bought with a price, and that price is the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which was sprinkled upon the heavenly Mercy Seat, the right place). We are not glorifying God with our spirit when we gossip, hate other sinners, criticize our circumstances, boast of future plans without regarding God's will, or acknowledge our sins.
Carefully notice our text verse again. Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” This Bible verse speaks about being totally right with God, in both salvation and discipleship. Salvation makes us right with God as His creature; Discipleship makes us right with God as His child. You can be right with God as His creature (imputed righteousness), but still not be right with God as His child (relative or personal righteousness). Lot was living a wicked life of sin in Sodom, yet we read in 2nd Peter 2:7-8 about “just Lot.” The word “just” means righteous, that is, born-again. The only way to be “MADE RIGHTEOUS” is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ...
Romans 5:19-21, “For as by one man's [Adam's] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
If a Christian believer ever truly grasps his or her own depth of wickedness, they will never condemn another sinner again. WE ARE ALL GUILTY SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF A HOLY GOD!!! We live in a hypocritical society today in America. Perhaps you have seen people accused of crimes appear in court. They are bound in handcuffs and ankle shackles, wearing an orange suit, looking at felony charges and facing serious prison time. My friend, in God's eyes we are all worthy of such treatment! If you've never been dragged into a court room, you and I all deserve to be. Most believers cannot even begin to comprehend just how wicked they are in the sight of a holy God. Not praying for others is a horrible sin (1st Samuel 12:23). Not saying, “If the Lord will,” concerning future plans is a horrible sin (James 4:15-16). It is a horrible sin to lay up money in the bank, while neglecting the things of God (Luke 12:20). Thinking foolishly is a sin (Proverbs 24:9). A high look and a proud heart is a sin (Proverbs 21:4).
The words “high look” in Hebrew means an “elevated eye,” that is, viewing one's self as being higher or better than others. All such haughtiness is a horrible sin. Most Christians do not have a proper spirit of humility about them. That is why I am writing this article, in hope of teaching you the importance of having a lowly attitude toward yourself and others. I continually realize that I am the biggest sinner I know. Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001), pastor of the great First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for 42 years, understood this precious truth...
“If we could ever
hate the sin in ourselves as much as we hate the sin in others,
we might have some idea what His [God's] Book is all about.”
—Pastor Jack Hyles (a quote from page 322 of the awesome biography of Dr. Hyles titled, “The Fundamental Man”)
What a beautiful truth! Here's another beautiful quote from Pastor Jack Hyles...
“The Devil will make you guilty about your past... You're not worthy to serve God, but neither is anybody else worthy to serve God, and so God's gotta have unworthy people serving Him... That's one reason why we should do everything we can to salvage people.” —a beautiful quote from the MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles titled, “If Thou Should Mark Iniquities, Who Could Stand?”
We are living in the best and worst times of history. I heard an excellent MP3 sermon this week by Pastor Ray Thompson (1933-2010), titled “How To Lose Friends And Influence History.” I hope you'll take the time to hear Dr. Thompson preach. This great sermon is from May of 1985. Dr. Thompson says in the sermon: If you live for the Lord, you won't have to give up any friends, they'll all forsake you! Of course, you can never lose a true friend. The heathen world doesn't know what real friendship is. Brother Thompson also mentions in this sermon that he was on the Devil's side of the fence for 19 years, but then got right with God and became a faithful Christian and preacher. I thank God for Pastor Roy Thompson! I encourage you to hear his needful message.
My friend, where do you fit into all of this? Are you saved? To be saved, a person simply needs to judge them self as a needy sinner and receive Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for their sins, believing that Jesus was buried, and bodily resurrected three days later from the dead (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). To be “saved” means to be born-again! 1st Corinthians 15:6 tells us that Jesus was seen in His resurrected body by over 500 brethren at once.
If you are saved, have you ever truly been humbled and broken because of your own sins? A couple years ago I heard a younger Christian man say, “I've never really done anything bad in my life.” Oh, yes you have, you just don't realize it! I don't care who you are, you are just as sinful in the sight of God as the vilest Sodomite, murderer, thief or idolater. To commit even one sin makes a man guilty OF ALL (James 2:10)! That's because even one sin is enough to condemn a man to the Lake of Fire forever! Romans 3:10 proclaims that, THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS! Preachers don't preach against the awfulness of sin anymore. Thank God for Dr. Jack Hyles, who did preach against sin, and he loved sinners equally so! Dr. Hyles exemplified strength and beauty. Here's an awesome MP3 sermon by Brother Hyles from 1994 titled, “IT'S HOUSECLEANING TIME”!!!
FORGIVENESS (MP3, Dr. Hyles, “I decided years ago to forgive everybody... before it is asked!”)
No Christian Can Prosper Until They Grasp They're as Wicked as the Worst Sinner!
Unless you were saved out of a horrible deathstyle of wickedness, you may very well fail to comprehend your own sinfulness. There are many believers who were saved at a young age. They did not go into what we call “deep sin.” Therefore, it is difficult for them to grasp the magnificence of God's love, mercy and grace. The man who is forgiven of much can more easily comprehend the depths of God's grace that saves. Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” The murderer, prostitute, convicted criminal and despicable sinner, can more easily fathom the awesomeness of a loving God Who pardons iniquity. Micah 7:18a, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity...” Deep abiding love comes from deep abiding sins, failures and bad decisions in life. You cannot understand life's sweetness until you've first experienced incalculable sorrow and pain.
“To be a real
fundamentalist you can't hate anybody.”
—Dr. Jack Hyles (a great quote from a 2001 MP3 sermon titled, Forgiveness)
In closing, the word “prosper” (Hebrew: tsalach tsaleach) in our text verse from Proverbs 28:13 means, “to push forward.” No believer will ever be able to push forward spiritually for the Lord, until they confess and forsake their sins. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” I have great peace in my soul, knowing that I am right with the Lord, having placed everything into God's hands. My body and spirit are the Lord's. If there is any judging to be done, it is the Lord's department. My part is simply to trust and obey.
Admit your failures my friend. Confess your sins to God. Make things right with those whom you've hurt. If others have hurt you, pray for them and place them into God's hands for judgment. There is no peace like letting go of everything into God's hands, which is what I had to do years ago, lest I lose my mind from overbearing guilt, sorrow and inexplicable emotional trauma. God is real. God is still on His throne. The Word of God was written to give us PATIENCE and COMFORT that we might have HOPE. Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”