"THE CHAFF DRIVEN AWAY"
2. Who are the ungodly? Are they open and willful sinners, men who take God's name in vain, who curse, who blaspheme, who violate the law?
3. To be sure, such men as these are included, though they are not the focus of the psalmist's remarks. While those I've mentioned can be categorized as "sinners" and "scorners," I am convinced there is another class of men targeted by the term "ungodly."
4. Who, then, are the "ungodly?" Are they the men who deny God's existence, who are openly immoral, who ridicule things Christian and make jokes about things that cause angels to tremble? Such types are certainly included, but neither are these the ones especially aimed at, these who are openly scornful, whose iniquities cry out for judgment, and whose sins are clamoring for punishment from God.
5. Another class of men is intended by the term "ungodly." And who are they? I think you'll be surprised at my answer. I don't think there are many here today who would be called scorners. Perhaps not very many who would be called rebels. But I wonder what percentage of you here today may be properly categorized as "ungodly."
6. What does "ungodly" mean, exactly? Let me draw some distinctions and then I will define what is meant by "ungodly." We sometimes call men unreligious. And, to be sure, unreligious is bad. But to be religious is not good enough. A man may be religious, but yet he may not be godly. There are many who are religious, outwardly they are blameless. They could be like Paul was, Hebrews of the Hebrews, Pharisees of the straitest sect.
7. They neglect no good deed, they break no law of their Church. They are exceedingly precise in their religion.
Yet, still, they are properly termed "ungodly." You see, to be religious is one thing, and to be godly is quite another. To be godly is to have a constant eye to God, to recognize Him in all things, to trust Him, to love Him, to serve Him.
8. The "ungodly" man is that one who does not have an eye to God in his daily affairs, who lives in this world as if there is no God. While he is careful about the outward practice of religion, he never goes to the core of it all, never enters into the heart of the matter. He sees the superficial duties and practices, but he does not see where God is in any of it.
9. He hears the preaching, and comes to the prayer meetings where he bows his head, but there is no God in it all to him. There is no demonstration of God anywhere to him. There is no hearing of God's voice in the preaching or in the reading of Scripture, and there is no bowing before the throne of God.
10. There is a considerable number of you here today, on this Mother's Day, who must confess that you are not trusting in the blood of Christ, you are not influenced by the Holy Spirit, you do not love God. You've spent the last six days doing your business, occupying your time (and it's good to be diligent). But I wonder how many of you have forgotten God during that time? You've been working for yourself and not for God.
11. The righteous man, you see, does everything in the name of God. At least, that's his constant desire. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatsoever he does, he desires to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. But you've not recognized God at your work or in your home. And you've not acknowledged him in your dealings with other people. As a matter of fact, you've lived as if there is no God.
12. And perhaps, even today, you would admit in your heart that you do not love the Lord. You've never gone into His presence in prayer, not really. You seek no private time with God. You have no interest in private prayer.
13. Understand that God's children cannot be happy without sometimes talking to their Father. The sons of God must have frequent interviews with God, and we love to cling to Him. We feel that He is our life, our love, our all. Each day our desire is, "Lord, draw me closer to You, or You come closer to me." We ache to know more of God. We long in our hearts to be more Christ like. We strive to do His will. And it's our desire to be dominated, controlled, to be filled with His Spirit.
14. But such things don't interest you at all. Such desires as these are foreign to you. To be sure, you're no drinker, you don't swear, you're no thief, you're no harlot. With regard to such matters as those you're blameless. But you are still ungodly, completely without God in the world.
15. God is not your friend. He's not your helper. You don't hold on to Him. You're not His child. You don't have "the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Some of you think you could do just as well without God as with Him. As a matter of fact, when you do think about God the thoughts are unpleasant, so you rather quickly put them out of your mind. Do you realize what all of that adds up to? You are ungodly.
16. That being so, whatever I have to say this morning belongs to you. Don't think to yourself that this sermon would be good for him or great for her. Please, don't think of anyone else, during this sermon, but yourself. If you are not born again, if you are not reconciled to God, if your sins are not forgiven, if you are not right now a member of the family of God, you need to know something.
17. You need to know that all the curses that are written in this book belong to you, particularly that portion of them it is my duty to thunder out to you this morning. I pray God that His Word will be applied to your soul, that you may be made to tremble before the Most High, and that you will seek Him. For He will certainly be found of you, if you seek Him with all your heart.
18. You can readily see that my text can be divided into three parts.
First, there is the fearful negative: "The ungodly are not
so." Next, a terrible comparison: "they are like the
chaff." Finally, an awful prophesy: "They are like the chaff
which the wind driveth away."
The Latin Vulgate, the Arabic, and the Septuagint (which is the Greek version of the Old Testament), read, "Not so the ungodly, not so." According to those versions there is a double negative here. "Not so the ungodly, not so." Now, in order to understand what is meant by this negative read the third verse. The righteous man is said to be "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." "Not so the ungodly, not so."
To explore the negative, let's consider each phrase that is hereby negated.
1B. The Ungodly Are Not Like A Tree Planted
1C. If you are to be compared to a tree at all, you are like trees "twice dead plucked up by the roots." Or, if you're to be compared to anything that has life, then you're like the tree in the desert which was not planted, but grows by accident, and which has nothing to nourish it.
2C. It's the peculiar characteristic of the Christian that he is like "a tree planted." Which is to say, there's a special providence at work in his life. You know the difference between a tree that is planted and a tree that grows wild.
3C. The tree that's planted in the garden is cared for by the gardener. He digs around it, and fertilizes it, and prunes it, and trims it, and looks for its fruit. The planted tree is property and is, therefore, especially cared for.
4C. The wild tree is owned by no one, is watched over by no one, is cared for by no one, pruned by no one, fertilized by no one. No one will care if the lightning strikes it. No tear will be shed if disease claims it and all its leaves wither and die. You see, it doesn't belong to anyone. It provides shade and shelter for no one.
5C. Now, it's true that God providentially watches over even the ungodly. That's why some will occasionally say, "God really helped me out of that jam." But the righteous have a special providence over them. You see, they are trees planted. Everything which takes place works together for their good, Romans 8.28.
6C. The Lord their God is their guardian. God constantly watches over the righteous. And it's a glorious thing for the Christian to know that the very hairs of his head are all numbered, that the angels of God watch over him, and that since the Lord is his shepherd, he shall not want.
7C. This truth is such a blessing to me. And no matter what happens, I can fall back on the knowledge that God providentially controls everything, so what more do I need? It can be said of every tree God has planted, every truly converted child of God, "I the Lord do keep it, and will water it every moment. To prevent anyone from hurting it I will watch it night and day."
8C. Not so, you who are ungodly. There is no special providence for you. So, where do you turn with your troubles? Where is your shelter in the time of storm, in the day of wrath? Where is your shield in the hour of battle? Who will be your sun to shine light on you when darkness comes upon you? Who will comfort you when your troubles surround you?
9C. You have no everlasting arm to lean on. You have no compassionate heart to beat for you. You have no loving eye to watch you. You are left alone. Alone! Alone, like the shrub in the desert, or like the tree in the forest that no man cares about. Until, that is, the time comes when the ax is laid into the tree and it's cut down for the fire.
10C. "The ungodly are not so." What a fearful negative it is that the ungodly man does not benefit from the special providence of God.
2B. Next, The Righteous Man Is Like A Tree Planted By The Rivers Of Water.
1C. A tree that's planted by the rivers of water sends out its roots, and they draw sufficient nourishment. The tree that's in arid desert has times of drought, and depends upon the occasional thundercloud that floats over it to drop little bits of rain.
2C. But this tree planted by rivers of water has a perennial supply. There is no drought, no time of scarcity. Its roots need only suck up the nourishment that's there for the taking. "Not so the ungodly, not so." They have no such rivers from which to suck their joy, their comfort, and their life.
3C. As for the believer, come what may, he can face anything. If the earth fails him, then he looks to heaven. If man forsakes him, then he looks to the God-man, Christ Jesus. If the world shakes and breaks, his inheritance is on high. If everything down here is ruined, he still has a portion that can never be dissolved. You see, he's planted not by brooks that may dry up. Or in a desert, which only has occasional drops of water. No. He's planted by the rivers of water.
4C. Christian, you and I know something about what this means. We know what it is to suck up the promises, to drink of the rivers of Christ's fullness. We know what it is to satisfy ourselves. No wonder we can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Our storehouse is inexhaustible. Our riches can never be spent up. We have wealth that cannot be counted, a treasury that never can be drained. We have something to rely upon which can never fail us. We are trees planted by the rivers of water.
5C. Ah, but not so you that are ungodly, not so. Your days of drought will come. You may rejoice now, but what will you do on your sick bed? What will you do when death stares you in the face? You have your joys today, but where will your joys be then? You have wells now, but what will you do when these wells are all stopped up, when these wells dry up, when your water bottles are empty?
6C. Consider what is threatened in your future. You may have a little fun and merriment now. You may enjoy a little excitement at present. But what will you do when the hot, dry wind blows, the wind of tribulation? And above all, what will you do when the chilling blast of death freezes your blood? Where will you look then?
7C. You'll look no longer to friends, or to the comforts of your home. You'll not find in the hour of death any consolation from even the most loving husband. And you'll be quite unable then to find peace in your riches and treasures, if you have any. As for your past life, however good it may seem, if you are ungodly, you will find no comfort in the past. And as for the future, you will find no comfort there, for there will be for you nothing but "a fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation."
8C. Oh, my ungodly friend, please think this matter through. Even if there was nothing worse, the first sentence of our text, "The ungodly are not so," sounds like the trumpet of doom, and suggests bitterness like the vial judgments in the book of Revelation.
3B. Third, It Is Said Of The Righteous Man That He "bringeth forth his fruit in his season."
1C. "Not so the ungodly, not so." You will bring forth no fruit. Many people imagine that if they do not do bad things they're all right. Let me give you a little sermon in the midst of this sermon to deal with that error. Here's the text: "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty." That's Judges 5.23.
2C. First, what has Meroz done? Nothing. Second, is Meroz cursed? Yes, cursed bitterly. What for? For doing nothing. Yes, for doing nothing. "Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof," for what they did not do, "because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty."
3C. Did Meroz fight against God? No. What did Meroz do? Nothing. And it's cursed? Yes, cursed bitterly, with the inhabitants thereof, "because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty." Preach that sermon to yourself when you get home.
4C. Think about it in a quiet place. Maybe you'll say, "Meroz. Why, that's me! I don't fight against God, I am no enemy to Christ, I do not persecute His people. In fact I even love the preacher, and I love to go to Church and hear the Word preached. I hate it when I miss a Church service. But still, that must mean me, because I do not go up 'to the help of the LORD against the mighty.' I do nothing. I am an idle do-nothing. I am a fruitless tree." Remember, also, that you are cursed, and cursed bitterly. Not for what you do, but for what you don't do.
5C. So here it is, one of the sad curses of the ungodly; that they bring forth no fruit in their season. Look at you today. What good are you in this world? To be sure, you do well with your family and in such matters as that. May God bless you in your work, and may you train up your children well. But as to the Church, what good are you? You occupy a seat. You've sat in it for years. But how do you know but that you've been occupying a seat that might have been the place where some other sinner would have been converted had he been there? It's true you sit and hear the sermon. But what of it if that sermon only adds to your condemnation?
6C. What are you doing for Christ? Of what value are you? Have you brought one neighbor to hear the Gospel? Have you ever brought someone from work? You've done nothing for Him. He has nourished you and brought you up, and you have done nothing for Him.
7C. The Lord has a controversy with you today, not for what you have done, but for what you have not done. He's sent to you the Gospel ministry. You're invited to come and hear on Sunday mornings and evenings, and on Wednesday nights. As well as I know how, I've warned you and invited you to Christ. You're hearing the Word continually. You're enjoying the privileges of God's blessings on this Church. God is feeding you in His providence, clothing you in His compassion, and you are doing nothing for Him.
8C. Oh, my friend, please consider what you are not doing, because this is a curse as well as a sign to you. Your lack of fruit is not only a bad trait in your character, it's also a curse from God. The reason you bear no fruit is because you are ungodly. You don't love God, and that's the reason you are useless. You've not trusted Christ, and that's why you are not like the tree which "bringeth forth his fruit in his season."
4B. Fourth, The Righteous Man's Leaf Shall Not Wither
1C. "Not so the ungodly, not so." The ungodly man's leaf shall wither. And there is proof of this here today. Look at the older members we have in our Church, who attend every service and who serve God. Their leaf has not withered. They are just as active in the cause of Christ as they ever were, if not more so. And probably ten times more happy. Our leaf withers not.
2C. But oh, "Not so the ungodly, not so." Your leaf shall wither. I see it happening all the time. Men who seem to be doing so well, getting rich and happy, and respected by almost everybody. But it's not real. There is no rock to stand on, no God to trust. Like the millionaire a friend of mine witnessed to who admitted that he was, with his beautiful wife and children, with success in business and all his money, contemplating suicide because of the meaninglessness of life without Christ. How sad.
3C. But whatever the believer does will prosper. There's Christ to
serve in the Church you attend. There's God's people to encourage you
and God's man to teach you. "Not so the ungodly, not so."
Surely this first part of my text is dismal for you. The gate of God's
blessings are shut against you. The promises of God are denied you. And
you are without the blessings which are given to the godly. And this is
"The ungodly are like the chaff." You are not really like the wild tree, which has life, since you are actually dead in sin. You're not compared here even to a dead tree plucked up by the roots, which has some use. At least a dead tree can be used for fire wood to warm the poor man's hands from the cold. And you're not even like a scrub brush in the desert, which at least decorates the bleak landscape. You're like nothing that has life, nothing that's of any value. Instead, you are like chaff which the wind drives away. You'll see how terrible this comparison is, if you'll look at it for a moment.
You are like chaff. Chaff envelopes good grain. But when the wheat is cut down and carried into the barn, the grain alone is useful, the grain alone is looked at, and that chaff which has grown side by side with the good living wheat, is now utterly useless, and needs to be separated and disposed of. And you are compared to that chaff. Think for a moment, of how you are like the chaff.
1B. First, Because You Are Sapless And Fruitless
1C. Chaff has no sap or life in itself. It's of no use, of no service, no nutritional value. Used to be they would throw the wheat up into the air with a winnowing shovel, so the breeze could blow away the chaff, leaving behind the pure wheat grain.
2C. So, all farmers cared about the chaff was in the best way of getting rid of it, so it could be blown away. Why so? Chaff is sapless and fruitless.
2B. Next, Notice That Chaff Is Light And Unstable
1C. When the wind blows through the wheat grain the wheat grain remains unmoved, while the chaff flies away. When tossed into the air with a shovel, the wheat grain quickly falls back down and returns to its spot on the floor. But the chaff is light, it has no stability. Every wind, every breeze, moves it and carries it away.
2C. So are the ungodly. You have nothing stable. You are light. You are like the froth on the water. You are seen today, but you will be gone tomorrow, and then carried away for ever.
3B. Third, Notice That The Wicked Are Compared To Chaff Because Chaff Is Base And Worthless
1C. Of what value is it? Who will buy it? Who cares anything for it? In the psalmist's time and place it was no good, and no use whatsoever could be made of it.
2C. They were content to burn it up and get rid of it, and the sooner they were rid of it the better they liked it.
3C. So is it with the wicked. You're good for nothing. You are useless in this world. You're useless in the world to come. Of what spiritual benefit to anyone are you?
4B. The Man Who Is Ungodly, However Much He May Value Himself, Is As Nothing In The Estimation Of God
1C. Put a gold chain around your neck. Put a crown on your head. What are you then but a crowned heap of dust. Useless. Perhaps worse than useless if people follow your example
2C. At least the potter's vessel is good for something, since even broken pottery can have some use. Some Job might scrape himself with it. But what do you do with chaff? It's of no use to anyone, and no one cares for it.
3C. Do you see your value, friend, if you fear not God? Take a look in God's glass and see yourself for what you really are.
4C. You may think you're good for a lot of things, but here God shows
us that you're good for nothing. You are "like the chaff which the
wind driveth away."
"They are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." Think about how near the chaff is to the grain. It covers the grain. They grow together. Let me speak very pointedly and personally. How very closely related are the ungodly to the righteous.
1B. One of you, perhaps an ungodly woman, is the mother of a godly child. You've been to that child what the chaff is to the wheat. You've nourished the child, and loved the child. Your life has wrapped around that child like the chaff around the grain. Is it not an awful thing for you to think that you should have such a relationship to a child of God, but that in the great day of division you'll be separated from her? You see, the chaff cannot be taken into heaven with the wheat.
2B. I point to another example. You're the son of a godly mother. And your mother taught you, when you were little, to say your little prayers, and to sing your little hymns. She looked on you as her joy and her comfort. But she'll be gone soon. And you are to her what the chaff is to the wheat. You are growing up on the same stock. You are of the same family. And her heart is wholly wrapped up in you. You're her joy and her comfort. Does it not cause you one pang of regret that when she is gone, and then dying as you someday will, you will be eternally separated from her? You see, where she will be you can never go.
3B. As Well, There Are Moms Who Have Lost Their Babies
1C. You've been to those little ones what the chaff is to the wheat. Those little ones, God's good wheat, have been gathered into heaven, and there they now are with Jesus. Their little spirits are now rejoicing before the throne of the Most High. The mother who is left thinks nothing of it, but she is the mother of little saints, and, perhaps, herself a child of Hell.
2C. Ah, mom, what do think you of this? Is this separation from your child eternal? Will you be content to be the chaff on God's great day of judgment? And will you then be driven away from your children? Will you see them in heaven? Them in heaven, and you cast out for ever?
3C. Can you bear the thought? Has your heart become so hard? Is your soul harder than rock? Surely, unless your heart is like granite, the thought of your present intimate connection with God's people, and of your sure separation, will make you tremble.
4B. And What About You Who Are Sitting, Right Now, Next To The Godly?
1C. You sing as they sing. You hear as they hear. Perhaps you contribute to the outward wants of our Church. You are to this Church just what the chaff is to the wheat. You are the outward husk, the congregation which surrounds the inner living nucleus of the Church.
2C. Does it have to be that way? Must you be so separated from us? Are you content to go from the songs of the saints to the shrieks of the damned? Will you go from the great convocation of the righteous to the last general assembly of the destroyed and cursed in Hell?
3C. Spurgeon once spoke of his mother, which is what provoked me to adapt this sermon of his for Mother's Day. She showed her great spiritual insight after she had prayed for him for a long time, and after she had come to the conviction that he was hopeless: "Ah," she said, "My son, if at the last great day you are condemned, remember your mother will say 'Amen' to your condemnation."
4C. What a godly mother, and how wise. To side with God against her ungodly child, as every godly mother will do. He said that her comment stung him to the quick. Must your mother prepare to say "Amen" to you being condemned at last? And it must be, my friend.
5C. Does not the wheat say "Amen" to the chaff being blown away? Is it not in fact the very prayer of the wheat that it may be separated from the chaff? And surely when that prayer is heard, and when it is awfully answered, the wheat must say "Amen" to the chaff being blown away into unquenchable fire.
6C. Our text is such a sad prophecy. The wicked are "like the chaff which the wind driveth away." The awful character of our text does not appear on the surface. They "are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." Where? Where? Where are they driven? The man is healthy. The sun shines. The sky is calm. The world is still around him. Then, all of a sudden, his soul is swept away. He is quickly dead and gone.
7C. To go to heaven on angel's wings is a glorious thing. But to be swept out of this world with the wicked is an awful thing. The wicked are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. It's like a wave comes up and sweeps away the man standing on the rocks. He's taken away. But where does he go? Where is he taken?
8C. Jesus Christ, Himself, said it: "He shall burn up the chaff
with unquenchable fire." You die, but you die not. You depart, but
you depart to fire that never shall be quenched. Who here will dwell in
the devouring fire? Who among us will dwell in everlasting burnings? Who
here is prepared to make his bed in Hell? Who shall go down and writhe
for ever in that lake of fire?
1. This verse speaks of you if you are ungodly, except you repent. Please, think of your destiny. Death. And after death the judgment. The wind, and after the wind the whirlwind, and after the whirlwind the fire, and after the fire nothing. Nothing comes after the fire, for the fire is forever.
2. Forever, forever, forever lost. Cast away, where a ray of hope can never come; where the eye of mercy can never look upon you, and the hand of grace can never reach you.
3. I stand before you, making no attempt to bully you, boss you, or manipulate you. I only ask you, by the grace of God, before Whom you stand this day, to tremble and repent.
4. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die. . . ?"
5. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
6. I pray the Holy Spirit will touch some ungodly heart this morning and make you think. And if there is in your heart this morning a desire toward Christ, please cherish it. Blow on the little ember until it grows into to a flame. If your heart melts, even a little, this morning, I urge you, do not resist. Quench not the Spirit.
7. I thunder at you from time to time, but it's to bring you to Christ. Oh, if only you would come to Him. If only you knew what a fearful thing it will be to be cast away for ever.
8. Why will you die in your sins? Is there anything good about going to Hell? Is sin so satisfying to you that you'll burn in Hell for ever for it? Is Christ so hard that you will not love Him? Is His cross so ugly that ye will not look to it?
9. I urge you look to Him and be saved, because He came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost, and him that cometh to Him He will in nowise cast out, for "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him."
10. Today, sinner, lay hold on Christ. Touch the hem of His garment now. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so is Jesus lifted up. Look, I say. Look and live. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
11. May angels rejoice this day over sinners saved and brought to
know the Lord.