Life under God’s Eye
Topic: Midweek Sermons
Last time, we began a study of the doctrine of divine omniscience and we're doing this in preparation for our conference coming up at the end of next week, April 15-17, Friday through Sunday, titled "Trusting God in Trying Times" and this is all kind of preparatory groundwork; we're kind of plowing the ground so that we can plant the seeds later on and reap the fruit from that conference even further on in our lives. This is kind of preparing the way. The key to trusting God is to know God and to know God we must know his attributes and one of his attributes is divine omniscience which we said last time means that God knows everything. He knows himself. He knows his creation. He knows man. He knows the future; as we saw from Psalm 139, he knows your every thought and we looked at that last time.
What I want to do tonight is kind of consider the concept of life under God's eye. In other words, what does omniscience mean for the way that we live and this is a message that kind of reflects the burden of my heart and everything about pastoral ministry and about teaching and preaching and Scripture and all of that. It's very essential and it's critical for us to not be content with simply having a knowledge of certain doctrinal facts because theology is meant to have an impact on your life and it's meant to change you, and a true understanding of biblical doctrine and of biblical theology drives you and compels you into realms of response to God that a mere mental assent to certain truths is not enough and Jesus' teaching repeatedly shows how we are to draw implications from truth and to apply them to our lives. And if you would turn to Matthew 6, the Sermon on the Mount perhaps the most familiar part of the Sermon on the Mount to you would be what's traditionally called the Lord's prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and on it goes. We'll look at it in a moment and that would be the most familiar part of the Sermon on the Mount to you, Matthew 5-7. As you're contemplating that, perhaps as you were taught that in your younger days, most likely you were taught that as a standalone entity. You were taught to memorize that prayer and you memorized it, perhaps recited it if you were in a liturgical church that repeated Scripture in that way, and you recited it like that, having no concept of the context which led to it. You know, that's understandable. What we need to do is we need to see what it is that the Lord's prayer, sometimes referred to as the disciples prayer because it's for us to pray, what is that premised on. That's the point that I'm trying desperately to get to.
What is the Lord's prayer premised on? There are a couple of things that I want you to see. First of all, I am going to give you an impossible amount of material to try to process tonight. It's not the message is going to be exceedingly long but there are six points to this message tonight and each one of them is massive in its implications and so to do that with six different points is crazy, it's insane. I don't know what's the matter with me as I stand up here getting ready to do that. And basically there are two things that I want you to see and then the six points are kind of where you go with it, what you do with it. They are things for you to take and to think about for a long time to come, in other words. I'm giving you things that are meant to go inside you and you have to turn them over and meditate on them and think about them and apply them in your heart. I can't begin to work out all the implications of this in a single message but this is, what we're going to see is life shaping. This shapes the whole nature of the way that you approach your existence, what we're going to see tonight, what we're going to talk about tonight. And what you're going to find in what I'm about to show you that's right there on the text, right on the surface of the text, is that this is all a response to divine omniscience; that God's knowledge has massive implications for the way that you approach your life and the way that you justify and live out your existence.
So we're going to answer this question tonight: how does God's omniscience affect your practical life? How does it affect the way that your priorities, your affections, your deepest motivations, how does divine omniscience affect that inner core of who you are and what defines the kind of person that you are? I would venture to say that most of you have never seen that there is a connection. Divine omniscience was something out there about God, not seeing that it had immediate implications for the way that you live your life. That's what I want you to see tonight and so how does God's omniscience affect your practical living? Well, let's start at chapter 6, verse 1 in Matthew and we'll just kind of build momentum and go now.
Matthew 6:1, Jesus says, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." Now stop right there. That is a showstopper right there. You hit the brakes right there because you realize that what Jesus is saying is that the way that you practice righteousness in your life and he goes on and explains that he has the idea of giving and praying and fasting that flow from that and those are illustrations of broad principles, he says, "Be careful about how you do these things. Be careful about how you practice the outworking of your Christian life because if you do it with the motivation that other men would notice and congratulate you for it, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." That's presupposing whether you realize it or not, divine omniscience. Jesus is saying, "God knows why you do what you do and if your motives are amiss, there will be no reward for you in it from God." If you want people to notice you, we've said it in the past, people that love to display their devotions on social media when they get six likes on Facebook from their social media pictures, they have just exhausted their reward for that. You know, you say, "You wanted likes on Facebook about the way that you did your devotions? You got them. There's nothing left to get from God because you've got what you asked for from it." Jesus says God knows and understands your motives in practicing righteousness and so divine omniscience suddenly exposes why we do the things that we do and so God understands the motives.
Then he goes on and gives a counter incentive, gives a positive incentive for us to be restrained and godly and self-deflecting rather than self-promoting in the way that we approach our Christian existence. He says, "Do your righteousness, practice your righteousness with an eye to having God and no one else see you." Look at chapter 6, verse 3. It says, "when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret." Don't let men see you. Don't call attention to yourself. And what happens as a result of that? "Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Your Father knows, Jesus says. Men don't have to see. Your Father knows and let that be, as you're being generous, let this be something that as much as possible you hide from the view of men, consciously appealing to the omniscience of God, knowing that because he sees, because he sees you acting righteously as you live out your repentant Christian life, God will honor that and will reward you for it. So you order the whole totality of your existent toward divine omniscience in this regard.
And he says it again in verse 6 about the matter of prayer. He says, "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." In other words, if he was going to use the language that we are using tonight, he says, "God is omniscient. He knows when you're praying and so pray with an eye toward appealing to God without trying to draw attention to yourself from men." He had criticized that in verse 5. Look at verse 5, he says, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites; they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." They are praying in public, calling attention to themselves so that men will see them and they can puff up their pride before men, Jesus says, when that's what happens, they have exhausted their reward. They got what they wanted.
Now, tell me those of you that are on social media, tell me that this isn't directly applicable to what people are doing on social media today when they write out their prayers, somebody says, "I'm having a bad time." The comment is, "O Lord Jesus, take Susie..." It's all just designed to be seen by men. They're just parading a false superficial righteousness so that others will congratulate them on it. It is directly contrary to what Jesus teaches us to do in the Sermon on the Mount and he says, "Don't be like that. Don't be a hypocrite like that. Don't be righteous so that men will congratulate you." Jesus says, "Your Father sees what is done in secret." In other words, God is omniscient. Put men out of your thought in this and just pray in a place where no one knows and let your Father reward you because he sees and how can he see? Because he's omniscient, because he knows.
In verse 18 he said the same thing about fasting. In verse 16 he says, "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting." There was a famous Christian leader who went out of his way, he's now with the Lord, but he went out of his way to tell people when he was fasting. I imagine that his reward was more meager than he expected. This is just so evident and it's just so obvious and it just turns our thoughts about what it means to be a Christian and living it out before men totally on its head. This turns everything upside down from the way that most people approach it. And Jesus says, "When you fast, if you're going too fast, don't do that. Don't let anyone know that you're fasting." He says, "You anoint your head and wash your face so that there is nothing disfigured about your appearance so that no one would ever suspect that you're fasting." In verse 18, you do that "so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."
So three times he talks about divine omniscience having an effect on the way that you give, the way that you pray, the way that you fast, and all of that in part of a broader point that he's making about the way that you practice your righteousness. Don't do it to be noticed by men because God sees that. God knows that. God knows your motives. And when you're using the things of God to get praise from men - look, can't we be candid with each other, be honest with one another, see it from God's perspective and say that that is such a distortion and perversion of what Christian living should be like that there would be no reason for God to bless that. So there are actually a lot of positive things coming in this message but we kind of have to purge out and expose the bad stuff first in the way that things are approached.
Now, Jesus also spoke about divine omniscience in verse 8, well, verses 7 and 8, it's hard to separate these verses from one another. Jesus says, "when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." He says, "So don't be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." Once again, he's appealing to the doctrine of omniscience and he says, "Let the doctrine of omniscience inform the way that you pray. Don't babble on saying the same things over and over again as if a multiplication of words would somehow get you an advanced audience with God." He says, "God already knows what you need. You don't need to use a lot of words before him when you're praying. God already knows. Don't be like that." So in this whole context before and after what we call the Lord's prayer, Jesus has appealed repeatedly to divine omniscience. Your Father sees in secret. He sees in secret. Your Father knows what you need. Your Father sees in secret. He has emphasized this so much that you can't miss it and now tucked into that broader context of divine omniscience comes Jesus' instruction on prayer. And what we're going to see here as we go through this all too quickly and, again, just one last time, I want to tell you and remind you I'm not pretending to exhaust the exposition of this prayer in what we say tonight, we're just trying to paint in very broad strokes to redirect your whole thinking about your existence, really and in Matthew 6:9, what we see is that omniscience changes everything about life for you.
Let's look at verses 9 through 13 just too lay them out and then we'll get into those six points that I have been promising you for almost 20 minutes already. Matthew 6:9, Jesus says, "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'" Now, let's make a couple of points. There are a couple of things that I want you to see here. First of all, what we've already talked about is that the whole context of this prayer is informed greatly by the doctrine of divine omniscience. We've already seen that. Now as we transition into something else, just before we get to those six points that I promised you, I want you to see that the Lord's prayer is an inference from the things that Jesus has been saying about divine omniscience. He is giving you more than words to pray. He's going to give you six attitudes that flow from divine omniscience but watch this, beloved: some of these words are just so impossibly important and yet they are so easy to overlook as you're going through and you're reading it quickly.
Look at chapter 6, verse 9, Jesus says, "Pray, then, in this way." He issues a command, he says, "I want you to pray like this." And notice that word "then," the word "then" that you see there in the New American Standard. That word "then" is critically important to understanding everything that's going on here. It's a word that introduces an inference. In other words it's saying, Jesus is saying, "Pray like this. Pray then in this way." It's the implications that flow from what he had just said. What had he just said? He said, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then, therefore," it could be translated, perfectly appropriate to translate it this way, "therefore pray like this. Because of what I just said, your Father knows what you need before you ask him, therefore, then here you go, here's how you should pray in light of that greater knowledge." So what you have to see as we are looking at this tonight is that word "then" is an important bridge. The Lord's prayer does not occur in an isolated context. It cannot be studied by itself. It must be studied in context. Jesus says, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." That's one shore of the sea. The bridge over the sea is the word "then" and the bridge connects divine omniscience to how you are to pray. If you can see that, you have grasped something really critical about this. Everything that he says about prayer hinges on what he had just said about divine omniscience.
Now, watch this, watch what happens. He says, "Because this is true, because divine omniscience is true, therefore you do this," and the Lord's prayer flows out of that. Let's make a safe assumption here. Let's make a safe assumption that Jesus who had just said, "I don't want you to pray in meaningless repetition," was giving us more than simple words to be repeated. It's fine to repeat the words of the Lord's prayer. I do that sometimes in my own praying, sometimes I'll do it in public as well and appeal to these words so the idea is not that we would never repeat these words verbatim in prayer but Jesus is teaching you more than that here. Jesus is teaching you more than that. He's giving you principles. He's giving you themes that should inform your prayer and those are the themes that we're going to look at here far too quickly tonight. This is one of those messages where I'm going to be upset and unhappy with myself on the whole drive home. Either I preached too long or I didn't say enough. It's a terrible place to be but will do our best and rely on the Holy Spirit along the way. Here's my point: Jesus lays out these themes in prayer. These are the things that you are to say. Watch this, you are to say these things because these are the animating principles of your heart. God has no use for an outward form of worship that isn't sincere. Scripture says that God doesn't look on outward appearances, man does, but he looks on the heart. And so God is looking for these themes to be that which animates your heart in prayer and they animate your heart in prayer because they're your highest affections, they're your highest emotions, they're your highest passions, I should say. So we're praying out of that which fills our heart when we follow the Lord's prayer as he intends. And so we go a step further and say, "Okay, well, what's in our hearts should be real," and so what Jesus is describing here in prayer is not simply the words you say but he is giving you the heart attitudes, the heart motivations, the heart response to God in his omniscience that should define your existence.
What are those six attitudes? Now we're going to kick it into hyperspace speed. What should flow from your understanding of divine omniscience? That God knows himself. He knows his creation. He knows you and he knows the future and many other things besides. What should flow from that? As we said last time, that God knows exponentially, geometrically, greatly more than is contained in the Library of Congress and its 845 miles of bookshelves. That's not even a drop in an ocean of the knowledge of God. How should you respond to that? What flows from the reality of divine omniscience? Finally, point 1, what flows from it, 1: profound reverence. Profound reverence. I'm glad to see so many of you taking notes. That's an encouragement to me. Profound reverence. God's greatness compels human worship. That is the only appropriate response. Here you and I are, finite, mortal, sinful beings of very limited knowledge and Jesus has just brought us into the presence of a God who knows everything, whose greatness in his knowledge is absolutely overwhelming, just as overwhelming as the glory of God was to Isaiah when he saw the glory of God in the temple in Isaiah 6 and he said, "Woe is me! I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips and I live amongst a people of unclean lips." Well, in like manner, beloved, we contemplate divine omniscience and we just realize that something has just exploded on our mind that absolutely dwarfs us.
Look at what Jesus says in verse 9, "Pray, then, in this way." As a result of divine omniscience, pray like this, my disciples. "Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name." Hallowed be Your name, being a prayer that God would so act in a way that he would receive the reverence that he deserves. "God, you are omniscient. You know everything that there is to know. That is so great and so far beyond human capacity that you exceed and surpass every possible human thought and I, as a creature, should bow before my Creator. I, as a sinner, should bow before a holy God. I, of one who can't even understand my own heart, should bow in the presence of perfect divine omniscience. O God, I worship you and I pray that you would magnify your name throughout all of the earth because profound reverence is due to one who is omniscient." What is worship except a recognition from us as sinful creatures that God is infinitely greater than us; that we owe our existence to him as Creator for our physical life; we owe our spiritual life to him as our Redeemer in Christ. He's so transcendent. He's so far beyond us all we can do is bow in worship before this great God and ask him, "Lord, you just magnify your name. Let your name be exalted because that is what you deserve as an omniscient being." Profound reverence, falling down before him.
Secondly, what else should we say? What else should come from our hearts? What else should shape the way that we think about our existence? Well, secondly, we'll frame it this way to try to make it something you can remember later, we said, first of all, profound reverence, secondly: kingdom preference. Kingdom preference. Since God knows everything and creation belongs to him and you as one redeemed by the blood of Christ, you should prefer the coming righteous rule of Christ over and above and beyond the world order in which you now live. This prayer in verse 10 is a sanctified, divine assault on the order in which we live. Jesus said, "You pray like this. You give God profound reverence," and then in verse 10 he says, "You pray like this: Your kingdom come."
Now, there's a lot to be said about that. It speaks to praying, longing for the return of Christ to earth. It speaks to God extending his kingdom evangelistically and seeing sinners converted, transferred, Colossians 1:13, out of the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of his beloved Son. "Your kingdom come, O God." This is a statement that, "God, I don't like the present order in which I find myself living. This world is under the hand of Satan. This world is dominated by people who do not reverence you, who worship false gods, who love themselves more than Christ and who despise the Gospel either through indifference or outright hostility." And you say in your heart, Christian, brother and sister in Christ, you say in your heart, "God, I don't fit in an environment like this. I don't belong. I don't like this realm that is opposed to you and your rule. So, God, I pray that you would intervene sooner rather than later and establish your righteous rule because I prefer that to anything about me." This is a prayer that says, "This world is not my home." Sin and Satan rule in this realm and you are so enamored as a Christian with the greatness of God, the greatness of his omniscience, the greatness of his holiness and you say, "Lord, the only right thing, the only good thing is for you to intervene and display that righteousness which you are now patiently restraining. God, I align myself with your righteous kingdom in my prayers. Part of the reason I do that and part of the reason that I don't care about this world order is that I prefer your kingdom more than this present existence. And part of the reason that I do that, Lord, is because even if I have a comfortable life and there are things that I enjoy here in this world, I know that you know so much more and that when your kingdom is displaying the fullness of your omniscience unrestrained by Satan and sin, that's going to be so much better and that's what I align my heart with." Paul said in Philippians, "I desire to depart and be with Christ for that's very much better." So you're praying and saying, "God, use your power to introduce your kingdom from above. Even if I'm comfortable in this life, Lord, I realize that you know so much more than I do that I defer to what you will ultimately introduce and I identify with that as the highest priority of my life. Your kingdom come, O God. Why? Because you're God, that's why. Because you're omniscient and it's not right that creation should be in rebellion against an omniscient, holy, good, gracious, loving Creator. That's not right, God, and so I pray for your kingdom to come."
Thirdly, profound reverence, kingdom preference, thirdly, what should mark your life: humble obedience. Humble obedience. Remember Jesus had just said in chapter 6, verse 8, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." He's been saying all along, "Your Father sees what's done in secret. Your Father will reward you." He is just speaking out of a perfect knowledge of God in his own being, speaking out of presuppositions about the omniscience and the power and the goodness of God and in that, the defining principle of your existence, beloved, should be one of humble obedience before this God. I realize that we are going to fall short but that's not the point tonight. We're talking about what you embrace in your heart as the defining principle of your defining disposition toward God and that defining disposition should be one of humble obedience. If God knows everything about your life, then you should obey him and prefer his will to your own. Let me say that again: if God knows everything about your life, and he is this vastly superior being and he is, then your only response to that is to humbly submit in obedience to him and prefer his will to your own.
Look at verse 10 with me again, the third element of his prayer. The first one, "Hallowed be Your name." The second one, "Your kingdom come." Thirdly, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This is an incredible prayer, you know, and it speaks to the divine mind of Jesus that he could convey such magnificent truth in such simple language. "Your will be done." In other words, in light of God's divine omniscience, you adopt a position of humility before God that recognizes, "God, here I am as a finite, sinful, mortal being. My breath is in my nostrils and soon to be gone. And God, you're not like that. You're eternal. You're immutable. You're omniscient. You know everything. Then, God, the only right thing for me to do is to bow before you and recognize that this puny, stubborn, human will that I have needs to bend the knee to your divine will and, God, that is what I do here now. I pray your will be done." You consciously subordinate your desires to the desires of God. You say, "God, I have these desires, I have these thoughts, I have these aspirations. I want certain things in relationships or I want certain things in my circumstances or whatever. I want certain things out of the political process in life." What a waste of time but we won't go there tonight. "But, Lord, I realize that I have all of these desires and aspirations in my heart and what I want you to know, Lord, is that I gather them all up into a tangled ball, as it were, and I lay it before your throne and I say, 'God, I prefer your will to be done over everything that's in my heart.'" You completely subordinate yourself to the will of God.
Why do you do that? Why would you do that? Well, in part, you do that, beloved, because you realize that that's what God's omniscience requires. You say, "God, you know everything. You are perfectly wise and I am not. Why would I try to insist on my own will over against yours? That's not even in my best interests let alone being inappropriate for me to try to assert my will over yours. Who do I think I am? No, God, I pray for your will to be done and I pray for your will to be done in confidence in your divine omniscience, in your perfect wisdom, that what you want would be the right thing; it would be the good thing; it would be the perfect thing. So, Father, I simply subordinate to that which is in the best interest of anybody anyway and would give you the most glory." Even our Lord modeled that prayer, didn't he in Gethsemane, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done." If our Lord Jesus prayed that way in his human flesh, how could we pray any differently? Christ modeled this for us in his own earthly life. He commanded it in his didactic instruction to us. We have no excuse. As a practical matter, this clears up a lot of things in your prayer life and simplifies things and streamlines so much.
You know, I came from circles years ago where people would say the most foolish things about prayer and say, "I don't even know what result to pray for," as if they had to figure out what the best outcome was beforehand and then go and ask God to produce that outcome. Well, that's so foolish and that's such a waste of energy. We don't know what our lives are going to be like tomorrow, James 4 says so how could we possibly think through long-term issues and think that we know what's best? Why not just do what Jesus said and take whatever the issue is that's on your heart, whatever the challenge is that you're facing and just set everything aside and just in simple trust come to God and say, "God, you are omniscient. You know what I need before I ask. Father, I just ask for you to do your will and whatever works out in your providence, I'll trust that that's an outworking of your will for my life. Amen. Not my will, God, thine be done." You see, Jesus is cultivating heart attitudes in us with this prayer, attitudes of reverence and obedience and what we desire out of life and all of it flowing from divine omniscience. Of course you would say, "God, your will be done." How could you hear the truth of divine omniscience and think that there is any other appropriate way to pray? How could anything else be appropriate knowing that God knows everything and you don't? We are making this as simple as we can. God knows everything, you and I don't so why don't we just pray, "God, you do your will. You know what I need anyway. This doesn't have to be all that complicated. You know better than I do, God, and so I just humbly bow before you even in the midst of this pain and difficulty and confusion and frustration. I just bow before you. You know what I need, Father, your will be done."
Fourthly, we've said that divine omniscience produces profound reverence, a kingdom preference, humble obedience, fourthly we could say it this way: it produces physical dependence. Physical dependence. God knows your needs and he knows how to meet them and this goes to the very practical issues of life. You know, God gave us a body. He understand that that requires physical sustenance, that we have responsibilities that we need to meet and the resources to meet them with and so Jesus says in verse 11, "Remember, your Father knows what you need before you ask Him," verse 8, "Pray, then, in this way." He's still showing the way to pray in light of divine omniscience. Verse 11, "Give us this day our daily bread." Beloved, I realize that in our prosperous society and most of you have food stacked in your pantries and in your cellar and all of that and there's really no question about where your next meal is going to come from, most of you are in that, very few of you are in that position, if any, even if you're struggling financially. You know that you're going to be able to eat tomorrow but do you see that that should not diminish the conscious way that you depend on your heavenly Father? That it's not tied so much to what you have here in physical resources here in this life; that Jesus is talking about a whole attitude, a whole disposition towards this God who knows everything? And what he's saying is that you live life, even your physical existence, you live this in a sense of conscious dependence upon God. "God, I am depending upon you. And why am I depending upon you? How can I depend on you? It's because you know everything. God, you know my life. You know my present needs. You know what lies just ahead. God, I ask you to supply what we need, what I need in this life, what I'm going to need tomorrow. I ask you to supply it." You see, beloved, you honor the omniscience of God. You honor the love of God for you in prayer by consciously depending on him and his omniscience and say, "God, provide for me. I depend upon you. I need you. I trust you," expressing all of those things in prayer when you say, "Father, give us this day our daily bread."
Fifthly, what should the omniscience of God also produce in you? Fifthly, it should produce, let's call it sincere repentance. Sincere repentance. If God is omniscient, you and I have no place to hide, do we? And we might be able to hide our sins from each other but we cannot hide them from God and so an honest true understanding of omniscience causes you to look inside, causes you to examine your life and you say from the perspective of Psalm 139, "You know, God knows my every thought. God sees everything about my life. Then it is important for me to be transparent with him about my sinfulness, about my wrong attitudes, my wrong desires, my sharp, angry words, these actions that are inappropriate and sinful and a violation of his word." So it produces in you honest repentance because you show respect and reverence for the omniscience of God by acknowledging honestly before him where your life falls short of his glory, falls short of his word.
Look at verse 12 for this point. Jesus says, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," picturing sin here as a debt that needs to be paid; as a shortcoming for which you have obligation to God and Jesus says in light of God's omniscience, you should be transparent and confess and ask for God to be merciful and gracious to you in light of the shortcomings in your life, in light of the sinful failures of your heart, mouth, and hands, in light of all of those things, "God, be merciful to me and forgive me because I know that you know them." And David even said, "Forgive me of my hidden sins as well." So you're honest in your repentance and you walk humbly before God and say, "God, forgive me. You know, I'm not mindful of having any grudges or harboring ill will toward those that have sinned against me either." So honest repentance. It produces you to examine yourself is what omniscience does.
Now, a great word of encouragement along the same line with honest repentance: divine omniscience. You know, we just approached it from the sense that we're not approaching and addressing the sense of someone who would hide his sin or not confess them and walk with God in hypocrisy and all of that saying, you know, that's futile and wrong and useless because God is omniscient and he knows everything and so you might as well be transparent before him about your sin. Well, beloved, here's a sweet, sweet word is that omniscience works the other direction as well and God sees your love for him through your many failures. God knows that those of you that are in Christ, God knows that at the core of your being you love Christ and you want to be obedient even in those times in life where your failures are many and the evidence for that in the eyes of men might be very slight indeed.
This is so precious and important that I want you to see this from John 21. And sometimes I may need to preach this last half of John 21 on a Tuesday night, actually what I should do is preach every verse in all 66 books of the Bible if I could. I would like to but I don't know that I have that much time left, certainly not tonight. But you remember Peter and you remember what happened. You remember how Peter on the night before Christ was crucified, he denied him three times. "I don't know this man. I don't know this man. I curse and I say that I don't know this man," because he was intimidated by a little servant girl and it was a time of profound failure in his life. After his resurrection, Christ comes to Peter in order to restore him, in order to forgive him, to cleanse him, and to establish him, reestablish him before the other disciple so that Peter could be the leader that he proved to be in the book of Acts. And what did Jesus do? Remembering that Peter denied him three times, verse 15, he says, "'Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'Tend My lambs.' He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, do you love Me?' 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' 'Shepherd My sheep.'" Verse 17, "He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?'" And what does Peter do? Peter, mindful of that very recent trifold defection and denial that he had had that everyone knew about at this point, here he was, he was ruined by his own mouth and there was nothing to boast about and what does Peter say to him? Throughout this whole passage what has he been doing? He's been appealing to divine omniscience and here in verse 17 he says, "'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Tend My sheep.'"
Notice what Peter is doing here, two things: 1, he's here in the midst of the worst failure of his life after boasting, "I'll die with you," he goes out and says, "I don't know him. I don't know him. I don't know him." And his failure and his betrayal of his Lord was on full display and anyone looking at that with any kind of unsympathetic critical eye would say, "Who is this? You're the disciple? You're Peter? You're one of the 12 and there's nothing to you. When the heat was on, you melted. When you were at the plate, you struck out. There is nothing about you that commends to my human eye the fact that you say you love this God." What does Peter do? There is nothing that he can say. He can't appeal to anything in himself and so he just says, he appeals to divine omniscience and he says, "O Jesus, you know all things. You know that I love you. I know there's nothing in my life that would support that assertion right now." Maybe some of you can relate to that through your own behavior today. You say, "God, God, I know how this looks. I know what I said. I know what I thought. I know what I did and I can't justify it. I can't defend myself. I'm not even going to try. God, I just appeal to your omniscience. You know that I love you." And take the answer that you seek from your own divine mind, "You know that I love you," let that be the answer to your own question. And Jesus said, "Shepherd my sheep," and commissioned Peter once again to ministry. So, beloved, if you're here tonight and you're repenting of sin, you're discouraged by your own failures, in your heart you love Christ but, man, you have stumbled and you know it. Let this be an encouragement to you to appeal to divine omniscience and find hope and comfort in the fact that, "Lord, I can't justify myself but you know that I love you." And you appeal to that divine omniscience. Beloved, God sees the love for Christ in your heart even if the external proof seems to be lacking right now. His divine omniscience then becomes a mechanism of distilling and dispensing grace to you. Bless his name.
Well, one final one here for this evening. What does divine omniscience do? It produces profound reverence, a kingdom preference, humble obedience, physical dependence, honest or sincere repentance, finally, divine omniscience brings you to this sixth point from the Lord's prayer: spiritual dependence. Spiritual dependence. This is so sweet and it fits right in with what we're teaching on Sunday from Ephesians 6. God knows, oh beloved, this is so important, especially in light of Ephesians 6:12, God knows how to guide your soul and how to protect you from the forces of evil that oppose you and would hinder you and would assault you. Ephesians 6:12 spoke about those in detail. Well, God is omniscient and so what does that do for you in light of these spiritual realities? Well, you should depend on God to keep you from that evil, to keep you from Satan and his malignant forces that are arrayed against you.
Look at Matthew 6:13. Jesus says, "Pray, then, in this way," because God is omniscient, you pray like this, because God is your heavenly Father, you appeal to him in this manner, "Lord, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Why would we pray that? Because God understands the forces of evil far better than we do. He has only revealed a tiny sliver of things to us so we're not even supposed to delve into that reality beyond what Scripture says. There is a whole vast realm of that that we don't even understand and that we're defenseless against in our human strength. But God is omniscient. God knows that spiritual realm. He knows the forces of evil better than they know themselves. He knows how to protect his children from temptation and from Satanic assault. So you appeal to that omniscience and you say, "God, in light of your omniscience and in light of the reality of temptation within my own flesh and the evil forces that would assault me from without, temptations within, demonic forces without, O God, within that and according to your omniscience, I pray, O Father, that you would lead me not into temptation but that you would deliver me from evil. Take everything that you know and exercise the power of your omniscience and move the arm of your omnipotence to navigate me in a way that will keep me safe. I know that you can do that. I know that you know. I don't have to explain to you how to do it, you already know so I just appeal to your omniscience to deliver me from evil."
So like I said at the start, all I can do in a message like this is just kind of point you in directions; point out landmarks to you for you to go and explore on your own; for you to take these things and to work them out in your own heart, these matters of reverence and dependence and repentance and all of that. All I can do is lead you to the water, now having heard these things it's for you to take and drink.
Let's bow in prayer.
You know, if you're here tonight and you're not a Christian, God knows your sin. He knows your indifference to the Gospel. He knows the stubbornness of your heart. And my friend, make no mistake about it, God will judge you if you do not repent and turn in saving faith to Christ. It's futile to try to hide. You can't because God knows everything. My friend, Jesus Christ offered his life on a cross as a sacrifice for sin, for sinners just like you as a substitute and he rose from the dead and calls sinners just like you to come to Christ for forgiveness. Won't you do that? Won't you come to Christ tonight and be saved? For the rest of us, O God, we honor you for your greatness and we ask you to shape our lives by the power of your Holy Spirit according to the priorities that would respond rightly to who you are particularly in your stunning divine omniscience. We pray these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.