GOD’S GOT THE TAPES
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
April 22, 2018
1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
— Luke 12:1-7, ESV
Today’s computer technology is virtually unfathomable. “Moore’s Law” tells us speed and memory capacity doubles every couple of years. Today a single hard drive can record the equivalent of about 2.5 million hours. That’s about four human lifetimes with every waking and sleeping moment captured on tape. Tape is a bit outdated, I know, but I still ask Andrea to tape shows for us on our DVR.
It is a comfort to know that no one is following us around, recording our every activity with some device that can read out thoughts and transfer them onto a screen. Or, are they?
Facebook, Google, and other major players in the technological game have recently been called on the carpet to give an account for invading our privacy. Their ability to reach into our gadgets, and perhaps even our minds, is a bit frightening. I generally assume that if I’m doing something on the computer or smartphone, somebody out there is watching and capable of recording everything I say or do.
Call me paranoid. Or, call me a bible-believing Christian. The true and living God revealed in the pages of Holy Scripture is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. His brain is infinitely bigger than any computer or social media platform. He watches over every creature, especially human beings, with eyes that see the past, present, and future. Our lives are being recorded for posterity and judgment, and God’s got the tapes. The question is, what is God going to do with them?
Several texts tell us, including this one describing Jesus’ ongoing conflict with the Pharisees. Here our Lord speaks truth out of both sides of His mouth, telling us we can and cannot hide, and we should and should not fear God. Bad news abounds for Pharisees. But, there is good news for those of us who are fully devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You Can Hide
Religion can be the best place on earth to hide. It provides a shiny, hard exterior mask that can fool even your closest family and friends. Use the right language and participate in the right rituals and people will think you are right with God.
No one in history was better and playing hide and seek with the people than the Pharisees. Remember, they wore the white hats in first century Israel. People respected them, loved them, followed them, and hoped their sons would grow up to be like them. They could pronounce “Lord” in four syllables, pray for hours, and could always be found in the front seats at the synagogue.
Other biblical characters have hidden their true character, too, from the kings of Israel to one of the twelve Apostles. Televangelists have done it, speaking for God while bilking their naive followers out of money, airplanes, and sex. I have known personally some pastors, deacons, and otherwise upstanding church members who are admired by their constituents because they were able to hide well their immoral sexual activity, financial extortion, and plagiarized sermons.
Church can be a holy place or a hiding place, depending upon your heart. Like wheat and tares, it is hard to tell the true worshipers from the false. All we can see is each other’s skin. So, we can hide from one another. But, we cannot hide from God.
You Cannot Hide
While the people of Jesus’ day admired the Pharisees’ dough, the Lord could see their leaven. It was hypocrisy. God knew what was on their outside, the religious observances, the piety in their language, the seeming blessings of God, camouflaged their inner unbelief and exploitation. They were hypocrites, actors, pretenders on the spiritual stage.
You can hide from people, even people close to you in your family or church. But you cannot hide from God. As a matter of fact, God knows everything everyone has ever said and done. He’s got it on the tapes of His omniscient mind. And one day He is going to play them for all the world to see.
Consider these additional biblical revelations:
Matthew 12:36 — I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.
Romans 14:12 — So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
1 Timothy 5:24 — The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
Revelation 20:12 — And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Of course, that last line from Revelation is written in apocalyptic, figurative language. God does not need a book. God does not need tapes, or a digital recording devise. God has an infinite mind which observes and records your every breath, thought, and deed, whether it be good or bad.
No one can hide anything from God. This is why God should be greatly feared, or not.
Because of God’s vast storage capacity to record all we’ve ever done, plus the revelation He is going to spill it out one day, Jesus says He should be feared. He does not say we should fear mere men, like judges, juries, or special prosecutors. They can only levy temporal fines, prison time, and capital punishment. We should fear God, for if the tapes reveal a certain kind of sin, The Judge of all the earth will cast you into hell.
Wait a minute! We are all sinners. Are we all going to hell? Now would be a good time to bring the gospel and the word of God to bear upon this frightening text.
Yes, we are all indeed sinners who sin multiple times every day. That’s a lot of tape in the mind of God. But it is not all going to be played. There is only a certain kind of sinner whose uncountable sins are going to be put on full display at “the great white throne of judgment:”
Revelation 20:11-15 — Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This fate awaits every human being of cognizant ability (excluding children and the mentally impaired) who has not repented at the hearing of the gospel, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and demonstrated lives that are fully devoted to Him.
If this is you or someone you know, God is keeping a record of sins. God’s got the tapes. He will play them out for all the world to see in an embarrassing, excruciating, executional moment at the end of time. Then, the life of every unrepentant and unbelieving soul shall be cast by God into hell for all of eternity. This is a good reason to fear God!
However, if you have repented and believed, by grace through faith in the good news of Jesus Christ, this bad news is not for you. You need not fear.
Do Not Fear God
Children should not be afraid of their father. Church members should not be afraid of their shepherd. God is the ultimate Father and the Good Shepherd. Therefore, His children and sheep need not fear him in the way unbelievers should.
I know some things about my kids, things they have done wrong. I even know some things they’ve done that they don’t know I know. The same is true from some of the finest church members I’ve known. I don’t have these things written down anywhere, I would never tell anyone about them, and I would never hold it against them. Why? Because I love them.
Look at the way God loves you, if you are His disciple and child. He loves the sparrows, but He loves you infinitely more. God is so observant and knowledgable of you that He can count your hairs (some of us make God’s job easy on that front). He loves and values you, and will do so forever.
Therefore, the tapes God has on you are erased by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 103:12 — As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Jeremiah 31:34 — For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Micah 7:19 — He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
Fear being a Pharisee. Fear the awful judgment of an awesome God upon the unrepentant and unbelieving. But do not fear God if you are born again, believing Christian. God’s got the tapes. But for you they are erased by the blood of the Lamb. Fear not!
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org