And there were
also two other, malefactors, led with him to be
put to death. And when they were come to the
place, which is called Calvary, there they
crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the
right hand, and the other on the left. Then said
Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not
what they do. And they parted his raiment, and
Luke 23: 32-34.
"They Know Not What They Do"
Since I came to know the Lord, I
have never read the story of the Crucifixion
without it affecting me. No matter how deep you
have seen others go in sin, it is still not the
whole story of what destruction sin can bring to
your life. I want to focus on verse 34, where
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know
not what they do." When Jesus made this prayer,
no doubt He was considering the depths to which
those people had fallen; for believe me, the
depth of sin to which they had fallen when they
crucified the Son of God is beyond description.
Portrayed in these words is the saddest
condition to which sin can take any person.
Not many people have tried to
fathom what was really done when they crucified
our Lord and Savior. You see, the Bible tells us
He did no sin, neither was guile found in His
mouth, yet they crucified Him. Pilate examined
Him and reexamined Him, and he came back with
the verdict, "I find no fault in Him"; yet they
crucified Him. Dear one, I know we dismiss the
thought with the idea, "Well, it had to be so,
because He came to die for us." That is true,
but have you ever stopped to think about the
depth to which those individuals had fallen to
allow themselves to be used to bring about the
cruel experience of crucifying the Son of God?
There is a Scripture in the Bible
that speaks of crucifying Him afresh. We need to
stop and think about that, for it is speaking of
carrying the Son of God through the same agony,
the same pain, and the same sorrows that He went
through when He hung on the Cross. To what depth
have you fallen in sin to make you so careless,
to cause you to become so hardened and so
unaffected by that which Jesus did? What is
keeping you from facing your condition as God
points it out to you?
The depth of sin is unknown. It
is no wonder that in the midst of Jesus'
suffering and agony that He found time to pray
for those who were crucifying Him. The burden of
His prayer was, "Father, forgive them." Why was
He asking God's forgiveness for them? It could
well be that God was at the point of doing what
they least expected. Jesus knew what was
motivating them in their acts of crucifying Him;
therefore, He was saying, "Father, don't send
Your wrath down on them; forgive them, Lord."
For what reason? "They know not what they do."
Friend, are you any more aware of what you are
doing than those people were? Is Christ praying
the same prayer for you as He prayed for those
who crucified Him? Have you ever thought about
what mercy has been extended to you and about
the working of God's Spirit upon your heart
despite your pronounced rebellion?
The people of whom Jesus was
speaking deserved to be destroyed. They deserved
God's wrath, but Jesus asked the Father to stay
His hand. Their trouble was, they did not know
what they were doing. Friend, you do not know
any more than they did what you are doing in
your rebellion against the idea of yielding to
God. Little did those people know or realize to
what depth sin had taken them. Many, because
they still go to church, fail to realize what is
happening to them. To what depth have you gone?
Oh, you like to think that you are much better
off than what you really are, but whenever God
speaks, it is symbolic of the shape and the
condition in which He sees you.
Many people in our world start in
the sin career without thinking about what they
are dealing with. Sin is no plaything, because
sin is no one's friend. You can take it into
your bosom, cherish it, and tolerate it; but it
is going to turn around and slay you and destroy
The Deceitfulness of Sin
The Bible shows sin to be very
deceptive. Paul, when he wrote to the Hebrew
church, said in Hebrews 3:12, "Take heed,
brethren, [If the righteous can scarcely be
saved, where will the sinner and the ungodly
appear? He was talking to brethren. What about
the sinner? He does not even enter this picture
now. Take heed.] lest there be in any of you an
evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the
living God." In other words, Paul said to watch
yourself, lest there be in you an evil heart. An
evil heart of unbelief causes people to go away
from Christ instead of coming to Him.
Paul went on to say in verse 13,
"But exhort one another daily, while it is
called To day; lest any of you be hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin." Sin will fool
you. It has the capability of making you feel
better than what you are. You may say, "I
believe I am all right," but what is God saying
about you? You need to get closer to Him. You
need to rise higher and go deeper in His grace.
It is not enough just to align yourself with
others with a mere profession.
God has provided a means by which
we can have the most intimate relationship with
Him. I never want to get to the place where I
settle for less than my privilege to obtain. I
have been saved for a long time, and God has
done wonderful things for me, but I am given to
anxiety often as much as I ever was because I
want to get closer to God. I do not believe that
I can get too close to God. I do not believe
that I can reach the place in this life where I
do not need the Lord. How about you?
You may say, "I know that I'm
saved, and I'm living for God." Jesus, in His
very first message, said in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye
therefore perfect, even as your Father which is
in heaven is perfect." Are you there yet?
Someone may say, "Wait a minute. I don't believe
in that kind of preaching." That is what I am
talking about. You need to be careful that this
is not a reflection of the depth to which you
have gone in wrong, in tolerating wrong, and in
permitting wrong to deceive you.
The testimony of Paul to the
Roman church in Romans 7:11 states, "For sin,
taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me,
and by it slew me." What was he talking about?
He was saying that the commandments of God were
made for your good, but if you are not careful,
sin can deceive you and let the commandment that
was made for your good destroy you.
The Game That Sin Has Played With
Revivals are meant to help people
get closer to God and to revive their love and
passion for God. However, in too many cases,
people weather out the revivals without the
least inclination toward becoming more
impassioned for God and the things of God. This
has been the game that sin has played with every
man from Adam down to our day. It is the game of
sin to fool people and destroy them.
How beautifully Adam and Eve
lived in the garden before sin entered. Look at
the deceitful way in which sin appealed to our
foreparents. In Genesis 3:1 the devil said to
the woman, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat
of every tree of the garden?" God did not say
that. God told them, "Of every tree of the
garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:1617).
It appears that Adam was satisfied to abide by
that commandment, but the woman began to talk
with the devil. The devil is no one for you to
listen to. Whenever something holds you back and
contends against your advancing in the things of
God, that is the devil. You need to know when he
is talking. Eve allowed the devil to gain her
Look at the way the devil is
working today. In general, people do not seem to
have to go out of the church services until the
message starts. People can sit at the edge of
their seats while the singing is going on; but
when the message of God begins, in their minds
they reach out to flip the switch, pull up the
covers, and go to sleep. Friend, that is the
devil. You cannot afford to sleep when God is
speaking. That is the game that sin has played
with every man, and only a few ever recover from
its snares. Out of the whole world of
antediluvians, only eight people were saved.
Think about it! If you really boil it down,
seven were saved through one man. One person was
found righteous out of a whole world's
inhabitants. Can you imagine that? No doubt,
that almost seemed to be a dream, but it was
reality. "Only thee," God said to Noah, "have I
Had God given way for others to
voice their opinions, it probably would have
been different. Suppose someone had said, "Lord,
I think Brother So-and-So is doing his best,"
and maybe he was. "I think Sister So-and-So is a
good Christian." From people's point of view,
maybe she was. However, when God began to
evaluate conditions, He said, "Noah, only thee
have I found righteous in this generation." In
the whole generation, God found only one man
righteous. Now, people would not believe that
today for anything in the world. How could only
one person be found right? Well, you do not want
to believe that only one church is right. Many
people are getting strangled on that. They say,
"Only one church is right? Come on, out of all
the churches, only one?" According to the Bible,
only one man was righteous. You see, the Bible
has already told us that man sees differently
than God sees, for man looks on the outward
appearance, but God looks on the heart.
During those unguarded hours when
you are swayed and influenced by your
surroundings, God is still looking on the heart.
You might have your own way of rationalizing,
but if it is not God's way, it is still wrong.
If God would never intervene on man's behalf, no
people could be saved; it is as serious as that.
In Matthew 24:24, when prophesying of these last
days, Jesus said, "If it were possible, they
shall deceive the very elect." You may feel that
is a little too tight, but I would to God I
could tighten it as tight as it really is. The
devil has no mercy. Do you think he is going to
leave you undisturbed?
Dear one, sin not only deceives
but also binds, degrades, and destroys. Yes,
that "little thing," as you might refer to it,
will fool you and bind you. You can become so
accustomed to not responding to the call of God
that you get beyond the place where you can
respond. In times past when the Gospel was
preached, often saints would move to an altar of
prayer for fear they might overlook something.
Read David's prayer back in the
days of types and shadows. He prayed, "Search
me, O God, and know my heart: try me [in other
words, he wanted God to put the test to him]. .
. . And see if there be any wicked way in me"
(Psalm 139:2324). Have you ever been motivated
to pray that kind of prayer? You may say, "No,
because I don't believe that I have any sinful
way." David probably did not have any either,
but the only way he was to know was if God put
the test to him.
All of us would like to get rid
of the devil and have him bound in hell, but he
is a necessity. We must have a devil to try us.
You could never know how you would feel if
someone should do you harm unless the devil
moved on someone to harm you. Nowadays many
people do not even seem to be bothered by the
devil. They are getting the feeling that he has
passed them up.
Crying for Pardon Before It Is
Returning to our Scripture
lesson, our Lord was crying out for God to
intervene for those who were crucifying Him,
otherwise destruction would overtake them. Had
the rich man cried for mercy while he was
living, as he did after he opened his eyes in
hell, he would not have landed in hell. Crying
for mercy in hell was not wrong. The only
trouble was that it was too late. Friend, you
need to cry for pardon before it is too late for
you. When you appear before the Judgment bar, if
God should sentence you to everlasting fire, you
may be planning to say, "O Lord, have mercy upon
me," but it will be too late. Now is the time to
cry for pardon. Too often people wait too long
to do what is right.
Consider Pilate. When Jesus was
before him for judgment, the people cried,
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Though Pilate found
no fault in Him, he said, "I will chastise Him
and release Him." However, the people said, "If
you release Him, you are not Caesar's friend,"
so he delivered Him to be crucified. Later, when
the chief priests read what Pilate had put over
the Cross, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the
Jews," the Jews did not like it. They went to
Pilate and said, in essence, "Don't write, The
King of the Jews, but put, 'He said I am King of
the Jews.' " Pilate put his foot down and said,
"What I have written I have written." Where was
all that firmness when he should have stood up
and said, "Now, listen, this Man is innocent. I
have found no fault in Him; release Him"? Pilate
could have done that!
Pilate told Jesus, "Don't You
know that I have power to release You or to bind
You?" Jesus said, "You could not do it unless
you had received it from My Father." In other
words, Jesus was letting him know, "You know
that I am innocent, but you don't have enough
manhood in you to stand as you should." It is
surprising that he stood against the high
priests and said, "What I have written I have
written." Pilate waited until it was too late to
stand against the Jews. That has been men's
condition down through the centuries of time.
Often people wait until it is too late. It was
too late for Pilate to become decisive in his
actions. Christ had already been bound over to
be crucified, and then Pilate found the courage
to face his foes. He knew that for enmity they
had delivered Him; but holding with the crowd,
he did not respect his own conviction.
Friend, how many times have you
seen your needs and trembled as Felix did under
the power of the Word, but like Felix, you said,
"Go away for this time. At a more convenient
time, I will call for You." Or perhaps you are
like Agrippa, who said, "Almost thou persuadest
me to be a Christian." In essence, Paul said, "I
would to God you were altogether persuaded."
Agrippa perished. Is that what you are going to
do? Are you going to go on being almost
persuaded, but refuse? Consider Jesus' cry for
intervention when He said, "Father, forgive
them." He was, in substance, crying for God to
intervene for those people's behalf. They
deserved the wrath of God and merited
destruction, yet Jesus said, "Forgive them, for
they known not what they do."
Heed the Call of God
Without the forgiveness of God,
we are left to the mercy of sin, but sin has no
mercy. Look at what it did to Sodom and
Gomorrah. Sin brought fire and brimstone from
heaven down upon those people. Look at what sin
did to the antediluvian world. No one thought
sin would take people that far, but it did. It
is doing the same deceptive work today. Sin is
keeping you from measuring to the call of God.
No doubt, Sodom and Gomorrah and the
antediluvian world said what many say today,
"Well, everyone else is doing it." Undoubtedly,
in Noah's day rejecting his preaching was the
most popular thing to do, but sin was working
their damnation. The same is true today.
No one can do wrong and get by.
Now, you can do wrong and hold onto the wrong,
but you are not going to get by. A writer penned
these words: "Out in the dark you alone may go,
And seed for the wicked one sow; But there is an
eye that is watching from the throne on high.
You can't do wrong and get by." Often what
begins small can become too big to handle. That
is how people have become so pronounced in their
rejection of God. They started with little
things that did not stay little; then those
things got out of control. No one plans to be
ruined or destroyed by sin, but they just keep
at it until it gets out of hand and they are
lost. My friend, this is your time to cry out to
God. Only He can stop sin from destroying you.
Though you might not realize it, you never know
how soon it will be too late.
We have many examples set before
us in the Scriptures, and we need to take heed.
As Jesus prayed back then, no doubt He is
praying today, "Father, they should be
responding better than they are, and You would
be just and righteous to send Your wrath down;
but forgive them, for they know not what they
do." You need to check yourself. Are you aware
of where rebellion against God will lead you and
where you are going to end?
You may say, "If I know my heart,
I mean to do right." Well, you do not know it.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked. Who can know it? Only the
Lord can. He said, "I know it because I try the
heart to know the thoughts." Before sin causes
your destruction, won't you yield to God? Why
put it off any longer? You know in your heart
the moves you ought to make. Won't you do what
God has been telling you to do? Are you going to
go on and perish or are you going to heed the
call of God and be delivered and make Heaven
your home? It is my prayer that you will heed
His call. God bless you. [ The End