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"Hacking Agag to Pieces" (S1 E5)

Jun 10, 2021
welcome to the Truth Matters podcast I'm your host daryl harrison the Truth Matters podcast is a grace to you production the Bible teaching ministry of John Macarthur and my guest today on the Truth Matters podcast is the CEO of Grace to You phil johnson phil welcome back to the truth madison park thank you daryl it's always good to be here with you how are you? man, how do you feel? I'm fine, I'm fine, phil, I gotta tell you, I was really excited to do this episode of the Truth Matters podcast with you. I always enjoy sitting down with you and talking about john uh and his stuff and his library and things of that nature, but this episode It's special to me and we will get it.
hacking agag to pieces s1 e5
We'll talk about that in a second, but we're here to talk about John's sermon called Cutting a Gag into Pieces Cutting a Gag into Pieces one of the best sermon titles of all time. It's also a great sermon. It's one of my all-time favorite sermons by John McCarthur. People ask me do you know what I should listen to? I'll give you a list of four or five and that's always one of them. Yes, and I want to talk to you about that man. Can you tell us? Because, as I understand it, this sermon is. is not part of a sermon series by John is that right this is about right okay yeah go ahead he preached this sermon in late 1993 it was the day after Christmas 1993 and the week before that he had made a Christmas message as a themed Christmas message, but this was the day after Christmas and attendance is usually low on those holiday weekends, so I guess I didn't want to be in a series about First or Second Corinthians and, uh , I did not want to. take that back with so many people out, you know, visiting relatives and all that, so he made this one special message that's actually related to the Second Corinthians material, the Second Corinthians material, it was in a section on the what he was talking about.
hacking agag to pieces s1 e5

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hacking agag to pieces s1 e5...

The conscience is well, the beginning of Second Corinthians and at the same time he was finishing work on his book, The Fleeting Consciousness, which had just been sent two weeks earlier to the editor and had a chapter on an ag, but he also had the material. from Second Corinthians, so in John's mind all those things fit together, they were linked thematically but it was not part of the Second Corinthians series, yes, thank you for sharing that because one of my questions was if you could tell us the story of bottom of where that is. The sermon came because the title is just fantastic and I said earlier just a second ago why I was so excited to tell you about this egg breaking sermon because it's very personal to me in a way because this is the first sermon. that i ever heard john macarthur preach, that's good to start with, yes, because you mentioned that he preached the sermon in late 1993, the first sermon i heard john macarthur preach, it was my initial introduction to what an expository sermon is.
hacking agag to pieces s1 e5
It sounds like, you know, growing up in quotes in the black church, expository preaching is not the norm there, it's about homiletics, it's not necessarily about hermeneutics, but another reason why this sermon means so much to me is because of what John talks about We're going to get into this in just a second, but once John talks in that sermon it's something I can personally relate to, especially when it comes to the issue of sin and in my own life I've actually committed some. big sins some really big sins in fact what I enjoy doing when a lot of my personal bible study is I like to study what I call the great sinners I like to study the people who send really important people like abraham saul david peter I could go about Samson , for example, but when I came across this sermon here, tearing a gag into


, you don't listen to this sermon and you're still the same, I mean, you just don't, I mean, here we are 27 years later and I'm still uh Stuck for the content of this sermon, so can you help us understand?
hacking agag to pieces s1 e5
What is essentially the sermon? What does John mean by cutting active


of egg? He is talking about the mortification of sin. The Scriptures say: mortify that sin that is in your members and that is it. It's kind of a starting point for the sermon and it comes out of the book The Fading Conscience, so like I said, John had just completed the draft and sent it to the editor and there was a chapter in there about the mortification of sin and When I was listening to some of John's material, in the process of editing that book, I found a place where he referred to Agag and um as an illustration of someone who really doesn't mortify.
To mortify him means to kill someone who does not. I really can't kill his sin, but he believes I can tame this sin. You know, I can tame this particular pet sin and still be fine. I just lower it a little bit. I keep it under control. Keep it a secret or whatever. John was using the illustration of uh king saul with


first samuel 15 i think it's where uh saul defeats the amalekites and before the battle the lord tells him to kill them all don't let any live there are good reasons for that by the way because the Amalekites were a murderous tribe that continued to bother Israel and, in fact, it was only a generation after Saul, while David was king of Israel, that the Amalekites had sufficiently recovered from this great defeat under Saul's regime, where They came and actually kidnapped members of David's family and they illustrate this type of evil influence that is difficult to destroy and that is why the Lord had told Saul to kill them and instead Saul kept a gag perhaps as a trophy, maybe because he thought it somehow improved his stature and power as king to hold captive this king who had been king of a violent and, you know, warlike nation, and um saul kept him alive, which was disobedience to what that the lord had commanded him and at the end of that chapter he says uh that samuel the priest received a gag after rebuking saul and told him that it was then that saul found out that they were going to take the kingdom from you and give it to david basically and uh samuel got a gag and the scriptures say he cut it to pieces before the lord, that's the word used in both King James and the new American standard, he tore a gag to pieces before the lord, which means who basically took a sword and carved it into pieces, yes you know you mentioned the word illustration, I have several questions for you today, Phil, in fact, many of the questions come from actual John quotes from that sermon, breaking the egg into pieces and one of the things that John says in this sermon is that he says quote that the story of the king is a gag. tremendous knowledge of God's attitude toward sinners and his holiness and wrath against sin, in quotes, now the question I have for you is what happened to that god today, what happened to that god in the church, right, the god who is still, who is still the god who is holy. and who still can't tolerate sin, what happened to that god? true, we don't hear it, we don't hear much about it, I think one of the reasons this sermon stands out is unusual even for john mcarthur to spend so much time on the old testament, you know he's a new testament preacher to the fullest part, but it's true that, uh, john, when he needs to illustrate a truth instead of going to some story you know or whatever that has nothing to do with scripture, he'll look for a biblical version.
Illustration, this is a classic example that you know the command to mortify your sin is a command to deal with it decisively and there is no better illustration of how the lord decisively deals with evil than the slaughter of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15 .in fact, that's a problematic passage for a lot of people because you know people say this is an act of genocide, so how can God tolerate that it's actually an act of divine judgment? Saul had an order from God to do this and so on. The sword with which Samuel finally killed a gag is the executioner's sword, which is nothing unusual either in Scripture or in human history.
It's interesting that, you know, when that passage of Scripture is talked about, it's often talked about in such a way that the question is raised about the character of God, that God is somehow deficient in his judgment in executing his judgment. correctly. Do you know how you respond to someone who would say to you? Well. Do you know who wants to serve a god like that? Who would delete? You know a whole class of people well, if you understood the character of the Amalekites you would see why it is the same reason any nation, like all the Allied nations in World War II, were determined to get rid of Hitler. true, because he was an evil man who wielded his power for evil and the Amalekites were that kind of evil on steroids, they just loved slaughter and devastation, they were like human locusts, they went through areas and conquered towns and tribes and not in order. possess the land, but only because they love to leave it in ruins and they had been a perpetual threat to israel, so the lord ordered saul to get rid of them completely and that is what he should have done because he had a clear order from the Lord, doing that is not something that does not legitimize or condone actual acts of uh, you know, that level of brutality, but this was the lord ordering them to execute his judgment against sin and Saul should have obeyed, you know, I asked you for a a second ago phil, what happened to that god, eh, today you know, especially in the church, that god who judges sin, that holy god who cannot tolerate sin.
I have a similar question and it sort of extends from a quote that John mentions in the sermon where John says this says that the story of ag again is an excellent analogical illustration of sin remaining in the believer's life question so similar to what happened to that god I want to ask you what happened to sin what happened to sin in the church no, you don't hear about the god who doesn't tolerate sin and equally you don't hear about sin, period, whatever happened with sin in the church, that's one of the points that John makes in that book, the fading conscience that, uh.
Sin is a concept that even Christians today don't like to talk about or focus on uh and here's an interesting history point uh I said John Macarthur preached that sermon cutting a gag into pieces on December 26, the day after christmas 1993, two days before that, norman vincent peale had died no, okay, norman vincent peale was, you know the power, positive thinking, he was the mentor of robert schuller, who wrote, you know, self esteem, the new reform and, in fact, there is a large section in john's fading conscience book criticizing norman vincent peale and his teachings, all written before peel's death, but then peel died that same weekend that john mcarthur preached this and, um, you know, I would say norman vince appeal and that kind of quasi-neo-orthodox preaching everything sounds good it sounds positive people love it people respond to it uh that has done more damage to the church and to our perception of God and what he thinks of sin uh than maybe any other kind of popular religion in our lives, yeah, you I know that comment actually leads into the next question I wanted to ask and again, this fits into another one. quote from John in pieces performed by Hacking Egg.
I mean, the sermon is absolutely amazing and I just can't get past the In fact, I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but the personal impact of this sermon on my life cannot be understated because I know my own depravity and I know how great is the sin that I am capable of committing without grace. of God and his grace upon me to walk in his truth, but John said this in the sermon, tearing it to pieces again, he says to quote that sin is not killed when it is simply covered up, you have not done your duty regarding killing the sin. until you have confessed it and let go covering it covering it only makes it worse, quote unquote, so can you talk about what true confession and repentance of sin looks like?
Because I think, going back to the question I asked you a second ago, about why we don't do it. Talking more about sin is because it is one of the reasons we no longer talk often about sin in the church because we have lost sensitivity or respect for the holiness of God in the sense that he demands a complete separation from the practice of sin. So we no longer have a clear understanding of what confession and repentance are because we don't link that to the holiness of God. Can you talk about that for a second? Yes, I think you're right that all of that goes hand in hand. idea of ​​downplaying God's wrath against sin because we don't want him to seem bad or too decisive in his judgments and all that, so we've changed the notion of God and made him less holy, we've also manipulated him. with the definition of sin and made it less sinful, you know, yeah, what scripture says that one of the reasons for the law is to show us the sinfulness of sin, how bad it really is and in the church today you just don't have much appreciation that's why there are movements in the church that say look, it's okay to harbor homosexual desires as long as you don't act on them uh one of the things that John is saying in this sermon from 1993 is if you harborthe desire even if you don't act you haven't mortified that sin uh and john is borrowing there by the way from john owen and his great book on the mortification of sin well, I think what you have in that sermon and in the corresponding chapter in the The book Vanishing Conscience is a kind of condensation of John Owen's great treatise on the mortification of sin.
Just condensed into one chapter and easy for people to read. You know, Phil. I think about how John has been in the pulpit at Grace Community. church now for 51 years and I think about um, you know, his legacy once he steps down from the pulpit, his legacy will be so layered that I mean, I don't even know where to start, but I think one aspect of that legacy is going to be his consistency in shepherding his flock well against sin and being brave and bold and speaking out about sin and leaving a holy life, uh, but I think about that part of John's legacy, but I also think about other bold preachers like Spurgeon Martin Lloyd Jones and others that if they were planting churches today, I don't know if they would be tolerated for long in the pulpits of many churches today because they spoke so boldly, they spoke boldly against sin, that's true, they would not be tolerated and spurgeon.
In fact, I recognized that there is a famous passage from Spurgeon where he says: Look, you love reading about Luther and Calvin and some of the great men of God of the past, but you don't want them, you don't want people like that in your pulpit. today yes, and he compared it to you going to the zoo and looking and admiring the lion, but you know, you took that lion out of the cage and you don't want it around, right? um, and he compared, you know, preaching boldly to that kind of lion. like um, you know, the power and a real threat to people who love sin and people don't want that, it's like the apostle Paul said, it would be that they wanted their ears tickled, their ears itched, yeah Exactly, I tell you like me.
Listen, Phil, I'm thinking about how you know, listen, we as Christians are beholden to a faith that their savior, their god, was nailed to a cross and yet we act as if, when it comes to this sin business, we act like we act like Christ fell asleep in a lazy child uh that he just went to heaven while he slept that he wasn't nailed to a cross that he wasn't beaten or spit on and um uh mocked uh even in his way to the cross uh so tell us about john's sermon in relation to uh john simon cut egg active pieces in relation to our uh indifferent that's the only way I can think of our laxadaisical or apathetic approach towards the suffering of christ on the cross, you know his passion, his suffering on the cross for our sins, we say that so casually, it's like bumper sticker material, t-shirt material, right, Jesus paid it all, but when you hear hack an egg, act in pieces, John John puts you there, he places you. there on the cross and he reminds you what your sin cost God, right?
Know? Can you talk about that for a second? Yes, you know, I think most people don't even have a very realistic concept of what Christ suffered on our behalf. of the crown of thorns and the whip, you know, and all that is grotesque. There was that Mel Gibson movie a few years ago that, you know, showed, I think, to some extent, very realistically, what the crucifixion process would be like. a victim and yet, despite all that, the worst thing Christ suffered was the outpouring of God's wrath against sin, which is a type of suffering that we can't even understand, but if you realize, to pay for your own sin, you would have to be punished in hell eternally and still never pay the bill.
Christ somehow took all of that, the wrath of God, the full outpouring of the wrath of God on behalf of his people and um and willingly suffered that um and and you know a measure of how serious that was for him is seen in Gethsemane the night before where he sweated blood because his soul was troubled to the point of dying just with the thought that the next day he would suffer all the wrath of God against sin. Learn another quote that John makes in that sermon destroying an act, he says that every honest Christian will testify that the tendency to sin is not erased by becoming a believer, we still get pleasure from sin.
John says we still get pleasure from sin, so that's That's that Romans 7 battle that Paul is talking about, yeah, exactly, I think that's exactly what it is. Can you go a little deeper into that? Why do you think we still get pleasure from sin? Because is not like that? Didn't that battle end when we came to faith in Christ? Yes, I don't know. It makes me look forward to the glorification when that's no longer the case, but yeah, and it's worrying, I mean, I am. I am now over 60 years old and I remember thinking, as a new Christian teenager, that even some of the things that tempted me would eventually overcome that the time would come when I would be sanctified enough for you to know that I didn't worry about sin. , you only know selectively on a selective basis, that's true, but if you look at sin in general, you know I can testify that as a 67-year-old man, my heart still resonates with what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans. 7 that I am nothing more than a miserable man who can't seem to break that you know how to desire things that are sinful evil you know I think about what Paul says here in first Corinthians 15 56 he says that the sting of death is sin and the power sin is the law, but thank god who gives us victory through our lord jesus christ who joins something else that john said in his sermon cut the egg into pieces says quote when we were saved there was a crushing defeat of the sin but we still have sin left there are some Amalekites loose in everyone's life we ​​all have our gags we all have our a-gags uh and again this sermon because of the analogy that John uses in the The story of King Ahab is more of a joke and our own sin just hits me personally because again, I know when I sin Phil, I get my money's worth and this sermon meant a lot to me in bringing me back to a Point where I'm taking my sins seriously , even because we have a correct tendency to index our sins to categorize them and judge certain sins as more heinous than others, but God does not look at sin that way, of course, not even the smallest one. what we would call the smallest sin would have been enough to send christ to the cross, yes well think about original sin, Adam basically disobeyed God and ate a piece of fruit that he was forbidden to eat in that act, the whole universe of evil was unleashed that is how much evil there is in even the smallest sin we have to cease that way and think about it that way and what that sermon and and the text mortifies the sin that is in your members what that encourages me to do is realize that these sins must be dealt with decisively, firmly and even violently.
I mean in the spiritual sense, as Jesus said, if your right hand offends you, cut it off, that's a pretty extreme measure and of course he's not saying literally. that you should mutilate your body, but he is using language and terminology that shows how seriously we should view the issue of sin, mortify that sin killed him, and really no measure is too extreme, no, and no sin is too small to to deal with um and you know we need to renew our thinking and uh you know we tend to forget that on a daily basis we need constant reminders to mortify the sin that is put to death every day and that may be part of what Paul meant when he said I die daily he was subject to literal death every day, but I think it's clearly from Roman Seven we know he's dealing with sin in his own mind and heart greed says it's his sin that plagues him uh one of the notoriously difficult sins to Killing anything takes place in your mind because you carry that temptation with you and um, yeah, if we don't look at it as seriously as God, we're going to fail, you know, you're moving on to another quote from John that I want to move on to the next uh phil in the sermon.


egg acted pieces john says this says that sin is not killed and this goes to your point about mortification john says that sin is not killed when it is only internalized sin is not dead yes We can still reflect on the pleasure of doing it, we deal with our sin bravely when we hit it on the head, so this is what you come back to with the text you just alluded to: your right eye, right arm affinity, your right hand, infinity, your right Eye, uh , the gospel calls us to take some very drastic measures to deal with our sin and mortify our sin, but let me ask you, Phil, what would you say to someone who asked you?
Well, how do I get there? How can I say yes? a sin in my life that I'm just holding on to I love that sin like john macarthur says here I want pleasure from that sin um how can I get to the point where I no longer want to commit that sin? so I want to mortify it, I'm not even going to get to the practical aspect of how mortifying it seems, how can I get to the point where I want to mortify a sin more genuinely in my life, how can I do that? there you have to, you have to stifle that appetite and feed more righteous appetites for one thing and uh, I think that's probably the most important key to sanctification, that you fill your mind with the Scriptures, meditate on anything that is pure, be it whatever.
Well, etc., then it's a matter of basically reprogramming your mind, being renewed by the always 122. Yes, renewing your mind, which is a constant and actually lifelong task, and in the meantime, we have our culture. We are faced with images, billboards and things designed to provoke greed, a sin that Paul says he struggled with, so it is a constant battle and until you recognize that you cannot put down your weapons, rest and say you know. I've achieved this Paul says at the end of his life it's not like he's achieved it, he hadn't reached the goal, but he says I'm moving on and this is how we have to think, yeah, yeah, I think, uh man, what you just done to say. there, at the end, I think it's a great question, I'll personalize it for me, we'll just ask ourselves: Am I pushing?
Am I pushing through or have I given up? Have I given up on this area, this core area of ​​my life? Have I given up or am I pushing on? uh, you know, and uh, you know, as we get ready to wrap up this episode, uh, phil, one last question I have for you if, if, if I were to ask you, why should anyone take a few minutes of their day to listen to this egg-cracking sermon that is so compelling that it is so confrontational that it is so bold that it is unapologetic in addressing sin, the remaining sin in our life, why is that sermon relevant to me?
Today, why should anyone pull the car over to the side of the road or take time at home or while in the car listening to the active pieces of the


egg if they know that this sermon will bring them face to face with the reality of sin in your own life why should I bother listening to that? Because that's what we need. You know, the Scriptures say that if we judged ourselves we would not be judged. Judgment is coming and you can deal with your sin now or it will be like this. to deal with that and that is a terrifying thought because it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living god our god is a consuming fire we don't hear those things as you pointed out before uh in the church today those truths tend to be repressed and silenced and it is to the detriment our as individual Christians also collectively as the church the church today has a very poor testimony and in large part it is because we have not been able to deal with our own sin well enough phil I want to To thank you again for joining me today on the Truth Matters podcast, you joined us Phil Johnson, CEO of Grace, talking about John Mcarthur's sermon, Hacking Egg Act, which I encourage you to go listen to and go to plug it into the search field just search for active egg pieces to hack and listen to that sermon you will be blessed thank you for joining us today on the Truth Matters podcast and we'll see you next time.

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