The Parables of 4 Lost Prodigals      Luke 15:1-32

The Third and Fourth Prodigals: the Two Lost Sons. (continued)

The problem with worldly religion is that it attempts to draw in people by bringing the world and worldly things in and blending them together as one. But what do we mean when we say worldly? Just what is the Bible definition of worldliness? Does it mean that in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must completely isolate ourselves from the world, and everything in it, in order to avoid being worldly? Are we to avoid all material possessions or wealth? After all didn’t James say in James 2:5 “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” Can we be wealthy, drive a new car or own the best things, yet not be caught up in the things of this world? Everyone has their own their own opinions on what worldliness is, but God’s view is the only one that matters right? So what does God’s word of scripture say?

The truth is that it is not God’s intention that His that His people are to all live in poverty. Jesus says in John 10:10 concerning his sheep, His elect people saying “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The Apostle John wrote in 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 12:27 “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” And finally he said in Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

And so it is evident that if the Lord’s people work faithfully, using the talents and abilities that God has given them, He will bless them to prosper. This is in keeping with what Paul indicated in Ephesians 6:2-3 concerning honouring our “father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

The problem comes when we set our heart on gaining material wealth, when everything that we do or think about revolves around getting! We he caught up in this world and its ways, and live contrary to God’s will and way of life; not to get, but to give. This causes us to be blind and to lose our desire to accept, or obey, or to pursue God’s truth.

Jesus doesn’t call in to His kingdom church the “poor of the world,” He calls the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). These may have wealth, but they are not consumed by materialism. Their abundance does not cloud their reasoning, and they are willing to accept spiritual truths.

God intends that His children consider material possessions properly, to use them wisely, for the good of others as well as themselves. These are the meek of the earth, and Jesus says that “they shall inherit the earth; it does not possess them (Matthew 5:5).

This is now the condition of the young prodigal! Having now lost all of his worldly possessions he can see clearly! Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Being worldly destroys our effectiveness as a disciple of Christ in His church kingdom! Perhaps most of our personal and church problems would be solved if we had a Biblical concept of what it really is.

Now looking back and remembering what he had left! Remembering that those who serve his father in his father’s house “have bread enough and to spare, and I perish” here in this far country “with hunger!”

Luke 15:18-19 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

His resolution is threefold, first, “I will arise and go to my father,” second, I “will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,” and third, I. “am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

First, “I will arise and go to my father.”

No sooner is the “I will” spoken than there is a reversing direction-true repentance! First in the heart, followed by the feet; he shook off the dirt of the dust of that “far country,” and retraced his steps that were before measured before in his foolishness; and no doubt his eyes were now awashed with bitter tears.  He immediately arose through divine grace and left the “far country” and those who were formally his companions; he left the harlots, and his old way of living! He was now leaving fields of worldly religion and legal preaching, and the “husks” that he had previously had “fain have filled his belly with,” and went again to his father, whom he had offended, and treated unkindly, and had provoked, and dishonoured by his course of conduct.

So it is with God’s children, we have nowhere else to go but to God; “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We have offended Him, but we can trust in His grace and mercy. If God does not save us, we cannot be saved, we would all perish in our sin! There is no other person that has the strength to deliver us from sin; and it is so very painful for us to go to the One that we have offended, and yet unless we are willing to go to God and confess, there is no real salvation for us in our Father’s house; i.e. the kingdom church of Christ!

1 John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But, and “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Second, I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.”

He arose and came to his father. Having now “came to himself” he saw the void in his innermost soul that he had not felt before. Now, and for the first time he understands what his father’s house truly means to him. He now knows how much his father loves him, and can only imagine how he much he had grieved him by his actions.

Now he is able to see how his actions against his father had brought him to his low estate; to this awful desert at so great a distance away from his home. His memories now flash within his heart, and centering in on his father. The servants, home, and the loaves of bread all spoke to him as he was now a self-orphaned child. He yearns for his father’s presence; but is it possible to experience that presence again? Could he return, not as a beloved son, but as a lowly servant? Now he would be content with only seeing him briefly from time to time, to just hear his voice coming from another room as he commands his servants.

He prayed saying “I have sinned heaven, and before thee.” Heaven is used as an expression to refer to God-the father in the text is Jesus Christ in the parable; thus a sin against Christ is a sin against God, and a sin against God is a sin against Christ. Saying “against thee” he acknowledges that he has sinned against the whole family of God; the whole church.

Luke 15:19 “And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

Third, I “Am no more worthy to be called thy son.”

This is the attitude of someone whose behaviour has been reckless and has disgraced to their father. He feels that he is not fit to be honoured by being called the son of such a kind and virtuous man.

He no longer feels that he has any rights or privileges that are afforded a son. Legally he had already received his inheritance, and was not entitled to anything more. He knew that his behaviour did not meet with good family standards. His hope now was that any relationship that he would have with his father could be based on the work that he could do – in that perhaps he would be found worthy.

But will his father whom he seeks be willing to receive him? Can he possibly overlook and forgive his rebellion and recklessness which has embittered him in his old age? Would he accept him back, not as a son, but as a servant, as a slave? Could he allow him, a child who had scorned his authority, slighted his love and squandered his substance in riotous living? Or would his father rightly say, “No! Away with you, you have made your bed, now sleep on it!?” What a wonderful picture as he returns to his father’s house in “hope,” and his “hope maketh not ashamed” (Romans 5:5).

“Make me as one of thy hired servants.”

His request would be that he might only assume a menial position along with other servants who were employed by his father. Knowing that he is unworthy of sonship, and having a great desire to be fed from his father's table, he now considers it a great honour if he could just be a doorkeeper in his house, rather than to continue in his sinful, hungry and starving condition. Now he was willing to earn keep by serving the family.

Real repentance involves a turning way from sin, rising, and coming to God: The young man would go and confess his fault and folly to his father: “I have sinned.” And because we are all sinner by nature, it follows that we are sinners by practice, therefore it is our duty or responsibility to own our sins before God. The confession of sin is required and insisted upon, as a necessary condition of peace and pardon in our lives. If we should dare to plead that we are not guilty, we put ourselves on trial before the law of God, which will certainly condemn us. Yet “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Also if we would dare to say that “we have no sin we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Thus we are judged by the law, and condemn ourselves. The young man acknowledged that he had forfeited all the privileges of the family: I am no more worthy to be called thy son.  Notice that he does not deny the relationship with his father, but he knows that his father has every right to deny any relationship with him, and shut the doors closed against him. Now he will plead admission into the family, but not as a son, but as a servant: “Make me as one of thy hired servants;” that was all that he dared to hope for.

True repentance sees the remarkable value of God’s house, and the wonderful privileges of it, and are glad to have any place in it, even if it means being the door keepers:

Psalms 84:10 “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

They feel it a great embarrassment and shame to try to impose themselves on Him ever to just be able to sit down with His servants. Here he is saying “Just let me be a servant that I may show my love to my father’s house as much as I had ever insulted it by treating it with disrespect.”

Let’s not miss the fact that at no time does he ever not say that he has no father: “I will arise and go to MY father, and I will say to him, father.” Seeing God as our Father is a must in true repentance as return to Him. This will make our godly sorrow for sin real, and our actions resolute, and will encourage us to hope for pardon.

Luke 15:20 “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

“And he arose, and came to his father.”

He went home, but not in haste. There is no indication that he is running home at all, instead he is walking slowly home in shame; doubting of whether or not his father would even receive him. He is moved not by nature, but by grace, by what he has thought to do in his heart to do he is now doing. He is going home not in his own strength, but in the strength of his love for his father, and for his father’s house.