Refuges of Lies
Therefore the Lord God says this, “Listen carefully, I am laying in Zion a Stone, a tested Stone, A precious Cornerstone for the [secure] foundation, firmly placed. He who believes [who trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone] will not be disturbed or give way [in sudden panic].
Every one of us needs a refuge from four things: the accusations of our own conscience, the power of sin, the displeasure of God, and the wrath to come. The trouble is not that people have no refuge, but that they have a false one.
“The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies”(Isaiah 28:17)
Our text characterizes it as a refuge of lies.
God announces to us that there is a day coming for testing the refuge of men. In that day of testing, the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies. Is your refuge a true one or a false one? Is it a refuge that will stand the test of that hour that is coming, or is it a refuge that will go down in a day of storm?
There are four tests that you can apply to every hope that will show clearly whether it is a true hope or a refuge of lies. First, a true refuge must meet the highest demand of your conscience. If it is not a refuge from your conscience, it is probably not a refuge from the displeasure of God.
Second, trust in your refuge must make you a better person. If that refuge you trust I is not making you a better person from day, it is not a refuge from the power of sin or from the wrath to come. Any hope that does not save you from the power of sin in this life can never save you from the consequences of sin in the life that is to come.
Third, it must stand the test of the dying hour. A refuge that only comforts you when you are well and strong, but fails when you are face-to-face with death, is absolutely worthless.
Finally, it must be a refuge that will stand the test of Judgement Day. You may have a refuge that satisfies you, but will it satisfy God on Judgement Day? That’s the question.
In the parable of the wise and foolish builders, Christ points out that it was the foundation upon which the house was built that determined the outcome after the storm. I realize that there are those in the church who proclaim that God will keep us from every storm, and how I wish that were true at times, but Jesus told us that storms, difficulties, trials, and tribulations are part of life. Everybody, good and bad, saved and lost, Christian or sinner experiences such things. It’s not if we will experience those things, but when we experience them, will our house stand because it’s built on a strong foundation.
In the parable, Jesus said that the foolish builder built on the sand. Very little effort is required to level sand. As a matter of fact sand is easily shifted and shaped. I’m sure that most of us have built sand castles on the beach. It’s pretty easy to do so. You just wet the sand and shape it into whatever you wish. The test is when the waves touch it and you soon find that your sand castle has collapsed and become part of the beach again. It leaves no mark, nothing to indicate that it ever existed. So it is with lives built on sand. They are here and then gone leaving little behind to indicate they ever existed. When we look at the structures that have survived centuries, we notice that only that made of stone has survived. Everything else has vanished.
Torrey calls this building on sand the “refuge of lies.” One of those things that consists of sand is the trust in our own morality. Over and over we find people trusting in their goodness. Frequently we hear at funerals about the goodness and good deeds the deceased has done. Yet the Bible teaches that there is none good.
“As it is written and forever remains written, “ There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one. For no person will be justified [freed of guilt and declared righteous] in His sight by [trying to do] the works of the Law. For through the Law we become conscious of sin [and the recognition of sin directs us toward repentance, but provides no remedy for sin].”
Let’s apply the tests that Torrey gives us. Does your goodness meet the highest demands of your conscience? Is trust in your own goodness making you a better person? As you talk about your own morality and trusting in it, do you find that you are growing more unselfish, more kind, more considerate of others, more helpful, and more humble? Most people I’ve known that trust in their own morality usually become more self-centered and more unkind and critical of others for they are sure that their morality is the only model so they either attempt to force compliance to their standards or else anyone who doesn’t see things their way is rejected. Will your trust in your own goodness stand the test of the dying hour? Will it be sufficient to give you the peace and comfort as you face the unknowns of eternity? David penned these words of comfort in Psalm 23: “Yay though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” David’s comfort is not in his goodness but in the presence of God with him. The final test of Torrey is this: Will your goodness stand the test of the Judgement Day? Will you look into His face and say to Christ, “I stand here today confidently that my own righteousness will satisfy you”?
“22 Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’
These are the words of Jesus. He says that even those things that we have done in His name are not sufficient to gain entrance to heaven. Christ says that only those who “know Him” indicating an intimate heart to heart relationship. Let us then build our lives upon the Solid Rock, Christ Jesus, for He alone can save us.
The old hymn says: On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
Dr. John Thompson