20 June 2016

THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN


Gal 5:24-35; 6:1-6

John Owen wrote an amazing book called “The Mortification of Sin” which is where I took my title from for this message. It’s a wonderful book that talks about the dangers of sin and how we are to avoid such acts of the flesh. He got the title for his book by preaching a number of messages on Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death (mortify) the deeds of the body, you will live.” Why? Sin is a deadly and it kills and John Owen said in his book “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” As we’ve seen over the past few weeks that the flesh is at war with the Spirit that indwells in us. (v17). We need to be alert to the dangers of sin. Why? Sin is deceitful “but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:13. Sin is dehumanizing……sin dismantles relationships and corrupts the human soul. The less we bear the image of God due to the presence of sin, the less human we really are. Sin is damning…..the greatest threat to the soul is sin. Sin threatens the eternal soul of the unsaved. Sin leads to death and judgement and eternal punishment in Hell.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.'” And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' Mark 9:42-48
Hell is a final destination and it involves both pain and eternal punishment. That’s how severe sin is in the life of a person. But we sometimes we tend to treat it like it’s no big deal……. because I’m under the blanket of Grace. But we need to be careful with that kind of thinking! It’s contradictory and deceiving according to God’s word. For example: A man named Cory Byrne, 34 years old, died in 2010, at a local hospital after being strangled by his 9-foot, 25-pound pet boa constrictor. Byrne had been showing the snake to a friend as he had the snake draped on his shoulders. An officer was called to Byrne's apartment around 5:40 p.m. The officer found Byrne on the ground with the snake still around his neck. Paramedics soon arrived and helped get the snake off Byrne and into a cage. The Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha has taken custody of the male red-tailed boa constrictor. Spokesman Mark Langan said “The snake appears to have been well-fed, added he did not know what might have led the snake to strangle its owner. “The sad reality is, whether it’s a dog or a cat or snake, no matter how much you trust an animal, they react unpredictably in certain situations," Langan said. "Once a snake clamps down like that, they're extremely strong. It would have been very difficult for one person to remove that snake."

See, some animals cannot be tamed. You might call a snake your pet and give it a cute name, but it doesn’t take the wild out of it. It much the same with sin. You may cuddle sin like a pet, but it doesn’t take the wild out if it or make it less dangerous. Sin and evil cannot be domesticated, sin poises to attack your faith at all cost. “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” Gal 5:17

This is where we need to take sin seriously! Not only privately in the closet of our own hearts, but corporately as well, we fight this battle together. We are God’s children who He purchased with His Son’s blood and death on the cross. And if we are His children we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (v24-v26). Why? Sin is a deadly killer and it will not stop until it has consumed whatever it attaches itself to. And our responsibility is to one another….keeping each other accountable for how we live our Christian lives and to be aware of the sin that lurks around the corner when we least expect it. Why do I say that? Look how Paul starts chapter 6 for us. “Brothers” fellow Christians, God’s elect, God’s adopted children, please listen to what I’m about to saying to you! “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Gal 6:1-6. 
Paul gives us 3 things we are to do to help those fallen in sin. Three things that “those who are spiritual” are to do to help the fallen brother or sister in Christ. “those who are spiritual” are those who are walking in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and are demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit. They are seasoned and spiritually strong (not perfect and exempt from sin) but demonstrate a virtuous lifestyle towards the Lord. God has places this responsibility on us, the ones who are stronger to come alongside the weaker brother or sister and help them. So the first thing Paul tells us to do “those who are spiritual” is……

Pick Him Up (v1) 

When a person stumbles, his first greatest need to is to get up, and often they need assistance to do that. By doing this you’re helping that brother or sister get back on their feet spiritually and morally. “Even if a man is caught in any trespass” they deserve help…you deserve help! “caught in any trespass” is the idea that they are guilty without a shadow of doubt. And as the KJV renders this passage “overtaken in a fault” helps us to understand that this is not premeditated, but rather he or she fails to guard or perhaps flirt with temptation thinking they can withstand whatever is before them. It’s that idea seeing how close you can get to the edge before falling off. There’s a story about a group of coach drivers applying for a job. One of them would be chosen to carry the king’s children up and down a narrow, winding road leading up to the king’s mountain-top castle. With dozens of steep drop-offs and no guardrails, it was a daunting assignment. The king’s chief liveryman asked each candidate this question: HOW CLOSE CAN YOU GET TO THE EDGE WITHOUT GOING OVER? The applicants offered various responses indicating their confidence in skill! One man boasted he could drive the horses at nearly full speed for the entire length of the road, always keeping within 6 inches from the edge. The interviewer was unimpressed. Finally, one driver stepped forward and responded, “Sir, if it’s the king’s children, I want to stay as far from the edge as I possibly can.” This man was hired for the job....

This should be our answer when we are faced with a decision that will affect our walk with a holy a merciful God! Shouldn’t it? This would be what “those who are spiritual” would do and that is why we are to help those who have fallen or become careless in their spiritual walk. Because! When a person is fallen or caught in sin…..they have a tendency to lose confidence, their inner joy, peace and all the other fruits of the Spirit. They tend to doubt the grace that has already been given to them and doubt the truth of God’s promises and His word. Sin in the life of a believer tends to weaken their anticipation of Christ’s return. Their sin has caused them to shrink back and be less anxious to see Jesus. As John wrote “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” 1 John 2:28. We who are more spiritual are to come alongside them and help by not say “I told you so” and then proceed to walk away. We are to be sensitive towards someone’s sin and deal with it with gentleness as whenever and wherever it may appear in the body of Christ. (v1) Prime example for us to follow! “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. “And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:3-12. A spiritual brother seeks to restore a sinning brother, by first helping up out of the mud of his sin with Christ-like gentleness. 

Hold Him Up (v2-v5)

Once you’ve helped by picking up a brother in sins and trespasses we are to help hold them up. It’s not enough to simply help them turn from sin and leave them alone. Usually a person like this who has victory over that sin for season …Satan usually turns around and attacks harder and faster. Paul said “we are to bear one another’s burdens” “Bear and burden” are the key words…. ”Bear” refers to endure or endurance as in a race to the finish line. “Burdens” is the load one carries and sometimes those loads are more than we handle. We think we can handle them, but in reality we can’t. A persistent and opposing temptation is one of the heaviest burdens a Christian can have. This is where “those who are spiritual” come into play. We endure with them as they fight the battle of the flesh. As James said “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16. Peter said “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 
1 Peter 5:6-8

We are to stand with our fallen brother and hold him up as we fight this battle together. When we do this we are “fulfilling the law of Christ” (v2). What is that Law? Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. Even Paul elaborated on this in his letter “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Gal 5:14. The question for you and me is…. Wouldn’t you want someone come alongside you as you battle a certain sin that tears at your soul and your relationship with Christ? Don’t you desire restoration as opposed to separation? If not, maybe you need ask yourself! Do you love your sin more than Christ? Does your sin bother you at all? There is one thing to fall into sin, but another to premeditate it and love it. It’s the idea I know it’s wrong but He’ll forgive me later. That is a very dangerous place to live and assume everything is ok. Why? Hell is knocking at your door and he wants to take up residence in your heart.

Build Him Up (v6)

Not only are you pick him up, hold him up, but we are to build him up through sharing and the precious word of God. “share” has the idea of sharing equally. This is commonly translated “fellowship” it’s a mutual arrangement…not one person serving or providing, but both parties sharing together. Keeping one another accountable in the fellowship of the family of God. What are we to share? “All good things” this primarily means spiritual and moral excellence. A way to do that is founded in Phil 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It is our goal and desires to see those around us strive for holiness and godliness under the Spirits leading and directing. Kevin DeYoung said “The biggest threat to the church in any generation is not the government, not some other religion, nor enemies of the faith. It's us with our own waywardness, our own wandering, our own hard heartedness, and our own love affair with sin.” Sin is a lot like leprosy…..because Leprosy affects the nervous system. It gradually numbs the person’s extremities to the point at which pain is no longer felt. One would think “having no more pain would be good.” Rightfully so, if you were getting a tooth drilled and filled or if you were having surgery on your broken leg.  You wouldn’t want to feel the pain. This is where you would want the gas or a shot of Novocain. But what if that feeling never came back ever again? It would be very difficult to chew your food without realizing you are doing possible damage to your mouth or tongue. Or you had no more feeling in your leg after surgery you wouldn’t know if it’s healed properly.

See, pain serves a purpose! Pain tells a child not to touch a hot stove. Pain tells a carpenter to aim skillfully with a hammer. Pain warns and guides. And that’s the problem with Leprosy. You loss all feelings to pain. And sin does the same thing to the Christian who is “caught or entangled” in sins and trespasses. Having a spiritual numbness is more horrible than leprosy and I’m not minimizing how terrible that is. We who are “spiritual” need to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, who can become defeated and somewhat numb to the causes of sin. We need each other otherwise we can become numb to our own sin. NUMB! Like Raynold the 3rd, a fourteenth-century duke. Who was grossly overweight was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat. “After a violent quarrel, Raynold’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured his older brother, but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around him in the castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynold’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, he grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” He stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year … a prisoner of his own appetite.

Did he really help his brother?
Did he help by picking him up?
Did he help by holding him up?
Did he help by building him up?

The answer is NO! We are to pick up, hold up, and build up before it gets too late. Remove the blinders and be Christ to one another and fulfill the Law of Christ……by being His hands and feet to the family of God.

06 June 2016

THE BATTLE WE ALL FACE (PART 1


Gal 5:16-21

As we have been studying this book together the underlining theme and the truth of this letter is that Jesus is the primary person behind our justification and the Holy Spirit is the primary Person behind our sanctificationAs John MacArthur said in his commentary “A believer can no more sanctify himself than he could have saved himself in the first place. He cannot live his Christian life by his own resources any more than he could have saved himself by his own resources.” What is John MacArthur trying to say? The simplest answer is that the Christian life is a life lived under the direction by the power of the Holy SpiritYour life is and must be governed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your life must constantly need to live by the power of the Spirit. Why? For this reason we need to submit to the Spirit. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Rom 8:8-17

Ray Pritchard said “To many Christians, the Holy Spirit is a mystery. He is the “hidden” member of the Trinity. The Father we know; the Son we know; but what about the Holy Spirit? Few believers understand Who He is, why He came, or what He does in the world today.”
And this is a major problem in the church today. Some weld the Spirit as some kind of essence you spray on yourself or some kind of force as if your Luke Skywalker picking up his X Wing Fighter in the swamp with Yoda. The last time I checked, I tried to raise my SUV to fly over the traffic on the 401 during rush hour on our holidays and I couldn’t do it. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is all glorious, life giving and sustaining in the believers life founded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We tend to forget or ignore the infinite sovereign power of the Holy Spirit. We forget

The Holy Spirit brings conviction to the sinner. (John 14:8; Acts 2:37-38) 
The Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner. (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor 6:11) 
The Holy Spirit resides in the believer permanently. (John 14:16-18; Rom 8:9-16) 
The Holy Spirit baptizes and seals the believer at the moment of conversion. (Rom 6:1-4; Eph 1:13; 4:30) 
The Holy Spirit fills the believer to live for the glory of Christ. (Eph 5:19; Gal 5:22-23) 
The Spirit gives us the ability to not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

But the problem is…. our flesh tends to fight the Spirit and it’s a battle we face daily, some more than others. So, here is the battle we all face every day until Christ calls us home. The battle of the flesh (your stubborn self-righteous wants and desires versus the Holy Spirit the giver of grace and truth to keep us from our flesh. (v17-v21). This is quite a list isn’t it? And this list pertains to us…you and me! The church…..Paul not talking to the unconverted man or woman. So please don’t ignore or flip pass this portion as if you have it all figured out and this portion doesn’t apply to you at all. Because it does, and this is the battle we face as we declare war on our flesh through the Spirit that sanctifies. This list of FLESHLY SINS seems to fall into 4 groups

The breakdown of the home and society in general: Sexual Immorality, fornication, impurity, sensuality.

It’s interesting that Paul notes sexual sin first and this isn’t the first time he starts the list off this way. Eph 5:1-3 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;. 1 Cor 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Col 3:5 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Sexual immorality and fornication- all illicit sexual activity, including adultery, premarital relations, homosexuality, incest, and prostitution. Even the common practice of living together without being married. Impurity – originally meant the state of being dirty referring to someone who is either morally or ceremonially unclean. This is person who is open and reckless of moral purity; basically anything that prevents you from approaching God. Sensuality or Lasciviousness - any excessive behavior or lack of restraint (especially sexual excess and indulgence) its unbridled lusts of the heart. From filthy words to indecent bodily movements of both male and female, such as seductive dancing or drawing attention to body.

Unlawful things in the spiritual realm: Idolatry, sorcery.

Idolatry - Worshipping anyone or anything other than the one true God. It’s anything that comes between man and God. It’s the sin of worshipping man-made images as a god. Or better yet it’s anything that occupies the place in the heart of man that God should occupy. Witchcraft - the original Greek word used here is “pharmakeia”, from which the English word “pharmacy” comes from, this word originally referred to medicines in general, but in this context it refers to mood and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of drugs to aid in the communication with deities. This is very dangerous for the soul by the way! Necromancy which the act of consulting with the dead for the purpose of receiving information through a Medium or Sorcerer. Astrology the pseudo-science which treats of the influence of the stars upon human affairs. This is where people make individual decisions, plans, future and fortunes by charting the stars and planets. Mind-reading is the effort to tap some power or spirit so as to discover hidden knowledge, especially to be able to foretell the future or to obtain some special information. Observing times, or interpreting omens, signs and chance events belong under mind-reading. 

Methods of disharmony and breakdown: enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy.

Hatred or enmities - hostility and bitter conflicts. A wrong attitude habitually brings wrong actions. It is at the root of every conflict. Strife - quarreling and hostile debate, to have a contentious temper. (Rom 1:28). Jealousy – Wanting something that someone else has. This usual leads to other sins like bitterness and violence. Those who are jealous display a lack of gratitude to God for His providence and lack of love for others. Fits of anger or Wrath - outbursts of anger or fits. This refers to the eruption of the person with an uncontrolled temper. And we should never excuse this sin by making it a personal trait or a cultural trait….it’s the works of the flesh! Strife or selfish ambitions- contention and conflict. Having impure motives and not sincere at all, but like to quarrel with others. Dissensions – denotes a state of affairs in which men are divided and feuds flourish in the church. And we need to be extremely careful as Gal 5:15 says you don’t “bite and devour one another” Divisions or factions- this is closely related to the previous term and in some instances stands for false teaching. Here Paul emphasizes those who are causing division where there should be no division with false teaching.  Self-willed opinions substituted for truth. Envying – this is very similar with jealously. The envious person is not happy with God’s gifts and cannot stand it when others succeed.
  
Wild unrestrained overindulgences: drunkenness, orgies and things like this.

Drunkenness 0r indulgences - literally means intoxication which usually ends in a rowdy or crude behavior. This demonstrates a life dominated by the flesh not the Spirit. Orgies – though we can take this in a universal sense when those cannot control their own appetites; it’s more than likely a special reference to the orgies that so often characterized the pagan worship ceremonies that many of the Gentile converts of Galatia had once participates in. And things like these – indicates that Paul’s list of deeds of the flesh represented is not an exhaustive list but a starting point to the immorality of the flesh, and the soul crushing destruction it brings. The ugliness of the flesh and the destruction it brings to you and me if we habitual practice such things.

“Those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (v21) The key word is “practice” present action or the ongoing action. It is the continual habitual practice of these things that mark the unregenerate man or woman. The end result is devastating! They will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do you recognize what kind of war you are in? You face Satan’s temptations and the flesh’s temptations. We are never to let our guards down for millisecond or have a Christian life that’s complacent or ignorant to the things around us and before us. Why as Paul says “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (v17). We all face the world’s temptations and sometimes those temptations feel good for a season but in the end it only leads to a path of great heartache and pain to the soul (a calloused heart, unrepented heart and damnation).

Heb 11: 25 tells us that there is "pleasure in sin for a season" The truth is that this pleasure never lasts and there is no joy, contentment or lasting fulfillment in a lifestyle of sin. And a life lived in the flesh leads to destruction. So what is Paul waring us about? If you are living your life according to you, then it’s of the flesh. If your life is controlled by your old human nature that is what it will produce. Meaning, if your desire, longing, or craving for something that is forbidden and if you yield to it you will produce a lifestyle and behaviors that are not pleasing to God. It is that element of man’s nature that has been corrupted at its source. (The Fall). The flesh refuses to acknowledge God and leads to doing evil instead of good. It is our fallen human nature, which was inherited from our fallen parents, which is self-centered and prone to sin. This body of sinful impulses seeks to governor our mind and will, and when it does it produces its own behaviors called “works of the flesh.” When this nature is left unchecked, it produces the “works of the flesh.” And Paul gave us clear warning to this destructive behavior. So in a nut shell! Paul is telling us that the Christian life is a war. For us to ever conqueror the flesh, we (you) must see the seriousness of this battle and resolve to walk in the Spirit. Notice what Paul says at the end of (v21) “I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” 

The problem is not simply “out there” meaning the world; the problem is “in here” meaning the flesh. But this also doesn’t mean we hidden in the cleft of the rock and wait it out or hid in a cave until Christ calls us home. "The church father Jerome described how removing oneself from the culture does not remove temptation from one’s heart: Oh, how often I imagined that I was in the midst of the pleasures of Rome when I was stationed in the desert, in that solitary wasteland which is so burned up by the heat of the sun that it provides a dreadful habitation for the monks! I, who because of the fear of hell had condemned myself to such a hell and who had nothing but scorpions and wild animals for company, often thought I was dancing with a chorus of girls. My face was pale from fasting, but my mind burned with passionate desires within my freezing body, and the fires of sex seethed."

Jerome was in the desert alone and his fleshly desires still churned within his heart. What does that say to you and me then? “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:12. We cannot escape this battle completely until the one who justified us Jesus Christ our Lord, calls us home. See we need to understand we are not alone in this battle….the Third Person of the Trinity resides in the true believer to guide and restraint our fleshly desires. God does this by changing us from the inside out through the Holy Spirit. What’s required of you and me is that we submit daily to Him, so that we do not gratify the desires of the flesh. How do we fight the battle or the war of the flesh? “walk by the Spirit”

“walk by the Spirit” indicates the need to yield to the Spirit every day, at work, at the playground, in the home, at school/University…..Basically everywhere! It’s a habitual way of life for the Christian! This is not an opinion but a command that Paul is giving us and the Galatian believers. The word “walk” means to walk around after someone or to walk in a particular direction. To walk by the Spirit means to depend on Him consciously for everything we do. We depend on Him to resist temptation. We ask Him for insight into His Word. We rely on Him for the right attitude in the midst of our trials. We seek Him for wisdom in difficult decisions.

We as God’s children don’t just walk aimlessly in this world not knowing where we are going! God has promised us Heaven, and that is our persevering joy and aim every minute by minute and day by day. “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Phil 3:17-21. Walking is a progression…. going from one place to another and it requires perseverance and submission to God and His sovereign authority over your life through the Holy Spirit. As Paul said “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:20-24
If we walk with this in mind as Paul said…..submitting to the Spirits leading, then you will not gratify the flesh. (v16) “Gratify” to carry out or fulfill those fleshly desires. It’s not rocket science…. this is the simple truth for simple people like me! But understand! Conquering the flesh does not merely come from theological knowledge. For example: A professor of theology can be addicted to pornography or fly off the handle in rage just like a younger believer with little theological knowledge. Growth does not happen because of your ability. It comes by yielding to the Sprit by walking in the Spirit. Chuck Swindoll explains that "we must “be filled with the Spirit” before we can “walk by the Spirit.” A Spirit-controlled Christian is comparable to an airplane on the runway that is pilot-controlled, empowered, and ready for takeoff. The airplane taking off and flying under the pilot’s control depicts a Christian functioning under the Spirit’s control or walking by the Spirit. We must listen to the Spirits Word, discern His will, and follow His guidance. This is not a deeper life or higher life; this is the normal Christian lifeSo (submit) walk in the Spirit and flee from your selfish desires of the flesh which is your old nature, your fallen nature. As Charles Spurgeon said “Walk under the Spirit’s power, following His guidance. The Spirit never leads a man into sin. He never conducts him into self-indulgence and excess. Be obedient to that great principle of the Spirit that goes with the doctrine of grace and salvation by faith, and then you will not be obedient to that lusting of the flesh that is in you by nature.”

15 May 2016

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY


Acts 4:1-31

I want to start off by saying something to you and I think it’s going to bless your heart this morning “You are a fool” Yes you and I are fools and tomorrow you will continue to be a fool and the next day and so on and so on. And you’re probably thinking to yourself “Our pastor goes away for 3 days to a “pastor’s conference” to be challenged, refreshed and encouraged and you come home to tell me that “I’m a fool.” But before you throw me under the bus and start complaining to Brent, Steve and John please let me continue. A “fool” by definition is “a person who lacks good sense or judgment: a unwise or silly person a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding.” That’s why you are “a fool” because this is how the world perceives you me today, tomorrow, the next day and so on and so on.

What does it mean be a foolish Christian in our postmodern world? It means that you and I are extremely different than those around us. This means! We foolishly can’t sit by and be silent when so many people are one foot closer to Hell. We foolishly can’t be silent in a world that wants us to go away and mind our own business. We are to take this message of foolishness to a broken and hostile world. As Paul said “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18. The Bible says.....Jesus and His message is to be our greatest passion above everything else in this world! Even above family, comfort, our jobs, education and wealth! Luke 14:26 we read "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Jesus even goes on further to say you need to count the cost for this foolish Christianity. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 14:27-35

David Platt said in his book “Radical” Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I was the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus? This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. “Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…”And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus” or we could say Canadian Jesus. God has called the foolish of the church to this task and we cannot be silent as many people today fall to the philosophy that we all get to Heaven on our own terms... in our own way! Shouldn’t we be foolish for Christ when every minute is precious to us? Isn’t that what it means to be a foolish Christian?

YOU ARE PROBABLY THINKING TO YOURSELF! Mike your beginning sound crazy with all this foolish and radical talk! What did Alistair Begg and D A Carson do to you these past few days. God used these men to open my eyes that were (I) am not being foolish enough for the precious gospel that saves. Was it foolish for two young Germans in their 20’s from the Moravian sect to offer their lives to be sold into slavery with the purpose to proclaim the gospel to lost slaves? You know what these two men said as the ship left the pier “The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” Shouldn’t our lives count for Jesus be as equally important to us as it was for those two young men? Shouldn’t we have zeal and passion as our brothers and sisters before us who gave their lives for Christ and the precious gospel? Did they die as fools? The world would say yes, but our Lord would say something different. What this world calls foolish, our Lord calls blessed beyond measure. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” 2 Cor 4:17. How can we be silent or not foolish, when Jesus went to the Cross to face the Judge on our behalf!

SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT THAT THIS!

Was David a foolish Christian when he faced the Philistine Giant? Was Elijah a foolish Christian when he faced Jezebel the wickedest women to ever to walk the face of the earth? What about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they wouldn’t worship anyone else other than the Lord. Was Daniel a foolish Christian when he was willing to die in the lion’s den? Was Isaiah.....Jeremiah....Ezekiel....and the rest of the prophets foolish when they stood in front of kings.....rulers.....the rich and poor claiming “thus saith the Lord” Was Jesus a fool? When He stood before the religious and the most the powerful people of that day, meaning the Romans and proclaims to them that Abraham rejoiced for this day! And declares to them! “…."Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:58-59 Foolish Christianity is the one who have a passion for the Gospel and for people…….. Like Peter and John. Turn to Acts chapter 4Two foolish men who had a passion for the Gospel. Simple men who would be labeled in their day.......even in ours as “JESUS FREAKS or Fools” 

Some background that lead up to this encounter with the Religious Elites the so-called “wise men of that day” in chapter 4Peter and John can to the temple to pray and saw a man who was lame since birth begging for money as he did each and every day. Read Chapter 3 The people were amazed as the religious leaders.......but what’s more amazing is that John and Peter never once took the credit for this wonderful miracle (v12-v13) of chapter 3This brings me to Peter and John’s foolish encounter with the wise! Acts 4:1-3. Peter said something that struck a chord with all the religious types found in the temple area!! “they were greatly disturbed or annoyed” Why? Because according to them Peter and John had no reputation as teachers, no credentials, yet had gathered large crowds when they spoke. And also a certain name (Jesus) made them feel very uncomfortable, a name that they never wanted to hear again.....especially men like Caiaphas. The bible says they “laid hands” (NKJV) forcibly on them and arrested them for speaking in the name of Jesus Christ! Do you realize the same thing is happening today? In our love all and to be tolerant of all religions views and freedoms? But I love what Peter does! It doesn’t stop this foolish disciple of Christ to take full advantage of proclaiming Christ to a larger group of men who should have known better! (v8-v12). I wonder if Peter was reminding himself of what Jesus said as he walked with our Lord, in Mark 13:9-13 we read "But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Peter being a fool….. Faced the firing squad with humility and bravery which only can come from the Spirit that lives in us? See! Peter chose to stand strong against the strongest opposition known to any believer and so should we! Peter stood his ground with this foolish gospel to the men who said to Pilate “…Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" John 19:15. They even went on to say “His blood be on us and on our children." Matt 27:25

This didn’t stop foolish Peter to forsake everything for the sake of the cause of Christ and the gospel truth of Jesus Christ. Peter and John weren’t thinking about: 
There comfort and rest.
How this was going to affect their future relationships.
What his family might think him.
What that present culture thought about the topic of Jesus.
How to be more open and acceptable to other religious views.
The possibility of death or receiving major beatings. They only cared about one thing…. that Jesus gets the pre-immense in and out of our lives because of what He has done on our behalf.

What are we doing to be a fool for Christ like Peter and John?

Is it wearing a Jesus –t shirt?
Is it by putting a Jesus fish on the trunk of our car/truck?
Is it wearing a cross around our neck?
Is it coming to church on any given Sunday?

No! None of these make you a fool for Christ. Do you realize that! The name of Jesus needs to be proclaimed more today! In a generation that knows nothing about Jesus or cares to know about Jesus and His saving grace! Shame on us, for our lack of foolishness at it pertains to the gospel. When are we going to stand against this present world for Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us, without questioning what it’s going to cost us! When are we going to stand as Peter and John and say (v19-v20) We can learn some very important steps to living foolishly for Christ by what we see here in the fourth chapter of Acts

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY BEGINS WITH A YIELDING TO THE SPIRIT OF GOD (V8)

Peter was yielding to the Spirit’s control. Paul spoke of this kind of control! “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” Eph 5:18. John MacArthur says “the filling of the Spirit occurs when the believer walks in obedience to the word and Spirit. Yielding to His control releases His power in the believer’s life. This principle is foundational to all the rest; yieldedness to the Holy Spirit is the key to successful handling of persecution and proclamation of the Gospel.”.......And he also goes on to say that “lack of being filled with the Spirit is the reason the church today has difficulty facing opposition” Unorthodox or foolish Christianity begins with a yielding to the Spirit of God!! Remember it’s not by our strength and wisdom but by His grace working of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus said “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Luke 12:11-12 

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY SEIZES EVERY OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL. (V8-V13)

Instead of compromise or being frightened….. Peter displayed great courage. Look at what Peter says in (v8-12) This presentation of the gospel in would have taken great courage and boldness in a society of religious pluralism that says “There is more than one way to Heaven.” This foolish gospel Peter preached astonished these so-called wise men of God. Look at (v13) They were uneducated men ....... not bible school students.....aren’t this those big dumb fishermen that we saw many times by the Sea? I like what Vernon McGee said “unlearned and ignorant...that is, these men hadn’t been to theological seminary. But the Sanhedrin noted that they had been with Jesus. How wonderful to have a life that somehow or other calls attention to Jesus.” A reflection of Christ seen in and through our lives is what the world needs to see….these men saw it in Peter and John. Peter and John were very radical in making such a statement to a powerful group of men who though much differently than they did.
  
FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY IS ALWAYS OBEDIENT TO GOD AT ALL COSTS (V14-V22)

How can I do such a thing when I KNOW my Redeemer lives? We need to ask ourselves which court is higher, Man or God’s? Peter and John are not saying that we don’t listen to those who rule over us according to Romans 13We as Christian’s must listen and obey our authorities.....but when government decrees are clearly contrary to God’s word......................God’s word must be obeyed FIRST. What did Daniel do? He went to his room and prayed despite the ruling from the king...found in Daniel chapter 6:4-10. What did Peter and John do? (v19-v20) All though they didn’t obey the Sanhedrin they nevertheless treated them all with respect! There are going to be times in your life and mine in which we are going to have to make a decision that might cost us our physical unrest, our job, friendships, even our life for the sake of this foolish message. But be of good cheer as Jesus said “I have overcome the world” “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:32-33. And as Peter and John said "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19-20. But it’s no different than for Peter and John as it is today for you and me!

God must come first in our lives no matter what people say or might do to us! Peter and John weren’t frightened or discouraged...they were thankful. Why I say this! After this episode with the religious they went and found comfort and support by fellow brother and sisters which is also vital for each and every one of us (v23) When we have fellowship like that we are so thankful that we serve an amazing God! And what better way to show our gratitude to our God...then through praise and worship together (the family of God) This is what a foolish Christian man or woman looks like, to be filled with the Spirit to speak His truth. Courageous and bold to proclaim the love of Christ to a Christ- less world. Obedient to God because He commands it. We serve an amazing God who has and will never give up on you! Why? He has conquered all things for His glory! He doesn’t call us to save people ....He calls us to go out and proclaim to them that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Vernon McGee once said “We are called to fish in the fish pond, not to clean up the fish pond..” We can’t change the world with our wisdom and own strength….but when God is at the helm or guiding our every step we can impact a fallen world by being foolish Christians for His gospel. My desire and I desire this for you….. that we be foolish Christians who are willing to stand at any cost for Jesus Christ. I want to be like that! I want to be not only foolishly in love with Him, but also for His gospel as well! THE Sunday QUESTION IS........Do you want to be called foolish?