21 May 2012

HOW WILL THEY KNOW I’M A CHRISTIAN [PART 4]




1 John 2:15-16

It always amazes me every time I read an article or blog post about how we try to so hard to fit in, when we are told not too by the One that grants us eternal life through the Gospel. Now, I’m not referring to the idea that we become monks or isolate ourselves on an island away from people and lost sinners. I’m referring to the fact that so many so called Christian’s are sometimes more fascinated with this world then they are with eternal things [meaning standing and desiring to look into face of Jesus, the one that saved my wretched soul]. Remember what Jesus said “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:15-16. As Leonard Ravenhill boldly said Is the world crucified to you tonight? Or does it fascinate you?" See throughout the Scriptures we read passages like.......


Isa 13:11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”


Matt 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?......”


Mark 4:19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”


John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”
John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”


John 17:14 “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Rom 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.”


Eph 2:2 “in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”


1 Tim 6:7 “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”


James 4:4 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”


How will they know that I’m a Christian? How we display ourselves in this world as a new creation under Christ. Let me ask you.......Do you smell like the world? Do you look like the world? Do you desire the things of this world? These simple questions can easily determine what you desire most! Christ or this world. As John Piper said “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” The only way that’s possible is to forsake this fallen world and all it has to offer. The only thing worth caring for is lost souls who have bought into the American dream or lie. As David Platt said in his book “Radical” ....we have turned Jesus into a nice comfortable suburb Saviour who wants us to be filled with what this world offers. He said “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.” So let me ask you! Is He your all consuming desire and joy? And I’m meaning not just this morning, but each and every day? John has something to tell us this morning [he’s talking you and me (Christians) this morning]


He says “do not love the world” Now! We need to understand that this statement “world”! John is not telling us to hate.....His creation , His sunsets, His thunder and lightning storms as we saw the past few days. Wildlife & Mountains, Flowers or things of that nature. Yes, even the flat land of the Prairies. Why? Because declared the physical created world “Very Good”. Even though this world is stained with sin......nature’s physical beauty still declares the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” [Ps 19:1] Something else we need to consider!  John also wouldn’t be telling us to hate humanity! Remember John is the one who penned the words “for God so loved the world” We wouldn’t need to listen to Jesus or the disciples about going into this fallen world with the Gospel. What John is referring to0........ Are the things that take our eyes of the prize [Jesus Christ?] Why? Because God know that the sinful man and woman are easily swayed to find more interesting in the things of this world......then they would with Him and His grace. That could be something as simple your favourite sports, TV show, book..... to job and relationships. Let me ask you! What fascinates you more?


For example is it......The team that wins that is going to win the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The pleasures of things in this world? Or the Gospel that saved your wretched soul and granted you eternal life with Jesus? Be careful how quickly you answer that question........because God’s knows the truth of your heart and its desires. Are you as Paul put it! “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Gal 6:14. To help preach that from our roof tops of our houses as Paul did, John warns us about three areas of life that leads to sin which causes us to turn our eyes to this world....... over Christ.


“lust of the flesh”
John is referring to the debased, the wicked cravings, desire of an evil heart. Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The “flesh” denotes the humanness and its sinful essence. “lust” refers to sensual impulses from this world that draws people towards sin. Which ultimately it’s any attitude, speech or action that opposes God’s Law. Its saying “I want this and I will have it...no matter what it takes it will be mine! Much of today’s youth have bought into this lie! They desire to fit in or like someone else and they will go great lengths to make this happen through fashion, music and etc. It’s the same thing James wrote “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:4. The world is enticing our little ones away from the family and a biblical worldview. It’s in the nature of the sinful man [his flesh] it’s what we were once in loved with (SELF)


“lust of the eyes"


With our eyes we are able to see God’s beauty, His creation and His excellent work. But! Our eyes also see temptation which is able to pervert the eyes and cause them to sin. See John is teaching us and warning us that the eyes have the capability to plunge people into dissatisfaction, covetousness, and idolatry. It’s so easy in our culture today to fall prey to these forms of sin. They look interesting or harmless on the outside......or worse yet they seem pretty and exciting, but if you looked deeper through the eyes of the new nature you would see that they empty and have no eternal value.


Biblical examples: Lot’s wife looked back because she was blinded by what this world offered.....David when he saw beauty of Bathsheba and that he must have it for his own.
Ananias and Sapphira when they lied and keep back a portion for themselves. Remember what Jesus said when He magnified the 7th commandment about the eyes? Matt 5:27-29 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  Is this you? Or maybe this is still happening to you? One reason you might be falling into the trap that John is warning us about..........is because this world is filling your sinful desires with its lies.


“pride of life”


“pride” is an arrogance which arguably motivates all other sins. Pride corrupts the noblest parts of mans essence. It’s the ability to exalt oneself or seek fulfillment in other things. A prime example of this can be seen in Romans chapter 1. In Rom 1:21-25 “ For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  A prideful person will do whatever it takes to remove the God of the bible from their lives by exalting something or themselves above Him and His deserved glory.


A prime example of all three of these at work can be seen where our sin nature began! In the Garden with Adam and Eve. Gen 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked......” They lusted with their flesh because it appealed to their appetite. They lusted with their eyes because it was beautiful to look at. They became proud because they thought they could be wiser then God.


But the confidence and comfort that we can find throughout all of this........Is that Jesus Christ was tempted in the same way by Satan. And we know that He had victory and He’s victory is our victory to overcome this sinful world and all it has to offer! Luke 4:12 “And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' So after hearing John’s warning! What fascinates you more? What is truly fueling your fire? Is it the things of this fallen world that have no eternal value? Or is it the things of God that exceed far beyond our wildest dreams and desires? How will they know that I’m Christian? By the way I live out my life in this world for His glory. This world is passing away but He is renewing my love and passion for Him day by day until He calls me home. Not because Heaven is better, but because Jesus is there and He’s all I need and desire. As one writer put it! “one enemy that loves to usurp or LORD is self. This is a very dangerous enemy, because he comes in like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is a cruel and crafty enemy; whenever we serve self, we are no longer serving Christ. Self will never be satisfied; it always wants to be just a little more comfortable, pampered and center of attention. Self will deceive you saying just a little more sleep, food or entertainment, but the next day he demands more; and the more you give the more you want. He will tell you how to serve Jesus and get you so busy doing all kinds of religious work that you won’t have time for prayer and reading of the Word. In reality you are not abiding in Him and have become alienated from the abundant life that you should have in Him. No wonder Jesus said to His disciples “if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”


This is exactly what John is warning us about! Don’t fall prey to this fallen world to find fulfillment and joy. It will never happen. So let me ask you the Sunday question in light of John’s writings! What fascinates you the most this morning? Is it the world and all it has to offer? Or is it Jesus? But remember what Jesus said........"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Matt 6:24. You need to decide because it will determine who you truly are and who you truly love the most!...........This world or Jesus?

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