A Place to Belong / A Place for a New Beginning
Sunday May 22, 2005
Opening Prayer: Father, we come to you because we trust in your goodness and because you are the JOY giver. You are the One who sets us free. Many people here today struggle with guilt and shame. Lord there are those here who feel as though they have failed you. There are those who, if faced with your return today, would hand their heads in shame. Lord touch our hearts and set us free.
Intro: My kid’s school had a golf outing fundraiser, ending with a chance to sink a Million dollar shot.
Have you ever wished for a second chance at a one chance deal?
You have heard it said, “God is the God of the second chance.” I’ve said it and you probably said it too. I understand the message conveyed here. However, when we say “the Second Chance” we are reminded of the original failure. Instead, “God is the God of New Beginnings”
o In finding a place for a new beginning we need to understand that I am not talking about making another attempt at life.
o Not talking about mustering energy for another assault on the issues and struggles in life.
o God clearly offers a different path. If is going to the beginning of something with a fresh start, a new beginning.
o The whole world is trying to “do better” to improve and build their way out of a mess. The Christian life is far more radical than that; far more hopeful and far more promising.
Text: John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
I. Exit the Struggle (Surrender to God)
a. Give up on yourself
i. Self-esteem will never do you much.
ii. It’s not in you, so go ahead and stop trying. Stop trying to make it happen.
Romans 7:18 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
iii. God clearly explains that we will never measure up unless He supplies the necessary ingredient – Justification (a legal term)
John MacCarthur explains it this way, “Justification is a divine verdict of "not guilty-fully righteous." It is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God’s wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God’s blessing.
iv. Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25).
b. The opposite of “Bad” is NOT “Good.” It is LOVE.
i. The whole goal of the Gospel is connecting to God in relationship through Jesus.
ii. When we go with trying to be a “good” person, guilt and condemnation will certainly follow
Romans 8:1 “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
c. Connect to Love, life and Freedom.
Romans 8:15-16 “…You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption”
i. The greatest commandments are about love / relationship
ii. Sin is the main hindrance of these three; therefore we are motivated by them and strengthened by the Spirit of Adoption to refrain from sin.
iii. God truly gives us a new beginning.
iv. Having our guilty consciences cleansed and hearts washed. We find ourselves pulling away from sin because we are drawn to love.
II. Turn to a new way of life
a. The life of repentance
i. What does a repentant person look like
1. Sad, depressed and somber, right?
2. Although we may experience emotion during repentance, it certainly isn’t a function of emotion.
3. We may be saddened because of the damage sin has caused.
4. To repent is to turn “With a different mind-set”
ii. Agreeing with God and therefore turning from error.
b. The Abundant life
i. God clearly explains that real life begins with reconciliation with Him. He is the creator of life and wants us to live and abundant life.
1. Not a life of walking on egg shells.
2. Nor are we adopting a life of guilt.
3. Nor is it walking around feeling condemned all the time.
ii. Instead, we gain God’s help / Hebrews 4:14-16 (Confidence, mercy and grace in times of need)
c. The Holy Life
i. Do you start to feel condemned just from hearing those words?
ii. If so, you may be thinking about measuring up to perfection.
iii. Perfection is something given to us through Christ. What he asks of us is discipleship and that is progressive, it is growing.
iv. He calls us to follow Him in Holiness. Why?
v. So we are never drawn away from faith and reject Christ.
vi. Sin has the same goals as Satan, to: Stills, kill and destroy life.
He primary thought toward us is love. Out of His love comes his plan to bless us, prosper us and give us a future. Sin will wipe all of those out. Even though God’s love will never cease, His blessing is hindered in our lives due to sin.
The Holy Spirit will convict me of sin – Not, condemn me for sinning.
vii. These two statements sound similar, yet, they couldn’t be farther apart.
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”
viii. Godly sorrow points us the damage caused, not on the laws broken
1. We damage other people
2. We grieve God, who loves us.
ix. One points us up; the other points us down.
III. Silencing the calls to go back
Do you ever talk to yourself, argue with yourself or beat yourself up?
Where do these voices in our head come from? I’m not talking about actual voices, here understand. Do you recognize that we all have a conscience and mind and a soul.
a. Overcome guilt and condemnation
i. Paul is emphatic in his letter to the Romans that if we continue to hold to the Law we actually will increase sin in our lives.
ii. Does that sound odd, almost anti-religion?
iii. Why? Because, religion never freed anyone. If you look at all the major religions in the world, without exception they teach the “betterment of mankind”
iv. They all teach people how to be better people.
Even if that religion is “The Church of Oprah” or “The first reformed church of Oprah” pastored by Doctor Phil.
v. Instead, God’s Spirit directs us and leads us in life. He also ministers to our hearts and speaks to us the heart of God the Father.
b. Don’t be sucked away from true life
i. Condemning people
1. Guilt pushers
2. Joy Suckers
ii. Weak conscience
1. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, Romans 14 and 1 John 3:20 all explain that some people have a weak conscience and guilty consciences – neither are produced by God
2. Our consciences are partially formed by how we grew up, teaching and other experiences in life. Not all of these lessons are true.
iii. Temptation - Although the Bible says that a “Guilty Christian” is an oxymoron, it teaches us to say no to sin.
View temptation and sin as lures the devil uses to drag you out of the water of life, rip your guts out and roast you over an eternal fire.
IV. Team up with fellow travelers
a. You are not alone
b. We must stick together on this journey
My kids were watching a dog show yesterday morning. The announcers were making little comments about the different breads. There was a one dog, not a overly impressive looking dog, but they told us that this particular breed was used in Africa for hunting lions. The announcer realizing how unbelievable this seemed added, “Obviously not alone, they hunt in packs.”
c. When the voices of guilt and temptation come calling, don’t isolate; annihilate!
d. Drag it into the light. There is now no condemnation. Who can bring a charge against God’s elect. One of Satan’s greatest weapons to take you out, is to make you feel ashamed and cause you to hide. Once in hiding, you are a sitting duck.
a. Based on our past relationships, we learn how to accept or reject ourselves.
b. Connecting to others through Christ helps us replace false feelings of guilt and condemnation with the truth of acceptance, grace and love.
Conclusion: Finish with alter call and prayer