Luke 18:9-14; Phil. 2:3-8, 15-16
Have you ever bought something and then not used it as you thought you would? With the world of QVC now it happens all the time, especially with fitness equipment. We buy the Ab Roller 2000 or the Bo Flex with great intentions, but after a short while, we forget about it and bury it somewhere in the garage. Yes, when you first spent all that money on it, sure you never thought it would go to waste.
This is just one way that we are not like God. When God pays for something he really wants it. God never loses interest in something he’s bought. God has bought us and the price of that purchase was the blood of his Son. Is God an impulse buyer, who has bought us only to lose interest in us? No! God cares about us, about how we live and he bought us for a purpose. The price was high—it’s one thing for you to pay $199 for an Ab-cruncher you’re never going to use but it’s totally absurd to think that God would pay for us with the precious blood of his Son and do the same.
There are hundreds of unused Ab-crunchers sitting in garages—that’s a waste. But Christians sitting around in churches unchanged by God’s mercy and love and forgiveness—that’s worse than a waste it’s offensive. Continuing in the very same sin we’ve been saved from.
God hasn’t just saved us from something, he’s saved us for something, an intimate relationship with him and a life spent honoring him. This series on the seven deadly sins is all about honoring God who bought us at a price. As a church we need to realize that he didn’t buy us just to sit around but to make us into his people. He didn’t just save us from something, he’s saved us for something— he’s saved us from the penalty of sin for an intimate relationship with him.
Sometimes I think our thinking is a little wrong. We say that Jesus died on the cross so my sins can be forgiven and that means that, when I die, I’ll go to heaven. This, of course is true, but does that mean nothing changes now? Is the time between becoming a Christian and Jesus coming back just a time of limbo? Is our church just a waiting room for Christians going to heaven?
It’s like God’s bought us and just shoved us here in the garage and one day in the future he’ll get interested in us again, as if his return to earth is picking up a toy he put on lay-away? Of course not! The New Testament says that God has forgiven our sin but now he wants to remove it! He’s removed the penalty for your sin but now he wants to remove the presence of sin as well.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:5 that we need to put sin to death because we belong to God now. Colossians also says that we don’t just die a death, we rise to a new life too. Being a Christian is all about dying to sin and rising with Christ. When we become a Christian one life ends and a totally new one begins - one with new priorities and one in which we follow God’s Word and Will. In the Christian life we must first put our trust in Jesus and be forgiven. Then we must put on the character of Jesus and be transformed.
In Christ there’s an ‘Under New Management’ sign sitting over our lives and there’s countless changes God wants to work in you. He definitely bought us for a reason—to truly make you his—and this series is about going into the Word, opening ourselves up to it and allowing God to do some spiritual surgery in our hearts. So, let’s dive in to the first procedure that needs our attention: dying to pride: rising to humility.
• The sin that our surgery needs to start with is pride.
o In fact pride is really at the heart of all sin—confidence in ourselves instead of God, a focus on ourselves instead of others.
o That’s where all sin flows from.
o In understanding this sin first you’ll understand the nature of all sin.
• Pride is behind the birth of sin in the fall in Genesis 3.
o Adam and Eve have been placed in the Garden of Eden by God.
o Life is perfect.
o It’s a life where God knows best because God is God and they obey.
o God says that they can eat from any of the trees they like except this one tree in the center of the garden.
o This tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that’s why Adam and Eve have no business eating from it.
o The idea of ‘knowing good and evil’ really means to determine good and evil, to decide for yourself what’s right and what’s wrong.
• That’s God’s job, not ours.
o By eating from this tree you’re saying that you want God’s job.
o That’s exactly what the serpent offers Eve.
o The serpent casts doubt on God’s word, the first step to sin.
o This is followed by denial of God’s word (Gen. 3:4), the next step to sin.
o The final step to sin is making the decision to make the rules ourselves (v 5), that’s the appeal to sinful pride.
o The temptation’s not just to become a lawbreaker, the real temptation is to become the lawmaker.
o What do Adam and Eve do?
o They take and they eat and in doing so they declare that from now on we’ll make the rules, from now on we’ll be God.
o This is sin, this is pride: ascending to the position of ruler of the universe, grasping for the crown, the power.
• Sin grieves God, his law isn’t the only thing that is broken here, his heart is broken too.
o So he measures out his judgment on his rebel creatures—not just the judgment and future destruction that sin brings but the present destruction as well.
o What happens next?
o They become pretend gods, proud rebels, self-centered to the core accusing each other and soon killing each other.
• The pride principle is rampant.
o Pride's first thought is me and my desires.
o Just like the compass needle points north, the needle of the human heart points to getting your own way.
II. Humility (Phil 2:3-8)
• This is the great reversal that is needed.
• The answer to sin, the answer to pride, comes in Jesus.
• Where Adam and Eve grasped, he did not grasp.
• Where they reached for God’s crown, he surrendered his.
• He reverses their ascent with his descent.
• He replaces their ladder with his cross.
• Instead of proud grasping hands, grabbing for self, here are humble, nailed, outstretched hands – dying for us.
• Total reversal of our future as he takes the penalty for our sin, replacing our judgment with forgiveness.
• Jesus also reverses our present as well because not only does he take our death and judgment but he also gives us a new life to live, a new attitude, a new self.
• Our attitudes should be the same as that of Jesus—this is the huge attitude reversal God wants to work in us.
• Jesus climbed down the ladder of humility: rung after rung after rung, he gave up the majesty and glory of heaven and comes down to the sweat and dust of the earth, not as a king but as a servant.
• He doesn’t just give up his comfort, he gives up his life.
• Not just dying, but being crucified.
• Not for friends, for enemies.
• The model we are to follow is in verse 7: he made himself nothing.
• He wasn’t pushed, it wasn’t an accidental fall.
• Step by deliberate step Jesus chose this path: this path from the peak of creation to the shame of the cross.
• He embraced a life of giving, serving, losing and dying.
• Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
• The attitude reversal we need here is – quite simply the difference between up and down as we die to pride and rise to humility.
• In an upwardly mobile world we follow a downwardly mobile Savior. We give up our pathetic pretensions to be God.
• We confess he’s at the center of our lives and seek to revolve around him.
• As we grow as a Christian we keep climbing down.
• Dying to pride means taking up your cross as Jesus commanded – being so dead to yourself, to your own wants and desires, that you become alive to the needs of those around you.
• Turning from self-centeredness to other-centered people.
III. Attitude Reversal (Phil 2:15-16)
• Did you notice how different we should be as God’s people.
• We should be counter-culture people.
• Holding out the word of life.
• Not reaching up to be God but reaching out with His Word.
• Not hands trying to grab for me but turning out to you.
• Open hands, hands prepared to get nails in them, hands just like Jesus, and an attitude just like Jesus.
• It’s a huge reversal isn’t it?
• The church today honestly is far too much like the world.
• Same priorities, same selfishness, same pride.
• God’s word calls for a drastic change in our lives and we need it?
• The only thing the world will teach you about sin is how to do it.
• The only mention of sin you’ll find out there is on a dessert menu: wicked cake, chocolate sin, devils food cake.
An American newspaper ran a headline recently that read: ‘why nothing is wrong anymore’. Couples in marriage preparation don’t have problems with sin anymore – they have growth areas! And pride isn’t seen as a sin. Songs celebrate it, adult education courses teach it. The actress Kristy Alley said in an MTV interview: ‘I don’t think pride is a sin, I think some idiot made that up’.
But how different are we from the world? Or should I ask: How different are we prepared to be? As Christians we need to learn to take up our crosses to follow Christ, without making a big deal about it.
As we prepare to close I pray that as a church and as individual members that we would strive to remove pride from our lives and be humble in our service to the Lord. Let’s pray.