Summary: The third sermon of the ‘People’s Choice Sermon Series.’
Last week I shared with you the challenge that I sometimes face in sermon preparation when there is an abundance of material and you begin by asking the Lord to help you focus in the direction He would have you go so as to speak what He would have you speak. But there are also times of preparation like this past week, when a starting point was hard to come by and you pray even more for the Lord to focus your thoughts in the direction of His message to us.
(I also want to let you know that we will be concluding this portion of worship with a special prayer time that I will tell you more about at the conclusion of this sermon.)
(Slide 1) This is the third sermon in our initial 2007 sermon series ‘The People’s Choice Sermon Series.’ In our first sermon we walked through the book of Revelation and focused on the opening word to the churches and the final word of God’s new world order in which evil is finally defeated, the final judgment takes place, and a new heaven and earth are established free of pain and sorrow.
Last week we took a look at the always challenging topic of money and looked at what the Bible had to say about it. We briefly looked at what the Bible had to say about debt and the very important issue of our attitude toward money.
Today we address a request (as we have in the past two weeks) for a sermon on how to live for God in the world.
One of the challenges in addressing this very practical and timely topic is that the Bible has much to say about how to live for God in the world… and how not to live for God in the world. This is especially true in the middle of the New Testament where Paul says a great deal to various churches scattered across the central and eastern portions of the Mediterranean Sea about living for God in the world.
(Slide 2) Here are a few examples: In
Ephesians 4 beginning with verse 17:
“With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.”
(Slide 3) Over in Galatians 5 we read:
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin.
(Slide 4) Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
(Slide 5) Finally we read in Colossians 3:8–10 and then 12-15
But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.
(Slide 6) Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
(Slide 7) And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Paul’s contrasts are worth noting. (Slide 8) On the one side we have the ‘Dark Side.’ (8a)
It is the world and it is shameful, degrading, and demeaning. This side is all about ‘me: what I want and when I want it. It is self-worship and self-service.
(8b) On the other side, we have the ‘Godly Side.’ It is empowering, liberating, respectful (and, I would add, fulfilling.) This side is about loving and being loved. It is about serving and caring. It is living the way we were created to live. (8c) How do then do we live this way?