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Summary: Carnal Christianity restricts the will and work of God. Does your lifestyle put your "Church in a headlock?"

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"CHURCH IN A HEADLOCK"

(Text: 2 Cor. 6:12 NKJ)

3/9/2003

By:Larry L. Schoonover)

INTRODUCTION:

(Read Text) - then repeat this partial:

"...you are restricted by your own affections."

What is a "restriction"?

[Webster:] - "to restrain within bounds; to limit" {restrain = "to hold back; to hinder"}

What do you think of when you hear the word, "restriction"? When I hear the word I think of:

* Fluids - As a Hot-Oiler Operator in the oilfield it was my job to clear the "plugs" or "blockages" in the tubing down wells or the pipelines from the well to the tank battery. The restriction that builds up in the pipe is cause by the accumulation of paraffin that is a component of crude oil.

* Blood Circulation - Only the Lord knows how many people I have known with coronary problems and how many by-pass surgeries I have attended through the years as a pastor. The surgery is necessary to correct restrictions in the arteries caused primarily by the junk we eat.

These are some of the thoughts that come quickly to my mind when I hear the word, "restriction". But, "restriction" is not a word we would normally associate with God; that is to say, we cannot conceive of the Lord Himself as having any manner of restriction upon His person.

We believe in the omnipotence of God. We believe that He is all-powerful, that He possesses full and absolute power to perform anything He thinks or desires without limitation. Therefore, the only possible limitation or "restrictions" to the power of our God are those that He might choose to impose upon Himself!

The question then becomes "Has God imposed any kind of limitations or `restrictions’ upon Himself concerning His work upon earth and His will among men?" - I believe the answer is, "Yes."

First, God has limited Himself by restricting the manner in which He performs His kingdom work on earth by assigning it exclusively unto the Church! (There is no alternative, no "Plan B" to the great commission given to the Church.)

Secondly, God has also limited Himself by restricting the manner in which He performs His will among men by choosing to work exclusively through men/women of faith and holiness.

(Heb. 11:6)

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(Psa. 66:18)

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Therefore, I submit to you today that:

* A carnal, selfish, self-indulgent Church creates "restrictions" or "limitations" upon God and upon His kingdom work.

* A Christian possessing a small faith creates "restrictions" or "limitations" upon the will of God in the life of themself and in the lives of those who could be blessed through their faith.

* A Christian who is defiled by the world creates "restrictions" upon the will of God by choosing sin over sanctification.

Personally, I think this last point to be perhaps the greatest "restriction", the greatest "hindrance" to the work and will of God today! That is to say that:

* The lack of holiness among believers is the greatest "restriction" to the work and will of God today.

* As far as Southern Baptist go (which I am) - the predominance and preference of a carnal nature is just "killing us"!

This then is the reason for the odd message title. Unholiness among Christians has in effect put the "Church in a headlock"! Without question, limiting God through unholiness is the subject of our text.

{Repeat text}

If this is the problem (unholiness, carnality) then what is the remedy?

HONEST DIALOG (11; 13)

Paul pleads for an honest dialog. One of the problems with the Corinthian Church is that there were some within the body who were ready to blame others for their problems. Among the many other issues addressed in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, there were apparently some who challenged Paul’s authority and even questioned his apostleship. Paul has charged them with immaturity and carnality. The feelings of some were hurt and they seem to suggest that Paul is their problem; they suggest that he is somehow responsible for their problems.

Thus, we find his response in our selected text, (v. 12), "You are not restricted by us." In other words, he is saying to the Church, "I am not your problem." What then is their problem, what is the source of their carnality,

what is the seedbed of their immaturity? His answer is, ".you are restricted by your own affections." (v12)

But (v12) is wrapped in something very interesting, which is this: His declaration of having opened his heart to them in love (v11) and then pleads with them to respond in like-kind (v13). In other words, he pleads for an

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