Summary: Jesus left us with a great inheritance. An inheritance of God's presence and His fellowship. However, many of us fail to experience that sweet fellowship because we Edge God Out of our lives. How do we do this? What are the consequences?
EGO: Edging God Out
On Good Friday, we examined whether Jesus left us a will, a will bequeathing everything He had to us, which included the awesome presence of God. We established that Jesus actually did exactly that. John 17:24 (NKJV) Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
On Easter morning, we continued on that theme, and studied the characteristics of that inheritance. We found that our inheritance was explained beautifully in 1 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. We also looked at some of the things we have to do to claim that inheritance and make it legally and fully ours. 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV) 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
So we have established that we have inherited the presence of God, the love of the Father through Jesus Christ, we have established that if we just gird up the loins of our heart and fully rest upon the Grace that has been brought upon us through Jesus Christ, we can enjoy the benefits of that inheritance. But what is the reality? Are we always able to just rest on that Grace and fully enjoy God’s presence, His love, His goodness? We know the answer isn’t it? Over the next few sermons, I am going to examine, along with you, some of the things that prevent us from actually enjoying the inheritance Jesus left us.
Today, let us start with Ego. None of us have it right? What is ego? Ego is defined in dictionary as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. That is a very harmless, isn’t it? The problem happens when this self-esteem or self-importance becomes a bit inflated. That is really what happens in everyone’s case. It starts in a harmless manner and then it slowly inflates. And then we see ourselves taking credit for things that happened in our lives. We start using the “I” and “me” statements more often in our conversations. See what I have achieved. Look at my success… etc. One of the extreme examples can be found in Isaiah 14:13-14 (NKJV) 13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Just count the number of times that Satan is using the term “I” in these two verses. We should not be surprised, because even today the world teaches us that contentment can come only by satisfying the urges of the self.
But let us get back to the original question that we wanted to investigate. How does ego prevent us from enjoying the inheritance that Jesus left us by dying on the cross for us?
There is a book Lead Like Jesus, written by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. In this book, the authors explain that ego does an EGO. What does that mean? Our ego, Edges God Out. So EGO becomes a short form for Edging God Out. Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges explain three ways in which ego Edges God Out.
1. As the object of our worship: I am sure that we longer bow down to idols. But are we really rid of the modern idols? It is interesting that the command not to replace God as the object of our worship is actually the book ends of the bible, it is there at the beginning, when the Ten Commandments were given. Exodus 20:3-5 (NKJV) 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. And it is there right at the end Revelation 2:4 (NKJV) 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Despite this command being so clear in the Bible there are multiple times when we Edge God Out as the object of our worship and start worshipping other things. Money, position, admiration, possessions, exercise, job.. the list could go on and on. So this is the first way that we Edge God Out of our hearts.