Summary: Without God’s power on the inside, all the instruction of God’s law can only condemn us. Thanks be to God for the power of Christ within!
Jesus gave us some amazing instructions.
Matt. 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus goes on to tell us not to worry about a lot of things in this life, but that God will take care of us. Then he says:
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
How many people do you know who put God’s kingdom and righteousness above everything else in their lives? How many of you here do that? Not just on Sundays or at church functions like this but 24/7?
Listen to these words of the apostle Paul: Acts 20: 22 "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.
23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
And to the Colossians he said: 1: 28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
When I was in high school, I was an idealist. For me, it was all or nothing about whatever I was into. I remember sitting in church and hearing sermons that either put me to sleep or scared me to death. But walking close to God was something I had a hard time grasping. You see, I thought that if you wanted to be close to God you had to be really good. God was sort of like Santa Clause, watching every move I made. Only God was much more dangerous, because he could see inside my head. He knew not only what I did, he knew what I wanted to do! My thoughts! There was no escape! And he demanded perfection! Not just a good job… the absolute best. I mean, didn’t Jesus say: Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect? And didn’t the apostle Paul say we present every man perfect? When I looked in the mirror and thought of perfection, it just wasn’t there. Wow! And with God, the stakes were incredibly high! It’s heaven or hell! There’s nothing in the middle. The words of Jesus and Paul echoed in my head. “Be ye perfect! We present everyone perfect!” Ouch!
How can you ever be good enough for someone like that!
Personally, I floundered a lot. I’d get in gear to be a good Christian on Sunday, especially after a really strong lesson on how hot hell is, I’d grab my boot straps and pull up as hard as I could. But by Monday afternoon in the guy’s locker room after P.E. period, Id hear the jokes and all the talk about the girls, and I would start to slip. Some of you here might be able to identify… I don’t know.
After a while I began to believe that you had to be an adult before you could really be a true Christian. I thought adults were probably finished with all the youthful temptations and could do what Jesus said with no problem. Adults actually could be perfect as the Father is perfect. What else did they have to deal with? Right?
Now some of you are way ahead of me already, aren’t you. Some of you know what my problem was. The truth is, my theology was incomplete! My idea of who God is and who I am before him were partly correct. But there is so much more about God I didn’t understand. I thought my salvation was mainly up to me. The way I understood things, God had sort of opened the door and left the instruction book, but from there on it was all up to me. Anyone here ever think like that?
I could tell you plenty of illustrations, but this one comes to mind, and I hope it will do.
I remember this one particular time when I was 16 and really trying hard to be a good Christian. Our preacher, Bro. Curtis Ivey, had taken notice of my efforts and wanted to help me along. He invited me to go with him to visit some folks in the hospital. We were on our way home when it happened. I was innocently looking out the window when right before my eyes, riding down the hill on a bicycle, wearing a bikini top and short, shorts was this beautiful young girl. I stared out the window and Bro. Curtis noticed what was going on. He said, “Eyes to the left!” Now listen to me… my eyes turned to the left, but inside I was still looking to the right! Does anyone here know what I’m talking about? That’s just one little incident to illustrate my point here.