Summary: how people grow through right relationships
HOW PEOPLE GROW . . . RIGHT RELATIONSHIP
If you go into any bookshop today you will find a large section on personal growth. It is a big industry. You will find books on popular psychology. Books on how to be successful in every area of your life. Books on being assertive, self-controlled, a leader, a better husband, wife, mother, father etc. Even in Christian publishing the personal growth genre is big business. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between the Christian books and the non-christian books. So this morning we are going to begin a series of sermons on How People Grow from a biblical standpoint. I think beginning at the beginning is always a good idea. The foundation to personal spiritual growth is a right understanding of God and a right relationship with and to God. We have already spent a number of weeks grounding our understanding of God in the Scriptures and now we turn to our relationship with God. We need not only to know about God we need to know God. I am going to assume this morning that each and everyone of you here want to have a right relationship with God. This morning at the end of this sermon I pray that you will understand what that means and if you do not have that relationship with God then you will know how to put that right.
Turn with me if you would for a moment back to the book of Genesis, chapter 2 and verse 7 – READ. Here we read of the creation of man, of Adam. Look closely at the verse. This is the most intimate act of all creation. We read here that God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam. Of no other creature in creation do you read that God did such a thing for and to. Think about what actually is involved in breathing life into someone’s nostrils. You cannot do that from a distance. You have to get up close and personal to breath into another persons nostrils. In fact you have to kiss them. Genesis literally says God kissed Adam and Adam being a living being. Now some commentators would say that that was the moment Adam received his soul – that may be true but I want to concentrate on the intimacy of it this morning. We read that Adam and Eve are created in the image of God and that in the cool of the evening God, our God, comes walking in the midst of the garden and that man walks with God. Again we get the picture of intimacy. You cannot walk with someone at a distance apart. Walking with someone is different from following someone. But something happened to that intimate relationship. Turn to chapter 3 and verses 8 following. Adam and Eve have disobeyed God and the result is that sin has entered creation and their intimate, and our intimate relationship, with God is broken. Instead of running to meet and walk with God they run and hide from God. We have been doing the same ever since. But I want to tell you this morning that you can once again come running to God and stop hiding from God. This morning you can have that intimate relationship with God your Father, your Creator restored. Turn with me to Romans chapter 3 and verses 19-26.
I am sure you have cause some time to go to the doctor. I want you to imagine that you have gone to the doctor and he does a thorough examination and he says ‘you are in poor health.’ He diagnosis a long list of ailments and says to you ‘thank you for calling, good morning and have a nice day.’ What would be your reaction? You would say ‘have you not forgotten something doctor?’ ‘Are you not going to do something for me?’ It would not take us long to change our doctor. When we go to the doctor we want not only the diagnosis but also the cure. That is why we go in the first place – at least I think that is why most people go to the doctor.
VERSES 19-20 THE PROBLEM DISCOVERED
No one goes to the doctor just for the sake of going, although I am not sure about that in some cases. We usually go because we have discovered there is something wrong with us. We do not feel well or something like that. In verses 19-20 Paul points out to us the means by which our problem has been discovered or revealed. Our problem – SIN. From 1.1-3.20 Paul has been consistently pointing out to the church at Rome that man is dead in his sin. Not only is man dead in his sin, he is powerless to do anything about it. It is a truly hopeless situation. It is like a flower – we cut it and it looks beautiful in the vase, but eventually cut from the source of its life it withers and dies. The problem for us all, Paul says, is that from the moment of birth we are withering and dying due to sin. We are like the flower – sin has cut us off from the source of life and as a result we are dead men walking. In Romans 6.23 Paul says ‘the wages of sin is death.’ Our sin leads not only to physical death but eternal death and we are unable to do anything about it ourselves.