Summary: This sermon seeks to lead people into deeper intimacy with the Father as we abide in Him.
In the book of Philippians, we read about Paul “pressing on” in His relationship with God. Pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ! Yet, for so many of us, the word “stuck” would do a much better job describing where we are in our relationship with God… where all that is left inside is just a lot of frustration over the fact that you’re nowhere near where you’d like to be or where you think you should be in Christ. At the very least, we all fall into times of spiritual apathy where our hearts become dull and lethargic. And when we experience seasons such as these while also falling back into old sins, that frustration can often lead to self-condemnation… thinking of yourself as a hopeless hypocrite… and seeing yourself as not much more than dead weight in the Kingdom of God. So how do you get from feeling “stuck” to a place of “pressing on". Most foundationally, we do this by putting ourselves in contact with two powerful truths from Scripture… the reality of who God is… and who we are in Christ.
In Colossians 3:10, Paul exhorts us to "put on the new self who is renewed in the knowledge of the image of its Creator." The context here is of Paul encouraging the Colossians how they can live a more richer life in Christ… and with all Paul understood of the Christian life, he knew that nothing can come close to encouraging the heart as can the wonderful knowledge of the personality of God. You see, knowing who God is and what He is like is perhaps the most fundamental key to personal renewal.
I remember years ago, when feeling as though I were on a spiritual island, I went through the book of Psalms and highlighted every verse that spoke of the goodness of God. This in itself brought me to a whole new place spiritually. It renewed in me a new amazement of who is was. I would read of verses such as Isaiah 9:6, where Isaiah writes that the Messiah will be called "Wonderful". And the more my wonder for God grew, the more my life b/c centered on Him rather than myself. I wish I could say that I remained in this place. But now and then through my Christian life, I’ve let the circumstances of life to bring my focus back on myself, loosing the wonder I had felt toward God.
But this is why Paul writes that we are to "put on the new self who is being renewed in the knowledge of the personality of its Creator." The more we understand experientially who God is, especially in relation to who we are, the more we will be able to walk in intimacy with the Father. And it is b/c of this that Paul, in Ephesians 3:18-19, prays that the Ephesian church would "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know and experience this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Paul knew that for them to walk in all the fullness of God, they first needed to truly grasp the depth of His love toward them.
As a father, there is no more profound truth that I try to pass down to Rebecca and Sarah than the simple reality that that God loves them… that they are the object of God’s affection. After watching some Christian video, Rebecca has come to me, maybe three or four times now, and told me that she never wants to disobey God. But even as I affirm her sweet statement, there is something in me that compels me to remind her that even if she does sin, God still loves her. Not b/c I’m passive toward sin but because I know that she’ll never really be able to fulfil her desire to walk in obedience until she is first truly grounded in His love and in who He is. By the way, she has never said, "I never want to disobey you, daddy!" She’s too smart for that. It just seems that nothing stirs the human heart more than the knowledge of who God is. And, as John says, "God is love".
Even Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." In Jude 21 we are told to "keep ourselves in the love of God". I know for me, I feel most satisfied, most energized as a child of God to the degree that I am taking hold of the reality of Song of Solomon 7:10, for example, which says, "I am my beloved’s and His desire is toward me." This truth causes me to marvel even more in God… and seems to have the secondary effect of making sin seem so much more foolish.