Summary: Life is lived in the dash between the dates on our tombstone.
“The Dash Between the Dates”
August 18, 2019
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons I like the Pauline Epistles so much is because they are so practical and clear and relevant. He clearly reveals God’s will for our lives. There is not much to debate or be confused about. That is why some people I know don’t like them. He calls sin – sin. Not much they can use to justify their sinful actions. If you are seeking God’s will – you can clearly find it, as well.
The title of this little talk is “The Dash between the Dates”. I got it from my older brother, Fred. Years ago we were talking about life and death and he mentioned he had preached a sermon one time on the dash between the dates on your headstone. He was mulling over the fact that a person’s whole life if contained in that dash. He is born and he dies and everything he did while living is contained in that dash. That seemed profound to me. How amazing! But it is true. We live our entire lives and may do many great things, or in some cases, not so great, and it is all contained within that one little dash.
It was an interesting thought and I have no idea how his sermon turned out, or even what it was about, but as I was thinking about this scripture that thought came to mind. All the instruction of this chapter is contained within the dash. Let’s see what we can learn.
One of the ways the writers of old wrote is kind of opposite of the way we do it. The conclusion comes first. This is the case here. The conclusion comes first. Listen.
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and - of God.”
The conclusion is that at the end of life if you are immoral, impure or greedy you will not inherit the kingdom of Christ – or, in other words – go to heaven. I suppose you can argue about what things are immoral or impure or what constitute greediness. We get pretty good at rationalizing our actions and making excuses. You can find any number of teachers and preachers who will tell you (or deceive you) that you can sin and get away with it. They will tell you God is love and merciful and kind and forgiving (and of course He is) but they leave out the negative side of God’s nature. Paul doesn’t. He says,
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
That is about as clear as it gets and it gives you a clear mark – a clear standard. Disobedience. It doesn’t say anything about Levitical laws or rules or statutes. It doesn’t say anything about good works or self-justification or any of that stuff we sometimes get caught up it. The simple test is obedience.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”