Summary: Running through Paul's writings is the power of the cross and our need to turn from our sinful nature and desires. This sermon speaks to that power and that need in our lives.
Do you know what I once was?
I was once an enemy of God.
I was once what Paul called, in Eph. 2:3, an object of God’s wrath, that is, his anger, his righteous indignation.
I was wasting my life gratifying the cravings of my sinful nature as I turned down the voice of morality in my head until it was no more than an easily ignored whisper.
I was so determined to do what I wanted to do, without being consciously bothered by it, that I actually told God to leave me alone.
My life was filled with emptiness and my soul was so dry it began to crumble.
I was attempting to satisfy my hunger with the things of the flesh instead of the fruit of the spirit, and never guessed why I was always hungry.
That is what I was.
Ephesians 2:1-2 speaks to who I was:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Do you know what I am now?
I am alive because of the cross.
I am born again because my old self has been crucified on the cross of Christ and I am alive in Christ because of his resurrection.
I am given new hope every day through the mercy of God shown to me through Jesus Christ his son.
I am fully aware that I must battle every day to keep my eyes, my heart and my life focused upon the Jesus that saved me, and that makes me realize what I truly am more than anything else…
I am a sinner saved by grace.
Ephesians 2:4-5 speaks to who I am:
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Here is what you have to do, and the sooner the better – you have to ask yourself where you stand.
You have to look deep into yourself and find out if you are an enemy of God or a sinner saved by grace.
The answer you come up with is key to how the rest of your life is going to play out.
If you look inside yourself, if you turn over the rocks and rubble of who you are and find that you have indeed been turning your back on God and ignoring his plea for you to come and allow him to show you what life the way he intended it for you is all about; if that is what you see, then you are living in conflict, and that conflict will dominate your life.
Galatians 5:17 says that the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is contrary to the sinful nature.
What the sinful nature longs for:
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
This isn’t the first time Paul cataloged the desires of the sinful nature.
From Ephesians 5 we can add to the list: greed; obscentity; foolish talk; and coarse joking.
From Colossians 3 we can add: lust; evil desires; anger; malice; slander; and lying.
In First Timothy 6 Paul warns against having an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.
And in his second letter to Timothy Paul warns against people who are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love , unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Paul makes sure that we realize there is no wiggle room here.
He wants us to know that sin is sin and evil is evil and no matter how you try to justify it, letting it into your life is plainly in conflict with the Spirit of God.
Let me say it this way – if you looked inside yourself, maybe as I read Paul’s lists of sins to you, and you found that you have indeed been gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature, you are in direct conflict with God. You are an object of his wrath. He will not stand idly by and let you destroy yourself with a constant intake of evil.
God will bring you to your knees so that he might lift you up and embrace you with his love and forgiveness. I know – he did it to me. I am so glad that when I told him to leave me alone, he decided to pursue me and woo me even more.