Summary: Jesus came into a world where Judaism emphasized the negatives of the religious life more than the positives. Jesus made an impact on the world then as he does now by his emphasis on a positive response to God and a positive response to the needs of othe
The Negative Expression of True Religion
Jesus came into a world where Judaism emphasized the negatives of the religious life more than the positives. Jesus made an impact on the world then as he does now by his emphasis on a positive response to God and a positive response to the needs of others.
While recognizing that the positive is of supreme importance, we should recognize that there is also a negative expression in genuine religion. Our text tells us, “The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions.” Williams translates this verse, “For God’s favor has appeared with its offer of salvation to all mankind, training us to give up godless ways and worldly cravings.” With this word concerning the negative side of genuine religion, Williams continues his translation of this verse we are waiting for the realization of our blessed hope at the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to ransom us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people to be his very own, zealous of good works.”
It is highly possible that the greatest weaknesses in present day preaching and in present day Christianity is in the neglect to emphasize the biblical requirements of repentance. Repentance is basically and fundamentally a change of mind that affects the direction of a life. Repentance is far deeper than reformation. It is a transformation of the mind and attitude toward God, self, and others.
To be truly Christian, we must not only be positive about great spiritual values, we must be negative about ungodly values.
I. True religion calls for the elimination of ungodliness.
a. We need to ask God to help us become holier in all spheres of our lives.
i. This means eliminating – through repentance – ungodliness in our attitudes, ambitions, and actions.
ii. In our positive identity with the nature and character of our God, we must eliminate and renounce those things that are contradictory to his nature, character, and purpose.
iii. Simple test, to see if you should or should do something.
1. If you wouldn’t do it in front of your pastor, deacon, or church family, then don’t do it.
b. God is love, and this means that he eliminate hate
i. We must not permit hate to occupy our minds and hearts.
ii. The only way to make sure that we don’ allow hate to occupy space in us, is to get rid of any dead space that we have.
1. Put more God in
2. The more God you have in you, their will be no vacancy for anything else outside of God’s will.
c. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
i. We must not tolerate attitudes and activities that are out of character with his perfect righteousness.
ii. WWJD it maybe a faddish statement that came and went, but it holds true.
iii. We need to stop and think, before we act.
iv. We need to walk the walk and talk the talk.
v. Don’t give Satan any foot holds in your life.
1. Like the old saying, give them a inch and they will take more.
2. Satan is only worse, if you give a foothold in your life, He will walk all over you.
II. True religion calls for rejection of worldly cravings
a. One can become captivated by a desire for perishables.
i. Our Lord was not thinking about an offering plate when he counseled his disciples regarding true riches.
ii. Matthew 6:19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
iii. Our Lord was concerned about his disciples putting their hearts into the eternal values of God’s kingdom rather than living for the perishables of this earth.
b. The apostle Paul gave similar advice to the church at Colosse.
i. He urged them to respond positively to God, to do this he wrote, there had to be a negative response to the cravings and the appetites associated with this world system.
1. It must be 100% elimination of fleshly cravings.
ii. Colossians 3:1-3, 5
So if you have been raised to life in fellowship with Christ, keep on seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Practice occupying your mind with the things above, not with the things on earth; for you have died, and your life is hidden in God through your fellowship with Christ…so once for all, put to death your lower, earthly nature, with respect to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which is real idolatry.